13 October 2009

A Weighty Issue

This is a difficult post to write.

I’ve been putting it off for a couple of weeks, but I’m ready now.

You see, I’m in this complicated relationship. I’ve been in this relationship for thirty years. This relationship is with food, and it’s not a healthy one.

If I had an unhealthy relationship with alcohol or drugs I could go cold turkey. It would be difficult (and I’m not making light of addictions here), but it’s possible. I used to smoke twenty cigarettes a day. On 6th June 2003 I stopped smoking. I just stopped. It was hard, but I haven’t smoked since.

If your unhealthy relationship is with food, you can’t just stop eating. You have to eat every day, several times a day.


I wasn’t a skinny child, but looking back though the photo albums I now realise I wasn’t that big either. I certainly wouldn’t have been filmed from the neck down, eating chips, for an ITV news report on childhood obesity.

I was teased at primary school though. Some of the boys called me Big Bertha or Two Ton Tessie. My best friends Joanne and Wendy used to sit on me at lunchtime to make my tummy smaller.

When I was nine my mother put me on my first diet. I don’t blame her. Throughout the 1970s she only ate cottage cheese, Ryvitas or lettuce. She didn’t know any better. She used to make me wear huge ‘tent dresses’.

I was allowed to eat 1000 calories a day. Everything I ate was recorded on a chart stuck on the back of the larder door. I was only allowed about 100ml of milk per day.

I can’t remember whether I lost any weight, I suppose I must have done.

The following year, when I was ten, my mother started to work in the evenings. My father also worked in the evenings, but in his workshop at home. I remember night after night feeling bored, rifling through every cupboard in the kitchen looking for something to eat. In secret I would eat a couple of chocolate biscuits, a packet of crisps and a kitkat. I would then eat a bowl of cornflakes covered with sugar, then wash and dry the bowl and spoon and put them away.


I repeated the starve/binge cycle for years and years and years.

I was either on a diet, or not on a diet and binging.

I have tried most diets over the years. I’ve been to Weight Watchers, Slimming World, Rosemary Conley and my mum’s slimming/aerobics club. I’ve tried the Atkins Diet and the Low GI Diet. I’ve read slimming magazines. I know so much about dieting that I’ve made a up a few of my own. I can tell you how to lose weight by eating a low fat, low sugar diet. I’ve tried not eating after six o’clock and I’ve tried not eating before six o’clock.

The most weight I lost in one go was six and a half stone. Then I started eating ‘normally’ again and put all the weight back on again – and then some.

I’ve failed at every single diet I’ve been on. Do you know why?


They don’t.

Diets set you up for failure because you can’t stay on them forever. You’ve been deprived of your favourite foods for however long you’ve been dieting and as soon as you stop, you eat and eat and eat and eat. Well, I do.

If diets worked I’d be a size ten and wouldn’t be writing this.


So where does that leave me?

I’m not the heaviest I’ve ever been, but I'm getting there, slowly but surely.

Around the time I met Andy, a few years ago, I lost weight. I lost it without trying. I ate what I wanted, including chocolate. We ate out in restaurants and we cooked for each other. I was so happy I didn’t think about food. After I had lost four stone I realised that I hadn’t binged or eaten in secret for months.

Then, when I was pregnant with Presley I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. I was put on a strict diet. I continued this diet for a few months after he was born too and lost even more weight. No wonder I had problems with my milk supply. The diet couldn’t last though. I was back on the diet/binge cycle once more. The Christmas after Presley was born I ate two large tins of chocolates before mid-December and had to buy more. I couldn’t stop eating.

Then I got pregnant with Cash. Again I had gestational diabetes. This time the diet wasn’t so strict, but I still had to follow a diet. I only put on ten pounds throughout the entire pregnancy. Once Cash was born I ate loads to help my milk supply. I haven’t stopped eating since. I’m pretty disgusted with myself.

