A brief history…and the way forward.
My eating woes started back in 1982 and have continued until today. I am a (soon to be) 38 year old woman who weighs in at 100.8kg. I have been dieting on and off since I was 16 and now I am retired.
I have given up diets before, but not in my heart, you know? I have always thought “if THIS doesn’t work, I can always go back to counting calories or Weight Watchers”. But now, I am done. I know that dieting will never work for me.
I have read Jon Gabriel’s book The Gabriel Method before, and it had the answers for me but I wasn’t ready to hear them. I needed a time frame, a guarantee that it would work, a promise, a sign. But there is none of that needed, only my own knowledge, ability to reflect and strength of character and spirit which will allow me to move forward and live a life I am happy with.
I resent the years I wasted dieting. I resent the money, the angst, the hate. But now I am here and I feel very happy with the knowledge I have and that I know what the way forward is. I am not 100% sold on The Gabriel Method, but that’s OK, I don’t think I have to be. I know first hand that visualisations and positive self-talk can make a massive difference, and sadly I know that not believing in yourself 100% can lead to you not getting where you want to go.
For me, the worst outcome (which isn’t terrible at all!) is that I will remain at my current weight and be healthier and happier. That aint so bad!
Jon talks about understanding why your body would want to be fat, and I could never answer that question before. But I think I can now. I think it was self-preservation and protection.
1982: We moved from a very small community to a larger town – away from my grandparents, away from my friends that I had known since I was at pre-school. I had been attending a very small school where all the girls played together and there was never any friendship groups, then all of a sudden I was at a school with 60 students in my year. At the time we moved, my mum had a 1 and 3 year old and was very busy with them, and must have been before we moved too but I spent so much time at my neighbour’s or grandparent’s house that it didn’t have much of an impact on me. When we moved, I noticed it a LOT. I was 7, and very shy. In the first few months when we were in our new place, mum was so desperate for me to make friends and fit in that she enrolled me in a lot of activites that I should have loved (in theory) but I hated them. I just wanted to be left alone! I developed this huge fear of being forgotten, left behind and lost sleep over it, lied to get out of going to places without mum, told adults I felt sick so they wouldn’t leave me behind when they left (like at art classes I attended) and felt out of place. I stole money to take with me so I could call mum when she had forgotten to collect me, memorised my new home phone number and stuffed food in my bag to make sure I wouldn’t be hungry.
Of course, feeling like this didn’t come from nowhere – when my parents moved, they left me at my grandparent’s place for two days while the removalists came and took the stuff to our new house. I had to go to school, and I was in a right state. I had stayed at my nan and pa’s plenty of times, there is no reason my poor mum would have thought that it would have any impact on me. But when I went to my new house I didn’t know where my place was at the table. I didn’t know where my bedroom was. Everyone else fitted in and I felt like I didn’t have a place, or I wasn’t important.
I feel terrible for my mum: she would have had no idea that this could have had an impact on me. But I felt it helped concrete a level of anxiety and feeling “not good enough” for a lot of things in my life.
I started to binge eat and was never questioned on it. I would eat a packet of biscuits at a time and my naturally thin mother treated that with disgust and saw it as me being greedy. For years I thought I was too, but now I think I was experiencing a high level of stress. I didn’t feel loved. I felt like I wasn’t good enough, that I was the odd one out, that I didn’t belong in my family. My mum had a very hard life growing up and had to be tough to survive in her family, and I think she expected me to be as tough. It didn’t work.
For years I thought I was fat. I didn’t think anyone would want to be friends with me and I was like a eager to please puppy with people. I was always the clown, the one to make you laugh, over-generous.
When I got to 16 I went on my first proper diet, the Hip and Thigh Diet. My mum (size 8!) had bought the book and I remember it said 6 grams a day of fat was all you needed. I was determined to succeed. I can’t tell you what I weighed, or what I lost, but it didn’t work. I remember weighing myself at Central Station on a holiday to Sydney and feeling panic at my 72kg weight (not bad for someone 172cm tall!) and disgusted at myself. I continued eating.
At 19 I found myself secretly going to WW for the first of MANY times. I lost about 18kg, left, put it all back on. I told no-one I was going. I felt a failure for leaving it and not being able to do it alone. I joined again, many times, at 20, 22, 23, 24…always determined that if I just FOLLOWED it and was GOOD it would work.
At 25 I left to go to the UK for a couple of years and arrived very heavy after a 14 weeks stint working for a company overnight during the Olympics. I was eating all through the night. Insane. I was very stressed about going and a bit heartbroken too – no surprise I was eating an insane amount of food.
Whilst living in the UK I reached the depths of despair about my weight. I was at one of my “set weights” by this time, that is, the weight that my body springs to whenever my eating goes OTT. I was about 110kg. I joined Slimming World, lasted a week. Decided to try and accept myself and the size I was which latest a little while till I found myself half a teaspoon away from a nervous breakdown about it and ended up seeing a dietitian who really helped me so much. I lost a lot of weight seeing her, but once I returned some to Australia and back into a very stressful situation I put it all back on.
Anxiety, stress, anger, fear, depression: all these things make me want to eat as much sugar, salt and fat as I can get my hands onto. And I am sure that Jon Gabriel is right, your body, not your mind controls so much.
This has taken me all day to write, lol…I will finish my journey from the last few years this weekend sometime!