Running’s not the kind of hobby that you just casually pick up – especially when you weigh just under 20 stone.
When I first took it up, I’d all but given up hope on living a normal healthy life.
Although I’d stayed relatively in shape throughout my twenties, a series of unfortunate personal problems and life events had got in the way of my happiness. When life doesn’t go your way, it can be really tough to force yourself to get back on the horse. My problem was that, up until that period in my life, I’d not really come up against any kind of adverse events.
I’d had the perfect childhood. My parents were the perfect example of two people that truly loved each other, as well as the three children that they had begotten. Our family was an idyllic one – nestled in the Cotswolds, we spent large swathes of our time playing in the hills and woodlands of our local area. School was a cinch for me, I remember watching my sisters struggle with their various pieces of homework, whilst I seemingly breezed through the entirety of my school life, without needing to put in any real kind of work.
Making friends was easy for me – I had many. So, when it came to enter University I was a little surprised to find myself, for the very first time, completely out of my element. The level of educational difficulty had suddenly skyrocketed, leaving me perplexed and stuck with no study skills to support myself. As a result of this my confidence took a hit along with my self-esteem. I’d spent so long priding myself on being the easy-going character who didn’t have a care in the world – now that my mind was filled with worries, I found it almost impossible to hold a conversation with a new person without wandering into the dark recesses of my mind.
By the time I’d barrelled through the three years of my Physics degree I’d put on around 9 stone in weight and had let my fitness levels plummet to a hitherto unforeseen plateau.
Then the worst thing happened – the final straw that broke the camel’s back of my happiness. I was forced to move back home.
After 3 years of independent living, I had returned back to the bedroom of my childhood to discover that nothing had really changed. Besides the thousands of pounds of debt that I had managed to accrue during those fateful three years and a quickly dissolving memory of 2nd class standard Physics formulae, I had not progressed or developed one iota. Back home, surrounded by posters of bands that I still listened to, sleeping under the same familiar duvet cover that I had owned since I was 15, I did the worse thing that I could do – I regressed.
Suddenly, in the wake of my current misfortunes, I dissolved into a miserable approximation of a teenager – but the results weren’t even endearing or amusing. They were just plain sad. A man in his mid-twenties should be proudly striding through the world, making mistakes and not caring. I had become a hermit, a social recluse who only spoke to his ailing parents in grunts and yells. The weight continued to pile on.
It wasn’t until I was hit with a family tragedy that I truly appreciated what a fool I had been.
Funerals are sobering affairs, I think I’d only been to one before then as a child. The black suit that I’d had to buy especially for the day had somehow grown tighter since it’s purchase, exaggerating my rotund shape until I resembled a rather round bouncer at a night club. At funerals, there are certain things that are strictly verboten. Smoking, for example, would be considered to be done in poor taste. Similarly, simply existing as an alarmingly overweight man at a funeral, is somehow offensive. It’s as is if I was a living reminder of the vices that can shorten one’s life. There were dozens of people there that I had not seen in years – when they asked me how I was, I would just have to laugh.