So I’m overweight and rather unfit at the moment. I’d love to have more energy to play with the boys. I’d love to be able to shop for clothes anywhere but Evans. I don’t want the boys to be teased at school because they’ve got a fat mummy.

I want to lose weight, but I don’t want to go on a diet.


Thank Bob for the lovely Jo Beaufoix. We’d been emailing each other following a comment on a blog post. She asked me if I’d read the book ‘Beyond Chocolate: How To Stop Yo-Yo Dieting and Lose Weight For Good’ by Sophie and Audrey Boss. I hadn’t, so I bought it and read it.

What a revelation! Beyond Chocolate is not a diet. You can eat what you want when you want, so long as you tune in to what your body really needs. There are no ‘bad foods’ , no calorie counting, no points, no scales. You eat when you are hungry and stop when you are full. You move your body because you enjoy it.


Yes, it is simple, but I wasn’t sure where to start. There was a lot to take in. We looked into the weekend courses that they run, but Jo and I live a fair distance from each other. There is an alternative...

A couple of weeks ago Jo and I started the twelve week Beyond Chocolate Ecourse.

The Ecourse breaks the book down into bite-sized pieces. Sorry, that joke was in poor taste. And so was that one.

There’s full email support and a website forum to join. Also, Jo and I are supporting each other too. It is nerve-racking, but exciting. I’ve got nothing to lose, apart from some weight. I hope to gain body confidence and to get back in touch with myself. Go back to basics.

I’ll let you know how I get on.



  1. I completely understand where you are coming from. I've been on/off dieting for years now and nothing has worked. Whatever I lose I put back on again.
    I'm currently on the Cambridge diet - food replacement. I've so far lost 3 stone & aim to lose another 3 or 4. Then we'll see what happens. I'm hoping that when I've lost the weight I'll be confident enough in myself to join a gym or to go for runs to keep the weight off. I'm a reasonably intelligent woman, I know that all you have to do is eat less & move more but for some reason I just can't do it.
    I wish you all the luck in the world. x

  2. Well said, my friend Andrea used to have a blog all about her Beyond Chocolate experiences and lessons learned, it's a bit out of date now but there is still some useful stuff there:


    My latest post about weight "battles" is here:


    I've also just started reading a book called Eating Less, Say Goodbye to Overeating (not the first I have read on the subject...) but it has me hooked so far. Will do a review if I can.

    Good luck with everything but please please don't put yourself under too much pressure to "succeed" at losing weight - slip ups are inevitable - and as you say far more inevitable than a cheeky fag now and again. Like you I stopped smoking in one go.

    Much love. x

  3. everything will work out dear. I'll pray for you. have a nice day! x

  4. Very true, diets don't work. Which is both reassuring ('so that's why I've not lost any weight!') and a bit depressing ('so what the hell do I do now, then???'). I hope that Beyond Chocolate works out for you, it'll be interesting to hear how you get on.

    But don't be too hard on yourself, you've managed to grow two babies in less than two years which is hard work for anybody's body. Mine is certainly showing signs of strain after having babies 15 months apart. That's not to mention the crazy newborn months where you don't have time to grab healthy, low fat food.

    Ok, now where did I leave my chocolate digestives...?

  5. Great posting, Sandy. Read it just as I'm about to leave work and go to Weightwatchers (I know what you'll say, but we're never happy are we?.

    My approach is to bore myself slimmer, every day i have exactly the same thing for breakfast, dinner and tea so i don't have to think about what i eat. And you're quite right, as soon as I return to normal eating back it all goes.

    I'm sorry because I passed my daft relationship with food on to (all but one of) my daughters and I really wish i hadn't done that. However, I am happier when I'm slimmer - i know, pathetic....


