17: Diving In

I am so grateful to the person who asked how my swim went in the comments last week. It meant that I was simply too embarrassed to confess that I had chickened out after all, and I just had to dive in after all.

My initial plan had been to go swimming on Wednesday morning, but I managed to come up with an excuse not to go then. Then a friend offered me a ticket to the preview of the Anthony Gormley exhibition at The Royal Academy on Thursday. Well, obviously I couldn’t turn that down, could I? Surely my mental health and emotional fulfilment is just as important as my physical state? Fridays are not an option for me swimming-wise (certain immovable appointments filling practically the whole day) so that just left the weekend. Thanks to that comment, though, no amount of wriggling would get me off the hook, so away I went on Sunday evening for a swim. Fat Fella and Jelly Bean came along, too.

swimmer-Image by skeeze from Pixabay
No, sadly not my fabulous toned upper arms. Maybe one day? — Image by skeeze from Pixabay

I have to say, it wasn’t great. That new swimming costume might hide a bit of my worst excesses, but I was still painfully embarrassed appearing poolside with every lump and bump on show. The pool, which Fat Fella said was always quiet on Sunday evenings, was in fact rather busy. I dived in and remembered just how much I hate swimming in public pools. They taste revolting and I am so conscious of all those bodily fluids swishing about in them. Yuk! I find they are also usually too warm, which makes them seem that much more unsanitary.

On the plus side, I got a really good workout despite having to dodge divebombing teenagers and dogpaddling tots. I swam 50 lengths (that’s 1.25 km/over three quarters of a mile). Surprise, surprise I was a bit fitter than I thought! I love the way the water supports my body while swimming, so I don’t feel that I am battering my joints. Swimming also remains the one physical activity that I can do pretty well and don’t need to feel any embarrassment about my performance, even though I am a fatty. Plus, there’s none of that hot and sweaty flopping about that comes with running, for example.

You will be glad to hear, though, that the heat and sweatiness of running did not put me off going for another dog stumble/jog yesterday morning. I have found a route that is quite discreet – no one to witness the sweaty flopping – and includes lots of hills and stairs that keep my heart rate up, while giving me a chance to “rest” as I walk instead of run up them. For my other dog walks last week when I was not officially “jogging”, I managed to speed things up overall and got a lot warmer and puffier than usual.

trail-Image by serenasampson from Pixabay
No need to bother with a stair climber in the gym when you have the real thing to run up. — Image by serenasampson from Pixabay

The “cleanerobics” were also a success What a great full body workout they are. Weights (hauling the vacuum cleaner and buckets of water up and down stairs), stretching (dusting the cobwebs on my very high ceilings), upper body work (vigorous floor scrubbing), and abdominals (bending, pushing and pulling). Again, after three hours I was a sweaty mess, but felt fantastic.

Tomorrow, I am going to a “proper” training pool – a 50 m pool, which is colder, cleaner and with fewer people mucking about. Hopefully this will make up for the fact that being a fatty in that context is much rarer and thus much more self-conscious making. But I shall be brave, suck in my gut and dive in as quickly as possible. Wish me luck, please.

swimming-Image by StockSnap from Pixabay
Image by StockSnap from Pixabay

16: Ready, steady, go!

I have come up with an action plan that I think is going to work for me. Obviously, it will need tweaking and refining, but I believe it is a pretty good starting off point.

For now, I am only going to try to add three activity days into my week, with the idea that I will increase this as my fitness improves.

Dog walk/ shuffle/ jog/ run

run-Image by susanne906 from Pixabay
Image by susanne906 from Pixabay

Wow, have I ever been kidding myself about my current levels of activity? I had been feeling fairly sanguine about the amount I exercised because, as I have (frequently) mentioned, I walk my dog for an hour every weekday. At some point these walks may have been brisk, active affairs, but obviously, over time, they have become little more than leisurely ambles. When I put on a pair of running shoes and a sports bra yesterday morning and proceeded to try and pick up the pace from a walk to a bit of a shuffling jog, I was appalled at just how unfit I have become. After only a minute of downhill jogging, my heart was pounding out of my chest and I was forced to slow down to a walk. I persevered, however, and mixed brisk walking with short bursts of shuffling and quite a bit of hill-climbing. I returned home sweaty, but pleased with myself for making a start. I hope to gradually increase the amount of shuffling I do and eventually increase my speed to a jog and even, dare I say it, a run.

