I’ve yet to blog on something that I really probably should mention, given that I’ve a plus size blog and therefore my weight and my attitude to it is something that will always be part of the conversation. I’ve not wanted to *excuse the pun* weigh in on the topic, mainly because I havent really wanted it to be about my weight, as I’ve spent a long time untangling myself from how much I weigh.
But it’s that time of year where you really cannot escape diets and diet talk….its simply everywhere! I have to admit that my usually peaceful bus ride to work was interrupted by us going past the local arena, and the massive billboard dedicated to Special K….everyday I’d rant at it in my head ‘Dare to wear sodding red? I’m bloody well wear it if I want…look, wearing it now, you marketing buffoons!’ (I’d advise reading Big Fashionista’s excellent post on this very topic!)
For all of my life until about a year ago, I hated who I was and the way I looked. Every January would roll around, and I’d be one of the thousands that would get on the bandwagon, and then wonder why I’d not lose any weight, and well generally feel rubbish that I couldn’t just do it as well as the other people seemed to be able to.
But then thanks to the wonderful people I’ve met blogging, I started questioning diets and the myths behind them, what they actually consisted of and whether it was them that was the problem, not my motivation or willpower. This revelation was akin to the time I was at school around about 15 and our R.E teacher introduced us to the idea of Atheism via an excellent documentary by Gerald Scarfe….both times I realised that is fine to question thoughts you considered to be truths, even if it means going again the grain.
I went on my first diet at the age of seven. Thats right, seven. I remember clearly think and feeling like I was fat, and really it was probably just healthy eating but the d word was definitely used. All through my secondary school years, I remember being on and off a diet for the duration….in fact, I probably spent 18 years continuously on a diet….thats a whole another person’s lifetime! I’ve done it all….been put onto Weight Watchers by the doctor when I was a teenager, visited the nurse regularly for a weigh in and to do a food diary, been referred to a dietician….Slimming World and Weight Watchers again in my mid twenties…..there’s really not anything that I havent tried.
Until I was 18, I really wasnt that big….probably a 18/20 at most. Although, you’d have thought I’d always been the size I was now, from the way I viewed myself. I got a part-time job just after I turned 18, which I was delighted to have….having moved from near the city centre to right on the border with the next county, I wanted to have a way to earn a bit of extra money and have friends near where I lived. Big mistake, as I joined McDonald’s. Now, I’ll state that they don’t force feed you food, far from it, it just is the atmosphere and attitudes that influenced me….it became normal that I’d have a McDonald’s before work, one for free when I was on my break, leftovers once we were shut, and then a quick trip to the 24 hour Asda about 15 yards away. I’ve never watched that documentary where that guy eats it a lot because you don’t really want to know what harm you’re doing to yourself when you’re doing it, right?
Anyway, I went up five dress sizes whilst I was there, ending up at a size 26/28 and having to have my uniform measured and then made for me, because I’d gone off the scale when I got to a size 24/26. My hair was crap, my skin was crap, my emotions were crap. And then, well other stuff happened too and I moved back to the city centre, which meant quite rightly I quit my job there at the same time.
Since then I’ve been trying to get healthy…not lose weight, because focusing on just the weight made my mind go all sorts of places….in fact I’d ended up with the not quite as well-known eating disorder, compulsive Over-Eating Disorder. It had gone from me not controlling my portions and eating too much crap because I could to eating as much food as I could in short periods of time, obsessing over food, using it to literally bury the feelings I had. But in 2008, I started seeing a counsellor for a short while, and that began my journey to disconnect myself with food.
So here I am, and I just can’t believe that I once put so much faith in store by these diets. Weight Watchers’ current slogan is thus:-
“The game you play to lose weight”
Game? Yes, I’m sure we’ve all decided on evenings when we’re bored to play that well know board game of ‘lets get ritually humiliated by having our weight discussed in front of strangers, and being made to feel like shit when we stay the same or put weight on. oh, and that other exciting daredevil component of our frames and body types never being taken into consideration and a one size fits all bmi used to calculate what our so-called healthy weight should be’. Lets face it, we’re not all the same size….for instance, my sister was very successful and managed to get down to a size 8/10 at one point, but she looked like a skeleton….there was literally nothing on her, because her frame weighs a set amount….whereas I’ve friends that are that size and look perfect because their frame is lighter.
