A long, self indulgent and revelatory post

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.

But…

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?

11 responses to “A long, self indulgent and revelatory post

  1. WOWSERS – well done that girl.
    I started the 5:2 in April 2013. Aside from holidays I have stuck to this for two years and lost/kept off nearly two stone. I have re-taken up running and love it. I feel good. I don’t feel as if I am on a diet, it’s how I eat now and it works for me. I also keep this up as the science of fasting indicates such startling long term health benefits that I genuinely believe I will be healthier for longer.
    I perfectly get what you say about dieting/body image etc. I said these things too, but everyone has their tipping point. Mine came on a short break when I had to undo my jeans in a restaurant to eat fish and chips and I FELT fat. I said out loud – ‘that’s ENOUGH’, and it was.
    Do blog occasionally about it – be interested to see if you slip into it long term.
    I paid a nice lady a fair whack of money to tell me what colours suit me as I was doing a crap job of working it out for myself, bought a whole new wardrobe of clothes including jeggings which I found now looked nice on me, and had the first summer of wearing shorts in years and feeling good about myself. The 5:2 was a real game-changer for me.
    Sermon. Done.

    • That’s fantastic. I really am pleased when people tell me that they are maintaining it as a way of life. I want to do that. I have started reading up on the health benefits and it all seems good. Good for you. I will definitely keep people posted.

  2. Fantastic! I did the 5:2 and lost about a stone, but then came off the diet, put it all back on (& more) but then ‘luckily’ got this gastritis thing which meant I lost the stone again! Winning! (I don’t recommend it). However, I also walk every day. I do 30 mins and generally cover 1.5 miles. I walk out for 15 mins, then turn round and come back. I use the Runkeeper app on my phone (it’s free) to store all the information I need, plus give me a map of where I’ve been, how fast I went, and how many calories I used up. I also listen to podcasts as I go – Radio 4 comedy ones are very good because they always last 28 minutes so fit neatly into my schedule, but there are so many different podcasts out there. Or audiobooks (you’d like them!). It’s all gravy!

    • I know I’m a complete luddite, but can I use my iPhone as a radio? I would like to listen to Radio Four on my solo walks. Don’t need it when the kids come with me because they’re incessant, but it would be great for other times.

      I’m thinking the five two will become a permanent thing for me. It will if the last week’s results are anything to go by, in terms of how much energy I have. It is truly amazing.
      x

  3. I’m another 5:2-er. I haven’t lost a vast amount while doing it, as on my “non fast” days I eat too much chocolate, too many crisps and drink too much wine. Also, I suspect I’m eating more than 500 calories on my fast days. However it works as a way of keeping myself reasonably healthy. I don’t do much exercise though – “I don’t have time” is my feeble not-true excuse! I think I should get out there and do something, so (having checked our bank account) I think I wil buy some good trainers and a pedometer tomorrow and start doing some walking too. It will probably help my creaky arthritic knees and bad back too.

  4. I forgot to say – another 5:2-er told me to remember that hunger comes in waves. If you can ride it out it does go away. I need to remember that on non fasting days too!!

    • Thanks, that’s interesting. It’s been tough this week but have managed to stay strong on the down days. Appears I may not be eating enough on the up days though so off to feast today.

  5. I think the most amazing thing, apart from the energy I have, is that I have genuinely, hand on heart, not felt hungry at all. I am however, drinking lots and lots of water. I need to pee about every twenty minutes which is a bit of a downer, but it is helping my step counting!

  6. I could have written that first bit about not fitting into things, not being bothered about any of that silly image stuff, but not feeling comfortable in my own skin about 7 years ago. Now my profile picture features me in lycra, holding a medal after having run five miles for it!
    I love that you’ve found something that works for you and it’s sustainable and enjoyable and fits round your life, but most of all makes you feel good. And means you can eat cake. This is a very very good thing.
    Keep walking and blogging.

    • Tough week this week, but I think I’ve got it cracked now. Energy levels were beginning to dip and the whole thing got a bit miserable. Hopefully all will be remedied now. x

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