I remember it like it was yesterday, the Christmas party was 3 weeks away and I so desperately wanted to wear a little sexy dress. For once I wanted to mingle in, for once I wanted to be admired. I wanted to hear‘Oh you look beautiful in that dress’ instead of it be me handing out compliments, all the while feeling insanely jealous of the seemingly effortlessly slim women at my workplace.
I naively thought that 3 weeks would be enough to achieve my dream. Yes, I’d have to be disciplined with myself, yes, I’d have to be uber strict with my calorie intake and yes,I’d have to exercise the hell out of my body BUT, it could be done.
I was so excited that I started dress shopping immediately and the plan was to start my diet on Monday, which gave me exactly 21 days and 21 hours to the annual works do. That weekend was one of the best I can remember; I gave myself permission to eat whatever the hell I liked and to not only indulge in my favourite ‘go to’ foods but also to totally immerse myself in the fantasy where I’d be wearing the most gorgeous, figure hugging dress you can imagine.
Saturday morning began with a full cooked breakfast of bacon, eggs, beans, hash browns and slices of toast dripping with butter. I felt no guilt whatsoever and happily scoffed the lot with a sweet, hot cup of tea.
I’d convinced one of my ‘larger’ friends to come on the shopping trip with me. She too longed to be slim one day and we had become firm friends based on this like-minded foundation. We drove to Lakeside, a massive shopping centre around forty minutes away. My head was spinning with excitement. I dismissed all thoughts about the countless times I’d tried and failed at dieting before because I was literally convinced that this time it was going to be different.
We had a wonderful time, we went into shop after shop, our eyes hungrily soaking up the sight of the beautiful dresses on display. The best part was that unlike other shopping trips, I didn’t have to humiliate myself by trying anything on. All I had to do was pick my favourite dress and purchase it in a size I thought I’d be in three weeks’ time. To make it more realistic and achievable, I even bought figure shaping underwear. It looked like something that you’d find in a torture chamber but I imagined that I would glide into it and be the svelte princess at the ball.
Eventually, I found it. It was so beautiful that I couldn’t keep my eyes off it. The material was soft and silky and its colour was a blue that reminded me of the Mediterranean ocean. I was totally, utterly and completely in love. I drowned a moment’s panic as I reached out for it in a size 12 knowing full well that it would not fit me. I was slipping between size 14-16 at the time and the me that had once been size 12 hadn’t emerged itself in years. The devil on my right shoulder mocked me, ‘you’ll never get your lumpy body into that’ it said but luckily for me, the angel on my left shoulder reached out and gave the devil a sharp kick on the shins. ‘Leave her alone, she can do it, it will be different this time, just you wait and see’ she said and gave me her blessing to make the purchase. Obviously,I never tried it on, I didn’t need to.
It was so beautiful that
I couldn’t keep my eyes off it
My friend, not feeling as brave as me, selected a standard large black sack of a dress. As she emerged from the changing room, I had to admit it suited her. It was a soft, stretchy black dress that shimmered when the light shone on it. It was the right size for her and it didn’t show off her lumps and bumps. The length, just below the knee emphasised her great legs and coupled with the patent black, wedged heel, shoes, she looked beautiful in my eyes. The devil on my shoulder piped up again ‘get a dress like that, you won’t be disappointed fatso’ it said and I literally shrugged off the invisible being as harshly as I could.
Clutching our purchases tightly in our hands, we then headed to the nearest fast food restaurant to celebrate our finds. I can’t tell you how excited I was. Christmas carols were playing in the background and I hummed along to them as I happily made my food selections. A feast of a meal later, we made our way back home.
I continued feeling this carefree into the evening and on Sunday. Knowing I was going to be uber strict with myself from Monday, gave me the get out of jail free card as far as food was concerned. I ate as if the holocaust was coming and allowed myself to give in to every whim. Oh boy, did I have a whale of a time. The icing on the cake was the fact that in three weeks’ time, I’d be sashaying into the luxury hotel lobby where our party was to be held. I imagined the scene in HD, every little detail lighting a firework inside me.
