It’s October 2014 and my phone is ringing; it’s a mate I used to play games with (don’t worry; his identity is cunningly disguised in this post).
“Dave? It’s Tim. Listen, mate: I can’t stop putting on weight, and I know you do loads of exercise: can you help me out?”
As I hold the phone, trying to think of something to say to my most morbidly obese friend, I have a sudden flashback from my childhood.
When you start school, everybody is nice to each other: you’re all young, happy and full of energy. You smile, laugh and shout all the way through playtime, break time, lunchtime: every bit of time that’s thrown at you.
Then you get to a certain age, and it all starts.
I was about eight years old the first time someone in the playground shouted:
This went on for ages, and I thought it was pretty bad until – aged around 11 – I started putting on weight. Big time. The shouts changed to:
“Hey! Fatty! Yeah, you – ginger! You fat, ginger git!”
Then, despite the fact that I was clearly interested in girls (even if they weren’t particularly interested in me), a rumour started going around the school that I was gay.
‘Oi! Gay boy!’ came the cries. ‘Yeah, you: you fat GINGER gaylord.”
In the end, I became absolutely fascinated by the psychology of it all.
Flash forward two decades and I look a bit like Jesus: I’m tall, thin with a decent enough body, long hair (still ginger) and the sort of slightly awkward look that tends to make people think I’m either half asleep or daydreaming, occasionally both at the same time.
…but I do still have a serious amount of sympathy for people with weight issues.
I hear myself saying to Tim: “Of course, mate. Let’s get together and sort out a plan.”
I meet Tim in the park, and we talk about food and exercise. Tim’s diet doesn’t turn out to be too bad, but we make a few adjustments to get the right balance. We start Tim off on 30 minutes of gentle exercise per day.
Tim hasn’t lost any weight. In fact, he’s put on another three pounds. We go through his diet again (breakfast, lunch and dinner) and we eliminate all the snack foods in the house. We up his exercise to 40 mins per day, as he feels more energetic despite the weight gain.
Tim has put on another pound. We go for a bit of a jog in the park. Afterwards, we increase Tim’s breakfast a bit and reduce his lunch (in order to give him the maximum amount of time to burn off the calories). We up his exercise to 60 mins per day – still gentle but now steady – and leave it at that.
Tim stays the same. He’s upset and so am I. We go running again, but I tell him not to increase his exercise or reduce his food intake any further. I consider telling him to go to a professional.
He’s put on another pound. I’m so angry I want to hit him. He says he feels fitter than he’s ever been, but he’s at a loss as to why he’s putting on weight. We go to his house, go through all his kitchen cupboards and double-check his diet plan: everything is in order. It’s just completely baffling, so I tell Tim to go and see a doctor. He refuses, but says he’s happier about his weight than he used to be.
I meet Tim in Waitrose. As I’m talking to him about his problems, I glance down and see that he has five tubs of peanut butter in his basket.
I say: “What the hell is all that?”
He says: “Oh, it’s for the car!”
“The car! I get really hungry on the drive to London every day, so I stick a spoon in the jar and stash it behind the break lever. That way, I can drive and lick it off the spoon at the same time!”
“You didn’t say anything about that on your diet list.”
“Yeah, but it’s just for the car drive, really….I’m probably burning it off with all the pedal work.”
I look at him to see if he’s serious. When I decide that he is, I just stare at him.
There’s just no helping some people.
Spoon Feeding was originally written by Davey Stone in 2014. If you enjoyed Spoon Feeding, please look out for other posts in the same category on Bloke Called Dave. Thanks for reading Spoon Feeding!