Category Archives: My weight story

sarah in 1993

Ugly fashion choices I have made

It’s day two of my ‘how long can I keep up blogging every day’ challenge to myself, and today’s post is inspired by Facebook. More specifically, a post added by my lovely friend Lindsey, who I’ve known since I was in my teens and therefore has seen many of my unwise fashion decisions.

She posted a photo from about 1993/4 in which to be fair you can’t see much of what I’m wearing, but while we were trying to work out when it was taken, I dug out an old photo of me from 1993 from the wedding I thought it had been taken at. I was wrong, but when Mr saw the photo lying around, he actually thought it was my Mum, In fact I was only 22. Want to see it? Are you ready for the bright green monstrosity?

Nicks wedding

OK, I may have lost my waistline since 1993 but at least I gained a bit of fashion sense…eventually. The story behind this outfit was that I got married in 1993, and this was what I chose as my ‘going away outfit’. I bought it from Mum’s Empire Stores catalogue and carefully accessorised it with a bag in a completely different shade of green. Someone should have had a word.

The going away outfit only needed to travel 50 miles down the A14 in my (now ex) husbands red Ford Fiesta. We went out for a wedding meal at the local Beefeater, and then spent our first married night at home before driving to Derbyshire. I don’t think I took the lurid green outfit with me.

The second picture is the oldest. I haven’t got many from 1996 onwards as I chucked most of the pictures of me with husband number two and the people I used to be joined at the hip with. There’s plenty to go on from my early days though. Like this one from 1988.

Sarah with a perm

In case the full horror of this outfit hasn’t hit you, I have a perm. And I’m wearing dungarees. There really is no justification for this look, although there was worse on that trip – one of the boys dressed up in a top of mine along with full make up and spent an entire evening in drag. I was 17, on my first solo holiday abroad with a load of teenagers from different countries, and no, there’s still no excuses.

By 1989, thankfully the perm had grown out. But my fashion sense was still in its infancy and so it was no surprise that I thought this beautiful example of the Christmas jumper  was a good idea. This photo proves otherwise but at least I can say that it was ironic. Can’t I? No, it wasn’t. I loved that jumper.

Christmas Jumper

The early nineties were not a good time for me. I seem to have been lured into Novelty T-shirt territory, but in my defence, I’d just got my first Top Shop card and gone a bit mad thinking it was free money so I could spend it on whatever tat I wanted.

Me in 1990

 

The picture quality is awful as I’ve tried to crop a couple of other people out of an already quite small image…but you can see the horror of the Piglet tee. It was incredibly hot when that was taken and I remember sweat trickling down the back of my shorts at one point. I had a stunning dress that I bought at the same time, it was a really gorgeous boho style floral dress that I looked lovely in, but of course there’s no evidence of that, only the Piglet tee.

Sometimes I accessorised this look with incredibly large hoop earrings that got caught up on everything. Note the nasty white plastic watch, too.

sarah in stars dress

I think this is from 1994.

Only because my hair is still quite long and I had an unfortunate accident at a salon the following year that made me look like a mushroom.

So, the stars and moons dress. What’s not to love? It’s second only to the juicy fruits leggings that I bought in 1992 in the ‘unusual clothes I have worn’ category. This dress came from a gorgeous little boutique shop in Cambridge, which sold way overpriced clothes. I wanted to buy something from that shop and I think this frock was on sale. There’s no other reason for it, nobody else wanted to buy it, so I did.

I seem to remember I also treated myself to the most difficult to walk in platform wedges at the same time and I used to walk from one side of Cambridge to the other in them to get to work. Amazingly I never broke any bones but it was a good 2.5 miles. I don’t know what happened to the dress. It should have been saved as a reminder of what happens when posh boutiques have sales and reduce their stock so that I can afford it.

OK, so this is what happened to my hair in 1995.

Sarah has bad hair

The sunflower tee was just about acceptable  but I decided I wanted a change and so I had my hair chopped off really short. This wasn’t a good move, as you can see. Luckily, it grew back.

So from 1996 onwards I haven’t got many pictures. That’s what you get for airbrushing bad memories out of your life, you lose a few comedy moments at the same time…Since 2008 when I split up from the person who was either in or took most of them, there have been a few cringeworthy outfit choices but the beauty of digital photography is that it’s very easy to delete them!

I have had a trawl for a giggle and found one last gem though.

Australia 2010. It had been a very cold winter back home, I’d clearly put on some extra covering. But in Australia it was DAMN hot and so the cropped linen trousers and short sleeved top came out. I can’t remember if the boys had a full length mirror. If so, I blame this unfortunate outfit decision on jet lag.

Sarah in Oz

On a positive note, my hair was FANTASTIC.

I’ve actually quite enjoyed going back through my photos and having a laugh at myself. I have got plenty more pictures of me in dubious clothes or with bad hair but I think you get the gist of it. These days the fact I’m bigger tends to restrict what I wear to the point that really bad, unusual or ‘eclectic’ styles aren’t always an option but no doubt there will be pictures in the future that I’ll quickly delete and make a mental note never to repeat…

What’s your worst fashion disaster? Can you top any of these?

Fat Rant

badass

 

Batten down the hatches, this is going to be an epic rant I’m afraid. It’s good for me, apparently, getting it all out there….

You know how I said I was amazed at all the free help there is for people suffering with depression? Well, yes, there is. But mention you have any issues with eating and those ‘closed’ signs go up.

You would think, that considering the way fat people are vilified, abused and generally treated as something a bit sub-human by a large section of society, people who get up off of their large arses, put their hands up in the air and meekly confess they are really damn well struggling to cope with overeating, binge eating and being fat, would get a bit of support.

