Glutton for punishment

‘I’ve definitely lost weight’. He turns to face me and rubs his hairy slim stomach. Satisfied with the reflection in the mirror he nods to me and I give him a nod in return — a silent begrudging ‘well done’. He goes to shower and I go to fling myself down the stairs in anguish. OK that’s a bit too far, but you get I’m slightly peeved. Let’s backtrack shall we.

I am no diet novice. Born ‘big boned’ they said, from a very young age I was aware I needed clothes sizes bigger than my age group. When you’re ten but you’re actually wearing trousers labelled age 12–13, it sometimes feels a bit shit but then again you’re a child so you move on pretty quickly. Imagine that was how they determined adult clothing sizes: ‘Hello, I’m looking for a 35 y/o man sized shirt please..’ ‘Oh sorry sir I believe you are in fact..let me just have a closer look..oh yes, here we are. You’d be closer to a 53 y/o shirt size, any other questions let me know!’

But back to my current issue at hand. My beloved boyfriend can set his mind to something and generally becomes a total keener overnight. A few years ago when living in a large condominium we had a great idea. Why don’t we climb the 27 flights of stairs to our apartment instead of taking the elevators. This was partly due to our need to outweigh the pleasure derived from our love of food and to generally encourage my boyfriend to move more. We both walked to work most days (my commute an hour each way, his 30 minutes) but he wanted more daily exercise while ensuring it did not seem like exercise. For a solid week, maybe more, every morning we would plod down 27 dizzying flights and then commit to the Everest-like climb coming home. The outcome derived both positives and negatives.

Positives:

  • We never had to queue for the elevators and squish in with other residents during the evening rush (remember those days when people squished into metal boxes?!)
  • We never, ever met anyone on the stairs — wonder why?! Extremely sweaty, red faced and panting we would make it to our door alive and limply high five glad to have succeeded.

Negatives:

  • After a couple of days my knee began to give out. My physio essentially said — when it comes to stairs you need to walk before you run, maybe do 5 flights instead of 27 from now on, be careful.

My boyfriend shed something ridiculous like 6 pounds in that week. Bare in mind we were by no means starving ourselves, just eating normally, some treats here and there. I was happy for him. Yet also deeply publicly jealous as the scales didn’t so much as budge for me — if anything it ticked upward an inch as I glared at the dial to go down.

I wouldn’t call myself ‘sporty’ but I do genuinely enjoy being active and am a Yoga enthusiast for the last couple of years, usually squeezing a practice in every day or two. I love walking and can happily go out at the crack of dawn or late in the evening. I utilised the pool and gym we once had access to in our condo building. For years I subscribed to paid gym life and enjoyed the routine, despite never seeing change. I even had personal instructors and loved the feeling of the burn but not so much the fact the scales nor the body seemed to change. Through my younger years I spent a lot of time swimming, wake-boarding, water-skiing. As a family we would often hike mountains on weekends and generally always seemed to be on foot, basking in fresh air. So I have never led a sedentary life, and most likely never will.

And yet, for some devilish reason, I always remained bigger than I wanted to be.

I don’t want to play the sex card, BUT, it seems from my view (and in my personal experience) that men just simply have it better when it comes to shifting those pounds.

Case 1: My Dad and I took up running over the course of a few dark wintry months in a bid to get away from the TV in the evenings. I swear to god the man’s stomach went down 2 sizes in a matter of weeks, you couldn’t miss how noticeable it was (with no change to his very poor diet, might I add.)

Case 2: My Mother’s partner has an incredible diet largely consisting of beige foods. Potatoes, white bread, meat and sweets. She claims that yearly he will wake up one day fed up with his appearance, cut out carbs and drink for sometimes days, at most 3 weeks and just like that transform, shed the pounds, reverse a years damage and fall back to his beige diet for another 6 months of guilt free enjoyment.

Case 3: My boyfriend who every couple of weeks could decide to ‘diet’ for a day or two and instantly look better.

My mother and I have always found joy in food and likely have shed less in our lifetimes than the aforementioned men in a year.

