Anyway, from the very close outside, here's Ian's take on things...
As an avid reader of Stuart’s blog and his companion on our trek along the Fife Coastal Path, I thought it might be an idea to offer my own thoughts as to how the big man’s doing..
I’ve been pals with Stuart since our early secondary school years. That’s coming on for 28 years now. Longer than we’d both like to admit.
As a youngster, I cannot remember Stuart being fat in any way. I guess he was quite stocky but perfectly normal for his age and height. As we got older, he did get bigger but not worryingly so. After Stuart got married, we lost touch for a while and we only caught up very infrequently. When I did see him, I was shocked at how the weight had piled on, both in respect of him and his wife. The reality was that the pair of them grew to exist pretty much solely on takeaways and other convenience food. Sadly, Stuart’s marriage didn’t work out. His weight problem remains a legacy of those unhappy years.
Stuart has not had his problems to seek in his life. However, the single biggest thing he can do to improve his lot, his job prospects, his chances of finding love, is to lose weight and lose it for good.
There is no magic cure for obesity. No quick fix. Despite all the science, the theories, the fad diets, the solution is quite simple. To lose weight you must burn off more than you put in. To Stuart’s credit, he totally recognises this and he’s resolved to doing this the old fashioned way.
Stuart has referred to our journey along the Fife Coastal Path as his “Long Road To Freedom”. That’s a very romantic way of describing our efforts but I think it’s entirely appropriate. With every laboured step we make on our walk, he’s changing his life for the better. Plus we’re learning more about the County that we’ve lived in all our lives but have never properly explored.
Lesley-Anne and I are both really impressed with Stuart’s stoicism. The poor guy is really suffering with every footstep. Blisters, Back Pain, strain on his joints, sunburn, almost breaking both his ankles, he’s enduring the lot. However, other than the occasional blood-curdling scream of agony (as when he fell down the steps yesterday at Dysart) he never complains. The man’s got bottle and you can tell he’s committed. He tells me he eagerly looks forward to going on the walk and after it’s done he feels a glowing sense of satisfaction. It’s just what goes on inbetween that’s painful. So it is for all meaningful exercise.
We’re currently walking at a pace of about 3 mph, which is little more than a dawdle for me. However, it’s easy to forget Stuart has to expend a great deal more energy with every footstep of progress than we do. To get an idea of what he’s experiencing, I would really have to strap a weight equivalent to my 10 year old son to my stomach before we set off on each trip! The good thing is that he is getting instant results. He might not realise it yet but I can actually see evidence of his progress. He is getting fitter and stronger with each walk and the weight is coming off in a consistent and sustainable rate.
Stuart is in no shape to do anything more strenuous than walking at the moment, although as I know he loves his racquet sports, we’ve tentatively introduced the odd game of squash . As the weeks go on and the weight hopefully drops off, I’m going to get him doing some interval training and also do some hill-walking. Then he’ll know the true meaning of pain!
Stuart has 6 months until he is 40. We’ve set a target of a 5 stone weight loss. It may be slightly unrealistic to expect him to reach that weight before his birthday but it would be great if we could set him well on his way. The first stone will be a great landmark for him. Hopefully we can reach that in the next couple of weeks. Lesley-Anne and I are delighted to combine our love of walking with helping Stuart on his own journey but we can’t be with him all the time. His battle will be won or lost in the evenings when he comes in from work. If he can find more productive and active things to do in his down time and resist the temptation to plank himself down in front of the box and snack, then ultimately he’ll get to where he wants to be.There's nothing there I can argue with. Id like to be able to argue with some of it, particularly my age, but no matter how much I try and ignore it, it's not going away! It's a hackneyed cliche, but any journey is a series of steps. It is as literally true for this journey as it is metaphorically. I think one of the key points Ian raised is the last one - I need to get myself out of the habit of vegging out on the sofa with the cat and a chocolate bar and packet of crisps. That's going to be a hard change, but I've (mostly) managed it for the past couple of weeks, and I've totally managed it this week. There was a temptation to 'reward' myself with a Twix after the walk, but as I thought about it, how much if a reward would it actually be. Surely, a reward is something positive, whilst, for me at this point in life, at least, a Twix would not be a positive thing. Tasty, certainly, but absolutely contrary to my aims. So, there are changes being made, and changes more to come. They won't be easy, but would be so much harder were I completely on my own. I've said it before, but the support of Ian and Lesley-Anne is priceless. As is the support and encouragement from all my friends. The best way I can think of thanking you is to use your support as further motivation, taking your positive words as strength when I need it.
I love you guys!