Nobody tells you when you are fat.
Friends, family, colleagues may very well look at you with disdain, possibly even share a joke at your expense out of earshot. But none will ever come up to you offering the truth.
They cannot. It would be rude, most likely hurtful and embarrassing.
But this kindness does no good other than spare feelings.
It allows you, the fat person, to convince yourself that it can’t be that bad if no-one has raised it. You pretend that actually, those clothes are okay, one more bite won’t do any harm, one for the road is acceptable.
You live in a world of self deception.
Deep down you know the real truth with every mirror, every photograph, every glass frontage shop window display that catches your reflection in the light and mocks you with the skinny fit clothes it shows off.
It’s a deeply depressing place to be
At first you are bashful, embarrassed even. You might want to turn round and tell someone ‘thanks very much, that’s really nice of you to say’.
More often than not you’ll stare at your feet and mumble ‘ta’ or worse, try and be witty and sound ungrateful when nothing is further from the truth.
A gentle word of encouragement lifts your mood, rediscovers your smile and warms the heart is so many ways.
Yet there is an element of doubt, of distrust, that people are only saying so to be kind, because it’s expected.
Simple phrases like ‘you’re doing so well’ or ‘you look great’ can leave you thinking quite the reverse.
When you have a Blog like this you know people are aware of the project and ask, are they just being nice?
While at work you wonder if people are just being polite.
With relations you know they won’t say anything detrimental.
Friends area bit more straight talking, but even then ..
And you remain fearful that you’ll regress again.
So while I’ve been genuinely encouraged by all that’s been said by many lovely people, touched by their thoughtful words and comments, I’ll confess it wasn’t until this weekend that I could actually accept that yes, progress has been made.
I’ve been going to the same barber since I was a child. My granddad went, my father was a regular and so am I.
Now Joshua, my son, also goes. He’ll sit on my knee, play with the brushes and let Sam do his thing with scissors and clippers.
Given I’m now 38, I can only imagine how old Sam and his friend Al in the chair next to him are.
Both Italians, their wee shop in Gorgie is festooned with black and white photographs through the ages.
They are among the loveliest people I know, I consider them friends and we share a wee dram or glass of wine from time to time.
I trust them implicitly. How can you not after so many years of their holding a cut throat razor to your neck?
One day I’d had a haircut and spotted a few stray strands. Sam laughed and confess that maybe his eyes weren’t as good as they used to be.
So on Saturday after seeing to Joshua’s curls, he turned and looked at me and asked: “Shaun, have you lost weight?”
I told him three stone since January.
“You can see, you look fantastic, like the boy who used to come in here all those years ago.”
Sam doesn’t do the internet so knows nothing about the Two Fat Laddies project. His eyes are failing yet he still noticed the eight inches now shed from my waist.
In that five minute exchange of words he left me floating on air, believing that at last, all the exercise, healthy eating and sweating has made a difference.
I’m not yet thin, but I know now that I’m on my way.
And hopefully a bit less awkward too as those friends and colleagues close to me try to be so very encouraging to help get me there.
Because in truth if not for them, if not for their well timed interventions and words of confidence, the towel could easily have been thrown in long ago.
Sure, nobody tells you when you are fat.
But it’s a bloody lovely feeling when they let you know you’re thinning.