My Battle With Kebab Addiction
Ok the title is a little tounge in cheek but i have for the last few years battled with my weight ……and yes one of the contributory factors is my love for Donner Kebabs …..and yes I know it’s one of those dishes you only buy when you have had too much to drink thinking it a good idea at the time, only to find it on the coffee table the following morning ( un opened) .
But i’m afraid it is one of those meals ( and i use the description meal loosely ) that I enjoy sober !!!
Starting tomorrow i will describe how i am beating this terrible addiction which perhaps un fairly i am blaming on one particular dish rather than my ability to eat too much !!
Like a Guppy Out Of Water
Things came to a head on a holiday to Jamaica in january …the holiday ,a gift from my family was for my 50th birthday but my dream holiday nearly proved my undoing .
After our evening meal we were returning to our room on the second floor …..the problem for me was that my body had reached the second floor but my heart and lungs were still on the first !!
Ten minutes later I had managed the last few yards back to our room ….as you can imagine i was in shock,
Jenny my wife tried to allay my fears by blaming my inability to breath on the humidity !!
I Knew in my heart (when I managed to track it down ) that it was not the humidity but my stupidity in having that third helping of that Jamaican goat curry (a speciality in Jamaica and well worth a try in moderation!!)that had contributed to my demise .
My health due to my love of food or should i say inability to stop eating it !! had been in decline for a couple of years but nothing had prepared me for what must have looked like a guppy gulping for air after jumping out of his fish tank .
By this time i knew that i had reached rock bottom (health wise) well if I’m honest i had known for some time ….some months before in Gran Alacant Spain where i have a holiday home i was climbing Heart Attack hill (a large aptly named hill in the resort) i had called upon my friends asthma inhaler several times to complete the climb !! of course it had nothing to do with the large English breakfast i had just eaten !!
A Rare Breed
The long flight home from Jamaica gave me a little more time to reflect …..as a pro active grandad ( God I hate the saying pro active more on that later ) i wanted to see my grandchildren grow up ….so what options were open to a fifty year old self confessed kebab addict ?
Well i could have gastric band fitted ….but the thought of going though life without ever eating a proper meal or at best sucking it through a straw was abhorrent to me …so much so that would rather take an overdose of a mixed kebab several portions of chips ( with spice) and end the whole thing there and then rather than put myself through that !!……oh and trust me the state my body was in at the time this lethal cocktail would have been enough !!
A visit to my Doctor was in order and after the customary battle with the doctors receptionist i was able to make an appointment (just) …..what a rare breed the doctors receptionist is and it’s no surprise to me as to why they are so rare ; God only knows how many of them have been murdered over the years by verbally abused patients !!
The doctor though was in fact quite sympathetic due in my view to the fact that she was carrying the odd too many pounds herself (just an observation ) ….well she was sympathetic until i began to reel off my somewhat life threatening life style ……well come on how the hell did she think i got this fat !!
Anyhow before the doctor could refer me to a specialist she thought it would be a good idea to weigh me ….that was a mistake waiting to happen i thought to myself …..i had long since trained myself to keep bathroom scales and myself apart and had long given up checking on my weight the whole experience i would find upsetting …..well I would wouldn’t i !!!!
Tipping the scales
So for the first time in two years i stood before a pair of bathroom scales …..well not bathroom scales exactly …it was the slide rule type …you know the ones ; the nurse stands there moving the dial across until the balance is found !!! and let me tell you the nurse in charge of my set took the upmost pleasure in moving my dial across and across and further across with damning little glances out of the corner of her eye ….
The last time i had weighed myself was two years ago in the privacy of my bathroom at home …knowing even at that stage i was in a downward spiral weight wise i had used a few little tricks to tilt the reading in my favour including placing the scales on the floor while holding onto the wash basin with one hand and the wall with the other and slowly letting go ….did this help ? i doubt it but what the hell it was worth a try !!
Alas there was no pulling the wool over this particular nurses eyes !! even with me telling her that she must be stood on the scales as well was treated with the contempt it deserved ( a blank stare ) ..well you have to laugh , don’t you ?