  6. And yes, Helen is quite right; you have just made two new little lives. That's pretty damn spectacular!

  7. My heart missed a beat thinking that was your cat!!
    I too have spent as long as I remember on a diet of some form, it started after my father told me to hold that "big tummy" in when I was five and then reinforced by my ballet teacher who told me I needed to lose weight if I wanted to be a dancer.
    I'm not big....in fact I'm smaller than average but I'm not happy. A lot is about exercise too.
    I'm going to look into that book, as you know I love chocolate and happily forgo meals for chocolate. Although I used to eat the meals as well.
    Thanks for the post, good luck with it all. keep us updated on how it's going. x

  8. Hi Sandy. I used to be the Editor of Shape magazine (!) and have also been the Lifestyle Editor of various magazines so I've lived and breathed every diet and diet experience for the past 10 years or so.. and what I've learned is that if you're serious about losing weight and keeping it off, you have to eat less and do more. It sounds so simple but of course I know it isn't (Although I've walked several miles today, I've just eaten four slices of toast and peanut butter in quick succession.) Deprivation doesn't work - every expert I've ever spoken to has said that a little of what you fancy does you good. Starving will only make you binge. So it sounds as though you're on the right track with Beyond Chocolate. BTW, if you want some advice on getting fit from Nicky Waterman, just drop me an email at editor@kidstart.co.uk and I'll sort. Good luck! xxx

  9. Well done on such an honest post. I too need to lose weight, wuite a lot of it, even though I lost 6.5 kgs overnight with the mastectomy - he he he.

    My plan is starting after my next hospitaliation in three weeks time. Good luck

  10. I had a bad relationship with food for 20 years. I've discussed it alot with Jo. Although my problem was different, I know where both you and Jo are coming from. The ecourse sounds interesting. Hope you both get what you want from it. I agree, Diets don't work. Take care of yourself.

  11. Sorry Sandy, meant this link for my latest about my battles with weight: http://www.gotyourhandsfull.com/2009/10/chaotic.html

    Lyndel's advice really struck home with me. x

  12. Hi Sandy - Right I've made it in and I haven't been chucked off your blog yet...yay!! Great post - I can so empathise with you. I literally didn't stop eating for the whole 9/10 months of my first pregnancy - I even woke up int he middle of the night and ate because I was so hungry. But at the time I didn't realise what was happening - I thought becuse I was pregnant it was ok to scoff myself stupid. The problem was, I ended up putting on 5 stone and felt like ten-ton tessy afterwards. It was horrible. No clothes fitted me, I didn't want to leav the house, etc. And for 4 months after giving birth I didnt't lose a lb of weight. It wasn't until I suffered a horrible stomach bug and threw up for a few days that any weigth shifted at all. But that kick started me into doing something about it...and so I went on a diet. Unbelievably it did work. It took me 19 months to (almost) get back to my pre-pregnancy weight...and then I got pregnant again!! These days my weight does go up and down depending on various things, but I know when I've reached a certain weight I have to have a lean spell. Its normally works. I'm not quite as 'toned' as I once was, but it's not too too bad. Well done you for being proactive. It takes time, and that's the painful part often, but you'll get there. Good luck to you and Jo xxx

  13. Were'nt the women who run "Beyond Chocolate" on Dragons Den?


  14. That's very exciting! Do let us know how you get on - that will be fascinating. Maybe you could share some tips and insights, too, if you stumble across any on your way.

  15. What a great post. I'm overweight too simply because I eat too much and have a fondness for chocolate which I eat too much of when I'm tired (which means most days). I'll be really interested to see how you get on, maybe we could start a Twitter support group?

  16. Good luck!!! THere's nothing like the feeling when you start a new diet (as sad as that sounds) - it's such a time of optimism and imagination! Obviously you are not embarking on a diet, per se, but it's always good to start anything new. Another book recommended to me recently which has helped to balance my eating pattern is Skinny Bitch. It's written in a fairly 'unique' style but it really made me laugh, and although much of it you should take with a pinch of salt (they recommend being vegan) there's a lot of information about where our food comes from which puts you off eating half of it! They also encourage you to really focus on how your body feels once you've eaten certain food. Since reading this book I've realised that white rice makes me feel horrendous, and I'm trying to cut it out....

