Category Archives:Weight Loss


God called to the Man: “Where are you?” He said, “I heard you in the garden and I was afraid because I was naked. And I hid.” – Genesis 3:9-10 (MSG)

Shame starts early. At least it did for me. This is not a post I want to write, but it’s one I’ve been fighting with for over a year.

I found myself in discussion on Twitter today with Jo White (aka @Mediamum) talking about body image.

If everything had gone to plan, the photos below would have been a “before” and “after” shot, showing my success at my “#LessWaz journey” that I started at the beginning of last year (and properly, November 2008).

Things have not gone to plan. I started 2012 at 149.8kg, and on the 7th of October, I reached an all-time adult-low of 108.4kg. Unfortunately, the week before that low, I hurt my back while moving house which led to me being banned from the gym by the physio; the legs slowly fell off my weight-loss stool.

I’d promised to write a “Part III” follow-up post to these posts, but never really got around to it (Go, go, Gadget-depression!).

As my weight started to increase, so did my sense of shame. I’d made a conscious decision to be public about my weight loss, and seek out that accountability, but I slowly stopped vlogging, then stopped Instagramming pictures of my weekly weigh-in, then eventually abandoned even trying. By the beginning of 2013, I’d put 10kgs back on, and my weight has hovered around 125kg since the end of April.

The smaller clothes that I’d been enjoying wearing had slipped, one-by-one, back on to the coat hangers, and to the back of the wardrobe. I still had a few “larger” shirts, and found myself caught between wearing shirts that were too big on me, or shirts that were a little too small; I preferred the larger shirts, because they hid my shape “better”.

Oh, the shame…

Even at my lowest weight, I still hated looking in the mirror. People would say to me “Oh, you’ve lost so much weight! How different do you feel?!?”

“I don’t feel… any different.” Even though I knew, objectively, I was wearing smaller clothes than I’d at almost any time in my adult life, I knew what my body looked like under my clothes. How it was just a smaller version of the same thing. I knew about the saddlebags on my inner thighs and under my arms. I knew the uneven texture and balance of the spare tire around my waist. And my man-boobs. Oh, how I hate them. How I hate all of it.

I wish I could speak in the past tense, but I can’t.

This body of mine has gotten me through a rollover car accident. It’s walked my beautiful bride out of the church on our wedding day. It’s made love to her, and it’s fathered five children; it’s thrown four of them in the air and caught them again, and laid one of them to rest in the ground. It carries the scars of my depression, the genetic baldness of my maternal DNA, the weak dental enamel and proclivity to ingrown big toenails of my paternal DNA. It’s walked over 500kms intentionally since the start of 2012.

I should feel proud of my body! I don’t. I’m ashamed of it.

Everywhere I look I see the same narrative, over and over. Being fat is bad. It’s unhealthy. You’re miserable being fat, so try this 12 week program to get to a better you! Buy this customised calorie controlled food system! Buy this exercise equipment. Look at how unhappy these fat people were and now we’ve humiliated & berated them on national TV for your entertainment for the last three months, look at how happy they are to be thin!

If an actor gains weight for a role, he’s hailed as a consummate method actor (Jared Leto playing Mark David Chapman, Russell Crowe for Body of Lies, Robert DeNiro for Raging Bull). But when they’re not bulking up for a role? The gossip rags in the supermarket screaming out headlines like “HUNK TO CHUNK! Look how these once-sexy movie stars have let themselves go and… GOTTEN FAT.”

That message right there. They’re not sexy or attractive any more because they got fat.

There’s a growing backlash, and rightly so, against the messages society sends to women about their weight. I was surprised to notice a female mannequin with an average shape when shopping for clothes with my wife a few days ago.

And let’s face it: as a tall, caucasian Australian male, I know I already have an undeniable level of privilege. Even in that privilege, I’ve struggled with my sense of gender. One of the unspoken, but powerful messages inherent in this culture is “this is what a REAL MAN” looks like. Rugged. Square-jawed. Inverted-triangle-broad-at-the-shoulders-and-narrow-at-the-waist.

