Progress Update (aka There’s Something Wrong With These Scales)
Total lost: 80lb (5 stone 10 lb)
Amount left to lose: 50lb (3 stone 8lb)
Percentage of original weight lost: 26.3% (Over a quarter!!)
BMI: 32.1 (moderately obese) Started at 43.6 (morbidly obese)
Over the past year I’ve been reading around the subject of weight loss & obesity in the form of memoirs, factual books & novels with fat/obese characters. With the latter I began with Lionel Shriver’s Big Brother which, in the way it’s written, has something in common with Life of Pi. The main character is hard to care about, as is Michael Kimble’s Big Ray who deserves all he gets. I also read the highly entertaining but sad Butter by Erin Lange & Liz Moore’s Heft, which I found to be beautifully written and had great characters to really care about.
The most recent was Eating Bull by Carrie Rubin, a thriller which explores all the issues connected to obesity & centres around a nurse & a teenager intent on suing the food industry, as well as a serial killer targeting obese victims! He gets his comeuppance of course; shot by bow & arrow at the hands of the sweet fat boy who gets his happy ending. Hurrah!
Weight loss memoirs vary in quality. I read one which was shabbily written but I was still impressed with the man’s story. He goes from forty-one to twenty-five stone, which is still way above most of us, even me. He went to a clinic & was put on a monotonous very low calorie diet for the first year. The theory is it gets a lot of weight off quickly, which is seen as the priority. Not sure I agree with this. His evening meal was ALWAYS chicken, cauliflower & broccoli with nothing added and the rest of his day was protein shakes. I kept wondering why he couldn’t have a carrot and a bit of beetroot for a change. Nothing like normal eating, is it? But his determination with exercise was inspiring. He walked a marathon at thirty stone. Might have been more sensible to start with a half. He began swimming at forty-one stone, which must have been hard. Especially for a man. Belly out, you know. At least women can get a well lycra’d swim dress and be almost glamorous. (I may be deluded here!)
Some of the memoirs cover pasts filled with bullying & the psychological issues of a changing body, the latter particularly harsh for those who choose to lose ten stone in under a year through surgery. Many contain tips. Much contradiction here of course. One written by an Australian comedy performer contained some dreadful self-deprecatory jokes but she still had a core of determination to succeed that was impressive.
I recommend Jeanette Fulda’s Half-Assed. In her twenties she lost very nearly half of her original weight, a total of two hundred pounds, which bearing in mind I’m aiming to lose a hundred & thirty in my early fifties, is astounding. Jeanette explores many aspects of her weight loss & fitness journey & wider issues surrounding it with intelligence & humour.
I read What Have You Got to Lose by Shelley Bovey, a woman who wrote fat acceptance articles in magazines for years. In the 80s & 90s there were magazines called Extra Special & Yes! which were good for finding clothes but I was never completely convinced by the movement. Up to a point acceptance is a good thing but when does it become an excuse? Is it really fine to be so fat if you can’t even buy clothes at Evans or you are struggling to walk?
Shelley Bovey began wondering, at fifty, what was the difference between the 95% who lose and put back on and the 5% who don’t. She uses her journalist skills to find out by interviewing those who had done so and then she went for it, losing seven stone. Her book explores every aspect of weight loss and she does a good job of convincing herself & the reader that losing most of your weight AND fat acceptance can go together. One thing I totally disagree on is her dismissal of exercise as something no one is going to keep up. Not necessarily true.
I recently read Roxane Gay’s Hunger. It made me want to read more by her. She’s good. Also it made me a bit ashamed of my preoccupation with the names I got called by boys when I heard what happened to her. Boys again. But then she put on two hundred & seventy more pounds than I ever did. She’s lost a hundred & fifty over the years & I believe she will one day do the rest. Use your intelligence & determination, that’s what I say.
And I’m now about halfway through Fat is a Feminist Issue. I remain unconvinced about much of this. I’m sure it’s true that we sub-consciously get fat for a reason but I can’t buy into many of the reasons. And where is the very obvious ‘People get fat because food is DELICIOUS.’? Surely there’s as much truth in this fact.
So … Do I want to write a weight loss memoir? Not sure. There’s hundreds out there & do I want to be known for this? On the other hand, maybe I could help others. All I know is if I did this, I’d want to be maintained for a least a year and that the words ‘Impossible’ and ‘Thing’ would feature in the title.
Being an Inspiration
Many people have said told me ‘You’re an inspiration’. I’ve had this a few times before but never imagined it would ever be connected to fitness & weight loss. I’m slightly embarrassed by this even though it’s my own fault for going public (which feels great & I don’t feel under pressure in the slightest. Must mean I’m convinced I’m going to do it) & am even more embarrassed by those three people who’ve said they’re jealous. None of them have anywhere near the amount to lose as I had or still have so it seems strange. I’m often jealous of others but would never tell them.
Anyway, I don’t think I’ll really accept this until I’ve done the lot, maintained for some time AND got my head around it. Then, I will accept all the ‘well done’s and even the word awesome if I ever do The Impossible Thing.
Wanting to Help Others
For years I almost never saw someone fatter than me. Then I heard there was an obesity crisis and soon I started to spot them. These days I see quite a few of course, especially now I’ve lost some. It makes me notice it more. Very wrong to be asking ‘Is she fatter than me?’ as I walk around town. At least it’s only in my head. Like I said last time, very hard not to become obsessed.
In the eighties there were people who wore badges with the words ‘Lose weight now. Ask me how’ on. But it was apparently part of a scam. Something called Herb-a-life, which still exists. I think I’ll close the door on the research of trying to work that out otherwise it will need its own separate blogpost.
If it is a scam that’s a shame ‘cos I’d sort of like to have a badge like that because recently I’ve seen several folk who are clearly struggling. Twice I’ve recognised that keeping coat/long cardigan on even on a very warm day thing. As if you can cover it. And I’ve seen someone trying to do a delivery job at what looks like getting on for thirty stone.
And I want to say ‘You can do it. If I can you can. There is a way.’ But as my fitness guru extraordinaire says ‘Would you have wanted someone to say that to you?’ The answer’s ‘No WAY’ of course but I keep having this feeling of wanting to help others, which is weird because it’s not something that comes naturally to me.
But ultimately you have to help yourself. It’s about determination and stubbornness, about forgiving yourself for not being perfect but still pushing yourself forward, about doing it your way, keeping your cool, notrushing to get there, adapting as you go, realising this is your life and about never ever giving up.
Till next time …