Monthly Archives: May 2013

How many diets does one woman need?

Sarah 2005OK, so it’s not unusual for a woman who’s about to get married in one of the most picturesque parts of the world to want to look good in her wedding photos. But 2005-2006 were just about the worst years ever in my diet obsession.

I blame online diet clubs, forums and magazines. Now it was SO much easier just to sign up to Slimming World or Weight Watchers and do everything online without the need to go to one of those bloody awful meetings where everyone sat around dissecting everything they’d eaten for the last week and then competed to come up with disgusting recipes.

Oh, but doing it online when I was meant to be working was OK, though…

Yes, I got the promotion and I was finally a manager in the civil service, but I still had no real idea what my job was because they changed it every five minutes. To be honest, the job wasn’t a problem, it was easy, non-stressful and as a ‘creative type’ it meant I could get away with looking at all sorts on the Internet and justify it by saying I was researching ideas for the staff newsletter.

I still hung out with my buddy although we weren’t sharing a lift into work anymore. We used to get ‘those looks’ as we disappeared off for lunch together yet again, but I had no idea he liked me, did I? He was the perfect gentleman and we just used to have a good laugh. Anyway, I was getting married.

So I joined three online diet clubs and was doing them simultaneously at some points. I was on Slimming World looking for a way to eat shit-loads of pasta without getting fatter, Weight Watchers because I could eat crisps and sweets as long as I Pointed them, and Weight Loss Resources because quite frankly, anything goes with them and you can even change your goal calorie level half way through the day if you’ve had a pig out. Mad, hey? I was chatting to the girls on the forums that went with the sites constantly and immersing myself in my weight loss obsession day in, day out.

I wasn’t losing any weight though.

I went to the doctor and asked for tests as I seemed to be half asleep most of the time and exhausted. I had thyroid and hormone tests but it wasn’t PCOS or hypothyroidism, even though I tried eating plans for both (I was still buying diet books too, of course). I also thought it could be PMS – extreme PMS. I wasn’t on the pill and my hormones were still not quite right, so I saw a reflexologist who helped with that, but I was still tired all the time and felt like I was ‘wading through treacle’ most days. He suggested I drink dandelion coffee instead of Alta Rica and swapped bread for rice cakes but I could only ever manage the lack of caffeine for a day or so before I imploded and ate everything in sight. Looking back, I reckon everything I felt was more about my life than my hormones – I was just a bit depressed.

I had to get a bus into Ely (the buses were usually late) and then a train to Cambridge, then walk from the station to my office. This commute took me two hours or so. I’d then have to do the same on the way back. The job wasn’t that exciting although it was OK, and I hardly saw Husband #2 because he was working away a lot now. When he wasn’t working he was at football or wanting to see L&P who by now were permanent fixtures at weekends, holidays or any time we might have spent alone together.

Summer 2005 is the point where I should really have given myself a slap and walked away from the wedding plans. L told me that H#2 had to talk to me. She wouldn’t tell me why but I’d confided in her that he’d been really quiet and hardly spoken to me in days. It turned out he’d told her he wasn’t sure if he wanted to get married after all.

WARNING BELLS!!!

Of course, now I know that was my cue to say “Neither do I, shall we call it quits?” but at the time, I thought we could mend it. Do you know, he never actually talked to me about it after the initial upset? I tried ‘working at it’ and making it better and he never said he didn’t want to get hitched. In fact a month or so before the wedding, he actually said he thought he might be coming round to the idea of kids. I was over the moon. Because kids and getting married always work wonders for a relationship that’s run its course don’t they?

We got married in December 2005. I was about 15 stone 10 I think. I’d lost NOTHING weight wise and I thought I looked pretty Wedding 1damn awful in my wedding outfit. We got married in Banff, Canada, and the surroundings were amazing, as was the hotel. L was my bridesmaid, P was best man and the only family was H#2’s mum. Two nights before we got married, he’d been on a stag night with P in Banff, got so drunk that I thought he was putting it on, and staggered back into the hotel room slurring, “You’ve got a fat arse but I still love you.”

