I have a confession to make…
A week or so ago, I wrote a blog post saying that a dress I own, that fit me perfectly six months ago, was now straining at the seams. I wrote that I had decided not to let it bother me. I wrote that I would put it to the back of my wardrobe and carry on scoffing.
I quoted Kate Moss as being a liar, liar, pants on fire when she said that ‘Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.’
I still believe this quote is an absolute crock, by the way. I cite the existence of the Vanilla Slice as a prime example of this, and could keep citing for several years if called upon to list all the things that taste better than thin feels.
That weekend I came to the realisation that it really did bother me that my dress no longer fit me comfortably, and if I was being brutally honest with myself, it isn’t the first dress that hasn’t fit me recently, and actually I was pretty unhappy about those too.
I thought about this situation all weekend. I don’t find thinking about my shape/size terribly comfortable territory if I’m being frank. The whole subject is fraught with emotional pit falls, particularly, I would say, if you are a woman. I wrestled and anguished and fretted and came up with a list of things I know to be true for me:
I do not want to go on a diet.
I do not want to stop eating the things I like to eat.
I do not want to slow my metabolism down any more than it already is slowing naturally. I am 43, everything is slowing down, I don’t need any help with that.
I do not want to pass on to my children any food/shape/size related weirdness that I may have, regardless of what I do or don’t do.
On the other hand, I am not comfortable in my own skin. I know this because I have been avoiding looking at my naked self in the mirror for quite some time.
I realise, that for those people who know me in real life, this might seem weird. I am not overweight, and by most people’s standards I am considered slim. I realise that many people would give their eye teeth to be the size I am.
I have to go, however, on how I feel in my own body, not how other people perceive me, or what other people think I should be, want me to be. Weight and shape are such personal things I really don’t think it helps to compare ourselves to other people at all. If you are comfortable and happy with who you are, brilliant. If you’re a happy size 22, good on you. If you’re a happy size 8, brilliant. It’s what works for you that matters. Happiness trumps dress size any day of the week. FACT.
However, I do not want to go up a clothing size ( I am using clothing size as a reference here, because I don’t weigh myself, I simply go on what fits me). I am a small framed person. The size I am suits my frame, and suits me, and means I do not have to think about any size related health complications, which given the other health complications I have to think about (re: lady issues and migraine) would probably send me properly to the basket weaving department.
I do not particularly want to go down a clothing size either. I love my clothes. Everything I own brings me joy. I want to add to my wardrobe, not start again.
I do not usually weigh myself. I find it counter productive as a rule. As long as my clothes fit and I’m happy, I don’t really care what my BMI is or what numbers are on a scale. To make sure I wasn’t being ludicrous about this situation (or shrinking my clothes in the wash) however, I weighed myself. I am aware that sometimes my emotional imbalances impact massively on the way I see my body, and I didn’t want to be suckered in by my own lunacy. I weighed just over a stone more than I did when Jason and I got married ten years ago.
I worried myself into a cocked hat about all these things. I decided that I was basically wanting my cake and eat it too, and that was pretty impossible and would only lead to more head mashing on my part. I came to the conclusion that a few weeks of eating gruel would have to suffice and I would just have to be miserable and bite the bullet.
This did not please me. There is plenty enough misery in the world without me adding more, gruel based misery to the mix. Also, I knew full well that this kind of solution would only last a few months at best and then I’d probably be back to square one.
At this point I was driving myself bonkers, and I decided I needed to just lay the whole sorry mess out in front of someone else, and they’d either tell me to pull myself together and stop whining, or make me a cup of tea and pat me on the back and hand me a cabbage.
My friend, as it transpires, was much more helpful than this. She suggested I tried the 5:2 fasting regime.
I know several people who do this, to excellent results, but as a woman with a reasonably quick metabolism, no patience and a roving eye for a biscuit I had dismissed it out of hand as something I simply could not do and which would probably make me feel ill and want to kill people all at the same time.
She persevered and talked me into giving it a go, on the basis that if I didn’t like it after the first day I could jack it in and nobody would be any the wiser. This seemed fair. I promised not to kill anyone on day one of the experiment as my part of the bargain.