Cleanerobics

cleaning-supplies Image by Annalise Batista from Pixabay
Image by Annalise Batista from Pixabay

I do a weekly big clean of my whole house. This usually involves a fair amount of exercise but, like dog walking, can be done at quite a slow pace if that’s what I feel inclined to do. However, if I pick up the pace and energy, I reckon I could turn a cleaning session into an excellent aerobic workout. I am going to try doing aerobic exercise steps while I am standing at the sink washing dishes to keep my heart rate raised. I’ll run up the stairs. I’ll get down on my hands and knees and scrub the floors instead of mopping them. Maybe I’ll dance while vacuuming. The hope is that not only will my cleaning session take less time, but it will be more thorough and I’ll end up with a sparkling house — win win!

Update: I had a go at this this morning and I am knackered! I must have looked pretty weird, hopping about my house like someone with a dubious itch or with an urgent call of nature, but I definitely got my heart rate raised and some serious cleaning done.

Swimming

swimming Image by David Mark from Pixabay
Sadly, this is not a picture of me swimming. But who knows? Maybe one day… — Image by David Mark from Pixabay

I really enjoy playing sports, but on the whole I am not terribly good at them. One thing I have always been pretty competent at, though, is swimming. I often think I am more at home in water than on land. Despite this, I have managed to find reasons not to swim regularly. The most obvious problem is having to appear in public in a swimming costume. A fat woman’s nightmare. Absolutely no way to hide the blubber with a lovely loose-fitting shirt or anything like that. I need to get over this nonsense of course. The truth is no-one is in the least bit interested in looking at me and if they do, so what? They are unlikely to start laughing and pointing, are they?

The other thing that puts me off (don’t bother reading this if you are a man as you really won’t relate) is having to keep myself properly depilated. I so wish I was one of those fabulous women who simply do not give a toss about all of that hair-removing malarkey. As a wide-eyed twenty something travelling in Europe for the first time, I remember looking in awe at the German girls on the beach with their hairy bits, not so much on display, but not even considered. Sadly, with the best will in the world, I am just not that person. I have been thoroughly conditioned to find hairy bits unacceptable and have spent years enduring razor rashes, nasty chemicals, painful, tearing waxing, and those horrible little torture machines that rip the hairs out one by one. Apparently most young women now just have it all lasered off, which I suppose is sensible, if a touch expensive and time-consuming. I certainly am not bothered enough to go down that route, and as of today I don’t need to because I have just purchased a very sporty swimming costume with legs! Hurray. Problem solved.

Does this mean that I have run out of excuses not to start swimming tomorrow? I have to say that I am really pushed for time at the moment, and I am so unfit that I will probably drown, and, and, and… There are always excuses if you really want them, aren’t there?

swimming Image by skeeze from Pixabay
Aren’t these swimming costumes with legs great? They hide a multitude of sins. — Image by skeeze from Pixabay

I am going to stop at this point. Since first thinking of these activities, I have come up with a few other good options, but I am going to see how I get on with these for now.

15: Onwards and Upwards

I have been silent for a while because it made no sense to me to try and write about a journey to better health, while feeling as lousy as I have been for the past few weeks. But at last I seem to have turned a corner. My chest is almost clear and the ear infection has gone and the nasty side effects from the antibiotics are waning.

In other good news, I was delighted when I weighed myself after a month of holiday hedonism and self-pitying indulgence to discover that I haven’t gained any weight at all. In fact, I may have even lost a little bit. Plus I have found going back to not eating sugar surprisingly easy, and I have reverted to having alcohol only on the weekends. I definitely plan to try and cut that back some more.

Now I think my next step is to think of ways of increasing my fitness. As I have mentioned, I walk my dog every day for an hour. I suppose I could simply focus on making those walks a bit speedier and sweatier.

woman-Image by Mabel Amber, still incognito... from Pixabay
Running instead of walking the dog could be a good option. — Image by Mabel Amber, still incognito… from Pixabay

But I think I need something more. I am considering taking up a completely new sport, or perhaps going back to something I have enjoyed in the past. There are so many possibilities and I need to do a bit of research to find something that will slot into my lifestyle easily.