Monday morning came and I woke feeling on top of the world. I’d planned out my breakfast the night before, low fat cereal with skimmed milk washed down with a cup of tea(no sugar, skimmed milk). I can’t say it was delicious but I quashed any feelings of hunger by taking a long look at my beautiful gown. Before leaving for work,I slipped a packet of dry rye crispbread into my bag together with three cans of diet cola. These were to be my companions until lunchtime. All was going well I thought as I arrived at my desk that morning. Lunch consisted of cut tomatoes, carrots, cucumber and lettuce. An apple was my dessert. By the time I got home, I was starving and told myself that the feeling was the fat burning itself from my body. This thought kept me going as I stared at my almost empty dinner plate. Looking back at me was a low-fat lasagne I’d just microwaved and some boiled vegetables. Ten minutes later and my food allowance was gone for the day. I will never know how I managed to sleep that night. Even the sight of the dress wasn’t enough to lift my spirits. I clutched a bunch of diet magazines and read into the early hours until I must have dozed off.
Tuesday began much the same as the day before. Similar breakfast, similar snacks. This time, because I was hungrier than the day before, I drank four cans of diet cola and ate the entire pack of the crispbreads before lunchtime. This did nothing to ease my hunger and by the time I reached for my salad, I was absolutely starving. To make matters worse, my colleague had returned from the shops carrying a portion of chips and a hamburger. It smelt delicious making my mouth water instantly. ‘Do you want a chip’ she asked innocently not knowing that this was like plunging a knife in to my back and twisting it. ‘No thanks, I replied, I’m on a diet’. ‘No worries’she said simply and lowered her slim body onto her chair, consuming me with jealousy. Somehow, I managed to get through the afternoon and, leaving for home, I resolved to continue on with my diet. ‘You deserve a treat’ said the devil on my shoulder as I passed the chip shop on my way home. As part of my diet, I was walking to the train station instead of taking the bus. It was a fifteen-minute walk and my step counter was telling me I’d done 9,000 steps that day. ‘I guess I do deserve a treat’ I told myself ‘You must have used up a lot of calories walking these past two days’ the devil continued and before I knew it, I was in the queue browsing the menu above. I surprised myself as I ordered a large portion of chips and a chicken pie. My stomach was doing somersaults and my mouth was watering all the way home as I held on to the warm parcel as if my life depended on it. As if in a trance, I emptied out the delicious purchase onto a plate, covered it in tomato sauce and scoffed the whole lot. My initial intention was to just have half but once I began, wild horses could not have stopped me. ‘I’ll begin again tomorrow’I told myself afterwards ‘and be even stricter with myself’. I googled the number of calories in what I’d just eaten and re-calculated my calorie allowance for the rest of the week. ‘This is still doable’ I told myself with a smile. To celebrate this fact, I even allowed myself to have a bar of chocolate for dessert.
This pattern continued for the next two weeks as every couple of days, I broke my diet. Week 3 arrived and panic began to bubble up. My daily weigh in had confirmed that I’d gained 3 pounds and even though I knew it was impossible, I still tried to kid myself that I could reach my goal in 7 days if I was really, really strict with myself. I went to the chemist and purchased a detox kit, it promised that I would lose half a stone in a month. ‘If I am stricter than it says on the instructions, I could do that by the weekend I lied to myself. Next, I went over to the diet food section and selected 3 prepared meals per day for the rest of the week. I spent a small fortune for the pleasure but it would all be worth it I convinced myself.
The chatter in the office was fever pitch on that last Monday. The women excitedly discussing what they would be wearing. I did my best to avoid it and instead went for long walks at lunchtime. Sadly, I failed, every single day that week people. I mean literally, every single,stupid day. On my walks, I had a burger and chips while eating a salad at my desk. I quit walking home and ordered takeaway every night instead.
On the morning of the party, I climbed on top of the weighing scales. I’d gained another two pounds. I was so depressed, I actually cried. It hurt so much to look at the blue dress hanging beautifully on my wardrobe door making another fire ignite inside of me. ‘I will wear it next year’I resolved. I then opened my wardrobe and selected old faithful. A large,black dress that made me feel invisible. . . .
Does this story sound familiar to you, have you ever been in this situation? If so, please, please,please STOP putting yourself through this. There is another way with The Anti-Diet Lifestyle.
Written by Sherry Taylor
Author of The Anti-Diet Lifestyle