There comes a point in every man’s life when he becomes accustomed to the way he looks.
He stops yearning after attaining the six-packs that adorn the ripped bodies of younger men and he learns to love the gut that slowly starts to swell around his midriff.
The precedent is set by thousands of middle-aged men the world over; they marry (or settle into a happy bachelorhood of isolation) and allow themselves to expand and expand.
This is exactly what happened to me.
Wedding bells were not the death toll of my youthful spry build. Those fateful knells were issued forth from the school cafeteria. As a Secondary School educator, I’ve never had the chance to leave teaching establishments. From my own education in school, to college to university and then back to school for my training and work. With each of these places of education came a cafeteria loaded with cheaply priced food stuffs that were tailor made to build on the puppy fat I’d been born with as a child and develop my gut into the belt stretching Goliath that it is today.
Years of lunch time indulgence have led to my appetite increasing along with my waistline. 1pm was, unashamedly, the best part of my day – but all this was about to change.
You see, although us men may shed our self-conscious ideals of gaining the rock hard bodies of sports professionals over time, it doesn’t mean that our habits can’t be changed by an earth-shattering trip to the Doctor.
“You are not a healthy man, Jarred.” The Doctor was stating the obvious. He’d apparently learnt from experience that it was always best to make his diagnosis absolutely crystal clear, especially when it came to talking to middle-aged men with strong cases of denial. “If you don’t change your eating habits – you will die.” No beating around the bush from this guy. His no-nonsense approach worked and I left with a stack of documentation and educational pamphlets outlining the options that I had.
The healthiest, but by far the most challenging, route was to bring a halt to the lunch time binges, rein in my eating across the board and engage in a rigorous course of exercise – a concept that had become completely alien to me over the last twenty years. As much as I knew this technique would work, the thought of putting an end to my daily demolition of canteen lunches, with the aid of my will power alone, did not bear thinking about.
The next option was one that I had not even dreamed of. Invasive, dangerous and completely life-changing – getting a gastric band fitted was considered an extreme option but one that my condition warranted. The thought of voluntarily undergoing surgery made me feel both queasy and ashamed.
Waiting in the plastic surgeon’s office for my first consultation – I looked around uneasily at my fellow patients. Octogenarians with eye-wateringly taught skin looked on unblinkingly, nervy mothers perused breast augmentation pamphlets and blackened eyes peered out from behind layers of bandage dressing as teenagers recovered from getting their nose job surgery. Did I really belong with these people, waiting in this room to visit the same doctor?
2 weeks after having the gastric band fitted, I can confirm that this was absolutely the right move for me. After the surgery, my hunger for mammoth meals dissipated and my waistline began slowly retreating until, one day, I found myself slipping the belt up one fateful notch.