Friday, 12 February 2016

Fat or Phat?

Not to be too Bridget Jones about it, but here's what I ate yesterday, should you care:

a vegetable samosa for lunch (no breakfast, never have eaten breakfast in the week since I was a teenager)

A sunburst, provided by stationery company as thanks for buying a packet of envelopes.
then another,
then another,
repeated until I had a sugar headache,

Packet of twiglets shared with Juliano the Handsome in the car on the way to Kew Gardens to look at Orchids

Small pizza with salad when we came back late, while watching a Channel 4 Foreign Drama.

Then an orange

This was not one of my good days, folks, which is NOT why I'm fat.

I'm fat because the good days go more like this:

Weekend, when I do eat breakfast - oat meusli with nuts, fruit juice sweetened cranberries, assorted nuts, fat free Greek Yoghurt with honey or a big spoonful of either lemon or orange curd, and maybe a chopped banana or dates, berries, or whatever fruit we have in the fridge.

lunch:  current favorite either poached egg on avocado and Gail's olive bread toast with Chipolte sauce, or poached egg in chili whipped yoghurt with same olive bread toast or poilane rye.  With butter.  Or a falafal sandwich from Mr Falafal in Shepherd's bush market, or labne and zaater on arabic bread with halloumi side, or mozzarella and tomato salad with more olive bread, or if there's a match on, something picked up from Waitrose on the walk to the football ground, which will include a half-time mocca.

Dinner:  last week I had a blue cheese and roasted cauliflower souffle one night and the next a vegetable pudding with vegetarian suet crust with a salad, heavy on the dressing.  But it might be a curry, or a pasta with home made sauce, or a veggie pie, or lentils with sage oil and veggie rice...  Always vegetarian - I rarely eat meat.

Snacks throughout the day are few but currently my youngest daughter is broken hearted and baking her way through the pain so we are all gaining the break-up weight and eating the cakes (I hope she gets over the bugger soon), so last weekend I had four slices of banana bread at various stages through the weekend and a blueberry muffin.

Exercise included - sanding and scraping the paint off my kitchen surfaces - and if you don't think this counts as exertion then you obviously don't do DIY as I had sweat trickling down my back.  I also vacuumed the sitting room - and my hoover is like steering an elephant round on a skateboard, then we walked to and from the Football ground - an hour round trip, and I changed the bedlinen - counts as a workout in my book - wrestling with a duvet and 8 pillows is not nothing.

Then on Monday got up and walked to the GP - 40 mins, and came into work, another 40 minutes walk both to and from the tube station.

Admittedly I then sat on my fat bum and watched TV all night, while eating a baked potato with blue cheese and salad, followed by nightly orange and two digestive biscuits with a cup of tea.

So look, yes I eat.  I eat a lot, but I'm not hoovering up family bags of crisps, or frying chips every night, or ploughing through chocolate biscuits.  Every day.  Once a week I have a 'starburst' type incident which can involve anything from cake at Choir to chocolate at Mosaics, or left over chocolate chips from the bakery tin at the Heartbreak Kitchen.  I can see why I gain weight, but I'm not going to send myself to prison for criminal overeating.  I'm living my life.  I'm enjoying food.  I eat a bit of bad stuff, and a fair bit of good stuff.  Why UNIVERSE is this punishable by saddlebags on my thighs?  And then as if carrying them around in all their - frankly - unattractive glory (that's the thing we don't say so much about fat, is that we are not all plus size swimsuit models, and for most of us our fat isn't particularly attractive of itself) - the saddlebags are badges of shame.  We are - horror, DUMDUMDUM, FAT.  Eek.  You terrible person, you have sinned against nature, you have not stuck to 2,000 calories a day or wasted precious hours of your useful and creative life running on a treadmill, OR been gifted with a super-duper fat burning metabolism.  You have eaten crap and you are wearing it on your thighs. Shame on you.  We will shun you.  No, actually we won't, because tutting under our tongue is more fun.

So yes I don't find my fat self that attractive.  Some of this is self-loathing, beaten into me since childhood and being dragged to the doctor aged 13 because I was too thin or 'awfy skinny' accompanied by that shudder you give when you see a very very obvious anorectic person who is little more than walking bones.  That was me.  That was me with my two side front teeth missing after an accident knocked them out.  I looked like Plug, or Mrs Plug from the Beano (or was it the Dandy?) There was actually nothing medically wrong with me.  I was just naturally skinny and I smoked.  I saved my lunch money for fags, but when I ate, I ate true junk - biscuits and chips and turned my nose up at anything green.  So I grew up thinking I was an unattractive lass, more boy than girl with knobbly knees, afraid to smile.  A size 0 model before such a thing was invented (these days the missing teeth would probably give me an 'edge'.

It's a wonder, looking back, that I survived adolescence, especially as I did so by scampering off with my first 'proper' boyfriend, who happened to have a wife and a kid already -  not that I knew that when we met.  I was just so grateful that someone thought I was viable girlfriend material - even if he turned me into an aide to adultery before I knew what it was.