Oh, some other Weight Watchers gems of catchphrases and buzz words
‘The rules of this game is easy!’ ‘We know weight loss is serious business, but it doesn’t have to be miserable. Playtime!‘
Their pages mention tried and tested methods, experts and science. Which if you’re desperately looking for a way to lose weight, that is bound to reassure you. However, for me, I now see that there is no room for the individual, no way to accommodate each person. I’d really love to see a weight loss programme that is simply about proper counselling and help and advice to make the right choices….for me, what worked was tackling the problem from an emotional stand point, not standing in a shop with a small book counting how many points I’ve got….and what are points anyway, they’re just made up mumbo jumbo!
Slimming World prefers the tagline of ‘You’re Amazing!’. Which you’re really not going to be when encouraged to cut whole food groups out entirely….I’m pretty sure swapping from protein to carbs all the time, or just having one of them isn’t going to ever do you some long-term good…..you’d have to do it for life, no leeway or room to relax once you’ve gotten to the place you want to be.
Lighter Life is probably the one diet that I’ve the most contempt for. Their turn of phrase is ‘Dont let dieting be heavy going, lighten up with Lighter Life‘. I’ve not tried it, but I do know that the meals are very few calories indeed, so of course the weight will come off hard and fast. The counselling apparently is nothing more than a quick chat and a dvd….having had counselling for food related issues, I can tell you that would be as much use as a chocolate teapot! Not to mention that people have actually died doing this diet….for me, when I look for a way to lose weight healthily, I tend to stay away from things that might kill me in the process. Oh, and have you seen Pauline Quirke? At one stage of her weight loss, when she was probably around a size 14/16, she looked incredible although she looked fine at her heavier size too. But still she carried on, and now at a size 12 she looks positively ill.
Here’s the testimonial she gives on their website, which I now intend to pull apart….sorry Pauline, but its got to be done!
“Pauline Quirke’s amazing weight loss has capped off a remarkable year for the actress and TV star. And the results speak for themselves. Following her journey with LighterLife, she’s now a size 12, and couldn’t be happier with her new look.
the results speak for themselves alright….she looks like she needs a good massive slice of cake and a friendly word in her ear that she doesn’t look that good without ten layers of slap. See Emmerdale for evidence.
If you need new year weight loss inspiration you’ll certainly find it in Pauline’s story. She vowed to start dieting after experiencing health issues and embarrassment about her weight. She recalls: “I was the size of a sumo and putting my health at risk, I HAD to lose weight!”
Being too small for your frame isn’t going to be any healthier, Pauline. At your age in life, you need to have a good layer of weight on you, as being too far either way can cause problems…..its not fat=about to die and slim=live forever, you know. You had to get healthy if advised to, sure, but you didn’t have to become so thin….that is you becoming part of the celebrity ideal, and we’d all appreciate it if you were honest about that.
Pauline credits the LighterLife programme for her weight loss success. She acknowledges that dieting can sometimes get you down, but says that LighterLife is different.
Dieting does get you down, because it’s dieting! Anything that has diet in the title will make you feel bad, because the moment you come off it, you will put the weight back on. Oh, and this is actually worse, because Lighter Life comes with all sorts of side effects if you follow it to the letter…..they dont tell you that bit, do they Pauline?
Pauline says: “I visualised what I wanted from losing weight. First, it was to be healthier and feel better, and then wearing jeans and T-shirts became my thing. I know the whole world starts their diet in January and most of us stop it by March, but I was determined to do it.”
Ok, so being healthier and feeling better is the perfect goal, but Pauline, you’re famous. You could have gone to Harley Street and seen the best dietician and counsellors whom would have done so much better long-term good for your health. And fyi, you can wear jeans and t-shirts at any size, there isn’t a ban on wearing them if you are past a certain size. People stop diets in March because they’re systems set up to fail because they’re not about making the right changes…..and heavens help you if you fall off the wagon, Pauline…I think it wouldn’t be a pretty experience!
So, for me, I’ve ditched the diets. I’ve not stepped foot on any scales in two years. I’ve not gone on a diet for 18 months. I swap things over for things that are healthier every once in a while, but do not punish myself if I temporarily or permanently slip back. I surround myself with positive attitudes to health and read material that helps me in this quest. And you know what? For the first time in five years, I’ve actually lost some weight having maintained it since I started ditching the diet. And I actually feel pretty good about myself. Which is all I can ever aim for, after all.