I knew I was doomed to fail when I read that Madonna
considered toast a treat.
Toast??? As in, a piece of bread that’s been browned on both
sides? Boring old toast? Breakfast staple toast? Toast that I eat when I want
to have a healthy snack toast?
That was the moment I knew I was never going to be skinny.
As in, skinny skinny. Movie star, jutting hipbones skinny.
The problem was that I still wanted to be skinny. I just lacked the willpower to make it so.
I was in my early twenties and I was still very much
shooting for a career as an actor. I was going to the gym regularly. I was
eating lots of chicken salads. Some nights I was having a bowl of yoghurt for
dinner and then falling asleep to the faint gurgle of my hungry stomach. I
liked that feeling.
I lost six kilos. My work colleague exclaimed, “You’re
fading away, child!”
I felt better about myself. But not thrilled. Or skinny.
I weighed about 50 kilos but I never thought my stomach was
flat enough. I thought my bum was huge. I read that a slim Hollywood star who
was a similar height to me weighed 45 kilos. I felt like that’s where I needed
to be. But I never got there. My body was stubbornly clinging to those last 5
kilos. And then I discovered it was because of toast.
But not really toast. I don’t even really like toast. But it
was what toast represented. I had thought a piece of grainy toast with a scrape
of butter and vegemite was a sensible snack. I really did. I didn’t choose to
eat it very often but not because I thought it was bad for me. I never ate
toast as though it was a guilty pleasure. Sitting down to a bowl of chocolate
mousse and double cream – now that’s a treat.
So if toast was the enemy to someone like Madonna, chocolate
mousse and double cream must not even exist in her world.
And I just felt like a world without chocolate mousse seemed
I began to see these skinny Hollywood bodies for what they
really were; beacons of deprivation, the marker of starvation. In order to have this kind of body, I
would need to workout more frequently and with greater intensity and I would
have to eat much less. And there could be no fun food. Or toast. Not even pedestrian old toast.
No cheeseburgers to soothe a hangover. No Coke. No pasta. No
Thai. No potato. No bread. No dessert. Ever. And according to an
article about Jen Aniston’s ‘weight loss secrets’, no carrots or fruit.
I could reason that this was no way to live. I knew that
there were many things I should probably eat less of but I couldn’t imagine the
discipline required to cut them out completely. I couldn’t imagine existing on
what was left. Salad leaves and fish. Watercress soup by the gallon.
So though I was smart enough to know that I did not want to
follow the food and exercise path to thin, I couldn’t stop hating my body for
not resembling thin anyway.
Just once I wished that someone would remark on how skinny I looked – and ask me whether I was perhaps unwell.
Sick and twisted. Yes.
And there stuck in the catch-22 land of self-loathing is
where you can still find me today, more than ten years later.
I wonder what it will take to break free from this cycle. I
still go to the gym but with wavering commitment – sometimes borne of time
constraints but often borne of laziness. Time has made me less disciplined with
food. The constant, underlying exhaustion sees me reaching for carb-loaded hits
of energy to get me through. My Coke addiction has been well-documented here.
Yes, I am drinking it again.
Shit. I hated writing that.
Last Monday I went to the gym and worked really hard during
a Body Step class. I pushed myself. I felt great. I came home, stopping off on
the way to buy the kids donuts I had promised them. I bought myself a Coke,
The kids ate their donuts – one each. Bren and I had one
each, too. And then I ate another one while sucking down my Coke. Two cinnamon donuts
and a can of Coke in the space of five minutes.
Why did I do that to myself? Blatant sabotage.
I felt revolting. And revolted. At myself. At my lack of
willpower, my greed, my revoltingness.
I have bought Macca’s and eaten it in the car before driving
home so that no-one would know. I have baked trays of brownies ‘for the family’
and eaten almost all of them myself. I have made myself sick after eating too
much. It was only once, years ago but I knew well enough that it was too
slippery a slope to ever do it again.
My relationship with food is very, very bad.
But you can’t break up with food.
I currently weigh 55 kilos. My issue is never about
blowing out weight-wise. I’ve never weighed more than 56 kilos outside of
pregnancy. I can see how people might think I don’t have anything to worry
about. But I have only ever lived inside this body and 55 kilos is heavy for
me. I feel heavy. Bloated. Tired. My body is not well and my mind is not
helping the situation.
Help! I need to get out of this rut.
How am I going to change my life? I have small children
watching me. I need to be healthier for all of us.
This bullshit has gone on long enough.