Wednesday, 28 April 2010

The thorny issue of weight loss

Once upon a time a girl went out on a date.

She’d met the guy in a bar on a drunken night out, and in a moment of madness given him her number. He asked her out for a date and she hesitated but thought “Why not?”

On the date she asked him what he did for his job and he gave her possibly the worst answer she could have heard...

“I work in a gym.”

Her blood ran cold. How had she managed to end up on a date with Mr Fit?! There hadn’t been any warning signs, he’d looked completely normal in her vodka-induced haze. She was a girl who didn’t do gyms. There had been gym literally outside her flat for 2 years and she could barely muster the effort to go there twice a week. She was a size 16 and fairly happy with it. Yeah she could be slimmer, yeah her muscles could be tighter, but she did ok in life.

She wondered if they could ever really be compatible. If his life was so focused on being fit and healthy and hers really wasn’t, could the two of them ever get along? She didn’t like to think that it could get in the way so she decided it would probably be fine.

She went out with him for a long year and half.

She wanted to be thinner, he said he would help her. He wrote her gym programmes and she went to the gym like a good little gym bunny. She almost got to the point where she enjoyed going.

The problem was the food. She just pure and simple straight up loved it. Any kind of food. All kinds of food. What greater pleasure is there than eating a good meal?

However when the girl was with Mr Fit she constantly found herself feeling guilty. Feeling guilty for eating a big bag of Sensations all to herself. Feeling guilty for ordering the ‘bad thing’ on the menu. Feeling the judgement when she ate something loaded with fat and calories.

She was in short, miserable. Thinner. But less happy.

And then he left her for someone else anyway.

The lesson she learned was that if someone is that focused on that kind of lifestyle and the other person isn’t then the two just won’t work together. She wasn’t prepared to ever be made to feel guilty for enjoying herself when it was doing no harm to anyone else.

Fast forward two years later...

The girl weighs more than she ever has done. She lives with a boy now and understand that that’s the price you pay for being a good little girlfriend and making all the meals and wanting to don a pinny and bake cakes.

But she knows she’s too fat. She knows that even though she’s nearly 5’10” and can secrete the weight about herself much more easily than someone who is 5’5”, that there’s nowhere for the weight to hide anymore.

She’s signed up to the gym but hates going. Now that there isn’t the constant pressure of going out with Mr Fit it’s hard to find the energy to go.

People say to her “You have to lose weight for you” but she doesn’t really know what that means. How do you know when you’re losing weight for you? Are you losing weight to feel more attractive? What is it that makes you think that you are unattractive – is that you want people to admire you? Surely that means that you’re losing weight for other people? Isn’t it their problem if they don’t fancy you? Are you losing weight because it’s a nightmare finding clothes that fit you? Doesn’t that mean you’re losing weight to conform to what Topshop says you should be wearing?

It’s as if society can’t conceive of the notion that you might be happy being a tubster.
Will she become a different person if she loses a few stone? Will that radically change her personality? She hopes not because she thinks she’s a pretty ok person as she is and what faults she does have don’t have anything to do with her thunder thighs.

Will you love her more if she’s a size 12? (She’s realistic, to be any less she’d have to live on licking on celery stalk once a day and miraculously alter her bone structure.) If so then she doesn’t really need you as part of her life thanks.

Do you hang around with her because she’s a nice person and fun to be around or because she can wear skinny jeans?

Will she be a better daughter/sister/cousin/niece/auntie if she has a lower BMI?

It’s all a little confusing.

And then someone says the words she dreads even more than “I work in a gym”. Someone asks her if she wants to join Weightwatchers with them. This girl is Weightwatcher-phobic. She knows that everyone that does it thinks it’s amazing but she also knows a lot of people that have done it and become world class bores, recounting in great detail how many points there are in that slice of carrot cake you’re eating and extolling the virtues of WW’s like brain-washed converts.

She hates the thought of counting points and keeping a track of what she’s eating, it would make food the centre of her life and not in a good way. It makes food an ‘issue’ and not something just to be enjoyed. She has friends that have fallen down the slippery slope of eating disorders and one who still hasn’t made it back up. She’s all too aware of the dangers that come with obsessing about food. Her friend says that she became anorexic because she wanted to gain control in her life, but surely isn’t the disease and the concept of food controlling her? How far of a hop, skip and a jump away is it from counting points? One day you’re counting up to your allowance, the next you’re thinking to yourself, “Hell what if I just took another point off, surely I’d lose more weight? And what about another and another?”

