Tuesday 6 August 2019

What advice would I give a friend who wants to lose weight?

This is going to be a bit of an unusual post for me. Normally I launch straight into my opinions about parenting or some outrage about human rights. Today I’m going down a more personal route.

I am going to write to about health. What advice would I give a friend who was looking to get healthier? I am being careful with my words here for a number of reasons. Obviously I am talking about losing weight. My real life friends know weight is something I struggle with constantly. I have done since I was in my late teens. I’m actually even cautious to use the words “struggle” when it comes to weight because I don’t want to convey a message of negativity to those who are large and happy.

I’m a massive champion of body positivity. There are lots of reasons people are overweight / obese and none of them are laziness or greed, the common misconceptions. So I applaud anyone who out and out rejects societal pressure to adhere to a specific “acceptable” BMI and embraces their size/shape with confidence and enthusiasm.

I have written before about how you shouldn’t worry how wobbly you are naked, just embrace it. I have no shame about showing my chunky body on the beach.

However. I am not happy at my current size. I feel unhealthy. I feel unfit. I am scared of sitting on certain chairs or seats in case they’re not built for my weight. I actually worry when I get in my bath, whether the pressure of my weight and the water might be too much for the floor boards. I worry that the reason my new bed has started creaking is because I am putting so much weight on it every night.

I am struggling to do things which should be basic. When I stand up, my ankles can seize up a bit from the shock of the weight. When I go to the loo and twist back to get bog roll…my back hurts! Bending over to paint my toes is really hard now. This is humiliating to admit. For all the body positivity in the world, sometimes the reality of being a larger lady isn’t that fun.

I put my anti-depressants up last year after a bout of anxiety. I’ve put on 2 stone. And I was already obese before that. SSRI’s are linked with weight gain although there seems to be disputes as to the reasoning behind this. But whatever the reason, my focus now is, that I want to be healthier. A healthier weight that I am more comfortable with. Not a “skinny” weight so I can look the way magazines tell me I should. But a weight where more of my clothes fit, I feel less self-conscious walking up a hill or eating in public, or finally so I am not so ashamed when people ask me about my gastric band (because they don’t understand how it didn’t work).

I am seeing a counsellor to help me understand the reasons why I over eat. Often it can be really hard to be kind to yourself. But he pointed out that I should think about the advice I would give to a friend who is struggling with their weight. It’s much easier to be kind to others.

So here is the advice I would give. Treat yourself better. Understand what this means. “Treating” yourself doesn’t mean eating a cake or having a glass of wine. Treating yourself means taking care of your body and your mind. What would your BODY like you do for it? It would probably quite like a bit of fruit, maybe a salad. Maybe a run or a swim? Then a good night’s sleep. That’s what your BODY wants.

Your body’s probably a bit sick of that 30th bag of crisps this week that you’re emptying down your throat. Your body probably doesn’t want a glass of wine because it’s tired and dehydrated. It probably doesn’t want that coffee either.

Make better choices. Have a camomile tea with some honey!

And why? Why make these healthier choices? You may feel like you “deserve” to have a squidgy cake and a creamy latte, but what does your kid deserve? Does he deserve a mum who eats healthy? Does he deserve a mum who nourishes her body? And your body! Your body doesn’t deserve cake sugar and full fat dairy products!

My counsellor asked me what fuels my desire to adjust my relationship with food. He deduced it wasn’t a lack of confidence in how I looked (I was right…embrace the naked!) but my need to give my kids a healthy parent. One who they can look to as a role model.

To lose weight you need to change your habits and your lifestyle. You want a healthy body so you can live a longer more energetic life. If your core value is to be a good mother, then one of your main priorities should be to make healthier choices. Then you can be that healthier, more energetic parent.

Also I am very good at black and white thinking. I think in extremes. I sometimes feel like this is the only way I can deal with things…. Either go all in or don’t bother.

This is also my attitude to weight loss. I’ll be insanely disciplined for days, sometimes weeks. Then I’ll allow despair to kick in and I’ll completely sabotage my own efforts. What this translates to is, I’ll have lost a good chunk of pounds, suddenly have a “fuck it, why bother” moment and scoff a load of rubbish and *50 bottles of wine. Sabotaging any progress and destroying my positivity.

The normal reaction to “falling off the wagon” would be to get back on. But I won’t. I will go to town and gorge on everything I’ve deprived myself off (for all of 4 days).

This needs to stop. I need to find a way to let myself make mistakes, to acknowledge the fallibility and move on. Move on into the GREY area, rather than the black and white extremes. Try the middle ground.

To be honest, I am daunted. I have doubts. I don’t feel confident in my ability to change. But I am going to try.

If you like, I’ll keep you updated. Because if I can do it, then anyone can. Let’s kick some unhealthy habits into touch!

*exaggeration. Probs only 20.

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