As I sit here mindlessly scrolling through Social Media – sure what else would I be at on a Sunday morning? One thing jumped out at me, it was #DonewithDieting. There is a backlash against a weight loss company who have offered free membership to those aged between 13-17. I’m not going to go into all that but I am going to tell you my story.
Weight and size has always been an issue for me right as far back as I can remember. Whenever we came to Ireland to visit my Nan the first thing she used to say to me was that I was getting stout – in other words fat. Looking back I wasn’t at all but in my head I thought I was.
Childhood wasn’t easy, one day I might tell you about that but not now. Whenever something bad happened I was sent into town to a restaurant to have dinner on my own, this was from the age of around 9. At primary school I was the person who took the dinners to the staff room for the teachers. Whatever was left over I ate, I remember locking myself in a cupboard eating all the left over roast potatoes.
My mum used to work in catering, she’d bring back all the unsold food each day and we had to eat it so that it didn’t go to ‘waste’. To this day I hate tinned salmon. When I was around 12 and weighed 8 stone I was taken along to Weight Watchers. Every day I watched what I ate and exercised more. My body wasn’t fat but in my head I was obese.
In the teenage years there was a lot of stuff going on. We lived in a place where I really didn’t like the dinners, the texture of mince still makes me feel ill. So I used to hide my food because I couldn’t eat it. While the rest of the house were busy watching Emmerdale Farm, as it was then, I was in the larder cramming biscuits into my mouth. I ate as many as I could in half an hour. I realise now I was binge eating.
In my late teens I would hide food all around the place and think nothing of eating 2 packets of biscuits and about 15 packets of crisps in one go. At the side of my bed were empty packets. It didn’t make me feel any better. I was yo-yoing between binge eating and starving.
At my heaviest I was 13 stone, not great for my height but not morbidly obese either, I had my tonsils taken out and there were a few complications which meant I couldn’t eat. The weight fell off. When I recovered I decided I wanted to join the RAF , men in uniforms – yes I know. I passed all the tests and interviews until it came to the medical. It was decided I needed to be 8 and a half stone to be a healthy weight for my height. At this stage I was 10 stone. So back again to Weight Watchers. I stuck to the diets and got to about 9 stone. I was running every day to get my fitness levels up but no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t get my weight down to the magic number.
So I just stopped eating. I’d cut down to a coleslaw sandwich once a day but I was still to heavy so my new diet was an apple and a can of diet coke. That was it. One apple and one can everyday and running like there was no tomorrow even though I was fit to keel over. The day came of the medical – I was the perfect weight for my height they said. Even though mentally and physically I wasn’t well at all I passed the medical with flying colours and got offered my place in the RAF. For a number of reasons I didn’t take it.
Fast-forward to now and I still don’t have a great relationship with food. Last year with the depression I was convinced that I would be happy if I lost weight so I cut out all the nice things and mainly survived on salad. I weighed myself around 8 times a day. I got down to around 9 stone 10 – and do you know what? I was still bloody miserable and no matter what size clothes I was wearing I still felt fat and I still do.
These days the battery has died in the weighing scales, I haven’t replaced it. I’ve stopped counting calories, if I want it I’ll eat it. My spare tyre is resting on my legs as I type but funny enough I’ve had more compliments in the last week than I ever have. My face doesn’t suit thin – and my mental health doesn’t either. No matter what weight I am I will always feel like a hippo and I have to learn to deal with that.
I suppose my point is thin doesn’t equal happy. Happy comes from within. Eat the cake and enjoy it – we aren’t here for long. So that’s why I’m #donewithdieting.
Good for you! This is so hard in today’s society…
Yes very hard and thank you
This is lovely to read… and you have great strength to write it and share it .. I have always been ‘stout’ and come from a very tall family … I had a complete Thyroidectomy a few years ago .. so am looking at the Hippo in the mirror ever since .. its a daily battle not to hate what I see … but this is me.
Thank you Mona and I hope you are keeping well. It would be lovely to be able to rewire our brains so that we don’t feel this way x
My mother was a weight-watcher and took her daughters (I was about 12, to start with, and my sisters were younger) along with her on the counting-calories ride. We weren’t overweight but the message as I understood it was that if we didn’t stay vigilant and disciplined, we would end up fat and no one wanted that. I don’t have a weight problem but that doesn’t mean I don’t feel anxious about any bit of fat on my body, or my body’s shape. I have learned to love and appreciate my body, but still find myself critical of it too. Obviously it’s an ongoing effort to accept myself as I am, and that seems to go for most of us women. I applaud anyone who really, truly succeeds. -Kate
Wow, echos a lot of my life. Last year I did very well at the dieting, lost 3 stone, but gradually put it back on through the summer. I was ruthless with my diet planning last year and it worked and I did feel a lot more nimble, healthier, and in good spirits but did miss some foods.
However, since putting the weight back on I notice that I am still as active as when I lost the weight. It has not changed … leading me to believe that when we are fat we ‘think’ we are hopeless, but that is not true!
What is worse is the people telling us we are too fat!
I found my life was a triple whammy of age discrimination, fat discrimination, and English born discrimination that is still rife in Ireland.
This year I have adopted a very confident ‘feck you’ attitude as I am proud of my age and what I do, find being overweight does not hold back anything, and I don’t need to be around UK discrimination people as there are loads of lovely Irish people who do not care where you are born. They are friends.
Hopefully you are discovering all this now Val.
I hear you John! Yes I can relate to all that except when I lost weight I was bloody miserable. Now that was probably more to do with the depression but it’s far nicer to have a slice of cake than an apple!
Ha, ha, I actually prefer a nice apple, or pear, or peach, or sweet cherries, to a slice of cake.
Wonderful post Val, and interestingly I wrote somewhat the same thing about this “weight issue/obsession” our society has. I’m so sorry you went through all of that you did. Our weight does not make us happy no matter the billions and trillions of $$$$$$ company’s spend and make while making us believe that. Happiness comes from within….I hate- I know thats a strong word…these so called weight loss organizations that penalize you if you gain …their philosophy is its a motivator–I see it as shaming and de moralizing. We all need to do what is right for each of us. And life is to short..