Instead I’m going to encourage my gorgeous friend to rethink her position by telling my own story of weightloss yo-yo-ing. It was not until the summer that I turned 13 that my hormones and the rice I had suddenly began eating met, started dating and in that first flash of love decided to live together in my midriff. I spent all of my teen years watching my weight increase, the togetherness of the rice and hormones multiply over and over till they were all bred out like a pair of rabbits by the time I hit my twenties. It seemed like forever love, that no matter how hard I rebelled against was here to stay. All those years I was never really concerned about the weight because I could still walk, jump rope, enjoy games of volleyball, baseball and badminton, swim like a fish, dance like crazy. My parents often cautioned against the weight gain sighting medical reasons but all those attempts were half hearted compared to how much they told me how beautiful my face was and how being a good, kind, honest person far outweighed how I looked. And I know that because they believed what they said when they said it, that I too grew up in that knowledge, secure I was loved no matter what I weighed.
It was mainly because I managed everything my classmates managed that I never really ever found my weight a stumbling block enough to tackle with a punch in the tum. Although I was always conscious of my weight being greater than other people’s I usually chose to focus my attention on things that brought my interests to the fore, like reading, painting, writing, listening to music – all things that fuelled my holier than thou teen image. It was also incredibly easy to eat copious amounts of food that my mother slaved over: lasagna, kofta curry, shepards pie, goulash and fresh soups just a smattering of a diverse range adorning our dinner table nightly.
In my twenties I was all curves, the politer term for rolls of fat. I still rarely thought of myself as fat even though the scales and visual inspection of old photographs would confirm that I was. I felt the curves gave me weight (not only literally) in my pursuits and had not in any way hampered the life I sought for myself. I took what I had and worked with it instead of letting it work against me. It was not a small molehill, this keeping up my spirits while everyone around me dieted and primped themselves into model-like thin-ness. But I made peace with my weight quite young and enjoyed the liberating feeling not having to watch every morsel I put in my mouth. I had managed to make and keep friends over the years, each of whom saw beyond the fuller figure and loved me for who I was. I tried to lose a few kilos to look lovely at my wedding but that was all I lost, very few kilos. And in my wedding pictures, that day stored on film forever more, there is no svelte me, but there is certainly a happy me.
It’s after I came to London, more than 6 years ago now, that the weight really began to pile on. A combination of various things led to bigger heavier meals that no amount of walking to the tube was enough to suppress or undo. For the first time ever I felt unattractive and like a lump of lard. Slower and uneasy with my body – something that took me completely by surprise. My years of being in a good mental place were gone in what felt like an instant. It was with a heavy heart, and the realization that it would be tougher to lose it and get fitter now that I was in my 30’s, that I began to cloak myself in darker looser clothes. It took all V’s motivational power to get me to the gym but it was always with the idea of getting fit again. I joined knowing full well that I would never be thin but knowing that at my weight being unhealthy was a deadly downward spiral. I spent the first few months working on my stamina and then as I began to lose the weight I began to obsess. There were a few months in between last year where I was fretting about the actual kilos I lost on a daily basis, weighing myself to the point to obsession, eating ridiculously to change my weight by grams before my next self-imposed weigh in. A few months into this unhealthy obsession I just stopped. Like an a-ha moment, one morning as I climbed the locker room scales it hit me: it’s not the weight I wanted to lose, gram by slow gram. It’s the feeling I wanted to gain, of good health and robust-ness. Of feeling beautiful no matter what I weighed. My efforts at the gym in the past year and a half have not resulted in any major weight loss. I nearly weigh what I did when I got married but I am a hundredfold healthier. I can do the elliptical machine for 45 minutes, swim 45 laps, do an hour and half long indoor cycle class. Each without dropping dead in a faint. Or having a heart attack.
I won’t lie – I am thrilled that I did manage to lose some small iota of weight. I am more thrilled that I managed to stay motivated enough to see it through. I am thrilled that I have changed my life to be more conscious of what I eat and how much exercise I get. I am more thrilled that I have found will power that nobody imagined I had. But most of all I am thrilled that my body image is connected not only to what I weigh but to what I think of myself. I no longer cloak myself in black. I wear more make-up, bother with my hair, stand-up taller, walk with a confidence not built on how much I weigh but how I feel about myself as a person in this world. I know that even at this weight (which is by the way still much more than a normal person my height ways) I am a happy person and that being thinner would not make me happier. It would make me healthier but not happier.
And I guess what I am trying to say is this. No matter how hard you try and motivate yourself to lose that last 13 kilos, it’s not the 13 kilos you are trying to lose. It’s the perfect image of yourself that you are trying to seek. Unless you make peace with how you look for yourself no matter what the weight, it’ll be something else about yourself that you’ll want to change once those 13 kilos are off. If its inspiration you feel you need, the power to stay on the path then yes I do hope that your readers keep you motivated. But I hope you don’t obsess about every ounce on the scales. I hope you see what we all see. That beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder and that really, the most important beholder is you.