Joseph Ducreux [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The Accidental Fat Man

This year I’ve seen amazing growth, unlike any year before.

No, I’m not talking business, although we did have a record year.

No, I mean in my body.

It’s quite an incredible transformation. I spent my childhood and adult life until my 30s slightly underweight. I was known for being very thin. And I always wanted to put weight on.

Try as I may, nothing worked. I could eat literally anything I wanted (well, anything I had permission to eat, I didn’t go around eating people’s pets, or parts of airplanes like the oddballs on kids’ TV in the days before ‘health and safety’).

I simply never put any weight on. Calories in a biscuit? I didn’t know. 10? 100? 1000? Not a clue. Ask someone else. Never needed to know. All I knew was one packet wasn’t enough, two was maybe pushing it. But I could push it so why not.

I was stuck at 9 stone for years. Nothing I did changed that.

Then I jumped (almost overnight) to a healthier 11 stone – although some of that was because of a drinker’s belly I developed near the end of my drinking career.

But in 2004 I stopped drinking so that put an end to that avenue for growth.

The copious amounts of sweets and sugar I ate after I stopped drinking helped for a while. When you stop drinking your body craves sugar, and sweets are a simple and nice way to cope.

But there’s only so much Kendal Mint Cake you can eat. Trust me on this one. I was eating several bars a day, for months. Honestly. That is not an exaggeration.

For those who don’t know what Kendal Mint Cake is, think of a bag of sugar, with a bit of mint flavouring, melted and shaped into a bar. That’s basically it. A bag of sugar.

It’s used by people climbing mountains to keep them alive. I think the climbing mountains bit is the key to the balance of all the sugar. Sitting down eating it doesn’t seem to work the same way. But I wasn’t going to stop drinking and climb a mountain so…

I just kept buying it. And eating it. By the box. The shop kept running out. And then one day I just stopped when I realised if I ever tasted it again I’d probably spontaneously explode leaving behind a faint whiff of mint and, well, a big mess that someone would have to hose down.

I still worry about the shop I was buying it from. I imagine they have fifty pallets of Kendal Mint Cake somewhere and wonder why they had the sudden sales growth and what the hell they are going to do with it all now. Either that or they look back and laugh about the freak who bought more Kendal Mint Cake in one year than they’ve ever sold in their history. Probably the latter when I think about it.

The 11 stone stuck for years though. So overall, since childhood, I had seen some modest growth but it clearly wasn’t sustainable.

No, if I was going to continue growing I had to do something about it.

I have to admit, most of what I did this year wasn’t planned.

I stopped running. I’d only been doing it for a while anyway, but it was already causing me to get fitter, lose a bit of fat, and generally tone my muscles. Bah.

Then I met Bea. Some people call the weight gain after meeting someone a happiness ring. But it’s just a fat belly because you don’t need to make an effort to look good any more, unless you’re planning to have affairs.

Our diet hasn’t been particularly healthy since we met. We’ve both been working a lot and the temptation to resort to ordering food in is high.

I’ve seen my belly grow. I’ve joked about it. The way we do, us men. You know what I mean. The type of man who proudly pats his fat belly and says “All paid for!” Except in my case it’s not beer, it’s sweets, a bad diet, and a total lack of exercise.

On the positive side, there’s no question my face looks better. I saw a picture from a year ago. My face was so thin. But if I end up in a heart unit that’s going to be the last thing on my mind (well, ok, the second thing if I’m honest… well, maybe the first if they have mirrors. Do they have mirrors in heart units? Sorry, I’m moving away from my main point … but do let me know in the comments section if they do, thanks).

Last night I weighed myself before bed. Big mistake.

I was, frankly, mortified.

‘No’, said Bea, ‘Weigh yourself in the morning, that’s the best time’.

So, I did.

And I was 2kg heavier this morning (thanks for the top tip Bea).

I’ll leave last night’s weight for you as a mathematical test, but this morning I was 80kg.

80. Eighty. Eight-Oh. 8 x 10. 4 x 20. 2 x 40. 1 x 80.

80 fucking kilograms.

That’s 12 stone and 8 pounds in old money.

This time last year I was 70kg.

At this rate, in a few decades, I will weigh as much as a planet or at least a dwarf planet (I haven’t actually calculated that, and Professor Brian Cox wouldn’t take my call, but it’s probably about right).

