October 17, 2015In Paul's JourneyBy Paul Cocker6 Minutes

April 2014… couch, crisps, and Facebook whilst awaiting the ding of the oven timer for another deliciously orange coloured meal of chips, Southern fried chicken and baked beans. A meal surely covering all bases on the carbs, protein, and veg front? I’m casually scrolling through the many inane pictures and musings that Facebook regurgitates when my eyes lock onto a photo of me looking like what can only be described as a fat, retired WWF wrestler. No offence meant to wrestlers out there.

Cue elevated heart rate and panic….

You can change a lot in 15 months. You can attempt a rambling blog for starters. But you can also take control of your health and be accountable for your own well-being; both physically and mentally. This is what I’ve attempted to do, and to date I have no shame in admitting I’m happy to find myself where I am right now.

In no way I’m saying that my journey is done. In fact it’s still in its infancy. Scrap that. It’s barely out of nappies!

How did I find myself in the position I described at the start? It might be a familiar sounding story but I’ll make it short and sweet for you. Active in sports (football and surfing) from school to late 20’s, work hard, drink hard on the weekends. Eat crap and repeat. Meet girl, get into relationship, get comfortable and spend many a night on the sofa ploughing through comfort food. Hit 35 years old, life implodes, relationship fails, and life spirals into one of even less care, even more drinking, and cycle of feeling hard done by. Spend time wallowing in self-pity until the aforementioned picture makes its entrance: A long, hard look at myself delivered by the devil that is Facebook.

I didn’t realise the really hard bit that was ahead; taking account of your short-comings and deciding ‘enough is enough’.

You need to make significant changes. But where to start?

I’m not afraid to admit that the starting point is overwhelming and it’s way easier to stand still and comfortable in the modern world of food that is ultra convenient, and sit on the sofa flicking through 42 channels of nothing. So what did I do? I started small. I started with food. Something I’ve never had a good relationship with since my late teens. Thinking back I ate poorly, grabbing what I could from garages when working, or from the frozen food section in the evening. Skipping breakfast and drinking fizzy drinks to wash down crisps (don’t get me started on crisps, which are easily my Achilles heel!).

So, firstly I cut out bread, which was by far my biggest revelation as I had always had indigestion throughout my adult life. Booze was the next to go and I started drinking just water along with eating basic, healthy meals – chicken or fish with rice and veg.

Looking back now, a lot of this seems obvious. But, you have to really be in the right frame of mind to do it: To take the first step, take a good long look at yourself and decide whether you want to head down the road to health or the road to diabetes and heart disease. Because let’s be blunt, that’s where it’s going to end up if you don’t step in and take control.

So having made these small, basic changes I started to feel the benefits – admittedly more mentally than physically at first. I started to sleep better and wake up less lethargic. My skin; which was previously affected by rosacea and spots, started to clear up. But, by far, the biggest change was my mood: I felt less grumpy and slowly came out of the “fog” that seemed to be ever-present in my head.

I did notice slight changes in my body – I felt less bloated and my stomach looked flatter. The constant indigestion I suffered from started to disappear, and my reliance on antacid tablets stopped. I started to set myself little challenges like eating an extra portion of veg here and there, drinking an additional litre of water during the day, and obviously to go a certain period of time without junk food like crisps or a take away.

I carried this on for a month until I felt ready to take the next step towards a health/lifestyle change…

So there’ll be more to come! I’ve decided to write this in three parts as I’ve babbled on long enough. The next part of this blog will continue with my journey into physical activity. If you’ve got this far, thank you!