Most people have experienced or witnessed bullying in their lifetime. Some take action, others turn a blind eye or dismiss it as unimportant. But imagine summoning all your strength to speak up in order to try and end it only to be ignored.
I don't have to imagine because this was me. What started as simple teasing as a five year old progressed to being singled out and ridiculed as an eight year old. This evolved into a full-on nightmare as I became a teenager. I had "accidents" and near-misses with vehicles, bricks, hammers, bunsen burners and welding torches. Full pots of yoghurts were emptied onto my head on a daily basis, food colouring poured over me and possessions stolen. Several times I experienced having my head flushed down a toilet, being stripped and my clothes hidden and I've had more bruises, fractures and cuts than I wish to admit.
My teachers and my parents did not understand the severity of the situation because on the rare instances I did speak up the torture intensified. One evening in my bedroom I held a knife blade to my chest and seriously contemplated falling onto it on a bid to end it all. It took my parents and I moving 500 miles away just before I turned fifteen in order to eliminate the physical damage. But the mental scars lasted for over two decades more:
"You're so fat, no-one will ever want you"
"Why are you crying? You're a boy!"
"Look at you, you're pathetic"
"Come on asthma boy, jump a bit higher"
"Every time you scream I'll hit you again"
"Do you know why you have no friends? It's because you're fat"
As an adult I ate to seek comfort. I saw food as either an escape due to the taste or simply as a method to feel full. I lacked true confidence and lived by the mantra "fake it until you make it" as I had developed a knack of hiding my true feelings and shortcomings. Fortunately I eventually found my wife who is incredibly supportive and together we have two awesome children. Running round the garden one day with my two year old I became out of breath ridiculously quickly. I realised something had to change. That night when my family were in bed I saw a guy on Facebook whom I knew had undertaken DDPY but now saw that he had just run a marathon. I'd seen DDPY featured on the TV but dismissed it as these transformations could have been anyone. But this was a guy who I KNEW. He was half the size from when I'd last seen him. I figured there must be something in it so messaged him directly. We got chatting about DDPY and I ordered the program. The rest, as they say, is history.
Twelve months later I had lost over three stone, ten inches from my waist, become educated in nutrition and, most importantly, developed self-esteem, belief and confidence beyond my dreams. Several months further I have now developed muscles in places I never knew existed, am well on my way to obtaining a body I only saw in magazines and am close to becoming a certified DDPY instructor. Yes, the fat lad who was always picked last for the sports teams and couldn't climb a rope in gym class was now running regular fitness classes.