Apparently No. Not only are we sub-human greedy, stupid, lazy, ugly pigs who spend all our lives hanging around Greggs, we’re also not entitled to any help. If we’re depressed we may be able to get in the back door by asking for help with that and THEN talking about having issues with eating caused by being depressed. But I was advised today to keep that a bit quiet to start with at least, because otherwise I might be sent away and told “Sorry, we don’t deal with eating disorders”.

In the town where I live, I have two choices. Pay for a therapist at £55 a session, or wait until the end of the month for a four-week support group with B-Eat. That’s it. I’m currently pulling my hair out because Dad’s really unwell and I’m stressing about that at the same time as beating myself up for not losing any weight or feeling like I’m making in-roads into my eating problems (which is what I promised him I would do.)

cookie

I don’t want to go to Overeaters Anonymous. The thought of making a list of people I need to make amends to over my addictive behaviour (sorry I ate your Christmas chocolates, Moley) or who I’ve done bad things to in the past…or a list of people who’ve hurt me that I need to forgive…it fills me with dread.

I hate that sort of thing, I also really don’t want to give control of my eating up to a ‘higher power’ (it seems to have been hijacked by a lower power as it is) and I don’t know how you can possibly abstain from eating. I don’t binge eat in the stereotypical ‘eat everything in sight and feel sick afterwards’ way, so I can’t exactly abstain from binging – I just eat all day long on a bad day, a bit of this, a bag of that….I don’t see how I could do it. Some days I don’t, really. Some days I eat like everyone else, but I’m just still fat and depressed.

Also, they advise you to stick to a plan – some people do Slimming World or Weight Watchers, avoid trigger foods (I don’t really have them) and check in daily with a ‘sponsor’ to make sure you do everything. OK I like the one day at a time principle but the whole approach to food issues just doesn’t fit me. And it seems like a step backwards to go to Slimming World and call someone every day to tell them whether I stuck to my Syns. It’s bad enough doing that every week!

abstinence

So I have got to wait for a month and then go to the B-Eat sessions. If they get back to me to confirm I’m booked on them. And after four weeks, what do I do then? There’s a support message board but it’s not the same. I feel like I want someone to just say “OK Sarah, try this,” and help me out a bit with actual strategies and tools to help me manage my eating and moods. The woman I saw today suggested I take the tools from the Managing Depression four week course, which doesn’t start until May (and there may be a waiting list so I don’t even get in for May) use them to help get a grip on feeling low, manage moods and stress, and then try to get a one to one CBT referral from there. I think I’ll do that but all the time I’m worrying about having promised Dad I’ll get a grip and thinking “But I’m not actually doing anything….I can’t!”

I’ll keep plugging on with the book. It’s based on CBT techniques and I like the idea of fixing myself. So far I’ve realised I overeat when I’m anxious or feeling fed up. Also when I’m bored and my mind won’t shut up, I eat to distract myself. And when I am faced with something I need to write but I have absolutely no inspiration, I wander into the kitchen to see if that helps. It’s clearly a distraction technique for me, from feelings, stresses, boredom…

I also started the online ‘Managing Depression’ course with The Big White Wall. So maybe I’m doing something. Just not what I want to be doing.

I will beat this. I will…

The Depressed Optimist

optimist

I suspect you’ve already realised that I don’t like being labelled. I fight against being stereotyped and that counts for whether it’s about being ‘gorgeously full fat’, or now, my mental health. I’m not depressed, I’m coping with a low mood. That’ll do.

So, after an amazing response to my last post, I went off and registered with websites, emailed people and tried to put stuff in place to get this thing outta my head. It seemed to be going really well, I was feeling way more positive because I felt like I was doing something. But life has a funny way of reminding you it’s not going to be that easy, and I’ve been a bit down for the last day or two.

I went to the gym on Monday and had a really energetic PT session despite still having what was left of a cough and a cold to deal with. I didn’t hurt this time, thankfully, after he somehow managed to pull both my hamstrings the last time I saw him and leave me having to cling to the wall every time I tried to sit on the loo.

I was feeling quite positive, expecting an email from Beat and also planning to sign up to a ‘Managing depression’ online course through the Big White Wall which opened on Monday. What I didn’t know was that nobody was going to bother contacting me from Beat, and the depression course doesn’t start till next week, it just opened this week.

I am sticking to the ‘Overcoming Binge eating’ plan though and it’s quite interesting that at first I wasn’t really that bothered about overeating, but then yesterday I had a really crappy day with people letting me down at work, money worries and generally feeling *meh* and I was backwards and forwards to the kitchen from the afternoon onwards. Afternoons are a dodgy time for me, they are normally the time when I’ve done the most pressing and urgent work and I’m thinking about getting something else out of the way. I can get bored and fed up, and after being told I wasn’t getting some work I’d been relying on this month yesterday morning, it didn’t take much to send me to the kitchen in search of treats.

cake

It’s OK – this week is all about observation, monitoring and seeing where my weaknesses are, and boredom is definitely one of them. So is feeling stressed, or not having a clue what to write for someone when I have a deadline looming. Some of my regulars trust me to just write whatever I want for their blogs, which is great when I’m feeling inspired, but when my brain won’t cooperate it’s a nightmare. I pulled some ideas out of the recesses of my mind but it took ages to do it, and I was on a kitchen mission most of the afternoon.