A few things spring to mind immediately, but it is ironic that the very reason I need to exercise more (being fat) limits my choices. Many riding stables, for example, have weight limits for riders simply because they don’t have big enough horses to carry heavier riders. I used to be a keen runner, but I don’t think my poor old bones, muscles and ligaments would cope with the kind of pounding they would get from all that fat bouncing around as I jog. Someone I know has just started rowing and that appeals to me, but I reckon I’d sink the boat!

horse-Image by Charles Rondeau from Pixabay
A horse’s reaction to seeing me approaching wearing jodphurs. — Image by Charles Rondeau from Pixabay

 

Practicalities aside there is also the social awkwardness of being a big fat person trying to huff and puff and keep up with others, not to mention the difficulty in getting sports clothes that are not too hideously embarrassing. I think I should start a sports clothing company called “Fat Girls Run Too”. It would be great to find sports clothes that were roomy enough to be comfortable, but still shaped properly so you didn’t look like a shuffling circus tent when exercising. (Apologies if there is already such a company – I did a quick google and nothing popped up.)

As I write this, I have had an idea. I am going to investigate it a bit and tell you more once/if I start doing it.

Tomorrow, I discover if all that lovely porridge I have been eating has resulted in my cholesterol levels dropping. I do hope so.

Stats

Week 15 — total weight loss: 4.6 kg (10 lbs)

14: Back to Earth (with a bump)

Where am I going wrong, I ask myself? We had a great holiday right up until the last few days when poor old Fat Fella managed to pick up a mystery infection and ended up in hospital on IV antibiotics. And just so he didn’t get all the sympathy and attention, I also acquired a chest and ear infection and, frankly, have been feeling really crappy since we got home.

fever-thermometer-Image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay
Image by Myriam Zilles from Pixabay

What’s that all about? Holidays are supposed to be stress-free times, where we sleep and rest and eat well and are generally chilled and happy. The precise recipe for good health surely? So what’s with all this infection stuff? We were staying in a perfectly clean, very comfortable villa. We feasted on marvellous fresh fruit and vegetables and seafood. I spent most of my time floating in the pool or the sea. My immune system should have been in tip-top condition. So what is the point of all this healthy eating when I am not, in fact, getting healthier?

maldives-Image by romaneau from Pixabay
Image by romaneau from Pixabay

Yesterday, I had to take my son for a routine visit to the GP. They had one of those fancy take-your-own blood pressure machines in the waiting room, so I stuck my arm in and pressed “Start”. Well, that was a mistake. According to the reading, I should probably be dead already. There certainly had been no improvement as a result of my so-called healthier lifestyle. I have to say I am very close to packing the whole thing in. But what’s the alternative? Complete hedonism? That’s not going to help, is it?

Boring as it is, I think I may need to do a bit of proper research on the subject, and not just read random internet articles, which is how I have been gleaning most of my information thus far. I specifically want to tackle the whole infection thing and find a way of boosting my immune system as it is obviously up the creek at the moment. I’ll let you know what I find out.

man-Image by photosforyou from Pixabay
Image by photosforyou from Pixabay

13: Good Times

As Kurt Vonnegut asked: “If this isn’t good, what is?”

We come to this little Balearic island every year for a couple of weeks in the summer and it never disappoints. The weather is glorious and reliable, and I spend most of my time floating in the pool with a book and a glass of white wine.A9E6EFF0-08D0-4DBC-AA16-D9AE66AB3A99

The food is also heavenly — luscious  Mediterranean tomatoes, creamy cheeses, dark, peppery olive oil, fresh seafood, crusty bread, perfectly salty olives, and on and on.

The little tapas bar at the top of the hill makes some of the best food I’ve ever tasted and I am seriously thinking of kidnapping the chef and forcing him to hand over his recipe for their patatas bravas sauce.

I had the very good sense to invite a dear friend to accompany us on holiday. Not only is she an excellent cook, but she is also an enthusiastic one and as big a fan as I am of shopping in foreign supermarkets. Somehow the novelty makes a boring everyday errand into a bit of an adventure.

B103939E-94A5-49F5-8341-F2875A4AB84C
Sumptuous salad courtesy of my cooking friend.

I have been eating and drinking whatever I feel like and I feel fabulous. Not one teeny bit of regret. Salud!

12: State of Play

There are only two people who know I write this blog. Fat Fella, obviously, and one of my sisters. I’ll call her Slim Sister to differentiate her from the sister I mentioned in a previous blog – that one is Skinny Sister, the one whose high cholesterol level produces a shameful frisson of schadenfreude in my fat heart.

