Let’s start with two separate messages from God that I shouldn’t go to Gregg’s any more. When I’m not eating well, my default breakfast is in Gregg’s, which is grimly predictable and stereotypical of me. There is no Gregg’s in Ireland, but in the UK, Gregg’s is basically just a codeword for ‘fat men eating pies’. “My” Gregg’s is the Brixton branch, small and poky, but friendly.
On Wednesday, I got my regular breakfast order there (two sausage rolls, a steak bake and a Coke Zero). I tried to pay but my card was declined. Luckily for me, I’m quite used to my card being declined, given my inability to budget well. I was surprised, but after two attempts, I handed back the sausage rolls to the cashier and carried on to work. (As it turns out, it was a card fault and not a lack of money, but that hardly mattered to the nice people in Gregg’s).
You might think the embarrassment of this incident might have given me pause before venturing back to Gregg’s, but I was back in the queue on Friday morning. I ordered my regular meal and my card worked this time. I stood outside Iceland, ate my sausage rolls and then bit into my steak bake. It exploded. I was wearing a strikingly bright yellow tie and a pale checked shirt. And it was all covered in steak and gravy. I tried to clean it with a tissue from my pocket and it just looked worse. My lovely bright yellow tie looked like someone had had diarrhoea on it. And some of the diarrhoea had congealed on my lovely silver tie clip. This was the worst possible start to the day. I went into Boots and bought a pack of baby wipes. I managed to get my tie, tie clip and shirt clean.
As you’ll have gathered, my diet isn’t going well. The last attempt lasted approximately 8 days and now I’m eating worse than ever and feeling less in control of my bingeing than usual.
I eat a lot on the go. I was using a budgeting app on my phone for the month of June and I discovered that I spent £478.10 on eating out in June, in comparison to £87.88 on groceries. Not a great ratio.
I read “Brain Over Binge” last week. It’s basically the Allen Carr of bingeing. I liked Allen Carr’s theory of smoking. If you don’t know it, he basically argues that stopping smoking is easy, that the only pleasure we derive from smoking a cigarette is the relief of the need to have a cigarette and the main effect of having a cigarette is creating a need for another one, and that we don’t “need” or “depend on” or derive pleasure or relaxation from cigarettes. Brain Over Binge is written by a recovered bulimic, who argues similarly that bingeing isn’t caused by deep childhood emotional traumas and that people who binge aren’t actually eating to heal emotional scars or to satisfy a deep need, but that each binge causes a need for the next one and the way to stop the need to binge is to stop bingeing, in much the same way Allen Carr claims that the way to not need the next cigarette is not to smoke this one.
This is an attractive solution. Maybe I’m not fat because I’m a damaged and ineffective human being, who has no self control and issues that I’m unable to process like a normal person. Maybe I’m just someone who got into a self-perpetuating trap.
I’ve certainly been suffering from the renewed weight gain. My brother came to visit me for five days a few weeks ago and I nearly died from being a tourist. It’s not as if he’s super fit or very active, but it wouldn’t be hard to be more active than me. On the first day, we got up late, then went for brunch in Clapham and then got the Tube and spent a few hours looking at the second hand book shops on Charing Cross Road. We went to a play that night. This might seem like a light day, but I collapsed into bed that night, dropping from exhaustion.
The second day was the one that killed me. We went to Camden Market and after an hour and a half walking around, I needed to sit down. NEEDED. I told my brother this and he didn’t quite get it. We queued up to buy food at a stall and we ate it standing up. I was in so much pain I couldn’t speak to my brother and I couldn’t taste the food.
After standing or walking for any length of time, my ankles begin to protest. This has been a problem for me since at least 2006. And it’s got a lot worse over the years. The pain in my ankles was blinding after a day and a half of being a tourist. In the last few years, my knees and hips have joined my ankles in being portals of pain.
When the pain in my joints is bad, I understand why they were such big fans of bleeding in medicine the olden times. When I’m in pain, I fantasise about bloodletting. I visualise myself with a sharp dagger, leaning over and piercing my ankles and then my knees and then my hips and the blood flowing out and with it the pain. It’s a very vivid fantasy, but it only comes on when the pain is very bad, which is more often than it used to be.
Eventually, I snapped at my brother and told him that I had to sit down. (My brother and I don’t have the kind of relationship where I snap at him. He moved to America when I was nine, so I don’t have childhood memories of arguing with him, unlike my other two siblings. So he would have been surprised at my snapping.) He agreed and we sat in a hipster cafe for the next hour or so and the pain began to dissipate.
I worry that I’m becoming someone who can’t hold a job down as I become less mobile. I recently added an element to my job that will mean going upstairs more often and also bending down to access a safe from time to time, and if there are two things the obese are bad at, it’s going up stairs and bending over to reach something at ground level.
But I can’t let myself turn into someone who can’t have a job.
People ask what you’re doing for the weekend, or what you’ve done. I can’t really tell the truth when I answer. I have to spend either Saturday or Sunday in bed, to recover from the week. If I have to leave the house both days, I can’t cope with the week after. If I want to clean the house and do some grocery shopping and laundry on a Sunday, it means I have to stay home in bed on a Saturday. That’s not a full life.
I’m starting a new diet tomorrow. And consciously setting bingeing aside. The hypnosis was good last time, so I’ve booked a new session with a hypnotherapist for Thursday. With a new therapist – hopefully someone who isn’t as intimidated by me as the last guy was. And I’m going to stop staying at work till late in the evening and I’m going to actually make time for me and for exercise. And I’ll keep on pushing on. And climbing. In the immortal words of Our Lady Miley Cyrus, “There’s always gonna be another mountain/I’m always gonna wanna make it move/Always gonna be an uphill battle/Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose/Ain’t about how fast I get there/Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side/It’s the climb”
Keep your fingers crossed for your Connor.