I’m working hard to turn things around and trying not to let the miseries set in when I feel low. I had to let someone down yesterday because of my money situation, and I hated it…today I’ve done a spreadsheet of all my income and outgoings and although I’m still £285 less than I would have been, I can cover everything that’s coming out with a bit left over. My passport needs renewing (Moley is hoping to book us a belated honeymoon and it runs out in a week) so I’ll have to find the money for that from somewhere.But I’m following the Get Rich Lucky Bitch rules and getting my head out of the sand, I even wrote down everything I have including my Costa Card points so that I can see where I’m at! It’s not exactly rich, but at least I know where I stand and that does help!

new_6638411__coffeethumbnail

I’ve got to go back to the doctor on Monday for an update. I’m not sure how I feel; getting out of bed is still hard although I’m really pushing myself to do things like the gym and walking. I’ve become a Spotify nerd and have got 16 years of singles from the top 100 going back to 1980 in separate playlists. I download them to the SD card in my phone and I can transport myself to whatever year I fancy.

That’s another thing I’ve learned recently; brooding. It’s a sign of the D-word and bugger, do I brood? I’m also broody but that’s another blog post, right there. Apparently, people with anxiety fixate on the future and what might go wrong. People with depression or low mood look back at the past a lot. Guilty as charged. I actually found the last two years, 1995 & 1996 really hard to get round to doing as they were quite meaningful years for me and listening to the old songs brought back some powerful memories. I put off doing them for a while, for that reason. But they are done now and  have rediscovered some classic tunes! You have no idea how long ‘Cotton Eyed Joe’ was number 1 for. Shudder.

The true horror

Friends have been amazing since I blurted out how I was feeling. I’ve had lots of lovely people messaging me through facebook, saying they feel the same as me and totally get it. I’ve had friends call me to see how I am and come over and see me for coffee and a chat, and it really has helped…part of the mood thing is thinking nobody gives a rat’s arse about me because I don’t have many friends where I live and the mates I used to spend time with in Ipswich are too far away for a quick catch up cuppa or glass of wine now. I still see them but I can’t just be in town in 20 minutes any more, or stay out till 2am dancing and drinking.

So, that’s where I’m at. I promised to keep you up to date with it all and there’s not much to report really, it’s all been a bit of a damp squib this week. but I’ll get back onto Beat, get signed up to the Big White Wall course and see what the doctor says, and report back later.

Big, big hugs and kisses to everyone who’s reached out to me. It truly means a LOT.

love me

Help!

love me

This is going to be a tricky one – I might lose a few of my Gorgeously Full Fat followers or get a few snarky comments, but I’m going to say it anyway.

I’ve not posted much recently because I have had zero motivation. I’m tired all the time, can’t motivate myself to get out of the door to the gym, and my social life has nosedived. I’ve cancelled appointments, bailed on meetings and found myself sleeping on the sofa at 2pm.

Some days, I haven’t even got out of bed.

I’ve eaten everything that’s not been nailed down, I cry at old TV theme tunes and scowl at anyone who crosses my path for two seconds too long.

In short, my Gorgeously Full Fat life is just fat.

I was just about managing, until I had one of those conversations…with my Dad. As you know, he’s very poorly, and he got me on my own a couple of weeks ago and asked me if I meant it when I said I’d do anything for him. That’s not the kind of question anyone wants to answer, especially before you know what the request is going to be. To cut a long story short; He’s scared that my health is deteriorating and he wants me to sort myself out.

He’s got a point. For the last two years I’ve carried on with GFF, something like a swan on the surface, pretending I’m fine with being 18 stone, 18.5 stone, 19 stone…but waking up in the middle of the night feeling bloated and sore. I’ve pretended not to care as my clothes have got smaller in the wash. Or my bras no longer fit. I’ve flown the flag for the fat girl, and I believe in every word I said about fat not meaning unhealthy and plus size women being just as capable, intelligent, worthy and beautiful as their thin sisters. But deep down I’ve started to hate what I was turning into. An eating machine who beats herself up for every mouthful of food and then pretends to be fat and happy. The eating problems I talked about in the Gorgeously Full Fat have been back full force for the past two years or so and I’ve been struggling to cope with everything that’s being thrown at me. So I eat chocolate and think it will help. It hasn’t.

calling in fat

 

Dad’s words really shook me up. I cried my eyes out – I was struggling with depression as it was (and pretending I was fine, of course) and the thought of having my comfort blanket taken away when I was feeling so vulnerable made me feel stressed and panicky. I was scared of speaking to the GP – after all, all they do is send you to the chemist with a prescription for Prozac, and that wasn’t going to help, was it? But I needed to do something, and I’d promised Dad, so…

I made the appointment. Yes, she said, you certainly sound as if you’re suffering from depression, handing me a tissue. But instead of writing the prescription and sending me away, she referred me to Suffolk Wellbeing Service - a community mental health service, that offers workshops and courses in things like Improving Your Mood and Managing Stress.

She also put me in touch with B-eat. I’m hoping to go to one of their groups at some point.

I remembered how useful it was when I read Christopher Fairburn’s book, ‘Overcoming Binge Eating‘ in 1998, although I had never done the work because I was always too scared my ex would have poked fun at me for writing down what I ate, or complained when I set planned mealtimes. But luckily, my Moley is an understanding chap and he’s on board with me doing it now.

I’ve also got a six month free pass to The Big White Wall which I’m trying to get to grips with now; it’s an online therapy type website where you can assess yourself, talk to others and to experts in different areas of mental health. It’s all a bit overwhelming at the moment but I’m going to make the most of it.

obe

So…I have no idea how this is going to affect my weight but yes, there is part of me that’s hoping I can lose a bit. But mainly I want my spirit back. I want my motivation – I have three courses I’ve paid for from The Girls Mean Business and not finished, I can’t seem to drum up the effort to build up my business even though I’ve just had the worst financial year since 2009. I’ve been chasing myself round in circles, trying to start a Juice Plus Business and not exactly setting the world on fire, when what I should have been doing is dealing with my emotions and low mood.

