21 Pounds / Starting all Over

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So. Here we are again.

Another Monday awash with good intentions and unrealistic optimism for the week ahead. My posts of a year ago tell me that I was 12st 7lb (average) back then – and rather less delighted about it than I should have been. I’m much less delighted now as my hulking mass of 14 stone stares guiltily at the screen in front, and I can feel every pound of my gain spilling uncomfortably out of my clothes. I’ve had to go up a jeans size, and even at that – things are more snug than they ought to be. This is the first time since 2009 I have experienced any sustained weight gain, and I’m not fucking happy about it. But who’s to blame? Nobody but me. Yet again, piles of reasons but no excuse. I just don’t have that fanatical discipline, the desire to whip up new dishes, the effortless determination that I had when I started Slimming World. The longing to be thin and toned is still there, but I seem to be sub-consciously avoiding any and all steps to logically achieving this. The ‘bad’ foods addiction is well and truly gripping me, and I can’t seem to break the spell.

 

It’s all so dramatic this, isn’t it? Any rational person would just shut the fuck up and get on with it. Not saying I’m totally irrational, but my behaviour at the minute in terms of nutrition is anything but sensible. The change? Life has changed totally. From 2008 until March of this year, I spent my days working in a job that I didn’t particularly enjoy, that didn’t engage me, and afforded me time to concentrate on food and on exercise. Now, I have my own business – a fucking food business. Probably not the smartest move for a fat bastard, but the only move I ever wanted to make in terms of a career. It’s great though, and I’m enjoying it, but it’s like a heroin addict setting up a needle store. It is literally wall to wall temptation. Scones, cakes, traybakes, chocolate, ice cream…..and that’s just the sweet stuff. I also stock an impressive butchers sausage, best eaten with bbq sauce and melted cheese. Proper bread. Floury baps. The works. A 21 pound gain probably isn’t that bad all things considered, but still. For all the naughty deliciousness, I also have healthy alternatives. All my soups are syn-free, as is my stew. I have free flowing baked potatoes and salad! Do I want to eat them? Do I fuck! Do I want to be a tubby bastard though? No.

Another big change is the amount of free time I have now. I don’t really have a great deal. Typically, I am working a six day week which means around 70 hours a week, usually more. Then again, if I was more disciplined and organised, I would probably be working less. Eitherway, after a 12 hour day, the last thing I feel like doing is getting changed and going for a run. Plus, after almost a year off from running long distances, I’m scared to try. It’ll feel like starting all over, but that’s because I would be! Having said that, pain is temporary, and at least now I know what to expect. I need to feel the fear and do it anyway. Lolz at that. It’s not like I haven’t been trying to get my shit together – I have. I’m back into the old ‘start Monday’ mindset. To be fair, I think I deserve my indulgences. I’m not a drinker, or a big smoker, and I don’t do drugs – food is my way of rewarding myself for work done, for celebrating, for consoling, for comfort. I just have to re-realise and re-accept that I can’t be trusted to limit my indulgences.

 

So after all that, what’s happening? Well, it’s Monday, and I have ‘started again’ again. It’s roughly nine weeks til my birthday, and I’d very much like to be 12st 7lb again for then. I need to lose 21 pounds in those nine weeks – an average of just over 2lb per week. It’s not just about numbers though, and simple arithmetic is only simple on paper. Challenge 2: Run a half-marathon on Boxing Day. Why Boxing Day? Why not. It would be too much to run it on my birthday, and I can’t be coping with unrealistic targets at the minute! So I’m choosing to run the day after the biggest carb-loading day/week of the year – it actually makes sense! I downloaded a Half Marathon app and I’m going to follow it up until the event date. Hopefully I stick to my word instead of throwing it at my arse along with everything else. Sad face.

 

Anyway, hope you’re all keeping well, sorry I am a shitty blogger these days – there’s loads of comments I have to moderate etc, but I’m such a lazy hoor. Sorry again! Give us a wee comment sure, who knows, I might even answer!