Well ten minutes later i wasn’t laughing …..now back before the doctor there was some grim news awaiting me and i and i mean grim news .
Just eight years ago i had weighed in at twelve and a half stone …. but my fears that i had gained a few pounds were well founded ( well i did have my suspicions ) yep i now tipped the scales at twenty and a half stone !
The Mixed Lover
As i left the doctors surgery i glanced back at the building as if to say thanks pal !! of course it was neither the building or the staff within it that were to blame ,only myself …
But what had turned a reasonably fit middle age man into a heart attack waiting too happen? ….after all just eight years ago i was running marathon races and had even been involved in a race over forty two miles
Well running up to one hundred miles in training each and every week began to take its toll I’m afraid and after an X-ray revealed that i had some joint damage in my knees and hip it was clear my running career was over ( not that i was ever going to be Seb Coe you understand ..)
Depressed by my inability to run anymore i then embarked on my eating career …..slowly at first you understand , just the odd takeaway to start with but before long after some serious training i had worked my way up to the “mixed Lover”
Wow the mixed lover !! Now this dish is for serious gluttons only (you have been warned) ….available at Kebab takeaways across the north of England it consists of …..a mixed kebab which includes doner meat ,chicken meat and pork meat(at least i thought it was pork meat i was never really sure) ….on a on a pitter bread , added to this is a good mix of salad with a rich dressing of garlic sauce and a tomato chili sauce ….but added to this is the statutory two pieces of southern fried chicken ….wow
Moving on before i go into relapse !! Something had to be done ..either i had to choose my funeral hymns or change my lifestyle and fast ….was there a cure for a fifty year old Kebab addict ?
The Wonders Of Modern Science
Well the first job was done i had confronted my addiction head on i was cured ….(well i had got myself weighed anyhow ) oh well.. there is no gain without pain i suppose ..and if scales could talk i,m sure pain would have been mentioned in conversation !!
My first move was to utilise my border collie ( a dog for those not familiar with the breed ) ….acquired a couple of years earlier from the dogs home ..complete with attitude the animal had been parked in front of the fire ever since occasionally moseying over to its dinner bowl to fill its face and then off back to sleep again (bit like her owner really ) ….in fact come to mention it i had noticed the poor old dog had gained a few pounds !!
Walking was the answer ; not only was it good exercise but it also gave me time to reflect , although there wasn’t a lot of time for reflection at first due to the fact my legs along with the rest of my body seemed to go on strike after a half mile or so !!
But reflect did …do you know i even had an application on my phone that would tell me wherever in Europe i was where the closest kebab shop was !! or pizza or burger outlet …..via sat-nav !! for those interested it’s called “fast food” the wonders of modern science .
Note below please use the ” fast food” application in moderation !! you don’t want to end up an addict like me do you ?
The task ahead of me was not just losing the odd pound (ok before you start more than the odd pound …happy ) no..more than that i had to confront the denial …..oh yes denial , the tricks i would use to convince myself that there was no weight problem …i mean holding onto the wash hand basin while standing on the bathroom scales in a vain attempt to tilt the scales in my favour was nothing compared to other little tricks in my repertoire ;
Like only having my photograph taken from the front with my shoulders back and chin forward (every photo taken of me had the same pose going back years )apparently this pose hides your double chin ..seemed to work at first but it became harder to pull off as the years went by for some reason !and while on the subject of photography digital cameras and the delete button are a god send to any fat kebab addicts out there !!
Baggy clothing was another favourite of mine you would be amazed by the amount of belly you can hide in a baggy fleece !!
The walking was going very well though , mile after mile the old dog and i would trudge …well a couple of miles a day anyway …..well i did have to ease the dog in slowly didn’t i ?
I avoided the temptation to weigh myself again though until my first appointment at the dietician ( well i had to our household scales only went up to nineteen stone! )
The appointment date soon came around and the dietician awaited me as did those bloody slide rule scales …but first i had to negotiate the doctors receptionist …..that would be fun.
The confrontation with the doctors receptionist went in my favour just as i reached the counter (trembling ) her telephone rang so i was spared the customary abuse and instead had to settle for a finger wagging at me ushering me in the direction of the waiting area .
