You know how I know how there’s no God? Comfort Eating. What a bullshit concept. There’s very little comfort in it, if you ask me.
I’m writing this post on the back of a very shitty sleepless night, borne by a downward spiral of anxiety from somewhere deep within the pit of my brain. I’ve had a rough couple of weeks dealing with what for me is one of the biggest, and most visible, symptoms of my anxiety disorder.
I hate exercise. HATE IT. Yeah I get it, it’s good for you, Nature’s anti-depressant, blah blah blah, you won’t know yourself…fuck the fuck off! I just DON’T. LIKE. MOVING. Unless it’s to turn arse-cheeks and reset the butt-groove in the couch after a two-hour marathon. And don’t tell me that’s not an effort. You’re also not taking into effect the amount of times you’ve to lunge forward to click the ‘Continue Playing’ button, lest you end up staring gee-eyed and a paused screen for the remainder of the night until sunrise (or your bladder, whichever comes first) alerts you to the fact that you may have to vacate your trusty cosy haven of sloth, otherwise you’ll end up with some serious stain issues on the couch. Take it any further, and firefighters will have to crane-lift you and your new furniture-shaped adult diaper to the hospital so the doctors can try and separate your bloated flesh from the leather settee it appears to have fused itself to. I’m not even joking; it’s a thing. I saw it on Nip / Tuck.
It’s all well and good lauding exercise as Nature’s Anti-Depressant, but that just means that in my opinion, Nature is really shit at making anti-depressants. Gimme hard chemicals any day. Nice little pills wrapped in foil, like tiny promises of mental peace & quiet for anyone who opens them. They’re fantastic. They have the ability to stop me running, crying and terrified, into the arms of complete strangers on the footpath because I’m too afraid to walk a few blocks down the road to Dunnes. You know what else comes wrapped in foil and makes me feel better, Nature? Chocolate. Chinese Food. A kebab at 3.30am after a night of delicious gin (which doesn’t come wrapped in foil, but it sure as shit makes me feel better).
Some would say heroin and meth also come with a foil accompaniment, and to those I say shut up; this is my blog where I’m ranting without fear of logic or consequence jumping in. I’m venting. You want calmly presented facts and all that shite? Go look up some medical journals and feel smug while the rest of us enjoy a good mental blowout. We’ll all behave again tomorrow. If you’re going to keep reading; suspend all realities and known benefits of exercise, and join me in my Circle of Hate.
You know what else is utterly cock-rotten about exercise? It interrupts my day. I’ve become quite used to spending up to twelve hours a day worrying incessantly about nothing and everything, while trying to write some coherent thoughts as a thousand voices roar behind me into my ears that I’m complete shit. I’m an expert at Anxiety Management; well, to be more accurate, Anxiety is an expert on J-Ro Management. It gives me full-time hours and expects me to work weekends and nights at a moment’s notice, and if I could turn in some reports on why I should never leave the house and socialise with mates again, that’d be great. It’s the mental health equivalent of that douche-bucket manager in Office Space.
Also can we take a moment to call bullshit on all those exercise videos with women who don’t sweat? They can kiss my fine white Irish plus-size arse. There they are, sighing gently through The Insanity workout with only a little ‘eeek’ or ‘oooh’ emanating from their perfectly over-glossed lips in between the kind of fitness regime that I’m pretty sure was previously rejected by Navy SEALS or fucking Black Ops for being ‘A tad harsh’. All of these skinny bitches in the background behind their slave driver / trainer grinning widely and yipping in between sets as they’re tortured are the best living example of Stockholm Syndrome I’ve witnessed since Patty Hearst. Sweat? NOT ONE DROP. Oh no, not these gals. Sure, they’re lightly misty across the face, but they just look glowy and dew-fresh, like a Stephanie Meyer vampire walking around in the sunshine. In the meantime, just getting in the main door of the gym makes me look like this:
Anyway, I joined Zumba. I know it’s not the ‘in’ thing to do in the face of all things TRX and Crossfit and TR-fit and Cross-X (or whatever the fuck they’re called – are they the same thing? I bet they are the sneaky bastards), but as I mentioned in my previous post “Life As A Living Before Picture“, my lung capacity is in dire straits, and I’m tired of breaking a sweat and needing my inhaler every time I so much as open a book, so I decided to jump in at the deep end and really give them something to give out about. It seems to be working. I’m pretty sure I left half of one on the floor at my very first class. Must check with reception to see if anyone handed it in.
I would never submit you to an actual video of me trundling my sweaty way through a Zumba routine, so to get a fair idea, please watch this clip of a cartoon potato giving it socks to a dance choon.
