A low calorie look at life, writing and cake.

Friday, 19 April 2013

The Wind Beneath my Bingo Wings!

One evening last week when I should have been ironing or cleaning the cooker (or poking my eyes out with rusty nails), I was lying on the sofa eating a Twix and texting my BFF. Like a teenager, I was telling her (between bites of shortcake and toffee chocolate) what a fat pig I am and how I'd never be slim for summer. I’d gained five pounds over Easter weekend was now the size of a small car and between mouthfuls of chocolate was bemoaning the fact that I’d eaten my own weight in Easter eggs.  This year my beach wear would as usual involve 400 yards of black jersey, accessorized with a large ice-cream and a deep resentment for bikini bodies.

I’ve known my friend Lesley since we were sixteen, and if texting had been invented then I reckon our texts would have been exactly the same as they are now. The stuff that concerned us then worries us still and the dynamic between us hasn't changed. Over the years we’ve taken part in the narrative of each other’s lives - a narrative often driven by weight, and how to lose it. Like most women, I can tell you what I weighed on my wedding day, but the day I passed my Driving Test? Oh yes, and the day I was dumped and every high day and holiday in between. I’m like a fat memory man – give me a date and I’ll tell you what I weighed on that day in that year... sadly, I could probably give it to you in minutes and ounces! 
Recently, Lesley and I had a late night ‘life retrospective’ with a mountain  of nibbles and a fountain of wine. We dug out some of our old college/holiday photos and I covered my face waiting for the terrible sight of my teenage self. Ok I’d had a lot of red wine, but as we went through them I was amazed at the two young women with healthy figures and happy faces looking back through the years. We weren't skinny or stunningly beautiful, but we weren't the fat, ugly, beasts we'd spent our youth believing we were. It reminded me of a famous actress I once worked with who said every time she saw herself on the TV she was amazed at how gorgeous she was twenty years before. ‘If only I’d realised that then,” she said. So where did we get the idea we were unworthy? Unloveable? And why did we spend our teens telling ourselves we weren’t thin enough or pretty enough and continue to do so throughout our twenties and thirties and beyond?
It made me think of a line from that lovely old American sit com The Golden Girls, when Bea says;"She was in her twenties... at that age you're pretty even if you aren't pretty..."
And it’s so true, but the irony is, you only realise this profound truth when you are too old to feel pretty anymore!

        'When we was Fat' - Lesley and I aged 18 - both covering our (non-existent) tummies.

Anyway, we’ve both been up and down on the scales over the years, but in the past 12 months Lesley has lost a lot of weight.  She's always been a bright, intelligent, attractive woman, but now she can add slim to that list - and I couldn’t be more proud of her. I too have lost some weight (doing 5:2, more of that in later posts) but am struggling with two tortuous stone, hence my Twix munching text to tell her I’d put on five pounds; "I'm so fed up about it I'm going to have a rest from dieting," I texted, like a petulant teenager; "I need to speed up my metabolism so I'm ‘resting’ my diet for a few days."

Lesley’s text came back. “Why?”

That made me stop and think (I even paused with the Twix... for about 4 seconds). I then carried on munching until the next text:

“Why are you going to spend the next few days overeating? It's nothing to do with your metabolism, you have just eaten too much and if you carry on, you will just add another five pounds and have ten to lose next week. Don't do it.”  I grumbled a bit to myself, wiped the chocolate from my mouth, finished off the Twix (I hate waste) and mounted that exercise bike (not pretty, but necessary).

While pedalling away I thought about how my whole life so far has been influenced by what I weigh. But on the flip side it’s also about the friends I’ve shared (and am still sharing) that fat journey with. It’s made us all the women that we are. We may struggle and sweat and crucify ourselves over a cake, but essentially we’re healthy and can laugh at ourselves and our flaws and we don’t take life too seriously. And you know that’s not all bad.

If I’d never felt fat I may never have started chatting to Lesley somewhere in the eighties in the college canteen (our first conversation involved the calories in that day's pie). She is my oldest friend, and we’ve been through love, laughs, loss and many millions of calories since then. We don't live as close as I'd like to any more, but we're always in touch and she’s been there for me and (I hope) I have for her too. I feel sorry for anyone who doesn’t have a friend like Lesley in their lives - along with so much more, this girl carried my 3 tier wedding cake up 2 flights of stairs because she didn’t trust anyone else to do it – that’s what I call a friend!

Scarily, though Lesley sometimes knows me better than I know myself and she knew my text wasn’t about ‘resting’ my diet and I knew damn well it wasn't my metabolism either - I was really asking for her permission to binge. And as my true friend, who has my interests at heart, she wasn’t prepared to give me that.

So I listened to my friend and took her advice. I have suspended my love affair with the Twix and am now in the process of working through the painful separation with dignity. I spent ten days eating healthily, got that five pounds off, will keep to a healthy eating plan and with any luck and a lot of will power will be wearing a little less on the beach this summer. And I'm not doing this for vanity, or because I want to look like Kate Moss as I did in my youth - I'm doing this for me and my health.

Our lives have moved on, we're grown ups comfortable in our own bodies and we aren't 16 anymore, but my best friend will always be the wind beneath my bingo wings!

... almost thirty years and millions of calories later, she's still the wind beneath my bingo wings.


  1. What a lovely post! I love your new website, by the way. Fun! I so hear you on the weight struggle. As you know, I'm going through my own weight-loss journey. But you are beautiful (and so, so funny!), and as long as you love you for you, the rest will work itself out.

  2. See you at Puccini's on 7th May? They do a nice salad and I'll help you out and eat the hot chocolate fudge sauce for you when the vanilla pod ice-cream arrives.

  3. Ah Lucie what a lovely thing to say and you are so right about us loving ourselves and the rest just working out. I'm following your journey on your blog and I have to say you seem to have your head round it (unlike moi!) Thanks re website - My 14-year-old daughter redesigned it (for a small fee!) and I love it!

  4. Lynne, I appreciate your offer of 'help' - so very kind - but as I'm allergic to salad I will have to endure pasta in a rich sauce. I think I read somewhere that hot chocolate fudge sauce is full of vitamins, so I will be brave, continue with my struggle and try and force down that wicked pasta and ice-cream on 7th.

  5. Sue, boys may come and go but your friends will be friends forever, fab post... so so so very true (every bit of it from friends, to youth memories to best interests at heart) it was like you were talking about me and my best friends, I have just been through my old photo's and thought exactly the same thing, keep blogging I love them. Blog more!!!

  6. Ah it's sooo lovely to hear from you Jo - and you say such lovely things thank you! And girlfriend you are so right about those boys tho!:) xxx