Embarrassed but determined

I actually wrote this post yesterday and didn’t have the guts ( apt choice of words as I actually have an abundance of gut ) to publish it. BUT today is a new start, and if I can’t face the facts then I’ve already lost. So here you go.

I’m embarrassed and to a certain extent feeling a little fraudulent.

Over the past 18 months or so I’ve received many messages from people saying that I inspire them. My book has nudged / helped / given people the confidence to go out and change their lives, enter a triathlon, lose weight, or even finish their first Ironman. And no one is more happy for them than me, it makes me feel very proud that I’ve had a very small part to play in their success. So why does this pain me so much tonight?

Today I met with my new coach, he’s one of the UK’s top trainers, and he has a very exclusive set of clients : 3 pro boxers, 3 celebs and me. Why me? Well he just so happened to see a local news report about me before I took part in Ironman Lanzarote and got in touch. He obviously knew I was carrying too much weight, but he sensed my desire and determination to better myself. As he put it, everything I’d achieved had been with my heart, not my head. He said that if half the people he trained had my attitude they would be world class. Getting the attitude is difficult, having someone do the science and the planning is fine but without the right attitude you’ll fail. Combining Kevs training knowledge with nutrition and physio, I’d have the complete package.

I would have been nuts to turn that down. To show how keen they were, Kevin and his companies PR man flew out to Lanzarote the night before the race just to watch me and flew home the next day. We agreed not to start working together until after the Outlaw, but we’ve stayed in touch in the meantime.

I saw the physio ( works for an english professional football club ) on Thursday and had a very thorough assessment. Every bone, every joint and several muscles that I didn’t know existed were tested, prodded and poked. Several thing emerged, some of which I always knew. I have both patella tendonitis and achilles tendonitis in my left leg. The patella is causing the achilles problems. I also have a weak core and glutes. All of these things can be redressed with the correct exercises. The physio sent Kevin a detailed report and we discussed that at our meeting this morning, devising a routine that would correct my weaknesses and strengthen my legs and core.

All sounds great doesn’t it, so why the embarrassment and feelings of being a fraud?

Well because I had a full body assessment and had to be weighed. I hate being weighed, my issues on the matter are well documented. Anyways to cut a long story short I tipped the scales at 17 stones 2 lbs ( 240 lbs or 109 kilos ). The heaviest I’d been for years, certainly the heaviest I’d been since I started triathlon. I’m shamefully embarrassed by that. It’s not where I want to be, I’m not who I perceive myself to be BUT as the saying goes “You become what you eat.”
So why do I feel like a fraud? Well because I’ve inspired people to lose weight and change their lives whilst I’ve been piling on weight. Now I see my book more as a story, a journey, I don’t actually think I’m preachy in it about weight loss. In fact I say that I know I’m never going to be a racing snake. It wasn’t like I claimed to have the magic answer and that was what I was selling. BUT I still feel like I’ve let people down. And if you feel that way then I’m sincerely sorry.
My life, my story continues obviously, there are ups and there are downs. This is about as low as I want to get, and I’m damn sure it won’t last.

Kevin has started me on a six week fat loss programme that will radically change the way that I eat ( I will post more on this soon ) and he thinks that he can strip the fat whilst maintaining my power, and actually strengthening my body. I am so excited about this, I want to be the best that I can possibly be.

This morning when I expressed my dismay Kevins answer was a simple one, and a very positive one.

“Think of what you have achieved this summer, two Ironman finishes, six weeks apart. Most human beings wouldn’t be able to run a mile weighing what you do. You are remarkable, the engine is finely tuned, imagine what you are capable of when we fine tune and repair the body work.”

Tomorrow sees me taking a different path, one that will lead me to achieve everything I’ve ever wanted to do in Triathlon and Ironman. No more excuses, it’s going to be fun, it’s going to be hard but it’s going to be rewarding.

I will take my inspiration from everyone that has got in touch, I won’t let them or myself down again.

I’m an Ironman not a fat man.


