Procedure of choice Gastric band
Starting weight 21st 1lb
Current weight 14st 8lb
Total weight loss 6st 7lb*
Trigger for weight loss Limited mobility & joint pain
In 2008, three friends of mine thought they should take up some exercise and decided they would try cycling. They got some reasonable road/trail bikes and started training. I tried to get on one of their bikes but it was quite impossible – you see I weighed 23 stone and had a 56 inch waist! After a few weeks they decided on a challenge – the Coast to Coast cycle route from Whitehaven in Cumbria to Sunderland. About 160 miles in 3 days. There was no way I’d be cycling so I volunteered to be the ‘support’ and would accompany them in my people carrier - taking them to the start, carting luggage to each overnight stop and bringing them home. It was a great weekend and I enjoyed it - but I was just a spectator.
If you’re reading this and you are a fat person then you’ll know the constant disappointments, the frustrations, the embarrassments that are part of your daily life. Not being part of this adventure was one of the many factors that drove me towards my own tipping point – the point at which I decided I couldn’t go on being so fat that I couldn’t do things that normal people could easily do.
In July 2009 I had a gastric band fitted by the team at Healthier Weight, I lost a considerable amount of weight immediately and continued to lose a total of 7 stone over the next 18 months*. I’ve still got a couple of stone to go but life has become so much easier with a 40 inch waist – that’s 16 inches less! I can bend over, walk, run – and yes I can ride a bike.*
So when my friends decided that they would start training again for a new Coast to Coast route known as the Way of the Roses – through the Red Rose County of Lancashire and the White Rose County of Yorkshire from Morecombe to Bridlington – I decided I wanted to join them. The 170 mile route involved very strenuous climbs on day one, less so one day two and a flat route on day 3. In February 2011 I bought a bike and started a training regime building up to the 60 miles in a day I need to be able to complete the route.
Our only problem was that now I was riding we had no support vehicle! Luckily for me, but not for him, one of our group was unable to train and so volunteered to be the driver.
We set off from Morecombe at 9am after posing for photos by the Eric Morecombe statue. It’s an easy route on cycle ways through Morecombe and on through Lancaster along the River Lune. On leaving Lancaster, however, we started to climb, and climb and climb. We reached the picturesque town of Settle for lunch but then discovered the steepest climbs were between us and our overnight stop at Pateley Bridge. As I was still very much heavier than my friends I was struggling on the hills and had to make much use of my very lowest gear – my ‘granny gear’. Then just six miles from that day’s destination I changed down to the granny gear as I was struggling on a steep hill on a remote road and the immense strain on the chain proved too much and it broke. I was already a way behind my friends and in an area with no mobile phone system. It was raining and windy. I hunched down by the stone wall and waited. After about 20 minutes one of them came looking for me, then had to pedal off to find a signal to call our support vehicle and so rescue me. Once at the hotel we were able to fix the chain with a spare link and get ready for the next day’s 55 miles.
After some steep climbs we cycled through some glorious scenery for a fast ride straight to York. There was probably some great scenery the first day but we all had our heads down climbing the hills! It was such a contrast to the previous day – sunny not raining, relatively flat and so we all bowled along enjoying ourselves and arrived early at our York Hotel. In fact I was feeling so good that I was able to set the pace for the day – a far cry from two years ago when I couldn’t get on a bike. An evening out in York was a highlight, such a beautiful city
A short ride to Pocklington for morning coffee – a small town which we all agreed was the most attractive town we’d ever visited and then on to Driffield for lunch passing through some beautiful Yorkshire Wolds. And the final 20 mile stretch into Bridlington was a breeze. Arriving about 3pm we decided to visit the country’s best fish and chip shop – as voted by other fish and chip shop owners – for tea. Sadly my gastric band doesn’t allow me to eat chips but they looked good! The fish was great though - I took half of it home for the next night!
My gastric band has given me back my life, after years of creeping weight gain and I now have a way of keeping my weight off. I had middle age onset diabetes and took drugs to control it – now that has gone and I’m off those drugs. I had high blood pressure, now I’m on a third of the dose and my blood pressure is normal. I sleep better, enjoy the taste of food and live a great active life. The next challenge might be Lands End to John O’Groats!
Graham (July 2011)