10,000 crunches. Can I do it?

Not me. Not yet!

You’d think tipping the scales at 126kg (280lbs) would be enough of a warning signal. But no. I’ve hovered between 114kg and 126kg for probably eight years. Occasionally I’ve got myself down to 111kg (245lbs), but then it would creep back up.

You’d think buying a pair of 46 inch waist trousers would be shaming. And it was. But still I can’t remember the last time I fit into a pair of 38-inch trousers. Again, I’ve yo-yo’d between 41 and 44 inches for a long time.

At my peak of fitness and sleekness (!) I was a 34-inch waist, 89kg (196lbs), 6ft 1.5 inches tall. Now I’m barely over 6ft. That must, surely, be a consequence of bearing all this extra weight for such a long time.

Talking to my friend Martin about this he said, “How do your knees cope?” I hadn’t thought about it. He’d played a lot of football in his youth, and then put on weight. Both knees had required surgery.

But then I realised my knees were clicking as I walked upstairs, or bent to pick something up. And that, weirdly, was when I thought, “This has got to stop.”

So, at the time of writing, my weight is just shading under 18 stones and dropping, not dramatically, but weekly.

And having started that process (which includes two or three gym sessions a week) I came across this in a book by Tony Parsons. Describing a boxer’s physique he says, “His abs were the kind you could only get by doing 10,000 crunches.”

Now, he may have meant 10,000 a day. I don’t know. But I thought to myself, “How long would it take for me to do 10,000 crunches and feel I was working at it – seeing results, but not putting undue strain on my back and my neck. Not to mention my stomach!”

And I worked out that I could probably do them in just over seven weeks.

To achieve that, I set myself a target of 200 a day. I split the 200 into five sessions of 40 at a time.

I started on June 16. By the end of today, Monday June 27, I will have clocked up 2,040 towards my target.

At this rate, I’ll hit the target by the end of the first week in August, barring unforeseen interruptions. Father’s Day was reduced to 80, as was the previous day, due to a family emergency. The family emergency then developed into a bereavement, and the total dipped on two other days.

But all things being equal, I’ve maintained 200 a day on 7 out of 11 days. At this rate, I’ll hit my target by Saturday August 6.

And how do I feel? Well, my stomach feels tighter and I don’t look or feel so bloated. I’m probably two weeks away from being able to put on a pair of size 40 jeans for the first time in maybe 10 years.

We’ll see. I still feel tired, and bits of the gym routine are a struggle. But less than one-third of the way in, I’m certainly relieved to have made a start.

Tony Parsons – The Slaughter Man

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