SEE that septuagenarian writer, poet, raconteur, extrovert and ‘Man about Town’ who seems to be living life to the full, a life brimmed to overflowing with enjoyment, fun and satisfaction, full-on for today and embracing every moment?
Would you believe that, just a few years ago, he was an obese, lethargic man who felt that, verging on his seventies, his best days were behind him. He was just ‘surviving’ what ever time he had left. Despite being friendly, positive and optimistic, he was single and alone. Despite trying to get out and be proactive, he was a ‘human butterfly’, flitting from one project to another, looking for the next idea that could fill his days… and nights.
‘What’, you may ask, ‘happened to prompt such changes?’ You may be confused, how do I know so much about him? I’ll tell you, the man I described was and is ME! The transformative journey from sloth to ‘Superman’ was one of the greatest experiences in the life story of this ‘Silly Old Fart.’
My metamorphosis began in September 2016, at the wedding of my only son. I was so happy. The only negative being the wedding photographs! I had the stark realisation of what I’d been ignoring for so long; I was not only overweight, I was obese! This acknowledgment forced radicle action, I knew that I had to do something about my weight, though circumstances dictated it be held in abeyance for a short period.
Just one week after our sons wedding, I lost my wife of 45 years. My world turned upside down. I was devastated. I prepared myself as best I could for the years ahead, but I was still determined to slim down and lose weight.
In late October, I attended my first slimming group held in a local supermarket cafe. I stood on the scales and saw what I dreaded, 23st 10lbs, (332 pounds or 150.5 kgs). This would be a mammoth task, it could take forever. I had to lose a third of who I was to achieve my weight-loss goal – and for health reasons too, having been diagnosed with Type 2 Diabetes some years previously.
I started rebuilding my life, I volunteered as a Community Transport driver, I joined a male voice choir (never having sang a note since school assembly), attended a Mens Shed, (a sort of Women’s Institute, but for men). I found a local church. But for all of that, I still returned to a lonely home each night! This is how I saw myself, existing in the house that had been home for 45 years, carrying on with my activities and continuing to pursue my weight-loss ideals.
The weight loss was a hard slog, especially when I hit a brick wall at just under 20 stone. This plateau lasted many weeks and I almost gave up. I reassessed, made extra efforts and the weight loss then continued. Within a year I reached my target weight which had been set at 17st 10lbs.
I was ecstatic! I continued to attend the meetings, for they were now more social than just about losing weight. I did intend to get even slimmer.
This lone male in a female dominated group was beginning to preen himself! The weight continued shed and by Christmas of 2017 I weighed in at 16.5st, a weight loss of 7st 3lbs. I had shrunk from a 54” / 137cm waist, down to a ‘svelte’ 38” / 96.5cm. Even though I was still classed as overweight, I was happy in my own skin, the first time for a long time. Life was good!
I invested in a whole new wardrobe, even starting to wear some of my son’s cast-offs. One thing that makes me smile from that time was my new found love of jeggings, an almost skin tight cross between jeans and leggings. A far cry from the type of clothing I’d worn before. An added bonus of the ‘New Me’ was the boost in self confidence and self esteem. These sky rocketed way into the stratosphere!
A ‘Brief Encounter’ in January led me to believe I still had a life to live and that belief came to fruition in February. I had offered to show a lady, new to the area, the bus route to meetings of a group we were now both members of. So it was on Thursday 1st February 2018 I met her. That lady was destined never to catch a bus to our group, or to anywhere. Just seven months later, in September, we ‘eloped’ to Blackpool and were married in the Wedding Chapel in the shadow of the tower. Now, annually we celebrate our wedding anniversary each September, but just as important is 1st February, our ‘Fate & Friendship Day’ and we celebrated that special day annually too.
Within weeks we returned to Blackpool, house hunting. We made our choice and even before the property purchase was completed my South Wales house was sold. We celebrated our first Christmas together, in our new home, albeit as ‘tenants’, love overflowed, my life reborn. By the end of January the place was ours. What a life changing year it had been!
But that wasn’t quite the end of my journey…
In the Summer of 2022 my wife announced that she wanted to return to a vegetarian lifestyle, I agreed to undertake the change, happy to support her. I soon learned never to let the tag ‘vegan’ or ‘vegetarian’ prejudge what I thought about the meal I was eating! I have appreciated some of the tastiest, textural, and colourful meals that I had ever enjoyed. On top of that enjoyment, without me having to do anything, I have dropped down to 14.5 stone.
Other benefits of the changes include: increased mobility, a vibrant and stylish wardrobe, general wellbeing and the ability to achieve many of the goals I set myself. Additionally, my diabetes is now in remission. I no longer have to take diabetic medication.
This young man in an older man’s body is living the dream and ageing disgracefully.
Look out for further instalments of Alan’s Ageing disgracefully column over the coming weeks. He will be entertaining us with more stories from his ‘septuagenarian’ era and the adventures he’s had.