Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Thank you

If there's one thing that winds me up at this time of year (and believe me, there's more than one thing), it's the celebrity weight loss overload in the media. Every night there seems to be something different on tv, or in the newspapers and magazines, or on the radio. Enough, please stop it.

I really don't care if someone who's been in a few films has managed to lose a couple of pounds by having an expensive personal trainer, professionally designed and prepared meals and with the help of a bit of airbrushing in the photos. I really don't. Not even if they've lost, say, 7 POUNDS IN TWO WEEKS or A DRESS SIZE IN A MONTH, or any of the other overblown and exaggerated claims you see bandied around in big letters on the front of every trashy mag.

Even the real life stories are condensed to the point of absurdity. A before photo, an after photo and two paragraphs on how she lost it. But at that level of simplification it's always the same, and their voices don't come out as unique people who lost their weight in unique ways, individual to them. Because even on a commercial plan like weight watchers there are a million ways of getting to the same points or sins or carbs or calories total, and a million ways of almost-but-not-quite cheating to keep yourself sane.

It's all so relentlessly cheery too. Look how much better my life is now. Really, because you wear smaller clothes? You mean you're never frustrated, or upset because of things that aren't to do with your weight? You never want to run off and drown your sorrows with a bottle of red wine or a bar of chocolate? All your problems have been solved by some skinny jeans? Fantastic. Simplify the story, take out all the things that give it some interest, and distill it down to I was really really fat but look how much happier I am now.

Something I've been constantly amazed about during this whole journey is the eloquence and insight in some of the self-penned stories of real life people who are really doing this, out there in a world with work, families, money worries or time pressures or all the other things that conspire to throw us off track. These aren't stories of meticulously controlled diets, personal trainers, and oh look at the dress she went to this premiere in and how it flattered her new figure, they're stories of what it really takes, mentally and physically, to do this properly.

Temptations at work, gyms with inconvenient opening times that make it hard to get there, transport woes conspiring to keep you away from exercise, christmas parties and ice cream, saggy skin and imperfections. Illness, injury, pregnancy, all discussed with humour and wisdom, and with more insight than you'd get in a hundred pounds worth of diet magazines.

I don't want to listen to a nutritionist telling me stuff that I already knew and that I already ignored. I want to listen to the voices of those people who have confronted the reasons why they ignored that advice for years, and who can tell me how to turn on that part of my brain that actually takes account of what I've been trying to hide away in the depths of my mind. There's a difference between knowing that fruit and veg are good for you and making yourself eat fruit and veg, and it's the second part I want to hear about, not the first.

I know that running is a good workout, but when I was going through the pain of starting to run, I wanted to know that there are other people out there finding it as hard as I did, and that there are people out there who have come through it the other side and actually enjoy it. If the mornings are too dark, or they don't have a running partner, or it's too cold I want to know how other people deal with this. Real three dimensional people, that is. The mags don't tell you about your lungs feeling like they're going to explode, they don't tell you about the blisters and the chafing and the icy pavements. They don't tell you about the smiles from the other runners or the triumph of finishing a race and running all the way either.

I'm sure that these people in the magazines would have something fantastic to say, but they don't seem to be allowed their voices as they're moulded into the same old story with some new pictures for the cover, and I wish I could hear what they really have to say rather than this. So I'm glad that all you are out there, blogging and commenting and reading away about what it's really like, nipple rash and all.

So this is my thankyou, to everyone out there in weight-loss-blog-land and weight-loss-forum-land and posting-comments-but-not-blogging-yourself-land and everything in between. To everyone who, no matter how much weight they have or haven't lost has had the courage and the words to talk about it and to make me feel like I'm not alone and that it is possible to lose significant amounts of weight and keep it off.

I was going to put together some special mentions, then I got home and found out that Dietgirl had already done it, and to be honest I'm not sure I can better her suggestions so I'll leave the shout outs for another day.


It looks like the changes at work are definitely happening as of 1 February and I'll be part of a bigger team, managed ultimately from London rather than locally. It's good in that it shows commitment to my area of work by the firm (they're bringing people in to effectively double the size of the team), and I'll have someone else to go to if issues arise, but I suspect the next couple of months or so could be pretty bumpy as the new arrangements bed down.


I'm on the verge for signing up to the first 10k of 2006. Well, it might not be the first actual 10k, but the first one I commit to, even if I run another first, if that makes sense. It could be a good one, and I'll keep you posted if I take the plunge!


Blogger kathrynoh said...

I'm cynical enough to think that the reason celebrities have nothing interesting to say about weight loss is because are hiding the real story - the ampethamines and surgery. Oh and also because mostly celebrities don't have anything interesting to say.

I'm also cynical enough to wonder how many of these celebs actually put on the weight purposely when they need some more media attention. What better way to get your face back in the magazines than to gain then lose a few pounds?

I'd so much prefer to read blogs any day than some join the dots diet story.

8:53 PM  
Blogger Steph said...

I was thinking much the same especially while watching the Biggest Loser special. Hell, I could pass on a LOT of ice cream for fifty grand!! ;)

4:57 AM  
Blogger Sandra said...

Hear, hear.
It goes beyond the magazine stories as well. I was in Sainsbury's last night and caught sight of the 'You are what you eat - Michelle's Diary' book and couldn't resist picking it up. On the one hand she deserves some credit for shifting a pile of lard in the last year but we must also acknowledge that she had so much more help with it than we ordinary fat folk.
But most of all I was struck (as I flicked through the entries) by how bland and superficial her diary was. Maybe she is just a shallow person - who knows? - but I find the blog entries I read a lot more inspiring - even if, or maybe especially if, they are struggling the way I am.

BTW, if you're wondering why my blog is empty it's because I have a live journal and only signed up to blogger so I could comment occasionally. I am so impressed with your progress and am trying to use that as motivation for myself.


12:42 PM  
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1:17 PM  

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