I could write a whole book about the morally charged language we use when talking about weight and dieting. When things aren’t going according to plan, dieters routinely talk about having “cheated”, “sinned” or “having been bad” while on days when things are going well they will say they have been “good” and “virtuous”. Is it actually morally wrong to be overweight? And why do we feel so free to condemn, in pretty harsh terms, those who are fat? I think it is because fatness is what I call a “visible vice”. Please don’t tell me that every thin person you meet is a perfectly morally correct human being without a single vice. I simply won’t believe you. But their vices, unlike mine, are not wobbling around on their butt and tummy for all the world to see and judge. True, gluttony may be considered one of the seven deadly sins, but then so are wrath, pride and envy. If you have managed to get through life without doing any of those, well, all I can say is you must be a saint!
My thoughts have turned to the word “cheating” because I suppose that is what I am planning to do this weekend. On Saturday evening, a few of my girlfriends are coming round and I am going to have some wine while we sit outside around the fire chatting. It will be lovely. If this is “cheating”, bring it on I say. My decision to not drink was mine and my decision to drink is mine. I am not entirely sure who I am cheating by changing my mind on this occasion, but there we have it.
Of course, you could argue that this is just an elaborate self-justification for being weak-willed and having no self-control. You are probably right. I have been thinking about this a lot lately. In some ways I accept that I lack self-control, and yet in others, I could argue that I am capable of exercising great self-control. Fourteen years ago, after having been a heavy smoker for many years, I put out my last cigarette and I have never had another. I did this as a result of reading Allen Carr’s book on giving up smoking*. It was very useful to me, especially one part, which essentially stated the obvious point that I was entirely in control of what I did and I could just decide to never do something again.
“Oooh, I could never manage that,” say the fatties, the smokers, the drinkers. Well, they could, but they do not choose to. We all manage to not do things by choice. Most of us, for example, do not go around killing people who annoy us, sorely tempted though we may be. We generally don’t even give them a hard smack. Why? Not because we don’t really want to (at least as much as we want that tub of ice cream). No, we choose not to do it. We don’t want to suffer the consequences and the regret arising from these actions. If I succumb to a large burger and fries in a McDonalds drive-thru, the news is unlikely to be splashed across the front pages of tomorrow’s newspapers, whereas if I strangle my supremely annoying teenage son…
I am a bit disappointed in myself. I deliberately wrote the above paragraphs before the weekend. Mostly because I wanted to make it clear that my decision to indulge was a conscious one and not some spur-of-the-moment weakness. Sadly, the initial, planned occasion gave rise to a couple of further unplanned ones. Why is it so difficult to get this food and eating thing right? I really despair. All these decisions to cut and curtail various “bad” or fattening and unhealthy food and drink are like a tight elastic band. When I cut it, just a little, it pings wide open and all my good intentions come spilling out. When I tie it back together again, it is that much shorter and tighter and the desire to cut it and get a bit of relief is that much greater.
I feel a bit miserable about it. Instead of just enjoying some wine on Saturday and that being that, I found that in my relaxed state the need for a giant cookie became an imperative, and the following day the half-drunk bottle in the fridge needed to be finished. Then, as I was being “bad” anyway, I reckoned I might as well eat up the big bag of crisps (chips, to you non-Poms) so they wouldn’t tempt me when I was being “good” again. Just wind me up and off I go – chomp, chomp, chomp.
So much for avoiding Sugar, Snacks and Sauce (booze). This bright idea of mine of abstaining from the four esses is starting to feel like the wrong way of going about achieving my ends. But I really am at a loss as to what would work better.
On a brighter note, it was a lovely evening with my friends. Perfect weather, the air heavy with the perfume of roses and woodsmoke, a delicious meal, some fine champagne and great company.
- Week three: 27 May 2019 — Holding steady. No significant weight gain or loss.
- Total weight loss: 2.5kg (5.5lbs)
* You can find out more about Allen Carr’s stop-smoking book here: https://www.wikihow.com/Quit-Smoking-by-Using-an-Allen-Carr-Book