I have no real sense of intuitive eating (the way that people who have been slim all their lives manage to control their food intake - without even trying, f*****g smug b*****ds!) and I blame my mum and my family for that. Yeah, yeah, I know what youíre thinkingÖyou reckon Iím just doing that messed up and weak thing where I try and pin all my pathetic choices and ultimate downfall on others, right? Well Iím not. Trust me, Iím the most seriously self-critical person youíll ever meet and Iím the first person to admit when their crappy lot is their own fault. I know I make the choice to cram cakes and biscuits and bread and pizzas and sugary drinks into my mouth. No one else does. You really donít need to point that out to me. What Iím talking about though, is the fundamental lessons about food and eating that were learned, way back before I could even speak.
I come from a family of big hearty appetites. And that was never a bad thing when it meant that those who were working long hard hours and doing physical jobs, were able to fuel all their efforts and stay replenished, sated and nutritionally stoked. They needed all those calories and were able to burn them off. But as a small child with a fairly average lifestyle, I didnít need to be eating huge portions that wouldnít look out of place on the plate of a bodybuilder or something.
All the women used to cook in my family. Proper, wholesome, home-cooked fare, made from scratch with love and attention to detail. The food in itself was not a problem. It was the amount of it which did so much damage. Even as a child I would be presented with huge man-sized portions every time I sat down to a meal. Not normal, smaller child sized portions, but huge great dinner plates, piled high to almost comedic Desperate Dan style proportions. And to be told every time I sat down to such an epic meal, that I couldnít leave the table or get my dessert until I had cleared my plateÖ.wellÖthat pretty much obliterated any inherent intuitive kind of eating habits my body may once have been in possession of. I didnít just eat when I was hungry or stop when I was full, I sat down to eat when I was told to and didnít stop until there was nothing left on the plate. I was commended and applauded for doing so; made to feel that I had made my parents/grandparents/aunts happy by consuming everything they had laid before me. Which of course just made me want to devour everything, just so I could please them and gain their approval. Sad huh?
So yeah, a compulsive need to eat everything put in front of me, from the time I was first weaned onto solids, pretty much laid the foundations for a lifetime of gluttonous eating.
I know that every time I had to make a choice regarding food, it was never an intelligent one. I wanted the largest portion I could obtain. I wanted to eat more than everyone else. Even when I was full I still pushed on, determined to finish every last morsel of food in front of me. A normal person would naturally limit themselves to one or two slices of Victoria SpongeÖI wanted the whole cake. Normal people might eat a bag of chips and some fish. I wanted large chips, large fish, gravy, cheese, peas, a cheese fritter and a bap. Washed down with a bottle of coke and followed up by sweets and chocolate. I didnít stop to think about limits or what were reasonable amounts to consume. I didnít listen to my body and only eat what I really needed. I pushed it time and time again, way past the point of satiety, past the point of fullness, up to the point of nausea. But I had to finish everything. Couldnít waste a crumb. All those years of being told how when there wasnít a lot of money to spare and that wasting food was expensive and offensive to my family, stuck with me subconsciously for all those years.
Itís still deeply ingrained in me now. I still feel guilty if I leave any food on my plate. Be it a beautiful meal that my boyfriend has lovingly prepared for me, a takeaway he went out of his way to go and get for me, dinner at our favourite restaurant or even some cheap and cheerful processed ready-meal that Iíve thrown together at the last minuteÖit doesnít matter. Iím still driven to finish all thatís on my plate. Now itís worse too because the guy Iím with is a huge, great big strapping 6 ft 1 guy with a super-fast metabolism (a totally perfect body!) and a massive appetite. He eats monstrous portions of food and never gains any fat. He just converts it straight to energy expended at work, or muscle. Am so jealous. But when he or I make dinner, we serve up equal portions for both of us. Now, even if I was doing a physical job or had the kind of physique he does, I still would never need the amount of food he does. There is just no excuse for it. Iím a short, fat, sedentary lump who doesnít require anywhere near as much food to keep her body ticking over. I probably only need half of the calories he does to get through the day. And yet I feel compelled to have the same amount of food as him on my plate, whilst being utterly determined to finish it all.