I am now, officially, for the first time in my 45 years on this planet, overweight. I am… a fat man.

Ok, I can hear some of you – not literally, being fat hasn’t given me any superpowers that I’ve noticed, yet – getting angry or maybe finding it funny that I think 80kg is such a problem. I certainly don’t mean to offend anyone who dreams of being ‘only’ 80kg but this is new to me.

I am a thin person not so much trapped in a fat body, but who has accidentally woken up in one, like a crap Ricky Gervais or Jim Carrey film. Yes, that’s it. I am The Accidental Fat Man (released straight to DVD soon).

I know many people would love to be ‘only’ 80kg but I’m only 3ft tall so….

No, I’m actually 5ft 9” give or take (about 175 cm or so for the ‘Europeans’) and I am now officially overweight.

And I’m set to become a father for the first time in a few months. And I’ll need to be fit for that.

And I’m getting married in March. And I need to look my best for that. I can’t have people looking at Bea instead of me…

So, today begins a new day. No more sweets. No more chocolates. No more fast food (ok, a bit of all of those but very rarely). And running again. I will be running again. I might even get a personal trainer to whip me into shape.

But the biggest shock of all this though is the realisation I am now, effectively, on a ‘wedding diet’. Me. One of the skinniest people to have ever walked the first world. On a fucking wedding diet.

Be careful what you wish for, it might just come true.

The one where everything changes…

What an amazing year it’s been.

Unless 2017 somehow trumps 2016 (yes, that’s sort of a pun – with him as the ‘leader of the free world’ who knows what will happen), I think we’ll all remember 2016 for a long-time.

We’ve lost some of our biggest cultural heroes. I’ve lost at least two absolute heroes – Bowie and Prince.

What else… anything important… oh, I’m set to become a father for the first time at 45.

Yes. I know.

It’s amazing!

Amazing, exciting, terrifying, and just about every other emotion possible.

I’d given up on the possibility a long-time ago after a number of very painful failed pregnancies with my first wife.

It just became something I accepted. Some people have children, I wouldn’t. There are other things to do in life.

But then I met Bea who is a few year younger than me (she would want me to say ‘quite a lot’ of years younger but she’s not that much younger!)

And, after getting engaged, booking our wedding in the UK, booking the flights for all the Spanish part of the family (Bea’s side), we then find out Bea is pregnant and she wouldn’t be able to travel at that time…

So, eventually, we managed to change the date of the wedding, re-arrange the registrar, tell people the date had changed… except we didn’t check the flights.

And it turns out the flights people were set to take back to Spain on the Sunday evening after the afternoon wedding don’t fly in March…

Anyone got a private jet available on March 19th? 😉

We’ll have to see what we can do. Worst case we’ll have to change the date again, but it’s getting a bit ridiculous.

Work wise, it’s been pretty fantastic too. We’ve seen huge growth, as we have every year since starting in 2006, and despite new entrants to the market, we’ve had our best year ever. We know from customer feedback – rather than just wishful thinking – that this is largely because we are trusted to do a good job, our customer service is a point of pride to us, and customers know we’ve been in the market a long time and for the right reasons. We didn’t just to jump on a bandwagon hoping to get rich quick.

From my point of view, my diagnosis of sleep apnea at the start of the year has made a massive difference. It’s bizarre to think that this time last year I was stopping breathing on average 30 times an hour when I ‘slept’. It meant I wasn’t getting any real sleep and explains why I had so little energy and was falling asleep during the day.

But now I sleep with a CPAP mask and machine (which luckily I love using, unike some users) and my work life has changed dramatically. And as a bonus – I no longer snore, although to be honest they never bothered me that much… 😉

We’ve launched a new version of The Alcohol-Free Shop web site so it is finally mobile-friendly (yes, we’ve joined the 21st Century at last!) and that’s just the start of major improvements to our systems that will improve the working environment for our staff and our customers’ experience.

We’re also working on some amazing developments that will transform our business. More on that when I can talk about it. But I can say they are very exciting and 2017 could be one of those years when things really change dramatically.

So, all-in-all, 2016 has been a bit of a mixed bag globally but pretty amazing personally. I’m really looking forward to 2017!

I hope you and yours had a great year, or at least not the worst, and that 2017 is great for you too!