Slim Sister may be slender, but she has to work just hard enough at staying slim to be able to understand and relate to the trials and tribulations of lard arses such as myself. She is also probably my biggest cheerleader, and I know is very keen that I should do well on this particular journey. And not for any other reason than that I should be happy and well and satisfied with how my body looks and feels. She’s a good egg, is Slim Sister.

She also has opinions on what I write, and one that she expressed recently is that it is perhaps a mistake not to include a weekly weight report. She felt that it was a good “hook” to draw in readers, along the lines of Bridget Jones’s Diary etc.

I am sure she is right, but I fear that a weekly weigh-in is a dangerous thing for me. I get so influenced by the numbers, both positively and negatively. Looking at weight in numbers also reinforces the problem I have with externalising the whole issue and not feeling it from within. Somehow I have to try and get my heart to agree with my head that the number on the scale is irrelevant and it is what I look and feel like that counts.

But I am not there yet. And today is the day that I leave to go on holiday. The holiday that I was aiming for when I started this blog. The one that would mark the end of the “No Sugar, No Snacks, No Seconds, No Sauce”  rule that I had imposed on myself. If you have followed this blog, you will know that I have altered course since I set out. I ditched all those absolute prohibitions because I felt that they were traps that I was falling into. Traps that would, in the long term, result in my failure to achieve what I really wanted – a healthier body and a happier self-image.This feels like a good time to reflect a little and sum up what I have achieved so far and consider what I might do to keep myself going.

I have lost some weight — 4.3 kg (9.5lbs) in total. To my mind that is a miserably small amount and a figure that would normally do nothing to inspire me to continue. I need much more dramatic results to motivate me. Yet, that is exactly the sort of weight loss that I should be aiming for.

Even slower would probably be better. It shows how making small, but permanent changes to one’s diet will, over time, have the desired result. And I won’t suddenly start packing on the pounds once I am “finished”  because I never will be. They are forever changes and not based on a number deadline. Just as I have been a non-smoker for 14 years, I now need to see myself as someone who consumes almost no sugar, doesn’t drink much alcohol, only has snacks once in a while in social situations and almost always says “no” to second helpings.

46B56276-5BE4-478B-99B2-1F8DCF80A018
My future mealtimes? Not bloody likely!

Sadly, I was not that someone last weekend. I was at a party at Skinny Sister’s house. She is a marvellous cook, so I not only had seconds of the sumptuous lunch, but I also tucked into a generous helping of pudding. I found it almost too sickly sweet to finish. Not because it was particularly sugary, but because I am really not used to sugar anymore. Later though, when I got home, I started craving a sweet treat. I had awoken the sugar demon, and it wanted more. Fortunately, there was nothing tempting in the house and sugar demon has gone back to sleep for now. But it is worth remembering that, like nicotine, it is a craving that is always lurking, ready to pounce, and I feed it at my peril.

Giddy weekends aside, I am not doing too badly. I have seriously weakened the grasp that sugar has on me. I no longer routinely eat second helpings and I am drinking far less alcohol. I would prefer to cut this particular one even more, and I probably shall once I get back from my holiday. And as for the last of the four Esses – snacks – well, to be honest that has never been a major vice of mine. I added it in to make up the “Four Esses” rule. Still, it’s good to remember that snacks can be very tempting, especially when one is being so “good” about everything else. And I must also remember not to try to be “too good”, because I am in this for the long haul.

So, that’s the state of play. I fully intend to enjoy a fortnight of mild hedonism and will return to my “normal” life determined to carry on with this journey. Wish me luck.

 

Stats:

Total weight loss: Minus 4.3 kg (9.5lbs)

11: A Dog’s Life

pet-Image by Jose Antonio Alba from Pixabay
Image by Jose Antonio Alba from Pixabay

I am a volunteer for a charity called the Cinnamon Trust. We walk dogs belonging to people who are either too old or too ill to do it themselves. This is great, because it means they can keep their much-loved pets with them for as long as possible. Last week, I walked a “new” dog. I was chatting to Fat Fella about it afterwards and commented how awful it was to see a dog who was in such pain because he was so fat and arthritic. “I would never allow an animal of mine to get in such a state,” I proclaimed self-righteously. And, to be fair, that’s true. I wouldn’t.

I wouldn’t call any of my pets skinny, exactly, and I am not great at refusing them treats, but I do make sure they keep to a reasonably healthy weight. I wonder why I find it so straightforward and easy to do it for them, but not for myself? If my dog groaned and winced whenever she stood up, as I do, she would be on a diet so fast, her head would spin.

golden-retriever-Image by Barbara Danázs from Pixabay
This is a stock image of a fat dog for illustrative purposes, not the actual dog mentioned. — Image by Barbara Danazs from Pixabay.

