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For Gay Men: Making Smart Changes to Your Life

Published: 12 June 2017 Tags: weight, health, workshop By John Walding

If you are a gay man struggling to make changes to your health or well-being, a specially designed workshop taking place this month at LGBT Foundation can help you learn how to motivate yourself to make healthier decisions in life.

Gerard Gudgion is Operational Manager at Early Help Service, Oldham City Council. Many people will know Gerard as one of the founders of Healthy Gay Manchester with Paul Martin (LGBT Foundation CEO) back in the early 1990s. He went on to help establish the tremendously successful Manbears who recently celebrated the 20th annual Greater British Bear Bash.

On 24th June Gerard will be bringing a special free 1-day ‘taster’ interactive workshop to LGBT Foundation which is specifically designed for gay men who wish to understand more about their motivation and lifestyle choices in order to make healthier decisions in life. Gerard has been working with IntraQuest, a training company who developed Smartself,a program which has helped many people to become more self-aware, to be able to control areas of their lives and to make changes that have been beneficial to them.

For Gerard himself the program has helped him become more in control of his own weight and diabetes.We asked him how it could work for other men.

So how did he do it?

‘I became more aware of what make me tick, what influences the way I think, the way I motivate myself. It’s helped me to understand how my thinking and behaviours are shaped by learnt behaviours and past conditioning. This has helped me to understand why, when I try to lose weight, I would often fail. That failure would then tend to reinforce a self- belief that I am useless at trying to lose weight. In fact once I understood how my thinking and behaviours have been shaped over the years, I discovered that I could easily lose weight, easily change my behaviour. I’ve not only lost weight but I’m no longer diabetic (type 2) because I was able to successfully change and maintain that change.’

How did he find out about the program?

‘I manage teams of workers who are tasked with helping ‘problem’ families to change their lives around. I worked with IntraQuest who developed SmartSelf as a core program that can help in many areas of life. I needed to get in control of my weight and diabetes and for other people it’s principles help with issues such as Debt, Alcohol Use, Relationship Issues, Managing the behaviour of their children etc.’

What about the subject of weight?

‘Speaking from my own experience as a man who has always been on the bigger side. In the 1970’s and 80’s being a fat gay man just wasn’t on. Regardless of how much plaid was deployed to disguise the bulges! The emergence of the BEAR/CHUB scene in theory was the answer to a fat gay man’s prayers. As one of the organisers of the bear scene in the late 90’s I witnessed the exponential growth of the scene. Here was a positive sexual identity that allowed you to be fat. Men fancied men who were bigger. This was a very positive thing but brought with it for some of us a problem. Growing up body conscious, a child of the 60’s, I’d never felt totally comfortable being overweight but here were men complimenting me for being overweight. So do I lose weight and lose the attention? Or stay overweight and unhealthy but maintain the attention? Smartself helped me to understand myself in such a way that I could navigate to a healthy place and not feel I was somehow no longer attractive.’

How can we overcome issues of fat/body shaming?

‘It’s difficult to navigate because of people’s perceptions about health and weight. Once I understood that my body is basically a bag of hormones controlling me. That all diets work but that ultimately all diets fail because the body self regulates to maintain a set weight then I was able to get beyond the notion I’d been telling myself and, indeed, my doctor often inferred, that I was lazy and had no self-control because I could get the fat off.’

So how can Smart Self help us?

'The course is designed to be sensitive to the emerging needs of individuals and the group. No-one is forced to share their personal information,thoughts or feelings.Anyone who feels able and comfortable to share their own stories are encouraged to do so but this is not a therapeutic course,rather a practical way to get to know yourself better.

Anyone attending the session can expect to develop a greater understanding of their own personality and the way they approach life;strengths and development areas,thoughts and processes;emotions and how those emotions affect behaviour;motivation and how these elements drive behavior and strategies to change behaviour positively and sustainably.’

Saturday June 24th (10am to 4 pm) at LGBT Foundation.

To book your FREE place go to:

Learn more about this year's campaign for Mens Health Week