Why it makes me uncomfortable to tell you that i’m on another diet.
At the end of last year, I decided to go on a diet. A scary one, an eat-these-four-sachets-a-day-and-watch-the-weight-drop-off one.
There were good reasons for this, I was fatter than I ought to be, fatter than I wanted to be and i’m too impatient to lose weight very slowly and sensibly over a period of years. It was almost co-incidental that this decision came a month or so after getting engaged, my fiancée very much liked me the way I was if I was happy with that, but equally willing to support me in dealing with it if I wasn’t.
So I decided to just gently let go, enjoy myself up to christmas, then buy in 12 weeks worth of diet, and just go for it, the best that I could.
Just after christmas, and I was the fattest i’ve ever been. On January 1st 2015 I stepped on the scales and I weighed in at 15 st 4 lbs. That’s a little over 215 lbs for the americans, or around 98kgs if you’re feeling modern.
I’d like to say I was carrying it quite well. With some suitably flattering jumpers and a bit of self confidence, I don’t think that I looked like a woman in the “Obese” weight range. I didn’t feel like one either, I felt quite fit and happy with myself, although the texts I sent my partner that christmas bemoaning the fatness of my face tell the underlying story of my discomfort with my size. At the time this picture was taken, I have 3 stone to lose in order to hit the healthy weight range for someone of my height, 5 stone to be in the middle of that range, and I could lose as much as 7 and still be within that range, if I wanted to rock the supermodel body.
So I started the diet, and it was awful, and I could’ve done better and behaved better on it, I wasn’t as strict as I ought to be god knows. But in the 3 months or so that I did it most of the time, I lost about a stone and a half. There were set backs, I had the ‘flu and spent a week eating icecream because it was the only thing I could stand. It took me a couple of weeks to re-lose the weight I regained after that week. I started a new drug to control my migraines, and those rocketed my appetite up and made me feel too sick to not eat, and so I paused the diet, put the powders in a box, and hid them behind the sofa for 6 weeks.
The difference had been dramatic, the loss of a mere stone and a half had almost everyone I knew commenting on how good I looked. Teeshirts that had mocked me for years suddenly went on again, things I wore only last summer now hung so loosely that they would slip off. I loved it, and I felt un utterably guilty.
I returned to “normal eating” completely failed to do any semblance of calorie counting or notable restricting and discovered that after years on anti-depressants it was like being 14 again. My weight stayed stable, I did not burn easily in the sun. I felt happy.
Currently, I weight 13st 10lbs. It’s been as little as 13.9 on a good day, and as much as 13.11 on a bad one. Stable. People think I look great, hell, I think I look great. And yet, i’m about to do it again, and I feel uncomfortable telling people.
Last time, even the politest, most body positive, most supportive of my friends could at least acknowledge, just by looking at me, that it probably wouldn’t be such a bad idea. “No thanks, i’m on a VLCD!” I’d laugh, pulling at my love handles with a mournful puppy dog face, trying not to stare too hungrily at their coffee with milk in it, drinking mine black.
This time? Well, let’s be truthful, i’ve still got some love-handles to grab, i’m still quite soft and squashy, but i’ve “done” the diet now. Although i’ve still got at least a stone to go to be in a healthy weight range, this time it looks, from the outside, as though it’s more cosmetic, and I hate to admit, it sort of is.
That’s the result you get if you type my current vital statistics into the NHS BMI calculator. It’s correct to say I could do with losing some weight, just as it was in January when the little indicator line was way up in the red.
As Susie Orbach wrote: Fat, is a feminist issue.
So now that i’ve shifted a few pounds and oh so coincidentally dropped a dress size or two (in the right shops) I don’t need to do it again right? Because I am a strong and independent woman who can look good at any size and doesn’t need to conform to societies expectations of me.
I’ve lost the weight that caused my knee capsules to swell and burn painfully and constantly last summer, (when pressed into unexpected use after a long break). Although it’s not yet been really warm enough to tell, i’ve lost most of the weight that has caused me many years of miserable sweatiness in warm weather.
I’m a big grown up feminist, I don’t need to lose any more.
But I want to.
That’s my shameful little secret. I could decide I don’t really care, i’ve got the exciting health benefits, i’ve lost the weight around my face that was bothering me so much, I could sell the rest of the sachets I didn’t end up using. But i’m not.
I want to lose a little more weight, and then a little more than that. I used to joke that I had the height for a model if only I had the figure, but what if I did? I want to be The Protagonist in my own story.
We are by turns demonised and applauded for caring about how we look. The #nomakeupselfie is brave but also it’s really self centred because who cares what you look like without make up on, but also it’s sad because it shouldn’t be a big deal to go bare faced, but also…
It goes on, natural beauty is best except for when you want to Please Your Man TM. Don’t care about shoes but: buy-these-shoes-which-will-tone-your-bum-and-wear-a-night-cream-but-don’t-be-high-maintainence-and-always-have-an-orgasm-but-not-too-soon-and-make-sure-you-smell-nice-and-wax-but-not-too-much.
And very suddenly it’s overwhelming. It’s hard when you want to be stronger than all of that and your own brain won’t let you. When you don’t like the way you look. When you’re part of a culture where pictures of yourself are a currency.
They say that generation Y, the millennial, are self absorbed, obsessed with how we look. They say it’s not feminist to want to be thin. They say that you shouldn’t try too hard.
The thing is, I don’t know who they are. I’ve got some delightful friends, and they were supportive last time and i’m sure they’ll be supportive this time. But there’s only a few of them and theres a whole world in my head to fight. Because that’s it really, the real reason I don’t want to tell you i’m on a diet again. It’s because I don’t want to tell myself that i’m on a diet again.
Post script. I haven’t read this back. It’s part long read, part therapy. I hope you’ve found it interesting, englightening, or at least mildly diverting.