Yes, he really did say that. I was mortified but still sat up and watched him sleep because he was so rat-arsed that I thought he might choke  on his own vomit.

We had one day alone on that honeymoon. The rest of the day was spent with L & P. We went on to Toronto for new year, and had a lovely time, but there was still a part of me that felt uneasy. He was already backtracking on the idea of kids, insisting I didn’t tell anyone and saying we should wait a while. He followed L around like a lovesick puppy making me feel ever so slightly left out on my own honeymoon.

The positive was that I think that trip was a turning point for my crappy relationship with food. In Canada, we were surrounded by food. Masses of choices, gargantuan portion sizes. It was like being a kid in a sweet shop! But after a while, the constant availability of food and overwhelming amounts and variety just seemed to get boring. I didn’t need to go back for seconds or stuff my face like the others were doing, I just didn’t feel like it. I started to just take what I felt like and for the first time I actually felt as if I could take food or leave it.

I did spend one Godawful day laid up in a hotel room in Toronto with period pains, while the other three went out to Bloor Street to look at watches. It was a couple of days into new year and the UK TV channels in Canada were showing wall-to-wall “You are what you eat” by Gillian McKeith. I don’t know how I managed to watch it now.

 

Awful!!!

When I got home, I was the one who’d gained the least weight, just a few pounds in three weeks. I didn’t know it, but I was on the way to ditching diets forever.

 

 

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Baked sweet potato wedges with rosemary, cinnamon & paprika

I’m so going to be trying the recipes from this blog. I think I’m in love with the idea of the sweet potatoes with cinnamon & rosemary. And that cake…I bet it comes out way better than the sorry effort I made of a Victoria sponge this afternoon.

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Getting fatter and going on every diet known to woman

fat

The next few years were a bit dull, really.

I slowly gained weight, and went on even more diets. The most exciting thing that happened to me in 2003 was probably RSI. I had seven months off work and was bored witless, but I did manage to find a very cute osteopath (I never told Husband #2 he was cute, he probably would have stopped me going) and I also trained in Reiki Level 2 that year. I took two more courses, one in Paralegal Vocational Studies and one in Freelance Writing. I’m not good at being bored, am I?

I eat too much when I’m bored, and 2003 was a very bad year for eating too much. I tried Pilates at the local gym and I joined the gym to use the machines but it was a long walk up to the sports centre and my determination to lose weight while I was on sick leave didn’t last very long.

I did also discover the new Weight Watchers points system where you bought scales, a calculator, books and went to classes every week just to find out that stuff you liked eating had loads of calories in it. Really? No shit, Sherlock. I probably only went to class a few times to get the paraphernalia and after that did it online. Online slimming clubs were a nightmare for my finances. Weight Watchers were the first to do it so I stuck with them most of 2003-4. Not only that, but L wanted to do Weight Watchers and so that meant H#2 wanted to do it, and P would be doing it to. It seemed kinda rude not to, to be honest. We used to meet up to do our Tesco shop together (yes, we really did) and L would follow me around asking how many Points were in everything. Shopping took a LONG time back in those days.

I had brief flirtations with Rosemary Conley and a few attempts at Slimming World, but none of them lasted very long really.

In 2004 H#2 changed jobs. Or rather he was made redundant from a job, who paid him a nice amount of redundancy money then took him back when the company was bought out by another firm a month later, and gave him a new job. The job meant he was expected to drive around all over the place and be away from home a lot. On the one hand this was a GOOD thing because he was getting on my nerves a bit, but on the other hand it meant I was going to have an absolute ‘mare getting to work and back. I decided to put up a notice in the staff kitchen at work about lift sharing. Within hours I’d had an offer from someone I didn’t work with directly but knew reasonably well. He lived in Ely so it was out of his way, but he didn’t seem to mind.

