Exhibit a: (above) Me at my heaviest in January, photographed with my mother (& Maudie the Jack Russell) for a feature I wrote in a national magazine.
Exhibit b: (below) Me a few weeks ago, photographed at a friend’s party
I’ve lost over a stone (14lbs) this year. At my heaviest in January I weighed just over 11stone, that’s 154lbs, the largest I’ve ever been. Now I hit the scales at 9, 13 or 139lbs. For my height, 5’5 1/2, that’s right where I am supposed to be*. For someone with my very small frame (32 back, sticky legs & arms) a stone makes an enormous difference: every extra pound shows, and once I started to move above 145lbs (my ‘resting’ weight), I started to wobble.
Put it this way: The last time I was 140lbs was in 2001.
How did I put on weight? It’s simple: My lifestyle has been shockingly sedentary. I work from home, I don’t go to the gym and I cook – & eat - a lot of delicious food. I had gradually been putting on a couple of pounds each year during the past decade – and they weren’t going anywhere. I’ve always fallen into the category of not quite vain enough: I care, a lot, about how I look, but just not enough to deny myself that bag of chips or bowl of Eton Mess.
And then last year I really starting piling on the pounds. I had given up my Manhattan apartment to spend time on the West Coast. I didn’t have any scales, and I had stopped shopping, (I was living out of suitcases), as I concentrated all my efforts on writing and on this blog.
I then spent a blissful four months in New Jersey with Y&J cooking & eating, eating & cooking, followed by several months doing the same at my mother’s in the English countryside and, whilst it made for great content on LLG, it wasn’t so great for my health – or my mental state.
Until I lost the weight, I didn’t realise how miserable I was about it. Whilst I’m realistic – my large chest means I’ll never be able to wear a sample size or adopt many current looks - dressing with style is important to me – I am a fashion editor after all. So I relied on having fantastic legs to draw attention away from my apple-shaped torso. Tent-like short dresses, tunics, smock tops paired with shorts, mini skirts were my thing.
Problem is, it wasn’t 2007 any more: those lovely loose smock dresses we all wore back then, whilst delicously comfortable and forgiving of tummy rolls, were so passé as to be ludicrous. (And I was fed up with people thinking I was pregnant.) I couldn’t wear trousers because to find a pair that would do up without a muffin top, they’d flap around my ankles, even in the skinny cuts. I told myself I wasn’t shopping because I was on a financial diet, but the truth was I wasn’t shopping because nothing fitted my shape. I’d go into Zara with armfuls of clothing and not a thing would work on me. And forget Barney’s or Bergdorf. So I just stopped going into stores, and did some food shopping instead.
The warning shot was fired by the excellent & interesting homeopath I consulted at my Health Assessment at The Organic Pharmacy back in January (more of this later) who warned me I was a mere 5lbs from being clinically overweight.
She didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know at the back of my mind. I’d seen some photographs of me in my swimsuit and I was not happy. And, as I headed out of my year’s writing sabbatical, I needed a new grown up wardrobe. But it was the snowiest January in England since the 1940s and I was guzzling carbs like the Cookie Monster.
Then fate intervened. How did I lose the weight? I got busy & I got sick. Simple as that.
In February I went from 0-60 overnight, as I decided to slough off my LLG anonymity in an interview & shoot for Grazia, build & design (myself) a new site to re-launch LLG, head to Denmark to cover Copenhagan Fashion Week, collaborate with Mercedes Benz to be their voice of social media at London Fashion Week (& work 20hr days covering the collections), and then deal with the email & media deluge following Grazia’s amazing piece .
In March I got a very, very nasty 72 hr stomach bug (believe me, you SO do not want to go there) from pigeons in the attics at my mother’s house in the country, which saw me shedding 6lbs almost overnight. And then in April I picked up a tropical parasite abroad. Un-diagnosed & un-treated for over a month, I continued to lose weight, as my body fought the massive infection in my blood and liver.
(Lest any of you think this was an easy way to lose weight, I have been properly, comprehensively unwell. There’s been the five day stay in hospital, over 50 blood tests, endless outpatient appointments and weeks of painful, aching, vomitous misery where I had no idea what was wrong with me.)
And then suddenly I was slim again. I didn’t realise it until I went to Mango to spend the voucher they gave me at the Madrid show. Every piece I picked off a rail fitted me – and looked good. Even the ambitious dress above. I cannot remember a time since 2001 when that has happened to me.
But now is where is where it gets tricky. I know from the past decade that I put on weight just by looking at cake. Staying where I am right now is going to take discipline, exercise and restraint around the cookie jar. But I am determined to keep the weight off. Not just because I feel mentally better, and can fit into lovely clothes again, but because women who store weight around their abdomen & major organs (the apple shape) have serious, documented risk of heart attack, stroke, problems in pregnancy & blood disorders. I’ve been sick enough this year. I’ve no intention to get sick again.
*(If I was flatter of chest I’d be a lot lighter, but each 32GG cup weighs approximately 5lbs. Someone with an apple figure and large chest will lose relatively little from their breasts if they diet, as it’s hereditary breast tissue. You can lose fat, but tissue isn’t going anywhere, unless it’s via a surgeon’s scalpel.)