And for what? Why do I do it? I just end up feeling so full my body hurts and Iím too tired and wiped out from all the sugar rushes, to do anything. I have no concentration, no energy, no enthusiasm; just a fat, bloated stomach and a lethargic, nauseous discomfort. What is the f*****g point in all that? I know itís wrong. I know itís wrong before I do it, I know itís stupid whilst Iím doing it and I know once Iíve finished that I didnít end up enjoying it, I just became completely focused on consuming all of it; I lost sight of what was supposed to be going on. Food is our fuel, itís supposed to sustain and nurture us. Every meal is another opportunity to do whatís best for these sophisticated machines; a chance to enhance, to soothe, to boost, to heal, to fuel to care. And yet I do none of these things. I eat my veg because I like the taste of them and they make a good accompaniment to my meals. But I never sit down and think about what I should be eating in order to get the best IN to my body and OUT of it too. And thatís so wrong. But I truly believe that whilst Iím always acutely aware that every bad thing I put into my body today is my choice, it all stems from a screwed up behavioural pattern of eating that was programmed into me by my family when I was still to young to know any different. And Iíll always somewhat resent them for that.
That said, I know I probably failed to address the weight problem at an earlier date, for a few (probably daft) reasons. To begin with, I'm a real tough cookie. Renowned for my quick wit, excellent sense of humour, take-no-prisoners honesty and what everyone perceives to be a wealth of confidence and assertiveness. No one messes with me.
No one would ever think that beneath the perfectly made up facade I have carefully constructed and worked hard at maintaining all these years, beats the heart of a deeply distressed, sad, hurting little girl who has had every single insult, criticism and nastiness going, levelled at her over the years.
I don't let anyone see beneath the surface and see the real damaged me, because I don't believe in giving any of them the ammunition they could turn and use against me. Better that I keep it to myself, keep them at arms length and keep them from ever being in a position to get one over on me.
So one of my reasons for refusing to lose weight I think, is because I don't want anyone to know that I care about my size. If they see me trying to lose weight, then they know that I don't like being big and am trying to change. I don't want them to know how I feel about it, so I don't want to show them I want to shed the pounds.
Secondly, I'm a bit of a stubborn little missy. I don't want to do something that other people think I should do, just to become acceptable in their eyes. I feel vehemently opposed to bowing to peer pressure and absolutely refuse to capitulate from my current perceived outlook/standards and look the way they think I should. I know, I know...it's stupid to allow my health, happiness and wellbeing to be jeopardised just so I can say that 'I did it my way' but hey, if none of us had any crazy wee issues with weight, size, life and the opinions of others, this forum would only be a fraction of the size it currently is, would it?
The other reason I think I have avoided meeting the issue head on is fear. Like a lot of others in here, I have allowed myself to become somewhat defined by my corpulent carcass. I have always been the fat one. The fat friend. The big, bad she-wolf who means business. I'm a bit scared of who I will become when I finally get it together and exit my fat suit. I don't know what I'll look like. I won't look like me anymore.
I won't dress the same, I won't hold myself the same. I won't sit in my seat or lie in my bed or snuggle into my boyfriend the same way. People will look at me differently and will know I wasn't happy before; they'll know my demons. I won't be seen as this invincible, indestructable crazy, boisterous monster anymore. I'll be smaller, more vulnerable, less imposing, less....um....just LESS!
But less is more, right? And fat is just so last year, isn't it? So here's to biting the bullet, taking the risk, making the changes and dealing with the consequences. I know it's not going to be easy, but to quote a tagline, that rang so true with me when I read it (I can't remember who's it is, it's not mine, but I love it and give props to the author!) "Being fat is hard. Dieting is hard. Choose your hard." (Apologies if I have mistakenly quoted/paraphrased it there). I've done the hard being fat bit; I know what hard is. Now I'm ready to try the other hard.
Thanks for listening to a ridiculously large post guys.