 

Being Good: Week Two

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So! Another four pounds off this week – I’m twelve stone and seven pounds exactly as of 6.30pm this morning. Happy days yes? Well, no. I was quite disappointed. You see, because I’m a bit of a dick, I weigh myself at least twice a day. Sometimes three times. Now I know that this is ridiculous, and it merely fans the flames of an unhealthy obsession, but I continue to do it. I’ve had the Other Half hide the scales before, but I usually find them or plead like a gypsy in an airport to get them back. The most crucial weigh in of the day is first thing in the morning, and on Thursday morning I weighed in at 12st 4.5lb! This wasn’t an anomaly – my weight had been going down steadily since last Monday, and even though I kept telling myself not to get carried away, I was over the bloody moon. Needless to say, what goes up must come down. Or in this case, the opposite is true!

I can’t explain this spectacular loss. I didn’t do anything differently. Lots of soups, superfree* and Extra Easy yummy dishes! Having said that, I find I’m eating less food in general on Extra Easy as opposed to Original/Red – I’m definitely less hungry. Carbs really aren’t the enemy! Also, I’m not using my full Healthy Extra A. I find it hard to keep track of it – ie if I have two cups of coffee, or use a splash of milk in scrambled egg – I don’t want to syn these ‘splashes’, so I have cut out cheese to accommodate this. I’m getting plenty of calcium from my daily Mullerlight and my greens, so I’m not worried too much. Again, I can’t explain the big drop, but it doesn’t matter now as it has been eroded! If I hadn’t been weighing myself during the week I wouldn’t be having this minor huff now, so let this be a lesson! Weigh yourself ONCE A WEEK, otherwise your head will explode. Metaphorically.

HIGH POINT OF THE WEEK: Thursdays weight of 12st 4.5lb
LOW POINT OF THE WEEK: Not maintaining the above weight!
DISH OF THE WEEK: Last nights Beef Rump Strips with Stir Fry Veg and Curry Noodles

Onwards and upwards. If I carry on in the same vein, I will just edge the twelve stone mark for Christmas Eve – then again it’s equally as likely that I’ll be found balls deep in a tin of Roses on the 21st and spend all of Christs Birthday in a onesie, ‘sucking in’ furiously and crying in the bathroom.

Ding dong Merrily on Pies.

Conflict of Interests

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I’ve been thinking about this post for quite a while now, but held back from actually writing it as I was afraid of going off on a paranoid tangent of conspiracy theories and illogical ranting about the food / supermarket industry. I still am! I will proceed carefully, and reign myself in if I get into ‘Grassy Knoll’ territory.

 

Way back when, I talked about about what caused me to be fat. The logical reason was – I ate too much. I took in more calories than I expended, therefore I stored the excess as fat. Simple. I didn’t go into why I ate too much though, because there are far too many reasons why; and to start listing them would turn this post into a self-serving pity party. Suffice to say, I used to EAT my FEELINGS. How dramatic! Well, it started out like that. A bit of casual comfort eating to get me through the stresses of puberty. Puberty doesn’t last forever though, and the imaginary stresses and emotional turmoil of it soon dissipate. So why was I still eating? By this time, I was fat because I was eating – and eating because I was fat. A very cliched vicious circle, but vicious nonetheless. Soon enough, my mood was irrelevant to my hunger. It occupied me entirely, an unquenchable gluttony that abated only very briefly after each binge. It got to the point where I felt tetchy and on edge if I didn’t have something in the house to eat if I so desired, even though I cooked very little at home. It always had to be the same ritual I showed you in Life Before Slimming World – sandwiches, crisps, chocolate; in that order. It’s fair to say I had formed a very unhealthy habit that was bordering on addiction.

