I was on my way to Tesco yesterday to get a couple of things, when I heard a voice over the music I was listening to. As it was such a nice day, I’d decided to walk through the park instead of just walking down the road as I usually did.
Funnily enough, It was a lady who was also going to Tesco, and she asked me if there was a path that went the short distance from the park down to the supermarket. There was, I said, and I was going there too. So we walked together, and started talking. I never did get her name, but according to my not-very-good judgment of age, she was in her 60s. She’d just been to a Slimming World meeting, she said, a short distance away. And that was the start of our whole short conversation.
I’ve been on the SlimFast diet since August, taking a generous break for Christmas, as well as for my birthday at the end of March, and the Easter weekend. Many people will judge that diet, but I need something that’s very strict, otherwise I have a hard time and end up bending rules. I know what works for me. When I started I weighed exactly 69.8kg, which is very very nearly 11 stone. For a tiny 5ft frame. From a lack of self-control and a lack of caring, as well from as stress and disappointment about where my life was going. Comfort eating is a bitch. When I last weighed myself on the 3rd of May, I was exactly 55kg (yes, I’m still working in kilograms!), which is 8 stone and 9 lbs. This morning when I was getting changed, I had the idea of trying on one of my old pairs of size 8 jeans. ‘It’s not going to happen’ I thought, as I put my legs in. But happen it did! I literally started crying tears of joy.
So we got talking about the various diets that we’d tried over the years. The lady was very similar to me, in that she had a sweet tooth, and had put back on a lot of weight after the last diet she had been on. After I had said that I had been on a diet since August, and had lost 2 stone and 4 lbs (!!), she said that she really hadn’t expected it, because I was so tiny. TINY! Me! I could’ve burst out crying again. After that I didn’t feel comfortable specifically mentioning that I was still on the diet, because I had 9 lbs left to reach my target goal – essentially I would’ve been complaining about my weight when I was already ‘tiny’!
After we’d reached our destination, I started thinking about society’s obsession with dieting and weightloss. This woman was in her 60s, and still felt the pressure to lose weight. She wasn’t big by any standard other than the ridiculous ones models enforce on us; she was a completely normal weight for a British woman, especially one of her age. It also made me think about my time working in retail over Christmas. I was on the fitting room one day, and two ladies (Sisters? Friends?) were trying on some clothes. After trying them on, we got talking, and one of them was complaining about her size and how she really need to lose weight. This woman must have been in her 70s. A woman in her 70s who really should have been enjoying her retirement was feeling the pressure to lose weight. Again, she wasn’t really big. Just average. I remember spending the rest of my shift thinking how sad it was, that a woman of her age felt under pressure to conform to a certain image. Maybe that wasn’t the case, maybe she just wanted to lose weight to feel better in herself, I’ll never really know. But still, what she told me that day broke my heart.
I’ve been battling with my weight ever since I was an adolescent. At 16 I wore a size 16. That summer I lost 2 stone, partly from going out on my bike a lot. During my first year of university my weight ballooned back up, and by the end of the year I was up to a size 14 from a size 12. During the summer between my 3rd and 4th year I went on the SlimFast diet (partly in reaction to getting my heart broken, as so often is the case, right?), and then during my time in Italy I went on two diets for two different periods of time. I have a very hard time controlling my weight when I’m not dieting, which is something I’m going to have to be more careful about once I reach my target weight of 50kg. All this yo-yo dieting isn’t good for me physically or psychologically. I really hope I’ve learned my lesson this time, because I really don’t want to throw away any more of my life dieting. But there’s so much pressure on women to look a certain way. I think I’m much more affected than most women my age by images on social media, in magazines and advertising. There’s the pressure to look a certain way, otherwise you’re doomed to be single forever (I’m going to be very clear, I have absolutely no hope that me losing weight will help me find that elusive boyfriend. It’s never worked before, and it certainly won’t work now at my age). There was that infamous study a couple of years ago of what women and men feared most on a first date – the women’s number one fear was that they were about to meet a serial killer, but for men it was that the woman would be fat.
So I’m going to battle on for a bit longer. At the end I’ll be able to wear all the size 8 clothes I bought back with me from Italy, and hopefully be more at peace with myself. It certainly won’t solve everything in life, but reaching the goal I’ve worked so hard for over these last few months will give me a great deal of satisfaction.