Ten months ago I had a therapy session with a wheezy fat bloke. I’d been asked to see him by Sandra, the founder of Thinking Slimmer, who had contacted him after he’d been crucified in the press for suggesting that he should put on weight to get a gastric band operation that he had been told would cure his diabetes. In his Health area he needed to be fatter, six miles up the road he didn’t. He went to the press with this anomaly, and they turned it into ‘fat lazy bastard eating himself even fatter to beat the NHS waiting list.’ Darin is a traffic warden in Portsmouth, so you can imagine how that helped him walk the streets, and he became so self-conscious about leaving the house and people pointing that by the time he arrived at my door he was quite depressed.
The fact that I’d recently been used by the press in pursuit of a vendetta against the police gave us an instant affinity; the fact that he’s an immensely likeable guy didn’t hurt. And so began our journey. In ten months I’ve seen him twice for Cognitive Hypnotherapy to help him get rid of obstacles to his progress – the ones that exist only in our heads – and he’s been listening to a Slimpod that I developed for ThinkingSlimmer. He also received lots of support from some other great people along the way – nobody more so than Sandra, who seems to have a personal vendetta against fat and was in regular contact with him. But overwhelmingly it’s been Darin’s hard work, which he wrote very honestly about on his blog.
By the time we stood on the start line for the Great South Run on Sunday he’d come down from the 21 stone he was when I met him, to 16 stone. A comparative racing snake. Not only that, he’s come off his drugs for diabetes, which is amazing. He’d gone from never lacing up a trainer, to committing to a 10 mile race. He’d gone from being a figure of ridicule to a bit of a local hero. It was an honour to keep him company.
The run itself was fabulous, and I can’t encourage people enough to do one. It was wonderful how many people came out of their houses to cheer us, how many kids wanted to slap our hands as we passed, how many inspirational stories you could read or infer from what people had written on their backs. 23,000 people, most running for someone else. That’s a lot of good energy to connect to. It doesn’t matter how slow you make it, you’ll be glad you did. You even get jelly babies at the nine mile mark! What’s not to like?
I don’t suppose I can imagine how much it meant to Darin. He overtook three people he’d never beaten before and crossed in 2 hours 3mins by my Garmin, which paused the time automatically when we had a comfort stop. That beat his previous best by a long way. All along the route people were calling his name – what a change from 10 months ago when they called him something else. My old friend Gil Boyne was fond of saying “Energy can’t be destroyed, it can only be transformed”, and how right he was. When bad things happen to us, the only thing to do with it is transform it into something better. “How can I use it?” is a mantra I repeat in the face of any setback until I find a way, and Darin is a fabulous example of what this attitude can bring. I look forward to seeing what he does with the energy from this event to move him even further. Whatever it is, it’s his choice. Nobody can make your life or ruin your life; you always have the choice of how to respond to what happens to you. I hope others see Darin’s example and ask themselves, “Who would I be if I followed his example?” Because the only person stopping them is them.
If you watch the video (click on the link below) you’ll see me raise his arm as we cross the line. Everybody who crossed it won, his was just a victory I can tell you about.