I’ve had weight issues my entire life. I was born and grew up in South Africa where it seems everyone I grew up with was tanned, fit and slim. I was the pale, chubby ginger kid who would rather curl up and read than frizzle outside in the sun like other kids my age. I could blame my family, society, school bullies etc but to be quite blunt, I’m inherently lazy and I love my food. I’m not from a fat family. My mother has yo-yo dieted ever since I can remember, but isn’t actually big. My siblings are slim and my kids are slim. Its just me. At least in South Africa the average diet is fairly high in good stuff and low in processed junk so I managed to stay ‘just chubby’. The real disaster weight-wise was moving to Scotland at the age of 17. I think I may very well have gone from a size 14 to size 20 in about a year. I left home and moved in with my boyfriend and money was so unbelievably tight we survived on 17p loaves of shop own brand white bread and anything on offer, which as usual, is always the stuff we REALLY should have avoided. By the time I married at age 20, I must have weighed over 20 stone.
Four kids later and suddenly I was 34 and weighed 22.5 stone and miserable. Of course I knew what to do. Everyone does. Eat less, move more. I wish it were that easy. I’d half-heartedly tried every fad diet going, from the Cabbage Soup diet, the Atkins diet, the don’t eat after 5pm diet, Weight Watchers, Slim Fast, and even good old starvation. A pattern developed. I’d have a great, on-plan morning, be a bit hungry and bored by lunch and then by supper I wouldn’t fall off the wagon, I’d take a great big flying leap straight back into my old ways. After over a decade of dieting all I learned was that diets made me fatter and sad.
I will say now, I’m an emotional eater. I eat when I’m happy, I eat when I’m sad, I eat when I’m bored, I eat when I’m depressed, I eat when I’m stressed, I eat when I’m angry. So each failed attempt at dieting made me feel like a failure and hey ho, I’d be straight back into the chocolate hob nobs.
I tried exercise. But when you carry 10 stone of fat around its not easy. If you think I’m making excuses, find someone who weighs ten stone and try carrying them around for half an hour. Impossible? Now try working out at the gym while giving them a piggyback. A short walk would have me gasp and dizzy and with my blood pounding so hard I thought my heart would burst.
At 34 I was at breaking point. My doctor told me my blood pressure and cholesterol were insanely high, I was borderline diabetic, my knees were crumbling and I was predicted to be in a wheelchair by age 40. My BMI was nearly 50.
I have four young sons. I regret deeply that I wasn’t fit enough to play football with the two eldest. They were my fetchers-and-carriers. I wasn’t the mum in the adverts, happy, engaged and hands on, I was the mum on the sofa with a bad back and permanently grumpy. Unlike a lot of women, I didn’t have the excuse of not knowing how to cook real food. My Mother taught me well. I have always been a competent cook. I just chose the wrong recipes.
Everyone has their own motivation. Mine wasn’t my health, my marriage, my family or even my husband begging me to try lose weight. It wasn’t even my GP telling me he’d put me forward for weight loss surgery if I wanted it.
It was vanity.
I saw a photo of myself at my sisters birthday BBQ. I looked immense. I remember the photo being taken and being furious about being caught off guard and not having time to hide my body. I remember my back aching all day and being exhausted. Seeing the picture a few weeks later gave me a shock. I knew I was big, but I’d never really LOOKED at myself. I’d never SEEN what others saw. I looked old, and sad and fat and ruined. No woman should ever feel that way.
An acquaintance mentioned she was going to try Slimming World and I thought I’d go along and at least try. I wont go on too much about the diet but for me, it worked. By making a few small changes, eating BETTER and moving more my weight really did melt away. I joined CURVES – a woman only gym about two weeks later and between the two I lost eight and a half stone in eighteen months. I know many who have lost a lot more, a lot faster, but I’m not perfect, I screw up all the time. I remember going on holiday to Wales about a year into my journey and eating possibly half the sheep in there. I gained half a stone that week. I’d learnt by then though to just get back in the saddle and carry on. After a the initial eighteen months, I was forced to take a year off as my military husband was posted to Europe and we accompanied him there. During that time, my then two year old son was diagnosed with cancer in his brain and there followed a year of pure hell. (He’s OK now)
BUT, I went back to Slimming World eventually and lost another stone and a half which got me to my goal of ten stone off and more importantly a healthy BMI and transformed life. The old, emotional eater would have heard “Your son has cancer” and waddled off into the biscuit barrel clutching a stack of take away menus, but I’d changed inside. During that miserable year I gained only four pounds. Not bad considering I’m still an emotional eater. Nowadays we are living back in England. I have kept off the weight with a pound or two going on one week and then losing it the next, that’s life. I’ll never go back to the miserable wreck I was four years ago.
I cook great food, my boys know what ‘healthy’ is and how to be it. I can play football with my kids and the two youngest know not to annoy me these days because I’m bloody fast on my feet.
Best of all I now work at CURVES as a trainer and I give weight management advice to members if they want it based on my own experience. I’m thinking about studying something to do with helping others to lose weight.
I also give motivational talks to Slimming world groups and other interested parties which I secretly find utterly hilarious.
That’s my story so far. As I said, I’m not perfect. I screw up constantly. I’ll write about weight issues and answer questions and even try out weight loss products and plans in this blog. I’m still fairly hardcore SLIMMING WORLD, but I’m curious and open to new ideas.