Kate Moss’ motto: “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels”. My motto: “Everything tastes as good as skinny feels.” I feel a little sorry for Kate, poor pet. She obviously hasn’t tried peking duck or char kway teow or Cafe Sopra’s polenta with mushroom and gorgonzola sauce. But mostly I resent her self-discipline. Because I remember what being skinny (well, kind of skinny … ish) felt like and she’s right, it was sooooo good.
A few years ago, I wrote a column for The Australian Magazine about accidentally shrinking to a size 10. I googled it yesterday, for old time’s sake. Geez it was depressing. It went something (well, exactly) like this …
I have achieved many things in my life. I edited Woman’s Day for five years. I’ve walked 250 agonising kilometres of the pilgrim trail in Spain. I am raising two gorgeous children. But nothing I have done has attracted more praise than losing 10kg.
It has been fascinating – and slightly disturbing – to see how excited people are by my weight loss. If I catch up with an old friend they mention it almost immediately, often before they even say hello.
I was never what you would call “fat”, but I wasn’t thin, either. My passion for sausage rolls and Peking duck was greater than my desire to diet. But two babies in two years gave me a jelly belly and little time to exercise. So I simply bought size 14 pants and loose-fitting tops. One day, the office lunch-trolley man congratulated me on being pregnant again. I wasn’t.
When I suddenly started losing weight for no apparent reason, I put it down to breastfeeding. I bought a pair of skinny black jeans in a size 12 to celebrate and the compliments started flowing. So did the requests for diet tips. What everyone – and I – didn’t realise was they needed to develop an enzyme deficiency to mimic my efforts. My weight loss coincided with a succession of “tummy bugs”; about a year after the first bout, I was diagnosed with “multiple disaccharide deficiencies”, meaning my body has trouble processing sugars. I’m not allowed to eat carbohydrates in any form. No bread, no rice, not even broccoli. It’s easier to explain what I can eat – meat, fish, salad, a few vegies, cheese, eggs and grapes.
The months of carb-free living that have followed (it’s now been six) have been tough. Breakfast is a boiled egg, a tomato, half an avocado and a little fetta. Lunch is chicken and salad. Dinner is grilled meat and zucchini. Dessert is a handful of grapes. It’s so worthy I could scream, if I only had the energy.
For the first month all I wanted to do was sleep. But I had two children to look after and a job to hold down, so that wasn’t going to happen. I constantly fought with my husband because I was so grumpy.
I also got even thinner … and I liked it.
There is nothing quite like the feeling of trying on a pair of pants and thinking, “Ooooh, I look great!” rather than, “Well, they fit, I suppose.” I started wearing miniskirts and heels for the first time in many, many years. I noticed men checking me out for the first time in many, many years. It was fun.
But the people who paid me the most attention were other women. You’d swear I’d won the Nobel Peace Prize from the back-patting I received. It made me smile – partly because of a misplaced sense of pride, partly because it was ridiculous that my thinner appearance was regarded as so important.
A particularly enjoyable moment came on holiday in Hawaii. When I asked to try on some size 8 pants the shop assistant cheerfully exclaimed, “No, no! You’d be a size 4 or 6!” And, to my surprise, I really was a size 6. I felt like buying every single size 6 in the shop, then having the labels stitched on to the outside of the garments so everyone could see. (Of course, in Australia I’m more like a 10.5 – but God bless America!)
My dietitian thinks I might be able to eat carbs again one day. I should be thrilled, but I’m actually a bit scared. Will the fat pour back on my bones? Will my new, sexier clothes still fit me? Will life be so much fun without people telling me how good I look all the time?
It’ll be wonderful to eat a pie or a plate of curry and rice. Then again, maybe my illness has made me appreciate the pleasure of eating healthy, fresh food. I hope so. At the very least it’s taught me the bizarre lesson that nothing makes a better impression than being thin. Being rich, successful or philanthropic aren’t nearly so admirable if you’re overweight. I’m not sure what that says about western civilisation, but it can’t be good.
Now the fat has poured back on my bones and the sexy clothes no longer fit, I’m not feeling nearly so philosophical about western civilisation’s obsession with thinness. And, from the extensive mummy blog reading I’ve been doing lately, it seems I’m not alone in my body angst. Everywhere I turn, mummies are writing I’m-so-fat blogs. Many of them are attempting to make peace with their flab or vowing to throw away their scales. Good on them. But I don’t want to make peace with my flab. I want it to f-off. I want to be that skinny person in The Australian Magazine article who wore mini skirts and got compliments all the time. I still have 83 days before I return to Hawaii. There’s a chance I could shed those 10kg and go (American) size 6 clothes shopping again. So I’m giving the diet another go. A proper one this time. No more, “Bugger it, hand me the green curry chicken”. I can’t say I’m highly optimistic, but I’ll give it my best shot. Broken record. Sorry.