While sat there i couldn’t help but read the notice board there amongst the posters about natural birth ,safe sex and flu jabs taking pride of place was a poster telling you that abuse of health service staff would be taken very seriously and court action would almost certainly result !!
I wondered if as a patient the reverse would apply if so the receptionists of this world must owe me a fortune in compensation back pay !!
The fantastic news was i had lost weight more than half a stone ..i was over the moon as was the doctor …only another 9lb and i will begin to register on my scales at home ( now there was a target ) .
The doctor said i was approaching everything in a proactive manner …now i have hated the saying proactive since i was sent on weekend seminar by my former employer the title of the seminar was How To Be Proactively Rebranded ……what a load of tosh the only worthwhile part of the weekend was the food !! the worse part ? the afternoon paintballing involving two teams each trying to prove how proactive they were by shooting each other in the balls at point blank range ….great fun ? not for my balls it wasn’t !!
My weight loss gave me great confidence though and all of a sudden i became Mr Fit …adding another mile or two a day to my daily target …not without the odd complaint from my aching muscles and the poor old dog .
But my weight loss was just about to be put to the test ;I was due a visit to my holiday home in Gran Alacant (Spain) where the restaurants serve up some of the best food on the Costa Blanca ….oh dear !!
ALL YOU CAN EAT
Another two weeks past by and another half a stone had just melted away so i was determined not to fall back into my old ways while in Spain ..the problem for me was that my love for food was not just limited to junk food ….and Gran Alacant was spoilt for choice when it came to restaurants some of the best on the Costa Blanca in my opinion !! and trust me the fact that it is my opinion matters to some it seems !!
The added factor and problem for me was that i run the Restaurant Awards out there (just in a professional capacity you understand nothing to do with my love for food)and the locals were always urging me to try this restaurant or that restaurant or recommending this dish or that dish …..to be honest I found the whole thing tedious (yer right) .
But my biggest challenge had to be the Patagonian Steak House , why ? Well a couple of years ago they introduced the “All You Can Eat Mixed Grill ” to start with their food was to die for but then to add all you can eat into the mix it was just not on !! Well it was on actually , did i hit these guys hard or what …a sizzling platter of Steak ,Sausage,Chicken ,Black Pudding ,spare ribs and a choice of jacket potato with a garlic sauce or chips was ok but to be able to order the same again and again was a challenge that would send any kebab addict into oblivion ….and believe me a few times a stretcher was called for when departing this particular restaurant !!
I had to rise above these temptations though ( sadly ) and i did …yes i visited the steak house of my dreams but avoided the second ok and third helpings ….leaving the chefs stunned and with a a few pounds of steak overstocked ( sorry about that lads)
My aim was to enjoy my weeks holiday in the culinary capital of the Costa Blanca but come home breaking even weight wise ….don’t get me wrong avoiding the temptations was not my only weapon i walked Gran Alacant senseless and it worked ……not only did I break even i actually registered on my scales at home upon my return …less than nineteen stone and trust me ,was the wash hand basin happy about that !!
THE POOR OLD DOG
I was into this walking game and each week i would increase the mileage until i was walking 84 miles a week the enthusiasm for walkies from the poor old dog began to wain however …..often taking a very low profile when walkie lead was mentioned …..poor dog
The main problem i had was the sheer amount of time out of the day it takes to walk 12 miles a day ….leaving a lot less time for mundane jobs like d.i.y or gardening but as have explained on several occasions to her indoors “there is no gain without pain”
More weight was dropping off me week by week and before long my manhood came back into view (without the use of a mirror that is) and makeshift belts had to be made using electrical ties
But had i actually beaten my addiction could i live without a Kebab or the need to reach for the drawer that holds the takeaway leaflets ?
THE PIZZA DUDE
Was my addiction to Kebabs cured …..the plain and simple answer is no an addiction is never cured …..but it is up to that individual to come to terms with their problem face up to it and manage the problem to the best of their ability …..yes i still have one night off a week where i relax and eat as i would like and have a tipple and to be honest whatever i choose that particular night to eat i enjoy so much more than if i was eating junk every night ……the dog enjoys the night off as well.
