I blogged a couple of months ago about women and weight and was knocked out by the number and the passion of the responses. Really struck a chord there! Well a week ago I started to diet and this morning I have lost five pounds so time to stop being secretive about it and have a look at what is going on.
I have never been a natural skinny but, varying up and down by half a stone or so (oh no, summer, time to lose the winter podge) I spent my twenties and thirties at around 9 stone, about right for me at 5 foot 4. Sometimes I resented people like my brother who can eat industrial quantities without putting on weight but mostly I just accepted that watching what I ate was part of the feminine condition and in the fight between greed and vanity, vanity usually just about won.
It got harder to maintain the equilibrium in my forties, needed more exercise and more deprivation so I settled for around 9 stone 4, accepted the flabby tummy as a badge of honour and got on with it.
Then my body got hit by my illness two years ago (see Journey in and out of darkness blog) and when I started the long slow process of recovery I was thin and bony, at a weight I hadn't been since I was about twelve. My collarbones jutted, my ribs protruded, my breasts disappeared and so did my bum. My operation scar ran huge and red from pelvis to sternum. I looked battered and breakable and I hated it. So eating my way back up to a normal person's weight was practically a duty! And I relished seeing my curves return and finding my clothes fitting again and eating toast and cake and puddings without guilt.
A couple of months ago I knew I had overdone it: I was 10 stone 5, starting to feel self conscious, to find some clothes too tight, to avoid the mirror, to dislike the sight of myself naked, inwardly blaming the scar which in reality is not too bad now, another badge of honour. While we were on holiday Ian took a photo in which I look old and fat, not at all how I see myself in head, so I came back thinking I would do something about it and just didn't, messed about, telling myself I was cutting down but not really doing it, being "good" all day and then having a couple of quick doorsteps of bread and butter before tea and not counting them because I had been hungry, had eaten them standing up, they weren't a meal, deceiving myself, knowing I was doing it but seemingly unable to stop.
It is strange what gives you a kick in the pants: in a week or so some friends are visiting. She is and always has been a great beauty, astonishing in her twenties and thirties with one of those faces you just want to keep looking at because its beauty is so satisfying to the eye. Now in her fifties she is still beautiful and a lovely person too, so you can't mind the perfection of the line of her brows and her steady eyes. I've never been beautiful but I scrub up ok. I am used to the fact that I am attractive, but suddenly the extra weight seemed to be hurtling me towards old age and invisibility. That will come soon enough whether I like it or not but it suddenly seemed utterly stupid that, while ageing is inevitable, I was choosing to be overweight when that at least was not.
I went out and bought the India Knight book "Neris and India's Idiot Proof diet" and decided I would take control. I read it from cover to cover and last Sunday I thought "OK, this is it." One week in, five pounds down. Not a lot of pain and considerable gain. It is a low carbohydrate diet which I know from the past works for me, but pretty healthy food and I feel good on it. I know my great weakness is bread, Ian's homemade bread in particular, but I am managing without it and oddly feeling less hungry than usual. Maybe it wouldn't suit everyone but it is suiting me. The book is great, full of the sense that the writers really know how it feels as they have, between them, lost ten stone. I would really recommend it.
So I thought I would go public. I am aiming to lose another ten pounds, maybe a bit less if I start looking too thin in the face, the face being what you see most of the time. I want to like the upper part of my legs as much as I like the lower. I want to regain my waist as I am one of these apple shaped people who puts weight on around the middle rather than on the hips. I want to put my illness even further behind me, not an excuse or an explanation for anything. I want to live my fifties as healthily and attractively as I can. I want to feel that I am choosing health and strength and energy.
Further updates next week. Lunch is a salad nicoise (you do have to plan a bit).