Thursday, 8 September 2011

Dawn Vs Food

Anyone who reads my blog, or my Twitter (especially my Twitter), will know that I am a bit of a foodie. In fact, I love food. All food. From fine dining to pot noodles, my love affair with anything edible knows no bounds. I tweet constantly when we are rustling up something fabulous for dinner and if there is a new biscuit/sweet/crisp product then you can rest assured that I will be the first in the queue to try it. It's just one of my simple pleasures. Particularly at the moment, when pregnancy means I have had to forgo most of my other vices like smoking and drinking. I've always loved trying new things, travelling to new places and sampling local cuisine. I'm pretty adventurous and I have always had an extremely healthy appetite. My own mother once told me that taking me out for dinner is a fun (I am always up for trying anything a bit different) yet quick (one glance round the restaurant and back again and the food on my plate seems to have vanished) affair.

However. A love of food does come with its downfalls. The main one being that one has to exert a pretty reasonable amount of self-control in order to not get fat. Luckily for myself my love of chocolate is also matched with a huge love of all things healthy. I still adore things like salads, veggies, fruit and soups and thus I have usually been able to continue my love of food whilst still maintaining a healthy weight. Still it would be nice if my addiction could have been to something that involved a super-skinny frame. Like designer clothes. Or smack.

Calm down, I'm kidding.

My relationship with food however, has not always been a healthy one. And although I am lucky enough to have never been in the grips of an eating disorder, I have flirted with what can only be described as an unhealthy and destructive relationship with food.

My usual weight is a curvy size ten. The biggest I have ever got to is an equally curvy size twelve. I'm sure there are lots of people reading this thinking what a cheek I have worrying about my weight. But I have a small frame and am not particularly tall. Anything over a size twelve, for me, starts to feel a little bit unhealthy and a bit overweight.

During my teens I was a skinny size 8 and never worried about what I ate. But a year long jaunt in Australia when I was 18 ended with my 19 year old self coming back 2 stone (and 2 dresses sizes) bigger. I've noticed that this seems to be a common trend with females who embark on tours of Australia. Probably down to a diet of cheap convenience food like McDonalds. It's hard to eat a varied diet when you are backpacking and staying in grotty hostels. Men, however, never seem to come back any bigger, probably down to all the shagging.

After being back only 6 weeks I managed to lose the weight. All 2 stone of it. How? Well I can't remember exactly as it was 8 years ago but I do remember situations such as these occurring:

  • peeling open sandwiches at lunchtime and only eating the inside contents like the ham, before quickly discarding the bread in the bin before anyone saw me
  • sometimes only having a bag of iceberg lettuce for lunch, that's right, the bags you get in the salad aisle at the supermarket that contain about 40 calories in total
  • having the same dinner of grilled chicken and half a pitta bread for dinner. Every. Single. Night.
  • going out for dinner with friends and picking at the same mushroom starter all evening, whilst simultaneously smoking and downing wine like my life depended on it

To be honest, I lost the weight in the only way that losing weight has ever worked for me. The 3 factor diet:


It obviously works for Kate Moss.

Unfortunately, once I had lost the weight, the only way I could maintain it was by developing what became a rather unhealthy diet/binge/diet/binge routine that stuck with me for a very long time and although I am much healthier now, seems to still lurk somewhere in the distance ready to pounce again when it is needed i.e. when I am trying to get rid of this babyweight.

For about 3 years after I returned from Oz I followed a very precise and regimented diet plan. Monday to Friday I ate very little. Very little. Breakfast was a smoothie, lunch an apple and dinner was usually steamed fish and vegetables or soup. In the space of only 5 days I could lose about half a stone. But by the Friday morning I was holding myself up in the shower as the steam & heat from the water was making me feel like I was about to faint. I had no energy and would feel dizzy if I got up too quickly. And trying to get to sleep every night with a stomach literally howling at you with hunger is soul-destroying. However, I could wear a tight top without worrying about a muffin top and didn't have to worry about slipping into a particularly slinky dress for clubbing that evening. The weekend however, would then be the exact opposite. Partly because I can't not eat with a hangover and partly because I was absolutely bleeding starving, I would spend Saturday and Sunday bingeing on whatever I could lay my hands on. Cheese, cake, biscuits, pasta, bread. And what would happen? By the Sunday evening I would be ill. My stomach couldn't handle the two extremes and I would spend the night clutching my stomach with agonising tummy cramps. It was horrible. And yet I continued this destructive cycle for about two or three years. My weight would literally fluctuate by half a stone every single week and it's only now, when I read all the research there is on extreme yo-yo dieting, that I realise the strain I was actually putting on my heart. While I reckon I am lucky enough to not actually have done any lasting damage, it still wasn't clever. And I reckon that there are tons of ladies out there doing the exact same thing week in, week out. My advice to you?