You don’t look like this? “You. Are. NOT. A. Real. Man.” You’re not attractive. You’re undesirable. You’re not really masculine.

What to do then, when you don’t fit the gender stereotype? Unpacking that is a whole other blog post. In many cases, money, or power, or both; those can be methods to cut across or ignore the stigma of being a fat man. I lack money, and I don’t desire power.

What I desire is to not be ashamed of my body. But it’s hard to ignore thirty-plus years of being told “You’re fat, and fat is ugly, and you should be ashamed. You are not desirable. Don’t go shirtless at the beach. Don’t sit next to me on the bus. How can you let yourself get that big?”

Here’s a little thought experiment: think back to the last action movie you saw where the hero was fat. Not just pudgy, but honest-to-God fat. It’s OK, I can wait.

How about RomComs? At least I can answer this one. The only three I can think of: Seth Rogan in Knocked Up (let’s face it, he’s just a bit chubby), Marlon Brando in Don Juan DeMarco (if you can remember back that far) and Jack Nicholson in As Good As It Gets – and the last two were older guys with some serious issues. You pretty much need to get to straight comedy to find an overweight male lead. Yay for Paul Blart, Mall Cop.

When I see fat men in the media, they’re not the guys getting the girl (or the guy). They’re almost never the hero. They sure as hell aren’t doing the voiceover for a black and white ad for Chanel No. 5. More often than not, they’re dumb or a buffoon and/or the butt of the joke (Peter Griffin, Homer Simpson, Daddy Pig on Peppa Pig, Pierce Hawthorne). They might be the comic relief for the hunky lead. Occasionally they’re the bad guy/anti-hero (Tony Soprano), or the bad guy’s enforcers.

That’s not to say there are no positive portrayals. John Goodman as Dan Connor in Roseanne. Robbie Coltrane in Cracker. Oliver Platt in The West Wing. But they’re the exception, not the rule.

The message I’ve received and internalised for over thirty years is “You are fat, and unattractive and you should be ashamed”.

A few years ago, a Christian friend of mine wrote an amazing play. I’ve been privileged to read and provide occasional feedback on a few of his scripts over the years, and this one blew my mind… then I got to the last scene

“Uhhh… Fraser? These stage directions indicate you’ll be… naked.”

“Well… yes. About that…”

He went on to tell me about his fear of being naked on stage, but that when he got to writing the end of the play, it was the only way the play could end. It was done very tastefully, and it’s amazing what you can do with light and shadow. It was an extremely powerful ending, and he was absolutely right. It WAS the only way the play could end.

That’s almost the only way this post can end, too (well, I’ve retained a little modesty!). Oh, I’m afraid. I’m leaving myself wide open to become a meme, to have people laugh at me, to have my friends and co-workers never be able to look at me the same again.

I’m tired of being ashamed, so this is where I make my stand. This is my body. It is “fearfully and wonderfully made”. I am loved. I am beloved.

I will not be ashamed any longer.


Postscript, 18th September, 2016: Thousands of words written in journal entries later, and I’ve never managed to live up to the last couple of paragraphs.


The BIG Picture: Part II

“Sticks and stones will break my bones,
But words will never hurt me.”

I remember being told this from the time I was very young… but it’s an insidious lie. Sticks can leave scars, and stones can leave bruises, but words can burrow deep into your bones, infecting your soul and festering for years.

For some insane reason, there seems to be this belief that the best way to help someone to lose weight is to shame them into it. Point out how unattractive it is to be overweight (not everyone feels that way), or how obesity will inevitably lead to health problems (not necessarily), or state how obvious it is that you don’t care about yourself.

Shame doesn’t work. If you self-medicate with food, and someone shames you about your weight, how do you deal with that?

You eat. Because eating makes you feel better.

