Category: April 2013


28th April 2013I’ve written before about having lost weight, and generally feeling a lot better about my body than previously. That all still holds true, but I’m at another corner in my bid to be the best possible me. My weight has been creeping back on, and my gym has resorted to emailing me to see if I’m still alive (well, entice me back, but I like to think they care). My man fat is starting to exert itself again, and a steady diet of sugar, carbs, booze and fat is making me feel low and lacking in energy, plus my skin is terrible.

Next week is a big week for my partner and I – 1st May is the 5th anniversary of us being vegan. I don’t want to celebrate this biggy knowing that I’m not treating my body as well as I should, so I’ve decided to make a stand.

I currently weigh 10 stone 7 pounds (I’m 5’5″), and as you can see from my picture, I have love handles. These, seen sideways on, are looking suspiciously like a paunch. I’m not publishing a picture of my paunch. There are limits. As of tomorrow, I’m embarking on a ’12 week transformation’. I’m cleaning up my diet, ditching the alcohol, and doing meaningful exercise. Will this just be a phase? I hope not, and Will has promised to bully me if I decide it’s all too much. Will I become a Ripped God? Unlikely, but I wouldn’t say no to being leaner and stronger looking. And getting rid of that paunch.

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MatrixBluePillRedPillI have a number of health issues, most of which will not magically disappear because I have made the decision to transition. I am bipolar, I have hypothyroidism, I suffer from anxiety, and I have gout. I get extremely grouchy if my blood sugar drops, I have a long-term problem with insomnia and I get odd aches and pains which I reluctantly believe may be arthritis-related. All in all, I am not exactly a poster-boy for good health.

Those of you who have known me a long time will know that my health ‘stuff’ has occasionally got the better of me. I’ve had time out of the workplace, claiming disability benefits when my bipolar teamed up with my anxiety to make life very difficult. I have resorted to walking with a stick when my thyroid problems teamed up with extreme stress to render every movement painful. I caught every cough, cold and lurgy going. In my last couple of teaching jobs, I took far too much time off sick, when body and soul succumbed to stress and made it impossible to do anything but stay at home and feel like a failure.

On April 4th I celebrated two years in my current job. More significantly for me, I clocked up two years without a day off sick. Not one. This was a personal triumph that has largely gone unnoticed, but for me it was a huge deal. In those two years I have dealt with starting testosterone (I had my first dose just over a fortnight before I was taken on permanently), had chest surgery (saved up my holiday for that) and probably had just as much stress on my plate as before. However, my body hasn’t ‘acted out’ my stress the way it used to, and I haven’t felt the emotional need to take refuge at home.

So what has changed, really? Testosterone is not magic – it doesn’t cure illness, or soothe a troubled soul. Chest surgery, whilst it made me the happiest boy in the world, isn’t a sure-fire route to health and good times. I guess that in the same way my body used to manifest my stress, depression, anxiety and general inability to cope in a physical way, it is now doing more or less the same, but for good. These days I am calmer, more able to manage the anxiety and stress (most of the time) and whilst my bipolar black dog does still up and bite me in the bum periodically, I feel more able to deal with it. As for the coughs and colds, who knows? Can one’s immune system really respond to feeling positive and fulfilled? Or maybe 5 years of veganism has actually done me some good, despite my critics on that score!

I was asked by a friend around the time I started transitioning, as a joke “Will you stop moisturising now?” I laughed like a drain, because I was never the moisturising type. Occasionally I would have a flurry of guilt-ridden conformity to what I thought, as a ‘woman’, I *should* be doing. I’d buy eye cream, body butter and ear-lobe rejuvenator, slather the stuff on for a few days, and then give up. Dry skin could go hang – I was self-harming regularly anyway, so why bother trying to look after what I had? I just didn’t like myself enough to care.

I thought that once I was identifying openly as male I would just continue neglecting my poor body, but at least feeling less guilty about it. Quite the opposite is true. These days I take far better care of my body than I ever did before. I’m still not great with the skin care routine, but it’s a heck of a lot better than it used to be. I can’t claim that the self-harm has gone away, but it’s much reduced. I get my hair done regularly, I buy clothes that fit, and flatter me, I ‘manscape’ the Enchanted Forest that is my newly sprouted hairy bits. I’ve got contact lenses. I watch my weight (successfully, rather than anxiously). I walk into a pub feeling good, not looking for the darkest corner to lurk in.

You could argue that all of this is simply down to me finally, at the age of 41, discovering that I quite like myself. Who knows if I’d have reached that realisation without ever transitioning? Either way, I am enjoying the sensation, after all this time. My sick-record, skintone and dusty walking stick seem to reflect that.