So, from now on, I thought I’d chart my progress here. Don’t worry; I don’t intend to use this blog as therapy. The thing is, I had NO idea how much help there was out there, and just assumed I’d have to sort myself out somehow. That’s not the case. If my journey helps anyone else, my work is done. Well, as long as it helps me, too, obviously.

I feel much more positive knowing I’m doing something. Sorry if I’m not going to be ranting about fat hate (well, maybe there’ll be the odd one) but y’know what – my blog, my rules. This is me, fat, imperfect and trying to change my life for the better. Are you with me?

 

 

 

gorgeously full fat

This Woman Was Breathless Walking Around The Shops. What She Did Next Will Make You Gasp!

gorgeously full fat

 

It won’t really. I just fancied writing a blog title that sounded like clickbait!

I can put your mind at rest if you were thinking that my sudden breathless episode was a Kettle Chip and cheese related heart attack. Nope, it was a wine and party food related gastritis episode which has gone now. The next morning I got up and went for a walk, did three miles or so in zero temperatures and I was perfectly fine.

No more wine or vol au vents for a while. Well, maybe on Wednesday night…

I couldn’t sleep last night and I planned to write a “day in the life” type post about what it’s really like being fat, when you live a normal kind of life and not a tabloid imagined gorge fest.

So here’s today, warts and all. The reasons I want to get healthy again… This isn’t a whine and I’m not beating myself up. This is just how it is.

Do I really have to get out of bed?

I fully intended to hitch a lift to the gym with Moley at 7am. Had gym stuff all laid out. Then I didn’t sleep til about 2.30 and by 7am getting out into -3 cold and frost wasn’t top of my to do list. I stayed in bed a bit longer instead.

The first thing I do every day when I wake up is take a Lanzoprazole pill. These are for the gastritis and mostly they keep it under control. I really want to come off them as I think they make my IBS worse and I don’t want to be on them for the rest of my days! For now I’m taking them though. I phoned another prescription in this morning because if I run out and don’t take them I get terrible rebound pains that hurt so much I have to lie down and stay still for up to two hours. That’s boring.

I whizz up a pre gym protein shake for breakfast… My first one. Got them from Juice plus, the vanilla one is quite nice actually. Was expecting to grimace a bit.

Putting on my gym outfit meant issues. My sports bra won’t do up anymore, partly because I’ve put on weight, partly because it’s knackered and partly down to hormones making me go up a bra size. No running on the treadmill for me today then. I did feel a bit relieved, I hate running. Putting trainers on always means breathing in as my tummy gets in the way. Part of the logistics of being fat is finding ways to do things up or get things on and off while breathing in and squishing the fat bits.

Fat girl in gym session shocker…

I get the bus into the town and then walk the 15-20 minutes to the gym. Heard a Hi energy class going on as I walked in, really wished I had the fitness and coordination for it. I’ve done a few classes but even things like yogalates are hard for me, I can’t hold all the poses and I struggle to support my weight on one arm!

The gym was OK. I usually zone out with the iPod but I noticed a skinny girl giving me that look, the one you get when you’re fat and doing something skinny people do. I ignored it, and then shot the fat girl who sat next to me on the stationary bikes a look of solidarity…

Ten minutes into my cycling, my abdomen goes into spasm with no warning and I have to stop for a bit, concentrate hard and once the spasm subsides carry on. That’s IBS! I’m used to it and grit my teeth on the bike; at least I’m sitting down! It puts paid to the idea of finishing with 10 minutes on the cross trainer though… I wait until there nobody about in the changing room and… Well TMI. I don’t want to risk getting caught out on the walk back into town…

I look at myself in the gym mirror… Can’t help wishing my t shirt fitted better. I spent too much time pulling it down every time it rode up. When I wasn’t trying to ignore my knees hitting my squishy tum. Which gets in the way, as it does on the leg press too. And the back extension.

“Are you looking at my basket? “

In town I pop to get a few bits and as usual part of me always thinks I’m judged on what’s in my basket. OK so today it was eggs, bacon, low fat sausages, mushrooms, broccoli and butternut squash. But it isn’t always! I’m sure nobody gives a crap what I’m buying but if there’s crisps and goodies on there I almost expect a tut.

I get the bus home, put the drying on, make lunch, call the Spa to arrange my trip that Moley treated me to for Christmas, and decide that the windows look filthy so I’m going to clean them. Hmm. I have to reach across furniture to get to them and when I do the outside I have to reach up and scrub. The decision to clean the windows aggravates my back and my shoulder. I decide to have a shower and leave the hoovering till tomorrow.

I fire up the laptop to do some admin, I’m not supposed to be working but I have unpaid invoices I need to follow up and I planned to start working on ideas for my writing business next year, as they were keeping me awake last night. I realise I’m sitting at an awkward angle and my back starts aching but there’s stuff all I can do as there’s no room for a better desk in our flat. I dream of a decent size house!!

My confirmation email comes through for the spa day, do I want a normal or XL robe? I tick XL. And book a massage…

So many bras, so little choice

I finally make progress on the work stuff and also sign up as a distributor for juice plus. Yay! I decide to look for a sports bra online. Over 1000 bras, only 9 sports bras in my size. Both the ones I like are out of stock. I go for my third choice and that’s going to cost me £40 and take 14 days…

I cook tea when Moley gets home. Haven’t felt too much like hoovering up Christmas chocolates today, and dinner is mostly the butternut squash and broccoli I bought earlier, plus some chicken. I do give in to a few Lindt balls later. Damn they are good.

