Food is fuel, but it’s also supposed to be enjoyable. A diet in the traditional sense of the word, and I don’t care what you say, is absolutely about punishment and deprivation. It’s all very well saying I’m going to cut out bread and sausages and jelly beans and all the other things that make life a little juicier, if you’re intending to lose 3lbs in the manner of Regina George, but for those of us who would like to lose 3 stone, that’s not plausible. Not in the long run – and, baby, am I in it for a long run.
I have been attempting to shift this three stone since I was seventeen years old and on a couple of occasions, I’ve come close. What has inevitably caused me to gain weight repeatedly, is how hard I come at this. I deprive myself of my favourite foods, I work myself into the ground at the gym, and this lasts for about three months which is roughly how long it takes me to lose two stone. At this point, with the goal so close I can almost taste it, I decide what I’d really like to taste right now is pizza.
I tend to have a farewell to food before I begin. It’s a meal consisting of all the foods I will miss in this new chapter of my life. Maybe we will meet again when I am back in my size 14 shorts, but until that time, do not call me, do not Snapchat me, do not even think of me, Pizza, for I burn for you, I yearn for you and the temptation is too strong.
And that right there is the reason I fail. First of all, I am not the only one who does this and secondly, why do we do this? You don’t start a spring clean by emptying your drawers all over the living room so why do we gain weight before we even try to lose it?
I know this makes everyone roll their eyes, but this a lifestyle change. It has to be or it just won’t work. Bread and sausages and jelly beans have to be worked into your life. Whatever delicious things make your sunshine brighter can be – indeed should be – worked into your diet.
Pizza is an easy one to replicate with passata, low-fat cheese, basil, and a wrap, but sometimes only the real thing will do. And personally, when I know I’m able to enjoy it, I’m not tempted to buy something enormous and munch on it until I’m feeling sick. Have a slice of pizza dripping with grease after a night out. If you fancy a cone of chips at the seaside, for goodness sake, spear them with your wooden trident and savour every tongue-meltingly hot mouthful. When your ice cream drips down your arm on a warm day, lick it off your wrists and sod the saturated fat because frankly, this is an uphill battle and you’re going to need those calories.
Food is more than fuel; it’s life. To me, life is not about about religiously counting calories and saying goodbye to your favourite things. It’s about balance and joy. For the first time, I’m going to try to strike this balance, to enjoy what I eat, to find exercise that feels natural and powerful.
I want to say I feel empowered and excited, ready for the journey to begin without having a foodie funeral, and unshackling myself from my achingly familiar routine. I don’t feel either of those things – though I’m sure they will come.
Mostly, I’m relieved.