The most common question from people when they hear I’ve lost this much weight is, “have you found it easy?”
There’s a can of worms!
My standard response is, “if it were easy, nobody would be fat.”
The truth is – and I don’t generally bore people with this – a lot of the time it feels nigh on impossible. They want to hear you say, “yeah, it’s a great eating plan and it fits around my social life” but the reality is that, as great as the Slimming World plan is, all calorie-deficit plans work if you stick to them, but it’s the sticking to them that’s so bloody hard.
I’m no stranger to “dieting” – I’ve been overweight for as long as I remember and I’ve tried pretty much everything apart from weight loss surgery. Xenical tablets seemed like a good idea at the time – they bind the fat in your food so that you pass it in your stools, and you’re told by the doctor to eat below a certain number of grams of fat in each meal to avoid diarrhoea. Sound reasonable, right? Wrong! For me, anyway, I got to a point where I was scared to move!
The fact is, boys and girls, there is no miracle fix.
There’s no denying that SW’s Food Optimising plan is really user-friendly – I love that fact that you start with all the “free” foods you can eat (in sensible portions) without weighing them or counting calories. It’s easy to follow and – shock horror – you can still eat out. It’s become apparent to me that the only difference between my current weight-loss endeavours and those I’ve gone through in the past is that this time I haven’t given up. That’s it. However, chuck in years of low self-esteem and a handful of mental health issues and the “not giving up” part becomes that much more critical.
I was diagnosed with depression and general anxiety disorder back in 2009, and with the benefit of hindsight, I suspect my mental health issues started in my late teens. Having said that, I was a very anxious child and always sought solace in food (ding ding!). No, I didn’t have a desperately unhappy childhood; I have a very loving a close family and I could have talked about how I was feeling anytime, God knows why I didn’t. I guess I assumed everyone felt the same way I did.
Right now I’m stuck in a self-destructive mire of depression and anxiety which (and I only realised this recently) has been going on for about 9 months. Having had Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, having practised mindfulness on a daily basis and having continued to take my prescribed medication, my head is still a foggy mess. Turns out there’s no easy way around that, either. The problem I have is that my mental health bears heavily (no pun intended) on my self-belief, and therefore on my weight-loss momentum. For years I thought I was depressed because I was fat, but it turns out the opposite is true.
When I first started losing weight, I felt amazing – we know that success breeds success, and so the first 7 stone or so came off nicely. Ironically, though, that was around the time I began to panic that I couldn’t do it. SEVEN STONE DOWN THE LINE! I was my own success story, but all of a sudden I couldn’t visualise myself crossing that virtual finish line. I got to about 8st off in total (1st on my own pre-SW and the rest with SW) and I hit a wall. Since then, all I can think about is failure. Some days I even manage to convince myself it’s easier being fat (it isn’t).
I’m still working on this, and I know it’ll be an issue for the rest of my life, whether I reach “target” or not. Right now I’m muddling through and doing the best I can with the support of absolutely fantastic people. I’ve regained half a stone and I hate myself for it, but I know that hate won’t help me.
So, is it easy? No, it bloody well isn’t.