Over the Christmas break my children challenged me to a game of ‘it’. Where they would run around manically letting out the occasional crazied scream and I apparently had to catch them.
I lasted two minutes before collapsing into a chair and reaching for a glass of wine and the nearest packet of crisps. I was knackered and the kids were disappointed and went to hunt for their leaner, fitter, father.
I remember feeling ashamed, that I (who had ran marathons before) couldn’t manage a simple game of ‘it’. This feeling of embarrassment meant I poured more wine in my glass and heaped more dip on the crisps.
I hated myself, yet seemed to be addicted to shoveling more crap inside myself.
For a very long time I had not eaten for nourishment, but instead for comfort. And sometimes I had eaten just to spite myself. To try and keep up the facade that I was truly happy with the body I was lumbering around in.
I think I have had food problems since being a child. As a teen I was healthy, competitive, maybe a bit over partial to chip butties and a pudding called Chocolate crunch. Yet I was slim, fast and sporty.
A trio of girls would follow me home from school, chanting ‘fat, ginger, spotty,’ until I reached my front door. They would be waiting for me again when I got to school.
Outwardly I laughed it off, pretended not to care. In the back of my school notebook I wrote the words that taunted me; I begged my mum to let me highlight my hair, started eating only half my lunch, and tried every acne cure known to teenagers.
As I felt I conquered each label, I scratched it off my list.
Fat Spotty Ginger
I could have turned into a beanpole with olive skin and purple hair and the bullying wouldn’t have stopped, yet the teenage me couldn’t fathom this, and I tried so desperately to not be the names they called me.
Every kid in school was spotty, I look back at pictures and don’t think I was ever really fat, and I had the same colour hair my youngest child has now – and I think that is beautiful.
I left school, went to University, and ate my way through the first year. Living apart from my parents meant nutrition flew out of the window and my meals often came from McDonalds or an establishment selling chips.
In the second year I made a stand against my waistline and shed a couple of stones, then I moved to the States, and shall we say, I embraced all of the American traditional platters and came home requiring more space on the plane.
So it continued.
Until I had my twins, severe morning sickness coupled with a desire to provide a healthy vessel for my two babies meant I gained less than a stone during pregnancy. When the kids were born, and I started to consider what I wanted to feed them, I adapted my diet to be a shining example.
As always, when I fed my body better food, I started to feel substanially better.
For me food is not just about weight, it is about a feeling. When my baby daughter was diagnosed with Hip Dysplasia I remember standing in the kitchen buttering white bread with lashings of margarine and sobbing through the bites. When diabetes started to feast on my six year old child, I remember holding my head in my hands, lifting it only to drink a large glass of wine and scoop more sweets into my mouth.
I know when my food is stacked with sugar, overloaded with carbs, and my glass full of wine rather than water, that I am a misery to live with. I also know that none of it makes me feel better. Instead it gives me a sensation of spinning wildly out of control, fighting to find myself within my own being.
People always say losing weight is simple, ‘eat less and move more.’
I don’t disagree, but before you can start to do that you have to confront the psychological block in your mind that food will somehow make you feel better.
After 36 years on this earth, twenty one years after a trio of girls called me fat, I think I am starting to move the block.
I hope I am starting to move the block.
Food no longer defines me, I don’t need a glass of wine to be a fun person. I don’t see myself as fat or thin, instead I identify myself as fit and healthy.
On January 15th 2014 I resolved to change my life, I couldn’t run over half a mile and a simple gym class almost broke me. My children had all but stopped asking me to play games with them outside.
Over the last few years I have seen my babies faced medical battles that grown ups would shirk from. I have watched my toddler learn to crawl in a body cast, seen my son learn the recovery position to help his baby sister during a seizure, and I have seen my eldest girl inject life saving insulin thousands of times.
All they want from me is the promise that I will do all I can to stay healthy and happy and hang around for as long as I can.
A few months ago that felt like the impossible.
Yesterday I deadlifted 87.5kg *proud face*, ran four miles and played ‘it’ with my kids for half an hour without stopping to rest.
This is who I want to be.