 

Addiction is a strong word, more commonly associated with alcohol and drugs; but food? Seems a bit extreme. How can you be addicted to food? It’s food. Yes and no. The BBC documentary “The Men Who Made Us Fat” suggests otherwise. If you didn’t catch it, the most interesting theory posited was that high levels of fructose in the diet can cause leptin resistance. Leptin is a hormone that signals the brain that we have had enough to eat. It tells us when to stop. Studies have shown than increased consumption of fructose means the brain finds it harder to know when to stop. During the early 80s, mass production of corn in the US led to mass production of high fructose corn syrup, which was used as a sweeter and cheaper alternative to sugar. Unsurprisingly, food manufacturers began using this cheap and plentiful ingredient in pretty much everything. Soft drinks, cereals, breads – the works. Soon enough, the UK followed suit. In the UK, this syrup is known as glucose syrup or glucose-fructose. Have a look – it’s everywhere. It’s in bags of sweets, bars of chocolates, soft drinks, cereal bars….the list goes on.

 

So. If it can be shown that consumption of this syrup via the foods above is messing with our minds, why would any reputable company use it? Such companies includes Cadburys, Mars, Coca Cola, Nestle, Kelloggs – the big label brands in every supermarket. Simple answer is – it’s cheap. Cheap ingredients equal a higher profit. Not only for the producers might I add. Bigfatmarathon herself (me) works in the convenience/grocery sector! I buy and sell the very things that make people fat. The very things that made me fat! I am surrounded by ‘impulse’ items, goodies, treats, whatever you like to call them. It’s in my interest to surround my customers with them, as they yield significant profits. A perfect example being Haribo. A standard bag of Haribo with a big yellow £1 sticker on it costs me 70p, including the VAT. So out of your pound, I get thirty pence. The slightly smaller bags with no £1 sticker cost even less, sometimes I can buy them for 50p. I still charge a pound, which the customers sees as being good value, and I have a clear fifty pence of profit. A can of Coke costs me 30p – I sell it for 65p. I can buy a packet of McVities Chocolate Digestives for around 80p, but the pack has £1.69 stamped on it. That leaves me with 89p profit, more than the price I actually paid. You can see why selling these types of products is attractive to me! I will always actively encourage my customers to buy this stuff, even though I know it’s bad for them. Hence – conflict of interests. When I see someone who is very overweight buying lots of these items on a regular basis, I do feel bad. My instinct is to tell them to put them down and join Slimming World, but it’s really none of my business. If someone had said that to me when I was waddling my way round the aisles, I think I would have died of shame and embarrassment. So I am torn between two lovers! Promoting healthy eating vs revelling in the profitability of junk food. It’s a tricky one. Let us also remember that VAT plays a significant role in all this too. 20% of what the consumer pays for an item such as chocolate, sweets etc goes to the government by way of VAT. I would love to know how much VAT is generated from the sale of the junk foods the government is trying so hard to discourage us from eating. Like I say, it’s not just the manufacturers who benefit. Junk food is a cash cow that is milked by the very top, right down to people like me – at the bottom.

 

I’m going to wrap up, as I’m beginning to bore myself. My end point is: The Men Who Made Us Fat did so by making stuff that tastes better than fruit and vegetables, and by selling it to us cheaply. We have kept ourselves fat with poor decision making and lack of education. Now that we have been educated, we allow ourselves to be fat because we think it’s someone elses fault. We are victims of big business. Ultimately, we can all make the choice to stop. It’s hard, and it can’t happen overnight, but how do you know if you don’t try? Don’t be Cadbury’s bitch – ignore the £1 stickers, and either walk away or just go for a smaller bag. Or try some fruit! It’s just as sweet!

 

Thoughts, views, opinions, disagreements welcome.

 

 

Life Before Slimming World / Food Addiction

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My last post in the Weighty Issues category was ‘Life After Slimming World’. Now I’m going to give you a snapshot of what came before Slimming World. Hopefully by writing pieces like this, hopefully someone reading them will identify with what I’m talking about and realise that A: They aren’t the first person, nor will they be the last, to have a very fundamental problem with their diet – and B: They can change. If I can, anyone can.

In ‘So Why So Fat?’, I came to the conclusion that I was fat because I ate too much. Just for funsies, I’m going to show you exactly what I mean by too much. It’s weird, in one way I’m deeply ashamed of being SUCH a fat bastard, but in another way my mouth is watering! It’s not like being a reformed smoker, where the smell of a cigarette is enough to make them queasy; the sight, smell and sound of food turns me into a quivering mess. A bit like seeing Daniel Craig stepping out of the sea in his wee blue keks, or watching Max from Eastenders getting out of the shower with a towel round him. Truly swoonful stuff.