You Just Need Motivation!

I’ve tried to lose weight many times over the years, but I was very rarely successful; until the last few years I had never managed to maintain a weight loss long term (more on that later). I tried very hard to find things to keep me motivated.

17 years old seeks girlfriend: I “knew” that girls weren’t interested in fat guys. I tried an extreme caloric restriction diet, with Allan Borushek’s little Calorie Counter book. I lost 12-15kg; I don’t remember exactly. I do remember that put it back on, and then some.

21 year old has fiancee, is getting married: Surely getting married would be the thing that finally got me on the thin and narrow? Who wants to look fat in their wedding photos? I didn’t want to, but there I am, round of face and rosy of cheek (largely due to severe sunburn from a Sydney Harbour ferry ride the day before…)

23 year old has first child on the way: Before my eldest son was born in 1997, I started in a group weight loss session with the hospital-based dietician. I didn’t want to be a fat dad; I wanted to be able to run and play soccer with my kids. I failed. All three times.

If I’m on the hook for a gym membership…: I attempted several gym memberships, but invariably I’d overdo it and injure myself or get sick. I’ve wasted a lot of money on iron-clad-no-way-out-buddy gym contracts.

This book will set you free: The Zone, Beyond The Zone, Dr. Phil’s Ultimate Weight Solution. So many books. So much mixed advice. Who do you trust?

My weight just kept yo-yoing, but the trend was always up. The depression was an extra millstone around my neck. Did my weight cause the depression or vice-versa? Does it really matter?

Rejected by the girls I had crushes on at high school, told I was repulsive by a woman I loved, I’d been laughed at and shamed, I’d failed time and time again at losing weight.

It was a battle royale; fighting myself, with each win a pyhrric victory, each loss confirming that I was a failure… every failure fuelling my self-hatred.

One day the hate exploded.

The Argument

I don’t know what triggered it. I’m loathe to apportion blame, because it was just one of those things. A hormonal pregnant wife, and a depressed, obese self-hating husband.

Whatever triggered that argument in the middle of 2003, it escalated out of control. For us that kind of argument is incredibly rare, but we both crossed the line that day; the one where you forget why you were arguing and just start lobbing grenades at each other, just to hurt the other. And then she said it…

“You don’t care about your weight. You’re happy being fat.”

All the years of self-hate exploded into one moment of irrational violence. I shoved past her, grabbed a steak knife out of the drawer and screamed at her “I hate my fat! I’ll show you how much I hate it!”

One. Two. Three. Four.

Four self-inflicted stab wounds with a steak-knife. In my gut. At least once to the hilt.

And I ruined my favourite t-shirt.

I wasn’t trying to kill myself. No, really. Believe me, I had fun trying to explain that to the hospital-appointed mental-health expert. In those few seconds of insanity I felt every moment of shame, every rejection, every failure to lose weight. In that moment, the fat around my middle signified everything that was wrong with me and my life and I despised it beyond any rationality or sense of self-preservation.

Surely this would be the final motivator? Crossing that line and almost destroying my life?

No. It didn’t.

I got some counselling, and learnt how not to berate and hate myself constantly, but it didn’t take away the beast gnawing away at my insides; it could be temporarily mollified with food, but like Audrey II, it just kept screaming “FEED ME!”

The cycle continued.

In 2007 our family doctor started working with me to try and help me lose weight. She identified that I had sleep apnoea, causing a vicious cycle of sleep apnoea -> poor sleep -> depression -> emotional eating -> increased weight -> worsening sleep apneoa -> and so on. She arranged for me to see some specialists.

As a result, in July of 2008 I was booked in for surgery to remove my golf-ball sized tonsils; they had to weigh me so they could dose me with the right amount of anasthetic. I was 174.8kg (385.4lbs). It was the largest I’d ever been.

