So I lost a lot of weight….so much and so quickly that people stopped and stared. “Wow you look great” they exclaimed and I luxuriated over the wonderful brilliantness of my newly acquired thinner body. As I showered, as I took countless progress photos and I was forced to endlessly purchase new clothes as my trousers fell down, I was amazed. I was empowered. I was emboldened. But, then I plateaued; losing any more weight required a level of calorie control I wasn’t quite ready to adhere to both as a daughter of a body obsessed mother and as an individual with a genuine love of food; I remained a stubborn and fixed size 12. So now the proverbial dust has settled, it’s time I laid down some home truths about weight loss. Because it’s so much more than the before and after pictures, the ones where my smile seems wider and my hair shinier, but is made up of a complex tangle of emotions, health and everything else you think, see and breathe. So for the record….
In general, losing weight is assumed to be good for your health. Obviously, this is not always the case – particularly when you start to consider the mental, as well as the physical repercussions. But, beyond this, losing weight puts the body under a huge amount of pressure. Take me for example…for one thing my periods stopped…. which for an individual who would some day like to have children is pretty terrifying. And, secondly, my stomach got so fucked up from the sudden change in diet that I was in agony for weeks, which reached a rousing crescendo one Saturday night when I lay writhing in pain as my stomach made clear its displeasure. It was remarkably unfun and painful. And was solved only by a nutritionist (costing £90 an hour) who helped realign my stomach with tablets. Which brings me nicely on to point number 2….
I don’t care, I really don’t care what the papers and magazines preach or even the occasional Instagram star will profoundly declare. Being healthy is more expensive. It just is. You know what’s cheap? Pasta, cake, biscuits. You know what isn’t? Fruit, vegetables, almond milk, chai seeds (need I go on…) And even if you don’t pay the extortionate amount of £200 a month for a gym, it is, without question, an additional expense. And if you really doubt me go into McDonalds after a drunk night out (not that I’ve ever visited the one on Tottenham Court Road next to the station) and be amazed about the cost of a Filet of Fish and chips…as I was the first time I crossed through it shiny arched doors.
- The male gaze
Oh I know…no one loses weight to impress the opposite sex, we all do it for ourselves. We do it so we can be proud of our bodies and satiated by our healthy and new found glee for doing 50 burpees or whatever the monstrosity that is Iron Man consists of. Do me a fucking favour. We all lose weight because we care how we are viewed by others. And more than that by the opposite sex. Mainly because most of us like sex, and to be loved, and we figure that if we lose those few pounds or stones this is more likely.
And yes some people crave the toned, lean look of the Love Island gals, but trust me plenty don’t. Some people like their partners heavier, lighter and some, I swear to god, honestly don’t give a shit. It took me a long while and some personal experiences to appreciate just how true this is, but honestly losing weight for others is unnecessary. If for no other reason than even once it’s gone you will still have curly hair, fat arms but cracking legs, but more importantly you are still the same person.
Weight loss is easy at the beginning. Trust me, I know. It rolls right off and you are motivated, happy and can practically see those size 8 jeans. But, the thing is it gets difficult, life gets in the way, or you plateau or you put it back on….Because weight loss isn’t a linear process – you don’t start and then 8 months later come out thin and happy. You go up, you go down, you get wider, you get narrower. Whatever happens, you are not a failure if it doesn’t go the way you wanted, you are just human.
Now, I know traditionally there are five points to these listicles, but I’m already closing in at 900 words, and more importantly, I have little left to say. Except for this: being healthy is grand and feeling confident in your body is glorious. But, neither of these necessarily mean you need to lose weight. And let me guarantee you: just like you won’t find happiness at the end of a spliff, line of coke, or injection of heroin, losing weight won’t make you happy. Because we are all so much more than the number on the scale.