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Our resident mountain bike weight-loss star talks food

| Blog, What Mountain Bike | 07/07/2010 10:05am

Today is about food. We all love food, obviously some more than others!

First off before I start I would like to emphasise I am no nutritionist or a health professional, what I am about to say should be taken as based solely on my experiences and stuff I’ve learnt about along the way. You could very well be different!

I come from a family of lads; my mum was the cook in her family as a child, because she lost her mum very early on, and as she was the only female amongst her dad and brothers she, quite naturally for the time, (1930s, 1940s) inherited the cooking duties. So Mum was used to cooking for blokes from an early age. And cooking for hard working hungry blokes! Consequently she was used to dishing out what I know now as fairly large meals.

The large meals were not an issue as a child, as being a kid in the ’60s and ’70s I was outside all of the time playing with the other kids in the street, then later on out on my pushbike all the time. Also sports were a massive thing for us at school, first soccer and cricket at Junior School, then at Grammar School, rugby, cricket and Athletics. We were always very active. In school holidays, we left the house after breakfast and never returned until tea time, then back out again returning at bed time. Happy days!

Playing rugby as an adult and the military fitness requirements kept me fit and as thin as I was ever going to get as a short, stocky bloke.

We all get old and ease off, that’s a given. In hindsight I’d like to have planned for the easing off, but as I’ve said before it kind of just happened. So being used to large portions (yes!) I carried on. But stupidly without the excercise.

A typical day was toast (4 slices) for breakfast, dodgy crap filled sandwiches from the sandwich van at work for lunch, probably a take out for dinner at home and cans of beer in front of the telly for supper of an evening.

I once got made redundant and spent some time at home, the eating got worse. Chocolate from the local shop, Ginster’s pasties, regular visits to the chippy for kebabs and other health food added to sitting on my arse all day spelt trouble. I could have got myself back into fitness and proper eating again. I know it did occur to me at the time. Is this a mental condition? I’m naturally suspicious of people using “negative personal circumstances” as an excuse for gluttony, or other failings, but here I was filling my face for all I was worth.

At the weekend it was worse! Watching regular rugby matches meant loads of ale with the lads and a visit to the local curry house afterwards, without a care in the world at the time. But, the more I ate, and I know now, the more unhappy I got, so the more I ate. It seems quite pathetic seeing it written down. This is quite difficult…

This went on, getting worse and worse. I got fatter and fatter, greedier and greedier for roughly 10 years. And totally denying it too, until I reached 22 stones 4lb back in June 2009. I’m 5’ 8” by the way. I could talk about what it’s like being fat, just the day to day practicalities of it, what becomes difficult, how you behave and interact with others etc. But maybe some other time with that stuff.

Enough was enough and I woke up. Why after 10 years of self abuse I should change is beyond me, but I’m very grateful to Frank Kinlan whose own blog about his similar circumstances got me to change. More grateful than I can ever say actually.

Along with a renewed passion for pedalling my diet has changed dramatically too. A work day is three Shredded Wheat for brunch or a bowl of porridge (at work) and for dinner at home one of wifey’s cooked dinners, a meat and two veg kind of thing (sensible portions), plus drinking plenty of water. When I want to reach for the take out menu of an evening after dinner, I attack the fruit and veg drawer to snack on. OK it’s not as satisfying as a balti, kebab or a bag of chips but it works for me!

I am absolutely aware that there are people who will tell me I’m not doing the right thing diet wise, but as I said, this works for me and I’m not feeling hungry and I appear to have enough energy to pedal. I certainly haven’t cut out anything, nothing is banned, it’s just that I have stopped bingeing. My diet does cover all food groups. I think the old saying “everything in moderation” is absolutely spot on for the average bloke in the street.

At the weekend, well Friday night, I do have three beers at my local along with a take out on the way home. This is my reward for a hard week pedalling and eating sensibly.

I’m convinced I had (have) some sort of illness, akin to alcoholism in relation to food. No doctor has ever told me this despite repeated requests for medical help. But I am absolutely sure that I could go back down that rocky road again. Addictive personality? Mental illness? Galloping idiocy? Whatever, I suppose it’s irrelevant, I got myself into the mess and I am getting myself out of the mess. But bloody hell, it’s a massive battle with seemingly no official support network. I’m glad the blogging is a more than adequate substitute. Maybe blogging should be on prescription!

Has cycling saved my life? I believe so. If I had carried on eating as I was, and doing absolutely no exercise then in all probability I wouldn’t see 60 years of age. Maybe even 50 years of age if my blood pressure from a year ago was anything to go by. And to all of you youngsters out there, 50 is not old, trust me!

A passion for push bikes which started when I was about six years old with a kiddies’ Raleigh Pavemaster has carried on through mountain biking as a young adult and all types of cycling now. Two wheels have had a huge beneficial effect for me at my self-inflicted lowest ever point. If ever you feel like not pedalling or easing off, don’t! If you don’t use it you’ll lose it! Use me as an example of what happens when you become a greedy, lazy idiot!

Clive Chapman

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