Week 9: The good, the bad and the very ugly

Let me tell you a story about your local friendly neighbourhood reporter and their jaunt out of the office to buy a salad at lunchtime.

Let’s say she was feeling relatively good about herself. She had been to a party the weekend before where she had been showered with compliments about her weight loss. A few people took a moment or two to recognise who she was.

She was fired up with a new enthusiasm and even that very day she had received a compliment when leaving the office for lunch. Her rear end it seemed was smaller than it used to be.

So there she goes and climbs out of her car - and while walking to the ATM hears a cat call from three young ‘gentlemen’ in a car parked close by. “Fat b*tch” they call, and she stops, glares at them and goes about her business trying not to think too much about what they said, how true it is, or why they said it.

It sticks in her mind though - and the rest of the day when she looks in the mirror she doesn’t see how far she has come since January, or how her body has changed in the last nine weeks - only how far she has to go.

The negative voice, which everyone who has ever had a weight problem in their life knows all about, comes back with a vengeance. And the words echo in her head for the rest of the day.

She - being me of course - realises once again that in this day and age being fat is considered to be a failing - something which leaves you open to ridicule and open to public commentary. (Of course I accept writing a weight loss column opens me to the same public commentary... but I doubt very much the three young men in the car who called at me read this column).

I’m not one of those people who seeks to make excuses for my weight. At the end of the day I make the choices about what I eat and what exercise I do. I freely admit, for a number of reasons, I’ve clearly not always made the right decisions.

That doesn’t, however, make me a bad person. Being above a size 12 does not automatically give others the right to declare open season on you.

Others will never know your own journey - how hard you have tried, how many times you have tried or how far you have come.

Trying to get fit and lose weight is tough. And it is tough no matter what the reason for your size or shape.

What I have needed, and relished, throughout this Biggest Loser challenge is that I know every time I have walked into the OLT in Creggan to train with some of the fittest athletes in this city, I have been walking into a non-judgemental environment.

I have not been ridiculed or humiliated. I have been pushed very hard - and made to work for every ounce of my weight loss and every inch of my fat loss, but I have been been treated as a person - not the weight I carry on the scales or the label on my clothes - or how I look when I’m standing in a queue to use the ATM.

The Biggest Loser programme has its place. It is there to help people who, like me, realise they are not in the healthiest of places and who want to make a big difference to their lives.

It takes some guts to walk through the doors of the OLT to sign up - and it takes even more guts to keep going week on week. I am constantly impressed by my fellow team-mates each week who show up and give it their all. When you haven’t exercised in years, or you are carrying multiple stones of extra weight throwing yourself into an intense exercise programme hurts physically and pushes you to the limits mentally. The person training you and how they motivate you - along with seeing the others you are working alongside progress each week - is what keeps you going. It is what has kept me there on the nights when I would rather be doing anything else but exercise.

I can take someone shouting at me to push myself - I thrive on it - but I can’t take those who judge me without knowing me.