I THOUGHT about changing the name of this blog now that I’m married and no longer have to worry about the wedding dress, but then I thought, meh, I’m fat, I’m always beating myself into SOME sort of dress.
So I’m leaving it. And on that note:
When I was 25 I lasted four days on the Atkins Diet before flinging myself, wild eyed, into the door of an Italian restaurant and begging them to bring me a plate of pasta. Stat.
I think I probably wasn’t the first desperate, fat, slightly sweaty, carb-deprived Irish woman to come through their door because they seated me with a smile and brought me complimentary garlic bread while I was waiting.
When I was 26 I bought slimming tablets from an infomercial on late night TV. The tablets were made, I found out later, from fish guts, which they claimed bound fat together leaving you lean and serene, while you sat on your hole eating cakes and watching, well, infomercials.
The only thing that got leaner on that diet was my wallet. And I started to smell like fish, too.
Over the years I’ve tried the Cabbage Soup Diet (yes, it gave me the scutters), the Slimfast Diet (gank), the Special K Diet (well, it’s cardboard really, isn’t it?) calorie-counting, even group diets like WeightWatchers and I never stuck to any of them.
They bored me rigid. You thought about food, constantly. I started to obsess about food and I’m sure I drove my family and friends to distraction going on about the new one and veering between crazily counting out exactly 19 grains of rice, and stuffing eclairs down my throat like they were about to put a levy on them.
Call it laziness, call it lack of will-power, call it whatever you want, me and diets just do not work.
Actually, now that I’m older and wiser, I know for sure it was laziness. It still is.
I can’t tell you how many psychological profiles I’ve filled in online and in nutritionists’ offices, searching for the why, trying to find out how I got to be the size I am.
I’m a comfort eater, I eat when I’m distracted thus not realising what or how much I’m eating, like all fat people, I eat to hide the tears. I’ve heard it all. Blah blah blah.
Here’s the truth – I love to eat, and I hate to exercise. I love all food. Good nutritious food, fruit, vegetables, salad and also the bad stuff, the tip of the pyramid stuff. Chocolate. Cakes. Butter. All of it. I love it all. Too much in, not enough out equals thunder thighs. And Sumo belly. And bingo wings. You get the idea.
There is no mystery with me. No deep psychological scar. No childhood trauma. No glandular problem. No secret binge eating, or throwing up, nothing like that.
I simply love to eat, and hate to exercise. And despite envying slim women for their fashion sense and their ability to wear heels, in general I’m happy with myself.
Always have been.
The medical profession however, is not. Bet you thought this was going to be a ‘love yourself, have another cupcake’ post didn’t you?
I might be, truly, happy with myself and how I look. I might hate diets. I might not care that my thighs meet, that I have back fat, that I have to buy plus-sized clothes. I might feel a pang when I read a fashion magazine and see the gorgeousness but I always shrug it off easily. I’m not slim, so what?
But my doctor doesn’t agree. And sadly, he’s right. I have to lose weight, I have to diet for my health, it really is as simple as that. Boring, but simple. It’s been going on too long and I have to make a change.
‘What am I going to do?’ I asked, teary eyed, logging on to the online wedding forum I can’t seem to give up even though I’m nine months married at this stage.
And then, like an angel, she appeared. An online pal, with two magic words. Slimming World.
‘I’ve tried all that before,’ I protested. ‘Counting points, obsessing over Extra Light or Extra Extra Light mayo, wearing cling-film for 24-hours before weigh-in, I’ve done it all.’
‘You haven’t tried this,’ she said and emailed me the information.
The difference between Slimming World and, well, every other diet in the world, is that on Slimming World – you’re actually allowed to eat. You’re positively encouraged to eat.
It has been a revelation. There are some rules, of course. The unlimited eating doesn’t apply to the top of the pyramid stuff. But if it’s real, tasty, filling dinners you’re after? Then Slimming World is your man.
It relies on three basic principals – superfree food (your fruits and vegetables) free foods (lean meat, potatoes, pasta and rice) and synned food (your cakes, chocolate and oils).
You eat all you want of superfree and free foods, ensuring that 1/3 of your plate is filled with superfree, and then you count your syns. And that’s it.
No, really. That’s it.
You weigh nothing. Well, very little. Your bread and dairy is controlled along with the treats. But apart from those, you weigh nothing. You count nothing. You find the calorie content of nothing.
How many calories are there in an egg? I couldn’t tell you, I don’t need to know.