He turned into my best work mate – Katie had moved on. He was single and used to tell me about all the rubbish dates he’d been on, and we would bitch about people at work and gossip like a couple of old women. He and I were both crap first thing in the morning so we kind of made a pact not to really talk much on the way into work, but we made up for it on our lunch breaks at the pub.

Me Daphne and AnitaH#2 never really said anything about my work buddy back then, probably because he knew that I needed a lift to work. He couldn’t possibly think that anyone would fancy his fat girlfriend! So by the end of 2004, I’d failed two driving tests, been passed over for a promotion and my fiance was working away a lot. I hated Soham, rarely saw my family and was getting fatter all the time. I think I was heading towards 15 stone, that mythical cut-off point in my head where I’d become unlovable.  But at least we got around to setting the wedding date…we were talking with L&P about going to Canada with them in 2005, but H#1 said we couldn’t afford to get married if we were saving up for a holiday. I suspect he was probably looking for an excuse not to get married, but L came up with the idea of getting married in Canada in December 2005. Well, if L thought it was a good idea, it must be a good idea. We set a date for 23rd December 2005 and I went straight into wedding dress panic…again.

One more year and I would actually start to battle my way out of the constant diet cycle, but it was probably my worst diet year EVER.

 

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What do you think?

thinkingNo, I mean, what do you REALLY think?

I think all kinds of rubbish. I think of ideas for books, whether I have enough bread, how long the drying will take, whether I’ll ever be slimmer, how fat I am, whether I’ve got enough money coming in this month, how the Romanian entry for this year’s Eurovision was robbed, how many times they say “Fahmly” on Eastenders…

Of all of those, it’ll be the ones about my weight that stick and affect my mood.But I’m starting to realise that they don’t have to.

Thought Control

I’ve been reading books about how we can control our thoughts. We’re bombarded with thousands of different thoughts every minute, some fleeting, some which stick and rattle around in our brains. Some of them we feel like we have to act on. In my case, these are the pesky ones. Those and the ones that get trapped in my head and make me feel bad.

So, it turns out that you can switch thoughts off after all. And that fighting them won’t get you anywhere. What you have to do is just observe the thoughts. When you get an urge to raid the kitchen, even though you’re not remotely hungry, and that internal battle starts driving you crazy, stop arguing with yourself!! No, honestly.

Arguing with yourself isn’t going to help and the more you fight the thought, the louder it gets. You know that, right? According to some clever people whose books I’ve been reading, you can just ignore the pointless, nagging thoughts you do battle with, and not just the thoughts about food or weight. A lot of our regular pesky thoughts are just habits – reactions that we’ve had so  many times we don’t even realise we’re doing it. Google ‘addictive voice recognition technique’ – you’ll see what I mean.

Those Pesky Thoughts

Can’t stop thinking about your ex? Worrying about bills and it’s 3 am?  These thoughts make you feel like shit, don’t they?  I know how it is. I’ve done all of it, the lying awake all night worrying that I’m not going to get any work this month, that I’ll not be able to make the rent, then I’ll be evicted or bankrupt and have to live in a box under a bridge. I’ve worried and fretted myself into a frenzy about my love life – the ex that didn’t want me, how mean my husband was, all the horrible things he did… Will I ever find a man? Will I be alone for ever….

…and there’s the biggie. I want a biscuit. I want something from the kitchen. I’m hungry. No I’m not. I want to eat. But I’m fat enough already…

Aaaaargh!

It’s all in your mind

It’s only thoughts. They can’t make you do anything, and they don’t have to make you feel bad if you know what to do. I’m finding all these thought control techniques really fascinating stuff and I’m working on fighting them and teaching myself to separate the thought that pops up in my head from the action (going into the kitchen, hoovering up available carbohydrates and feeling grumpy afterwards) and from the feeling (stressed and anxious).

Stop and observe

Next time a thought pops up that you don’t want, try just observing it. So you see a headline about obesity and whether you like it or not, that inner bitch pipes up, “Fat people are gross” Instead of arguing, say to yourself, “Really? Well, that’s an interesting thought.”

