I’ve got a somewhat complex relationship with weight and happiness, much the same as many others. From coming from a plump-but-average pre-teen, to a slightly overweight teenager, to a distinctly chubby 20-something, my weight journey was about to take a dramatic turn.
After my first experimenting with the Atkins diet, I realised that I could lose weight if I deprived myself of carbs and drastically changed my lifestyle. This lifestyle, post-university and freshly moved-out, consisted of junk food and far too many baked goods. I rapidly lost two stone and felt great. Until I realised that I actually quite liked bread and potatoes, then unsurprisingly, I ended up the other side of a carb-rebound – weighing more than I did pre-Atkins.
So unfortunately this led to an ever-increasing weight and further experimentation with Weight Watchers online and meal-replacement shakes. Both convinced me that I didn’t have the patience or potential to lose weight. Cue more weight gain.
Until I had finished my maternity leave. After a whole lot of comfort eating and a mindset that made me believe I was never going to lose weight, I got desperate. I was a size 24. I did the unthinkable and joined a slimming group.
Slimming World turned out to be the best thing to happen to me because not only did it enable me to lose 7 and a half stones and drop to a size 10, it did something more important; it shattered the belief that I was someone who just couldn’t lose weight. This caused a huge boost in confidence and the most dramatic change in my way of thinking. Unfortunately, it also caused me to become preoccupied with my size and I felt anxious about eating as I wanted to maintain my weight, or maybe even reach a loss of 8 stone. Still, with the attention I got from looking so dramatically different, I enjoyed it.
Life inevitably gets in the way of your plans. I was no different. Following several periods of extreme stress, miscarriages and bereavement, I had turned to comfort eating. I put on weight; not all of it, but enough to feel like a failure. I wallowed. I dug out old ‘fat clothes’. I stopped enjoying picking out clothes and styling outfits. I went shopping for clothes to find some to fit and flatter, rather than to find styles I liked.
I’m not one to indulge in self-pity for long. Don’t get me wrong; I’m really good at it, along with feeling miserable. But I remember how good it feels to feel like I’m on top of everything and I’m at the age where I don’t want to spend time feeling like sh*t if I can possibly help it.
It struck me that when I’d lost 5 stones, I felt amazing. So how come putting on two stones to get me to that same weight felt so bad? It’s just a perception of where you are and focusing on the wrong things. Objectively speaking, weight is constant, but your beliefs surrounding it are flexible. You can change them with some determination. It’s why some people are slim and can only see their so-called flabby bits. Want to work hard and still only see your flaws? No thanks.
So, at present I’m a size 14. It’s no size 10, but it’s absolutely not a size 24. I’m also healthy. I’m also happy. I’m also proud of the work I’ve done to change the way I think. Is this my happy weight? No, but it’s not far off.
Disclaimer: ask me what my happy weight is when I’m in front of a freshly baked scone loaded with clotted cream and jam, and I’ll give you a different answer.