I am happy. I don't normally think of myself as a happy person but, really, the last few weeks I have been happy about losing weight and, on my weekly weigh-in days, euphoric.
I don't have a particular diet. All I am doing is keeping within 1,200 calories a day - as advised by my GP - to lose weight.
To do that, I have to know how many calories I have consumed during the day. I slipped into a documenting process unintentionally soon after starting my food diary.
If anyone had told me a few months ago that I'd be counting calories, I'd have laughed at them; I resisted it for years. But it works for me.
What I thought about dieting
Up until I started my food diary, I assumed that I would be miserable on a diet. I even saw psychiatrists and psychologists about it, asking them to help me be happy on a diet or be happy as I was, fat.
I believed that, in order to lose weight, I'd have to be hungry a lot, go without any nice food and be constantly miserable and food-obsessed. The short-term pleasure of eating won out over the long-term imagined pain of dieting, even if it meant putting up with the self-loathing.
A few years ago I had an epiphany and realised I couldn't eat what I wanted when I wanted; my appetite can't be trusted, either because my brain's wired wrong or from bad habits. I now don't have certain things around if they are likely to tempt me - for example, proper butter or crisps (which I now consider a rare treat).
Shame and self-loathing
For me, ever since I started putting on weight, I felt 'outside', not really part of things. I avoid meeting up with old friends because I am embarrassed about how big I got; I feel that I should apologise or warn them in advance - how mad is that!
I resigned myself to the fact that I would never wear nice clothes again. I would love to go swimming or skiing but won't. Summer is always difficult because I cover up rather than strip down. I sweat at the least bit of exertion; I used to be a competition-level table tennis player and only stopped playing because I was embarrassed at how much I sweated. And, finally, I felt that I was gonna to die early from a stroke or a heart attack.
And I'm not alone
I've been following some of the other food diary bloggers and can totally relate to what they say about how they feel about themselves. Alice wrote:
I deserve to feel like I am worth something. I deserve to gain my confidence back. I deserve to stop feeling so damn insecure and awful about myself. I hate that I have shut myself from the world. I hate hiding from life.
What floors me is the occasional jolt I'll get when I suddenly realize, I'll never be like other women. There are triggers for these breakdowns. Last night was the Oscars and as I watched all those beautiful actresses parade down the red carpet in there high stilleto heels, I suddenly felt very very sad.. sad because I can NEVER wear heels, sad because [...] I feel like I'm missing out on the best years of my life.
This is from a heart-wrenching letter Amanda wrote to herself:
Why do you feel like you are not worth taking care of? Why do you treat your body well one week and then sabotage it all the next? Why do you think you feel so depressed? Have a good look at yourself. You hate yourself at the moment. You feel horrible. You look terrible. You feel like you are drowning in in your own fat. You feel unattractive because all you see when you look in the mirror is a chubby face looking back at you. [...] [Y]ou are wallowing in self pity, you spend endless hours of thinking about how you want to lose weight but you don't do anything about it. [..] Stop living in the past and thinking about where you went wrong, live for today, move on and make it right. [...] Candy does not make you happy, you eat it and you regret it and then you feel like shit and you tell yourself to just eat more. JUST STOP IT!!! Don't buy the crap in the first place. Don't binge on stuff just because it is there and just because you feel like you have blown everything so hey it won't hurt to make yourself even bigger than you are now.
Amanda, you know deep down that you have the potential to be so much more. You are sick of feeling this way, it is so time consuming and depressing, life is too short to be depressed about the way you look, when you have the power to change yourself. Start putting in the time and the energy to reaching your dreams and goals. Stop with all of the self pity and wishing, wishing will get you nowhere. You have to believe in yourself, you have to have faith in yourself, you have to push yourself because no one else will, you have to want to lose weight for yourself and you know you do. How many times do I have to say this to you? JUST DO IT AMANDA. You know you can.
Who's in control?
It's not nice feeling at the mercy of temptation, giving food control over my happiness. That I have to put food out of sight or out of reach gives food control.
Sure, dieting has made me think a lot more about food, but I am taking back control.
How I feel now
I feel happy that I am in control of what I am eating. I am happy that I can eat tasty food whenever I am hungry. (The only exception is at night-time. I now often go to bed hungry but I draw pride and strength from that hunger, knowing that I am achieving something.)
I feel happy that I am making progress.
The euphoria I feel when I've lost 3-4lbs in a week keeps me going for a couple of days.
I have learnt so much about food by keeping my food diary that I do not think I will put weight on anytime soon. I might maintain my weight but I'd have to make a conscious decision to over-eat to put on weight now. I feel lighter, more nimble. I don't get so puffed by walking briskly.
I cannot yet see a difference in my face or body but I do notice a difference in my clothes. Last year, when I put on a lot of weight, I had to stop wearing my normal trousers as they became too tight. I bought elasticated 'joggers' (ah, the irony) and wore them to meetings and social events. I can now wear my zipped trousers again (but still wear the joggers at home - so comfy!).
Yes, I still hate the way I look and am embarrassed about being a big blob but I now see it as a transition stage; by the end of the year, I should be near my target weight for the first time in thirty years.
I still have lots of weight to lose but my progress keeps me going.
I know about the brick wall that stops people from committing themselves to a diet. Ya think it's gonna be a hard lonely slog. And I know it's easier to stay as one is - even though one despises oneself - than make such a big change.
But I found a way that works for me - I hope that the others do too.