As I write this I’m tucking into a family size tub of Ben & Jerry’s with no intention of sharing it with my family or anyone else’s. As I devour the creamy chocolate peanut butter yumminess I am desperately trying to remember what it used to feel like to sit down and not have my midriff tyre slump upwards to meet my nipples. The diet that will start on Monday is also being planned.
Why Monday? Because it goes without saying that diets always start on a Monday. Imagine a diet that started on a Thursday or worse still on a weekend. I’m struggling to think of anything more ridiculous. Which means because today is Friday I can legitimately stuff my face all weekend long before Monday arrives. Perfect. It can’t just me who thinks on this level. On a constant loop of disapproval, guilt and self loathing for eating everything in the fridge, emptying the biscuit tins and when everything has run out contemplating the dogs food. Okay a step too far I admit, but you know where I’m coming from. I don’t think I’m alone in feeling this.
Monday. First day of planned diet.
7.30am – Natural yoghurt with berries and a sprinkle of oats.
Lovingly prepared the night before with unwavering commitment to the cause of losing 3 stone in a week
10.30am – Hungry but fighting it.
Or is it boredom? Or habit?
1pm – Chicken salad
Delicious chicken, not so delicious salad, unless it’s blathered in mayo and that sort of defeats the object. Eat the meat and leave the salad.
3pm – An apple.
A fucking apple. The leftover cheesecake from last night’s tea is calling to me from the fridge. If I’m being honest, it’s been doing it since 7.31am this morning.
Everyone else is devouring a roast dinner. Not trusting myself to have just the meat and veg because I have no self control, and it’s not the same without Yorkshire puds, a mountain of crispy roast potatoes and lashings of gravy, I listlessly poke at my omelette.
8pm – 3 oreos, an Alpen breakfast bar and a twix.
All eaten while my head is still in the cupboard and therefore secret and therefore doesn’t count.
8.03pm – Mixed berry cheesecake
Also eaten inside the fridge and therefore also doesn’t count. And it’s been shouting its head off all day at me so really I’ve done well to last this long.
This is a random sample day of any diet I’ve ever done in the last 15 years. Starts strong and with devotion to the flat tummy that is within my grasp, if only I could stop the secret eating. It is unfortunate that this continues through the night. A regrettable habit that began during pregnancy 13 years ago and refuses to leave. I can set my watch by it. My greediness wakes me up each time, demanding that I go downstairs with immediate effect to eat everything in sight. In secret agent spy mode. Obviously. On returning to bed again, still in full stealth mode seriously, I’m like a ninja, I slip back under the covers undetected. The soft snores of Husband radiating around the room I feel a sweaty top lip forming thanks to my covert efforts when a voice says
‘’I know you’ve been downstairs. You smell like biscuits’’
That scared the shit out of me! It’s coming from Husband but he was asleep, I heard the snores. I wait. Unsure of what for, but I wait. Maybe he was sleep talking? Maybe my mission has been successful?
The voice again. ‘’Stop pretending to be asleep. No one falls back to sleep that fast. You still really smell of biscuits. And sausages? Have you been eating those cold sausages as well?’’ He accused.
There was a strong possibility that the fridge was now sausage free. I’m realising that it is also possible that Husband is actually awake and more on the ball than I’d like. By ‘on the ball’ I mean absolutely accurate.
The relationship I have with my body has always been a complicated one and It’s a personal battle I’ve fought since my twenties. Looking back I know I used to be what society tells us is acceptable. By that I’m referring to being slim and under a size 12. At the time however I remember hating my body. Dreading holidays because of the shuddersome ordeal of climbing into a bikini and always feeling like the big one amongst my friends. A dedicated non eater due to the fear of getting any bigger, it was something I thought about a lot. It was exhausting.
The sample diet above is a huge step forward from the pills and potions I would try in the old days. Anything that promised an instant drop of 3 stone in a week, was mostly made up of speed, and only let me eat 4 peeled grapes before I was full, I was buying in bulk. One time I got this diet powder that you had to mix with water to make the most repulsive drink to ever exist. It had the consistency of wall paper paste and was brown. The sort of brown that would emerge should you nutribullet one of your own turds. Not the most appetising thing and rather difficult to swallow due to the thickness. The idea was that you should drink 3-4 glasses of this filth during the day, I’m assuming to keep you full, then your evening meal should consist of 300-400 calories. Haaaaaa! I mean What the actual Fuck is that all about? Is there even a meal invented for only 300 calories besides 4 peeled grapes? I look back now and laugh in the face of the turdish tinged glue. The idea that anyone would even consider this now seems outrageous. Absurd even.
I have found with getting older and feeling more settled that I have become accustomed to my body. The saying ‘comfortable in your own skin’ makes sense to me now. Let me explain.
*I’m married. And although at times Husband pretends to hate me I know he actually thinks I’m alright. He likes my body, even the wobbly bits, and especially when I was pregnant which I found a little bizarre admittedly, until I started to understand. The body is beautiful. Even if it’s not a size 10. Even if it has stretch marks and bumpy bits and absolutely when it’s on the brink of giving life.
* I have 2 beautiful children. This wouldn’t have been possible without the cooperation of my body. Despite the years of abuse like drinking, junk food or lack of exercise it still worked its magic and produced 2 healthy babies. For that I will be eternally in awe.
*In recent years I’ve come to understand that I’m okay. I’m slowly learning who I am. Not everyone’s cup of tea, I fully accept that’s alright and don’t try to be. I’m kinder to myself on all levels and not just in relation to my body. I cut myself slack when my favourite jeans don’t fit anymore and instead of crying and feeling terrible about it I’ll just buy bigger ones. I’ve also acquired a keen nose for anything in the world of fashion that resembles a smock, a burka and anything in tie dye.
*Being more aware of what is important and what isn’t. Going through certain life experiences and struggles has allowed me to open up my gaze and look at things in a new light. It has allowed me to see the beauty in life and people I never had the time or the inclination to previously when I was too wrapped up in shit like how thin I could be.
The term ‘plus size’, as in Plus size models is something that puts a bug up my bum. Are models not just models regardless of size? Do we call the skinny ones super small size models? Of course not. I find it ludicrous that women who actually represent average everyday women size wise have to be labelled ‘plus size’ like it’s some kind of a warning that we’re about to see something vaster than tiny. Do we call four wheel drive vehicles plus size cars, or dogs that are larger than a chihuahua plus size? No we don’t. If we decided to eat out at a place that serves portions bigger than a postage stamp do we tell our friends that we had a plus size meal. I could go on and on but I won’t. Rant over. For now.
I honestly quite like my body these days. It’s bigger and flobbles more than it did. On weeks when I’ve gone hell for leather with baking, and eaten it before it makes it to the baking tin, I have struggled to see my lady bits from a birds eye view. My boobs and arms are bigger, Husband compares my back to that of Jeff Capes regularly, horrid man but I don’t mind.
I know now that bigger does not mean less beautiful. Everyone was made to be different shapes and sizes. How tedious would it be if we all were exactly the same size and had identical bodies. Like the vast majority I still have moments of hatred when I wish my stomach was flatter or my arms slimmer. There are still times when I plan strict diets to lose 3 stone in a week but these are short lived. We should love our bodies, not hate them. Celebrate their uniqueness and respect their resilience and under no circumstances be ashamed of them. Our bodies are responsible for giving us our babies, fighting off illnesses and dragging us around day in day out without agenda. And for this we should be thankful.