It’s a whole new life

The following was posted on the private KSFL Facebook page by Matthew, who wanted to explain to the members how he ended up joining Kick Start Fat Loss. It was such a wonderful piece of writing I asked if I could use it as a guest blog on my website and he graciously agreed.
It all looks so daunting from the outside. But where people are is often less interesting than how they got there, I think. This is how I got here.
I’m a journalist & travel writer. On 13th June this year, there was a small launch event in Banbury for one of my guidebooks. In the audience that day was local writer and novelist Mike Dale – we’d never met before, and we chatted a bit about writing and social media.
I looked him up on Twitter when I got home, and clicked through to his blog – here it is:
– where I started reading a bunch of articles he’d written about Banbury life… and this thing called Kick Start Fat Loss.
I’ve always been fat. My family has always been fat – my mum, my dad, my brothers. I’m sure it’s genetic, but then again, food was also a big issue in our house. I remember being fat as a young child. I was fat all through school. I was fat in college. There was a short time in my 20s when I was a bit slimmer, but – even if I wasn’t quite fat – I’ve always been a big bloke. I hated exercise. I wasn’t sporty at school – though I reckon I could have enjoyed sport more, given the right encouragement. My body has always been a part of me I never felt proud of.
I wasn’t unhappy, exactly. I was just resigned to it inside. That’s who I was – big. I loved cheese, I loved bread and crackers, I loved muesli for breakfast. I often overate.
I’ve also been blocked, creatively, for a while now. I was writing, but I was increasingly wondering what for.
Earlier this year I suddenly realised that, at some point, I’d become allergic to gluten. My poo was the giveaway – it just wasn’t right, and hadn’t been for, well, years maybe. I don’t know how long. Sludgy. Smelly. Finally, after a lot of procrastination, I did something about it. I wondered if it might be gluten, so I tried cutting gluten out. Suddenly, in a day or two, I felt loads better. Not heavy. Not bloated after every meal (I stopped taking the Rennie anti-bloat tablets I’d been necking almost daily for years.) Proper poo again. It was a revelation. We started buying gluten-free bread and gluten-free muesli. Expensive, but OK. I thought wow, this is good.
Then I found Mike’s blog, and KSFL.
That brought together a whole bunch of thoughts and unspoken emotions that had been swirling below the surface for a while. We’ve got two young kids. I wanted to keep up with them. I wanted to set a decent example to them. I wanted them to gain the kind of self-understanding and autonomy around food I never had. I wanted to do the best I could for them, with them, and around them. I wanted them not to be fat.
Being fat, sweaty and a bit moody myself wasn’t helping. Big belly, big double-chin… I wanted my kids to see something better than that every day. I’ve never had a jaw-line. I wanted one. I wanted to be the kind of dad who cycles.
A doctor pointed out to me once that you don’t see very old fat people. But I want to be very old, to spend as long as possible with my kids. And when I get old, I want to be an old man with a scrawny neck, not a wobbling double-chin. I love scrawny necks on old men.
I’m lucky to have a wonderful, sharp, clever, perceptive, incredibly hardworking woman as my wife. She’s grappled with body issues all her life. I wanted to be less unattractive for her. I wanted to head off that visible future of letting go, letting things slide, and try harder instead. I wanted to do something good.
Mike’s blog about KSFL led me to Sindy’s website. It all looked a bit dauntingly sporty and gym-y – things I didn’t enjoy, at places I didn’t go to. Lots of lycra. Very off-putting. But Mike had written very persuasively about Sindy, and about KSFL. It knocked around inside my head for a while.
That same week, in June, I heard I’d landed an amazing assignment. In January 2016, I’m being sent to Antarctica for the BBC. It’s an epic trip – two weeks at sea on a working ship out of Cape Town, a week at Britain’s remotest Antarctic base, far out on a moving ice shelf making a documentary for Radio 4, another two weeks at sea to the Falklands, then an RAF flight home to Brize Norton.
It’s once in a lifetime.
I had a bit over six months to get ready. Getting ready meant feeling a bit stronger and more confident.
Mike’s blog about Sindy kept rattling around in my head.
I saw from the KSFL website that Sindy was running classes four days a week at Woodgreen Leisure Centre (ed. this has since changed to Banbury Twenty Cricket Club). And in the end, that was the clincher. Woodgreen is three minutes’ walk from my house. If it had been further away, or somewhere I’d have to drive to, I think I would have ruled it out. Too much hassle. Not enough time in my busy life. But it was Woodgreen. With the gluten thing in my head, with the kids thing in my head, with the Antarctic thing in my head – with all of that, I knew that if I couldn’t get myself to flipping Woodgreen, at least once, to have a look, it was just never going to happen. Ever.
So two weeks after I met Mike, in the middle of the turmoil that is 6pm on a weekday night with two small kids and a dog at dinner time, I somehow got myself out the door and walked to Woodgreen. I had no workout gear, and I wasn’t ready in my mind to start anyway, so I just went in jeans and a hoodie, to see.
And it looked right. Why? Because it was fun to meet new people – like Rachael Willson, who I recognised from her photo in the local paper after she’d lost 3 stone. She encouraged me.
Because you could work for 20 seconds, then stop (I liked the sound of that). Because people were smiling and laughing, actually enjoying the workout (that was new to me) – and enjoying being together. Because it was cheap. Because it was nearby.
But actually, because of Sindy. The energy coming off Sindy that day was something amazing – the way she was supporting the people in the class, her enthusiasm for the workout, her grin. That incredible grin. It could light a city.
I went home, found some shorts, and made it back at 6.15 next morning for class number one. I weighed 17st 1lb.
Today I weigh 15st 1lb.
It’s a whole new life, suddenly.
Posted on: November 1, 2015, by : Sindy Matthews

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