Battle of the bulge!

Never mind Pinch an inch, more like Grab the flab!

Most of us are faced with this battle in our lives. For some of us, including me, it's an ongoing battle. When did mine begin? Looking back I can pinpoint the exact photo. I was a size 8 at 17 and 10 to 12 till my 21st birthday. When I look back now at my 21st party pictures, I'm smiling. We had such a fab eve. Only later did I see the button on my pink satin blouse gaping open slightly. It kind of went downhill, surely but slowly from there. You don't really notice it.
When I think about why I look at my change in lifestyle. I've always loved food and had a good appetite. Trouble is, I was always more active in my teens, walking and doing aerobics. Then, suddenly, I had a car, went on the pill and started drinking cider. Not half pints either but pints! Add to that the love of red wine and cheese and no wonder the weight went on. This was around the same time as Arabella Weir wrote her brilliant bestseller, Does my bum look big in this? I was actually more worried about my front. Who sees the back of you? We also had the talented Helen Fielding writing the diary of the nation's beloved Bridget Jones who weighed herself everyday but loved wine and cigarettes too much.

I'll never forget an old teacher seeing me after about 15 years. She looked me up and down and just said,
"Bah, you've clapped weight on!"
I just stood there, torn between being polite to your elders and saying something back. I settled with,
"That's a nice way of talking to someone you haven't seen in a long time."
It just went over her head and she smiled back at me, just like she did all those years ago when she was my teacher.
Two things:
She looked me up and down from head to toe. Had I put weight on my head and feet?
The verb clapped echoed through me. I hadn't just put it on. I'd clapped it on!
I went straight home and threw my top I was wearing away!
I've had a few occasions like that. One was where we were out in town in our early 20s. My friends and I had been to the Theatre and were walking along Wellington Street, eating chips and cheese at the end of the night when I heard two guys say the first of my friends was fit, the second not so fit and me fat. I looked down at my nosh, wondering whether to bin it, then decided to eat it anyway. I was only a size 12/14 anyway. What would they call me now? Amazing how a small vowel change can ruin your night!

Another time was when we were out in the Theatre and my same friends walked by a barrel that was being used as table. I misjudged and, to my horror, the barrel began moving from side to side. This guy started pointing and shouting, "Fatty" at me. I was so
incensed. What right did he have to treat me like that?
I've been a yo yo dieter since I first joined slimming world 20 years ago to be a bridesmaid for my sister in law. Looking back, I'd love to be that size now. The weight has crept on and I've joined and rejoined Slimming World and Weight watchers so many times. They do work. My mum lost 5 stone! It's the keeping the weight off bit that's the hardest and I haven't managed that yet. Only now, as I am on a Cut out the crap diet, I hope I will. Something had to change in me. The decades of "dieting again" and being an emotional eater had to change.
I think I became a challenge for a fellow Nursery parent years ago as this parent was a Herbal Life consultant and I'm not kidding, every chance she got, she was trying to get me to sign up. I told her Slimming world was helping me. I'm sure she wondered, just what is was helping me with as I was putting on weight! We all went to Playmania once and anybody who's been there knows the pull of the cake counter when you have three or four hours of noise stretched out in front of you. No cake counter on this day. Instead, I ate a dry health food bar and grinded my teeth whilst listening to the benefits of no carbs at breakfast from the top consultant herself, whilst the other two consultants nodded and added their own words of wisdom. Luckily, they couldn't see me adding the two spoonfuls of sugar to my much needed coffee!
I still actually can't believe the next thing happened. The two parents, lovely ladies but very determined, set up a Herbal Life stall at the Summer fair. So while I walked past, smelling the Candy Floss, I was asked if I wanted to find out my body's fat content and donate to school funds. What? No to the first and yes to the second. My fat content was recorded and they took my email to get in touch. You see me every morning? I could not record mine as I had a bag of crisps in one hand and a bottle of pip in the other. My content was so high that I had to go straight to the Food Hall to eat a Cherry Bakewell and console myself!
Comfort eating is such a Catch 22. You feel better for all of a minute, then crap again so eat some more. Who are you really comforting? I love this quote. Why can't we be comforted by carrots? And I don't mean carrot cake!

It's the same with joining these slimming clubs and having a few more sins because no one will know, will they? Cheating eating is fooling nobody. The scales show that on judgement day. Plus, a photo never lies; it is everlasting proof of your weight. How many times do we fret about trying to hide double chins due to double gins? Or cleverly move the camera angle to hide those bingo wings? I bought a birthday card for a friend saying, Bingo wings sound much more funnier than they are.' This quote made me laugh out loud.