So now I've just kind of dug into that early bad body image and transposed it to the fat(ter) me. It's like a familiar scarf that I just reach for every morning out of habit.  When I lost 'the weight' one of the four times over the last 15 years (notice how we give it the definite article to make it sound like a single important entity - 'the weight' 'the royal family' 'the post office' 'the fifth amendment' 'the plague' - that little 'the' turning it into a thing rather than just a collection of fat cells) I honestly, honestly, just loved my body.  I didn't however love my life.  All that parsimony, the endless counting in my head, of how much I'd eaten, how many calories, how many grams of fat, the continual feeling of self restraint, self imposed limits, the good and the bad behaviour we stupid stupid women indulge in - well I say indulge, but there's no pleasure in it.  'Oh I was bad last night I ate a donut.'  'I was good all weekend and stuck to the Dukan and only had one slip on the Sunday when I had a lager.'  I mean ffs - bad is stealing another woman's husband (done that, erm twice - with help from the husband, and had it done to me so tit for tat).  Bad is refusing to let refugees in.  Or voting for Trump.  Good is raising money for charity, or even texting Socks to 14324 in the middle of an overpriced movie to give a poor African child a pair of woolly socks to get them through the cold desert nights (facetious, I know).  Good is rescuing kittens or volunteering to nurse ebola victims - not sticking to a protein only diet.  But just like dieters the world over,  I bought into the madness.  I was high on my own hunger, my own self-control, my own limited palate, and had the skinny stretch jeans in a fake size 10 (M&S they distort their sizes to make us think we're thinner than we are) to show for it.  I had thigh gap. I felt, reader, magnificent.  Wonder frigging Woman, just cause I was thin.

That I drank so much coffee I gave myself palpitations, and couldn't walk up three flights of stairs without my knees giving way weakly at the top, and - once the worst of the diet days were past - drank like a sailor on shore leave rather than eating anything with fat in it, didn't matter.  I was thin, see me strut.  And collect the accolades...

It was like winning the Oscars.  The thin Academy Award.  Everywhere I went I was feted and celebrated by people who I realise, had probably been looking at me with the sucky teeth, thinking, lardy arsed cow when I was fat, congratulating me on losing 'the' weight.  'You look fabulous, wonderful, amazing' 'wow'  'you lost the weight' and all because I had dieted off 3 stone.

Three stone is a lot to lose.  It's a toddler.  A hefty toddler.  But I didn't split the atom, or perform brain surgery with only a fork and a coffee stirrer.  I didn't save someone from a burning building or open my home to needy orphans.  I just lost weight.  I didn't even try that hard two of the times.

Once was Dukan.  Once was my husband leaving me (remember that other woman).  Once was love-motivated Adkins (remember the tit for tat - this was the tit).  Once was a nervous breakdown.  Not eating because you're a tortured, crazy, pillpopping insomniac and gag when you see food is not the way to weight loss I'd recommend to anyone.  Love isn't bad.  Dieting is still a struggle, but happiness fills you up just as well as chocolate, and then you're burning it all off having sex. 

But you can't maintain it.  Not the sex, not the euphoria of love.  Then...

Happiness makes you fat too, unfortunately.  That's what I have at the moment.  Contentment fat.  I have a live-in lover who doesn't think I'm a psychopath.   I have a house I love and kids I love.  I have enough, just enough money.  I have three cats.  I have a four-day a week job that's okay and fairly congenial even if I haven't had a payrise for 5 years and I think my boss would be happy if I left or at least isn't fearful enough of me going to consider any incentive to stay.  I spend my free time doing things that make me incandescently content - yes it's a thing, trust me.  I sew, I make mosaics, I draw, I paint, I grow plants, I tend my garden, I stroke my cats, I make cards and books, and pillowcases and paint furniture.  I write.  I cook.  I eat. I laugh.

The only thing I don't do is spend a lot of time looking in the mirror, because there is fat Marion smiling back at me with her puffy, patchwork face that looks like its been sewn together for a kid's puppet show - not looking remotely Rubenesque when she's in the buff, but more like cold custard and not at all curvy, but more, well, dolloped.  I don't have that lovely plumped up fat of the painted nude or the polished skin of the well upholstered black woman.  It's cottage cheese, celery, boiled chicken, scrambled eggs - all those meals I should be eating if I want to it into a pair of M&S tights without feeling like I've been eaten by a python who has trouble digesting its food.  Some of it is as much to do with ageing as being overweight, sorry, fat.  Fat and age don't sit prettily on the coach together.  You sag.  No matter how politically correct you are about fat, it doesn't make it a thing of beauty.

So maybe that's why we don't want people to say we're fat, because what we really think is that they're saying we're ugly.  Yeah well, so big deal.  Let it be so.  Currently, my life is beautiful and the thighs are collateral damage.