Wednesday, 13 May 2009
Newsflash - Another Bolt of Lightning!
Talk about a lightning bolt, but after 30 years of yo-yo dieting and a weight that's more volatile than bank shares on the Dow Jones, I have had a blinding flash of inspiration. I will now attempt to share it with you.
The thing that I have never been able to understand is this. For weeks I can be as disciplined as Madonna. In that mindset, I can sit for an hour looking at my favourite cake and not eat a crumb of it, telling myself, quite reasonably, that I already know what it tastes like.
I can happily enjoy a fruit salad for dessert while my girlfriends share the sticky toffee pudding, or (best of all) I can have one loving spoonful and leave it there.
Eating like that I lose the weight, so I feel great and everything in life - from getting dressed for a cocktail party to walking downstairs with the laundry - seems easier and more enjoyable. Then something goes snap in my head and that willpower deserts me. Or, maybe I should say desserts me.
It starts with a gentle slide into depravity, allowing myself to be a little more lax: because I'm a thin person now, I'll have the pudding and the extra three glasses of wine. Very quickly it's open season and, after a dangerously deluding delay (fat lag), this leads to weight gain.
The day I go out a notch on my belt is the beginning of the end: I'm a fat bastard again, I might as well just stuff myself. The next thing you know, it's another belt notch or, if it's really bad, a new belt, and the hardest thing is to switch from that mode back into Madonna head. This is the bit I've had a revelation about.
What I have just understood is that when I'm in Pig Face mode, I don't really like myself very much. My self-esteem tanks and - here's the thing - somewhere deep down inside I don't think I deserve the joy of being slim me.
So it's not as simple as having no willpower - I've got it in spades - but when I'm in the Hate Myself swamp, I don't allow myself to use it. I'm a bad fat person and I don't deserve to be happy.
So overeating is not so much a comforting indulgence as a subtle form of self-harm.
Does that make any sense? It's a powerful self-destruct mechanism and I've only just understood it in myself. Then, in the synchronistic way of these things, I turned on the TV last night and there was a program about teen obesity that came to exactly the same conclusion: before you can start to lose weight, you need to build up your self-esteem until you believe you deserve to be the slim you.
It's pretty twisted, but I really think this is the nub of it. So, armed with this new understanding, what are the practical steps you can take?
Well, crash diets are hopeless, but a healthy eating program that has a strict two-week starter plan really works. I did one where you ate exactly what it said on the leaflet for the first fortnight, then after that you could design your own menus on a looser framework. I lost 1.5 kilos initially, which gave me the self-esteem boost to carry on freestyle.
So that's my flash of insight. And now I'm off for my daily walk without dragging my feet.
Photo taken in November 2008 at Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi, Sydney.