There are many occasions when being obsessive is a good thing, a useful thing. But when it comes to weight, it trips me up every time. Why can’t it work in a useful way for me? He’s why it wrecks my “food journey” every time. 

People say, why don’t you do (insert slimming club here)?

Slimming clubs do not work well with me. I have tried them, lots of them, over the years. Scottish Slimmers, Weight Watchers, Slimming World.

They have a formula which works for some people. I know it really works because at every slimming club there are what are sometimes known as “lifetime members”. They come in each week to be weighed, they pay nothing at all. This is because they are at their “target weight” or within 4 lbs of it. 

As I sit there, sadly eyeing up my belly they march in, beautiful and slim, get weighed and march out again. Their clothing screams ‘just been to’ or ‘just going to the gym’.

It works, the formula, for some people.

It doesn’t work for me.

That constant weekly weigh-in puts on huge amounts of pressure. Every part of it I end up second-guessing. ‘Does it look worse if I drive to class? Is everyone judging me for not walking?’ Walking through the door everyone looks as if to say ‘has she lost weight?’ I cannot deal with it. Particularly if I go with someone else. 

I have a fat friend, Jim. He weighs about 30lbs more than me, and since he is a clear foot taller it looks better on him. But we have often gone to what he calls “fat club” together. This makes things more competitive. Jim is very competitive; I am not. If he loses more than me I am happy for him. But I lose more than him, he is not quite as happy. 

The first week is fine; usually, I am shocked at how much weight I have put on but okay, we are working on it now. It feels good to have taken control.

The second week, usually a good weight loss, lots of clapping, the class leader is happy. All good.

The third week, how am I going to do as well as I did last week?

That’s when the stress hits me. Stress makes me want to eat. And eat. Then it gets to a day or so before scales day. I think about fasting. I think about taking laxatives. Anything to get those scales to go the right way. 

Fasting is okay if you do it in a conscious way — I have fasted for health reasons before. But fasting because I am scared that I won’t get a decent weight loss — whatever a decent weight loss is? — is heading on the fast lane to bulimia.

Laxatives — I took them when I first went on a starvation diet in 1994, I haven’t taken them since. But I know they will empty my system and mean a better weight loss. I am tempted. I contemplate going to the chemist and asking for them.

I think it’s because I have some sort of obsessive personality issue. When I say I think — I know. I have four or five rubbish sacks of yarn in my room, from when I was into crochet. Or obsessed with crochet. I would happily crochet all day long. When I wasn’t doing so, I was buying yarn, watching videos of people crocheting, buying books about crocheting. It went for about nine months then stopped.

Dead.

I cannot crochet now. What I mean is, I can, if someone put a gun to my head. I know how. But nothing in me, not one tiny fibre of me wants to crochet. Nothing at all.

Before that, I was into fitness. I lost weight. I walked, swam, did Zumba. I was the fittest I had been for years. I bought dresses and I looked great. I had a goal, and I was extremely focused on it, but it fell through. I was getting fit to go and work on a volunteer building project, but I learned I wasn’t able to do it. I was so disappointed. Things just faded off then.

Fat clubs make me obsessive about weight loss but I don’t care how I do it. And that is where the problem is — if I could stick to the food plan and be guaranteed the weight loss then I could do it. But I know it doesn’t work for me.

So what will?

I can’t bear to go to an NHS (national health service) nutritionist. I am sorry to every nutritionist out there but I always feel like they don’t keep up to date with trends, they don’t pay attention to studies done, and they just spout what they have been taught to say. I don’t trust it.

Apparently, the NHS does a fat club where they talk about why people are fat, what their issues are. I believe that is probably a much better way to address weight issues rather than the “Rah! Rah! Rah! You can do this!” of commercial weight loss organizations. I don’t know if it would work for me but I am sceptical. I think it would trigger me all over again.

At the moment I am just eating more fruit and vegetables and trying to do more physically, walking more mainly. I would like to go swimming too but I need to go to a different pool to the one I went to last time. I am embarrassed to go back, having put so much weight back on. I know the staff won’t judge me harshly but I am just very conscious about it.

Truth be told, I need to get my act together and do something, something more. I want to.

Adding fruit and vegetables to all meals is a good start. Exercising is good. At least then I can be healthy, even if I will never be sexy and slim. Right now I will settle for healthy. 

Ruth Stewart is a writer, a mother and wife. She would love to write books and earn a comfortable living from writing. She loves dogs and horses, and dreams of wide open spaces and solitary homes on wind swept plains.
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Ruth Stewart is a writer, a mother and wife. She would love to write books and earn a comfortable living from writing. She loves dogs and horses, and dreams of wide open spaces and solitary homes on wind swept plains.
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