by ALI MCGREGOR
I have spent over 20 years feeling fat. For the last 6 years I have rarely gone to the beach, rarely let anyone photograph anything but my head, rarely shown my knees or arms in public. In that time my weight has gone up and down a lot and each time it goes up it goes up a little more and each time it goes down… well you get the picture.
But honestly, I can now say that during those 20 odd years I have only really been overweight for about 4 of them. And that includes being pregnant and post baby with the extra kilos that I am still trying to shed.
For a lot of that time I have worn baggy black clothes and covered my beach body with sarongs, kaftans and shame. But that has to stop.
When I was growing up I never thought twice about my body. It was a vessel that helped me climb trees and and roller skate and eat and sleep and watch Rage. My mother and father were very present and very hands on and completely disinterested in vanity of any kind… I was a small kid, always the smallest in my class and had a group of close (and gorgeous) friends that are still my best friends today.
I remember in primary school being introduced to the concept of ‘wearing the right clothes’ and ‘looking a certain way’ but it was only in year 11 that I started to think about my weight. I was very little and my school was very into rowing so it was only natural that I became a cox (for those who are unfamiliar with rowing, a cox sits in the stern of the boat, yells at the crew and steers). You had to be around 45-50kgs to be a cox (anymore and you could slow your boat down).
It was all going well as I was very good at telling people what to do and shouting. But then, in year 12 suddenly I shot up and of course, as a result, I put on weight. To try and keep my place in the crew I started to diet, run, make myself sick (which A LOT of people do without thinking of themselves as bulimic) and even though I was tiny, my height meant that I could only really get down to 53kgs which wasn’t ideal. Now I was the same height I am now – 5’6″, and by any estimation 53kgs is tiny at that height. But in my mind I was huge and a failure and a life of poor body image had begun.
Since then I have ballooned (usually when unhappy or bored), lost weight (through diets or once from heartbreak which was scarily effective but not advisable) and have spent far too many hours thinking and worrying about my boomba-ness. I went to a diet doctor who gave little pills laced with amphetamines which made me lose heaps of weight but sent me a bit loopy (feeling speedy during the day when there is no dance floor in sight is very disconcerting). I even went to one nutritionalist who, when I had only lost 1kgs one week told me “you don’t see fat people in concentration camps!”. I left him soon after as looking like I was literally dying was not the visual image I was aspiring towards.
I have stopped eating carbs, got Giardia (also very effective but not advisable) and done Weight Watchers. The latter has been pretty good and I now have the points system in the back of my mind with diet and tend to eat pretty well as a result (nb NOT and advert, just a fact).
I have never been much into sport and LOVE my food. I love eating it, cooking it, sharing it, talking about it, reading about it, taking photos of it (food shots make up a good 10% of my holiday snaps) and thinking about it. But ever since I turned 30 my body doesn’t cope that well with all of this food and no exercise and I have become a little unhealthy in the last few years.