Before Slimming World, there was no concept of structure when it came to mealtimes. There was no menu, no planning, no anticipation about what I would be eating at any point during the day. Everything was instant. I felt hungry, I went to a shop, bought something, ate it. Repeat. Repeat. Repeat. You get the idea. For a solid five years I had a dreamlike/highly destructive situation where I worked in a bar that served food. Very nice food. I could pretty much eat what I wanted, at anytime of day or night, yet I was still hungry. I’ll give you an example of a typical weekend back then. Do try to keep up – and don’t judge me! I was hungry!

Friday:

In to work for around 10am. I’m not a fan of early mornings, so I sleep as long as possible and just squeeze in a shower before I leave the house. I catch up with the rest of the staff, this usually involves a cigarette or two. After an hour or so, the hunger starts kicking in, this usually coincides with the kitchen getting ready for service – presto! The homemade soup is ready to be tasted! A bowl of it goes down well with a few slices of bread.

Twelve o clock brings opening time, so the lunch customers land and it’s all hands on deck. A busy service finishes up around three o clock, and then it’s time to get the staff lunches out of the way. I either get something made for me (a stir fry maybe, or a panini and some more soup), or I’ll nip across town to get an alligator bite and a German biscuit. Yum.

A bit of admin upstairs and I’ll head away for a few hours between 5 and 9. I might go home for a snooze, or I’ll go shopping and maybe meet someone for something to eat before I head back to work. After all, I have a long night ahead of me, and I need to keep my strength up. I head back in just before nine, and catch up with the staff, get the nightclub ready for opening, and have a bit of craic in general with the customers.

When everything’s ready to go, it’s just a matter of waiting on the nightclub crowds to arrive, so I have a recreational bottle of Lucozade with the girls in the paydesk. Incidentally, the paydesk doubles as a chippy (you couldn’t make this shit up), so when the food for it is being made; I am designated taster. Feeling a bit tired – more Lucozade. By this time, the nightclub is busy, so I am happily occupied until chucking out time. When the rabble has cleared, I have a well deserved taco chip before heading upstairs to count the money. A couple of hours sorts out the cash room, and it’s time to head home. A few of the staff are still knocking about cleaning up, and we have a few cigarettes and a bit of slagging before heading home. I have to leave one of the boys home, so we hit the 24hr garage to get some goodies for the ten minute journey. It’s at least four am at this stage by the way.

NOW! This was my favourite part of the day. I would get myself a bag of goodies that I would take home and eat in bed. Yes, in bed, whilst watching some Family Guy or Scrubs. For the purposes of this post, I visited the very same garage and picked my most favourite assortment of goodies so I could photograph them and give you a visual image of what I was throwing into myself.

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Two sandwiches – a creamy one and a crunchy one. Usually a BLT and something involving stuffing and mayo.

Doritos – chilli or tangy cheese depending on my mood

Two chocolate items – Twirl and Minstrels always good. Maltesers would also have been good, but I was feeling the Minstrels today.

Beverage! A very healthy Coke Zero! Full fat Coke was always a little intense for me.

Like I said, this was my little cache of goodies – all for me. And I wouldn’t touch a bit of anything til I was at home and in bed, with the tv on. It wouldn’t have felt right otherwise. God almighty even as I’m saying this I feel like a mentalist! Now – the method to the madness: OCD snacking

I would open both sandwiches at the same time, eat a BLT half first, followed by a chicken stuffing half. Then the other BLT half, finishing up with the chicken stuffing last. It’s my favourite, so I want my last sandwich memory to be it. Next up, crisps. I would usually complete the beverage along with the crisps, leaving a dribble in the arse of the bottle to extinguish the cigarette I would have to have before starting into the chocolate. It would be disgusting to smoke after the chocolate you see. Minstrels first, then the Twirl. Feed complete. At this stage, it’s probably after six am. So it’s time to turn Stewie off and go to sleep.

