Thursday, 11 August 2011

My Fitness Story... - Dave

This week's story is a bit different. I put out a general plea on twitter last week for more posts and Dave got in touch. He outlined the nature of his story and I was intrigued. I wasn't disappointed when Dave emailed me this post. Y'see, Dave had a serious problem with an addiction - to crisps. In his post, he tells how giving them up changed his approach to healthy living. Over now to Dave...

Give up crisps!

There. That’s it. That’s my story. Give up crisps and fitness will come prancing to your very door, clad in lycra all fresh from a Multi Fit class without so much of a sweat.

Yeah right....

Giving up crisps was actually just one way I mutated from a tubby fellow to slightly less tubby fellow. But it’s what it stands for. And how it’s given me a whole new level of discipline I really didn’t think I had.

Let’s go back a few years. I was 30 years old with a 38inch waistline... And a heavy crisp addiction. No, seriously. I was on three or four packs a day. I’d popped and was never going to stop. A few party bags of kettle chips of a Friday night and a couple of Pringles tubes on the side? No problemo.

I lost count how many times my long suffering other half Liz had suggested giving them up for a week as I did my weekly trolley dash down the savoury snack aisle. I also lost count at the amount of times I told her where she could stick that idea. “They’re one of life’s little pleasures,” I’d reason. 90% hydrogenated fat, they’re also one of life’s most fattening pleasures...

It all came to a head one evening at a friend’s house, post-pub. A 12 pack of Walkers lay temptingly on his living room table. Not my chosen brand, but fat buggers can’t be choosers. I tucked in without ceremony. Or asking.

I’d gobbled nine packets within the hour. The only ones left were the plain. I would’ve devoured them too if grumbles weren’t being made by the crisps’ original owner. He’d even resorted to telling me they belonged to another friend in the glimmer I had more respect for him and would stop. I knew he was right and, as blinded by addiction as I was, I also knew nine was getting silly. Plus I don’t like plain...

The next morning I awoke a greasy, greedy, shameful shadow of myself. I text my friend to apologise, took a long shower and decided I had to give up crisps. I made the announcement and Liz looked relieved; finally, I’d admitted to my problem.

A week passed and I’d stayed true to my promise. I’d even handled them, passing them around the room, and I’d not been tempted to treat myself. I don’t want to sound big headed but I’m sure my friends were in awe of this sudden, seismic shift in behaviour. What’s this? Fatty Jenkins isn’t helping himself? Quick, get your variety bags out, they’re safe again!

Then it came; the challenge. The real moment that sealed the deal for me in my anti-crisp career: My mum’s birthday. Liz and I arrived at my old family home to celebrate and we were greeted by six bowls of crisps. It was the Walker’s limited edition range of strange flavours; builder’s breakfast, dead squirrel and such. A flavour test, my brother called it, laying down the gauntlet.

“I can’t do it, I’ve given them up mate,” I say with pride.

“F&*k off!” was his tart reply.

Liz, mum and dad just observed. We all knew what I had to do. I took a single crisp from each bowl, ate them and guessed all the flavours correctly. Cue a hearty family applause. Handshakes with dad and brother, hugs with mum and Liz. I took a bow and that was it. A heavyweight champion of crispology, I’d retired at the very top of my game. And crisps have NEVER touched my lips again (well, there was one paprika Dorito on a really drunk afternoon...)

So why have I sprawled this saga out to such a degree? Simple... It’s a cool story and one that’s helped me lose several stone. Now almost 33 with a 34inch waistline, the anti-crisp stance changed my entire attitude to snacking. Suddenly I couldn’t just go on eating autopilot, munching away because it tastes nice. Sometimes I’d just munch ‘because it was there’, but now I had to think about what I was about to eat. Am I really hungry? Do I really need to eat this?

Unwittingly I’d installed a discipline that’s even more important today. Now editor of a food magazine, temptation to snack and sample beyond necessity is at an all time high. And while I blatantly do know how to enjoy my grub, I know I can eat well because I won’t be gorging a whole load of unnecessary snacks later on.

Admittedly my weight loss wasn’t just down to giving up crisps. I also took up running around the same time, and have run two half marathons since, but my years of lapsed gym memberships suggests that I never would have stuck to it if I hadn’t adopted this level of self discipline. And it started with giving up crisps...    

What a great story! I am sure we can all relate to his tale. We all love things that are bad for us and it is really easy to overdo it without thinking. I think his story proves that it's possible to develop discipline if you put your mind to it, although you have to be driven and really want it to get you started. I'd like to thank Dave for contributing to this series and making it such an entertaining read. 

Feel free to share experiences, as always, in the comments below. My guest posters really do appreciate the messages of support they get from readers.

If you would like to share your fitness story, then please contact me on Twitter or email me on the address on the About Me page. All contributions are really appreciated so do get in touch, even if you feel yours is not a worthwhile story. If it's a personal experience, it is. Do please join in - or ask your friends if you know someone has a story to tell, even if they don't blog.

I'll have a new episode in the My Fitness Story... series next week. 
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