This is an excerpt from my book - The World Of Slimming.
It was never going to be the happiest entrance I had ever made. How bad could it be? Well as it turned out, it was dreadful! My nearest and dearest having already attended for the last two weeks had offered me comfort and encouragement of a sort. But now I was being dragged along to the group. It takes 127 seconds for me to walk begrudgingly from my front door to the door of Bluebrook Park Hall. I timed it, twice! It takes 59 seconds to walk home by the same route.
There were signs outside the hall with arrows pointing towards the entrance saying ‘Fat People This Way!’. OK they didn’t say that, but it felt like it. Then on reaching the inner door to the hall there was a stand-up promotional sign with cut out people scowling and looking miserable at having to join Slimming World. OK, they looked disgustingly happy and cheerful. I’m just saying how I felt.
I hoped that no one would notice me or make a fuss as I reluctantly and nervously entered the room, but that didn’t work out at all. Mandy-Lace was primed and well prepared by my nearest and dearest. She was ready with a loud exclamation of joy and a huge, enthusiastic hug.
“This is the lovely Ken who I have known for many years.” She announced to the onlooking crowd of big people. She grabbed me by the hand and led me to a curved line of chairs which was apparently the ‘New Members’ area. Mandy-Lace gloriously and efficiently talked me through the ins and outs of how to succeed with the Slimming World eating system. I was quite bright and clever at school many years ago, being good at quadratic equations and calculus, but this day I couldn’t understand a word of what she was saying. My mind was on other things.
There were indeed, many distractions within the Bluebrook Park Hall. People were queuing up in one part of the room to pay their sub fees and other people were getting weighed.
Some were giving each other high fives and cheering having lost weight, Others were mournfully and quietly getting off the scales having found out that they had put weight on. I could feel their pain from a distance of 6 metres away. Everyone was cheerful and welcoming apart from those who had not lost weight. Those members looked like they were about to attend their own funeral. One of them glanced across towards me with murderous intent.
Then came the talk session and the clapping. Every achievement was applauded and almost cheered by the whole of the group. I quickly decided that in order to preserve my fingers for my guitar playing I would only clap a little for each person. Nevertheless, it became apparent that some of the big people in the room used to be a whole lot bigger. They were reporting huge weight losses as Mandy-Lace worked around the room. No one escaped their turn apart from me as it was my first week. I had not yet been weighed.
I’m now going to share about the weighing machine. I spotted it very early on in my short time in the municipal hall. The machine was heavy duty and black in colour. It stood on four feet, one on each corner. It looked at me across the room threateningly. At one point, I’m sure I saw the machine stand up on these feet and come towards me saying ‘I’m coming to get you!’. Then I looked again and thought that it was looking at me with an evil smile and the wink of an eye. Weighing machines have many eyes, they know what you have been eating and how much exercise you have been doing. At the end of the meeting I knew that there was no turning back. I handed my doctor’s voucher over and approached the bench. The verdict was going to be guilty, but how harsh was the sentence going to be?
In the introduction of her talk, Mandy-Lace said to the group “We don’t do blame or shame here.” Well today for me, reading the scales, and knowing that the ladies monitoring the scales knew the true horror of my full weight, I felt both shameful and blameful.
I was responsible for my brush with life and death and now I knew the scale of the task ahead of me.