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IT WAS EASTER 2003. MY YOUNGER BROTHER JOHN WAS THERE. HE HAD RECENTLY LOST AROUND 20 KILOS FROM WATCHING WHAT HE ATE AND UNDERTAKING AN EXERCISE PROGRAM, WHICH PROVIDED A SPARK IN ME TO ALSO LOSE WEIGHT. Little did I know then that this spark would turn out to be a firecracker! John had just purchased a handheld video recorder and had been filming us over the day.

As we watched and teased my brother’s less than perfect filming technique, another emotion stirred in me, underneath all the laughter. I had always seen pictures of myself and felt the usual reality shock that came from seeing your body reflected back to you in a photograph, but never had I seen myself in a three-dimensional way like I was seeing now on my brother’s amateur Easter day movie. There I was in full frontal view – front on, side on and from behind, as I walked away from the camera. You don’t often see yourself from behind, and let me say: it was a shock!

I continued to laugh with everyone because I was used to laughing when I was really crying inside. This time, I knew it was more than tears that festered inside of me; it was a feeling I couldn’t quite describe, other than the sickest of feelings in the pit of my stomach. I knew this time was different. There I was at more than 130 kilos in the flesh (I’d stopped counting), with nowhere to hide and no one to blame. A deep and familiar depression set in over the afternoon, except that this time it was made worse by the feelings of shame and disgust that accompanied it. I was very quiet and upset for the rest of the day.

This moment was different; no excuses were coming to mind. I saw myself with brutal honesty. While I watched, I physically grabbed the biggest area of my body: my stomach. I grabbed my rolls of fat, like big pieces of sausage layered on top of one another, and felt it with my full attention. I lifted my shirt up and stared at it, as if to show me that it was real and it wasn’t going away. Yep, I was hard on myself, but I had to be. I was so ashamed of what I had become; so ashamed of the way I had treated myself. I hadn’t taken care of my health or my body. I was always worried about material things, like fast cars and money.

I was the least priority in my life. I knew then that if I was going to change I had to be number one. Easter 2003 was the darkest day of my life; but this was my wake-up call. For the first time in my life I took responsibility for my body. No more lying to myself, just the total truth: I got myself to this weight and only I can change it. The following week I joined the gym. Nothing would ever be the same again.

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