Once you trim the visible layer of fat off a steak, you can eat it. Without guilt. Once you cook your food without fat or oil, you can eat it. Roast beef dinner? Yes you can. Spaghetti Bolognese? Yes, you can. Chicken curry? I had that this evening!
You do have to cook almost everything from scratch, you spend a lot of your time chopping vegetables and dinner can take an hour most evenings to cook, so there is a downside. Very little pre-packaged or processed food is allowed. But once you’ve finished the chopping and cooking, you can eat the results. And eat until you’re full. Really full. Not ‘I’d eat my own arm but I’m powering through’ full, but really, satisfyingly full.
And the weight comes off. It won’t fall off you overnight, it averages about 1lb a week, but it comes off. It comes off and you can eat. What more do you want?
I did fall off the wagon over Christmas – alright then, if you’re being like that about it, for the whole month of December – as my inner lazy hoor surfaced and I had a break from all the chopping and cooking. But getting back on the wagon has been incredibly easy. I fell back into it on day one, chopping and cooking up a storm, without a backward glance to the tin of Roses.
I think this time I might be able to stick to this thing. I think this time it will work and I will lose weight. For good. Although Slimming World is not an exercise programme, I am exercising as well, walking and using my stationary bike, to improve my fitness levels. Being able to eat and enjoy food helps with the motivation.
Of course it could all end in tears. It has before. And it may again. I’ve already fallen off the wagon. But getting back on is becoming easier and easier and I’m losing weight.
So now, how do you like them apples?
Check out http://www.slimmingworld.com for more details.
LIKE most brides before their wedding I’ve decided to lose a bit of weight so that I don’t have to be greased up like a hog to get into The Dress on the big day.
So far it’s going… well, it’s going straight for the fridge if the truth be told.
I like my food, in fact I love it and I despair of cutting out any of it, even the tiniest morsel. But it has to be done. My wardrobe tells me it has to be done, the mirror tells me it has to be done, my doctor tells me it has to be done. Even my fellow passengers on the bus who have to shift an extra couple of inches to the left to allow me to sit next to them of a morning tell me it has to be done.
And because we live together, my Say No to Lard campaign also includes Yer Man. He’s resigned to it now. He can’t cook and knows that if he doesn’t eat what’s put in front of him he’ll starve. Actually starve to death. So he’s in on it too.
As a kickstart, about four months ago the pair of us gave up drinking Coke and fizzy drinks. Mainly Coke. We were mad for the Coke so we were, literally litres of the stuff we guzzled daily, barely getting up out of the leaba in the morning before we’d have an ice-cold pint inside us. We worked it out one day that we were easily drinking a two litre bottle EACH every day of the week, 14 litres a week, and that only included the Coke we drank at home, not anything we had while at work or out and about.
“Jaysis, 14 litres each, that’s…”
“28 a week between the two of us,” Yer Man got in ahead of me, showing off his superior maths skills. The big swot.
It had to go. We gave up almost cold turkey. No Coke during the week, but a can or two at the weekend was acceptable. And surprisingly we’ve stuck to it, the key was to just not buy it in the supermarket, no matter how much we wanted to, so it’s never in the house. We switched to sugar free cordial, diluted with pints of water.
That’s not to say it was easy. It wasn’t. Hand on heart, it was horrific. I had horrible withdrawal symptoms at first, a couple of weeks of them. The shakes, night sweats, numbing headaches, irritability…
“Are you putting in about the mood swings?” Yer Man interrupts, looking over my shoulder as I type.
… mood swings, restlessness, insomnia. But then it stopped. I started to sleep better, feel better, I didn’t constantly obsess about fizzy drinks. And I finally think I might be free of Coke. I still love it, I still want it, but I don’t feel the need to drink 28 litres of it every week.
Life is good.
Except, I’m still fat.
So something else has to be done.
It’s time to pay real attention to our diet and to concentrate on eating proper, nutritious, whole foods. Lots more fruit and vegetables, much more fibre, piles more protein, quarter the fat, quarter the salt, less meat, you get the idea.
“I’ve been thinking,” I started confidently, ignoring Yer Man’s muffled groan from inside on the sofa “how would you feel about perhaps cutting down on red meat and turning vegetarian for two days a week? Just to see how we get on? Just to try new meals and recipes even?”
I don’t blame him for being reluctant, he doesn’t need a diet at all, he’s wonderfully fit and in shape. I’ve already taken away his beloved Coke and now I want to take away his meat? Is he the man of the house or what?
He gave in, as I knew he would, because he knows if he doesn’t do it, neither will I and he wants the best for me.
So the diet is on, full throttle.
I give us a week.