This week’s episode of Real Story was about Slimmer Winners. They surveyed 70 women who’d won slimming competitions in various magazines and newspapers. You know — Success Stories, Slimmer of the Year, etc etc. If you hurry along to the BBC website you can watch the whole thing again right now.
It was the most bloody depressing thing I’ve watched in a long time.
Nicked from the website:
"An investigation into the weight loss habits of 70 slimmers showed that less than half had kept their weight off, with the remainder being overweight, obese or severely obese.
Moreover, eight out of the 70 demonstrated indications of bulimia and 10 showed signs of Binge Eating Disorder.
Fifty-one of them either binged or used compensatory behaviour in the past month, such as taking water tablets/laxatives and hard exercise.
Nearly three quarters of the champion slimmers had binged at least once – with some binging up to eight times – in the past month. "
I don’t want to dwell on the statistics, because there is only so much you can extract from a sample size of 70. And they really squeezed the absolute maximum stats from that 70. What had me close to tears was the people they interviewed.
- A woman who’d gained back three stone (18kg/42lb) and was hypervigilant about weighing her food. They showed her weighing half a banana and she confessed sometimes she might chop off another tiny slice if she was feeling indulgent. She then said she even weighs SLICED BREAD, "Because even in a standard medium-slice loaf, some are thicker than others".
- A woman who was Slimming World’s Yorkshire Slimmer of the Year who’d take some sort of water tablets the morning of her weigh-in to make her pee like mad, then she’d have to guzzle water as soon as she hopped of the scales so she could hydrate. She was also bullimic. She regained her weight then finally had gastric by-pass surgery last year.
- An older woman who was a finalist in their 2004 Slimmer of the Year contest, who had gained back three stone and said she felt deeply ashamed and embarrassed.
It was the last lady that particularly made me want to bawl. I remember reading about her in Slimming, one the last issues I bought before I vowed never to buy it again, and thinking how radiant she looked. And now two years later here she was on telly all teary and fragile. She just so sad, ashamed and resigned that I wanted to smash through the screen and cuddle her.
I also felt this odd sense of despair, that she could be in her sixties and still be tortured by all this diet crap. I didn’t want to get to her age and still feel like that.
That’s when it hit me. It never ends.
Remember that episode of The Simpsons when Moe gets a facelift and becomes handsome and gets a role on the soap opera called It Never Ends? Well this food issue crap is like our very own drawn-out melodrama… It. Never. Bloody. Ends!
Real Story had all these quotes from the slimmers – they constantly thought about food, they’d just replaced obsessive calorie counting with obsessive exercise, they felt like their lives were ruled by food, they were scared of food, that the urge to binge was overwhelming. Sometimes we read these cheesy Success Stories and think they must have hit the jackpot then lived happily ever after in the size 8 pants, but in reality many just end up smaller with the same issues.
I got quite anxious watching the show, wondering if I was in the same boat. It’s not so much about the fear of regaining all the weight – I have maintained a large loss for a few years now. I am confident that while I will go off the rails now and then, I will not let it get out of hand. This is not me being cocky by any means, I just know I will never be a size 26 again.
It’s more about the emotional shit. That even if you get to a goal weight, it is still a struggle every day. That you constantly have to be vigilant about what you eat and wrestle the urge to binge. That you just think about food all the bloody time.
Like last weekend, we went to the Wickerman Festival. As soon as we pitched our tent I dragged Gareth into the main grounds… not to check out the different music tents but to check out the different FOOD VANS!
And my sister and I email each other about three times a day… a good 50% of those emails concern what we’re eating for lunch, what’s for dinner, what we ate yesterday and what we wish we didn’t eat yesterday and what we vow not to eat tomorrow.
Food, food, food.
It’s just a crappy, sinking feeling to realise that you will never be free of all this.
I got upset watching that show because I recognised those feelings of despair and desperation, but I do feel like I am in a better place than many of those women. They didn’t seem to be in touch with why they behaved that way. It also seemed they felt they had little power or control over their plight. I don’t feel that way anymore. I think with all this navel-gazing we do en blog, you start to learn about yourself and your mistakes.
I am quietly resigned to the fact that these fundamental eating issues will never go away, but I won’t let them dominate my life any more. As much as I hate to paraphrase Dr Phil, I don’t think it can be cured… just managed.
And I will never weigh a slice of bread.