Friday, 30 May 2014

Losing Two And A Half Stones

The key event in my life after forty was packing in smoking in 2007. Smoking sixty a day was not uncommon, particularly if the pub was involved (and that was a great deal at one time), so it was necessary medically, but a pity emotionally. 

My ex partner Deb once said to me that cigarettes were the great love of my life and while that may have been close to the mark (though not quite true), I certainly missed them when they were gone. 

I still do, seven years on. Smoking cessation left a cavernous hole in my life that has never been filled and probably never will.

The world's biggest hole in Russia

Yet, it's an achievement and I will never return. 

However, there have been two side effects of my feat of endurance.

1) A long term stomach illness. I won't bore you with it, but suffice to say nicotine is a metaboliser and digestive aid and at one time, I thought nothing of eating whole KFC Family Feasts. The cigarettes helped to get rid afterwards.

And I continued to eat like a monster after I quit.

I could quite happily eat that now...

2) Weight gain. I resent the NHS for this. In a leaflet I read, the small print said 'you may experience some mild weight gain'. Well, in one year, I put on 56lbs (4 stone in the local parlance). I think I then lost two stones naturally, but, for one reason or another, the last two stones have proved a nightmare to shift.

I have been a member of Southwell Leisure Centre gym since October 2010. I was referred there on the brilliant GP Referral Scheme for a multiplicity of middle-aged-man illnesses including the afore mentioned overweight, high blood pressure, stomach pain, anxiety attacks, stress and clinical depression following a disastrous spell of employment in a local charity (scary places, scary people). 

A typical manager in the Voluntary and Charity Sector

While I can do without the weights (anyone who reads my stuff knows how I feel about the lunkheads who lift heavy weights), I love cardio and particularly distance running. 

In November 2012, I ran the Worksop Half Marathon. This was a major achievement. 

The only places I used to run to were situated at the end of the road, and they sold fags, beer, drugs, curry, kebabs and Lucky 15s. 

You would think that I would be happy with all this, the sense of endorphin-related well being more than compensating for the visceral, decadent pleasures I have foregone. 

You would think the treatment would have worked.

I had a measurement session with one of the gang down at the leisure centre the other day and I came out feeling as if I had been slapped around the head by a big wet fish.

In three and a half years, I have lost 1lb and 4ozs.

Brilliant huh.

I clearly cannot do this on my own, so I am going to enlist the help of my readers, friends, "followers" (ridiculous nomenclature) and people I know to get me through this. 

The Scores On The Doors:

According to my weighing print out:

I am 14st 12lb (94.7kg)
37% Fat

There are other statistics on there which are too embarrassing to list (and probably too boring). Everything is too much or too little.

Here is what I have done:

I've eliminated any bread bar pitta.
No takeaways or pre-prepared meals.
No chips.
Deffo no chocolate (see last week's blog post - that hurts typing it)
No carbonated drink.

I would like to give up booze but I have a long standing social engagement and enjoy the occasional night out, so I shall suck that and see.

I am allowed one treat night a week. Probably Saturday.
I am going to exercise six days a week. Luckily, I live near the leisure centre so that's not an issue.

My goal?

12 stone 8 lb by September 1st.

Can I do it? Watch this space.

If anyone wants to help/cheerlead/discuss or better still, join in, then I shall be tracking this on Facebook. Happy to link there, if we are not already.

Thanks and wish me luck.



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Big Cat Nap and Cecilia Spark

All profits from EVERY book you buy from children's author Ngaire Elder, author of "The Adventures of Cecilia Spark" goes to Born Free's Big Cat Nap throughout June. Check the website for details. 

It's a fantastic cause so #getonboard.