Down to the nitty gritty how much weight have i lost …..well it’s my night off and the pizza dude has just knocked at the door …..I’ll tell in the next chapter
THE WORK PAYS OFF
January seems such a long while ago now ……not only have i lost a good few pounds but as the weeks go by i find myself able to do things that had long since alluded me ……yep not only was i able to see my manhood without the aid of a mirror but i was able to use it properly !! Oh yes i was able to pee with some form of direction now that i was able to see the direction of the flow !! well what did you think i meant !
At the start of January i was twenty and one half stone …..and by the end of March i am tipping the scales at seventeen and one half stone a loss of three sone and that reading was made without the aid of a wash hand basin or any other bathroom furnishing .
There is still a long way to go i know and i haven’t even told you what food i swapped for my daily fix for yet!!
Starting later this week the second series “going live ” i will tell you….and and let you know about a few added challenges i encountered along the way and ones ahead of me…..I’m sure there will be a few .
There is still so much to tell you about my battle with my dreaded addiction but the next few chapters are devoted to “going live ” ….well nearly live ……having just arrived back hot foot back from a short break in Scotland where although i had a short relapse having been tempted by a huge Aberdeen Angus burger,chips,side salad and a few pints of Blair Atholl real ale !! i tended to keep on the straight and narrow (well sort of) .
What a beautiful ,beautiful country Scotland is ….the aim of the holiday was to find where my ancestors came from (the Robertson’s) who reputably came from the Blair Atholl area of Perthshire….well once i arrived it was blatantly obvious that this was indeed my ancestral home due to the huge range of wonderful food on offer !! Obviously gluttony is a hereditary problem going back generations if these food portions are anything to go by !!
All started well though and having seen the menu in the local restaurant i thought it best to get a few miles walked in perpetration so that i could at least say i tried, the poor old dog didn’t know what had hit her mile after mile we walked this time up some very large hills with scenery to die for ….the fact that Scotland had been hit by snow storms the evening we arrived just added to the wow factor ….but the views i had before me would have not been possible three months ago …..climbing just a few steps then had left me breathless and gasping for air …now i was able to stand on top of a mountain (ok a small one) but a mountain all the same and take in these wonderful views ….i felt on top of the world …..then when i thought I’d seen it all …there down at my feet the dog was sat there eating snow ….taking my phone out of my pocket i wrote in my reminders ” bring the dogs water bowl next time”
Tomorrow ….put to the test
Below a picture of Cassie (the dog) and myself returning from a mountain climb …note the dogs tongue hanging out !! Yep that’s what a frost bitten tongue looks like !!
Well with a good few miles walked and a few hundred feet climbed Cassie and i decided we deserved a night off …..well Cassie had already called it a day ,huddled at the back of her travelling cage she even tried to nip me when i went to get her out for a wander round the caravan we were staying in !! have you ever heard of a dog biting the hand that walks them ? retrieving my phone from my pocket i wrote in my notes ” i must let the dog know who is in charge” .
Well after all that walking i was ready to put the menu at the Blair Atholl Arms to the test ( well it was my night off) glancing down the menu it soon became apparent that the half pound Aberdeen Angus Burger with all the trimmings had my name all over it…..i did feel guilty ordering it though and in a vain attempt to erase any guilt from my mind i turned to drink , yep three pints of Blair Atholl real ale ,this stuff is like treacle and you can almost stand a spoon up in it…..not sure it erased my guilt but i sure regretted drinking it the next morning !!
When the long awaited burger arrived it met with all my expectations ; this thing was huge topped with onion rings and cheese, held together by a wooden stake and accompanied by a large portion of chips ,side salad and a pot of tomato relish !! in fact the whole dish was that large it was served on a bread board of all things! any thoughts of guilt at ordering this wonder burger were swapped by embarrassment though as other patrons in the restaurant turned round in ore at this huge plateful ( or should i say boardful ) ….in fact i heard someone on the next table whimper ” i wish I’d ordered that ” moments later he’s ploughmans arrived , poor man ! still at least he was going to be able to walk out the restaurant ! which would be more than could be said for me if i was going to consume all of my dish !
