When I was 15 years old, I was a size 12-14. I thought I was fat, and I went on a diet. I won’t tell you which. It doesn’t matter. I lost weight. Can’t remember how much. But then I gained the weight back, plus a little extra.
When I was 18 I was a size 16. I decided I needed to diet again. Lost weight. Stopped the plan. Gained lost weight back. Oh. Gained some extra.
When I was 19 I was a size 18 to 20. Damn. I really need to do something about this. I dieted. And I dieted. And I dieted. It was easy. A brand new plan I’d never tried before, the weight came off. I smiled as the sizes came off. I smoked to cover up the hunger.
I stopped. I gained some weight back. But this time, I didn’t gain it all back. I managed to remain at a size 16 for a couple of years.
Then I got pregnant. Never mind eating for 2, I ate for several. And I gained a LOT of weight. When my baby was born I was the heaviest I ever ever was. But I was getting married in a year’s time and was desperate to lose the weight. I called myself disgusting. And I remember being in tears many, many times, sometimes out of hunger, sometimes out of self loathing, often because I was a mother to a young child and felt I was failing dismally. My doctor wouldn’t let me join the local slimming club until my baby was over the allotted time you need the dr’s permission to diet. Goodness, I love that Doctor. What a brilliant woman she was. Because she knew that there were more important things to deal with.
I lost weight for my wedding, but it was a hard, hard miserable year, and at the end of all that dieting, though I got to a healthy BMI weight, I had allowed my body image to be so affected that I loathed and hated myself and still thought myself fat and disgusting.
I got pregnant on my honeymoon, and so the stress of dieting was taken away. I didn’t eat like I had before, and I didn’t gain too much, I was fairly large, but I had a fairly large baby at the end of it all! It was a tough year, I had a pre 2 year old and was pregnant. But on the plus side I wasn’t constantly thinking about food, and the weight looked after itself. When this baby was born it was only 6 months before I became pregnant again, and my body continued to look after itself! I didn’t think about what I was or wasn’t eating. I was too busy running around after my two little ones while growing number three.
When number 3 was born I was actually the smallest I’d ever been post pregnancy. If I’d had any sense I’d have just let my body do its thing. But I was spending time with people who were worrying about their weight, and I decided I needed to join another weightloss group. I lost 2 stone, became the smallest I’ve ever been as an adult, and could wear size 10’s. Wow. I’d hit what every woman surely dreams of! Doesn’t she? But all I could think about, all my life could revolve around, was food, and what I could or should eat. Never mind that I had become so food deprived I was often dizzy and humiliatingly passed out in a restaurant, and nevermind that I was so obsessed with dieting it was all I could ever think of, and goodness I must have bored people with diet talk, and stressed people out with my bad food starved moods.
I often wonder where I’d be now if I had never gone back to weight loss groups post babies. If I’d just continued as I was, letting my body lead me in terms of hunger and satisfaction. Maybe I would have been happy as I was.
Gradually, the euphoria of weight loss diminished. Once you’ve lost weight, what is there to get excited about? And gradually the weight crept back on. Food returned as the comforter, the nurturer when life sucked. And gradually I was back to that post 3rd baby weight, then more, then more, and I was back to my post 1st baby weight.
I had an eating disorder. Obsessed with food, and seeing myself in a distorted view. It was a dark dark time, and one I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
Thankfully, several years ago, I came across intuitive eating, and while it hasn’t seen me lose stones in a dramatic fashion, it has helped me overcome that crippling eating disorder, and to learn to like myself in spite of my appearance. But there’s the rub. I’m still FAT. The weight is coming off slowly, but at least my metabolism isn’t suffering under some fascist weight loss programme. And I don’t put my life on hold. I have done more in the last 3 years activity wise, than in the previous 30 years of my life. I don’t let other people’s opinions of me affect what I want to do. I’ve walked a marathon through the night, and have taken the opportunities to don a wetsuit and get tummy surfing on family holidays.
But I’m FAT. And so it can be assumed I’m just a diet failure. I just have no willpower, cannot control myself, am weak physically and mentally. When I recommend a book such as Beyond Chocolate it’s received with a smile, but also, quite possibly, the thought that this fat heffer clearly knows nothing about weight loss. If I tried harder, obviously I’d be able to lose weight and keep it off. I’m just FAT and lazy.
But you know what I do know? After being an experiment for over 25 years? That diets DO NOT WORK for the majority of us in the long term. And you cannot escape that. Changing your mindset, tuning in to your body, listening to what your body needs rather than wants, these are things that diets, if anything, damage, rather than improve. We are taught, and reminded over and over that we cannot trust ourselves around food. That we will fail if we listen to what we need. Maybe, heaven forbid, we’ll ALWAYS want burgers, and we’ll get fatter and fatter. The fact is, if we listen to what our body needs we’ll find it’s rarely a burger, and more often some nice nourishing delicious food.
So yes. I am FAT. But I’m happy (most of the time), and the weight is slowly coming off, without compromising my poor old metabolism that has suffered through the years. And it’s not just me who thinks diets don’t work, just to make my life easier. Scientists are coming to the same conclusions!
But I am FAT, so I’m not qualified to talk about it.