A week later I went in for surgery, which began with pre-surgery counselling. As I sat with my wife, a breeze gently cooling my exposed nether regions as in my hospital gown designed for someone half my size, the surgeon asked if anyone had explained that due to my weight there was an increased chance I could die on the operating table.

Suddenly my weight presented a clear and present danger.

My life had been on the line because of my weight, but it still wasn’t enough to motivate me to commit. I did try a little bit, and managed to lose a few kilos between then and November, getting down to 170kgs, but it was so very, very difficult, and I still felt so powerless.

Something’s wrong!

Over the years, I’d experienced something that my dad had called “the shakes”. Sometimes, I’d just become really REALLY jittery, and feel like my brain was on the fritz. When he got the shakes, he’d eat something and it would go away. I tried the same thing, except I tended to eat UNTIL it went away. I never bothered seeing a doctor, but because I couldn’t identify the trigger and I felt it was too weird to try and explain.

The “shakes” came and went, but were pretty uncommon. Then, in November of 2008, I had three severe onsets in a fortnight. I felt the second one coming on, and tried to pull some cash out of an ATM to buy some food. I put my card into the machine and then realised I couldn’t work out how to operate the ATM. I stood there for what seemed like an eternity; I started to lose my temper and freak out a little, but then in a moment of clarity, remembered how to withdraw cash.

See, it appears that what I was experiencing was hypoglycaemia. People have been arrested for being drunk and disorderly during hypos. After the third attack, I finally made an appointment with a doctor, who explained his suspicions and ordered blood and insulin response tests.

Although I’d had several blood tests over the years, and my blood sugar levels were always fine, I’d never had my insulin response tested. The results were disturbing. I was producing ten times the amount of insulin I should be. I was diagnosed with “Insulin Resistance Syndrome” (aka Metabolic Syndrome) – or to put it another way: I’m pre-diabetic.

When I asked him what the chances of developing diabetes was, he looked me in the eye and said “100%. You will develop diabetes. Your pancreas cannot keep producing insulin at this rate. It will eventually give out, and you will then have Type 2 diabetes”. This was a big motivator, but it wasn’t the thing that got me on the path to losing weight.

He sent me home and told me to look up the Atkins Diet, and start doing that. His explanation was that in my case, the best way of avoiding a massive insulin response, causing my body to store all that excess energy as fat was to avoid the carbohydrates that cause that response in the first place. I went home, researched Atkins, and decided…

“Hell no. This is crazy.”

What I did do, however, was to take his idea about the carb response, and look at alternatives. I ended up with a low-carb/low-GI/high protein idea, and worked from there. I started exercising regularly, tracking my calories and eating just the number of calories I needed to eat (based on some things I’d learned from the guys on the Fat2Fit Radio Podcast). He insisted on seeing me every fortnight; on the next visit I explained my decision to him – and I’d lost weight. He felt my plan was acceptable.

It was like the weight was falling off; between November 2008 and August 12, 2009 I lost 33.2kg (73.2lbs), giving me a total loss of 38kg (83.7lbs).

And then I gave up.

I don’t know why, but I just did. I stopped doing the things that worked, and slacked off. I still did a few of the things, but started eating a lot more carbs than I should have been, and exercising sporadically and generally not caring.

Over the following few months, my weight went back up to around 145kg, and then hit a plateau. I’d go up and down within a ten kilo range, but that was where it stayed. I continued like that until January of this year. Although I had successfully maintained a loss of 23+ kgs at worst, for over 2 years, it still felt like failure.


Last year sucked, to put it mildly. I’d been toying with the idea of trying to lose weight again. My physical reaction to refined carbs was getting worse, and I just wasn’t happy with my size. I’m tired of being uncomfortable, of not having the energy to play with my children, of not being able to buy clothes without getting my credit limit extended.

For me, it was time. I knew what to do to successfully lose weight. I decided  that I wanted 2012 to be a better year than 2011, and that 2012 is the year I get healthy – and for me, a big part of being healthy is losing the weight I’ve carried all these years. It’s not a New Year’s resolution, but a decision to finish what I started at the end of 2008.