Saturday: exactly the same as Friday, except I don’t start work til three or five, so I’ll skip the soup and have a Chinese on my break at six/seven – then carry on as normal.

Whilst I’m writing this, I am chuckling away to myself at the sheer ridiculous levels of excess involved here. I know I’ve used a weekend as an example here, but weekdays weren’t a great deal different to this. I think its fair to assume i was strongly addicted to food. It meant more to me than most things in my life, and it was always a secret priority. How fucked up is that? I still visited the 24hr garage most nights, and I shudder to think how much money I forked over to them over the years – given that today’s little grocery list amounted to £9.27. The manager of that place is getting hit for a donation towards this marathon attempt!! As well as counting the cost of this splurge, I took the liberty of counting the calories. Oh dear. A grand total of 1,432 calories – not to mention a very rotund 57.6 grams of fat. I think I shall end this post right there, as you can probably feel my cyber blushes though your screen. Having said that, the fact I consumed these vast amounts of, well – shite, for about five years straight without either having a stroke or a heart attack has filled me with a very male sense of bravado, and I would quite like a Blue Peter badge for Courage in the Face of Certain Death. I am a machine!

All joking aside, I want to advise strongly against eating bagfuls of saturated fat. It’s not a good idea long term. I also want to point out, this is me being completely honest; ask anyone I worked with back then and they can confirm this. I’m not adding on bits to this story for dramatic effect, or to provide false hope for anyone looking to use these tales as inspiration to lose weight. Maybe you, or someone you know, eats more than this! I would doubt it though….. So, this all gives more credence to my overwhelming point – if I can ditch the pie addiction, anyone can.

Slimming World – For Dummies

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Slimming World has changed my life. That’s a terribly magaziney statement, but it doesn’t mean it isn’t true. It’s very true! It is the least restrictive ‘diet’ I have ever followed, and for this reason, it has been a success. Now I know that anyone reading this who is a very firm believer in Slimming World will be screaming “It’s not a diet! It’s a lifestyle change!”, and this is absolutely true, but for the purposes of this post I will be using the term diet.

As I’ve said previously, most people who want to lose weight believe that if they stick to a predetermined set of rules regarding their food intake over a specific period of time, they will lose weight. That they are allowed x, y and z each day and are not allowed to go beyond that. Their food intake is restricted, and therefore they lose weight. Makes perfect sense when you think about it, but is completely unsustainable for someone who needs to lose a larger amount of weight. Weightloss takes time. I used to think that if I stuck to a diet (pick any fad) for a month or so, I’d lose all the weight I needed to and the problem would be solved! Ridiculous, but when you’re becoming desperate you get delusional. Three years on, I now know that my ‘diet’ as it stands is actually known as normal, healthy eating. What came before was not normal. It was totally unbalanced, unhealthy, and largely unsatisfying. I will never be able to eat exactly what I want. I am not one of these people who can inhale vast amounts of calories and never gain any weight, it’s just not the way I’m built. And I’m not the type of person who doesn’t care what they look like – obviously.

So if it isn’t a diet in the common sense of the word, what is Slimming World? What can you eat?

Simply put, you can eat anything. This, I think, is the main reason some people find it hard to understand. Nothing is off limits. Plus you can eat vast quantities of most foods and still lose weight. It honestly bugs me when people ask me “how did you lose the weight”? All full of wide eyed wonder and anticipation that quickly crumbles when I say Slimming World. A lot of people claim they can’t understand it, that it’s too complicated, that they tried it and didn’t lose any weight, and so on. This is complete bullshit. When I hear this, I feel obliged to nod sympathetically and offer a few basic hints to enhance the understanding of this puzzling and rocket science-esque plan; when what I really want to do is beat the person into a coma with a bag of spuds. The plan that beginners follow when they join is called EXTRA EASY – the clue is in the name! I shall quickly summarise the plan, and will let those of you not already familiar judge as to the difficulty of it. Please note, my summary will not be exhaustive, as there really are no foods off limits. This is a dummies version.

