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.
Some of your thoughts and actions are not foreign to me……..but your kids are watching and especially your daughter is watching…….sounds like a professional might be in order x
It’s so hard, I know. I weigh about 62kg now and that’s the lightest I’ve ever been. Since high school. And I’m the fittest and healthiest I’ve ever been, but I still have weight to lose. I’m about your height, and your weight is my dream goal but yeah yeah I know it aint all about numbers. I have to work so hard at it though. I exercise like a mofo and eat pretty much like bloody Jen but if I slip, and I mean if I eat a bit of toast – I haven’t had coke or donuts in years, I put a few kgs back on. I was 61 last week and this week, after a slightly lazier week (including running 16km on Sunday in prep for my half marathon) I was back up to 64. It is maddening to me. I have the world’s shittest metabolism! If I let myself gorge on Maccas and coke and donuts (which I think about All. The. Time) I’d be back up to 85kg again in no time. You never knew me at 85kg, but just over 12 months ago, that’s what I weighed. Gulp. So yeah, I know I’ve done well and come a long way, and at 62, I am in (just) my healthy weight range, but it is a daily struggle. And I miss cake. And donuts. And toast. With butter and peanut butter. And cups of tea and more cake. And dessert with double cream AND custard.
You’re gorgeous, regardless of what does or doesn’t go in your mouth or what the scales say. I wish I could listen to my own words here!
I’ve been thinking of writing about weight loss too. Post baby and although its only been 2 weeks, it’s on my mind… that is so ridiculously unfair on myself. I know. Yet, still. I think the line: Watercress soup by the gallon has well and truly scared me off the idea of dieting for a little longer.
I really want to comment but I have trouble organising thoughts to write!
That being said, I say don’t sneak the food, love it openly. The kids will see a happy confident relationship and follow suit. And you, because you will no longer be in a power struggle relationship will find your balance. I read something today that a woman wrote in the comments of a piece about women & weight – she was at the movies with her husband and said to him ‘I wish I had her body’ (like one of the impossibly SKINNY actresses) and he (bless him) looked at her and said -“What would you do with it that you don’t do now?”. I so so love his response. Cos its true.
Have a think about trying the I quit sugar programme from Sarah Wilson for 8 weeks. It worked wonders for me when I was trying to break that exhausted, post baby food and energy cycle that is too easy to fall into. Plus I was totally addicted to sugar, I needed to break that cycle for me and for my mood swings that my poor boys were dealing with (which they shouldn’t have been). Its a very kind programme to start. FB me if you want more info xox
I think you just need to clean up your diet, it’s pretty simple really. Just stop eating junk! And stop buying it! It takes a lot of time and willpower and commitment, but after all it’s your health you are talking about. Just think about all the people who don’t get a second chance to improve their health, and how lucky you are. Plus, you get to make your whole family healthy. There is lots of information out there and different streams of thinking about what is healthy. Paleo, wholegrains, natural, no sugar etc. There are some great websites with recipes like Elana’s Pantry, Theresa Cutter, etc. Basically cut the food that is processed and with chemicals and sugar. Just eat clean. And do it together, as a family. Cook a lot and have lots of ready made food in the fridge – hard boiled eggs, soups, cooked chicken, cut vegies etc. Don’t rely on food from packets. Give yourself a few weeks to stop the sugar addiction – it will be hard but it’s worth it. And stay strong!
I have a bad relationship with food. I don’t eat enough and when I do eat its the wrong things, like chocolate or doughnuts and drinking too many ice coffee’s that give me a fat ass lol! I think the only way to beat it is just to keep trying thats all we can do x
Angie, I think you’re being to hard on you’re self.. You’re ok.
I’m with Jodi Ange. Without dismissing your feelings (and I’m sure you will be great around this stuff with your daughter) you’re doing fine. A couple of doughnuts with the kids is not a whole cheesecake eaten alone in tears, hiding. Give yourself a little break mate. It’s full on, this early-childhood kid stuff. Your identy is still in flux, and it’s such freaking hard work!! Have a Coke on a bad day, but try and avoid the crack. xx
This is hard stuff Angie. You know it’s not really about the food. The food or your feelings about food are coming from somewhere else. I think if you try to examine that more closely, the food issue will start to sort itself out.
The best gift we can give ourselves is self-acceptance. It’s also the best example we can give our kids. Getting healthy and maintaining fitness to enjoy life so that we have energy for other things is a great goal. If you love your body you will make the right choices for yourself most of the time. And to me, it sounds like most of the time, you DO that.
I try to do these things. I don’t always succeed. But I have learned to give myself more credit than I used to.
It’s a full life you have with three little ones to take care of. Look forward to your exercise sessions when you can get them as time out for yourself and try not to feel too bad when you fall off the wagon with food. We’ve all been there and are familiar with the circumstances leading to that kind of out of control eating.
Love ya – you are great you know. xx
I’m wondering if the self hatred is coming more from being back on the Coke than the food issue. Almost everyone who stops an addiction has a relapse before succeeding. I think if you work on the Coke the food will not be such a problem. I think that most of the time you eat very healthy nourishing foods with your little family and everyone needs the odd snack (yes even chocolate mousse and double cream) but daily Coke can really get your spirits down. You can do it precious girl. You are so strong.
Of course, having watched a mother flitting from diet to diet in your childhood hasn’t helped has it? Bugger!
I am not going to cover what anyone else has written but think of it this way – if you had just exercised at the gym, why can’t you eat a donut and have a coke? And even if you had not been to the gym, why can’t you enjoy a donut with your children?
Reformed gym junkie here. I will never obsess about my body or fitness again. If your children don’t see you ever eat a cake or donut you send them another kind of message too.
You know, cake is good. cake is not evil. cake every single day is a little evil, but overall – cake is fun. I don’t ever want to live a life without cake in it. it is not living. xxx
But you look so well in the pictures…we have to stop of being so cruel to ourselves…
Oh my… Missed this when you posted it and so only getting to reply now…. Oh, and by the way, hi and nice to meet you! Loving you!
I, too, can relate to the food/health/diet stuff. It’s total addiction and it sucks. No one would see me and think I had a problem either, but it truly is “functioning” addictive behaviour and I struggle with it deeply. It is crack and it’s totally wack! No answer for you, just thanks for sharing. It really is nice to know I am not alone. Just remember, though, to acknowledge every time you might choose a better and more life giving option. It all counts. Xxx