I wasn’t always fat. As a child I was a skinny little thing. As a teenager, I was a little less skinny but still happy to hoik up my school skirt to well above the regulation length of one inch below the knee once out of the school gate and to tie my cheesecloth shirts under my size 30A boobs to show off my flat midriff. I was more hung up about what I thought was a big nose that was too close to my mouth than what shape my body was. In my twenties I started counting calories despite being a size 8. And so the quest to lose weight began. A quest that has succeeded occasionally, but has mostly not.
I grew up in a happy home, but money was often tight. There was rarely any spare for snacks or treats. I got half a shilling (about two and a half pence in todays money) pocket money every Friday, which was spent on penny sweets at the local newsagent, and I got a packet of crisps on Bonfire Night. Getting a selection box at Christmas was the only time that I binged on chocolate. As was common in the seventies, we ate a lot of processed food and a shed load of sugar. On Wednesdays when the housekeeping money ran out we had sugar sandwiches for tea. There was no oil of any kind in the kitchen cupboard, just lard. If something was fried, then it was fried in an inch of lard. We also ate dripping on toast. I gave it to my boys once who refused to eat it, but as a kid I loved slices of toasted Mothers Pride smothered in salty, meaty fat and still do today, although it really is a rare treat as I hardly ever roast a joint of beef or pork these days. I may have had a diet of processed, sugary and fatty food but I didn’t have big meals and I played outside a lot. I also walked everywhere. Not much food and lots and lots of exercise. No wonder I was skinny!
My mum was, and still is very weight conscious. At 85 she still worries about gaining weight and often tells me that she needs to cut down, despite the fact that I know she eats very small portions at meal times. I’m forever telling her to just enjoy eating whatever she wants and if she wants to eat five custard creams then go for it. She came from a family of overweight people. I never knew my grandad on my mum’s side as my nan divorced him when I was tiny, but he ran a greasy spoon in Bristol and was a big man with an equally big belly. My nan was short and very round. I remember thinking that she was the fattest person that I’d ever seen. Today, I am probably the the same size today that my nan was then. Does that mean that my grandchildren will think I’m the fattest person person they’d ever seen too? Will they remember me in the same way that I remember my nan? Because of her own weight issues and worries about me following the family trend, the topic of ‘slimming’ has often come up in Mum’s conversation with me throughout my adult life. I know she means well, but she still calls me a ‘good girl’ if I lose weight. Does that mean that I’m a ‘bad girl’ if I don’t?
It wasn’t until I had my boys that the pounds really started piling on. I can’t remember eating more than before I was a mum, but I stopped working as a nurse, a job that had me on my feet all day rushing from one patient to the next and trips to the theatres and pharmacy meant walking up and down three flights of stairs because it was quicker than waiting for lifts. Life was busy as a mum, but any walking I did was at a child’s pace and keeping active was way down on my list of priorities. Maybe I ate more biscuits or nibbled the boy’s left overs, who knows. What I don’t understand is that in my twenties I ate lots. Restaurant meals, late night kebabs after visits to the pub, sharing size bags of crisps eaten whilst travelling on the underground and hosting three course dinner parties with nibbles beforehand and chocolates with coffee and Tia Maria afterwards. Heaven’s knows how I still managed to get into an itsy bitsy bikini ! My biggest complaint was that my knees were fat! It was as though once I had babies my body decided that it was payback time and I only had to bite into a half eaten turkey dinosaur and ka-ching, on went another pound.
When we moved to Swindon in 2003 my marriage was on shaky ground. My ex was very figure conscious and had no time for overweight people. He was never nasty about my weight, but it was often brought up in conversation and I felt rejected. I started going to Slimming World and as I’m a sucker for rewards I lost well over two stones and felt amazing. Did my relationship with my husband change? No, not one bit. In fact, he left me not long after.
Fast forward a few years. I’d met Mr R, fallen in love, got married and got fat again. Off I trotted back to Slimming World and hated it! The queuing up to be weighed. Being interrogated in front of everyone else if I’d as much as put on half a pound. Being asked if I’d had a good or bad week. What is it with all this good/bad thing! I felt like I was just a number and hated all the pushing to buy and eat bars full of chemicals and Muller Lights by the shed load. The ‘diet’ was boring and uninspiring. I love to cook and didn’t want to eat Quorn sausages and I couldn’t be arsed with counting Syns. I only stopped going because I got pneumonia, nearly died and ended up in hospital for a month. I lost weight then, but then who wouldn’t on a diet of hospital meals!
Christmas 2020 was when I was at my lowest ebb after having a crap six months. My relationship with Mr R was not good (I won’t bore you with the details) and I just felt like a blob and worried about my health. Through Instagram, I discovered Nuush ran by Sally who is a nutrition advisor and personal trainer who has a passion for helping people feel their best by eating a healthy Mediterranean diet, taking exercise outside in the fresh air, getting enough sleep and encouraging them to be kind to themselves. Her clients mean a lot to her and she really cares how we are doing. It’s not a weight loss plan as such, but eat healthily and keep moving and the weight will come off slowly but surely. You are part of an amazing online community and the support and encouragement is always there. The food I eat is delicious and nothing is banned. I eat pasta, but I eat whole-wheat and not piles of it. I eat chips, but they are homemade. I eat bread but it’s sourdough and not sliced white. I rarely eat meat (but I could if I wanted too) and eat predominately plant based meals and fish. It’s a way of life and I love being part of the Nuush family. I’m not saying that I’ve always kept to it rigidly and did have a few months when I went backwards and ate badly but it’s always great to get back on board and I feel fabulous when I do.
I’m still fat. Maybe I always will be. Why am I fat? I tend to eat if I’m bored, My portions have been too big and maybe genetics have something to do with it, although I’m probably kidding myself on that count. Yes, of course I want to look slimmer. I want to walk without puffing and panting and I would love to feel good in nice clothes but there’s no quick fix solution and at present I feel healthy and in control. Am I happy how I look? No. Am I happy with being me? Yes, I believe that I am!