29 responses to “Embarrassed but determined

  1. Andy, I don’t see that you have any reason to be embarrassed or feel fraudulent. In fact I think you have made yourself more of an inspirational man by putting into words what you’re feeling and highlighting this issue – losing weight and getting fit are just the start, the ongoing battle is maintaining it.

  2. Dude…really…all your so-called fraudulent behavior says about you is that you’re human. Kudos for stepping forward and owning it. THIS will inspire people!

  3. Derrick Walton

    Hi Andy,
    Your book and a well timed comment from a friend gave me the kick start I needed and I havent looked back. From an almost zero base I am up to cycling 150Km per week as a result and it has changed so many things for the better, just wish I’d read “Can’t” sooner. I started my journey with a view to losing weight and I have lost a couple of kilos, but I am still north of 110 after three months of hard work. Interestingly for me the weight loss has become secondary as the general well being improvements have come along with the sense of achievement of going a little further a little faster over more difficult terrain. It was clear to me reading that your goal was Ironman and that the weight loss was secondary.

    Your achievements give many of us the push towards our own goals, your book was my inspiration, thank you!.


  4. Andy,

    I tweeted you a few days ago (Androfin) and you very kindly replied. You said there is pressure – what to write about – I guess you now hv your story! It’s the human side of your story thay I enjoyed most, not the stats (although they are interesting) so your progress alongside a new regime will be enthralling. Good luck Andy.

  5. This blog is the first step though isn’t it. Accepting what is, and accepting what you need to do to become what you want to be 🙂
    You don’t need luck and you already see that you have all the things you need (ie support and determination) so you will be fine :)))))

  6. Hi. I haven’t done the Ironman and have so far done a few short distance triathlons (I actually prefer running to the whole try thing). I kept a blog documenting my journey from 125kg to 94 kg. A number of people have come up to me at running events telling me how inspiring i have been to them (I was actually quite embarrassed when they do)

    I am now weighing in at 100kg having taken a few months off because of over training syndrome and have only recently started running again.

    Your book was one of the first books I read when I started thinking about the triathlon (I still remember that passage when someone asked you how you were doing in reference to your coming wedding. That still cracks me up) and you had inspired me to believe that I can do it.

    What I wanted to say was that to me, you inspiring me came not only from the efforts that you took to get it done (which was extra ordinary by the way) but in you having to overcome all the challenges and obstacles that was in front of you. I would even say that if you had written your book 3 years later than you did and included the ups and downs of the weight lost and how you feel now at the weight you are currently at then it would have made the book even better.

    The story and the journey isn’t over just because you’ve written a book. In fact, maybe it’s just the beginning.

    So give yourself a break. People go through this all over the world and perhaps you going though it, with the exposure that you have (and if you’re willing to share), will help a lot of other people go through it as well.

    Does that make sense?

  7. Hi Andy, I read your book a few months ago you gave me the inspiration and subsequent motivation to get off my ass and start training again.
    If you put half as much effort into losing this extra weight as you have into all your already envious achievements then you’ll be a racing snake in no time! Good luck, keep up the good work and I look forward to reading book 2!!

  8. Andy,

    Shut up!!
    You are an inspriration to people for the following reasons:
    1) You are an ordinary person but you a great communicator – you talk in a language we all understand; you don’t go off at tangents talking about RPEs and heart rate levels at 83% of MaxHR; people who do lead to my eyes glazing over.
    2) You lead an ordinary life outside the sport – you have a job as a librarian, you have a newly born daughter and you mention places we can relate to – Southport on a windy, cold winter’s day could be anywhere in the UK.
    3) You have an ordinary shape, or physique. Who isn’t carrying a few extra pounds these days? Heck I’m 15st 7 and I’m training for my first standard distance tri in September; when the run gets too boring and I feel like jacking it in, I think of you at 17st – if you can do it so can I.

    it’s because of these ordinary qualities you inspire us, it’s this common touch that leads people off the sofa and into the nearest lake to do open water swimming, or up a stupidly steep hilclimb and then a 6 mile run when all common sense screams “go down the pub, join the pub quiz team and have a burger on the way home”.

