One of the exercises in Karina Melvin’s book Artful Eating encourages you to ‘Discover your story’ as ‘the story we tell ourselves shapes us, inside and out. Every action we take is deeply influenced by how we view ourselves, and this has been directly shaped by our upbringing and our relationships’.
The exercise begins with discovering your past and current story before you move on to write your new story, the story that ‘is the blueprint of your best version of you‘. I found it easier to write the past/current story to start with, but found that once I started writing my new story (after a day or two of contemplation) it was an easy, enjoyable and uplifting experience.
Melvin encourages you to read your new story morning and evening.
My past/current story
The first time I remember thinking about my weight was towards the end of secondary school when the other girls became obsessed with dieting and when my Mum also seemed to start following fad diets for the first time in her life. Prior to this I was a very skinny child and I never had to worry about what I ate or my weight. Once the dieting began I would take salad and natural yoghurt to school for lunch, the recipe coming from one of my Mum’s low calorie diet books with titles such as ‘The Cottage Cheese Diet’. It was at this time that I started binging, my Mum hates gluttony so until I was in charge of my own food I was never able to overeat. However, once I had some money of my own and could choose my own meals I chose unwisely, my best-friend and I would have ‘pig out nights’ where we would buy all our favourite sweets and chocolates, crisps and nuts and eat the lot in front of the television on a Friday night!
When I started sixth form college I was two stone overweight and felt very different to the other girls, being overweight was still pretty rare back then. I never really felt I fit in at college and so I started comfort eating for the first time, buying snacks from the vending machines and eating in private as an attempt to dampen my loneliness. As I commuted to university, instead of staying in halls, these feelings of loneliness (and the accompanying overeating) didn’t leave me until I started my full time job a few years later.
I fell pregnant in my late teens and this was probably my healthiest period for a while as I was very conscious about my food and of course I stopped drinking. However, I was two stone overweight and the midwives made me feel like part of a freak show! Although I had a very healthy pregnancy I really was made to feel incredibly uncomfortable about my size by the nurses and midwives.
After I gave birth my weight soared to obese levels for the first time, I turned to comfort eating as if it was a religion and although I was a young woman I was in a terrible state. However, after a year I said enough was enough, I stuck to a calorie controlled diet for a whole year, I lost five stone and I felt amazing. I developed an exercise habit and I thought I’d cracked it, I was never going to get fat again….. until – I started working full time in an office. Although I was wonderfully happy now with great friends, a good social life and a job I enjoyed, I was also sedentary and was enjoying the high life too much. I yo-yoed between one and two stone overweight for about ten years.
THEN – I met my husband and we became a very happy couple, sharing a love for food, wine and boxsets! Whereas before I was never more than two stone overweight I was now regularly four stone overweight and more. It was around this time that I started joining slimming clubs, I was most successful on Weight Watchers (losing 19lbs), Slimming World never worked for me as it just encouraged my huge appetite and my tendency to overeat. I also tried fitness apps, hypnotherapy, meal replacements, you name it, I spent huge amounts of money but never actually lost any weight on it!
And so here I am in 2017, trying 12 diets in 12 months and hoping one will work for me.
My new story
I am happy and confident within my skin and I do not put off ‘living’ until I lose weight. I am a worthwhile person regardless of the size of my jeans or the number on the scale. I can enjoy healthful, nutritious and delicious food without overindulging. I eat what I want, when I want, but only eating when I am hungry and stopping when I am sated. I no longer ‘eat my emotions’ and I do not deviate from this way of living because it is the weekend, a special occasion or a holiday.
My body is strong and healthy, my back pain has gone and I do not rely on strong painkillers to get me through the day. I do not suffer from heartburn or problems with my digestion. I love to exercise and I feel motivated to run and swim, do yoga and weights most days.
I am getting stronger and leaner everyday.
I reiterate that the new story is where I want to be and by reading it twice a day everyday is a strong psychological tool in my weight loss armoury.
Wish me luck!