It’s January 1st 2018. I am wearing size XL Mothercare over the bump maternity knickers. I am not pregnant. My youngest child is 20 months old. In recent months, I have taken to talcing my Caesarean scar and my bras give me that much sought after ‘four boob’ look.
Now, just have a little pause whilst you regain your composure, after gagging on your cuppa and digest the fact that I am THAT sexy. Are we done now? OK. Lovely. Let’s press on. I’ll try not to be quite so graphic.
My name is Jemma Anglesea. I am 5 weeks off my 35th birthday and if I don’t sort myself out, I am going to end up carrying a stone for every year of my life. Well, not really. However, according to my scales, I have put 1 st 2 lb on since 4th December. My dedication to achieving morbid obesity in a short period of time is impressive. I’m tenacious if nothing else. But, really, this HAS to stop.
I am acutely aware that this “New year, New me” stuff is horribly cliched. I have been here before, countless times. If I had a monetary pound for every pound in mass that I have lost and gained and lost and gained and lost and gained, well, I’d probably be able to buy my own island, rather than be the size of one. And that is not to mention the thousands I have spent over the years on diet books, slimming club subscriptions and unused gym memberships. I was an over weight child and that is not something I will ever be able to shake off. I am the queen of the yo yo dieting. So why is now so different?
In all honesty, now is not so different. My reasons are not so different. Forget everything I may have said in previous blogs when trying to win competitions. I am going to be absolutely clear and frank about this. I do not like the way I look when I am overweight. It is that simple. This will make me massively unpopular with the current body positive movement. I am not opposed to their hypothesis. I just struggle with that whole ‘feeling confident regardless of size’ thing. I can’t get on board. Let me make this clear: I do not think that larger people are unattractive. Tess Holliday is beautiful. Dawn French is gorgeous and quite honestly if I looked like Ashley Graham, I could live with myself. But I don’t look like Ashley Graham. When it comes to me, I just don’t feel good about myself when I am overweight. Clothes look better when I am slimmer. I look better naked when I am slimmer (apart from the boobs; don’t imagine the flaccid boobs) I am happier when I am slimmer. The comedian Katherine Ryan (who I love and adore) once said that she was a product of her generation, that she was taught the best thing we could be is pretty. She is the same age as me. So, same here. It is not true and it is not right that we were brought up in a world of that mindset, but that is a mindset that is hard to shake. I am the fat kid that wants to be pretty. I am prettier when I am slimmer. That is not society saying it. That is me saying it. I want to be the best version of myself and, for me, that best version is a slimmer, healthier me. (FYI Katherine Ryan has had Botox so she’s hardly advocating the ‘beauty comes only from within’ motto)
That’s not to say that it’s just the way I look that is driving me. I have two feral boys under four and keeping up with them is quite frankly fucking exhausting. Right now, I work two jobs. My boys are averse to sleeping. I’m knackered. I am a sugar and caffeine fuelled lunatic, surging from manic fretful bursts of yelling instructions, Sargent Major style, to catatonic crashes where I could literally sleep on a lamp post hanging over the M6. It’s not recommended for the continuous flow of energy required for refereeing the 24 hour wrestling match between 20 month old Satan and a 3 year old Tazmanian Devil, that is the existence of my children. So for health reasons, I need to sort myself out. My knees are shot. I have varicose veins. I get out of breath walking up the stairs. My skin resembles that of a 15 year old. No, not line free and youthful. Acne ridden and pustular. (I get hotter with each sentence, don’t I?) I have digestion issues. I feel wobbly and slovenly and unhealthy. After eating so much crap in December, my tongue actually hurts. It may or not be from lack of nutrients but it sure as hell feels like it is. Being fat is not nice. Someone asked me what I was getting for Christmas and I joked Type Two Diabetes. Only, it’s not a joke. Now I am in my mid thirties, I am becoming aware that having your health really is your wealth. I can’t afford to be ill. I need to look after my children. I need to work and support my family.
This blog is the first for a while and a little different to the usual but I thought, what better way of recording my journey? There are so many amazing before and after stories, on television and in magazines. Pictures of over weight people in hideous, ill fitting beige underwear, next to the spray tanned slim version in the best bikini Debenhams can buy. But no one really shares the journey without knowing the end result. So here is the start of my journey.
I have thought long and hard about whether I should share a picture of myself, as I am right now, in this article. Putting a picture of myself in my underwear at over 13 stone feels scary and opens me up to so much abuse. Having said that, I am fat. It is just factual. I am a size 16-18. I have rolls and cellulite and some people will find me hideous. Others less so. But no one will feel worse about my appearance than me. I guarantee you. Nevertheless, whilst I am feeling particularly unattractive and vulnerable, maybe it is best if I wait a month. I will share when I have something to compare against. It feels like a cop out and I am sorry. I will happily share my vital statistics with you, though.
People find it weird that I will share my weight but NEWSFLASH. I do not look like I weigh 7 stone. Nor do I look like I weigh 27 stone. My weight is what it is. Why try and hide it?
My current weight is 13 stone 5lb. I am 5ft 4 and a bit. I go back to Slimming World tomorrow, so that may change as I prefer to go by their official weight. This is not the biggest I have ever been. That was 14st 5lb, after the birth of my youngest son, Joseph, in April 2016. My lightest was 9 stone 12lb back in 2010 when I lived off a breath of fresh air every 6 hours and ran 11 miles, three times a week. I’m not even joking. It wasn’t an eating disorder but it was disordered eating and I was obsessed. I struggled to keep my weight down and it made me anxious. I also still thought I was fat. Oh to be as fat as I was then! Now I have two children and am slightly older, my target is 10st 7lb. Much more easy to manage, although it is at the very top of my BMI range. It feels like a million years away.
My measurements make me feel a bit queasy/horrified but nothing shits you up like cold, hard numbers:
Yes. I am busting out of my clothes completely. Things have to change. So what is the plan?
There are so many different diets out there but I find Slimming World the easiest to follow and have had great results before. I have an appalling relationship with food, as will become apparent in the weeks ahead, and have tried all kinds. I have done Weight Watchers but I was hungry and mental about points and I struggled. I have tried Slim Fast but it made me so goddamn hangry, I was vile. Last year, I bought Dr Xand Van Tulleken’s book How to Lose Weight Well and, to be honest, I just looked at the pictures. I only really bought it because he is FIT AF. The truth of the matter is, I will need to go and get weighed by a total stranger every week for the rest of my life in order to stay slim. That is just the way it is. I don’t know why. I feel some desperate need to feel judged into losing weight. Little else works for me.
As for exercise, I used to run a lot but an ITB and meniscus injury have scuppered that. I am not going to waste my money on gym memberships. I know I wont go so I am going to try some free Body Coach Lean in 15 workouts on YouTube, whilst I have physio on my knee to strengthen it.
I plan to keep a brief diary every week until target. I am hoping to publicly humiliate myself into sticking to it. Hopefully this time next year, I won’t be wearing my maternity knickers over my well talced caesarean scare.
So Happy New Year everyone! New Year, Old bullshit. But here we go again… Wish me luck!