The girls in the class are all lovely, mad eejits…and you kind of have to be. To engage in a ferocious cardiac workout like Zumba is (despite what others think, it’s fucking INSANELY tough) for a full sixty minutes in front of a full-length mirror, stuck in a body that you hate, wishing the inches away as you pound the floor, and still have a laugh with those next to you, tells me that my fellow Zumba hostages are a decent bunch of lasses. Added to which our instructor Sarah is a legend of a woman, part insanely happy Energiser Bunny, part Drill Sergeant. The best way to be when you’ve someone like me in your group.
So onwards I waddle, trying to get myself together. Some friends have told me that I’ll eventually get past the seething hatred I have for moving, and be all super-psyched about the prospect of getting up and out to burn away the calories in time. To them I say “I love you, but take a look at who you’re talking to, and revise that statement.” I’ve been on this planet a good while now at this stage, and I have NEVER, I repeat, NEVER, liked ‘activities’ that involved leaving a couch or a bed or the house when there is no discernible threat to my person from fire, flood or famine. It doesn’t mean I won’t do it, sure anyone with a toast crumb-sized piece of common sense knows that it’s the only thing that’ll shift pounds and make you feel better while you get your eating habits in order. So it’s a necessary evil in my world. Doesn’t mean I’ll be a fitness fanatic any time soon. I’ll leave that to all my fabulous fit friends who enjoy a couple of 5K runs of a weekend while I slave over a hot laptop trying to make a name for myself writing shit like this.
So to all those who love a good calorie burning session in whatever form takes their fancy; rock on, you mad, jammy fit, well-toned bastards. I’ll stick to flipping the bird at my workout gear and undressing my couch and fleecy blankets with my eyes. In the meantime, I’ll still continue to venture out to Zumba on a regular basis to engage in a fat-threatening habit that may, if I stick with it and remain consistent, actually be responsible for me needing to invest in smaller jeans and taking longer to use up my inhaler, as opposed to taking longer to, you know, GET UP A FLIGHT OF STAIRS.
Better keep at it, so.
Lads, I’m overweight. And I’m not happy about it.
Now before y’all start with the polite usually expected cries of “Would you goWAY out of it, sure you’re only a tiny thing, shut up t’fuck or I’ll slap the fringe off you..” (I have very colourful friends) and all that shite, let me say this: I’m not fishing for reassurance, or platitudes. Well, not this time anyway. The fact is; I’m very overweight for my height, and I know this because of science. So there’s that. Also, I’ve come to realise a few things in my thirties. I’m very aware of my mind, and my body, and how fucked up the relationship is between the two. It’s basically Sid and Nancy up in here, but without the stabbings and heroin overdoses. For now anyway. Fuck knows what’ll happen in my forties.
(Self-portrait. At least my arse is smaller here.)
I’ve never been particularly obsessed with chasing the Body Beautiful, unless it was on a 6ft plus hunky man-beast covered in tatts who had a thing for shorties with big bums (I’m sure there’s a magazine or website that deals with that). I guess when you’re as far away from society’s idea of female perfection as I am, it’s quite liberating really. I can’t try and dress the same as a woman who is 5ft 8in and 8 or 9 stone and still expect to look my best; all I can do is become the most happy, confident, sexiest version of myself that I can be. There’s no danger of looking ‘almost but not quite’.
(Tess Holliday – Goddess. I wish I had a tenth of her self-confidence. Click on the pic to find out more on how awesome she is)
I looked elsewhere for style icons and role models, and I found that my soul did little happy skips whenever I saw unbelievable looking women of all shapes and sizes rocking alternative styles and particular the 50’s and Rockabilly era. They mixed raven-black hair with shots of savage daring splashes of fantastically slutty fire-engine red lips, nails and scarves, or went cartoon-style with hair colour and wore daring, almost drag-style make-up, with eyebrows that should have had their own acting agent, so dramatic were they one and all. And the best thing? ALL shapes & sizes of women looked fucking awesome in this stuff. Curves were celebrated, as were slim figures. It was just about being a self-confident, striking, sexy woman, whatever shape you were. It was perfect for me.
Until I became uncomfortably overweight, then nothing felt right.
Apart from being only 4ft 9in, I was never skinny. It tormented the shit out of me during adolescence, as did my height, which I now realise was because at that age I always thought I was going to get a growth spurt and stretch like a string bean like everyone else on the planet seemed to be getting, the jammy bastards. That’s the kind of thinking that a lack of knowledge about genetics and general laws of physics will get ya.