So it was that #LessWaz was born. I weighed in on the morning of January 3rd at 149.6kg, and I recorded my first vlog, and started tweeting about it using the #LessWaz hashtag.

This morning, a bit over ten weeks later, I’ve lost a total of 18.6kg. I am the lightest I’ve been this century. I’m starting to wear clothes that haven’t been able to wear since before my daughter was born – eight years ago.

I don’t think Fat-shaming should ever be considered part of the “solution”. If someone is happy with their body, then shaming them brings pain without purpose; if they are already ashamed of their weight and find their solace in eating, then shaming just further disempowers them and may push them to seek comfort in food.

There are a lot of different factors that play into successfully losing weight and maintaining that loss; it’s a complex alchemy of motivations, self-discipline, self-image and experience. Above all else, it requires accepting your body for the beautiful, wonderful creation it is, and empowering yourself to look after it the best way you can.


If you’ve made it this far, congratulations. I’m sorry, I know it was a long read.

Part III will be the nitty-gritty of the how and what I’m doing, the theories I’m working with and some links to resources. I can’t guarantee that what I’m doing will work for someone else, but I’ve had a lot of people asking me what I’m doing, so this is the easiest way to explain.

The BIG Picture: Part I

“I’m fat, I’m fat, you know it, I’m fat.” – Fat, Weird Al Yankovic

I’ve been trying to write the following post for the last few weeks, but I’ve not been able to finish it. I had some ideas I was kicking around in my head about fundraising and the like, but wasn’t sure how I’d set them up. Then Mike goes and trumps me, in this blog post (it’ll open in a new window). That’ll teach me to procrastinate. There will be another couple of blog posts about how and why I’m losing weight, but right now I wanted to talk about how I got fat, and life as a fat person.

How Did I Get Here?

I’m fat. Actually, if you want to go by the World Health Organisation’s Body Mass Index (and I suggest you don’t), I’m “obese class II”.

I started putting on weight around the age of eight. I started kindergarten as a clumsy, skinny, hyper-sensitive kid, and consequently got picked on mercilessly. I found solace in food. By the time I hit eight, I was coming home after school, overeating, and sitting in my bedroom reading. I became a clumsy, fat, hyper-sensitive kid. As you can imagine, getting fat did nothing to help with being bullied incessantly. They just had a larger target to aim for.

This is a large part of why I hated school – and a lot of the people I went to school with. I’m pretty sure I’ve forgiven most of them, although from time to time, I find I still need to work on that.

Soothing my emotional pain with food became a vicious circle that I’ve been in for nearly 30 years; I didn’t matter what I ate, nothing would fill that gaping maw inside me – although damn if I didn’t keep trying. Once you’re in that downward spiral, it feels like there’s little hope of escape. When your solace is food, and it feeds the very thing you’re ashamed of? It’s a constant slow-burning fire consuming everything inside of you. If you add depression to the mix… is it the cause? is it a symptom? Whatever it is, it’s sandbags on the scales of any attempts to lose weight.

Can I have a side of shame with that?

I can’t remember a time that I wasn’t ashamed of my body. I remember being told by my mother “girls don’t like fat boys”; that really set me up for success with the ladies. There was the time a three year old boy walked up to me in the produce section of the local supermarket and yells out “MUM! THAT MAN IS REALLY FAT!”. Out of the mouths of babes, as they say.

In all my life though, there’s nothing like the searing shame of having a woman tell you “I’m sorry, but I just find your fat repulsive”.

You live with people’s stares at you as you walk past, or hear them whisper comments to their friends and start snickering. You wear baggy clothes to try and hide, but you’re not fooling anyone; on the other hand, you sure as hell better not wear form-fitting clothes. That’s much, much worse.