    If you can learn something from the new coach and pass it onto us, then so much the better, but don’t apologise – you are not a fraud.

    If you tried passing yourself off as a skinny lass from Norfolk who had won Kona four times then we’d know you were telling tall tales, no one is that good…. oh hang on…..

  9. You’re not a fraud, you’re real! And you are juggling training and racing with being a dad, husband, and worker, which although great, combine to a great deal of stress which can impact weight too.

    You have a lot to look forward to…racing leaner will help you race faster which will only serve to fuel your motivation even further. I’ve blogged some about the fact that I am running faster than ever at age 45 and I know a big reason is I’m 7-8 lbs leaner than a year ago. Just that bit has made a significant difference.

    I’m very excited for you! What an opportunity and such a turning point. You are ready for the next level!!

  10. Andy.

    This is fine. Absolutely fine. I’ve read your book and it’s not about weight loss. It’s about what your body can DO, not about the way it looks. It’s an incredible journey and a crazy story. which is why it HAD to be a book!

    It gets to a point, I think, when you start thinking about your body fat and how you can improve your performance, which is exactly what you are doing. It’s again not so much about how it looks (although it’s also ok to be a bit vain about it – I admit I’m not that chuffed with the pictures taken of me yesterday at TriBristol) but about doing what helps you perform better. I should also be doing this, as I know I’d be faster if I dropped a few kilos of fat! Eating for performance and eating to lose weight are to me two different things, so I’ll be really interested to see how it goes.

  11. as usual – a cracking read – keep it up, you’
    re doing great 🙂

  12. Hey, I think every comment here shows we all know life is a journey and not a destination and sometimes the satnav fails. Initially, I always squirm at the black rubber teletubby who always stands infront of my skinny, wetsuit clad self in every photo but then I think about the journey I’m on and…. what the hell. One day!

  13. Fraud… my arse. your book should be called “real life/ no bullsh!t/ normal man to Ironman”. This is what happens to most people, the yoyo nightmare of weight up / weight down. All the people who havent achieved what we have in triathlon NEED to know that we are not SUPER HUMANS. We are normal people who struggle the same way as them. This is why you are motivational to the masses. They can relate to the likes of you and me mate. No need for self pity, just leave that bit out, say “ooops, i put on loadsa weight just like non ironman people, im not happy with that, but it happens, now i am gonna show you all that it can be lost, and this is how you all can do it”. This is a great way to prove to people again that they can overcome their demons. I am still very proud to have met you Andy at the Andover tri and your words of encouragement to get my own “fatman to Ironman” story written up has inspired me to crack on with it. Thank you. I hope we meet again soon.

  14. fraud ? utter rubbish you are strong and have the mental focus we all crave !! u have driven so many people on to achive dreams in TRI. Weight can be shifted no probs and you will do it the way we all know you can !! like an iron man real life hero !!!! GO ANDY !!!!

  15. I have to be honest my biggest problem is that I feel guilty when I’m not spending all my time with my family so every now and then I wake up and go damn iv let another few weeks go past. Thanks to an active job I’m losing weight but its more losing a focus. I went for first run since fun run on 20th June felt great felt free felt like me. Keep the posts coming hopefully theyl keep me from drifting

  16. Amen boss! It’s the heart, not the roar of the lion that the world should be afraid of! You’ve never professed to be a thin man, you’ve pretended to be anything you’re not – you’re inspirational to me and others because you are, well YOU! Not because you’re a finely tuned athlete, with a six pack and heaps of natural ability… If u were those things I probably wouldn’t be inspired, because I couldn’t relate!

    So HTFU boss in the politest possible way, you’re the reason I’m going to smash my first ironman and reach my full potential… Why because if you can, then we all can, with committment and dedication.

    Remember it’s a journey, not a race and I’m sure we’re all looking forward to sharing it with you, as we progress on our own journeys…. just don’t get to athletic, eh!

