Sunday, 19 August 2012


I'm the one on the left.
Twelve days after this photograph was taken my apparently healthy Dad dropped dead one morning at the age of 60.  He swam regularly and hadn’t smoked since a heart attack almost 25 years previously.  He was, however, obese.  He had been retired for only a few months and had yet to fulfil any of his retirement goals.  His two youngest daughters got married without him to walk them down the aisle and he never met his beautiful grandchildren.  All because he was fat.

I started university as a size 10-12.  Catered halls, pound-a-pint, take-away and eventually the comfort of a long term relationship saw me swell to a size 18-20 over the next 4 years.  I wish I’d nipped it in the bud sooner.  I wish I hadn’t told myself that ‘you only need a 14 because the fit is tighter in this shop’ – it’s not, you’re fatter, and before you know it you’ll have to buy a size 14 in every shop.  You will then go through the same farcical internal monologue at 16, 18 and 20.   I also wish someone had told me that even if you eventually manage to lose weight your body will never look as good as it could have – all that skin has to go somewhere, after all.

Dad’s death made me realise that I loved life more than I loved food so I decided to do something about it.  When I started dieting I weighed 15st 5lb; at 5’6’’ this gave me a BMI of 34.7 and was a serious problem.  I got myself to a healthy weight and started exercising and bugger me if it wasn’t the single best thing I ever did.

I thought I was happy when I was fat.  To a certain extent I was, but I now think back to all the ‘what to wear’ crises, all the sighs in changing rooms as nothing ever looked quite as good as I wanted it to and all the jealousy I tried to pretend I didn’t feel for my dearest friends who were slimmer and more attractive than me.  We all know (or are) people who are obsessed with shoes; I never understood that until I got fat.  Suddenly, shoes were the only clothing items I could buy that didn’t force me to confront my size; I could wear anonymous black outfits and feel like I was making an effort with good shoes.  A wonderful shoe wardrobe is possibly the only good thing to come out of my obesity, sadly I lost a shoe size when I lost weight and many of my beauties are now too big (heel grippers stuck in the back rescued a few but bigger-footed friends did well out of my weight loss).

A happy fatty or not, I can tell you unreservedly that I am happier now.  It is unfathomable to me that anyone could be happier overweight than they would be at a healthy weight.  Losing weight was a fascinating journey, with small yet significant milestones cropping up in the most unexpected places.  I remember sitting in the staffroom and going to cross my legs – they stayed where I put them instead of sliding apart due to my gargantuan thighs.  Such a trivial thing yet momentous for me.  As was the time I was driving down the motorway and suddenly realised that my elbows were not knocking my waist every time I turned the wheel but swishing past it instead.  The first time I travelled on an aeroplane after losing weight and had fresh air between my hips and both armrests, rather than being wedged in for the duration, was a revelation; going to the cinema became similarly comfortable.  I could walk around my classroom without having to get the kids to squash themselves into the desks to make room, there was a purpose to working out (what’s the point in trying to tone your muscles if the thick layer of blubber on top of them is going to wobble regardless?) and I wasn’t constantly doing that fat-person thing of readjusting my clothes to make sure that my rolls were covered.

Thanks to Peter Worth -
Losing weight is hard and the battle to keep it off is unending (and not always won), but the rewards are undoubtedly worth it.  To actually feel good when I get dressed up nicely, instead of just not feeling awful; to know that no one is judging me for my size; to feel in control of my own body; to feel strong and confident; to feel the pride in shedding almost 5 stone; to receive the compliments for this; to know that I stand a greater chance of living long enough to fulfil my dreams and spend more time with the people I love – who wouldn’t want this?  There’s always an excuse.  It’s just an excuse.  Stop making excuses.  Eat less, do more, reap the rewards.

1 comment:

  1. We all have our challenges but maybe it is in taking control of them rather than being at their mercy that we we define who we are. Understanding this, in my mind, is the first step to peace within. Making it happen will then come at a price but that is what a life is for - to be someone - ourself. Great blog Karen! Mike F.