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Weight - why do I care?

“To lose confidence in one’s body is to lose confidence in oneself.” Simone de Beauvoir

This is me - in my late twenties I think, in Australia on a camping trip around Victoria with David, shortly after we arrived here. The point of the picture is to show how skinny I once was and indeed continued to be, probably until my 50s. Marginally unhealthily so, I guess. I could eat anything, and not put on weight. It made me feel like an outsider at high school at lunchtimes because everybody else seemed to be worrying about what they could eat without getting fat. I even had a boyfriend who told me that I was a bit skinny - particularly in the legs. I cared and whilst at university, went to great lengths one term by eating two meals one immediately after the other in an attempt to put on some weight. There were several different refectories dotted around the campus - and for those meals I deliberately chose the unhealthy stuff - chips especially I seem to remember. I then boosted this with sugar sandwiches in the afternoon. Really, really not healthy and after ten weeks of this I had only put on ten pounds or so, maybe even less, so I gave up. Was this acceptance of my body shape or just despair?


Suffice to say that I look at photographs of myself when young, when I thought I looked awful and wonder why - why I thought that I mean. I might not have had supermodel looks but I was alright. And almost the right shape. I suppose it's explicable in the young - they are looking for love and for approval and there are all those magazines, tv shows, social media telling you all the time that you have to look a particular way. As Germaine Greer once said:


“Every woman knows that, regardless of all her other achievements, she is a failure if she is not beautiful.”


I cared back then - understandable as I say, and still do - really not understandable, which is why I am writing about this today. You see I have fasted two days this week with just one day of food in between and longish walks as well, and yet this morning when I weighed myself I found I had lost nothing. Now, I'm not really trying to lose weight these days, just trying to maintain the weight that I am, but this is becoming increasingly difficult, and so this morning's weigh-in made me feel pretty depressed. Does fasting no longer work. What else do I have to do? Should I just give up?


Fasting? Why would I bother? Well this is also me, many, many years later, and look how much weight I had put on. I suppose I'm not exactly fat, and I had managed to climb all the way up to the Cathar castle of Monségur that you see behind me, but I was definitely dumpy, and now wearing size 14 clothes rather than the size 8 I had worn all of my adult life. I found this very depressing and feared going to size 16. It's ridiculous but I did care what I looked like - obviously not to attract a new man. I think that photo was taken when I was well into my sixties. Just self respect I guess, and perhaps an increasing awareness of the health problems associated with overweight. So I went on the 5/2 diet and lost 15kg, reaching my target weight of 60kg in about a year, sufficiently quickly to encourage me to keep going anyway. I was jubilant.


However, that's not the end of the story. Pretty soon I realised that I couldn't just go back to eating whatever I liked, so I started fasting just once a week, whilst continuing to go on longish walks four times a week. Mostly it works, but every now and then, like this week, there is a blip and I have to fast twice. And here's the question - why do I care? Don't I have enough confidence these days not to bother? Who cares if I look dumpy? Very possibly nobody - just myself who imagines that others judge me by how I look. And when I was 'researching' this I found this, which is even more of a worry really:


"Reality check: you can never, ever, use weight loss to solve problems that are not related to your weight. At your goal weight or not, you still have to live with yourself and deal with your problems. You will still have the same husband, the same job, the same kids, and the same life. Losing weight is not a cure for life." Phil McGraw


Indeed I do still have to live with myself, and I am still that person in the top picture inside my head, and in the way I think and behave. I don't think much has changed about who I am. A little but not really.


One thing has changed though. I am indeed a whole lot older, and therefore really should be taking much better care of my health than I was back then. And putting on weight - well excessive weight - is part of that. Which perhaps is the reason I get upset about not keeping at the same level. I say that, but actually I really don't think it is that. I actually think it's all to do with body image. How pathetic to take that into one's 80s. It's a big ask to get rid of that so late in life.


Oh well never mind. Apologies for this bout of self-pity. Moderation in all things though. I'm eating today and looking forward to a piece or two of fudge after dinner. Well I did another walk today. I deserve it.

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