Similarly, when my children were younger and I had more control over what they ate, they were both the picture of good health. Poster children for the benefits of eating a varied, yet balanced diet, heavy on fruit and veg and light on treats. I took such pride in their fabulous diets. Yet, I could not do the same for myself.

Nowadays things are a bit different as far as the children’s diets go. My son’s nickname of Captain Shoelace is well deserved. He is very tall and very, very thin. Not, sad to say, as a result of a healthy diet. Far from it. I firmly believe that the fact that he likes apples, and has got in the habit of eating one a day, is all that stands between him and a dose of scurvy. He lives on crap energy drinks, cakes, crisps and chips. The “shoelace” effect is simply the result of a lot of high energy exercise.

apples-Image by Tracy Lundgren from Pixabay
Image by Tracy Lundgren from Pixabay

My lovely daughter, on the other hand, is no shoelace. Captain Jellybean would be a better name for her. She is very well rounded these days. The first time she got pocket money and had an independent trip to the shops with it, she returned home with a shopping bag bulging with chocolates, biscuits and sweets. This was a child who took delight in eating as many as nine different types of fruit and vegetables in a single sitting. Tragically, her love affair with vegetables had, for the time being, come to an end.

carton-figure-Image by Michael Rühle from Pixabay (2)
Image by Michael Ruhle from Pixabay.

The situation with Captain Jellybean presents a tricky challenge for me. How do I tackle it? I don’t want to pass on my own lifetime obsession with weight, but I can’t completely ignore it, can I? She has a minor medical condition that would be improved were she to lose a bit of weight. Her doctor has told her that she needs to look at her diet and exercise regime and see if she can lose some pounds. I want to encourage her, but I really don’t want her to “go on a diet”. I truly believe that dieting like that ends up making you fatter.

Of course, we keep coming up with ways to get her to exercise more, and she is fairly cooperative. She loves the step tracker that her aunt gave her for her birthday and has started boxing classes recently. But if left to herself, she is completely inactive and, like many (most?) teenagers will just slump on her bed watching YouTube videos.

If only I could simply reduce the amount of kibble I give her and pop her on a leash for an extra walk or two every day! If only I could do the same for myself. Is it wrong to wish I were a dog?

 

You can find out more about the work of The Cinnamon Trust here: https://cinnamon.org.uk/

 

 

10: Disconnect

Last week, I was suddenly overwhelmed by a desire to weigh myself. In my usual feckless way, I succumbed and hopped on to the bathroom scales.

Do you ever do ridiculous things on the scales to try and make the numbers go down? I have a wonky wooden floor and fairly ancient dodgy scales, so if I indulge in some creative contortions I am able to lose and gain several kilos in a mere matter of minutes. Fortunately, my better self usually prevails, and I take the mean weight to be the accurate one.

weight-image-by-terovesalainen-from-pixabay-.jpg
Image by TeroVesalainen from Pixabay

On this occasion, I was relieved to find that the figure showed a small weight loss, but it struck me with some force that I had had absolutely no clue beforehand what those scales would show. I seem to have a some completely disconnected wires in my brain.

Firstly, I can’t feel or see if I am heavier or lighter. I need numbers on a scale to tell me what is going on with my weight. I suppose I have usually relied on the tightness or looseness of my clothing to give me an indication of my size. But this summer, I have discovered the absolute joy of wearing loose, linen shift dresses. I have never before felt so comfortable, cool or free. But without a tight waist band warning system, I could, as far as I was aware have loaded on ten kilos.

And this points to the second disconnect. I clearly do not fully believe that if I eat a bit less and a bit more healthily that it is in fact inevitable that I will lose a little bit of weight. Instead I, like many long-term dieters, seem to have swallowed this mad idea that there is a kind of magical alchemy about weight loss that I don’t fully understand.