Stop it.


The thing that got me out of these bad eating habits was exercise. I bought a treadmill and started running and the result was that I couldn't actually maintain a diet of no carbs or fat without keeling over. So I actually started eating properly. I would be running at least 4 miles, 4 or 5 nights a week and as a result I started including carbs in my mealtimes, eating eggs for breakfast and even allowing the odd snack. Unfortunately, however, the iron willpower I used to display regularly, seemed to have vanished. If I wanted a chocolate bar then my resolve was gone and I would have to have it. I would actually wake up at 4am starving and have to venture downstairs and into the biscuit tin just to stave off the hunger pangs to let me go back to sleep. All the eating I did when I was running was probably down to a combination of actually needing the extra energy as I was burning off so much and that mentality thing of thinking you deserve it after a long run, thus cancelling out all your good work.

I could never exercise to lose weight though. It doesn't work for me. In fact during the year I spent running, I actually gained weight. Luckily it seemed to be mostly muscle as my clothes still fitted me fine and I didn't actually look any bigger. Apart from one particularly freaky episode where I put on my favourite short black dress only to discover that my legs suddenly looked like Jonny Wilkinsons. I calmed down a bit on the running after that. But a year doing lots of exercise has done me some favours. My butt is still surprisingly firm considering I am due to give birth in a couple of weeks. And although I was never a waif, my bump is pretty neat and I don't seem to have 'blown up' like many women do during the last stages of pregnancy.

The only other time I have had to lose a decent amount of weight was when I got back from LA last year to discover that I had put on a stone. After trying various diets, detoxes, etc, I was only able to actually manage it by going back to my age-old tried and tested method. I smoked, I drank Gin and I used coffee and the occasional bowl of soup to get me through the day. And once again it worked. I then celebrated my weight loss by getting up the duff. As you do.

So here I am. Due to give birth in a couple of weeks having spent the past 38 stuffing myself silly on whatever I pleased, whenever I pleased. And while I have only gained around 2 stone, which I am told is quite healthy and reasonable for a pregnancy, there is still gonna have to be some work done when my little bundle of joy makes an appearance. And in the back of my mind is that same old little devil that wants me to revert to my ridiculously unhealthy starvation/binging marathons. But I have made a promise to myself. That I am not going to listen to him. That I am going to let breastfeeding do its amazing weight-losing magic for the first few weeks and not even worry too much about my diet. That I am going to enjoy my time with my little newborn and spend it worrying neurotically about whether she is too hot in her crib or if I have put her nappy on right, not how many calories I have eaten so far that day or how angry I am at myself  for having that bit of cake.

I am going to do it properly. The right way. No junk food. No rubbish. Just 3 proper, healthy meals a day and even the odd treat should I so desire it. What is it they say? 'Nine months on, nine months off?'

And anyway, my bloody sister is only putting me in a bridesmaids dress next August, and if that isn't reason enough to get me back to my fighting weight then I don't know what is.

There's nothing like a chief bridesmaid with baby sick down her dress.

So anyway, wish me luck. And don't worry, the food tweets aren't going anywhere just yet.


P said...

I lol'd at the part about designer clothes or smack. Yep, I have a sick sense of humour...

emmysuh said...

I've struggled with weight for a long time too. I swear, I don't actual change my weight or size very often, because I tend to yo-yo in healthy/non-healthy habits. One month, I'll be all I LOVE SALADS and WALKING, the next I'll be all, I LOVE CHEESEBURGERS and SLEEPING...but as soon as I feel that extra 5 lbs. or so creeping on, I try to cut back at least a little.

I'm short too, and I sometimes height my looks, but also I know I'll always be a curvy person carrying a little extra weight. I'm a foodie too, I JUST LOVE EATING DELICIOUS FOODS!