Yay, it’s happened! After approximately 8 weeks of dedication, I have lost a stone. Before you reassure me I looked fine before, here’s me (far left) looking my worst at the Secret Circus on Valentine’s week:
I know I’ve previously said we’re like apples and oranges and you can’t compare us, but see what I had to stand next to?
For context, here’s me at 18. I stayed a similar size until I was 21+, but the medication I took made me put on weight so I kept eating to console myself:
I wish I could say those photos shocked me into changing my ways, but I consoled myself even more with more food.
After 12 days on a psychiatric unit in March, I finally decided to take control. I needed to stop relying on other people to make me feel good about myself.
A myth exists from high school that I attempted cheese on toast in the toaster (I didn’t). So at 24, I taught myself to cook. I bought The Body Bible by Clean Eating Alice, which is full of extremely simple but delicious recipes.
My chef pal came over and taught me to make soup. I discovered spices and cupboard staples like canned tomatoes and beans. I learned to boil an egg, and made sure I always had a stash in the fridge for when I was ravenous and at risk of falling off the wagon.
I became dedicated to clean eating, which means being mindful of the food’s pathway between its origin and your plate. For example: instead of buying hummus, I made it myself by blending chickpeas, garlic and lemon juice, so I would know exactly what was in my food.
I was never big on fruit, but I forced myself to eat several portions a day. I didn’t like it at first, but I told myself to suck it up, buttercup.
The movie Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead had a huge impact on me. I bought a juicer from £18 on eBay and experimented with drinks primarily made of veggies for an extra hit of vitamins.
I ate my first avocado. I ate my first banana, and a second, and a third, until I learned to like them.
For those who claim that eating well is more expensive: you’re wrong. I paid 8p for a banana yesterday; a chocolate bar would have cost 60+ pence. Amazing!
I alternated my laptop wallpaper weekly between images of women I admired – not just celebrities but people I’ve encountered who are beautiful inside and out, like former burlesque dancer Mimi Amore.
I stuck motivational quotes on my wardrobe and made weight loss and recipe boards on Pinterest.
It wasn’t all smooth sailing. I watched so many diet and nutrition documentaries my head spun and I was afraid to eat anything.
I’ve written about bulimia before, and I’ll admit that I slipped up once or twice because I felt guilty about what I ate. But for the most part, I haven’t needed to do that because I feel good about what I’m eating.
I’ve also had a couple of hissy fits because loved ones have wanted to eat lunch at places like Almost Famous. Although I have a willpower of steel, being in a situation where there’s no healthy option makes me anxious.
You don’t realise how bad you felt before until you feel amazing. Before, I was constantly hungry despite constantly eating. By reprogramming my body to stop craving processed junk, it’s receiving all the nutrients it needs and I’m being rewarded through weight loss. The effect on my mental health has also been dramatic.
Now, I will happily snack on slices of cucumber and barely even notice the cookies and crisps in Tesco because the fresh produce aisle is so fun!
This is a change of life, not a diet. I’m not brutal with myself: if I really want pizza, I’ll make my own with wholegrain pitta bread, tomato purée and mozzarella.
I still drink alcohol, but I avoid fizzy pop and stick to spirits. If I’m hungry after a night out, I’ll make a chickpea and hummus wrap.
Before, if I fell off the wagon I would think everything was ruined and keep eating to punish myself for my weakness. But now I just forgive myself and pick up where I left off. At my parents’ house last week I didn’t eat so well – I had apple pie for dessert, and then Millionaire’s shortcake for breakfast! – but I ate fruit whenever I could the rest of the day.
I also keep a food diary, which is my single most important tool. Over the years I’ve found that if I forget to fill it, I fall off the wagon. Seeing exactly what I’ve put in my body holds me accountable.
The best advice I can give is to stop making excuses. If you’re going to give up and eat takeaway when you’re drunk, you’ll end up in the same position time and time again.
I’m mindful of what I put in my body and have accepted there is no quick fix. It may have taken a while, but the weight has gradually dropped off whilst my confidence has soared. I still need some hand-holding, but I’m confident I will continue to succeed.