My photo
Morecambe, Lancashire, United Kingdom
In the mornings I’m a Nursery Cook, the rest of the time a Writer. Been writing for decades: short stories, plays, poems, a sitcom and more recently flash fiction, Creative Writing MA at Lancaster Uni and now several novels. Been placed in competitions (Woman’s Own, Greenacre Writers and flashtagmanchester) and shortlisted in others (Fish, Calderdale, Short Fiction Journal). I won the Calderdale Prize 2011, was runner-up in the Ink Tears Flash Fiction Comp & won the Greenacre Writer Short Story Comp 2013. I have stories in Jawbreakers, Eating My Words, Flash Dogs Anthologies 1-3, 100 RPM and the Stories for Homes anthology. My work’s often described as ‘sweet’ but there’s usually something darker and more sinister beneath the sweetness. I love magical realism and a comedy-tragedy combination. My first novel, Queen of the World, is about a woman who believes she can influence the weather. I’m currently working on a 3rd: Priscilla Parker Reluctant Celebrity Chef. Originally from West Midlands, I love living by the sea in Morecambe, swimming, cycling, theatre, books, food, weather, sitcoms and LBBNML … SQUEEZE!

Sunday, 4 June 2017

The Impossible Thing: Ups and Downs/Roller Coaster Effect

Lost: 5 stone 3lb (73lb)
Amount still to lose: ONLY 4 stone 1lb (57lb)
Percentage of original weight lost: 24%
Feeling: Pleased, confused, proud, frustrated, delighted and downright paranoid.
To be at this stage is weird. I imagine that somewhere there is a woman my age and height seeing herself at the same weight I’m at & being appalled at how fat she’s got. Yet it seems such a low weight to me. A weight I’ve not been for maybe a quarter of a century.
So … I’m sure there’s something wrong with these scales. I can’t possibly have lost that much. Can I?
I’ve had a couple of ‘run ins’ with the Boots scales. I wanted to check whether mine were telling me the truth. If there is such a thing as truth when it comes to scales. I think not. Can I really be three stone more than I thought? Do they ever calibrate these things? My considerably cheaper but new scales have been happily telling me I’ve lost a pound a week for some time now so did I weigh even more when I started? Head totally messed with.
But enough about the scales crisis. There are better ways to judge these things than scales.
You want it to be done but you know it will take time. You want to get there but the thought of getting there is scary because it’s a place you’ve never been before. You want to get there so you can at least find out that you CAN get there. But if ‘there’ is a weight you’ve not been since you were about twelve … Twelve? I’m nearly fifty-two!
I can look at myself one day and be completely unable to see any weight loss. Then another time I think ‘Yes, I can see it!’ Okay, I’ll admit I’m a tad obsessed but I’m coming to the conclusion that you have to be or you’ll never do it.
What follows are examples of, if it isn’t too much of a cliché, or pair of clichés, the ups and downs/roller coaster effect. All in the past few weeks …
Arriving at work to hear a colleague saying she was now 9 stone 3 pound and used to be 11 stone. I immediately compared this to what I’m aiming to lose (new target after discovering I’m 2 inches shorter than I thought), that is 9 stone 4! I responded to this by feeling like seven kinds of freak and I had to give myself a talking to that mainly included the words ‘But you’ve lost five of those stones already, Sal.’ But what it boils down to is, if I do this, I will have lost a whole, admittedly quite small, person. Hmmm … no wonder it messes with your head.
Seeing a reflection of me and Brenda and thinking ‘That’s just a fat woman on a bike not a REALLY fat woman on a bike.’ Bit backhanded but true. Kind of nice. It’s Brenda making me look good, of course. What would I do without her?
Brenda Posing by the New Sea Wall
Getting paranoid feelings that people are looking at me and thinking/saying ‘No WAY has she lost five stone. She looks the same as she always did. She’s lying.’ Lying or deluded. I have no evidence to support this but that doesn’t stop me thinking it.
I recently went out to the cinema and for once didn’t want to rush home scared of people and being out. I was quite happy to be out on my own. Nice handbag and all size 20 clothes (the mix of sizes I wear some days is just silly). On the way through town, I saw my reflection. I love shop windows. I force myself to look and think ‘You ARE smaller.’ Feels like I have to do this over and over and over again. Till I get there. And no doubt beyond too.
Is that really me?
I look the same as I ever did.
What if these scales are wrong and I haven’t lost any weight at all?
Yeah, ridiculous.
And so it goes on. Of course it makes no sense to think like this when I can also see how much different my neck, shoulders, knees and hands, for example, look. And yet still I think I’m no different.
And I can’t quite believe that losing another four stone & a pound will put me at ideal weight. It seems such a small amount to be overweight by. Therefore the scales MUST be telling me the wrong weight. I can’t be …
And so it goes on …
Even though I carry on with my exercise – my swimming feels locked in place as something I will always do & cycling continues to be really enjoyable – I often think I’m eating too much and am one pizza, a tube of Pringles (BBQ) and a Vienetta (Mint) away from going back to my old habits. Sometimes, it feels like every extra bit of eating I do is sabotaging myself, holding myself back from getting any further. But then maybe this is a good thing. If I was better at reducing my food intake I’d have done this faster and it would be even harder to cope with. Because it really is all in the mind. And mine is playing tricks on me. It’s probably laughing at me right now.
But despite the paranoia, body dysmorphia and self-obsession, all I can do is keep going. I’ve come too far to go back. (I HAVE come far. I HAVE. I really HAVE.)
I want to be at five and half stone off for the first week in July, which I always have off for Stella’s visit … like I said last year I’d be at. Then another three pounds and I will ONLY be twice the weight of my fitness guru extraordinaire. Okay, I’m eight inches taller. And under a certain weight – getting into ‘normal’ territory - by the much-looked-forward-to Nick Lowe concert in Glasgow in August.
Thanks for reading, whether you got to this line or not.
Next time … Being an ‘inspiration’, weight loss memoirs and wanting to help others.


  1. You should be incredibly proud of yourself. Losing that amount of weight is no mean feat. You've done it in exactly the right way. Taking it slowly gives your body time to acclimatise to new eating habits. By the time you reach your target - and you will - you'll find you can't eat what you used to. And don't beat yourself up over indulging in the occasional treat, it's what you do the rest of the time that counts. Great work, keep it up!

  2. Nothing but admiration for your efforts - you've really stuck at it. Smiled when I saw you mention losing 2" from your height. I'm an inch shorter these days - felt more put out by that than the weight they came up with! I've come to realise I will never be a 'certain' weight again due to pregnancies and age so I just aim to keep in trim and be relatively healthy - and then my husband throws a giant bag of Thai Chilli crisps or Dorritos at me. Keep reminding yourself of what you've achieved and forget about what other people think or rather what you think they're thinking!

  3. Can't think of anything quite so eloquent as the above comments from Carol and Steph so let me just say - YAY! Well done, Sal. It's a long, tough road and you're more than halfway there and still sane (you are, you are) and talking about it. Keep up the good work. Brenda is quite something. Oh and I got to the bottom line, without hesitation.