A Project

I’m starting again. I’m going to try to lose weight. Keep your fingers crossed for me.

I know that some of my friends have been worrying that now that I’m getting regular action with men that I won’t want to lose weight any more.

LOL. As if.

As if I could stop hating this body. As if I could stop hating not being able to make it up a flight of stairs. As I could stop hating not fitting in a one-person seat on the Tube. As if I could stop hating my cottage-cheese-dappled wobbly thighs, my stretchmark-bedazzled belly, my flabby upper arms, my jowly face; even my thick ankles and wrists are gross. I won’t keep going on, but I hate that I can’t fit anywhere, that the arms of cinema seats bruise my belly from digging into them, that I have to be afraid of furniture, because I break chairs and I break beds. I hate how tired I get. I hate that my ankles and knees are permanently in pain. I hate how sweaty and smelly I get.  I hate that sometimes I can barely breathe. I hate that I have to buy clothes that don’t fit me because even the fat men’s shops in London don’t go beyond a 56-inch waist. I hate that I have constant indigestion and that going to the toilet is something I genuinely dread every day and have to constantly plan around and stress about and is one of the reasons I keep people at arm’s length. Showering is, relatively speaking, easier than going to the toilet, but I have a lot more crevices and folds than your average person and everywhere is hard to reach. I just trust that my legs and feet get clean from being close enough to water to get clean by osmosis.

And then you add the hate from other people. I know I’m too self-conscious, but I can see how everyone on the rush hour tube hates me and I can see how the person who has to sit next to me on an airplane or a bus hates me. I get called names often enough by children and drunk people to avoid both.

But you can’t hide on the internet. There’s a lot of hate for fat people out there. One of my little online projects is an Instagram account where I repost things I like from various Irish YikYaks (not all over Ireland, I just check YikYak in Dublin, Cork, Limerick and Galway). And I stupidly clicked on a comment by someone in Cork who said that fat people shouldn’t be protected from discrimination like black people or gays because they chose to be the way they are. And the replies were awful. It was a stream of hate, by people saying that fat people were so disgusting that they should stay at home and not make the world more unpleasant for other people by going outside and ruining the view. There were people defending the fat, but the majority agreed that discrimination against fat people was generally OK, because we weren’t born that way. Another post I saw relatively recently was on Twitter, where someone copied the comments from a news story about Nike launching a “plus size” range (it’s not that plus size, none of it would fit me) and the bile in the comments was crazy. It was apparently political correctness gone mad, making clothes for fat people. Apparently fat people shouldn’t be encouraged and making clothes in our sizes is just accommodating our laziness and bad decision-making, echoing Jamelia, one of my favourite celebrities because she’s just so happy and giggly, but she had to apologise when she said that high-street shops shouldn’t stock big sizes as you shouldn’t encourage unhealthy behaviour. My literal existence is something that should be discouraged. And I know internet commenters are all insane, but an internet troll just got elected the President of the USA, so you can’t say that internet haters don’t matter. I don’t know how many people I know share their opinions. How many of my friends, family and colleagues think I’m disgusting and lazy and shouldn’t be encouraged?

I mean, I could hit back at the “you just make bad choices” people and the “you’re just lazy and don’t have willpower” people. I mean, I know I am kind of dysfunctional, but I have a PhD. I’m an actual doctor. And I have a CV pretty much everyone in my field is dazzled by. I don’t have willpower? I gave up a 30-cigarettes-a-day habit after 14 years and I haven’t had even a drag in almost 6 years. And I dragged my 29-stone body across 700 kilometres of Northern Spain in the harsh summer sun in June last year. Honestly, fuck you if you think I’m lazy and lack in willpower. I’m a strong and successful person and I can achieve phenomenal things.

But I do have an Achilles heel. I have a disturbed relationship with food. And doctors and Overeaters Anonymous and diets haven’t helped. But what other choice do I have but to start again? If I don’t try, I’ll be dead before I’m 60. One of my (totally well-adjusted and healthy) hobbies is taking “when will you die?” tests on the internet, and they universally agree that I’ll die in fifteen to twenty years.  I’ll probably be immobile long before that.

Science would say not to bother. Statistically speaking, trying to lose weight is almost guaranteed to fail. One of my least favourite statistics is that even after a heart attack, only one in seven people manage to make lasting lifestyle changes. Going on a diet and/or trying to eat more healthily is more likely to result in weight gain than in weight loss when measured over long periods of time. Science and statistics are against me. The vast majority of people fail. In the rare cases where people lose large amounts of weight, it’s even rarer that they keep it off.

I’m getting back on the treadmill. Literally I’ve joined the YMCA gym beside my work and I’m going to start with simple cardio-vascular exercise. And more importantly (because eating makes a far, far bigger difference to weight than exercise) I’m going to start using the My Fitness Pal app and tracking calories again.

I’ve gorged myself a bit over the weekend, knowing that the diet was coming. I have high hopes. This time it’ll work.

If it doesn’t, I have options. For years, I’d never met anyone who’d had weightloss surgery. I’d occasionally spoken to some online, but now I have. How? Well, I’ve been meeting lots of men in London who are sexually attracted to fat men and so, even though I usually avoid fat men (I don’t know why. I always feel there would be something shameful in being seen with another fat man.) and so I’ve heard stories of exes and of relationships destroyed by people losing weight after gastric bypass surgery. The fat-loving men (who are not fat themselves) say that they look much uglier after the surgery and they lose too much weight and they get very gassy. Seriously, apparently the worst thing about weightloss surgery is you have a tendency to burp. I could totally deal with that. I burp a lot as it is. And I met one of these exes, at the weird weekend in Kent with my Polish ex-priest. He seemed happy.

I have options. I would qualify for the surgery. I now live in a country with free healthcare. People much lighter than me get it. I can start looking into it if this diet doesn’t work out.

Whatever happens, keep your fingers crossed for me.

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