I try to read “Wheat Belly” later, as someone had told me her IBS and gastritis cleared up after giving up wheat and sugar. Toying with trying wheat free, just to see if it helps. The IBS settled this afternoon, sometimes it does, other times I resort to immodium. I try not to take the pills too often.

I’m knackered by 9.30 and in bed by 10, writing this before I forget. Really tired now. That’s what 4.5 hours sleep does to my brain.

Gorgeously Full Fat and knackered

That’s my day. My starting point for getting healthy. I don’t have anything seriously wrong but what I do have impacts on my daily life and I don’t want it to anymore…. It’s also an exercise in how much my weight affects me in little ways all the time. It doesn’t stop me doing things but it affects how I do them. It surprised me if I’m honest. that even someone like me who’s plus size positive actually thinks about things like what strangers in shops and gyms think of me. Guess I need a boost of confidence too…

I’d love to know if any of this resonates with you??

Night night xx

happy place

My Name is Sarah and…

happy place

I’m an overeater.

Yep, I’m holding my hands up and admitting that despite everything I’ve said in Gorgeously Full Fat, I also said I was a work in progress, and in the last year or so, not very much progress has been made!

I could bore you with the gory details but let’s just go for ‘Things have been a bit tricky’ and leave it there. I feel like I’ve gone backwards, especially as a year or so of not quite getting it led to some of last year’s summer wardrobe feeling a tad snug, which in turn led to the realisation that my aching knees were probably protesting because of the weight gain, and I scurried back to Slimming World. I thought if I did it ‘my way’ and didn’t take it too seriously I could handle it, but I stomped out of there in a bad mood a month or so ago, remembering that no, diets still don’t work, and now I’ve had to try and placate my poor brain, as it thinks I’m going to be starving the rest of me again soon and is busy making me want to eat frankly quite disgusting things that I’d otherwise turn my nose up at just in case I start looking at the slimming club posters again and thinking “Well, maybe this time…”

It was just after I stormed out of Slimming World for definitely, absolutely the last time that I got the email through about the Beyond Chocolate workshops in October. I’ve flirted with the idea of Beyond Chocolate before, but I’ve read the books and shied away from the actions because there’s a defiant stroppy teenager inside me who is REALLY fed up with being stressed and obsessed with food, and just wants to stop thinking about it, instead of navel gazing and trying to work out why she eats things like Monster Munch when she really doesn’t even enjoy them after about three crisps (are they crisps? Or paws? or bits of monster? I don’t know, but you get my drift.)

The description for the workshops was pretty enticing though so I signed up. There are two – one of the Beyond Chocolate approach to healthy eating, and one on body confidence. I have to hold my paw up and confess that I’m currently struggling with both. Healthy eating is rammed down our throats all day every day. If we actually listened to every bit of advice we’re given, we wouldn’t eat anything at all. I KNOW this, but it doesn’t stop me over analysing everything I eat, Monster Munch included, and beating myself for not being healthy enough. Yeah, I might wish I was Ella Woodward, the award winning 20-something food blogger of Deliciously Ella, who wins awards for her beautifully photographed, scrumptious sounding super healthy food. Unfortunately, my diet is less Deliciously Ella and more…I don’t know, someone who eats too much.

ella1

  Ella’s lunch

Monster_Munch_Roast_Beef_40g

Sarah’s lunch

As for the body image; the last time I truly, truly felt confident about my body was probably in about 2012 when I was working out like a maniac three times a week at the gym. I had to stop going to the gym when my work patterns changed completely and I couldn’t afford the gym membership, so I did try signing up for walking challenges but…well, you know.  I’ve lost my fitness, gained squidge and it’s had an effect on how I see myself. Yeah, I scrub up alright on a good day but I’m not feeling confident.

Beyond Temptation

To get me fired up for the Beyond Chocolate weekend, I thought I’d read both books again. I’ve just started getting into Beyond Temptation, which is the second book, and I read something that made me sit up and take notice.

Food is the easiest way of getting instant gratification, or doing something nice for ourselves. Eating is the best way to take a break or have a rest without actually stopping. It’s a little window of pleasure in days that are otherwise filled with putting other people’s needs before our own…..That chocolate muffin is often the only way we know to look after ourselves without putting anyone out, letting anyone down, going out on a limb or saying no.

That’s me! I’ll get a cake with the Tesco shop as a little treat because I’ve had to spend the time doing the food shopping online when I can’t really be arsed with it, and it’s my reward. I go backwards and forwards to the kitchen to overeat on food I don’t need because I don’t REALLY want to be writing that thing I’ve been asked to write, or I think the person asking me to write six blog posts by the end of the week but is paying me sod all for it is taking the p*ss…but it’s easier to distract myself from being stressed or put upon with a mouthful of Hob Nob than it is to get my Big Girl Knickers on and stand up for myself.

So anyway. I think (after I’ve put the washing out and done the washing up) that I’m going to use my work-free window this afternoon to treat myself. Not to a cake, but to an uninterrupted afternoon with the rest of the book. I deserve some me-time. I really think that it’s time I sorted it out.

Workshops

If you want to get a deal on the Beyond Chocolate weekend, it’s on 25th – 26th October in London, and should be £390 for both days. They’ve already discounted £50, and if you use the discount code SARAHCLARK you get a further 10% off that, which brings it down to £306. And you’ll get to meet me too *blush*

The details are available on the New Workshops page of the Beyond Chocolate website.

 

skinny

Confessions

wear your size

 

I’ve been away for a while…

Most of the reason I went off radar was because I’d handed the blog over to a new hosting company, who hadn’t anticipated just how difficult wrestling it from the clenched jaws of WordPress was going to be, and ended up having to completely rebuild it. Adding extra posts would have just given the poor sods even more to do.