Foods that can be eaten freely include:

All lean red meats
All lean poultry and pork – including bacon
Fresh fish/seafood
Eggs
Potatoes and pasta
Rice
Quorn mince/Quorn pieces
Vegetables
Fruit
Some fat free yogurts (ie most Mullerlights)

These are the main foods that can be eaten freely. This means UNLIMITED AMOUNTS. The only proviso is that you do not add fat to these foods, during cooking, or afterwards. This means, do not fry the lean meats in oil or butter. Don’t dress your pasta dish with olive oil. Don’t put butter on your baked potato. And always trim off all visible fat from your meats before cooking.

Next up: Breads/cereals and dairy products. You can eat one portion of each, every day. Not difficult to keep track of! These are known as ‘Healthy Extras‘ as they supplement your free foods.

One portion of bread would be two slices of wholemeal bread from a 400g loaf, or a 60g wholemeal roll. Or you could have 4 original Ryvita, or if you like your morning cereal, 2 Weetabix. Enjoy a nibble with your morning coffee? Have 2 Alpen Light bars instead.

One portion of dairy could be 250ml of semi-skimmed milk, or 30g of cheddar cheese. Choose a low fat cheese and your portion size increases to 45g – more than enough to fill a sandwich or melt over a baked potato or homemade steak burger.

Finally: Syns. A Slimming World term for treats, naughty things, indulgences etc

Foods that are not ‘free’ or deemed a Healthy Extra, are awarded a syn value. Think of syns as currency. You have 10 syns in your pocket first thing every morning, and you can spend them how you wish. Choose wisely and you can get a lot of bang for your buck. Examples include:

Spending 10 syns on a Cadburys Freddo bar at lunchtime…. And another one for after dinner
Spending 6 syns on a bag of Snack a Jacks with lunch
Treating yourself to a vodka and Diet Coke after work (4 syns)
Spreading two level teaspoons of real butter onto your healthy extra of toast – 4 syns
Perking up a free foods ‘fry’ with a tablespoon of Heinz ketchup – 1 syn

There are thousands of ways you can spend your syns. Different things work for different people. I spent mine primarily on chocolate, as there was no way I could go cold turkey! Other people I went to Slimming World with had no heed in sweet stuff, but couldn’t handle the thought of not having a drink at the weekends, so they’d save their daily syn allowance for five days and then have drinks on a Saturday night. They continued to have steady, impressive losses at their weigh in.

So far so good? This is as basic as I could make it. Granted, some may find the counting of syns confusing or restrictive. This is where it comes in useful to write down what you eat, for the first couple of weeks anyway. Sometimes I think the human brain has an incapacity to understand things that are basic. That by complicating something that is simple, it is able to understand more fully? Or is that called awkwardness? Either way, I defy anyone to say that this plan is complicated. It’s not. But that’s assuming that you have read the literature provided to you when you join. I get asked a lot of questions by people who have the answer sitting in front of them in the books that you get when you join, and I swear to God, it irritates the hell out of me. The books are well written, easy to read, and contain EVERYTHING anyone needs to get started. That’s why they are given to you when join. That’s what you paid a joining fee for. Read the books properly and you shouldnt have to ask stupid questions. Grrrrrrrr.

Right, I can feel a rant coming on, and I need to get ready for a run. This has been Slimming World for Dummies (as I see it). Please remember – I am not a Slimming World guru. I don’t intend to promote myself as such. If I am so well versed in the ways of weightloss, why was I fat in the first place? Believe me, I know my place. And I know that if I let myself, I could easily put that nine stone back on again in a shorter space of time than it took me to lose it; I just hope that even one person reading this will try it out and succeed. It really has changed my life.

I just wish I’d changed it sooner.

