Realising his weight gain had crushed the happy, confident person he once was, Keith Gray, knew he had to find a way to pick himself back up! Here, he tells us how LighterLife helped him do just that…
Growing up, I was always aware that I was bigger than my two brothers. My father was a builder and worked long hours, so my mother would cook us heavy meals to keep his strength up. My brothers and I would race to see who could finish their dinner first to get second helpings. It was never really about the food, it was about the competition.
As I got older, my taste for junk food grew and my waistline followed. My job as an art director involves long hours and a lot of desk work. I’d finish work late then go and meet friends for drinks, and it was always paired with a heavy meal. If a project in work wasn’t going to plan, I’d console myself with food and alcohol. And if a project was going well, I’d celebrate with it.
At my biggest, I felt very low. I had no energy, low self-esteem, and just getting out of bed every day was a struggle. I wouldn’t even recognise myself in the mirror, so eventually I’d just avoid them. At the weekends, I started to become quite a recluse. I’d just stay cooped up in my flat alone, eating and watching TV.
When I went home for Christmas last year, my parents hadn’t seen me for months – they were really shocked at how much weight I’d put on. It made me wake up a bit and accept that my weight had become a problem. I started to become very short of breath due to carrying extra weight and I was given an inhaler by my doctor. I slowly started to realise how very depressed I was on a day-to-day basis – I couldn’t function. It was hard to get excited or enthusiastic about anything.
The final straw was when I was shopping for furniture in Ikea. In one of their showrooms they had a weighing scale on the floor. I hadn’t weighed myself in years. I was so shocked, I was 17 stone – three stone heavier than the weight I’d assumed I was. Actually seeing that number was as depressing as it was empowering, as it gave me the push I needed to do something about my weight.
I knew the LighterLife Total programme was right for me because it was a complete break from conventional food. I found the first few months the easiest part of the programme because your meals are all set out for you. In the first couple of days of my journey, I found myself going to the kitchen cupboard on autopilot. I started to realise that all my life I’d been eating out of boredom and habit. Once I reached LighterLife Management, the food reintroduction plan educated me in nutrition and portion sizes, and helped me understand how to live healthier. I established my behaviour around food and learned to discipline myself.
My LighterLife group and Counsellor, Donna Hutton-Whitaker, were a great support. I found it funny that a group of men, who outside the group had nothing in common, were best friends for that hour every week and talked about everything. I’d use the work we did in group to help me with other aspects of my life. For example, if I’d put on a few pounds, then I’d cut something out the following week to maintain my weight. I did the same with money; if I’d gone over my balance, then I’d cut something out the following month to make up for it. It helped me to put structure back in my life.
I have far more energy, and I feel really positive and happy about life. My parents tell me that I’m my old self again – the happy, confident boy they used to know. I cycle to work three or four times a week, I do DIY in my flat and enjoy long walks. I’ve maintained my LighterLife goal weight for six months and life couldn’t be better!
If you want to find out how LighterLife has helped others develop the mindset for life-changing weight loss visit our LighterLife Facebook page, Twitter or our website to start your journey toward a lighter life.