Howdy! I am having a busy bugger of a week so I found this entry that I wrote back in January 2008 but couldn't find the nerve to post at the time.
Lately I've been doing a bit of publicity for the book; email interviews and the like. I always get stuck on one inevitable question:
Why'd you get so bloody fat?
(not actual phrasing)
Every time I see that question I sigh at the laptop screen. It sounds so accusing, like I committed a terrible crime.
"I don't knooooow" is always the initial answer. Then I poke Gareth in the ribs. "What should I say?"
"Just say you were really hungry! I dare ya."
Seriously, it's a difficult question. It's easy to be flippant like I was on the About page: It was a love of Nutella that knew no bounds. Then there's the basic mathematical reason: Ate more food than my body required.
Calories in, calories out; who ate all the pies. Just like losing weight was just eating less and moving more, right? If it was really that simple, I'd have just posted a food log for the past seven eight years instead of these endless sprawling brain dumps. Calories in calories out is a how explanation, not a why.
It's especially tricky to answer the question in a precise, soundbitey manner. It took 23 pages to explain. And of course being a chronic procrastinator I left that section right until last. I thought the other 90,000 words were a bastard to put together, but the 5000 words of Introduction were the worst. I was eager to drive on to the guts of the story with all the happy adventures and improved self-image, but the allegedly fabulous transformation wouldn't be convincing unless the scene was properly set. How the bloody hell does someone reach nearly 160 kilograms at the tender age of 23?
I gave my sister the shoddy first draft of the Introduction back in April. She told me bluntly that I wasn't being honest. "You're glossing over everything," she said, "And hiding behind jokes. You have to dig deeper."
Of course I got defensive and bawled my eyes out, because I didn't have time to bloody dig deeper! And I didn't want to, either.
But we talked it through for two whole days, picking over the past. I was afraid of offending people. I was afraid of sounding sorry for myself. I was afraid people would think I was making excuses. I was afraid of looking like a dickhead in print. It was confronting to stop and think about how I got into such a big fat mess. Why did I let it carry on so long?
The Introduction was finalised five days before the manuscript was due, after endless consultations and rewrites. I was happy with it in the end, but be buggered if I can reduce it to one simple sentence. There are no easy answers. I really did love my Nutella, but food was more than just food. From a very early age it was always there, easy to find when lonely or angry or anxious. And the more I ate the more I felt detached from my body and just lived inside my head. I'd barely notice another layer of fat wrapping around me, then another and another, like rings on a tree.