  1. Firstly, Mark, thank you for the shout-out for my fundraiser for the Big Cats and the video footage of lions was beautiful.
    You will achieve your goal and I bet when you do, you will be yodelling with the neighbours cat and Morris dancing in the street! Wishing you all the luck for your BIG dream! n x

    1. Always happy to support your stuff, N! :D Love the big cats. Thank you for supporting me...its needed! :D Mx

  2. Thank you, you two, Roll on September 1st! :-) Mxx

  3. I realise the weight gain is an issue for you Mark but I think you should give yourself more credit for having given up smoking in the first place - this is the best thing you could have done for yourself and if you have the will power to do that and stick to it then you have the will power to lose the weight. I look forward to following your progress and if I can give you one piece of advice it would be that if you have one bad day, when it all goes off the rails and you have eaten something completely inappropriate don't let it all go, just start again the next day as if the previous one had never happened - best wishes Georgia x

    1. Hiya Georgia. I am proud of myself for giving up smoking. It was eight months of agony and one of the toughest things I have ever done. You are right - it was pure force of will that helped me to do it and I am going to do it again with weight. I.'m not happy being overweight and as I have a tendency to depression, I am very careful to keep a check on that whenever I can, so hopefully the determination is going to help improve my mood. I have never been healthier, actually - and I am quite fit - I'm simply overweight and with the help of my friends, I can beat it. Thank you for your best wishes :D Markx

  4. If anyone wants to follow my progress, I will be using FB primarily - I'm not sure that Twitter is very social and this is nothing to do with books - and also this temporary blog. Please feel free to interact/join in Marky xx

  5. Some go-on-I-dare-you pictures of you before weight gain, at heaviest, during etc would give this post 20 times the impact. But seriously - you gained FOUR STONE???? Seriously???!!! I've seen this before, people who give up smoking but need to keep shoving things in their mouths (oo-er Mrs!!!). If you still want fags and still have the oral craving thing going on, try nicotine chewing gum, it really, really works. I only smoke a couple in the evening and the odd one when out shopping, but chew gum. loads. Losing weight is one of the things that most makes you feel happy, I think (shit, that sentence was horrendous!!!!), that and fab sex, but I guess you're more likely to get the latter if you do the former, ha ha!!!

    Twitter isn't less social than FB, it just depends what site works for you. I find FB more about people who want to talk about their own lives to people they know, rather than those who want to talk about all sorts of stuff to anyone, so Twitter works better for me. In fact, I spend at least one hour of writing time talking on it every day.... um...

    ANYWAY - I digress. Huge massive luck, and don't have unrealistic goals. A pound a week is just fine :)

    1. Do you know what, Terry? Had I known the weight gain I would experience, I wouldn't have packed in. It was horrifying to experience, plus the accompanying illness. They never tell you this! I wish I had the bottle to have taken some photos but I didn't and its too late now hahahahahahahahahha. I'm training to the exclusion of everything else at the moment...I'll keep you posted on the weigh in next Friday. :D Mark xx

  6. Haha,... that is a pretty big hole. Still, this wizard has this in the bag. Our super hero can do anything he sets his mind to!!! Are you sure about the chocolate though? I mean, there are some things one should NEVER give up. That and, well, maybe sex? Maybe.

    1. Sex, Brenda? Whassat? Doesn't that stop at forty? :D :D I haven't had a bite of chocolate for three weeks and I have to work out how to reintegrate it into the diet because I love it - however, you will know that you may as well munch a brick of lard as a chocolate bar, so I don't know how to work it back in. Thanks for your support, as usual, Brenda! Mxx

  7. Join the club. I tried on a pair of my pants and they didn't zip! I laid on the bed, that didn't work. What!? Ugh! Sick. Soooo two weeks later, I have lost ten pounds. ����☺.

    1. How did you do it, Debra? Gym? Running? That's pretty decent going...:D well done...

  8. nteresting and good luck with it all. I remember hearing a doctor saying that nicotine was known to help people with colitis (horrible stomach disorder) and also is beneficial for avoiding Alzheimer's diesased, but that 'they were keeping that quiet'. I suppose the downside of smoking outweighs the benefits, but it's certainly a digestive aid. YOu keep active in the gym, so that's got to be good, keep at it so eventually there'll be a very thin wizard.

    1. Nicotine itself has many positive benefits, Geoff, not least concentration. Its just the rest of it, the tar, the chemicals etc. I wrote most of my bids and contracts as a smoker and for a couple of years afterwards, I lost the ability to sit still! :D It's back now, though, thankfully! :D M