Back in 2019 I lost 12 kgs. Prior to this I was the heaviest I’d ever been in my life. Given that I’m quite short (and shrinking fast) that wasn’t a good space to be in. In fact, it felt very much (and still does) as though there’s a lead weight sitting on my head pushing my boobs and belly out in one direction and my butt in the other. Too much information? #sorrynotsorry
Anyways, I got my head in the game, pulled my trainers on, and did what needed to be done. It was hard work, but I had a holiday to look forward to – 4 weeks of lovely time away from the day job and Christmas in England.
Since then, 2020 has happened. So has 2021. And 9 of the kilos I worked so hard to lose have found their way home – and appear to have settled back in.
There are, of course, plenty of reasons how and why this has happened – and I won’t dwell on that – but for the sake of my health, the upward drift has to stop.
The thing is, at my age (54, in case you were wondering), I can’t eat and drink everything I want without consequences. If I want to enjoy the good things in life (which I do), some compromises and changes need to be made. I should, at this point, pause and say that I actually don’t feel bad about any of this – the weight, the measurements, the way I look. I truly am coming at this from a place of self-love and respect rather than self-hatred and it annoys me more than I can say how it’s assumed that if you’re overweight you mustn’t like yourself very much. I might not like what I’ve done to my body, or the coices I’ve made, but I own them.
Another assumption that truly gives me the irrits is the one about how if you’re overweight you must eat too many sweet treats, too much takeaway or processed foods, or can’t help yourself when it comes to chocolate.
I don’t, by any stretch of the imagination, have a bad diet.
I don’t eat after dinner, and I enjoy vegetables. I eat mostly unprocessed food, don’t have takeaway or ready meals, and despite the amount that I bake, rarely indulge in the sweet stuff myself. Except for scones – the exception to every rule. As for chocolate? I’m happy with a square of dark 70% cocoa.
I love food – well, except for offal, okra, and bean sprouts (they really are pointless). I like planning it, preparing it, cooking it, eating it, readng about it, writing about it, and feeding it to other people.
Before you hand out the halo, I do, however, have some dietary weaknesses – obviously, otherwise I wouldn’t be in this position. I love pasta and rice and adore bread, and by bread, I mean good bread – from a crusty baguette to a sourdough, to a dense and almost chocolatey rye. I regard dumplings as a separate food group, have a weakness for butter and cheese that neither my waistline or my gut is terribly happy with, and enjoy wine – possibly too much.
I’m not a cofort eater as such, but I do eat from boredom or when I’m feeling restless, trapped, confined or creatively unfulfilled. When there are gaps inside me that need filling.
My food might be home-cooked, varied and often delicious but more of it goes into my mouth than is expended in energy. And, while not all calories can be treated equally – more on that another time – that’s a problem.
While I don’t intend to completely give up any of the things I enjoy – after all, mine is not a quest for Twigginess – compromises need to be made, portions reduced, experts consulted, and answers sought. Given that I learn best as I research and write, that’s exactly what I’ll be doing here – each Tuesday.
As for the experts I’ll be consulting? There’s enough science out there – and I read an awful lot of it, much of which is conflicting. Instead, I’ll be consulting people like me: food writers and chefs. People who, like me, enjoy food in all its glory and who enjoy preparing it and writing about it. People like me who’ve had to balance their enjoyment of food and flavour with the size of their jeans, and, in some cases, the request of their doctors. The way I figure it is if some of my foodie heroes can do it and continue to cook and write about food, then so can I.
Most of what I’ll be eating will be accidentally healthy foods – where healthy meets delicious – I’ll just be eating less of it. I might want (and need) to shed some excess baggage, but life is way too short to compromise on taste and pleasure, so I’ll be consulting my vast collection of cookbooks for ideas and variety.
I’m not aiming for perfection, and my body type is such that I’ll always be curvy – and I’m completely cool with that. I’ll also be building a few indulgences into my week – so please don’t email me when you see me post something on Instagram that can’t possibly be on my plan. Saturday is on my plan.
We’ll also be talking about exercise.
I walk a lot, but up until the past month or so I haven’t been doing any resistance work – and I could be working harder and more efficiently. I have severe scolioscis (a curvature of the spine) so it’s vital that not only do I get my weight down, but that I strengthen the supporting muscles and maximise my range of movement if I’m to remain mobile and (relatively) painfree as I get older. My goal is not to run a marathon, but it is to be “fit for life”. I’ll talk quite a bit about this as we go along as well.
This series of (mostly) weekly posts are likely to be the most personal that I’ve written – and in writing them I’ll be making myself more vulnerable than I normally tend to do. I’ll be writing about what I’ve learnt – about myself as well as from others – and, naturally, sharing the occasional recipe.
Follow along if you want, but please bear in mind that my food story is likely to be different to yours – as is my “why”. What worked for you might not work for me – just as what works for me might not work for you. After all, if there was a one size fits all answer to this question, we wouldn’t be having this discussion. Most of us know what we should be doing – it’s the brain that gets in the way of the actual doing. A fine but important difference.
Edina: Why am I so fat?
Saffron: You eat too much, you drink too much and you take no exercise.
Edina: Darling, Darling… Please…. it is far more likely to be an allergy to something, isn’t it? You know, a build up of toxins or a hormone imbalance.
Saffron: All you’ve got to do is eat less and take a bit of exercise.
Edina: Sweetie, if it was that easy, everyone would be doing it.
(From Absolutely Fabulous… Series 1 “Fat”)