This “magic” explains why sometimes I don’t lose weight even when I’ve been “good”. It consists of eating at the right times, of excluding certain food groups entirely, or only eating certain “fat-consuming” things. It is the magic of the keto/cabbage soup/Atkins/5:2 diet. Somehow my brain cannot grasp the simple fact that if I eat fewer calories, I will lose weight. There is no magic about it. The explanation for gaining weight despite being “good” lies in a less than honest memory of what has actually been consumed, not in anything mystical.

the-magician-Image by Vasili1316 from Pixabay
I suppose being sawed in half could be one “magical” way of losing weight! — (Image by Vasili1316 from Pixabay)

No, there is no miracle “cure” for fatness. It’s such a shame, because if there were, and I knew what it was, I’d be a very rich woman. Many people are extremely rich today simply by virtue of being able to convince me and those like me that they hold the secret to weight loss. If I just follow their programme, drink their milkshake or buy their books, I can be a sylph-like goddess. Ha!

At the end of the day, I think we need to be honest with ourselves, and really try to start believing again that fatness is the result of the amount of calories we consume being greater than the energy we expend. Until we can make that connection in our heads, no amount of weighing, measuring, planning and plotting is going to help us.

9: Breakfast

Have you ever heard the saying, “Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, dine like a pauper”? It sounds like good advice, I suppose, but is completely impractical for the life I lead. I wondered if it had any validity, so did a bit of reading on the subject. There were plenty of newspaper articles that claimed that it had been proven that eating breakfast reduced obesity, but the most thorough article I came across differed somewhat in its conclusions. Essentially, it said that while there have been a number of studies that looked at which countries eat big breakfasts and small dinners and how that correlates with levels of obesity, none of them could prove that there is any direct causal effect. Here’s a link to the article if you are interested: https://www.nhs.uk/news/food-and-diet/should-we-eat-breakfast-like-a-king-and-dinner-like-a-pauper/

The reason I have been thinking so much about breakfast is twofold. I was channel hopping the other day and caught a segment of a programme that was all about eating more healthily for less money. The “expert” was showing how much sugar and fat there is in many breakfast cereals and ended up by recommending plain oats, made with water, as the ideal breakfast.

oatmeal-Image by TanteTati from Pixabay
Mmm. Plain oats. Tempting … NOT! (Image by TanteTati from Pixabay .)

This got me hopping mad. Of COURSE plain oats made with water is low in fat and sugar. I am fat, not stupid. I, like all my other fatty brethren, am perfectly capable of reading the labels on a cereal packet. Yes, we know granola is chock full of sugars and other fattening things. But do you seriously think that “revealing” to us that “oats are better for you” is going to convert dedicated sugar addicts to a diet of slimy tasteless gloop for breakfast every day? And even if they did manage it for a week or two, how long do you think they would last before reverting? Pah. This is NOT the way to get people to change their habits. You have to try and come up with some sort of compromise – a halfway house, if you like, between the ideal (sugarless, fat free, taste free) and the most excessively “bad” versions of cereal that are out there.

That said, it might surprise you to learn that I am actually a fan of sugar free oats for breakfast. And since I have practically stopped eating sugar entirely, I find even a tiny number of raisins and a sliced banana can provide more than enough sweetness to make my morning porridge not only palatable, but delicious.

I have been surprised how little I am missing sugar. I think sugar is one of those things that if you have lots of it, you want more and more – an appetite that grows uon feeding. And if you cut it out, you become highly sensitised to even the smallest amounts. Last Friday I treated myself to an iced frappe, because it was hot and it was Friday and I just felt like it. Well, by 5pm I had the most terrible shakes and had to eat several slices of buttered toast to stabilise my blood sugar levels. A horrible feeling and one that will make it really easy for me to avoid the temptation of a sugary drink in future, no matter how crappily my day is going.

The second reason I am interested in the whole breakfast thing is because of my own life experience. For most of my adult life, and certainly in my “less fat” times, I always ate breakfast. For a lot of that time, my breakfast of choice was sugar-free Swiss muesli with skimmed milk and a banana. This may not sound great to you, but I really enjoy it as a regular breakfast.

cereal-Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay
Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay.

About 5 or 6 years ago, though, I stopped eating breakfast altogether. This was partly because of that whole fasting fad that everyone got so into at the time. You know, 5:2 or whatever. Obviously, I tried it (what weight loss fad HAVEN’T I tried?) and I discovered that I can go quite a long time without eating if I don’t start. I soon abandoned the fasting idea, but I carried on trying to delay when I started eating in the day in the hope that overall I would end up eating a bit less.

