At the start of the summer, I stepped on the scales and was disgusted.
I won’t reveal the exact figure here but, suffice to say, it was significantly more than I expected. To anyone reading this who knows me, I acknowledge now I am not fat, however, after a few months of promising myself to be more healthy, failing most of the time, yet all too smugly (aided by some strategically timed weigh days) seeing little impact on those all important figures and still squeezing in to the same size clothes, it came as a massive wake up call.
The second I stepped off the scales , my mood changed. I knew that I hadn’t been eating healthily for quite a a while and, even after a week of being ‘better’ (whatever that means!), had eaten out and drunk far too much on that Saturday night, but the shock was still huge. It was as if every calorie in every crisp or cookie I had consumed over the last few months had conspired against me saying, “Hold on lads, let her believe all is ok for a little longer,” then piling on their pounds (more than just plural, SEVEN times more!) over one weekend.
I was disgusted and my face betrayed me to my boyfriend. Instantly, he asked what the matter was and, in that same instant, I began to cry. Yet when he heard my sorry confession his sympathy seemed to disappear. “Well, if you want to loose it you know what to do.” And he’s right, I have lost weight before and know exactly what works and have known all along.
However, in exactly a weeks time I would be boarding a plane to spend three weeks in swimwear in Spain and common sense waved farewell as all I could face was this fact. I resolved then and there to shake those pounds in whatever way worked. Stupid I know.
Monday was easy. Those vile figures still flashing before my eyes, I breezed through the morning without a morsel passing my lips. Even the left overs from my daughters breakfast bypassed my mouth and headed straight to the bin. What a martyr. At lunch time my mother attempted to tempt me by presenting me with my favourites; cheese and ham sandwiches (from M&S of all places!) and a whole bag of cookies. But I wasn’t to be fooled. I had a plan. My will power was super strong.
Fuelled by the success of my ‘fasting’ (five hours without food was possibly a new record for me), I consulted my faithful friend typing how to lose seven pounds in seven days in to good old Google. The range and combination of foods suggested by so-called success stories astounded me. Some of these fads I was familiar with whilst others seemed simply strange but the common factor claimed by them all was that this aim was more than just achievable, it was easy. Experience tells me that losing weight requires words I don’t associate with something being easy. Words like will power, determination, focus and restraint.
Additionally, aside from this common factor, the information all seemed so contradictory and therefore very confusing. It seemed to go against everything I had ever learnt about a healthy lifestyle; everything in moderation. These recommendations seemed excessive and extreme in every way. And whilst one recommended limiting your calorie intake every day or consuming only one particular food, others claimed this was a sure fire way to ensure you stored and created fat or that said food was sent from the devil himself. What should we believe? I stuck with what I knew; limited calorie, low fat salad and a run before bed.
Tuesday was tricky. Still focused, still determined, I woke early and headed out for another run. I was tired and hungry but plugged in my headphones and upped my pace. It felt good. When I returned home, on a high from fresh air and exercise and with a whole host of fresh positive thoughts, I skipped breakfast and instead refuelled with a glass of sparking water. Something about the bubbles fools me into feeling full. But by lunch time I was ravenous. A slice of ham, some cucumber and two (dry) ryvita. Yum. Still starving (yes, I am aware of the true meaning of this word and acknowledge that, although very hungry, it doesn’t apply to me), I simply upped my intake of diet coke.
By three I clock I had consumed three bottles and the buzz from the caffeine sparked a memory of a trick tried and tested by a friend who had been highly successful in losing weight; herbal weight loss pills. Immediately, I headed to Holland and Barrett to scour their shelves. However, as you can see, I had conducted very little research in to why these might help or the methods they were claiming would work and, faced with row after row of so-called wonder drugs, felt completely bewildered and simply opted for the cheapest. I have no idea if a pricier option would have been more effective but I doubt it. I stuck with the stated dose but within the hour I was flying. I went to text my friend for reassurance that all was well and I wasn’t having some awful adverse reaction but the screen kept shifting before my eyes. I couldn’t keep still. I found the bottle and, through shaky vision, made out the advice that the pills should not be consumed alongside additional caffeine. This wasn’t the product for me.
Wednesday was worse. I had work. For me, that alone is reason enough to comfort eat. I started off strong but then realised I was in fact due to stay late that day. I hadn’t planned for this. When would I run? What could I eat that would be below my calorie limit? I fought my fears all day and again ate nothing until, at 5pm, I found a lonely low calorie sandwich awaiting me on a supermarket shelf. I ate the whole thing in less than a minute and believe me when I say that bread has never tasted better!
However, by this point I already felt failure was inevitable. Despite my usual rule of weighing myself no more than once a week, I had been partaking in a daily weigh and seen little difference in those figures. And that sandwich was just so good…
Thursday was full of cravings. From the moment that I woke until the second I stuffed that cookie in to my mouth it was all I could think about.
And by Friday night I was eating a proper (albeit rather heathy) dinner and enjoying my usual end-of-the-week glass of white.
Fad diets aren’t for me.
Spain came and went. I took extra care to avoid any mirrors whilst wearing my bikini. I continued to run a lot, then a little, then forgot about it at all. A little yoga. Much too much wine. Then home again and on those scales. The same again. I told myself I’d start again once the summer was through…
And here I am, the second week back in to the new school term. The mornings are dark, the leaves are golden on the ground and it is time to dig out that winter wardrobe and hope it still fits.
I know that if I want to lose the weight I have to make the change. I know that it’s not what I do for seven single days that counts. I know that when I start, I should stick to it. I know that it’s not easy. I know that it’s not fun.
Because the wonder behind weight loss simply is no secret. But often the truth is the hardest thing to swallow.