Writing these blogs is making me realise a lot of things…one of them is that people pleasing has got me where I am now, that is, fat.It’s also made me see that my weight generally settles down when I’m happy. And that the serious weight gain really started not long after I met Husband #2.
I don’t think he was really good for me. When I met him in 1996 I was 11 stone and when we were on the verge of divorce in 2008 I was at my fattest, nudging 19 stone. Ouch.
But that’s missing a lot out. I’m not going to talk about him in this post because there’s some fun stuff to talk about. In 2000 I was made redundant, which would have been the end of the world if (a) I didn’t get another job the same day I lost the first one and (b) I hadn’t been really bored anyway. I worked in the same place as ‘L’ temporarily, which was fine at the time, and I’d been trying to get a writing job for ages after spending months writing for peanuts for start-up dot-coms who needed people to populate their websites. I say peanuts – I was getting paid £30 for a 1000 word article which isn’t far off what I sometimes get offered now!
It was a complete and utter fluke, me getting offered a job as a Features Editor for a beauty trade publishing company. But I wasn’t complaining and I jumped at the chance in summer 2000. I’ve never been happier in a job. I absolutely freaking LOVED my job. This song reminds me of that summer.
I was writing for trade magazines for nail techs, salon and spa owners, but my main job was working with the editor of Spa Plus as that was the newest addition to the group. This meant I got to meet loads of people, try spa therapies and complementary therapies and all sorts. Perfect for an inquisitive journalist desperate to lose weight. I settled at around 14 stone while I was there, despite my list of bizarre weight loss attempts. I’ll just list them.
I met a lovely, lovely naturopath from Ely who gave me an iridology session, told me where my imbalances were and gave me a diet sheet. This sheet was doomed to failure because there was no mention of chocolate or coffee. I tried roasted dandelion root coffees and herbal teas, rice cakes and carob. They just aren’t the same, are they? I gave it a go, bought a veggie steamer and a juicer, stuck to it for a few weeks and lost sod all.
The same man gave me reflexology sessions. Some were paid-for because to be honest, reflexology was brilliant for me. The only issue I had with it was the time I ate some of his recommended snack of choice, dried apricots, before a session. Oh. My. God. They may have been good for me but when he said he was picking up some abdominal discomfort, he really wasn’t wrong! The reflexology sorted my hormones out but I lost…nothing.
Oh, I also came off the pill forever around this time. I thought I’d lose a load of weight when I did that. Guess what? Nothing. I decided I must have PCOS or a dodgy thyroid. I’ve had about four thyroid tests since and they all came back fine. Not my thyroid then?
More about inner healing and calm, but there was a part of me that wanted to try Reiki and eventually train in it to Level 2 because I thought it might help me shed my ‘weight issues’. It’s a lovely therapy, but my weight stayed stubbornly the same.
4. Blood Tests
I went up to London and had rather a lot of blood taken out. Apparently weight gain was a sign of undiagnosed food intolerances and they had a very sophisticated test that would tell me what I should cut out. Ready for this? Black pepper, yeast, aubergine and mackerel. No, I have no idea either, I can’t remember when I last had aubergine and don’t eat a lot of mackerel either. So theoretically all I needed to cut out was bread, and stop shaking pepper on my veggies. Right. I swapped to soda bread as it’s yeast-free. No mackerel or aubergine passed my lips. I lost….nothing.
These were NLP based programmes like ‘Lighten Up’ and another one I’ve forgotten the name of. They said no diets were involved but the basis of both was…Eat less. Exercise. I tried them, including the motivational exercises, the NLP, the self-hypnosis. I might have lost a bit but…nope, not a lot.
Yes, really. I got quite into the whole science behind Ayurveda and met with a man who had a clinic in West London. He had the most AMAZING house, overlooking Regents Park, with a lift and pure white carpets. I went there with one of the editors, Alex, and I was petrified I would spill coffee on that beautiful carpet. Anyway, after chatting to him about a feature, he invited me to stay at his clinic. I will remember to this day how he tried to convince me to have a herbal enema. “It will make you feel ten years younger” he told me. Sod that. I was happy with feeling 29. The retreat involved being covered in aromatic oils and steamed in a wooden chamber, where I felt like a Christmas pudding and smelled like one too.
I also had Shirodhara which was divine, where I had warm oils poured on my ‘third eye’ chakra (in the middle of my forehead if you’re wondering) while I was massaged. It did take three shampoos to get the oil out of my hair but it was blissful. The food was…horrible. Spicy food and me don’t mix, and the veggie-style Indian food was too much for my delicate system. I couldn’t finish my lunch on day 2 and actually scraped it down the loo to avoid offending anyone. Ugh. It also had a detrimental effect on the people in the yoga class. Some of them relaxed their muscles a little too much and trying not to fart after all that spicy food was a tricky feat when all around me people were letting loose with the curry farts themselves. It was….an experience.
Last but not least, and still the same weight more or less, I was sent for a four day retreat to Shrubland Hall in Ipswich. They had a reputation for being hardcore…the link above is from the Independent and it just about sums it up. Brutal. The treatments were lovely but the food was mean to say the least. I went prepared with cereal bars in my case but even they couldn’t have prepared me for four days of semi-starvation on grated carrot and broth and NO COFFEE. By day three I was close to fainting. I’d been pummelled, covered in mud, given a cellulite wrap and hosed down in ice cold water and I really needed carbohydrates. I called the friend in Ipswich I was banned from talking to and he came to the rescue. Not only did he come and meet me, and take me over to the pub across the road, but he even gave me contraband Kettle Chips to smuggle past spa reception.
Typically, H#2 called me when I was in the pub. Crap. I ran into the ladies’ – praying that nobody else would come in – and told him the reception was terrible and I was in the bathroom of my suite. Silly really, I hadn’t seen my mate for so long, and we were only having a drink, but if H#2 had known I would have been accused of sleeping with him so it was just easier not to tell him.
After my four days on lettuce leaves, grated carrot, vegetable broth and herbal teas (mostly fennel, if I remember) I was weighed. I lost SIX pounds. In four days. And that’s with the Kettle Chips and a pub dinner! I went over to see my mum the day they let me out, sat down and ate a huge roast dinner, and by the time I’d finished I had put four pounds back on. Oh well.
Then, a week after my 30th birthday in March, after a meeting with the publisher where he’d promised me a pay rise and potentially a promotion, he called me in for a chat. And made me redundant.