Shopping for clothes when you’re obese is a special kind of hell (all of these things actually happened):

“Oh… this 5XL shirt is getting a bit tight. I have to go to 6XL. Great.”
“Look… 6XL! I have the choice of the bright pink shirt, or the bright yellow shirt!”
“Thank you for this gift of clothing!” (I shall now put it in the cupboard and never be able to wear it)
“Oh crap. This 7XL shirt is getting too small.” (Target don’t go past 7XL).

Eventually, if you don’t find a way to reign in your weight-gain (and I didn’t), you need to give up on shopping at Target or K-mart. The only clothes you’ll find in a shopping mall that will fit you are shoes and hats, and some of the underwear – unless they have a “big-and-tall”-type store. Then you’ll pay way too much for a basic black T-shirt. What other choice do you have? Not only are you failing to lose weight, you’re getting bigger.

You get used to the idea of never finding something “fashionable” – after all, fat people don’t want to look good, do they? Obviously, if they did, they wouldn’t be fat.

Fat is bad.

Stigmatising fat people may be the last acceptable bigotry. We all know it’s wrong to judge someone by their gender, or their sexual orientation, or the colour of their skin. You can’t judge someone by something they have no control over.

But us fat people? Obviously we CAN control it. If you don’t believe it, check out the comments on any news site article about obesity. You’ll see comments, sometimes numbering into the hundreds, explaining how fat people should just lose weight. They should just eat less, and exercise more.

Because if you do, you can conform to “normal”, saving “normal” healthy people from the terrible offence of having to look at overweight people.

What’s more, if fat people can’t be bothered losing weight, apparently “normal” people should feel comfortable in shaming overweight people; publicly, if necessary. Give me a withering glance. Comment far too loudly to your slender beautiful friends “How COULD he let himself GET like that? Why doesn’t he just get stop eating?” “Shhh, he’ll hear you!”

Don’t worry, I heard you. In fact, half the bloody food court heard your stage whisper. It had never occurred to me that I might need to lose some weight. I’m fat?!? Why didn’t anyone tell me?!? Thanks for that gentle, subtle advice. I shall head straight for the gym, and work out until I’m thin and beautiful like you!

Maybe I’m just unfortunate; I suspect most overweight folks have stories like these.

Here’s another idea: put the fatties on TV. Turn losing weight into a competition. Present them with torturous “challenges”, cut their calorie intake to insane, unsustainable levels, provide them with personal trainers to drive them to spend hours every day constantly exercising, and then make them vote each other off until only the most supposedly virtuous and committed remain. Throw the failures back into the outside world where they have to try and keep losing weight for the big finale, because they signed a contract.

Get the contestants worked up, and them whack away at them until they burst into tears and spill their pain like a pinata spilling candy. These shows eat confessions like those up, and shit them out as ratings gold. “Roll up, roll up, hear the secret shame of the obese!”

With every ratings-laden episode you can send messages like “The only thing that matters is being thin” or “Do you want to be accepted by society? Cut the fat!”

Then there’s the insidious, reprehensible theme of 2012’s Australian Biggest Loser: “Do you want to find someone to love you? Lose the weight, because thin people are the ones who find love.”

Look, I don’t know whether losing weight will help these people find love, but I suspect it’s a symptom, not a cause. If they’re anything like me, then the underlying factors driving someone to find solace in food aren’t likely to be the most conducive environment for a successful relationship.

So… what now? What’s with #LessWaz?

Some overweight people have chosen the path of fat acceptance. More power to them. I think what they do is important, because not all fat people are unhealthy and unfit, and not all slender folks are the epitome of good health.

I’m not judging those who choose a different path, but in my case I’ve been neither fit nor healthy. I respect those working for fat acceptance, but for me… it’s not something I can do. Even if I could somehow accept my body the way it is, and shed the shame, I haven’t been fit or healthy.

So, at the beginning of 2012, I changed my life because I need to – before things go from bad to worse.

More about that in Part II…