Of my own volition I also decided that I needed to do some kind of exercise as well, mainly because I have been suffering quite badly since Christmas with joint pain in my neck, shoulders and hips, and although regular massages help, they don’t remove all the pain,and they’re ruddy expensive. I hate gyms and having to put on specialist clothing to go and flog about, so I decided to start taking a walk every day and see how I felt about it all at the end of a week.
I’m not going to go into the ins and outs of the fasting regime. There’s plenty of material available if you’re interested. I will say though that there are two key things with regard to it. Firstly that you do not fast on successive days, you always have a break between fast days, and secondly you do not fast entirely. You can, depending on how you feel about it, range between 500 and 700 calories per fast day. The rest of the days you eat normally.
I decided to do 4:3 instead of 5:2, on the basis that if it works, I want a step or two to go down when I reach maintaining levels.
Here’s what I found:
As long as I drink plenty of water I am not hungry on fast days, so far.
I am better if I don’t have breakfast and save my food allocation for my evening meal. It seems to suit me, means I don’t get cranky in the evenings, and means I can sit down when the whole family are home, so we eat together. For lunch I always have bouillon, or miso paste and hot water. Tastes like chicken soup for the soul, fills me up, and sees me through to dinner time without any hunger pangs whatsoever.
I am not missing any of my favourite foods because I can simply promise myself that I will have them the following day. This is brilliant, absolutely brilliant. I have for example, had three breakfasts on my birthday, as well as lunch and dinner, and it was awesome.
I have dug my Hairy Dieter’s cookery books out (I use them regularly because they’re so good, not because I was on a diet when I bought them, btw), and they are invaluable. Each recipe has portion and calorie allocation in it, and there hasn’t been a single thing I’ve cooked so far that has not allowed me to have a good portion of whatever it is for my dinner on a fasting day.
The Hairy Dieter’s recipes are fantastic and extensive, and we all like them, so the kids have bigger portions and things like rice/pasta/potatoes with theirs and we just have the main dish. I love that I can still cook one main meal at dinner time instead of doing separate things for me. I love that we sit together and eat. I love that the children aren’t thinking that I am dieting.
I am enjoying going for a walk every day. I bought myself a pedometer this weekend, because I like to know how far I’ve wandered. I’m averaging about 13,000 steps a day (including all the day to day moving around). I realise that I used to walk all the time, and then when I learned to drive I have walked less and less. I am startled to find that I have missed walking. It makes me feel good.
I feel great. I mean really, truly great. I cannot quite explain to you how amazing this is. I genuinely, hand on heart, do not remember the last time I felt this good. I have bags and bags of energy. I have so much energy I really find it quite alarming.
I wake up in the morning and feel rested. I wake up in the morning and feel awake. This is unheard of.
I feel like fucking Tigger. That’s how great I feel.
I swear to you, if I didn’t lose a single pound, and my clothes still squeaked at the seams I would not give this up for all the tea in China. That’s how good I feel. As it is, for the purposes of science and nosiness I weighed myself yesterday and I have lost 9lb in one week. 9lb!
This is, of course, not going to last. I was more than happy to shed a pound or two a week and take things slow and steady, but I have to confess to being slightly over the moon, and it has given me the incentive, on top of the incentive of feeling bloody fantastic, to carry on.
So. I am reneging on that last blog post. I am happy to hold my hand up and say I was wrong. I am delighted I was brave enough to navel gaze my way to this solution for a few days. I am delighted to have found something that seems, for the moment, to be really working for me, and I am not in the slightest bit sorry for being big enough to change my mind and try something new that I was convinced would not work at all.
I realise this might not last, and might just be the results of an initial ‘pink cloud’ euphoria. I might be misery personified next week, and if I am, I shall stop. I dithered about posting this, given that it is, in karmic terms, setting me up for a gigantic fall, but what the hell. If you can’t celebrate when your tail has so much bounce in it you don’t know what to do with yourself, when can you?