But the girl figures she might as well give it a go.

If nothing else she’ll probably get fuel for some blog posts out of it.

PS For the record. The boyfriend loves me just the way I am. He knows I have issues with my weight and when I mentioned WW he said that if it made me happy then he was all for it.

PPS And another disclaimer. I'm not dissing Weightwatchers here, it's more a general outpouring of thoughts and feelings regarding the whole subject of dieting and weight loss. I am walking into WW with a positive attitude. Really!


mooncalf said...

I'm losing weight right now. I'm doing it because I'm too mean to buy new bras. Stupid bras. Very expensive!

I lose weight by eating less crap. When I want to eat something sweet or crispy to make me happier I try to figure out why I need to be happier and whether or not eating crisps will fix it. It is generally not the case.

I make my life revolve around food less and then I lose weight. I eat breakfast, lunch, a afternoon snack and dinner. The rest of the time I do other stuff. Seems to work OK for now.

Good luck with your efforts!

P.S. The Word Verification for this comment is 'diater' - weird!

Jill said...

One of my dear friends did WW after she'd had her second child. She put a photo of herself on the fridge (at her largest) and it gave her the incentive to stick with it. I loved her just as she was, and so did her husband, but she was unhappy and that's why she did it - not to please anyone, just for herself. It cost her an absolute fortune, she knew the points value of every blessed eatable substance on the planet and there was never any 'decent' bread to be found in her kitchen, but she managed to get to a weight she was happy with, and so WW has worked for her.

Some people find using a smaller dinner plate helps. So you can't overload it with yumminess.

I'm a big food lover so the smaller plate wouldn't work for me, I'd just go and get seconds!

Best of luck with it all, but if it makes you unhappy - STOP.

The Curious Cat said...

Gesh...weight loss...what a pain...even skinny people fuss about it! It is the media and society...they pile on the pressure...back in the Roman times it was attractive to be plump! We are all products of social conditioning... It sucks.

I think if your health is at serious risk then worry...but is all about balance. Enjoy food and life. If you find some exercise you actually enjoy you'll want to do it regularly - like me with spinning, the only exercise I have ever enjoyed bar skiing. So...maybe try out some new things but otherwise...just don't let the portions creep up to mammoth sizes... that is all I have to say on it really...though I could maybe curtail my eating portion sizes...and do some exercise...I am getting a little chubby and I think I'd feel perkier and have more energy if I did... but that is my personal choice. xxx

Anna said...

If it helps any, weight watchers does seem to be the least mental / most effective diet plan!

Loved this post, I'm considering taking the plunge into WW myself. Looking forward to hearing what it is they actually do.

Kelly said...

I totally know what you are on about here!!!!
I'm the same :)
Good luck with the WW hun xx

P said...

Although calorie counting has worked for me in the past, and WW is essentially calorie counting, I don't really believe in it anymore as a good way of losing weight. Not for me anyway. I'm more disciplined when I control other parts of my diet - ie the Harcombe diet, which I've been trying recently. I swapped back to calorie counting this week and have found myself eating far more than I would otherwise. I just ate two chocolate bars - eek!

That being said, I know so many people that WW has worked for. I've also heard a lot of good things about Slimming World, if you decide you don't like WW!

Ana said...

I know exactly how you feel, and being tall is kind of worse because you can semi-hide the fat away even though you know it really should go.

I did WW a few years ago when I was in the UK and could access the on-line version (I'm in Ireland now and they haven't got to that level of technology!). It worked very well although I did end up mostly eating broccoli stirfrys and getting really fed up with broccoli. I didn't find that it made me really paranoid about point and calorie counting (except in the first week), but it did make me much more aware that things that look relatively innocuous can be pretty bad (like 3 points for one frankfurter and I can happily eat a whole packet).

I loved being slim but then the boyfriend moved in and I put it all back on again. I keep trying to start again but it's pretty half hearted so I'm still over-weight (and getting older makes the fat harder to lose too). I will try again but the thought of going to a room full of people to get weighed every week puts me right off, so I'll either do it on line or use the At Home version depending on where I am.

Good luck whatever you decide to do.