I would grumble and grouch every few years about my shape without doing very much about it, and I was lucky enough that I didn’t digress very much from a certain point on the scales. When I entered my thirties, I really enjoyed my shape. I liked that I had curves, I joked about my sticky-out bum, but secretly liked that I had something to work with. I was smug as anything when the big booty craze kicked off and all the Kardashians ran around swinging their badonka-donks in people’s faces. I was totally fine with being both petite and plus-sized. But in the last year, there’s been a slow and very definite creeping up of pounds happening that I’ve only truly realised in the last two months. It’s not that I hadn’t noticed, it’s more that I was ignoring the changes that were happening because I didn’t care about what I was doing to myself. There’s that wonderful mind / body toxic relationship again.
Particularly in the last four to five months, I think I was probably in a bad depressive phase. Looking back on it with a clearer mind, I would eat lots of food at really odd times because my sleeping pattern was fucked, like I would cook a dinner for myself at 2.30 in the morning and devour it like it was my last meal on Death Row. I also developed a sweet tooth which I never had before; I could put away a Wonka Factory-sized amount of Kinder chocolate in a single episode of House of Cards, and not even taste it. All my serious stresses and anxiety and financial worries and personal issues all got drowned out by the sound of me chomping on carbs and sugar and cans of full-fat Coke. Who’d have thought that none of that would solve my problems??
I’ve found myself coming out of the fog of what was a pretty shit time, and not without some baggage. Unfortunately for me, that baggage was an extra 2 stone trying to find a way to get settled on a body that essentially had no room for it. Being under 5ft, every extra pound looks like 2. I took a good, long, hard look at myself cosmetically, and physically. I weighed myself for the first time in aeons, and nearly died of shame when I saw the number staring back at me. I’m not going to tell you what I weigh; that’s not important, and also it’s all relative. All you need to know is that it’s not a number someone of my height and build should be carrying if there was a history of heart problems and blood pressure issues in their family.
Suddenly lots of things made sense to me. My asthma had been a lot worse in recent times, which hadn’t been a problem when I first moved into town because I walked everywhere around town. Come March / April of this year, I was finding myself out of breath and needing to use my inhaler by the time I made it upstairs and in the door of my flat. I didn’t feel like me, like I was wearing a layered-up fat suit under all my clothes and I couldn’t relax in myself. I was overheating all the time, the slightest exertion had me sweating and breathing like Tony Soprano. I know – I’m a sexy fucker. Calm yourselves, lads.
When the opportunity arose to work in Dublin covering social media for the International Literature Festival, I went for it all guns blazing. However, I’d forgotten one very important thing. Dublin city centre is fucking HUGE, and all the festival events were spread out EVERYWHERE. Timings and street layouts meant that you could head back to Limerick on The Green Slug in the time it would take to try and get a bus from one place to another, so walking – correction, brisk walking – was the order of the day. Suffice it to say that I nearly collapsed and died a few times and arrived at various cool artsy events looking like I was about to go into labour. That inhaler earned every penny that week. It was also the reality check that I needed to be able to admit to myself that yes; I had gotten fat.
So here I am now, all pudge and no pride. I’m angry that I left myself go as much as I did, but I also know that I couldn’t do anything about it until now. My mental health is stronger than it has been in quite some time, so it’s a good time to kick my own ass and make small manageable changes to fix myself. My self-esteem is in the gutter at the moment because I don’t like what I see in the mirror, or how I feel physically, but I’m dealing with that. I find the whole process easier if I can treat it as a kind of project; taking the personal stakes out of it and looking at it from an outside perspective. I guess that’s why I’m blogging about it too. Like I said at the beginning, I’m not fishing, I’m very realistic about the fact that I’m unhappy with how I look and feel, and that I can look and feel better if I make a good solid plan…and revitalise my big sticky-out bum 🙂
I think I’m writing this in the hope that maybe a few months down the line, I’ll look back on this post as a shiny, upgraded, fitter version of myself and remember what it felt like to be standing at the foot of a mountain (already out of breath and sweating, I’ll bet), and getting ready to start the climb up to where I could be happy in myself and a whole lot healthier. I’m not looking to be skinny; like I said before, I LOVE being a curvy girl. I’m just not healthy or happy in my skin at the moment. I’m sharing these thoughts with whoever’s reading this in order to unburden my soul and take ownership of my current situation by laying down a marker for myself. So, in a way, this is my ‘Before’ snapshot. When will the ‘After’ one be posted?
Who the fuck knows – I mean, they still sell Kinder eggs in shops don’t they? Bastards.