This didn’t work for me at all. I started eating huge lunches and even bigger dinners. And I piled on the pounds. I’m not saying that not eating breakfast is the reason why I gained weight, but it makes sense that it might well be a factor. Anyway, when I was looking at foods that lowered cholesterol, I found that oats came up on all the lists, so I decided to start eating breakfast again. I have to say, I am loving it and have a lot more energy and pep. Again, this may be because of other changes I’ve made, but I will stick to it for now, especially as I have managed to convince myself that I can actually feel the oats soaking up the cholesterol in my bloodstream. I have taken to mixing sugar-free-muesli with raw oats (half and half). I let them soak in milk for about 15 minutes and then slice up a banana or pop some strawberries on top. Lovely.

8: My Fabulous Body

Sometimes, when I’m sorting laundry, I put on one of those “bride chooses wedding dress” TV programmes as a sort of mildly entertaining background noise. Last week, the show was about “plus-size” brides. A few things were said that really got me thinking.

Firstly, one of the consultants said that a confident girl could wear any dress she liked. She just needed the attitude to pull it off. What a “big” woman, without that sort of confidence should wear to her wedding, I don’t know. They didn’t say. An overcoat maybe?

Secondly, in trying to make one bride feel “better” about her figure, a consultant pointed out that her breasts and hips were bigger than her waist and therefore she still had a beautiful “womanly” figure. Good grief. It seems even in fatty world, there is a “better” kind of fat to be. I am shaped just like a cake pop (completely round top half on relatively thinner stem). What am I supposed to think about my body?

cake-pop-Image by White77 from Pixabay
Image by White77 from Pixabay

I imagine the people making this programme were probably quite well-meaning. They were definitely trying to jump aboard the positive-body-image/non-fat-shaming train that is whistling across our TV screens at the moment. But their comments reveal how far away we are from anything like an acceptance of body shape and size not being the defining factor in one’s attractiveness as a person.

Frankly, I don’t buy that idea myself. I confess that I see very fat people as a hell of a lot less attractive than thinner ones. (I also find emaciated people unattractive and rather frightening, but that’s a whole other story.) I was listening to my daughter commenting on an advert that featured bigger models, and realised that she also wasn’t buying into the idea of fatties being gorgeous at all, regardless of what she was being shown. (“They’ve all got such enormous bums, Mum!”) Perhaps these ideas are too deeply entrenched to be easily changed.

I often hear people say “Look at the film stars of yesteryear. They were not terribly thin, but they were considered drop-dead gorgeous.” Have you ever had a good look at Marilyn Monroe’s figure? She was no fatty and her sexy hourglass shape is probably just as unrealistic for most of us to achieve as would be the figure of a contemporary super model.

marilyn-monroe-Image by skeeze from Pixabay
Image by skeeze from Pixabay

No, the idea that a human being must aspire to a certain pleasing body shape is not a new one. At least, nowadays we can use Instagram filters and photoshop instead of having to resort to having a rib removed or corseting ourselves so tightly that we can barely breathe.

Men and women alike must conform to society’s current perception of a beautiful body. It is no surprise then that the journey I claim to be on towards a healthier body has turned out to be all about doing something about the old cake pop bod. Come to think of it, post-menopause, my body is more like a rugby ball on a stick, as my fat gradually creeps down my thighs to my knees. You see. There I go again. Concentrating on my body’s flaws. Like most people, I could fill several pages on the awfulness of my body. How boring. And how downright wrong. Instead I should be telling you how bloody wonderful my body is.

I am so enormously grateful for all my body’s amazing abilities. I can walk, run, dance, swim, jump and climb. I can dig in my garden and hang out the washing and cook lots of delicious food. I can read and write and sew and draw. My eyes see, my ears hear. I am so lucky I can barely believe it. Last week, I developed a really nasty stye inside my eyelid. It was sore. It was UGLY. Despite my best efforts to treat it at home, by Friday I woke up with an eye socket that was so swollen it looked like I was turning into a Klingon. In a bit of a panic I went to the doctor who prescribed antibiotics. But before starting the course, I decided to wait just one more night. I had a feeling that my eye was just a tiny bit less painful than before. And I was right. My lovely, healthy, strong body had seen off the infection all by itself.

Please don’t think I am boasting or gloating. I am fully aware of how fortunate I am. But I really want to acknowledge how amazing my body is, even if you (and I) do not necessarily find it aesthetically pleasing. I hope we can all do this, whatever our bodies are like. Seek out the things we value and treasure them, and waste no time at all fretting about the things that don’t match up to some mad image of perfection that we have in our minds.

jump Image by Tasy Hong from Pixabay
Image by Tasy Hong from Pixabay