To slim or not to slim?
I’m not being facetious when I say that it’s not good to be overweight. According to a recent survey, obesity rates have quadrupled in the past twenty-five years. Nearly a quarter of adults and one-in-seven children are now estimated to be clinically obese making Britainthe fattest country in Europe. There has never been a greater time than now to ‘get with the programme ‘ so to speak. My issue is with how we are encouraged to lose weight.
I make no bones about it; I am currently at my heaviest ever, and probably four stone overweight. Keeping it off, as with most people, has always been a struggle. I’ve tried diets, diet food, liquid diets, protein diets, diet pills [legal...and illegal] and slimming clubs. Whilst on the diet pills, I got down to seven and a half stone. Everyone told me how gorgeous I looked, but they never said I looked healthy. I wasn’t, one day, all I had to eat was a packet of crisps, I literally had no hunger because of the pills, and my body was essentially starving itself. I came off them, and the weight went back on . At the end of the day, none of it has worked. So, where has this weight gain, and inability to lose it stem from? Well, I can honestly say, I’ve asked myself some pretty hard questions. Do I secretly hate myself, therefore not feeling good enough about myself to ‘allow’ my body to lose the weight? Do I secretly feel inadequate because of my cerebral palsy and the assumptions it brings with it? Am I secretly still sad because my mother died when I was nine? Do I have abandonment issues? People also make the assumption that people that over eat are essentially unhappy with themselves. After 2 years of therapy I can say....NO! I eat because I bloody love it. I love food, the way it tastes, the sociability it brings with it, and I really do consider it a privilege to be cooked for, either by a chef, a friend, or a partner. I just LOVE eating. It gives me pleasure, and I’ve always been dreadful at denying myself pleasure. And there isn’t a diet, or slimming club that can convince me otherwise. Most of all, I don’t ‘stress’ about my weight, I’m aware it’s too much but I also have Polycystic Ovary Syndrome which actually effects the insulin levels in your body, literally making you crave [like you have never craved for anything else in your life] those naughty bad carbs. However, I really do genuinely like myself, I am well aware of my flaws, but I’m o.k. Now though, I have finally decided to do something about my weight.
For other people, it is much more complex than that, and this is where my irk with slimming clubs comes in. Susie Orbach wrote a very good article in The Guardian last week [see it here - http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/jan/17/slimming-clubs-straitjackets-susie-orbach ] It’s headline was ‘Slimming clubs lock members into 'straitjackets' of false hope’ And I audibly said ‘thank god someone has confronted this issue’ I have tried a slimming club, the best one by far I was told, and so have many of my friends. They have signed up [cheaply] some have decided to go to the meetings, some have not. [which you had to pay for] I was told the points system was brilliant, you could get quite’ geeky’ about it [if you know me, you know that is not likely] there was a phone app for it, [which you had to buy] loads of books on it/ leaflets [which you had to buy] and of course all the ‘special food’ that went with it. [which you had to buy] If you bought their own brand from the meetings, it was cheaper than in the supermarkets, isn’t that lovely of them! Yet again, people are sold a marketing dream, we will get you thin if you stick with us, then you will be a better person [being healthy still comes second to being thin!] You had an option of not buying all this stuff of course, but come on, you give people the promise of something they so desperately want, they will fall for it, hook line and sinker. The idea of the meetings made me feel ill. Again, if people enjoy the support the meetings bring, and the ‘goal’ of the weigh in every 2 weeks, then fab, but for me, I just thought the whole thing sounded a bit patronizing. I thought they played up to people’s insecurities just as with the rest of the diet industry. I actually said to a friend “why do you need the validation of 10 strangers on losing weight, when you KNOW you are losing weight and doing really well. The scales tell you that” It did make her think...for a minute. One of my friends spent hundreds with this slimming club, literally hundreds of pounds. Apparently all the food and nutrition advice, is GP approved, but I went to both my private and NHS GP, and they both frowned when I mentioned slimming clubs ‘they don’t work long term’ was their response. Please don’t get me wrong, if it has worked for you, and you have kept the weight off for 2 years PLUS, and you can see yourself keeping to a healthy weight for the FORSEEABLE future, then put your hands up and shout me down..please! Prove me wrong, I want you to. But I will say this now; all my friends have had to go back to the program, again and again and again. They come off the program, the weight goes back on. In my mind, this means it doesn’t work.
I then got into a bit of a debate with a beauty journalist who didn’t agree with Orbach’s article. Her comment was ‘can’t believe she is dismissing the only thing out there that really works’ Seriously. I was shocked. Part of my argument to her was that slimming clubs were ripping people off – her response was ‘It works, so I don't think the ripping off accusation can be applied. It's not even expensive.’ WHAT! But it doesn’t work, and it IS expensive.
So, after this rant, what am I going to do about my weight?
I have decided to go the medical route. No, not surgery, but an obesity clinic that runs at The Portland Hospital. I have been referred by my GNYE. They give it the full whack. Nutrition specialists, exercise specialists, medication for a short period of time [ There are no side effects. Not one. It’s been tested over many years and IS entirely legal] And most importantly, proper therapy, and full, reliable, consistent medical attention. The emphasise is also on being healthy, not thin. There are no weigh in’s, thank god! Let’s just see how your clothes feel in 2 weeks time is the motto. YAY! And this is the good thing, if this clinic works, they will open more, and such is the need for more clinics like this in the UK, the NHS are opening obesity clinics too. So really, I have no excuse. Exercising is going to be interesting, let’s face it, I’m a lazy moo. Gyms are pits of hell as far as I’m concerned, [and expensive when you are living off £80 a week] swimming is too much of a faff, and I can’t ride a bike [or anything that needs balance] due to my cerebral palsy. So I will walk, and walk lots. I love walking, particularly at night, in the cold air [I know, I’m weird] It has also just occurred to me, that my mum loved walking. She never learnt to drive, so she really did walk everywhere she could, and usually dragged me along with her. It’s the one exercise that I can do well, without hurting my leg or hip [I have been advised never to run by my doctor, SUCH a shame...ahem] so at least I can do that without too much complaining! So, after all these years, at 38 years old, I will eat healthily, somewhat smaller portions, and exercise more, and lose weight the old fashioned way. This year, I have made a promise to myself, not get thinner, but to get healthier. I may fall off the wagon sometimes, but I won’t beat myself up about it. I will keep going, for the foreseeable future. In a year’s time, I may just report back to you, but not until then. This is my choice, my battle. I don’t need a slimming club to tell me that. See you on the other side folks.