My gift to myself, on my 50th birthday, was to never go on a diet again. All dieting did was make me feel rubbish.
I’d been on a diet for over 30 years, on and off. I’d counted Points and Syns, done green days and red, blue dots then purple. I’d fasted and cleansed, done GI, keto, low carb, no-carb. I’d done shakes and drank lemon juice before every meal.
I’ve done exercise when I could, swimming, yoga, had an allotment, trained to be a Walking and then Mountain Group Leader, walking 20k a weekend.
I’ve been hypnotised and listened to CD’s and I’ve meditated and mindfully ate until I lost the will to live.
And still, I was never thin. After all that angst and struggle, I’m now two and a half stone heavier than when I started.
I am fat. Even at my lightest, I was a size 18. My genes are all about the curves and now with menopause, my body changing, I’m fatter still. And before you jump in saying,
‘Oh, don’t be harsh about yourself.’
‘I never look at you and think fat.’
I need to tell you that I don’t think ‘fat’ is a dirty word. Fat is not an insult or a character assessment or a comment on my weakness or my greed or any of the other things we think about as ‘fat’. Fat is just Fat – a physical state of being.
Increasingly we now understand that being fat is not just about what we eat, it’s about our genes, it’s about our gut bacteria, it’s about poverty, and the food we ate when we were kids. It’s even about our mother’s health when we were in the womb.
Still, I worry about being fat.
A new GP called me to say she was stopping my HRT unless I lost weight. I needed to come in for urgent tests if I could drag myself away from the cake. My bloods all came back perfect. Surprisingly so, she added, the ‘considering I’m so fat’ hanging in the air unsaid. My blood pressure was perfect. My cholesterol, lower than my two slender best friends. My HRT returned with the threat of monthly weigh-ins and 6 monthly blood tests, I stopped going to the Doctors.
Being fat is not a sin, not a weakness, not something that you can shame people out of. For a lot of us, no matter how hard we try, being fat is just part of who we are, like having blue eyes or being able to roll your tongue.
All those years, when the diets stopped working and my weight stubbornly refused to move, I felt like I was a liar. Because I was still following the plan, still being strict and controlled. It just didn’t work.
So, I no longer diet. Or at least I try not to. It’s so ingrained in me though, I still know the points of certain foods, counting the calories without thinking, I know which foods are ‘good’ and which are ‘bad’.
I hate it.
It’s especially hard at this time of year when we are encouraged to find the ‘New You.’ There’s nothing wrong with the old me, thank you very much. Except that she couldn’t look in the mirror and see how lovely she was, could only look at herself as something to be worked on, something to improve, something to starve into submission.
Bollocks to that.
Now, when I look at myself in the mirror, I say good things. How good my posture is, how beautiful is my smile. It’s not always easy. I still have to resist the urge to pinch more than an inch. But mostly I’m pretty damn good, and even on those days when I look a bit rough, a bit puffy, a BIT FAT, it’s just that. Not a character assassination or a testament to my weakness as a human being. So, I need to go up a size, so what!
I’m not beautiful despite being fat. I am beautiful. Full stop.
I choose being beautiful as a radical act of resistance.
So, if you’re looking at your New Year’s resolutions and thinking this is the year to get thin, can I just remind you that you are fabulous just as you are.
Take up a new hobby, be more active; we’re all better when we walk a bit more. Get out in the fresh air. It’s good for us.
But please, please don’t make it about being fat.
You are beautiful, you are kind, you are special, and you are loved. You are perfect just as you are.
Join the resistance, sweetie!
Happy New Year!