What a glorious day for my hundredth day on the diet! When I started this, back in early February, this moment seemed to be an eternity away. It was cold, miserable and I was very overweight indeed. Now it’s threatening to become summer, the sun is shining, and I’m a shadow of the person that I was.
The reaction to the before and after photos has been mixed. They’ve ranged from ‘holy crap, you were a heifer!’ to the open-mouthed inability to find any words at all. I still don’t know how I feel about them. Some people have been kind enough to say that I never actually looked like the before photos in real life, but the truth is that I would often catch myself in the background of group photos, caught off guard, and that is precisely what I looked like. It’s no wonder that my self esteem had hit ground level and begun to dig.
The weird thing is that people are now counselling me not to get too thin. As you can imagine, on one level the idea that I might ever be too thin is deeply hilarious. However, I know that what they are saying is well-intentioned and there is an element of sense in their warning. The target for me is very clear on this diet … a healthy BMI and a body that looks good. I have a rough weight target, but that’s simply because I plumped for the weight that was bang in the middle of my safe weight zone. It’s not hard and fast for me. Recently, though, I’ve found myself thinking that this is my best opportunity to be genuinely thin, if that’s what I want to be.
Now, this is unusual thinking for me. Obviously as a fat person I would daydream frequently about being thinner, but I wanted to be slim rather than thin. For me, there’s a crucial difference between the two. I have always abhorred the whole ‘size zero’ obsession and am, frankly, appalled by the fascistic body consciousness of some people. Yes, we have a problem with obesity in the richer parts of the world and yes, everyone wants to look good and be healthy, but this relentless drive to be underfed and small to the point of being virtually invisible is something that sickens me. For example, I remember becoming genuinely angry when I read an interview with Renee Zellweger around the time she was filming one of the Bridget Jones films. She was talking about gaining weight for the part, and commented that she got so big that she couldn’t bear to look down at her naked body in the shower. And how big was she? Size 12. So with that one careless statement she consigned hordes of perfectly healthy size 12 women (or, more importantly, girls) to thinking that they were physically repulsive. It made me want to give her a good slap for her sheer stupidity.
That said, I’ve found myself idly wondering what it would be like to be super thin. Clearly it’s not going to happen, and I have no intention of taking my weight loss to extremes, but I’ve been curious about the fact that those thoughts creep into my head from time to time. Perhaps I’m just one of those people who has a permanent sense of dissatisfaction, and a drive for improvement, and I’ve masked this for years and years with the one reigning thought of ‘I wish I was slim’. I guess it reinforces the fact that being at a weight that I’m happy with won’t mean that everything in my life will be perfect from that point on.
Even if I did want to be pencil thin for the rest of my life, it won’t happen because I’m just not cut out to be a body fascist … I love food too much and I think that life is too damn short to spend every spare second of it on scales, or in the gym, or wondering whether you’ve had one lettuce leaf too many. That thinking is partly to blame for my weight gain in the first place, I grant you, but in reality (and when I’m under control) I’m actually much more from the ‘everything in moderation’ school of thought. It strikes me that a relentless and excessive fixation on being thin is just as bad as being colossally overweight … both are very unfulfilling ways to live indeed. I’ve been there and done that and will never go there again.