The circuits in your brain aren’t used to that. It might take a few attempts, but eventually you can train yourself out of the beating yourself up cycle. The grass will start growing over that particular self-flagellating neural pathway as you get used to ignoring the snarky thoughts and treating them like pesky toddlers trying to get your attention by pissing you off. They are just thoughts. Observe the thoughts, say to yourself “Interesting words” and move on.

Likewise, the compulsion to eat/drink/smoke is just another type of thought, according to Jack Trimpey, who came up with AVRT. His views on addiction are controversial but I can see how they might work for a food addiction; you don’t HAVE to act on every thought that makes you want to over eat, you know?

Does it work?

I tried it myself the other day, all I wanted to do was stuff my face after speaking to my mum about the latest discussion she’d had with the hospital about my dad. I was in a really emotional state and my first impulse was to distract myself with food.

I bought the food, anticipated scoffing it all the way home, then told myself that I didn’t *have* to do it. I could choose to eat or not eat. There was no judgement if I did, but I didn’t have to. The thoughts making me feel desperate to get home and eat chocolate were just thoughts. They couldn’t MAKE me eat the contents of the carrier bag. For a while I went off the idea. The urge went away and I calmed down.

OK, so the thoughts came back and I didn’t manage to stop myself the second time around. But I reckon it’s worth another go. I’ve stopped a few ‘fat day’ thoughts in their tracks and told myself it’s just a fleeting thought, I don’t have to dwell on it, and you know, they do go away!

Worth a try if you’re an over thinker?

 

 

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But I don’t WANT to be a size ten!

notaWAR

Look, I have nothing at all against being a size ten. Or an eight. Or a six. And now I realise I sound like a racist who says things like “But some of my best friends are black.”

Honestly though. All I want is to be healthy. And not to be judged and found wanting just because I’m never ever going to fit into a size ten unless I develop the sort of serious illness that makes you lose weight. A lot of it.

When I think about the weight/size I feel happiest, and I try to imagine myself at anything much under a size 14, it somehow feels wrong. I don’t want to be thin. It’s not me, it never has been and it never will be. I don’t recognise myself in those images in my head. If I let myself think about it without the incessant chatter of the media telling me that the words ‘size ten’ are automatically preceded by the word ‘healthy’, I see myself as a well-rounded size 16. Fit, healthy and just a little bit chunky. I don’t have a problem with that!

My ideal size range would be anything from a 14 to an 18. A 14 is quite hard for me to maintain, which is why I haven’t been that size since I was 25. I feel good at 16 and 18, and yeah, being a 20 or 22 (my biggest ever was a 24, and I didn’t feel good at that size, I felt incredibly unhealthy, but I was miserable and on the verge of separating from my ex) doesn’t QUITE feel like me. I’m not unfit, I walked ten miles this morning and I live to tell the tale, but life just feels a bit easier when you can move around a bit faster. That’s how I feel, and there are plenty of people who are 20,22 and bigger and have no problems cycling, running, doing fitness classes and so have no reason to want to get any smaller. So, they should stay where they feel comfortable. Diets suck and they don’t work, no matter how many Weight Watchers sponsored studies try and tell you otherwise.

It wouldn’t be the end of the world to me if I stayed this size forever. I’d prefer not to get any bigger, because it might make my knees hurt. If all this fitness and generally looking after myself does result in weight loss (it’s hopefully, maybe if I’m lucky going to end in pregnancy which is going to make me even heavier – eek) then that’s all well and good, but I’m never dieting again and I genuinely don’t have any desire to be thin.

I read this article by Lionel Shriver today, and it sort of inspired this post. The obsession with our body sizes and what we eat is getting scary. It’s affecting men as well. Reporters commented on every single biscuit Lionel did or didn’t eat while she was being interviewed, in every interview she gave for the book ‘Big Brother’. When ‘Viva Voluptuous’ comes out, if it makes any kind of impression and I get interviewed, I’m going to have to develop a skin like a freaking rhino to not get upset by comments about my weight, size, and eating habits. But I really think the tide is turning.

