If you have been following my blog for a while, you will know I have mentioned my struggles with Binge-Eating disorder before. One of the by-products of that is I am significantly over-weight. Even when my binging is on an even keel, due to my size if I want to lose weight, I have to adjust my eating pattern. They key word is want.
I know the whole body positivity movement is about loving the skin you’re in and if you’re 9 stone or 19 stone and you do that’s amazing. But I think you can be body positive and still want to lose weight, the same as you can be body positive and still want to wear a Swim dress instead of a bikini as fellow East Mids Blogger Emma discusses. My goals are purely fitness related and to ensure I am giving myself the best chance of being around as long as possible for my kids.
But as anyone with any type of eating disorder will know, restricting is completely damaging to recovery. Yet in order to try and shift the extra timber, I have often signed up with various slimming clubs in order to lose weight. The diets work. But they are not sustainable and are actually toxic if you have an ED or emotional eating problems.
I have tried all kinds of diets in my life, various diet clubs (Cambridge, Weight Watchers, Slimming World) and they work. They work brilliantly. Until you stop doing them. I am going to use Slimming World as my example, as its the one I have used the most and lost the most weight on whilst doing the class.
I think all diet clubs work on the basis of the shame of a gain. I used to be there, taking a trip to the toilet before I stepped on the scale, seeing others practically strip to their birthday suit in order to save themselves horror of 1/4 of a lb. But then the pressure of this isn’t good for your mental health. It’s fine when you’re smashing 4lb losses every week, but as soon as that slows, the impact is huge. Then come all the excuses because you’re embarrassed. My personal favourite were the people who claimed it was because they hadn’t drunk enough water. Yeah ok Janice love, that 3lb gain is because you still get enough water down your neck. It’s denial and shame making you say that and its just incredibly sad you feel you have to.
The whole concept of food being seen as ‘syns’ doesnt sit well with me either. Seeing certain food as bad just makes emotional and disordered eating worse. It’s especially bonkers when foods like avocado have huge syn values, whilst you can eat stuff like complex carbohydrates until the cows come home. Classes are spent discussing how to make certain foods syn free. As one of my ex-class members, Nikita so eloquently put it when a few ex-members were talking about it on Facebook “I was tired of trying to make 6 eggs and some sweetener taste like a cake. If I want a piece of cake, I will eat it.”
Plus the other thing that gets to me the most is its reiterated you don’t need to exercise on the diet, but if you do it obviously helps (hence the Body Magic concept). A lot of people who are going to those slimming clubs struggle with emotional eating. Exercise has been proven over and over again to have a positive effect on your mental health. It seems a no brainer and instead of telling people in classes the diet will work without it, they should be encouraging more exercise.
I was over crying in classes, of consultants asking where I thought I went wrong that week and being like “Well, I am so desperately sad about my diet and weight I smashed a whole Dominos pizza to make me feel better and that made me even sadder so I nailed a tub of Ben & Jerry’s too because that’s how my brain works”. So I made the decision (which I knew from my therapist many moons I should have always made!) not to go back.
The fundamentals are there right in front of you. Energy in vs energy out. I have started going to exercise classes (which were daunting at first, but once I got over the fact I was so self conscious, because actually no one is really judging me too hard), I actually really enjoy them. I have serviced my bike again. I don’t want to skinny or thin, I want to be fit. I do firmly believe at health at any size and BUM is bullshit so that looks different for everyone. For me, fitness is my being able to run a 5k in a reasonable time so that’s a goal I am working towards. But as my brother-in-law quite rightly put “You can’t run off a poor diet”, so I am using My Fitness Pal to keep a food diary. I am not being hung up about numbers; because I know this is guaranteed to set my B.E.D off. If I want something to eat, I will have it! But being aware of what’s going in over the course of a week, means I can adjust my activity or plan my meals accordingly.
I don’t want to go into another decade of my life with food having control over me. So I have finally liberated myself from slimming clubs. And it feels good.