The funniest photo of my sister in law, my mum and me is of us sitting on a park bench, all using our handbags, that in our minds were mich bigger, to cover our midriffs. Some people think all this selfie taking is a bit me,me,me. For most women though, It's about knowing this angle is the most flattering than head on!

These diets do work if followed by the book. However, for all or nothing people like me, I'm not so sure of their effectiveness. Only recently with my new consultant, has something clicked and I've cut out the crap. Maybe while ever you are allowed a few Pringles or a bag of Quavers to class as your sins, the thought of crisps is always in your mind, pulling you towards the cupboard. My consultant sent me a fab, motivational video, one of the best I've watched. And I've watched many Ted Talks on Youtube. This guy basically said to do dieting 100% While you are at 90 or 95% your brain will always crave that unhealthy food. In my case, sugar and gluten. Or carbs, especially white bread and potatoes.

I've had a few diet consultants over the years and many were very understanding and non judgemental. There was one, however, who was very condescending and sarcastic. I'm sure she used to watch Little Britain's Fat fighters before she went to class. The way Matt Lucas portrays Marjorie is so funny. I love when she's finding fat free products to eat!

The logic of Marjorie is brioliant. A bit like when I'd eat two packs of lower fat crisps to even it out! I watched the US version with Rosie O'Donnell where she was overweight AND a lesbian. The sketch was hilarious.

We bigger people do hide behind humour and make sure we have a lovely smile. Hopefully people are too busy laughing along with you to laugh at you. I have loved being the big, funny friend but I'm ready now to be the Medium, funny friend. It's as though, if you point out your failings first, It's done with then and we can all move on. I love how Fat Amy from Pitch Perfect said her name was actually Patricia but she'd given herself that nickname to stop the thinner girls making stuff up about her.
Back to the Slimming consultants! I used to love the sayings they all had:
Nothing tastes as good as thin feels.
Well it's your Star week so don't you worry dear.
I'll see less of you next week!
Our fave consultant was the one who had reached target and had her Before and After photos proudly on display. Speaking of Before and After, I love the picture from Pinterest where the Before and After are the same and the I'm still fat words on the bottom. It cracks me up every time!
She'd sympathise when you were going around the group circle, justifying that half a pound gain. She'd give you a conspiratorial nod and admit to that M&S sausage roll that landed on her plate at dinner time. She had stickers too, which went down well with the teacher in me. It always made mum and I laugh when every so often we'd have a special foodie night and folk would turn up with Tupperware boxes full of vol au vents and quiche. We ate like we'd not had a meal in months! The group therapy after was helpful and always interesting! Folk would relive their week, some in far too much detail. The most helpful for me was the lady who said she was always ravenous after a migraine aura and wanted to eat everything. I could identify with that. We sometimes sat near these two ladies who would give a running commentary on every one. The best was one saying,
"Half a pound loss? I could lose that just going to the loo!"
They always reminded me of Rita and Mavis in the Kabin on Coronation Street!
I've also fallen for the Reward eating. When I came in from a long day at work, I'd feel I'd earned the fish and chips and the glass of beer. Forgetting I'd already rewarded myself with two pieces of the birthday cake in the staff room at break and dinner. It's such a false way at looking at it. I still focus on rewards but, like my consultant says, I make them non food and drink rewards. Such as a new piece of jewellery or a new size smaller dress. I've already come down a dress size and I love this quote.

