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Monday, 19 October 2015

Is dieting making us heavier?

I’m sure you’ve noticed lately the sneaky Christmas additions popping up in the shops. A few decorations, the odd subtle jinglely bells sound effect on TV, a snowflake or two in Boots. It’s moving in on us gently before we’re smacked in the face with it after Halloween and bonfire night. Then all bets are off.
The 10 weeks ‘till Christmas count down is also the perfect opportunity to start getting in on the diet guilt. It’s nearly party season after all and those sparkly dresses won’t squeeze into themselves. Yes I know you want to drink away the stress of the year after all your hard work, and a cold evening just doesn’t feel right without a hot chocolate with lashings of cream, and don’t get me started on the hot toddies, fondue and crusty bread (just because), markets with churros and mulled wine... It’s the most wonderful time of the year, unless you’re on a diet.

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I’m the worst for it. But then a lot of us are. Everyone I talk to is either on a diet, has been on a diet, or knows they should be on a diet. There are only a lucky few for whom their weight seems to stabilise beautifully and naturally without any sort of control or intervention. ‘Bastards’ I hear you cry!
But could these seemingly unnaturally jammy beings that obviously exist on dust and water alone actually have something to teach us? For years I have been convinced (or consumed more like) by the dieting culture. If you’re fat, it’s your fault, and if you’re not losing weight well, you’re just not trying hard enough dammit. I have possibly been on every diet known to man, and explored all avenues, nooks and the cranniest of crannies of the research on emotional eating, and still, the fact that I cannot get a grip on my weight drives me insane.

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So what if we just ‘let go’?
Let go, like how much? Only a little bit you mean? Oh sure, ‘Let go’, but stop at the government recommended daily allowance, right? ‘Let go’ but not too much, surely…?
No, I mean, really. Let. Go.
How many of us would be willing to do that? To trust in the wisdom of our bodies and truly accept where our weight fell without fasting, kale or vacuum packed stew. Wouldn’t that be a novelty?  
Well, actually it’s not. There are already lots of people on this train – Anastasia Amour, Sarah Jenks, Caroline Dooner, many participants of the #bopo movement, and researcher Gwyneth Olwyn particularly who provides some extremely compelling and exciting science in this field here

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The proven theory of weight set point (that is, the fact that we are genetically and evolutionary programmed to stay within a set weight range) is particularly galling for me as a seasoned dieter to find out, but also extremely freeing.
Has it all actually been a complete waste of time? Have we been forgoing the puddings and limiting ourselves in order to achieve our ideal bodies, when in actual fact it’s our bodies which know best? Letting go and really saying ‘fuck it’ then isn’t such a lottery as we think it is, and we could even be heavier right now than we’re predisposed to be naturally because we’re always dieting and restricting. What a revelation.
If it’s actually all the conscious and incessant interfering which has screwed it all up, then the answer requires that we stop all the thinking, and just. Eat.
Food for thought certainly, so, if like me you are a serial dieter - I urge you to do one thing today, and read this before signing up for another round of Weight Watchers. 

Wednesday, 14 October 2015

When you hit a wall

I hit a bit of a wall this week.
The reasons for which I won’t go into detail, but it has all been a bit miserable, really.
Tiredness, loss of my usual perkiness…everything just went a bit grey. Even my hair went flat… it was that bad. 
For modern life in the developed world we shouldn’t have much to complain about – we have food in our bellies, a roof over our head, and spare time (weekends, holidays and evenings of course) to enjoy what pleases us most. We can sit on our arse and watch TOWIE or re-runs of Friends (still), head down to the latest pop up whatever for a cup/beaker/hollowed out drum of the latest creation, visit new countries for a hundred pounds or start up a business. 
The world is ours. We should be laughing. So how come so often, we’re not?

Does this mean we are ‘Generation Gloomy’? Did our predecessors ‘just bloody get on with it’ better than we did? Are we missing some of that good ol’ British bulldog spirit, and perhaps is it time to give ourselves a darn good shake?

I think there is an element of that. Sometimes a bit of sock pulling up is exactly what anyone needs – and a good few friends to head down the pub with can do just that. Not that I condone drinking to heal emotional ills, but a dance and a few shots really can do wonders for ‘killing the bug in your arse’ as my parents frequently say.

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But sometimes, life just kicks your butt. You can push as hard as you can push, you can be full of positive beans and have that ‘raring to go’ attitude, but it’s not enough. The fact that the world is ours for the taking could even be part of the problem. Do we expect too much of ourselves? Are we, rather, 'Generation Dissatisfaction'? 
When everything moves so fast, news comes in a tweet, you have less than 10 seconds to catch the latest snapchat, and even on planes now we can't escape wifi, could it be that we will become bored if we too are not moving at the same warp speed? Is it time to make the distinction between the fact that we are humans made of skin and bone, with hormones and feelings (and an expiry date) and that is technology? 
Our progress should allow us time and space for more thought, and reflection, and learning. But if we are so exhausted from the sheer pace of it all, we cannot do any of that.

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Sometimes you just need to turn off your phone, don your cosy socks, get into bed and call it a day. Call it a week if you need to. Take that rest, get outside, book that pedicure, and just take care of yourself. If you don’t, no one else will. Let's have a bit more respect for ourselves, and let's not be 'Generation Burn Out'.

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