American Girl said...

When I think about eating and working out, I don't focus in on weight (OK, I TRY not to focus on weight)...I think about it as health and nutrition. When I think about it that way it's more motivating and I don't feel so defeated if I don't meet a weight loss goal or feel like I'm selling out to "society's image of beauty". It's about being healthy. In the long run that's more important than wearing the latest awful trend in jeans. Think about it in terms of your long-term health. (For me it's relatively easy because of my disastrous family history.) Eating well - fats, sugars, proteins and carbs included (people who go on those extreme unbalanced diets are not healthy) - and exercising your heart and muscles are way more important than what any scale or made up size on an item of clothing tell you.

Taz said...

As an extremely well padded lady I know what you mean. I did lose 7 stone a few years back with Scottish Slimmers - much better than WW in my opinion as it's easier to work out. Unfortunately I've put half of that weight back on but as I've gone through my marraige breaking up and being sorry for myself I'm not going to be too hard on myself.
But I know I need to lose weight again, I'm starting to feel those extra pounds (cough cough stones) or maybe I'm just getting old LOL
Good luck you your journey petal, I'll be here with you. x

Diane said...

Well good luck to you. You probably need to crack it while you are young as when you get older the fat doesnt shift!! Looking back, since I became an adult, I am only thin when I am unhappy. When hubby and I hit a very sticky patch once I lost 2 stone in 2 weeks!! But I wouldnt recommend that diet!! I dont like being size 16 though as I am only 5ft 2inch.
Wishing you all the best xxxx

Hookin It With Mr. Lick Lick said...

I am on the tall side myself and have put on 25 pounds in the last year because I quit smoking. I have ALWAYS had thunder thighs since before I started dating (I saw a pic my dad had taken of me around the age of 13 to prove it). Being tall always helped me but now that I'm older and starting to shrink down in height I am getting bigger the other way. Do they call that proportioning??? :o) Ummm, it's just plain wrong to my thinking. Everyone says I don't look like it but that's because I hide behind fat clothes. I can tell it in pics people take and I hate it. But what to do? Quit eating? I think not. Gym? Don't have time nor money nor energy at this point in life for that. So I will take it day by day and try to like the me that is the here and now. And if no one likes me as I am then oh well. :o)All of us females struggle with this..or I should say most. I hate the b*%$#es who can eat anything and still look great. LOL. Don't be too hard on yourself...there are lots of us in the same boat with you and it's a mighty strong boat indeed! xoxoxo

Petit Filoux said...

oh my – sounds like mr hell to me!!! Food is amazing, and should always be seen as a pleasure, not some kind of refuelling exercise – what’s difficult is finding the right balance between scoffing your face (I mean mine here) and doing enough exercise not to end up looking like a mountain!!

I’d considered doing WW at the end of last year, but I’ve done the obsessing about calories, I don’t want points to replace it – I can get a little obsessive about things, I just don’t see it as a very healthy attitude

What I can say is this – I lost 5kg in a month in Dubai – doing what? Stuffing my face with crisps! No but honestly, I did exercise every day, out of pleasure as well (who wouldn’t want to swim in gorgeous weather all the time?!), and a bit of running too, 30min here and there (air conditioned gym please!) and generally eat less – can’t say I eat healthily, far from it, just put less stuff in my mouth – now some days the only thing that passed my lips might have been Doritos and salsa, but that’s not the point! There was obviously more exercise being done, and it worked – so I don’t really know where I’m going with this, but I guess it just proves if you do enough exercise, you can eat as much crap as you want!! Haha!!! And then, if you watch what you eat a little (no counting involved here, just a little common sense), then the weight should fall off – you can sue me if it doesn’t ;-)

Btw, wtf is that message about acidity/ alkalinity all about?!!

Tabiboo said...

Diets - I hate them, but being fit.....well that's just a whole diffrent feeling.

To be overweight and unfit is the worst feeling 'ever' but eating what you like but keeping fit is the best.

To lose weight 'for you' is not to become thin as it may feel slinky, but the thought of hunger 'yuk' but be toned and eat what that's my 'doing it for me'

Not too sure if that helps, but it's what I work by. Good luck with the weight lose/get fit regime,

Nina x

Siga said...

I'm definitely interested to read how this WW adventure is working for you. Good luck!

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