    ...Anyway, long story short, I wish you the best of luck and look forward to hearing how it's going. Without wanting to preach, if even losing a couple of pounds initially means you'll start to enjoy your reflection again, it;s worth it. I recently saw my collarbone - a sight I'd missed enormously this last year!

  17. Notsuchayummymummy, gosh, the Cambridge Diet sounds quite drastic (haven't tried that one)! I hope all goes well and you can keep the weight off. It's tough. Wishing you luck too x

    Linda, thanks, I know you know where I'm coming from. Thanks for the links, I'll check them out. I'll be interested to hear what you think of that book too. I'm hoping that because this isn't a diet that slip ups will occur and I'll cope with them. This is a gradual process to get in touch with my body (as it were)! x

    Mel, thanks sweetie x

    Helen, I'll let you know how I get on. I've found it pretty stressful having two babies so close together and food has always been my stress reliever. I'm looking forward to only eating when I'm physically hungry. I hope you're getting on well as a family of four x

    Kim, you know my first reaction was 'why is Kim going to Weightwatchers?', but I do understand that even if you're half a stone over what you would like to weigh, you want to do something about it. Not pathetic at all. In terms of passing on eating hangups, I'm glad I have boys. There is so much pressure these days on girls to look a certain way. Having said that, I'm sure boys will soon be facing increasing pressure to look a certain way too. Now that's pathetic. Yes, I managed to produce two lovely boys, so my body isn't that rubbish after all :-) x

    Chic Mama, our cat was big (8kgs), but he was a fraction of the size of the cat in the photo! I bet those comments stuck with you over any praise you received as a child. I'd definitely recommend the book, you can have chocolate for every meal if you like! I'll let you know how I get on x

    Liz, you're right, eating less and moving more is exactly what I'll be doing. I will email you for the fitness advice. My only exercise is pushing 3.5 stones of boys in a heavy tandem buggy up a hill everyday to the shops where I fill the basket with milk, orange juice and erm... biscuits and push it home!! x

    The MadHouse, thanks. Now that is drastic action just to lose weight ;-) I hope all goes well with the next operation. Give yourself chance to recover before thinking about your weight. Auntie Sandy said so x

    Rosie, I'm sorry you've struggled with food too. To someone who has never had a problem, we must sound like we're from another planet. I really hope I can learn from this Ecourse! You take care too x

    Emily, Wow, five stone!! Congratulations on losing weight and keeping it off, such a great achievement. I never managed it. Hopefully this time I'll make changes that stick. I'd love for someone to wave a magic wand and make me slim, but I'll take it slowly and with any luck, step by step, I'll get there x

    Tej, yes they were. I don't remember seeing them, but I've heard that they impressed the dragons, but no one invested as they couldn't see a great return on their money. I expect they got a lot of publicity out of it.

    Mwa, I'll share my 'journey' with you! I imagine eating when you're hungry and stopping when you're full is what naturally slim people naturally do. I'll let you know!!

    Victoria, chocolate is lovely. When I was first going out with Andy I could eat a couple of squares of chocolate and that was enough, but these days I can't stop. I'm hoping to learn how to do this! Twitter is wonderful for support, great idea - but don't expect weekly weight-ins! ;-)

    Domestic Rebel, yes change is good. I'm looking forward to learning more about myself. I like the sound of listening to what your body likes and doesn't tolerate. Congratulations on seeing your collarbone, that's fabulous. I'll let you know how I get on :-)

  18. Only just read this Sandy (for some reason!). I'm so proud of you for being so brave and sharing this story.

    All the luck and love in the world to you and Jo on your venture. Lots of PMA coming your way from this choc-o-holic over here xxxx

  19. Josie, thank you. I read posts out of chronological order too, I think I need to be more systematic! Thanks for the PMA xxx


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