Around the time of my 50th birthday (back in 2011), I was feeling like I had just wasted so many years of my life and realistically I knew that I had far fewer years left ahead of me than had already passed by. You'd think, wouldn't you, that that would have been the spur to get on and "live" my life but instead I was, up to just a few weeks back, still sitting around moping and brooding over all that's gone wrong or been unpleasant in years past. I certainly didn't like it there in such a horrible self-made rut but somehow it was more comfortable than climbing out into the unknown.
On the other hand, the thought of spending the next 10, 20, 30 or however many years I have left living like this filled me with even more dread! The question was, though, just how was I to get myself out of the increasingly-deep hole that I had dug? You see, the picture above is how I would like to picture myself ~ happy with who I am and skipping through whatever life throws my way. Unfortunately, I seem to have cultivated a persona of depression and low self-esteem instead ~ and of course, both my physical and my mental health are suffering dreadfully. Looking back with honesty, I can see that the low self-esteem is something that started way back in my childhood but I have allowed myself to let it take over my life and dictate the way I live, which is how I believe the depression may have first arisen. Feeling that you are a horrible, fat, worthless person simply does not go hand-in-hand with being a happy, jolly and contented woman whatever ones size!
I came to the conclusion that one thing is for sure: if I was ever to live a happy and contented life, then it would all be down to me and my attitude. I could choose to carry on the way I have done for these past many years ~ in which case I will continue to feel like crap for the rest of my life. Or I could give myself a bloody good shake, pick myself up, dust myself down and make a concerted effort to change how I think and how I live.
I knew that it was not going to be an easy ride, because old habits are so very hard to break. But I realised that I simply had to get stuck in and start the climb up out of this unhappy place in which I have been living for far too long. I have gradually come to the conclusion that actually, I really do want to live my life rather than just exist in it.
So here I am some years later, on the approach to my 53rd birthday and a turning point has suddenly (somewhat miraculously, I feel!) been reached on my life-journey. I have chosen to follow a different path.....
|my sister, Amanda, and I |
circa June 1965
I wasn't a fat child but I started to grow and develop much more quickly than my friends. I was always the tallest girl in my class during junior and senior school, and I was very conscious of this fact. My feelings of self-consciousness weren't helped in the least by the fact that I also had very bad acne, and was tormented about it a lot. I remember even my Mum once saying to me "you had such lovely skin as a baby, I just don't know what has happened to you!" I was still at junior school, and had only just turned 11, when my periods started and I seemed to go overnight from wearing little-girl vests to a size 36C bra! I felt very different to my friends and classmates, in fact, I felt freakishly big. Looking back, though, I can see that really it was only that I was somewhat taller than they were ~ not surprising as my Dad is about 6'1" ~ and was built to match my height rather than being "fat".
It can't be denied, however, that once puberty was in full swing I did start to put on some excess weight, although by the time I left school at the age of 16 I wasn't huge by any means. I can't recall how much I actually weighed but I do know that I was wearing a UK size 16 clothing size. I am a sturdily-built woman, very much taking after my Dad ~ good old country stock!
|me in August 1983|
The photo above was taken a few months after Adrian and I started living together, when I was about 12 stone (168 pounds). I could weep when I look at this photo and think back to how fat I thought I was. Okay so I was no super-model (how many of us are??), but I really wasn't the fat lump I believed myself to be *sigh* I was very conscious of how much I "needed" to lose weight but over the years I just became bigger and bigger. It seemed that the more I thought about it, the heavier I became!
|Mum and I|
In the photo above I am starting to get a little larger, just one year on from the previous photo (about 13 stone/182 pounds). And so it continued, year-upon-year. Things got steadily worse when I discovered that I was going to have difficulties in becoming pregnant. At the end of six years of fertility treatment I finally found myself pregnant with Sam and Beverly. I started the pregnancy at about 17 stone/238 pounds, and just before I gave birth I was 19 stone/266 pounds. By the time of my six week check-up I was actually down to 16 stone/224 pounds, but the from that time onwards the pounds just relentlessly piled on.
|Beverly and I|
And the photo above is pretty much representative of how big I still am today.
But as I have said, something recently has changed in me and I am determined to shed the excess load I have been carrying around for far too many years. So, after thinking about it for a couple of months, last week I took the plunge and joined a new Slimming World class. I had been somewhat unimpressed with the class I attended last year and was a little dubious as to whether this class would be much the same, but I can honestly say that I was extremely pleasantly surprised! The group leader, Amanda, is a very nice young woman and she is obviously passionate about helping others to attain their ideal weight. So ~ deep breath, Sharon! ~ I weighed-in at my first class at 22 stone 13 pounds (321 pounds). Very heavy, I know, but believe it or not, last year (at my heaviest weight ever) I tipped the scales at about 23 1/2 stone (329 pounds).
Because I have such a vast amount of excess weight to shed, I have decided that it will be less disheartening if I take it in incremental stages rather than thinking about the "big picture". To that end, Amanda and I have set my first target at 19 stone 13 pounds (279 pounds) ~ it will be so wonderful when I get below that 20 stone (180 pounds) mark!
I haven't forgotten, nor am I ignoring, all that I talked about in my previous diary post regarding "real" food as opposed to low this/low that, etc. The beauty of the Slimming World plan is that the emphasis, so far as I can see, is very much on real, healthy food ~ most of which can be eaten in abundance should one wish to do so. There is also the opportunity to add some of those "naughty" treats that we all seem to crave at times.
I joined the class on Wednesday evening, did my online supermarket shopping on Thursday, for delivery yesterday, and started the eating plan today. Usually my diet consists of an awful lot of bread (for breakfast and for lunch) but today I had Ryvitas for breakfast and an enormous plate of crunchy salad leaves and prawns for lunch. And guess what I discovered? I actually really enjoyed that lunch, far more in fact than my usual toast or sandwich. It tasted crisp, fresh and wholesome ~ real food indeed!
Of course today is only day one, and one is always enthusiastic about the first few days of a new "diet". But I am making a concerted effort to remember that this is actually a lifestyle change, not yet another attempt to lose weight and then simply go back to the old way of eating. I have a new mantra:
If you always do what you've always done, then you will always get what you've always got!