I’m gonna ramble a bit now, so feel free to click away if you’re just here for the makeup. I promise normal service will resume shortly. But anyway, you may or may not know that I have some weight issues. I was pretty average sized child and teenager (if we’re being honest, maybe on the slightly overweight side of average but by no means fat). When I was about 18/19 I started to just balloon and before I knew it I was just a pound or two shy of sixteen stone. I KNOW.
So, inspired by my own mother’s incredible weight loss a couple of years prior, I joined Slimming World in June 2012. By April 2013, I was down to my goal weight of 11 stone and I felt FUCKING AMAZING, like I could do anything. I’ve always been a very jovial person on the outside, even at my biggest, but when I lost all that weight I found an amazing level of confidence that had been locked inside for years. I didn’t have any trouble keeping that weight off, either, at least for a few months. Then, in July 2013, I went to Venice on the most incredible all-expenses-paid trip on the Orient Express, where I was fed 4 course meals three times a day… We were only away for 4 days but when I got back and got on the scales at Fat Club I’d managed to gain 7lb. That’s half a stone! In four days! Fuck me.
And basically, it’s been all downhill from there. I’ve tried and I’ve tried and GOD KNOWS I’ve tried but I’ve had so much trouble getting back in the right mindframe to lose that weight again. I’ve spend months and months beating myself up for it, when I reached my target weight I promised myself that I’d never let myself go like that again but that’s exactly what I’ve done. Now, I’m about a stone lighter than I was at my biggest which is shocking compared to where I was this time last year. The real kicker is that I’ve continued going to Slimming World every single week – I’m actually a member of the social team there (I’m the one who weighs everyone when they come in). Essentially my consultant’s right-hand-man, I’m more than used to dealing out Fat Club wisdom to other members when they’re disappointed with their result on any given week and advice on what they could try doing differently. But I’ll be damned if I can follow my own advice! It’s a vicious circle – I get angry and upset with myself, then I go and eat a fucking doughnut. Go figure.
With the weight issue becoming a huge obstacle for me, I’ve looked to try improving myself in other ways instead. Around the time I started Slimming World, I was considering quitting smoking (something I picked up at 15 because my mates did it and I thought it was cool. Isn’t that how we all start?). But then I thought, I can’t give up fags and cake at the same time, so I’ll lose weight first and quit smoking later. In the last couple of months, I have nearly given up smoking altogether which is a HUGE accomplishment for a heavy 20-30 a day smoker like me. I still have a couple of habitual ones like if I’m outside on the phone, or after a particularly epic meal, or if I’m REALLY pissed off, or the odd occasion that I’m out for a drink. But for the most part, I can truthfully say I’ve cut down by 99%. So that’s good.
Already pretty surprised at myself for managing to cut down/almost quit with the smoking business, this week I’ve bloody outdone myself. I have NEVER been one for physical exertion. In school I made up excuses for not participating in PE lessons every. single. week. I scoffed at people who get up early to go to the gym before work, and I looked at people out for a run and looking like they were actually enjoying themselves with an expression of ‘are you INSANE?!’. I am a couch potato through and through.
Last Wednesday, at work, the new guy (who clearly knew nothing about me to even ask this question) said ‘hey, do you want to run the Hackney half marathon with me in June?’. Once I’d finished laughing and assured him that I would indeed run the Hackney half with him – when pigs flew – I spent the rest of the afternoon thinking ‘actually… maybe running isn’t so bad. You don’t know until you try, right?’. So full of bizarrely misplaced motivation, I bought a sports bra and some workout clothes on the way home. Colin simply raised his eyebrows at me that evening when I said ‘right, I’m going out for a run’, and quite rightly so.
I stepped outside, flicked on some power tunes on my phone and off I went. I had a truly horrible time that evening. I picked the stupidest route I possibly could have done, mostly uphill with lots of pedestrian and motorised traffic. Every time I passed a person or a car I wanted the ground to swallow me up. What must I look like, this fat piece of shit wobbling all over the pavement, huffing and puffing with sweat streaming down my face (and my cleavage, and my back). When I eventually hobbled in after completing a painfully slow twenty minute mile, I burst into tears and cried for hours. What a fucking stupid idea, I thought. What a waste of money on the gear. Who am I kidding?!
The next day, Thursday, I looked at it from a different angle. Even if I did look like a total prat, you know what? I ran a damn mile. It might have been slow, but I did it. I’m still lapping everyone who’s sat on their arse. In a bid to be a bit more sensible and informed about the whole thing, I spent some time reading all sorts of articles on running for beginners and learned that I’d exerted myself far too much the night before. I came across the NHS Couch to 5K programme (not a sponspored link!), downloaded the podcast and steeled myself for my second run on Friday night. In actual fact I ended up going out after work and getting a bit squiffy on Friday (oops), but come Saturday I was itching to get back out and do it.
And do it I did. A woman named Laura voices the podcast, and she told me when it was time to run and when it was time to slow down for a brisk recovery walk. I combined it with shuffling all songs on my phone and discovered that you don’t need pumping trance to run – every single song that came on from a variety of genres seemed to have the right rhythm to match my steps. I took a totally different route, too. I live in what was the Athlete’s Village during the London 2012 Olympics, and this time I went in the opposite direction for a bit of an exploratory mission. I ended up around the Olympic Velodrome, and didn’t come across another soul the whole time I was out which certainly helped with the embarrassment.
In fact, I felt the opposite of embarrassment – I felt amazing and empowered. When Laura piped up to say ‘ok, now it’s time to get ready for your last sixty seconds of running… one, two, three, GO!’, I was actually kind of disappointed. It’s nearly over already? The song playing on my phone at the time was Affirmation by Savage Garden, and when Laura spoke up again sixty seconds later to say ‘you’ve done it!’, Darren Hayes sung that eternally relevant line; ‘I believe that beauty magazines promote low self esteem, I believe I’m loved when I’m completely by myself alone’. I slowed down to a walk, looked around at the empty land around me and burst into tears once again. Not because I was traumatised by the perceived sight of myself, but because I was SO happy that I’d got outside and done it despite how I felt previously, and because that line in that song at that exact moment was such a beautiful, beautiful coincidence.
I kept up the brisk walk for the five minutes it took me to get back to my flat, and when I opened the front door Colin caught sight of my grin through the sweaty red face and he beamed, too.
So I know I’ve only been twice and I’m not in a position to be preaching, but I honestly can’t get over how great I felt afterwards. Come hell or high water I am going to keep this up, I am going to finish this 9 week programme and then pick up a new one. I won’t be running the Hackney Half in June because it’s just not feasible for me to get to the level where I can run 13 miles in one go by that time, but I don’t need an event to aim for. I can take it one heavy, sweaty step at a time, knowing that I’m doing something I never, ever thought I would be able to do.
I can fucking do this. I’VE GOT THIS.
So yeah, that’s where I’ve been this week. A little bit of a running, a fair chunk of soul searching and a WHOLE lot of feeling.