Never Give Up. Three words that were instilled in me a few years ago by an exceptional lady, Angie Dowds. Regular readers of my social media or viewers of The Biggest Loser TV show will know Angie and the impact she had on me.
Well, as I sit here today those three words are just as important as they were when they were first said to me. You see, life can be funny - you can go through so much, learn so much and achieve so much - but equally life can take over so much.
For those who don't know me, my name is Paddy Cunningham - currently 33, from Co. Sligo in Ireland. For some people reading this you may know me as a Personal Trainer, a friend, a son, a brother, a boyfriend - or some guy who a few years ago took part in a reality TV show called The Biggest Loser.
The Biggest Loser, not something I am going to harp on about during these Blogs / website - but it was a time in my life that brought me to Paddy v2.0 - 5 hours of workouts a day, 6 days a week, 1900 cals a day for 7 weeks ! Followed by 15 weeks at home training. During that 15 week period I lost 6 1/2 stone ( 91lbs / 41kg) in addition to 2 stone lost before the show - it was crazy and something that changed my life. I went on to do heaps of TV work, loads of radio interviews and numerous magazine articles. It was a dream come true in many ways, as a Media graduate being able to get to see so much of the media industry was awesome.
So, the show finished, I was working away doing my thing - after a while maybe 6 months or so I could see some weight had sneaked its way on again - about 7 lbs or so - but I didn't take much notice - I had kind of planned for that to happen given how strict I had been during my intense weight loss.
Slowly but surely life started to take over, bit by bit. I would try to do what I knew I needed to do and watch my food and do some exercise - but I didn't seem to mentally get to grips with what I needed to.
I have always said that weight loss isn't about eating less and moving more - it's about your mental health and emotional relationship with food. As time went by things gotten a bit heavier and a bit heavier, internally I almost went into denial. "Ah it will be fine Paddy, sure you know what to do". I would get up, go to the gym (half heartedly) - I would set up My Fitness Pal with the calorie and macro nutrient breakdown I wanted to achieve , and so on and so on - yet still, mentally, I didn't seem to be in sync with my intentions.
It sounds odd but it is the only way I can explain it - I knew what I needed to do, I knew what food I needed to eat, what exercises I need to do - but for some god damn reason my brain just didn't want to play ball.
I spent the good part of 18 months trying to understand why on earth I couldn't do what I wanted, why is it I would get dressed for the gym, then start thinking about things, and then 5 minutes later be sitting there having just binged out on sh*t loads of crap. I mean c'mon Paddy you should know better, people expect more from you, you're a qualified personal trainer, after all you have done you should be able to practice what you preach.
Well, dya know what. I couldn't, and I couldn't come up with an answer as to why.
Earlier this year (Spring 2015) I decided that I had enough, more and more weight was going back on, I was wrecking my head all day every day with negative thoughts about myself, my body, my thoughts about what other people thought .... and I couldn't deal with it any more. I would sit down and look through old pics, watch old TV shows I did interviews for, and just think why.. why why why.. Where is that Paddy gone... why can't I solve this puzzle.
So I decided enough was enough, and that I needed to seek professional support to try and understand my brain and thoughts better. I very nervously booked a consultation with a Psychologist in Dublin.
I had no idea what to expect, I felt silly, but also as thought this was my last chance for me to try to understand this crucial piece of the Jigsaw that is Paddy. In time I may share some of the outcomes and learnings of my sessions but all I will say is WOW - I wish I had seen a Psychologist more formally after The Biggest Loser.
(For the record the show did supply aftercare support for a year afterwards, but back in then I thought all was rosey and everything was "fixed!)
Anyway, I did a number of session with the Psychologist and gradually things started to make sense, it was difficult - and there were some extremely surprising outcomes - all of which I have thankfully written in a notebook so I can revisit at any time.
So... today where are things?
Well ... I am going to use this blog as purpose to share my progress as I regain who Paddy v2.0 was - however this time I am equipped with the mental understanding to whats going on - something that was lacking before.
I have no doubt there will be people who are reading this who will have some negative remarks to make - but I honestly don't care. The mental struggle I have gone through over the past couple of years has now made me as strong as can be. The times that people have made nasty comments over the past while has made me realise that the only people that matter, are those who support me and are positive. The times I have felt down and guilty at letting things slip - have shown my why this is important.
In other words, this time - it's for me. I am sharing it on here, but it 100% is for Paddy... not a tv show, not a facebook page to get likes... not for anything other than for me to feel more like I did a few years ago when I could look in the mirror, and feel confident and proud.
One thing I will share from my session with my awesome Psychologist is that, for so long I was going through the mill of doing X or doing Y ... trying to do this or that... but I didn't have any clear reason in my mind as to why....other than feeling pressure to meet the expectations of others, how bloody stupid. So, in terms of my end goal... as of now I am still not 100% certain.. I dont know if I will decide on a certain weight I want to be or a piece of clothing I just want to always fit into or what... but one thing I most certainly do know ... is that I DO NOT want to let things continue to slip and return to the former 25 stone Paddy v1.0.
I will share food pics, I will share some exercise bits I am doing also - I will share the highs and the lows. I hope that by sharing it people will see they are not along with the struggles - especially those people who might have lost weight and now see how difficult it can be to keep it off.
I'm not sure yet if I will share weight or stuff as to be honest, the focus is more about feelings...... wanting to feel positive, a sense of achievement a sense of change. I've learned that how you feel is so much much more important than the number of a scales.
Being a qualified personal trainer I know the scientific bits about weight loss.
Being someone who was formerly almost 25 stone, I know how difficult it is going to be getting back into the routine of exercise.
Being human.... I know I will struggle at times.
But being Paddy, I will never give up.