Skinny is sexy and seductive, or so we, as image riddled females, think we should be to catch a man! What then, of increasingly obese people? Don’t they care about being bold and beautiful, exuding the bravado of self instead of battling the bulge? As an adolescent, I was a shapeless stick who devoured the delights of every sweet delicacy without gaining weight, a dieters’ dream until at 17 when I left school, my torso exploded with fleshy kilos, recoiling in disgust before the mirror.
For the next decade, I waged war against my body (or was it really my mind?) ; an internal civil war where I’d deny myself even a morsel of a mint slice and chew on cold cabbage, cauliflower and carrots. Celebrations – I was thin again, until the next onslaught of over indulgence where I’d grab my size 16 jeans and shame at my bloated belly, not to mention my thunder thighs, bulging breasts and unfanciful face! Truth was, I hated myself, and no amount of so-called clever, albeit unconscious fat, feminist justification that beauty was sexist and superficial could shock me out of my depressing doldrums. Moreover, I continued to deny the reality that far more seriously, I was unhealthy and heading for diabetic disaster!
I took a good hard look at myself and while revelling in the Good Life, I knew I must stop being chauffeured in cabs without walking anywhere. Perish at my own peril! It was a daunting dare; risking the known comfort of curling up with chocolate and caffeine for the unknown landscape of legumes and leafy greens. I enrolled in dance classes, also jettisoning the futile repetition of crash diets. I would shed those copious kilos slowly, trying to understand the psychological gymnastics of why I ate and drank so much, so often. What was the hidden secret of being overweight? Sure, I loved food and drink, but my excess was an addiction, finding solace in malicious sweetness and apathetic lethargy.
Twice a week at my dancing class, I pushed my body to its limit; crying out in pain as I trekked homeward as every muscle groaned and ached and the sweat stuck to my clothes like an ugly odour. At night, I cooked fresh vegetables and wholemeal pasta, completing my feast with fresh fruit and ingesting water to quell the gaps, rewarding myself with just one piece of chocolate for my effort. This lifestyle continued for several months and as the kilos disappeared and the suffering abated, I started to feel fantastic, with far more energy (both mental and physical), enjoying looking in the mirror again.
I used to have two sets of clothes, for the fat me and the thin me. Now I looked aghast at the size 16 gear and while wanting to relegate it to the rubbish bin, I was still scared I’d need it again. So I waited. Years passed and while there was no more dancing, I walked; at least an hour a day, sometimes two (I never had a driver’s licence), discovering a domain of food I loved as much as I once more loved myself. I’d also allow myself alcohol, albeit in moderation. Making the unconscious conscious sure helped me recover my self-esteem; without the man, the answer for the why of my self-indulgence gluttony; doing it all for myself!
It’s over 30 years since I signed the peace treaty with my body AND mind, staying slim but more significantly, healthy and rejoicing in life!