It wasn’t until late 2020 when my boyfriend woke up one day and decided to employ a new fad he had read about that I for the first time in my life truly engaged in and believed the short term diet hype.

Michael Mosley’s The Fast 800 was the turning point. When explained to me, I thought, oh come on, we starve ourselves for weeks on a measly 800 calories and nothing will come of it. How wrong was I. Over the space of 3–4 weeks, with cheat meals incorporated I managed to lose 12 pounds. 12 pounds!! I had never even seen a pound stay off the scales up until this point. It was truly so exciting and so doable. Let me stress that I am food obsessed, but even I could do this. Admittedly the first 2–3 days are tough, but once you overcome that you feel powerful and fearless in the face of food! I could not believe the scales remained to drop and stay at the new lower weight. My boyfriend also showed phenomenal results — naturally far more dramatic than mine as he inched close to the 1.5 stone mark. All in all though I was proud of us for doing it together.

Fortunately or unfortunately, the timing of this new diet coincided with us upping our lives and moving to Ireland from Canada. So for our last 10 days in Toronto we completely ditched the diet for the most part, but maintained the fasting element and some discipline here and there. Then once home with our respective families and back in countries we had not lived in for years, we naturally let our love of home foods and cooking take over, gorging and lamenting in food bliss for weeks while we quarantined and readjusted to our new lives.

For my boyfriend in the UK, he lapped up Greggs, M+S, his mother’s Iranian home cooking, sausage rolls, curries and creamy vanilla slices. For me my food diary consisted of morning fry ups, my mother’s daily homemade soda bread and scones, jambons, hot chicken rolls, pastries and Rolo yogurts.

Then it’s November, countdown to Christmas, countdown to being reunited in our new home in Dublin with my boyfriend. So I hit go and rejoin The Fast 800, probably 3 weeks all in all, but it does the job and reboots my habits and system. By now I’m closing in on 17 pounds down since my start weight! Unbelievable..just astonishing! Even writing this it doesn’t seem real.

Fast forward through discovering Dublin’s food delights in the form of cafe’s, takeaways, local food markets and more. Christmas week and then New Years. Need I say more? The pounds have crept back on unsurprisingly and it all starts to resemble a dream.

So with New Year, come the food vows. ‘I Georgina Ganly, do solemnly declare, to embark on this food journey, through the good times and bad’. And we start well, before failing, and we start again and then fail. But we know how to do it, it’s just engaging the willingness to continue and wanting to continue that is the hardest part most days. Especially when in lockdown with nowhere to go, look at or think about but the food in the cupboards.

I know that I can return to this diet and do it for my health and general wellness and be proud of the outcomes. This is in no way a story of the girl who lost significant weight with before and after pictures. Unfortunately even with the pounds lost I could see little to no difference in myself. But it does feel good, I will admit that. And by feeling good I mean in the most basic sense, I don’t feel stuffed or bloated or regretful on this diet. I feel ‘clean’ and happy because of the ingredients I am feeding myself. So cheat meals become a true delight, not just a mundane mid-week lazy back up plan for dinner.

So as I type this and think how proud I feel not to have yet broken into the chocolate bars we have waiting for cheat meal come the weekend, I am satisfied with myself as Day 5 comes close to an end. What I’m not satisfied with? Having to at times share this journey with someone who just looks at a salad and seems to reap the benefits.

My boyfriend who I love dearly, will continue to see change almost instantaneously through this journey. This morning was not the last time he will rub his stomach and tell himself out loud ‘I’ve lost more weight’. He will continue to unknowingly fire my anger for his ability to apply a new habit and see change almost overnight. And I will continue to try act nice when inside I’m morbidly jealous of his ever decreasing waistline as I tiptoe day to day feeling bloated then OK then fat then OK again.

I’m not one to dwell for too long, let this be known. I don’t sit wallowing in regards to my weight. At times I’ll feel a little down but then soon realise I’m loved for who I am, I absolutely adore food and will never be able to refrain from loving it and enjoying it, as that to me would be misery.

I just sometimes think, would it be so bad to lace my boyfriends food with some type of protein rich high sugar powder so he understands what it’s like to plateau now and then?

Mean Girls style, I like your thinking.

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