  17. ha bllox, mate. no reason to feel bad. For sure the coach will sort out the mental part of getting rid of the ole ned kelly! u can do the work, u proved that already.

  18. You’ve done it before, you know you’ll do it again. Chin up.

  19. Hi Andy, great words you have written, have inspired me. I read your book last year and it touched me hard! I am 48 years old and had never done swimming for 20 years, been on a bike for the same and I had never run before. After your book I learned to swim, got in my bike and put on running shoes! I’ve completed two big swims (5km) 3 triathlons and have my sights on Ironman in my 50th year. I’ve lost two stone and have my sights on losing another stone this year.
    In summary you are an inspiration and an Ironman. Be very proud how you have affected my life and thousands of others! I can’t wait to see the new YOU!
    David (Tri athlete & Ironman in waiting!)

  20. Nick (Just completed my first Tough Mudder )

    By being honest you are now more of an inspiration to me. Everyone is human, everyone falls off the rails at some point its not about how many times you fall down its about how many times you get back up. Thank you for being honest and the best of luck with the diet. Let us know how you are getting on. Thanks again man.

  21. See that RunGeordieRun Guy? He wasn’t exactly a lightweight and he ran across America. Eddie Izzard wasn’t a skinny whippet when he took on his multiple marathon challenge. But like them, you have the mental toughness and heart to take on what ever you put your mind to.
    As others have said above, you are inspiring because you’re a regular guy. I can’t use the word ordinary, because no one who has done any iron distance event is ordinary. And you can tell a story. You can put it in words that we all understand. You can make us live it with you. Give us a taste of what it’s like – pain and sacrifice, elation and friendships.
    Once again you have a great team around you to help, but take on this challenge for you, not for them or for the story. And just keep being your honest old self. I, for one, cannot wait to hear the next chapters.

  22. Andy, I don’t know many folk happy with their weight- me included. Please don’t apologise ….wow this Kev sounds great. Please pass on a few tips!

  23. Andy, you are no fraud and certainly don’t need to apologise!!! Your TRUE Story has inspried me to get off my ass and be accountable for me. I read you book about 12 weeks ago and was blown away. It is you that has inspried me to belive in myself again. I can’t call myself a Tri Athlete yet but come the 4/10/12 when I complete my first one, It will be a milestone for me. Keep up the good work!

  24. I second and third what everyone has said here – you are by no means a fraud. You are human. Please keep telling and sharing your story – it is inspiring. It is important for people to know that they can do sports like triathlon without looking like a whippet. That mental strength is key.

    Just tell the next part of your story, honestly, which is what the first one was. Honest, at no point did you get all preachy, nor did you dive off in to hardcore stats, which make lots of people bored. You just made it clear that normal people can do triathlon, which can only be a good thing.

    I hope you have read all of these comments and been as moved by them as I have been.

  25. Darren Hamilton

    Hey Andy,

    I live in Manchester not far from Ricky Hatton, we have all seen how his weight goes up and down between his fightsand what he has acheived. but again the reason why he has such a great following is he again admits he is a natural fat kid… Just thinks of yourself as the Ricky Hatton of Iron Man

  26. BTW Andy, Pilates is great for core…heard even Mark Cav does it!

  27. Hi Andy,
    I’ve just finished your book tonight 10 mins ago, so I’m lucky enough to be still feeling all of the wonderful positive energy that your achievements and the sharing of them created. But that’s just it, they continue to create, hence me feeling it at this observational and time distance some 2-3 years later. Everything of whatever stature is achieved through being positive and backing yourself so remember what you have done, what you continue to do for others, be the best you can and do it. Life is not a rehersal and you have already shown that you can produce award winning performances! Good luck Ironman.


  28. 13 stone, same age and looking at stepping up to Olympic Distance after a season of sprints. Impressed by your times, know the amount of effort required, don’t feel like a fraud. Times and results are recorded for all to see and they are YOUR times. Good work fella!

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