Blessings be, whoe’er ye be. Be ye slim, or ye be huge and fat. Come in and sit ye down.
This is the ninth part of this series on dieting. I hope that, if you are currently on a diet, this is either a comforting read, or cathartic in some way. If you’re not dieting, then I hope this is mildly entertaining and distracts you from your worries, if you have worries. Do thin people actually have worries? I’ve heard they don’t. Well, being fat is not one of your worries, I’m sure.
As this is Part Nine, you have some catching up to do. PREVIOUSLY ON DADDY BURNS THE SALAD’S SO HOW’S THE DIET GOING? A SERIES ON DIETING:
Dieting is, let’s be honest, a fight within ourselves. And at no point does it suddenly become easy. It would be nice if homo sapiens had developed the ability to not put on weight, but we do. It’s one of our evolutionary successes that we can retain weight. It’s also one of our modern disasters that we make and consume so much food that is bad for our frail bodies. Mind you, without that, an entire industry, based around dieting, that contributes to our global economy and provides thousands of jobs, would be fucked without us fatties. On the other hand, it has given rise to that most baffling and irritating of professions, the Life Coach.
Honestly, has there ever been a profession that is more of an expression of our needless, greedy, consumerist, image-obsessed, insecure, lacking-in-motivation, aspirational society? It’s an industry purely driven by exploiting those who need a little encouragement and guidance. Has there ever been another job that requires people to be so smug and superior as an essential part of the job description? If all the Life Coaches were put out of business, would the world carry on as normal? You betcha. If all the sewage workers were put out of business, would things be OK? No, we’d be in deep shit. And yet, when The Cataclysm happens, all the Life Coaches will demand that they deserve a place in The Ark over, say, violin teachers. The moment we, as a civilisation, realise that Life Coaches are completely unnecessary, the happier we will be, apart from all the Life Coaches who will need to find work, obvs.
For this reason alone, go on a diet by yourself, discipline and dedicate yourself to it, and put these shysters out of work.
Anyway, now that I’ve offended any passing Life Coach, let’s dig on…
You’re still doing well, but there’s never any let up with a diet. A constant sense of determination is needed. Even with the weight loss you are experiencing, there is still a need for motivation and discipline. Temptation is everywhere. And you’re prone to thoughts of “well, one spoon of sugar in my coffee isn’t going to hurt”. It isn’t, but then the following week, you’ll think you can get away with it again. And then it becomes every two or three days, and then every other day, then every day. And once those sugar-in-coffee floodgates are open, you’ll give up on other things as well. Before you know it, you’re stuffing your face again, and you’re back on the fat train. Choo-choo.
It doesn’t help your self-esteem, to be honest. Being overweight is easier than being in shape. It takes much less effort, but your feeling of lethargy and self-disgust is directly in proportion. Losing weight takes an immense amount of effort and willpower, and it’s so tempting to slip back into bad habits, right? I mean, you’ve lived with chubby-you for so long, you should be comfortable with the way you look, yeah?
Well now you have a battle in your head for supremacy. The you that wants an easy life just wants to fall back into old habits. The you that rather enjoys the compliments on your figure, and the way your body seems to be slimming down into something more appealing, is rather unused to all this positivity. But the diet is hard work. Easy life is easy, but will result in more depression. Diet life is hard, but will have rewards… some day. But yummy food is also rewarding, and it’s rewarding right now!
Society does not help. There are people out there who actively hate fat people. And overweight people are everywhere… and yet invisible in the media (except on news reports that highlight the obesity problem). And all the time, there’s a nagging voice in your head that reminds you that you don’t look good and that you should do something about it. And you have an unshakeable feeling, down in the pit of your soul, that you are the wrong shape and the wrong sort of person. The truth is plain: When you go to bed at night, you dream of being a thin person. When thin people go to bed at night, they do not dream of being you.
And so there’s a cycle of love, hate, self-doubt, temptation, pride, failure, achievement, rage, inadequacy, reward, denial, discipline, greed, a wish for a better metabolism, a desire to look good, a burning need for all the wrong food, and a spark of hope for redemption. This is the diet mindset. More so than looking young and pretty whilst eating salad.
Your observations for this week highlight this storm of contradiction:
1.Weight loss is really starting to have benefits. You can stay on your feet all day without feeling weak, but you can also feel a little trimmer.
2. You tucked your shirt in the other day, and you didn’t look like a darts player with a massive gut hanging over your belt.
3. Your belt buckle is not digging into the flesh of your belly anymore, and you do not get an icky red scab forming. Your wife appreciates this, as she says: “Thank God for that. I never liked the way you would slouch on the sofa and absent-mindedly picked the dry skin off your belly and then eat it. It wasn’t sexy. In fact, it was quite revolting”. When she says it like that, you suddenly realise it’s revolting too.
3. Some of the people in work know you’ve been on a diet since January and are fucking annoying. One woman keeps saying – on a regular basis, like at least once a week – in a really condescending tone: “Gosh, you’re wasting away! Absolutely wasting away…” and then walking off smirking to herself. You are sorely tempted to tell her that she too would benefit from some weight loss, but… HR meeting? Is it worth it? Hmmmm. It might be.
4. One of the school run Mums says to you, apropos of nothing, without you actually telling her about the diet: “Have you been on a diet lately? I could swear that you’re looking thinner. We’ve all noticed it. What’s your secret”. And she looks at you in an appraising fashion. This is bloody great! You don’t tell your wife for about three days, but then you can’t help yourself and you blurt it out one evening. She doesn’t say anything, but purses her lips. The next day she enquires who it was who commented on you. Part of you is guilty for mentioning it, but a sizeable nasty part of you is secretly pleased she’s a bit jealous.
5. You do up your trousers one day. You have run out of belt loops. You need a smaller belt to keep your trousers up. This is working!
6. You do worry that if you lose lots of weight, you might end up with loads of loose skin flapping about, and you’ll look like someone has let the air out of you, but hey, that’s better than worrying about any sudden heart attacks.
7. And then you run into someone you haven’t seen for two months and they say “Wow, are you on a diet? You look trim!”… and you begin to suspect that maybe you were looking even fatter than you originally thought.
8. And then one day, you have a bad one. Work is stressful and you are argumentative. You feel shaky and weird, and you know this means low blood sugar. You are irritable and panicky. So you have one bar of chocolate from a vending machine. It’s a Snickers bar, your favourite. For a moment you get a rush of satisfaction and you feel better… but only for a bit. You catch a glimpse of a reflection of yourself in a mirror or a window, and you see you stuffing the chocolate into your ravenous maw and you are immediately revolted by what you see. All that work, shot down because you feel a little shivery. You absolute cunt.
9. You still finish that chocolate bar though.
END OF THE WEEK STATUS:
You’re not peeling your belly skin, and the School Run Mums approve of your slimming body. WIN. That chocolate bar weighs heavily on your conscience. FAIL.
WEIGHT LOSS AT THE END OF THE WEEK:
No. I’m not having that. I’ve been good all week, and I’ve stuck to the diet (apart from that chocolate bar). I have done NOTHING wrong (apart from that chocolate bar). This is like living in a dictatorship where citizens are randomly punished by The Fat King, whether there has been an infraction or not, just to keep everyone in line. I know I’m innocent. I hate dieting all of a sudden. But the evidence is there: My belt is too large, and my trousers are too loose. I AM losing weight. The diet IS working. Fuck that chocolate bar, it counts for fuck all. And I’ve had it confirmed that The Court of the School Run Mums, through their official spokesperson, have pronounced me to be thinner. And that means more than some numbers on a fucking electronic scale.
And the battle in your head keeps on raging…