I also had a bit of a brain fart. It’s as if every now and again I need to remind myself that diets don’t work, by going on one for a bit and then getting really stressed and giving up.

It had been on the cards for a while, because I was feeling a bit rubbish. My joints were aching – I’ve been referred to physio because I’ve got some sort of rotator cuff injury, and one morning I woke up with a sore knee and a sore ankle and thought “I know, I’ll join Slimming World and get a bit of weight off.”

The thing is, I bloody hate diet clubs. I started off feeling optimistic that despite the sharp intake of breath when I weighed myself, I’d soon weigh less and my ankle wouldn’t hurt when I walked any more. For a few weeks I managed to grit my teeth through the meetings, despite itching to get out of the door and feeling like an overgrown five-year-old when the clapping and cheering part of the meeting started.

“You lost half a pound! That’s AWESOME!”

I could lose more than that with a big poo.

I watched in disbelief as one grown woman, so desperate to get a result, actually stripped to her bra and pants, so that she’d register that elusive half-pound weight loss. It didn’t occur to her that she still weighed exactly the same, and she wasn’t fooling anyone.

Another woman had been coming for about two years and had lost and gained the same stone over that time, but still came every week because she thought it was better than letting herself go and gaining constantly.

Almost everyone said they would have a pig out that night after they weighed themselves.

The tipping point was when it was really hot in July and I gained three pounds in a week. Every sensible person in that room would have known it was the fact I was bloated, retaining fluid in the heat and had been guzzling bottles of water all day. It put me in a really bad mood, the whole episode had cost me about £50 and I’d lost less than half a stone in two months. On top of that, I got a patronising text message from the group leader about my weight gain, saying that if I knew where it had come from, it was OK, but if I needed to talk, she was there.

I don’t know what I was thinking.

I haven’t been since. I have no idea if I’ve lost or gained weight.

skinny

Why did I do it? I think I was feeling under pressure. From where, I’m not sure, but even though I know damn well that diets never work for me, or anyone, really, I had to put myself through that because I was feeling a bit rubbish, a bit knackered and a bit stressed. Dieting and weight loss are so ingrained, so insidious, that it can be really hard even when you’re an avowed positive body image, non-dieter to resist the temptation to just try it one more time when you’re feeling crap.

I’ve been sulking about Viva Voluptuous too. It’s not sold many copies and there’s nothing I can do about it. That made me feel a bit crap about myself, and the general feeling of ‘meh’ got turned into “My body is bigger than it should be and I’m not good enough”

Slap on the wrist for Ms Clark.

And my ankle and knee pain cleared up by itself.

 

 

 

 

Ickworth House

When all the light bulbs come on at once….

Have you got a cup of tea and a biscuit? This might take some time.

Continental_Brands_187591822

I’ve had a couple of pretty massive light bulb moments in the last day. It’s like someone’s watching over me and doing a face palm “She finally got it!”

The first one was last night.

I’ve got so many ideas for things I want to do with Gorgeously Full Fat, book writing and my copy writing business. I’ve been talking websites, videos, ebooks, courses. I’m doing training, I’m reading up on everything from social media marketing to membership groups. The ideas are all great and I still want to do them but you know what?

I’m mentally drained. I just can’t seem to get my head in ‘that place’ and it’s all I can do most days to do the bog standard stuff I have to do to pay the bills, let alone develop my business.

I wake up every day with back ache.  Gym? Swimming? Walking? You’re joking, right? My joints ache, my back hurts, my head aches. I’ve been swallowing painkillers like sweeties and they don’t have as much effect as they did anymore. I can’t concentrate so I’m scrabbling in the kitchen for food all afternoon and by 8pm I just want to go to bed.

I know this ain’t good.

Last night I decided I’d had enough. I was going to stop putting so much pressure on myself to do three days work in one day, and slow down a bit, even if it means putting my plans for global domination as a fat super heroine on hold for a bit. I binge on work. If I have to write eight 500 word articles for a client, instead of doing four a day for a couple of days, I have to do them all in one sitting. I’ve sat up ’til midnight when I didn’t need to before just to finish off the last one of a series I’d promised a client. I sit here at 9,10, 11 pm checking clients’ Twitter feeds. I forget that last year a client showed me just how disposable copywriters are and dumped my arse with no warning after I’d been putting myself out for them nearly three years. I don’t HAVE to work myself into the ground for anyone.

I decided that I was going to start looking after myself instead. I never get to the gym because I’ve always got too much work to do; so instead of waiting till I’ve finished working before I go, I’m going before work again.

This did almost end in tears earlier when I dug out my old Cindy Crawford DVD and made a sorry attempt at doing the moves I used to do when I was 24. I didn’t make it past the warm up. These knees aren’t made to do lunges and there’s no freaking way I’m jumping up and down. I decided ‘bugger this, I’m off to the gym.’

Two hours later I’d cycled 10k on the bike, done 20 minutes stomping on the treadmill and walked all the way home. I did hurt a bit but I proved I could do it!

This took me on to the second light bulb moment.

Ickworth House

Me….as I am now.

 

I get loads of blogs emailed through to me daily on all sorts of subjects and TBH a lot of them get deleted without opening. One of them is from ‘Fierce Freethinking Fatties‘ which is a daily blog written by lots of different bloggers, and one that I’ve been deleting has been Eat the food’. I knew it mentioned calorie counting and I just didn’t want to know.

Today I don’t know why, but I just clicked on it. Turns out that the writer, Shaunta, is just like me! She knows diets don’t work, but really struggles to fully embrace eating normally and not trying to restrict food. She started an experiment at the start of this year – eating ENOUGH. It sounds ridiculous, I know, but hear me out.

