The History

Updated: Feb 3

Being tetraplegic has many, many drawbacks. I’m not about to go into loads of detail about that but I will state this: You don’t need the same amount of calories as everyone else around you.

I need enough ‘fuel’ to power my inner organs, digestion, brain etc (all the inner workings of my body) and I need nutrition to maintain healthy skin, bones, muscle et al. But what I don’t need are the calories able-bodied people use when they get up from the sofa, carry a backpack, run for the bus, or play sports, or basically anything involving moving the body. Therefore I, as a tetraplegic, should be consuming less food than when I was able-bodied, and I certainly should not over-indulge.

That said, it should be fairly easy to maintain a good body-weight/mass. So what went wrong?

Well a number of things combined – there’s no one simple answer (there never is!). Raised as a child to believe I was “hefty”, pressure to lose weight in my early teens: “You don’t want to get bigger than a size 12,” along with any number of other incidences leading to extreme low self-confidence and self-esteem, and food (especially chocolate and creamy, fatty deserts) became the picker-upper: “Let’s call a truce, eat chocolate cake and watch Friends…”

People might let you down, you might not pass that test, you don’t get that job, the guy doesn’t know you exist but at least chocolate will always be there – readily available and can make you feel better even for just a little bit. And of course if you buy the big chocolate cake instead of the small Milky Way, it will make you feel better for much, much longer!

Of course, I knew nothing about how addictive sugar was, how the high I was experiencing and the connection between Dopamine levels and chocolate/comfort foods made them highly addictive. I would eat when I was tired, bored, lonely, angry, happy, working, relaxed, and the last thing I saw it as was fuel for my body. Check out this YouTube video for more details:

After I broke my neck, Everything changed And I really wish I was being overly dramatic by saying that, but I’m not. There is a definitive ‘Before’ and ‘After’ and the time after was spent dealing with the mental, emotional and physical fallout of what had happened. Very little time was given to thinking about maintaining my weight. All I had been told was not to put on too much weight because once it’s on it’ll never come off again.

I moved cities. I returned to work. I got involved with charity work helping other newbies with spinal cord injuries. I got a dog. I saw my friends when I could. I was in and out of hospital with pneumonia, sepsis, infections. I didn’t have time or space to start unpicking my emotional connection to food. Instead I developed quite a taste for alcohol.

Before I knew it I was back to a healthy weight. Then I had what was called the “tetra tummy” – the lack of control over any stomach muscles meant that instead of supporting my body, they relaxed into a lovely little bump making me look four months pregnant. Since this also happens to the guys in the same position as me, I didn’t really mind that much.

And I got fatter. And fatter. Friends warned me. Family warned me. My PAs (carers) warned me. But the truth is – I’m very good at Denial.

So now you know probably far too much about where I’m coming from when I’m approaching the topic of weight loss and dieting/exercise – the whole shebang. Kind of feel like I’ve gone on quite a bit, so I’m going to end this particular blog with one thought that particularly struck me in the video, because I thought it so often myself in the past:

Unlike alcohol, cigarettes, weed, cocaine and other substances a person can be addicted to (or just very, very much enjoy partaking of), food is not something you can live without. If you’re a cocaine addict, you can be free of it in that you don’t have to look at it, smell it, go anywhere near it. This is not the same for food, obviously, and it therefore makes it so very much harder to get under control.

#quadriplegic #Disability #Calories #tetraplegic #weightloss #Huel #fat #humour #SCI #overweight

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