I was a tall and skinny kid but come adulthood, I’ve fluctuated between slim and overweight and obese. Like most people who have cause to diet, I’ve tried the various fads and many diet classes. I’ve even taken slimming tablets.
I lost weight when I was twenty-six but there were days when I ate only one apple and drank lots of coffee and nothing else. I was far too thin. I was then five foot nine and a half. That half an inch is important when you’re overweight. Now, in 2013, I’ve lost an inch. Back in my late twenties, I weighed under ten stone. I looked like a skeleton. I have a big frame, size 9 feet, and hands bigger than most men I know. It’s not one of those clichés trotted out by many, I really do have a large frame. When I was skinny, my cheekbones were too prominent and my collarbones stuck out too far. My hips will always be the same distance apart and I know ten stone is underweight for me. I recognised that and managed to balance my weight , staying within the mid range for my height.
I was pregnant the first time at thirty and I put on five stone. I developed gestational diabetes and had insulin four times a day. I lost a good portion of the weight after giving birth but when my daughter was four months old, I was pregnant again. Then again at thirty-four. I gained less than a stone with my third pregnancy but I was already three stone overweight when I started. Diabetes disappeared after each pregnancy but I have to be careful.
In 2002 I knew I needed not only to lose weight but also to stop my chocolate addiction. I went as far as hiding my stash in my underwear drawer, my dressing gown pocket, my handbag, and anywhere other people were unlikely to look. I’ve rarely snacked on biscuits, cake, or bread, but I did eat a lot of chocolate. I disliked anything chocolate flavoured – mousse, ice-cream, drinks etc but I loved sweet galaxy chocolate and many of the chocolate bars. Working a fifty hour week dealing with serious sexual offences and neglect on children, it was easy to chomp my way through three or four chocolate bars during the day instead of having lunch. Lunch? Who had time for lunch? When I went home, having collected my three children from school and nursery, if my husband was working a late shift, I’d make their tea and not bother with cooking for me. I’d tuck into a sandwich and more chocolate.
Someone had a copy of the Daily Mail in the office at work and it had Paul McKenna’s article on stopping addiction in the centre pages. I browsed through it and thought I’d give it a go, nothing to lose. I didn’t expect it to work. It did.
I collected the five articles from the newspaper and sat at my kitchen table a couple of weeks later and followed the procedure. I can’t remember it specifically but it involved convoluted manipulation of the fingers and closing the eyes and thinking of something you hated to eat and then thinking of it chocolate covered. My thing was kidneys. I can’t stand the smell of them cooking, the texture, the taste of them, the touch of them. Chocolate covered kidneys? Yeurgh.
I did the procedure only once.
I was busy for the rest of the day and didn’t give it any more thought. I had a busy day the next day. And the next. It was Wednesday before I realised I hadn’t eaten any chocolate. I never thought about until then. I was surprised. I thought back over the days. I’d not had so much as a square of delicious, smooth, rounded, tasty galaxy chocolate.
A couple of weeks later, when I still hadn’t had any chocolate, I tried it out. I bought a galaxy bar. A small one. I put it in the fridge. It didn’t tempt me. A few days later I built up courage to have some. Would I put myself back? Tip myself back into addiction?
I had three of the six squares. It was enough. I didn’t need any more. I enjoyed what I had but I didn’t want the rest. It went back into the fridge for another time. Unheard of!
That’s how it’s been ever since. At Christmas I buy tubs of sweeties, Quality Street, Roses, Celebrations. I might five in one go. That’s a lot for me. There was a time I might have demolished the tin over two nights. Not any more. And the good thing is, not only did I lose my addiction to chocolate, but I also lost my sweet tooth.
However, I didn’t lose weight. I couldn’t believe it! It wasn’t fair! I would have sworn it was chocolate that was keeping me fat. Towards the end of 2003 I decided I would make a concerted effort to lose weight. I hated being fat and I also needed to get fit. I was, at previous times in my life, quite fit.
I signed up for a slimming class and I did exercise classes three times a week. Sometimes four, if I could fit it in. I lost over four stone. I felt good, looked better than I had in years, and was more confident. I loved my job and my family were great.
Then in 2004 something happened which upturned my life and I left the police force in October 2005. I gradually put on weight. And more weight. And now I am the heaviest I’ve ever been in my life and I don’t like it. I’m heavier than I ever was when I was full-term pregnant. Yes, I’m tall, even if I have lost an inch. Yes, I can carry it, for I have a large frame. I’m not roly-poly (depending on your point of view) but I am still fat. And I hate it.
I’m despondent about diet classes. I live in a small place where everyone knows your face, if not your name. I don’t want the humiliation of failure in front of all these people I can’t escape. It’s not anonymous here like it was when I lived in London. I don’t want to try fads. They don’t work. I know people are having great success with the 5:2 diet but that’s not for me. There is no way I can manage on 500 calories a day. I know my body and I know I need to eat often and regularly and if I don’t, I become light-headed, disassociated, and all sorts of other things. It’s to do with blood sugars or something, and I don’t really understand. I’m not diabetic but there’s a propensity for it in my family and in my life. I don’t think the 5:2 diet is for me but well done to all those who are successful with it.
So where does this leave me?
In January of this year, Paul McKenna brought out a book – The Hypnotic Gastric Band. This book promises a different approach. I’m obese, but not enough to warrant gastric band surgery so perhaps the hypnotic gastric band will work. He worked for me for chocolate so he might work for me on food generally. I tried his other book, I Can Make You Thin, but I never found the time to listen to the CD’s. There was always a distraction, an interruption, or something else to do.
I’m cynical. I’ve only read the first forty pages so far. Paul tells us that after a couple of weeks of being in the studio making the tracks for the CD, the sound technician and the producer both reported losing weight, as he himself did. My guess is that they weren’t overweight. Everyone’s weight naturally fluctuates. And I can’t help but wonder, if it works, why don’t they use hypnosis on the NHS instead of surgery? Surely it must be cheaper? And why isn’t it up there as the way to lose weight? Also, call me pedantic, but this book will be a bestseller because his books always are, and it doesn’t fill me with confidence that it has a spelling mistake on the back cover.
I’ve said things here I’ve never said openly before. Maybe it’s time to confront those demons to fight them. By telling the world, I have to do it, it has to work, right? Will it work for me? I hope so. I really hope so, and not just because of the ten pounds I’ve spent on buying the book. I’ll report my progress, or lack of, regularly. I won't tell you what I weigh, that's a step too far, but I'll let you know if I lose or gain weight. I've already lost eleven pounds this year so far, but I put that down to being poorly. I’ll try to finish reading the book today. I will make time to listen to the CD. I want it to work but think it won’t. Let’s see. I did Paul McKenna once. I’m willing to give him another go. Are you with me?