Shaunta was over 25 stone, but tried really hard to exercise. It hurt. A lot. She tried running, and ended up in pain. She necked painkillers every day. Her back hurt, her joints ached and she hit a wall energy wise in mid afternoon. She binged – but when she wasn’t binging she tried to stick to about 1800 calories per day.

Then, she read about Go Kaleo (don’t let the name put you off) and realised she was actually eating less than she needed to feed her Basal Metabolic rate (the bare minimum you need to keep your organs functioning, even if you stay in bed all day) at 1800 calories per day. No wonder she was tired.

She worked out that she needed to eat a LOT more to be able to be active, energetic and alert. So she set herself a MINIMUM calorie target and that was 2500 a day. To most people who’ve been on and off diets all their lives, like me, that’s HUGE. We’re brainwashed into restricting to 1200, 1500 or even 1000…but come on, when you’re 15, 20, 25 stone, your body needs much more to eat than that.

Shall I give this theory a test run? I’ve worked out that on a do-nothing day, where I don’t even move out of bed (Like I ever get one of those) I need 1850 calories. If I just dawdle about all day and don’t do a lot, I need more. If I go to the gym or walk for an hour around the block, or swim for an hour, I need a lot more. My TDEE or total daily energy expenditure if I manage to exercise 3-4 times a week is almost 2800. So, if I aim for a MINIMUM of 2200 a day, t cover basic body functions, a bit of pottering and a few days where I exercise a week, it should give me the energy I need to actually get fit and feel better…

Calorie counting goes totally against my beliefs, but what really swung me was that when Shaunta started it had an unexpected effect; she stopped binge eating and all the Health at Every Size principles started to drop into place. She had way more energy, slept better, ate better quality food, stopped bingeing and after 100 days she’d lost weight. LOST weight.

I just want to feel better. I really do. I hate dieting and refuse to do it. So, I’m going to commit to doing this for 100 days, like Shaunta did, and also doing an hour’s exercise at LEAST 3 times a week. I’m aiming for a minimum of 2200 calories a day for now. Thinking about that, it sounds like a lot. It’s also a minimum, not a maximum.

Looking after myself, not getting so stressed about work, doing more exercise and eating enough to give me the energy I need….pretty radical stuff, hey? I’ll update you next week on how it’s going…

 

 

 

 

Eating Disorders Awareness Week: How I Beat Binge eating

help

Warning: If you’re likely to be triggered by talking about real life eating disorders, look away now!

So, it’s Eating Disorders Awareness Week, and the media is full of faux sympathetic talk about helping people with bulimia or anorexia and getting a diagnosis from your doctor being the key to getting your life back. Is it? Bullshit. Sorry mum.

Anyone who’s read Gorgeously Full Fat will be able to tell you that getting a medical referral for an eating disorder (in the late 1990s anyway) was no route to health. And I don’t think anything has changed in the past 15 years, given that according to the Huffington Post today, “Last week, it was reported NHS is failing thousands of patients with eating disorders who are being turned away by doctors because their condition is not deemed ‘serious enough’.”

That’s pretty much word for word what I was told when I asked for help. I wasn’t ill enough. I wasn’t half dead through starvation, or throwing up three times a day. I knew I had a problem therefore I was intelligent enough to be able to deal with it. Would you tell someone with severe depression that they didn’t need help because they weren’t at the stage of jumping in front of a train yet? It’s EXACTLY the same. Telling someone with an Eating Disorder Non Specified (EDNOS) that they should be able to figure it out by themselves is just like telling someone with depression that they’re a bit fed up and need to get a hobby.

Actually, I did beat it myself. The worst of it, anyway.

Here’s what I did. It might not help you, but on the other hand it might give you a bit of a heads up if you think you are dealing with an eating disorder and haven’t had any help from the NHS (I was actually offered sessions with a nutritionist. At that point I’d studied two diplomas in weight loss/nutrition and fitness, read every copy of Zest and Health & Fitness cover to cover and could probably have recalled the nutritional value in just about anything.).

You might also want to read ‘You can heal your life but not with chocolate‘ on the blog…

Disclaimer: This is my story. It’s what worked for me. If you think you have an eating disorder and you’re harming your health, my advice is to see your doctor first. 

Admit it – you’ve got issues. 

I thought I was just crap at dieting. That’s what I told my then boyfriend when he laid into me for not telling him I had a mental problem, as he so charmingly put it. I cried and wailed and protested that I didn’t KNOW I had a problem. It was only after researching and talking to other people just like me that I actually grew a pair of ovaries and owned up to needing help. OK, so maybe he wasn’t the most sympathetic person to confess it to, but then I moved onto step two.

hobnobFind Support

Once I’d got my head around the fact that no, it wasn’t normal to eat entire packets of chocolate Hobnobs in one sitting, and then follow them with two mini pork pies because I thought a savoury taste would stop me feeling as if I was going to barf, I decided to try and find support.

That was where the Internet came in. Back in 1998 I didn’t have it at home so I was restricted to accessing pages at work in my lunch hour. Or when the bitch boss from hell, the one who had escalated my eating issues from occasional attempts at dieting to full on uncontrollable binging, wasn’t looking. Despite the fact that it took about 20 minutes to download a page back then, I found a support group called ASED or ‘alt.support.eating-disorders’. It’s now a really awful Google group with nothing much of any use on it but back then it was a lifesaver. What it did for me, apart from help me when I was having a REALLY bad day, is make me realise that actually, I was a worthwhile person. I used to help other people on the forum, people with severe bulimia and anorexia, and I’d often find myself getting more out of supporting them than I did from reaching out for support myself. It made me feel useful and needed.

