I’ve been struggling with my weight for a while now. Managing to hold on to my rather apathetic (to say the least) attitude towards exercise whilst losing the metabolism I had when I was 19 means that I am *cough* stone *cough cough*, have an embarrassing BMI and am heading towards diabetes faster than you can shout “jam doughnut”. The problem is, I like food. I enjoy cooking – especially baking; I enjoy eating – especially cake; I like small social occasions – that involve cake. So any time I’ve tried, rather half-heartedly I’ll be the first to admit, to diet, I’ve fallen off the carrot wagon rather spectacularly and without much regret. Until I come to try some outfit or other on or see myself in the mirror or a photo.
I thought I’d found a solution to this in the 5:2 way of eating. Y’know, where you eat normally 5 days a week and fast, restricting yourself to 500 calories or a quarter of your recommended calorie intake, for 2 days. You can mix it up, fasting for more days a week or cutting down to 1 day’s fast when you’ve reached your target weight or you’ve had a particularly hectic social life. It sounded ideal, only limiting myself 2 days a week? Cutting out worries about fat, calorie or other monstrosity except for a piddly 48 hours a week? Plus all the other health benefits which were very convincing – hell yeah, I’m up for that.
At first it went pretty well. It wasn’t as hard as I’d expected and I lost a few pounds pretty quickly. Then there were problems – I had the start of a down time with depression, I had an exam to study for, I had mad things happening at home and basically I struggled to both fit in fast days and enjoy them when I did. And the usual problem of dieting then stopping – the weight went back on, with interest.
Today I thought I’d give it another go. And I was miserable. Not that I particularly wanted to binge on Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food (oh, but now you mention it…) but I was just getting so uptight about the calorie restriction and thinking of some actually very healthy food that I could have been eating instead. Such as the lovely sandwiches Beloved Husband and Emily had for lunch from the new village deli, or the nice granary toast Beloved Husband had for breakfast.
My next approach, ladies and gentlemen, is to try thinking rather more holistically. For a start, as I mentioned above, exercise and I haven’t exactly been soulmates over the last 33 years. I’m pretty sure it’s exercise’s fault, not mine, but I’m prepared to be magnanimous and give it another chance. Our actual diet is pretty healthy to be honest – I could REALLY do with cutting my portion sizes down a bit and being more truthful with myself about how much I snack, but our meals are fairly balanced, nutritious and varied and my repertoire is expanding all the time thanks to books like Jerusalem, Plenty and the River Cottage gang.
It’s funny though, how such an integral part of life, like eating, can be so emotive. You comfort eat (oh alright, I comfort eat), you swing from diet to diet. You turn something meant to be enjoyable into an engorgement where bigger is better (XL Big King, anyone? 32oz steak? triple chocolate fudge cake with whipped cream?) and you lose all sense of proportion. Or you become afraid of food and the horrors of carbs, fat, calories… Speaking of horrors, we turn into horrors ourselves, messing with the food chain to get those bigger burgers, cheeper chickens (boom boom. sorry.) or GM crops. You measure yourself constantly against everyone else – that sinking moment when someone says how horrified they are that they’re so big, and it’s a good 3 stone below your weight – when what you should really be doing is measuring yourself against yourself.
I am overweight, I am unfit and I need to change but not because I’m x size and the mums in the playground or on Facebook are y or z size. I need to change because I don’t want to be monitoring my blood after every meal or feeling too big to wear the clothes I want to wear or avoiding pictures with my babies. I want to graduate in a couple of years with my OU degree and wear a lovely dress under my graduation gown. But I think I need to readjust my attitude to my body fairly significantly; start treating myself with a little more respect and doing what I need to do.