Saturday, 11 January 2014

Happy New Year (eventually!)

Once again, it has been far too long since I had the time to write a post and there are dozens of topics racing round my head at the moment. Seeing as we have a whole new year to get our teeth into, I would like to say something about my hopes and thoughts for 2014.

Though it may seem twee, I do like a good New Year's Resolution and have made a few of my own. Firstly, I need to get my driving license. Milton Keynes is not the sort of place you can easily get by without a car, not least because public transport here is appallingly unreliable and hideously expensive. Secondly, I am determined to finally shift the excess 2... ok, 3.. FINE 4 stone in weight that I'm currently lugging around. Yes, I know. I've blogged at least once about body imagery and basically sticking two fingers up at a society that demands women conform to a certain size in order to be considered attractive, BUT my desire to lose weight is not about being attractive. Alright, if I'm going to be entirely honest, maybe there is an element in there of wanting to feel pretty but for the most part, this is a health issue. As I've previously blogged before, I have fibromyalgia which leaves me feeling pretty wrecked 99% of the time. Every morning I wake up and every bit of me hurts, I feel nauseous, headachey and as exhausted as though I hadn't slept in days. It's not unlike feeling epically, permanently, hungover. My doctor has told me off about my weight a few times and really believes that shifting the flab will alleviate my symptoms. It's worth a go, hey!

Here's the problem I have; it's not as though I haven't tried to lose weight before. In fact, I've spent almost the entirety of my twenties feeling self-conscious and frumpy, wanting to slim down, trying all sorts of diets and fads, and yet I suspect I'm currently bigger than ever before. This is not even slightly uncommon, and I think I've finally realised why. Typically, I'll buy low fat or fat free options wherever possible; diet coke, fat free yoghurt, light soft cheese, lean beef mince, and so on. That's the healthy option, right? Apparently not! All this stuff might be low in fat but instead it's packed full of sugar, salt and artificial flavourings to restore the taste that is lost by taking out the fat. It wasn't until people on the weight loss section of Mumsnet pointed out that fat (in food) doesn't make you fat that I started to actually think about what I've been eating and why I haven't been losing weight. I felt pretty shocked and in all honesty quite stupid. It's prompted me to start really reading the nutritional information on the food I buy and I've completely stopped buying anything marketed as fat free or low fat. Just to illustrate the point, I used to love the Activia fruit yoghurts BUT one teeny 125g pot contains over 16g of sugar. Right then, I thought. I'll go for plain yoghurt instead. Comparing the labels of the low fat and full fat options, it seems that where the full fat option has 5.1g of sugar per 100g, the fat free has a staggering 8.9g! I'm completely appalled and kicking myself for years of trying and trying to slim down, really believing that I was choosing the right foods and all the time I couldn't have been more wrong.

I'm not going to go down the path of waxing lyrical about one method of weight loss over another. Everyone's metabolism and personal tastes are different and the key is really in understanding your body and what works for you on both a physical and an emotional level. I envy people for whom food is nothing more than sustenance, but for me and many like me, my relationship with eating is very emotional and not in a good way. So my goal - or more accurately, my hope - for 2014 is to change my relationship with food, ditch the sugar addiction and eat proper, real food where I KNOW what's in it and where it has come from.

Perhaps the next time the topic of childhood obesity comes up, we could all take a moment to think about what we really know about the food we eat and how we really understand what our bodies do with fat, protein, sugar, etc. I'm a reasonably intelligent woman and I got it horribly wrong. It's not really that much of a surprise that we have an obesity epidemic on our hands when we can't trust the labels on the food we buy, particularly when that food is presented to us as the norm over buying masses of fresh ingredients to prepare each and every meal ourselves from scratch.

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