I forged a few offline friendships with some really great people through ASED, and they were good for book recommendations and therapy techniques as well as virtual hugs. The downside was that occasionally someone would die. Yes, that’s the trouble with eating disorders, they kill people. Some women (or men) who’d posted regularly on the forum committed suicide, unable to deal with their issues any more. Occasionally someone would get sectioned, or sent off to a clinic, usually the people with anorexia, and sometimes it would just be too late. Those posts were always the worst.

obeGet informed

Once you know what you’re dealing with, you can start looking for answers and help. It’s much, much better these days with so much information available online, social media, online therapy, web-based support groups and more. Back in 1998, there was nothing like that. The ASED group did direct me to some great resources though and once I’d started to get to grips with Amazon (I was so excited that I could order books on the Internet and they’d arrive in a couple of days) I started to order the sort of books that I was too chicken to look for in Waterstones or read unless my boyfriend was out. The first book I ever bought about eating disorders was:

Dr Christopher Fairburn:  Overcoming Binge Eating

It;s a brilliant book. His straightforward CBT style techniques did start to have a positive effect fairly quickly, although I couldn’t do everything he suggested because I didn’t want to arouse the boyfriend’s suspicion and have to deal with him having another go at me about my eating disorder. The second edition came out last year and I’d highly recommend it if binge eating is a problem for you.

Other books I immersed myself in include:

I hadn’t really started to get into fat acceptance or any kind of body positivity, I just wanted to stop binging. The books above all approach the issue from different perspectives, the Geneen Roth book was hard going at times and if I’ve read one piece of advice to stock up on all your favourite foods, I’ve read them all (couldn’t do that – boyfriend would have thought I was going loopy)

The fourth and most important step out of eating disorder territory for me, took longer. In fact, if I’m honest it’s still going on, and it’s VITAL if you want to stop binge eating.

STOP PEOPLE PLEASING AND ACCEPT THAT YOU’RE OK

Sorry for shouting, but it really is the fundamental thing, the hardest and the most obvious all in one. I didn’t start to really get over my issues until I’d got shot of one of the things that was exacerbating them. The man. How can you possibly get over a diet addiction and make peace with your body, with food and everything else when you’re living with someone who makes you feel as if you’re in the wrong just because of the way you walk? (yep, he really did.)

I’d got over the worst of the problem by 1999, a combination of the techniques above, some counselling and moving job did the trick. It was always there under the surface though and I still binged, just not every day. I didn’t consider myself cured – I still don’t completely, but I’m a work in progress on the people pleasing and I do genuinely believe that I’m OK these days. In fact, some days, I feel positively fabulous!

So, that’s my contribution to Eating Disorders Awareness Week. I’ve been there, done that, thought about throwing up or starving myself but never done it (deliberately). I’ve binge eaten Kettle Chips, Hula Hoops, pies, cakes, biscuits and special fried rice. I’ve done every diet known to woman. I rarely binge now. I’m still fat…I find that the mere mention of the D-word sends me into the kitchen for food I don’t need so I avoid it. Yeah I’m fat. I’m fatter than I was in 1998, that’s for sure. But am I happier?

Hell yeah.

 

 

Smiling couple

Wedding Belle

Smiling couple

From my experience, weddings bring out the diet head in most fat women, no matter how hard they try to block it out. It’s a nightmare scenario when you’re trying to avoid diets and weight loss advice; not only do you have to deal with finding the dress, you have the prospect of having pictures taken that you can’t avoid being in, and a room full of relatives who might not have seen you for a long time.

I can honestly say that I don’t know if I gained or lost any weight between getting engaged and getting married. I can say that the dress was the difficult bit. not because I was fretting over my size or anything, but because unless you’re lucky enough to be able to afford someone to make something just for you, you have to negotiate the minefield that is trying to work out whether a fabulous outfit modelled on a size 10 wisp of a thing will look remotely like that when you order it online. Of course, there are plus size wedding shops; Simply Be does a plus size range but they are all white and if you’ve read Gorgeously Full Fat the book, you’ll know a white dress probably isn’t appropriate!

There are also wedding dress shops, and wedding dressmakers, queuing up to make that perfect gown. They are very expensive though, and they class anything over a size 14 as plus-size (or at least they used to) so again, you’re stuck with the dilemma of trying to work out how a dress displayed in a small size will look on an ample bride.

What did I do? I went online and bought an ‘occasion’ dress off the peg instead. It was lovely on, and I could send it back it if had turned out to be too big – a luxury I didn’t have with the dresses ordered online and made to measure. Thankfully, mine fitted.

I was, I’ll admit, tempted by the diet on a few occasions last year. I put on weight when I was mainlining Cadburys chocolate when dad was in hospital, and it took me a while to rein myself back in and stop overeating junk food when I couldn’t be arsed to cook, and drinking wine till my head buzzed. I stopped, but I knew I was a bit bigger. I opted to walk a bit more and swim a bit, but even the I somehow resisted the diet.

Anyway, I put thoughts about photographs to the back of my mind, and showed up with a very big smile on my face on Friday 3rd January. And you know what? The dress looked lovely. I had the best time ever. I played up to the camera, grinning like a loon and hugging Moley, and I didn’t give a stuff about how I looked on camera. The only comments I’ve had about how I looked are “You looked so happy.”

So, if you’re a chubby girl (or man) and you’re starting to feel the pull of the diet, don’t believe the hype. You’ll be just as happy if you get hitched JUST AS YOU ARE as you would if you’d starved yourself for months, and what’s more, the time you spend building up to the big day will be full of fun stuff and excitement instead of self-denial and wishing you looked different.

Remember: your beloved wants to marry you as you are, not just a thinner version of you!

Oh and PS: I got my wish; Dad was there to walk me down the aisle …

Signing1