Weight, that is.
Like many of us, I have fought a lifetime battle with my weight.
It’s mostly been a rearguard action. I suspect early attempts to lose weight set up my metabolism at a developmental age to fight back.
I did at least learn from that. My youngest child at the age of twelve resembled a sumo wrestler in a swimsuit. My mother suggested I put her on a diet.
No. Way !
A couple of years later, my ugly duckling metamorphosed into a swan, without diets or angst.
I did find it easier to lose weight when I was living alone, between husbands. I ate when I was hungry, not when I was feeding someone else, and planned meals in advance so I could buy only what I knew I would eat in that week. Then my youngest came home from university and I met hubby 2 and I was loading the fridge again.
By the time I retired I’d given up on dieting and told myself this was the size my body wanted to be. True, after over-indulging I would gain a couple of pounds (I’m too old to start thinking in kilograms now) but after a while they would come off again and I’ d hover around the same weight.
Except for Christmas. For the last few years, those January pounds from finishing the Christmas leftovers (and gifts) have stayed put through the summer, until it was December again and time to start celebrating (or compensating in lockdown). Meanwhile, health gurus kept going on about that new stick to beat us with: the Body Mass Index.
As if it wasn’t bad enough to see those photographs my offspring posted on Facebook that I didn’t realise they had taken. Why did I need a number to make me feel guilty as well?
My belief that my BMI should be lower than it works out at is genuine and not denial at all. All my life I’ve had to shorten the sleeves of tops designed for apes and take up trouser hems (until M&S started selling them in different lengths). If my legs were in proportion to the rest of me I’d be a couple of inches taller, which changes the calculation considerably.
And then I subjected myself to a health MOT and learned that I am now even shorter, at 5ft 4ins, than the 5ft 5½ I used to be. Do you know how much difference that inch and a half makes to a BMI?
Anyway, when I was told my blood pressure was ‘borderline’, and my hip ‘twinges’ reached the point of causing me to limp, I told myself I had no excuse not to try to lose some weight.
I don’t have the excuse of cooking different meals for my husband; I do that anyway. He won’t eat anything interesting (spices, pasta, rice, vegetables…) and would happily live on baked beans on toast. (And probably did while I was in New Zealand for three months. I came back to find all the food I had left in the freezer for him was still in the freezer.) Although we eat together, our meals are nearly always different.
The main problem with that comes with amounts. As well as my use-it-up-before-it-goes-off creations, I batch-cook and freeze curries and casseroles, but the containers I freeze them in are too big for one – even without whatever veg is in the fridge on the day of defrosting. I know, I could halve the amount and eat the other half tomorrow, but what I really need is smaller Tupperware. (Yes, I did used to sell that stuff. So did my husband’s ex; we have enough to stock a hotel. And can I ever find the lid to fit that container I just filled? Only after I’ve thrown away the container because I couldn’t find its lid. But I digress.)
I am not interested in fad diets. (Been there, done that, got the t-shirt. It no longer fits.) Nor do I want a diet that tells me what to eat every day. I want to eat what I want to eat – only, perhaps, less of it.
So I’m getting better at putting off that extra helping until tomorrow and not bringing home the custard doughnuts. I’ve been noting what I eat and moving a bit more than usual – albeit very low-key because i.) my hip hurts and ii.) I hate exercise (bo-o-oring! unless it’s dancing). But the dogs still have to be walked, and Alexa can play me music to move to (as long as I’m not trying to concentrate on writing).
I’ve learned to love celery. I once read somewhere that it’s the only food that takes more calories to digest than it provides. (Shame about the cheese.)
At least now I can stop worrying about keeping track of my alcohol units each week. Chances are the calorie count will have forbidden it for a couple of days at least.
It’s been around ten weeks so far. I don’t think there has been a single day when my calorie count hasn’t come in some degree higher than my target total. Given my reluctance to exercise, and the creative accounting that is my food logs, my hopes weren’t high.
I’ve lost just over a stone (that’s 14lbs for those who don’t think in stones – actually it’s 17lbs as of today). I’m not far from that upper BMI goal that I’d seen as inaccessible. In the grand scheme of things, a stone might not sound much, but suddenly I’m noticing the difference.
Has it helped the hip? Reduced the blood pressure?
No, and no.
But. . . that football I’ve been carrying in front of me since my fifties has deflated. And those clothes that I loved too much to part with just yet to the charity shops. . . THEY FIT! Comfortably.
Seriously, I’d forgotten about that aspect of losing weight. Or perhaps I didn’t expect to get that far. Even when I was still working, my clothes were becoming a bit of a struggle to zip up. Now I’ve had to dig out belts to hold up my trousers – belts I’d forgotten I still had (which is as well, or they would have gone to the charity shops too). Clothes look so much better when they fit.
Will it stay off this time?