I couldn’t possibly have written the book the way I have if I didn’t have experience of being fat, trying not to be fat, and the way society treats people who don’t fit their idea of normal. Or beautiful. So I’m saying it right here and right now. I don’t WANT to be a size ten. So bite me.

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The Fat Bridesmaid

 

Zante1

 

Early 2002 saw me temping, until I found a full time job working for the Government Office in Cambridge, in around April. I spent most of the first half of 2002 in some sort of diet-related panic as I’d been asked to be a bridesmaid to ‘L’, who was marrying ‘P’ in July. Husband #2 and I had also booked a holiday to Zante, one of the Greek islands, and I wanted to be able to wear a swimming costume (note: no way was I considering a bikini) without feeling utterly self conscious.

I faffed about with a few attempts at diets, and as expected, as a generous size 18, was utterly humiliated when I paid good money for a dress to wear to the very expensive, very upmarket wedding of my two (then) best friends. They only did ‘normal’ size dresses up to a 14, and if I wanted to wear the same dress as the other two bridesmaids, I would have to pay more for the privilege of having a large arse. Gee, way to make a girl feel special. That extra few inches of fabric must make ALL the difference. Although the bride’s father was paying towards the dress, I had to chip in half of it, and with money being tight after the annus horriblis, I wasn’t impressed at having to pay more than everyone else for exactly the same dress.

This led me to the “Oh shit, I’m going to be a bridesmaid” panic diet of summer 2002. In my desperation to look less enormous, I decided to invest in large amounts of Slimfast products. I bought the tubs of powder, the soups, the bars and the ready made shakes and I duly swapped two meals a day for disgusting meal replacements laced with so many chemicals and so much fibre that my poor insides didn’t know what had hit them. Things came to a head one day when I hadn’t been in my new job for very long. I think it was the meal replacement bars that finally sent my bowels into meltdown, and after some uncomfortable shifting in my seat while I clenched every muscle in my abdomen, I made my way to the ladies thinking the coast was clear.

I just about made it in time, and I don’t think I have ever farted so violently, loudly or copiously in my life. I got the discomfort out of my system, settled myself and left the cubicle, only to find, to my horror, that the Regional Director – the manager of the entire organisation – was standing at the sink. And had presumably heard EVERYTHING. She was thankfully much too polite to comment and the incident was, as far as I know, never spoken of again.

Sarah at L and P weddingI decided Slim FART wasn’t for me after that, although I still quite liked the vanilla and coffee drinks so I sneakily swapped one of those for breakfast most days. By the time of the wedding I’d lost about a stone through panic-induced semi-starvation and I looked quite pretty. The dress was lovely, although I put my stiletto heel through the skirt and could never wear it again after that. Husband #2 was usher, and husband #1 was a guest as he knew L & P. He was there with his girlfriend and she looked really nervous, but I thought she seemed nice. We actually had a chat, and it was so lovely to feel like we were ‘OK’ after things had ended so spectacularly badly six years earlier.

Of course, I put all the weight back during two weeks in Zante, but for a while there I was back under 14 stone and my size 18 jeans were loose…

I was still writing the occasional freelance article for Spa Plus and other magazines, so when I was asked if I wanted to go to Champneys in Tring, and take a friend, I was chuffed to bits. I chose to go with one of my new workmates, Katie, who I’d hit it off with. We had a brilliant time, pretending to be posh when we quite blatantly weren’t, and in my case also disgracing myself at the Champagne reception for the spa’s new owners by freaking out when I was being hounded by a wasp and almost falling backwards into a rosebush.

