Joey tells us how managing weight needn't be a chore
Talking 'bout regeneration
I currently work for Crawley Borough Council as the town centre regeneration officer. My role involves project managing physical regeneration projects alongside assisting with our employment and skills programme.
A weighty concern
During my teenage years, although I loved football and playing outside with friends, my diet went downhill when I started secondary school. At the age of 16 years, I weighed 16.5 stone. I didn’t feel happy in myself and knew that my weight was the sole contributor for this.
It was when I joined college and discovered a greater level of independence that I decided to make some changes. I started going to the gym and running a few miles around my local park almost every night of the week. My diet improved dramatically, which meant cutting out A LOT of chocolate bars and fizzy drinks, replacing them with A LOT more fruit and vegetables. By the time I graduated college (age 18) my weight had gone down to 12.5 stone.
My greatest triumph so far is completing the NYC marathon in 2018. On November 6th 1998 my dad, Mark Carey, passed away from cancer. I was only 11 years old and it was a tough time for me and my whole family to go through.
The NYC marathon in 2018 took place on November 4th. The timing was perfect, almost 20 years to the day since we lost Mark, and because in my late teens/early twenties I had lived and worked in New York, I knew this was a challenge I had to take on.
I received a place to run for Macmillan Cancer Support, raising £1,300 for the charity. To run through the streets of all five boroughs, in a city that has become like home to me, in my Dad’s memory and for a cause I really cared about, it was an emotionally overwhelming day and an incredibly rewarding one. An experience I will never forget.
Balancing my diet
Developing a more positive diet was my biggest obstacle. My view is that sugary snacks and drinks are likely no different to cigarettes and alcohol, they are addictive. To this day, I find it difficult to resist biscuits and cakes that do the rounds in the office! But over the years I have developed a greater balance and understanding about my body, food groups and portion control. There is nothing wrong with having a biscuit or two with your cuppa! But 5 or 6 with every cup…
My advice to anyone going through anything similar is definitely don’t cut certain foods out of your diet that you enjoying eating completely, but it is important to understand that when it comes to foods that you know aren’t particularly healthy, too much of a good thing will not be good for you!
Keep it interesting
Key factors to my success involve signing up to events and fundraising for causes that motivate me to train. Running past Buckingham Palace, over the Verrazano-Narrows bridge, cycling over the Golden Gate Bridge, fundraising for cancer charities, to experience these moments and to help others that are in need has been really meaningful for me. My goals for the future involve seeing more of the world through running (there is a midnight half-marathon in Iceland that I would love to do!) and to help more of the causes that I am passionate about.
Feeling happy with myself
My biggest success so far is keeping my weight consistently lower. My weight does tend to yoyo between 12.5 stone up to 14.5 stone, depending on the season and how active I am, but generally I feel so much happier compared to when I was a teenager. Allowing my weight to go back up to where it once was is something I never want to let happen again.
Small steps matter
When I first started out to try and change my diet, training for a running event, fundraising for a cause that was important to me, it was difficult. I was overthinking, trying too hard, trying to skip steps and get ahead. My advice to anyone at the start of their own journey is don’t worry if you make mistakes or have tough days, just try to remember you are starting at the beginning and you are in competition with no-one but yourself. You are writing your own story and this is something to feel proud of. Ultimately, consistency is key. Small steps made every day over a long period of time will add up to the bigger steps and goals you are aiming for.
Variety is the name of the game
I try to keep my exercise and sports routine varied. I enjoy running, going to the gym, playing 6-a-side football, but I’ve also taken street dance classes, a boxing class, and have been a big darts player for as long as I can remember (darts is SO a sport! Play for one hour and see how many steps you rack up!). I like to play tennis with my nephews, rope my friends into running events, belong to clubs and teams. This way I never feel like I am doing things on my own.
Achieving my goals
In terms of my diet, breakfast has become a lot more porridge with nuts, dried fruit, yoghurt and fruit. A fave dinner dish is grilled seabass with asparagus and lots of pasta-based dishes with chicken, hard-boiled eggs. I try and snack throughout the day on nuts and fruit. All a lot more portion controlled day to day.
Being healthy means everything. I have greater confidence and self-belief in myself and know that I am now so much more capable of achieving exercise goals in my 30s compared to when I was that overweight, unhappy 16 years-old. Pursuing an active lifestyle has changed my life for the better.
Highlights from Joey's awesome inspire me story.