When I was in my late teens/early twenties, a woman said 4 words to me that I will never forget; they shocked me to my core and changed my life forever.
The woman was a doctor and the 4 words were: “You are too fat”.
I’d been living away from home for the first time and couldn’t cook so my diet consisted of frozen things that I could heat up in the oven or things that I could fry or heat up in a saucepan. Dinner, for example, was often oven chips, fried eggs and baked beans! I worked long hours in a shop but, fortunately (!) there were number of shops nearby where I could pick up lunch. Marks and Spencer had launched their range of pre-packed sandwiches and I fell in love with their prawn and mayonnaise offering at first bite. Having realised that I didn’t need to subject myself to my appalling cooking for every meal I looked for places to buy breakfast; not only was I working long hours but I was out almost every night and rarely got home before 2am so I often didn’t wake up until after I’d dressed, showered and walked to work. It was at that point that my descent into fatness began: my search led me to McDonalds and their bacon and egg McMuffins. Had I known then what I know now I would have realised that I was at the start of an addiction that was to last for several months but, at the time, I was lazy, hungry and, invariably, hungover.
At first, it wasn’t too bad; I had a bacon and egg McMuffin for breakfast and a prawn and mayonnaise sandwich for lunch and whatever haphazard combination of frozen/fried foods I could sling together for dinner. However, after a couple of weeks I wasn’t satisfied with one McMuffin and started buying two for my breakfast; I didn’t realise that the sugar in the things was giving me a quick energy spike which left me begging for more when it wore off. Some time after that I found that I was hungrier at lunch time so I progressed to the packets of three sandwiches in Marks and Spencer – one was prawn, one was bacon and egg but the filling in the third has slipped my mind for some reason, perhaps it had something healthy in it.
My evening meals were never going to get any healthier as I was still heating food for myself (by no stretch of the imagination could it be called cooking) but they were, mysteriously getting bigger, I think I added sausages into my repertoire at this point.
Anyway, you can see a pattern emerging and it didn’t get any better as the months went on. When I first left home I was a UK size 8/10 but it seemed that, since living on my own, my clothes had somehow shrunk and I was forced to buy new ones. I didn’t worry about it too much at the time as clothes shopping has never been a chore for me and, really, what was the difference between a size 10 and a size 12? I convinced myself that the shops were cutting their clothes smaller to save money and that, once they saw sense went back to their usual patterns I would be back in my normal size. Unfortunately this argument didn’t really wash when I found myself buying size 14/16 clothes……..
Eventually, after almost a year away from home I went back to my Mum and her healthy home cooking. I don’t really remember if anyone said anything about the weight that I’d gained, certainly nothing sticks in my mind but maybe they did and I just metaphorically stuck my fingers in my ears and went ‘la, la, la’ in my head. I digress; for the last couple of weeks that I was away and since returning home I’d had quite sever pain in my knees which meant that I really suffered when wearing my trade mark 3 inch stiletto heals. Obviously there was no way I was going to wear flats so I took myself off to the doctor. She listened to my tale of woe, looked me up and down and said those unforgettable 4 words. She also made me stand on a scale which showed that I had put on over 2 stone in less than a year thanks to my bad food choices.
She put me on a healthy 1,000 calorie a day diet and, after bawling my eyes out for a couple of hours, I stuck to it religiously; I lost weight, exercised more because, miraculously, the pain in my knees improved no end and eventually got back to my old weight. I have never been fat since because I never wanted to hear those words again or feel the pain that went with hearing them.
These days it seems that professionals are far more cautious in their approach to obesity and they speak about ‘weight loss journeys’ and being ‘plus size’ because that is the more sensitive and politically correct approach. Words like that are certainly easier to hear but I wonder, long term, if they are actually kinder. My doctor had no problem using the F word and, for me, by God was it effective!
Since then I don’t think I’ve ever owned a set of scales; if my clothes fit I’m happy and, I don’t know why but I have an almost pathological dislike of clowns ;O)