Thursday, 10 April 2008

Historical perspective

Allow me to explain. It all started in September 2006 (around the time of my 28th Birthday to be exact) when I began to notice just how much weight I’d put on. I have always had an up and down relationship with my weight which is of course linked to an up and down relationship with food. From very strict eating disorder-like behaviour when I was in my teens and doing a hell of a lot of classical ballet, to piling a load of flab on during university, only to lose it all again 2004-2005 in time for my wedding to Mr. And now, after 3 years of marriage, I am a big fat pie again.

I digress. Where was I? Oh yes. September 2006. I was in a restaurant, surrounded by wonderful friends, family and my husband. And I felt hideous. Utter self-loathing. Being a bit drunk at the time, I was moaning away to my friend K about how MUCH I detested being me. And she took a risk – knowing me well, as she does, she figured it was time for tough love. ‘Stop moaning and bloody do something about it’ was essentially the gist of her words of wisdom to me. ‘Come to Weightwatchers with me’.

I was stunned…..Weightwatchers? Me? I couldn’t possibly! That’s for fat people? For the undisciplined and weak. I couldn’t possibly.

And then – the ‘light bulb’ moment! K was certainly no longer a big fat pie – she was well on her way to target loss of 5 stone! 5 stone! And she was always out and about, doing stuff, eating, drinking along with the rest of us, just in moderation. I slowly realised that I needed help. The drive and motivation and frankly border-line obsessive compulsive behaviour I’d exhibited during the run up to my wedding, had completely and utterly gone. I’d relaxed, into married life, into not having to impress guys, into liking myself…trouble was I’d relaxed a little too much.

So. I decided to along with K that very next week.

Now, don’t get me wrong, as I stepped onto those scales at that first WW meeting, the adrenalin coursing through my body, I was still in what I like to refer as ‘crazy denial stage’ as all around me there were much larger women who clearly had a reason to be there…and good for them for being brave enough to take it on the chin and get on those scales. Crazy denial stage had me thinking ‘why are you here, look how much slimmer you are compared to them, leave now, exercise more, it’ll be ok’. But I ignored my inner voice (which I am still incredibly adept at doing, as you’ll notice from yesterday’s post) and approached the scales. R, the leader, was so friendly, and not in that cheesy, American, false, crap way that makes you want to puke. No. Instead she said ‘Let’s have a look then, hop on’

Rather than ‘hop’. I stepped cautiously, holding my breath and my stomach in, in the vain hope of achieving a last minute fluctuation on the scales.

The scales flashed a bit and then settled.

11 stones and 12 pounds.

I almost keeled over and died, then and there on the spot.

In my mind, I’d been thinking I’d weigh a little over 10 stone, maybe 10 and a half at a push. But noooooooooo. Those bloody electronic scales are so precise.

The tears threatened as I gazed at R, willing her to impart some wisdom or at the very least pay me some sort of false compliment to reassure me and soothe my battered ego….something along the lines of ‘oh come on! You don’t even need to be here. What are you worried about!?’ but those words didn’t come. Instead, a phrase that I have not ever forgotten, nor will I ever forget. R said.

‘It’ll never be that again, will it? You’re in the right place’

That may sound like a load of crap to you, dear reader, but to me it was completely profound and precisely what I needed to hear! OF COURSE! My weight WOULD never be the same again, because here I was, doing something about it! I belonged here, here there were people who understood what it’s like to hate your body and battle against being a slave to food. But here things were about change, positive eating, healthy eating. And I soon got onto the fact that weightwatchers is do-able. I set the goal weight I wanted to be in accordance with my height. Learnt how to use the points system and I was off! My first week I lost 5 and a half pounds – AND that was with going to a wedding and having a fry up on the Sunday! I was astounded! I hadn’t been hungry, I’d cooked a hell of a lot more, and Mr had enjoyed the food too – not even having noticed it was ’diet food’. (when previously I’d been dieting I’d lived on Special K and steamed fish with veg – not at the same time, obviously) Was it really this easy????

Now – I feel the need for a brief aside here. I KNOW that 11 stone 12 is not anywhere near morbidly obese and that I was not exactly a candidate for gastric bypass surgery or anything. But I was overweight! I am 5”8’ and a healthy weight for my height is between 9 stone 2 and 11 stone 6. Naturally, in my mind’s eye 9 stone was my goal, but let’s be realistic! I was 9 stone on my wedding day but had had to develop a personality disorder to get there. Seriously, Bridezilla – got NOTHING on me! I set my goal at a healthy 10 stone – though I would often joke that my aim was to become a size zero…

For me being 11 stone 12 was emblematic of having ‘let myself go’. A sure fire thing apparently when you get married. But I was not having that! Why the hell should I settle for that!? No way, I was gonna do this WW thing, do it to the death and bloody well succeed at it (pretty much my attitude to anything I take on –I’m a Virgo – apparently it’s a given) ! And succeed I did.

I lost over half a stone in 2 weeks, and from there the weight just kept coming off. A combination of healthy eating, swimming on my lunch hour, running at weekends and a weekly Pilates/torture class facilitated by a sadist/army major, all combined to fight the flab. I gave so many of my ‘fat clothes’ away – mostly to K as she was nearing goal of a size 14! I was proud of my body and not ashamed of me anymore. People were noticing and I felt great. By Christmas I was 10 stone 6 and determined not to let it all go to bollocks over the festive season. I had a wonderful Christmas Eve watching “Muppets’ Christmas Carol” on the treadmill and Stairmaster, and then swimming 62 lengths in an hour (!!!) I basically had the gym and pool to myself as there were no other nutters there on that day! But I walked home about 4pm feeling over the moon and light as a feather – finally free and ready to be able to enjoy Christmas, knowing I’d looked after my body beforehand. (And combatted some of the mother-in-law’s ‘coat everything in lard’ cooking technique, as annoyingly we had to spend Christmas dinner with them that year – far and away the worst thing about being married)

Back on the scales the following week, just after New Year I was OVERJOYED to discover that I had not gained a single ounce over the 2 week holiday! WOOP WOOP! Sure, I hadn’t lost anything, but neither had I gained! Part of me had felt certain that I would have piled all the pounds back on.

Looking back now, I’m certain that an entire day of not eating and throwing up (i.e. New Years’ Day) must have had SOMETHING to do with it…but that’s another story. Bloody cocktail parties.

I never did get to goal. I peaked at 10 stone 3 after a two-week bout of being bed ridden with the god-awful flu. But my weight settled at 10 stone 6/7. K reached her goal….5 whole stones of minging, wobbly, lardy fat had gone and she looked absobloodylutely AMAAAAAZING! Then I got a part in a musical – something I would never have been comfortable doing at 11 stone 12, but with my new, svelte body and size 10 – YES SIZE 10!!- clothes, I felt ready to face the world.

Rehearsals were on A Tuesday – my weigh day. One thing led to another and I stopped attending for my accountability/weigh in sessions. K stopped attending because she got pregnant and so I lost my motivator.

I slimmed down further (like a mad woman, remember the OCD wedding behaviour? Well it was BACK! Proving to me that when I am sufficiently stressed and anxious, I AM, in fact, one of those people who stops eating rather than, as I had previously thought, being one of those people who overeats in time of stress and anxiety – but again I digress) as the show approached and I was the picture of health in late June 2007. In just 9 months I had achieved the body I’d had and lost but always wanted back again. And through bloody hard work I might add! The week of the show I was dancing so much that I felt like a professional, I’d taken the week of work and was doing Pilates or dance cardio classes at the gym during the day and on stage at night. It was awesome.

And then, you guessed it, it all went tits up (Pardon the expression)

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