Fat – A National Obsession

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Fat is literally everywhere. Lift any women’s magazine and there’ll be a cover story about either someone losing mass amounts of weight, or about a celebrity and their latest fluctuation. Tv schedules are also packed with shows about weight loss, or ‘shockumentaries’ about morbidly obese people trapped in their homes eating themselves to death. Have to admit though, I am guilty of consuming all of these stories! Especially the tv stuff. Biggest Loser US, Biggest Loser UK, Fat Families, Obese: A Year to Save my Life etc etc. Despite being hugely entertaining, I think they’re hugely exploitative. I’ve watched the likes of Biggest Loser as a fat person and thought “if they can do it, so can I”, which led to eating very little for the first two days, then thinking I was doing well and deserved some treats. Whoops. The thing is, of course anyone could achieve similar results if they spent six weeks doing six or more hours of exercise a day with a personal trainer gowling in their ear! Add to that the fact they are cut off from the temptations of convenience food for the same amount of time, of course the results are going to be spectacular.

There’s no denying that seeing these dramatic transformations is inspiring, but what happens when the cameras go away and the contestants return to ‘normal’ life? How do they stop themselves going back to old ways? Sometimes we get to meet the previous years winners and, more often than not, they have regained some weight. Admittedly, they still look a shadow of themselves at their top weight, but it just shows that outside the controlled environment of the show, the dramatic weightloss is not sustainable.

I always used to think that if I could just stick to a diet for a certain length of time, then I would lose all the weight I needed to and everything would be fixed. I tried the Heart Foundation diet, which claimed I’d lose twenty pounds in seven days – I didn’t. I tried the Cabbage Soup diet, which was disgusting. I also gave SlimFast a shot! I bought around sixty ready to drink cans of chocolate SlimFast from Boots online, I’m not even joking! They were delivered to my house and I think I drank around eight of them. The rest stayed in a kitchen cupboard til they went out of date. After the SlimFast debacle, I went to my doctor and asked for some solution to my fatness. He very helpfully gave me an appetite suppressant called Reductil which I took religiously for about a fortnight, but managed to ‘think’ my way around! Waste of time. Not unlike the further waste of time when I bought more of these pills online which were a higher dosage. Think this set me back in excess of £100, and were no more effective. I may actually still have some of these pills kicking about the house. The most effective diet I inadvertently tried was the Tonsilitis Diet – eleven pounds in a week, but fairly unpleasant.

My point here is, if you’re overweight and you’re watching these programmes – stop thinking that you can achieve these results on your own. You can’t. Admittedly, if you have the mental strength and the free time to dedicate yourself to extended periods of daily exercise, then you will most likely lose weight. If you have that mental strength, then more power to you, but it’s something you will have to sustain for the rest of your life if you want to achieve and maintain the results. For the rest of you, stop being so hard on yourself. It’s a tv show. Do you believe everything you see on tv? Which brings me to the other type of ‘fat show’. The modern day freakshow of the super-duper-morbidly-rottenly obese. I don’t think these require much of a summary, we’ve all been treated to the scenes of carers having to soap in and around the seemingly endless folds of fat whilst the owner sits, usually quite unfazed by it all. These shows all elicit the same reaction, from me at least, how in the name of Christ does anyone let themselves get into such a state? Honestly? You would think that when you get to the stage that you can’t wipe your own arse, it’s time to cut back on the snacks.

I can understand the purpose of these documentaries, they are designed to shock the viewer into realising the consequences of consuming too much food. Fairly simple. In the same way, Northern Ireland sets a precedent for hard hitting and shocking road safety tv campaigns, but we still see boy racers driving a high speeds, people texting at the wheel, we read about drink drivers and so on. And we still see fat people. More than ever before maybe. The obesity epidemic we keep hearing about in the media. So why aren’t people taking the hint? Do these documentaries make people think ‘well at least I’m not as bad as that’? I know I thought that! I always watched the shows, usually whilst grazing on chocolate, thinking – that’ll never be me. But it easily could have been! Maybe at this stage we’re immune to the notion of fat. There is such a media saturation of weight, weightloss, health promotion, advice, nutritional information, fad diets, the list is endless. It’s actually exhausting. As is this post, I can’t actually remember the point I was trying to make.

How do we strike a balance between cutting ourselves a break but preventing ourselves from being slaves to indulgence? The quest for the happy medium seems ever more elusive as time goes on. Fat really is the national obsession. Do you think if we ignored it, it might go away?