I was totally and utterly convinced by the end of 2006 that the reason I couldn’t lose weight wasn’t because I was stupid, lacked willpower or had some bizarre metabolism problem that made me stack on pounds whenever I saw the word ‘doughnut’. It was dieting and the way it affected my brain that was making me turn into the Cookie Monster at the mere mention of calories or fat restriction.
I worked my way through the course and at first I felt an immense sense of freedom. I was elated. I didn’t feel tempted to eat entire packets of biscuits, or finish a bar of chocolate just because it was there any more. I could take crisps or leave them, and mostly I went off them. I discovered delicious new things I hadn’t tried – hummus, full fat mayo, tuna in olive oil, and it was a revelation that I didn’t have to always go for the low fat, low calorie plastic version of food. I ate really well and felt like I’d turned a corner.
I weighed myself after a couple of weeks – something Sue advises not to do, but I’d lost weight! Oh . My . God.
So what went wrong?
If I’d carried on, told myself I really could eat anything I wanted, stopped stressing about my weight and followed all the confidence, self-esteem boosting tips I had learned, I would have cracked it. but the problem was, I still found it hard to accept that I was OK as I was, and that I could eat like a normal person and not gain weight. I hadn’t lost the obsession.
It didn’t help that Husband #2 thought it was a load of old crap. As did ‘L’, and anything she thought, he automatically agreed with. She refused to believe there was any other way than Weight Watchers, and couldn’t understand when I told her I was eating anything I wanted. When H#2 did the Tesco shop with me, I’d have him nagging away at me not to put anything ‘naughty’ in the trolley because he’d eat it, and if I did, he’d say “What are you putting that in for, I thought you were supposed to be on a diet?”
I hid food from him, and so I was just as screwed up as I had been before I’d done the course. But I was in even more of a muddle now because even though I believed that dieting was pointless, the methods I learned in the Food Philosophy went to the back of my mind. There was no way I could do what I wanted with the Food Philosophy because the people around me made it too hard. If only I had my Big Girl Pants on back then and wasn’t such a wuss, who knows where I’d be now, but I was a chronic people pleaser and just accepted my lot.
So anyway, I carried on as I had been for a bit longer. I started my Relentlessly Positive website and ditched reading crappy magazines like Heat and Closer because they just got on my nerves. I vowed never to go on a diet again or buy a diet magazine or book. But I spent my spare time with three people obsessed with body image and food who whenever we went on holiday together (yes, we really did, every sodding year) dieted for two weeks before we left and then arranged the entire holiday around where we were going to eat next. It was abso-bloody-lutely exhausting. My brain was fried!
I chucked the scales out in 2006 and I think I stayed around the same size for a while. I talked to Sue all the time and started to immerse myself in positive psychology, books on self-esteem, the Law of Attraction and read everything I could on positive body image. The Relentlessly Positive website was really doing well, considering I set it up on next to nothing and did all the work myself.
I was changing – but everything around me was staying the same. I was surrounded by negative influences who made me feel bad about myself, made me doubt my beliefs and left me feeling uncomfortable and conflicted. I had to change, I just didn’t know how.