There's also the Denial stage of eating too much where you don't really think you actually weigh that much. I always knew I was overweight, or morbidly obese in medical terms. Again, It's the word choice. The word morbidly. Who can say that with a smile on their face?
I always remember my mum, a lovely size 12 to 14 while I was growing up, asking me the same question as we watched our soaps:
Am I as big as her? I'm not am I?"
I would reply,
"Nowhere near mum,"
I was speaking the truth but would have lied anyway had she been bigger! I never saw my mum as overweight; I just saw my gorgeous, pretty, smiling mum. I used to love pinching her slimming biscuits. Very tasty!
Now I'm asking my daughter the same question, as someone props the Rover's bar up. Daughter religiously answers no but if my mum's there I might get a
"Well, from the side you are."
Denial is a funny thing. You see yourself differently than others. My mum always still tells me how pretty I am and always has my back but she is so honest when it comes to two things: weight and hair. I know she does it because she wants the best for me. The times I've been going out of the door and this conversation unfolds:
"Have you brushed your hair?"
"You've missed out the bit at the back."
We can be in a fitting room and I try on a dress, not sure if it is suits me to be told it makes me look like Heather out of Eastenders. This is when denial properly kicks in. Surely Heather, bless her, is bigger than me? I reckon though, we probably weigh the same. In my mind of denial, she's smaller and her weight is distributed differently!
My best denial has been picking clothes from shops with the wrong size on the coathangers. One morning as I was getting dressed in the dark for work, I took my recent Next Sale blouse off the size 18 hanger but it wouldn't go over my head. I was stuck for quite a while with said blouse over my head when hubby queried if I was ok over in the corner. I replied I was fine, mid panic attack! Eventually the blouse came away, only to show a Size 8 on the tag. I pretended I'd gone off wearing it and put my Size 20 blouse on instead!
This reminds me of the times (note the plural here) I've tried to put my teenage daughter's tights on. It's not until the gusset reaches my knees that I realise. Incredulous hubby says he's going to video me next time for You Tube! Something else comes to mind. The time we all went to my cousin's and we all threw our coats on the spare bed. We were, unusually, one of the first to leave and I grabbed a jacket that looked like mine but struggled slightly to get it on. We were rushing (not unusual) so I quickly put it on to hear a massive rip down the back of the jacket. I didn't think anymore of it as things like this aren't unusual. That was until my cousin rung me to say I'd taken het best friend's size 10 expensive jacket and all that was left on the bed was my size 14 jacket! I paid for the jacket sewing and returned it. Unfortunately when my best dress split at my other cousin's wedding, No needle and thread could sort that! I knew I should have worn something else for the three course meal and free bar! It was my outer silk that had split so I spent the eve dancing with my arm down one side. It wasn't until I lifted my leg in New York, New York that the whole side of the dress split! Luckily, due to the free bar, not many folk noticed!
All of a sudden, the denial stops and you see yourself for what you are. You throw away the linen, brightly patterned dress that looks like it's been made out of material for Dame Edna Everage's curtains and realise you need to take action.; you don't always want to be the biggest teacher in the staff room, the biggest cousin, the biggest wife and mum and so on. You need to do it for you and by you.

I think what is saddening about being bigger is how some people preconceive you as being lazy. I was insenced when I saw the Katie Hopkins interview on This Morning. I actually do think this journalist says some worthehile stuff but this interview was as bad as the day she said she vets her childrens' friends. There'll be no Tylers or Chardonnays at their family parties. Their loss as I've taught some amazing kids of those names. Anyway, she was sat next to a bigger lady, publically saying she would not employ fat people. The bigger lady faught het cause well. I'm big and I'm telling you now, all my employers have had my fat blood, sweat and tears over the years!
The worst misassumption was when I was excitedly looking for wedding dresses with one of my bridesmaids. The snotty saleslady approached, looked us both up and down from head to toe. Yes! That again! She asked who was the bride to be, clearly hoping for my size 10 friend. On telling her it was me she curtly replied they didn't cater for the bigger bride. I was gobsmacked and assured her that bigger ladies still got married. I wished afterwards, that I'd done a Julia Roberts, as we didn't scrimp on the dress. I should have gone back with my dress bill and said, Julia Roberts style,
"Bigger the bride, bigger the budget!"
I actually lost weight for my wedding and even though I was still classed as a bigger bride, I felt gorgeous. Thanks to my fab make over! I was shining out from the inside too. I felt like Grace Kelly. Confidence plays such a part in how we look.
I've been a right snacker and binge eater/drinker in my past. I normally equated snacking with drinking and watching TV in the evenings. I wasn't even hungry but couldn't watch an episode of Dallas and Dynasty without a bag of crisps. Then it moved onto a glass of wine and crisps watching Peak Practice. Slippery slope! Now, instead of my wine, I have my water, adding dilute and pouring it in a wine glass!

The thing that's helped me with snacking is to do something else not associated with eating. I love reading and listening to music. The best thing though, is writing my blog and trying on something that was too tight last month that fits me now. I have a small network of people too who are encouraging and supportive who I can text instead of opening a bag of crisps. I know this is not a diet but a change in lifestyle. I do eat socially and love meeting friends and family in cafes. I still do but I'm more careful about what I order now. You can still go out and enjoy it without having the stack of donuts covered in sugar or the biggest cream cake in the shop.

I feel in control now. The tables have turned. You are what you eat and I intend to go into my fifties much fitter and healthier.


  1. Brilliant, true,funny and sad. Only you can do it and you will. Keep it up and keep writing.

  2. Great read Suz, made me smile and lol. I’ve fallen fowl of wearing daughters tights - a very uncomfortable day x

  3. Ha ha! Thanks for your lovely comment!


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