I was in the Parachute Regiment, so was incredibly fit and healthy.  I was serving in Afghanistan and the work we were doing meant that you just burnt the fat off.  All the weight I had was muscle.  I came round in hospital with no movement from the neck down and I wasted away.

The food in hospital was rubbish so I was getting take-aways sent in; Chinese, kebabs, pub food from up the road.  I was still skinny when I left, I could still get into all my old clothes, but I'd got into the habit of eating crap food and just carried on; take-aways for dinner rather than going shopping and getting food in, a pasty or pie for lunch.  I'd led a really physical life and you don't appreciate straight away how few calories you need when you're not as active, particularly when you use a wheelchair.

I like to look good, and using a wheelchair doesn't change that

I've always taken pride in how I look, I like to look good, and using a wheelchair doesn't change that.  But there I was in photos, with my shirt straining across my belly, and the tight collar pushing all the fat on my neck up and over the collar.  I looked like a walrus!  My OT doesn't hold back; she gave me a kick up the jacksie and told me I needed to do something.  

My brother lost lots of weight on a diet he'd found so I joined him on that.  You do three days on a low calorie diet and eat healthily the rest of the week, with maybe a bit of a reward of a few beers or a take-away on one day.  My injury is incomplete so I also started using the exercise bike.  It became a part of my routine, and I stuck to it.

David in his off-road wheelchair in the park with his dogI lost nearly 3 stone, and took 8 inches off my waist.  I feel better for it, and I look better for it too; I like what I see in photos now and all my clothes fit.  More than that, it's so much easier for me and the carers now when I'm moving or manoeuvring around the bed.  At physio, I can bring my legs up without my stomach getting in the way.  And where I was filling my wheelchair and pushing against the sides, I'm now comfortable in it again.

I rarely weigh myself, but I keep an eye on my measurements.  Because I eat a normal, healthy diet, the weight has stayed off.  I'm now an advocate about it all - I don't have time for people who say they cannot do anything about their weight.  I look at them and say, 'if I'm in a wheelchair and can do it, what excuse do you have?'

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