The trip was amazing, and Katie and I even managed to get drunk. At Champneys. Well, the press trip was a freebie, and we decided we’d treat ourselves to a bottle of wine with dinner. And then another. Rules were that you couldn’t take drinks out of the dining room, so we just spent three hours over dinner and staggered back to our room slightly tipsy. It was a great trip – but the first time I remember truly feeling what I call ‘impostor syndrome’ – where I questioned myself about whether I really belonged there, and admonished myself for thinking I was good enough to deserve a trip to a posh spa. I loved it but I didn’t feel as if I fitted in at all. What made me so special?

Drunk in ZanteHusband #2 and I still hadn’t set a wedding date. In fact we rarely talked about it. I’d mentioned kids – I had a bit of a scare but deep down thinking I might have been pregnant didn’t actually scare me as much as it did him. He was still saying he wasn’t ready, but I was starting to think that I might be. Typically, I tried not to rock the boat, scared that a confrontation on the issue would end in me being wrong, and/or single.

Most of the second half of 2002 revolved around ‘L’ who had been diagnosed with MS. It was horrible for everyone – and at that point H #2 and I did talk about getting married so that she could be there. At the time it seemed reasonable – knowing what I know now it seems bloody typical that the only thing that could galvanise him into wanting to marry me was to keep ‘L’ happy. but never mind. We couldn’t afford it anyway as he wanted us to do it abroad, so that my parents wouldn’t be able to afford to come. Again I agreed. I was such a freaking doormat, but I did it to keep the peace, because in all honesty, it was easier than having the wedding in the UK and telling them they couldn’t come; or having them there and H #2 refusing to speak to them.

By the end of 2002 I’d put every bit of weight on that I lost for the wedding, with interest. And I was GOING to do something about it. Again. Are you seeing a pattern…?

 

 

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Relentlessly Positive

friday

It’s been a week of ups and downs and revelations. And one of those revelations has been that I need to simplify my life; so I’m going to do it. No excuses, no more procrastination.

I started with work. I dumped the client who was giving me more headaches than overdoing it on Pinot Grigio ever did and since then better opportunities have been sneaking in to plug the gap in my income. I had a bit of a setback, I sniffled a bit and swore a bit, but I’m over it – and I’m following the advice of people like Denise Duffield Thomas (have you downloaded Get Rich Lucky Bitch yet?) and Leonie Dawson and not brooding on it. Much.

I ditched the gym. Yes, you heard that right, although I’m still waiting for the snotty letter saying I have to pay them another six months or something, in which case I might have to rethink. I just wasn’t getting up there enough and I could do with not spending £39 a month on thinking I probably SHOULD go to the gym. I’m walking six miles or more three times a week at the moment and I’ve just started a Zumba class so I think the fitness mafia will forgive me.

Blogs were the next thing to sort out. I started my journey with Relentlessly Positive, a stand alone website that had a forum, a weekly email and all. That was in 2006. In the last seven years, my life has changed a bit, and go has the Interweb, and y’know, it was too much like hard work. I had a blog, also called Relentlessly Positive, and another one called Fat Girls are Fab Too. I decided to change them over to WordPress this year and now I have Gorgeously Full Fat and Relentlessly Positive. But I struggle to keep both of them going and decided a while ago to concentrate on this one; trouble is I miss the old Relentlessly Positive stuff now.

So, I’ve decided to add a Relentlessly Positive section to this blog. If you’d prefer to just see the Gorgeously Full Fat related posts, there will still be plenty of them, but it’s just too much freaking hassle to think about keeping loads of blogs up to date. Next on today’s to-do list is another life story update, so if you’ve been waiting for the next installment…ta dah!

I’ve also enlisted some help with the Gorgeously Full Fat Facebook Page. Facebook, in its infinite ‘let’s grab some more money from people’ wisdom, has changed its way of showing links and posts on a page. So if I post a link to this blog later, a fraction of the people who are following the page will actually get to see it, unless I want to contribute more money to mark Zuckerberg’s fortune. How nuts is that? If you’re a page ‘liker’, the only surefire way round it if you want to see blog posts as they appear is to follow the blog too. You can get it sent to you by email, if that’s what you want. Then you won’t ever miss my musings on fat, fashion, fun and the world…

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