First Few Steps

Active & Adventurous - Hard Miles

First, let me get a one thing off my chest… I am a runner, I love to run, I run therefore I am.

For me to be able to say this is still a bit of a novelty. I used to be massively overweight and very prone to problems with my back. Severe enough that I spent a month in traction, had periods where I could not feel my legs due to the nerves being crushed and at the age of twenty-nine I was told by my surgeon I had to lose weight or I would be facing life in a wheelchair.

The next week I lost 11 pounds, the next week I lost a few more, then a few more. Before I knew it I had dropped from 273 pounds down to 189, just by simply eating less and moving more. Nothing magical or mystical in that, it’s a pretty simple formula to remember as well. Eat less, move more. It works.

This newfound mobility prompted me to start climbing up at my local university climbing wall. I loved it! It’s like vertical dance but with a bit of strength needed as well and the better your strength to weight ratio the easier you will find the climbing. So to improve that I started running to keep my weight down. I soon found, however, that I was running more than climbing and before I knew it, it was too late. I was a runner and my life changed.

Not always for the better though, as I started being really paranoid about my weight and I started using running as way of allowing me to eat more and still keep my weight down. I started binging from time to time and running was always there to keep the balance. Then when my ex-wife fell pregnant I stopped running, but I did not stop eating. My weight went up and I started using laxatives to try and keep the balance. When the marriage ended and I was able to start running again, the laxatives stopped being my only resort and running again took over as my method of weight control.

And boy did it take over. I went from six or seven miles a week to the high thirties, in just a few short weeks. This took its toll on my body and I injured myself and I had to stop running. My eating went mad. I was eating as I was depressed, and then taking laxatives because of the guilt of over-eating which made me depressed, so I ate more. And so on and so on. I finally had to admit to myself and the doctor that I was bulimic.

Not many men approaching middle age can say that. It’s often thought of a condition that only affects teenage girls, but no, us men get it too.

I went to my very helpful doctor and he said, just run. Get some focus and use that focus to take your mind of the marriage breakdown and the bulimia. Running and exercise is part and parcel of bulimia, but it’s a much healthier way of dealing with it initially while you try to sort your issues with food out, which is not something that happens over night.

So I did, I ran and trained properly and entered my first half marathon and did very well. But it was not enough, I had to do a marathon next. I have always wanted to do one and next year I am going to do my first ever marathon, up in Edinburgh in Scotland.

Over the next following weeks I will be inviting you to follow me as I train for, what to me, is a massive event. At heart I am still the fat kid that can’t run, this is what is driving my eating disorder and what in turn is driving me to run.

I am not an expert, an athlete, a dietician or a life guru. I am just a thirty-seven-year-old divorced man, living in his mom and dad's attic on the farm by the sea, but I hope with this column and my daily blog I am able to help open up this taboo subject and bring some awareness of what effect it can have on people of all ages and genders, not just teenage girls.


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