I’ve had to work myself up to writing this…mainly because yesterday I was feeling mahoosively sorry for myself after having a gastroscopy. I still have the horrible feeling you get when you have tonsilitis; like I’ve got something stuck in my throat and it’s a bit sore. but I’m immensely glad I did it. I was scared to death, and now it’s all over and as expected (hooray) there is actually bugger all wrong with me. So BIG WHOOP for that.
After sitting around pouting and eating ice-cream last night, and catching up with work this morning, I think it’s about time I stopped procrastinating and started talking about how a reasonably slim, pretty 17 year old managed to transform into a diet-obsessive with a food issue as big as a house.
It took years. And to be brutally honest I don’t really know. This was me at my 18th birthday party.
Let’s be honest, only a rabid Daily Mail commentator would call me obese. I had biggish boobs and a big bum. I was curvy, certainly. But I wasn’t fat. The boy who called me fat not long before this picture was taken soon fell off the radar, as boys often do when you’re 18. He was replaced, a couple of months later by the man I was going to end up marrying in 1993.
So although that incident sticks in my mind, it wasn’t his fault. Anyway, I said right at the start this isn’t about blaming anyone else.
Another incident a couple of years later that sticks in my mind was reading the front of Slimming Magazine in about 1990/91 and seeing “MY 11 STONE NIGHTMARE!” from Beverley Craven. Remember her? Well, clearly she was that much of a mega-star that she could only get a front cover on a diet magazine, but anyway, there she was telling the world that being 11 stone was a nightmare. And I wasn’t far off that. Shit! What was I going to do about it? Diet, again, I expect.
When I met husband #1 in 1989, I was on a diet. Before I go any further, yes, I have been married twice. No, I’m not married to either of them now. Yes, I am getting married again next year. No, I don’t particularly like wedding cake.
So, I met him in about May 1989, and I remember I was on a diet. I was always on a diet. My heroine at the time was Sam Brown, who was in the charts with ‘Stop!” I also had a weird obsession with a band called Climie Fisher, and I don’t know what made me think of it, but this song of theirs popped into my head while I was in the shower this morning and it sort of sums up what I’m doing with these blogs. If you can forgive the hideous 80s production, the lyrics are actually quite good. I just listened to it myself for the first time in YEARS and it actually brought a bit of a lump to my throat…or is that just bruising from yesterday?
The diet I was on then involved me eating barely anything all working week, and then anything I wanted at the weekends. A kind of reversal of the 5:2 diet that’s doing the rounds at the moment. I was eating a lot of Boots Shapers crispbreads, with their ‘bag of air’ crisps and disgusting cheese spread. It was all low-fat this and low-fat that in the late 80s and early 90s. They brought out ‘Flyte’ bars – remember them? They were disgustingly sweet and probably just as high in calories as most normal chocolate bars but we were all eating the damn things because they were LOW FAT.
I’d started a new job at Ipswich County Court, and I remember that time as one of the happiest in my life. Most of us were in our twenties and thirties, the social life was good, and we mostly got along really well. The work could be pretty stressful sometimes but the people were great and I was happy there. Most of us were on and off diets all the time but none of us were actually fat. Go figure! At one point in about 1990, I got down to under 10 stone for the ONLY time in my entire adult life and it lasted about a week. Unfortunately, I didn’t use my new-found figure wisely, as the picture on the right proves.
It’s hard to recall what was going on in my head back then. In my very early twenties I still wasn’t that bad, really. Quite apart from that diet I made up myself, I also tried The Junk Food Diet, Size 12 in 21 Days (I wasn’t), and countless others. I did the Slimming Magazine Diet – I’d buy the magazines religiously and attempt the diets, but they seemed to like peanut butter on everything and being severely allergic I remember getting a bit annoyed. I went along to the club once or twice, too and hated it. They put me on a diet of about 1000 calories a day. I mean, look at the size of me! I was barely out of my teens and hardly ten and a half stone, and being told I had to lose two stone (yes, really) and eat 1000 calories a day. As you can imagine, that didn’t last.
I joined a gym in 1991. Didn’t go very often. I relied on a girl I used to work with taking me, and her willpower was as shaky as mine. More often than not, we’d end up in the pub.
So, I was in love with Husband #1 and you’ll be wondering whether he killed my confidence? To be honest, no, not really. He was a lot slimmer than me, and could eat anything he wanted but he didn’t really go on about my weight, in fact he seemed to rather like me as I was. Not only that, but I was going to college after work to study A level English and I started hanging out with another group of people about my age who used the word ‘study’ as loosely as I did. When we weren’t sniggering at the back, we were skiving off, again down the pub, or to Felixstowe sea front. It was all very innocent but there were two guys in the group who were like rutting stags competing to impress all the girls, including me. I got to be really good friends at the time with them, so they’d take turns inviting me out to lunch, which led the girls in the office to roll their eyes and exclaim “You’ve got another man here to see you, Sarah.”
That’s me on the right. Apparently.
I can’t pretend I wasn’t loving it. One of them told me I looked a bit like Evie from The House of Eliott, which was my FAVOURITE programme at the time (and probably of all time) and if I hadn’t been engaged I probably would have kissed him. I was the most confident I’d ever been – and I even forgave them for the time I went fishing for compliments and asked,”Does my bum look big in these jeans?” and they replied, “Yes!” in unison.
It was a good time in my life. Work was good, I was in love, I was young and healthy, slim, confident and happy. I still lived with my parents, got engaged in 1991 and was planning a wedding. Which of course I was on a diet for. But if you’d asked me back then whether I had a problem with food I’d have said no. Despite the way I used to sneak food into the house when nobody was looking and eat it all in my bedroom, then hide the wrappers so that nobody knew I’d been pigging out. But I was happy, so why was I bingeing?
I guess I’ll never really know….still, I had a wedding to diet for and things were looking exciting…