Twelve years ago I lost 4 stone in weight, within a very short period of time. Those who only saw me occasionally were quite shocked, and a number of women asked me how I did it. Me being me, I was eager to explain, evangelical in my approach, convinced I could help them through my own experience. Big mistake. One woman listened to my story, then responded with a complacent smile. “Oh yes but at our age we need a bit of extra weight, don’t we?” No, I don’t think we do NEED it. Why would we NEED it?
However, she was entitled to her opinion, and we went pleasantly about our individual business. It was the angry women who convinced me that the answer to the question: “How did you lose 4 stone?” needed to be “I took a little green pill and it all dropped off. However, I am just lucky, and YOU won’t ever have access to that little green pill, so just put it out of your mind and continue with your life.”
Having been almost lynched on more than one occasion, after explaining how much effort I had put in, and how much self – discipline had been required (by someone who had just smilingly requested my ‘secret’), I became very wary, and a bit cross. Having heard, once too often, “I CAN’T lose weight! I hardly a eat a thing……I can’t possibly cut down any further! I have told my doctor – who is NOT listening – that I CAN’T lose weight!!”, hissed through gritted teeth, I stormed “Don’t bloody ask me if you don’t want to hear the answer!”, within the safety of my own mind. Following one such episode (at the swimming baths), the lady in question was soon tucking into a big portion of chips and cheese, in the café……silently warning me with her eyes. Believe me, I had no intention of going there…..I’d rather have tackled a rabid dog than enter into that minefield.
Now, since then I have largely maintained my weight. However, within the last year, I have put on 20lbs of flab……..and these are my ‘reasons’. Life has been difficult. There have been a number of challenges, including the fact that my partner had a fall which left him immobilized for the entire summer, and will keep him from walking properly for another few months. As a result, finances became a problem, and I have been doing all I can to increase my own earnings, to cover the shortfall. Being self – employed, it has been difficult and stressful, though I have managed to keep us going. However, there were no bike rides, no week – end rallies, no spare cash for anything other than basics. And we moved house (landlady was selling up). My life became busier and busier. Not only was I having to keep pulling the business in, I had to do all of the things he would normally do, as well as ferrying a couple of family members around, whose circumstances had changed. And of course my work is mentally and emotionally demanding, so I have been, and still am, exhausted. But why should all of that mean I pile on the pounds? It doesn’t really, BUT I have been comfort eating. Simple as that. I have put on the weight because I have been eating too much of the wrong kind of food, too often. End of.
Okay, I am on my feet a lot, and I have sturdy little legs. But all of the blubber has gone onto my midriff and my face. I have a small frame, and my natural build is athletic, rather than curvy. I think curvy women look great…..and I am not impressed by super – skinny. It is just that I, with my shape and build, look like a telly – tubby when carrying extra weight, and I am really not satisfied with the situation. And yet I have lost my mo – jo. That point at which I say “Right….that’s it, let’s get this weight thing sorted out now.” I have always been able to rely on my mo – jo in the past, always been able to nip any notable weight increase in the bud. I have managed my weight without much drama. But here I am waiting for that blessed moment when I feel the return of said, magical mo – jo…….and it seems to be taking its time, this time.
And that is because I need to change my attitude. There are people on the planet who have health issues that genuinely affect their weight, but many of us do not fall into that category. I have seen Secret Eaters, the tv programme in which chubby families call in the experts, swearing they barely eat enough to stay alive, are spied upon by private detectives and secretly filmed, only to have to admit to the fact they are putting it away with gusto. At least I am not in that kind of denial (although I do admit to eating certain things when no – one else is around, because I know I am being greedy). But it isn’t about food, is it? It is about tiredness, disappointment, boredom, the need for comfort…..and for reward. In order to re – discover my mo – jo, I need to alter my mind – set and attitude. And I know I will, when I have a big enough carrot at the end of my stick! Right now, the stick is so long, I can’t even begin to see the end of it. But nothing stays the same, and this phase will move into another, and the stick will become shorter again. I have faith.
Last night I remembered something from my childhood. I was at my best friend’s house, and she was having lunch. She was given a mousse for dessert, and I ached with longing. They were ‘new’ on the scene, and my own family never had such delicacies. I don’t remember being hungry throughout my childhood, but I do know that we did not have a stock of food in the cupboards, and we certainly never had treats. There just wasn’t enough money. My friend’s mother did not offer me a mousse, and so all I could do was feign disinterest. I think that maybe that was where I began to connect food with comfort and ‘doing well’. My friend’s family were normal. Her parents were not divorced and did not fight. Her eldest brother was disabled, but independent and living on his own. Her remaining brothers still lived at home, and she had everything she needed. Including mousse for dessert.
And then when I was taken to live with my father and stepmother, at the age of eleven, food presented a different experience. We were given three meals a day, including pudding, and I was praised for my hearty appetite. And as praise was very short in supply, as was affection, I sucked it up. We were not allowed to help ourselves to anything from the cupboard, but my stepmother would have a pile of chocolate digestives perched on the end of the ironing board as she worked, breaking them in half as she went, munching her way through them. And she would have a family sized bag of Revels of an evening, biting the chocolate from each one first, because she didn’t like orange creams. And if an orange cream showed up, it was tossed to the dog. Every now and then she and my father would have a Chinese take – away, and my step – siblings and I would lie in our beds, jealously savouring the scent as if wafted upstairs. I repeat that we were fed, with three meals a day……but treats were for adults, and not for the likes of us. And once again, psychologically speaking, food came to represent privilege, comfort and reward. Right now, I am ‘treating’ myself through food, soothing and nurturing myself. I know it….I understand it….I just need to reach that point at which I either cannot stand being the way I am (desperation), or where I can finally see the end of the stick (inspiration). I’ll work it out eventually…..I always do!