By JACQUI MCCALLUM
The day I got married I was a size 8. I’d spent the months leading up to our wedding eating lettuce, dry chicken and protein bars that tasted like coagulated newspaper.
I’d also chained myself to a treadmill every day and pec-decked till my breasts resembled stunned mandarins.
I kept telling myself that nobody gasps at a fat bride and that if I couldn’t be picture perfect on my wedding day I would have failed at life.
Dinner invitations sent me into a flat panic, I’d check out restaurant menus online to plan out the evening – if I ordered the 250g steak, I could eat half of it, ask for salad on the side with no dressing and no fries.
Then I could fill my champagne glass with sparkling water and pretend it was alcohol.
Yes, I was a barrel of laughs in the lead up to the big day, as I struggled to look nothing like the curvy girl my husband had fallen in love with.
I’ve always been a complete basket case when it comes to my weight. Growing up as the chubby daughter of a skinny dance teacher will do that to you. While my older sister always managed to stay slim, I would put on a kilo every time I glanced at a marshmallow.
Ever since I went on my first soup diet at the age of 11, photos of me have been a series of before and after pictures as my desire to be thinner has controlled every event and every day of my life. There is no middle ground with me, I either starve myself or eat everything in sight.
When I’m in starvation mode, I’m constantly panicking that I’m going to fall off the wagon and when I’m in hungry hippo mode I feel nauseatingly guilty 24/7. Am I obese? Hell to the no. If I let my body settle into its natural state, I’m a size 12, which in many people’s eyes is perfect.
When my husband and I started trying for a baby, we’d just returned from our dream holiday in Europe. Six weeks of eating gnocchi and drinking pinot had puffed out my thighs and when I looked in the mirror I saw a bowling ball of a face on top of a hessian bag of flab. Each month the negative pregnancy result brought tears of disappointment, but also a sense of relief – I’d think, I have four more weeks to lose weight before I’m not allowed to anymore!
But the next month I weighed the same as the month before and I hated myself for not being disciplined enough to break up with carbs and hook up with celery, because if I could be super skinny when I fell pregnant, I wouldn’t be too fat at the end. I would diet for four days then find myself snorkeled up with a chocolate wafer and diving headfirst into a bowl of macadamia and caramel ice-cream. Without a white dress egging me on, I had false start after false start in the pursuit of pre-pregnancy perfection.
Eight months and no dropped kilos later, I fell pregnant. My husband and I were ecstatic but my elation was tainted with the anger I felt for not losing the junk in my trunk.
I grilled my obstetrician on how many kilos he expected me to put on. He told me I was a perfectly healthy weight and should put on between 11 and 16 kilos but everyone is different he said, so don’t worry if you gain more than that.
I was angry with him for not being harder on me, so I went home and put together an Excel spreadsheet that mapped out the weeks of my pregnancy.
I divided 11 kilos across the second and third trimester to try and set myself a limit of how many grams I should allow myself to put on each week. I wanted to be a hot mama with a perfect round bump, not a bloated tracksuit pants wearing slob.