Still i collected all my thoughts together and concentrated on the job in hand …..could i eat all this ? would my addiction get the better of me ? well do you really think i would throw all my hard work away at this juncture when i had come so far and put the poor old dog through so much? of course not, i left the side salad !!
Caravan Issue Broom
So many times before i had allowed my attempts at altering my life style to become thwarted in these situations ; one burger would lead to another and so on if you get my drift …..I’m sure some of you reading this would have been in the same situation , not necessarily regarding food but with other addictions like drinking,smoking and i suppose even drugs ……”tomorrow is another day” i would say, or “next week or next year” or “i might as well restart my new life style when my holiday is over” we’ve all done it , surly it’s not just me ?
But now things were different, yes i had pigged out the evening before but i had awoken the following morning chomping at the bit,ready to put myself and the dog through our paces ….worryingly my enthusiasm was not shared by Cassie and a broom handle was called for in order to coax the animal from her travel crate ( I’m telling you this dog has real attitude !! )
Anyhow after much nashing of teeth and some considerable damage to the caravan issue broom Cassie was persuaded to join me on the morning walk .
The Bruar Falls close to Blair Atholl Castle was our goal for that morning ,although its not a huge climb the views of these wonderful waterfalls and scenery were breathtaking and the walk was still hard graft …very hard graft especially when you take into consideration i had failed to shift my half pound Aberdeen Angus Burger during my morning visit to the bathroom !!this problem however was rectified at the end of the walk and a word of warning here; avoid the excellent bathroom facilities at Bruer Falls for the next few months !! ( you have been warned)
The morning walk was followed by ( after a light lunch) an afternoon walk and then an evening walk ; we were back on track ….well when i say we were back on track Cassie had been given the evening off on the grounds that the broom handle was close to total destruction!!
The Last Chapter
Well just four short months ago the state of my health was nothing short of life threatening; well at twenty stone in weight and lacking the ability to breath if i so much as walked up a flight of stairs was not good was it !!
But now at the time of writing of this last chapter i am closing in on my next goal of sixteen and a half stone …still not super model size i know, but a loss of four stone all the same! not that i will ever be a super model (well I’m a man) but wow the thought of trying on the underwear …sorry i digress !!
I have walked roughly twelve hundred miles which by coincidence is the same distance from York in England (where i live) to Gran Alacant where my holiday home is in Spain and not one Kebab house on route (bugger)
I have learned some important lessons along the way as well ; the first is never totally trust spellcheck when writing stories such as this!! but there again who else does a total illiterate trust in these situations !
But the second lesson and perhaps the most important is never use force when persuading a Border Collie with attitude to go for a walk she has no intention of going on (it hurts trust me).
I leave you with one last all time favourite Kebab of mine which i always partake of when visiting my little grandaughter in Birmingham ….consisting of Kebab meat, chicken meat,finely chopped mixed salad served with garlic sauce,chilli sauce and a splash of mint sauce and then ( and this is a nice touch ) all wrapped in a huge nan bread …..this thing is huge and does not require a side of chips or a side of anything for that matter !! For professional Kebab addicts only !!
What the readers think so far
Really enjoying the read Mark, keep ’em coming. Ive actually ate healthy the last 2 days as a result of this thread!!!!!!! lol.
I cant wait for a ruby Murray all this food talk is making me salivate
Sitting here with baited breath (kebab breath) for the next instalment.
you have an amusing way with words, i look forward to the continuation of your story
I give you a warm welcome. I really love your sense of humor, and might I say I laughed a few times reading your story, as serious as it may be.
Really enjoying the read Mark. I have found that if you move the scales to various parts of the bathroom floor, you get slightly different readings. It takes time, but you can actually lose a couple of pounds by doing this!!
(although I can’t believe that you could have different meats, salads, sauces, dressings AND some fried chicken in ONE kebab??!! My stomach is hurting just reading this!! )
This thread is brilliant, enjoying every post.
Brilliant and entertaining, please keep reporting your experiences.