The many and various ways I pass the time now has a new addition. Usually it involves drinking coffee whilst sitting at a computer keeping in touch with chums, or sipping wine sitting on our tiny terrace catching the sun, and wondering what else I can do to avoid any cleaning or tidying or putting away of stuff and things that aren't even MINE. And now I am going to type this blog. Provided that doesn't become a chore as well, in which case...

Monday, 29 April 2013

A Weighty Problem

Or is it?  Is the average person's weight and size the potential crushing blow to self-esteem and good health that magazines, journals, studies and reports would have us all believe?  I am not talking clinical obesity, or worrying thinness, I am just talking a couple of stone here and there, twenty of thirty pounds.

I was a bonny healthy baby, at 8lbs 1lb, then a slightly built child and a slender teenager.  My mother never had any concerns that I was too fat or too thin, I was always just about right, like baby bear porridge.

And since it has been my own responsibility, I keep an eye on my weight, don't get me wrong, but I do NOT any longer strive officiously to control it.  We, it and I, vary with the seasons.  It's long been part of my SAD that I can be 7lbs or 10lbs heavier between October and March than in what we laughingly (maybe even laughably) refer to in the UK as The Summer Months.  Carbohydrate craving cuts in at the autumn equinox, and disappears at the spring one.  It's entirely natural and an awful lot to do with my Scandinavian genes.  My maiden name is of Viking origin, and families bearing it were concentrated almost wholly in the Danelaw counties until the upheavals of the Industrial Revolution created a diaspora of working people.

My weight has also varied with age, again, I believe, totally naturally.  As a young mother in my twenties I ran around like a blue-arsed fly taking care of a large Victorian house over three floors, a toddler, a front and back garden, an allotment and a very demanding older husband.  I wore UK size 10 trousers and never went over 9st 7lbs once I'd breast-fed off my baby weight. 

Then The Daughter started school and I started what is erroneously called Work (what the sweet suffering expletive did everyone think I'd been doing the previous five years?!) which was partly sedentary, partly up and about, but all in one spot, pretty much, so the distance covered was much less than before.  And then I turned 30, and for some strange reason, which I suspect is also entirely natural, the needle swung beyond 10 stones (140 lbs) for the first time ever and has never, ever swung back.

My 30s were a terribly trying time.  I was diagnosed as seriously Bipolar 1 in 1990, and had six spells as a psychiatric in-patient in the following seven years.  Almost every drug I was offered (actually strike the word offered, as had I refused them I would have been sectioned, so let's say persuasively prescribed) had a side-effect of some weight gain.  Some I was on as a maintenance medication, others were added to control acute episodes.  At top whack under this new regime my weight tipped 12st 10lbs and I was still a young woman.  But I had bigger worries than that at the time, and physical vanity was the least of my concerns.

I should add at this juncture that I am 5ft 6in, so a wee bit taller than the UK female averageAnd, as of yet, have not begun to shrink, but it'll come...

I turned 40 and left my first marriage (and took a small flat of my own nearby where The Daughter could visit) and divorced my only child's father whilst she stayed in the matrimonial home and studied for her A Levels.  Instead of cooking for a family of three and providing what the very demanding first husband demanded I only needed to eat what I wanted, when I wanted, if I wanted.  Within six months I'd lost a stone, simply by trusting intuition and listening to my own appetites and urges.

Eventually, I started dating THE Husband, THIS Husband, when I was not quite 43.  We embarked on living together very quickly as we'd both been married before and knew instinctively that this relationship was going to be very different, much more steady, equable and compatible than what each of us had experience before.  The Husband thought every teeny bit of me, inside and out, was gorgeous.  I was not about to start disagreeing with him, so became very happy indeed with who and what I was.  Since I left my first marriage I have never needed psychiatric in-patient care. Go figure, as they say Stateside.

I was 46 years old, 10st 9lbs and a sprightly size UK12 jean when I marred The Husband, not quite ten years ago. I had been slightly heavier in my 40s before that, but the dashing about and last minute organising skimmed off some inches. Now I am 12st 3lbs. I have been more at my peak. Two years ago I was comfortably over 13st, and exceedingly well upholstered, but The Husband has always maintained I was built for comfort, not speed, so what the heck! 

But my proper fighting weight since being in my middle years is about 11st 7lbs. I feel about right when I am that weight, taking size UK14 jeans, and get around a bit quicker.  Maybe I'll be that weight again this summer, who knows?  Stranger things have happened.

But I am happy in my own skin, and don't want to make myself miserable with self-criticism. I find self-criticism goes hand-in-hand with diets. And quickly becomes self-loathing. So I intend to carry on eating what I want, when I want to. It suits my personality. And drinking what I want when I want to. That suits it even more!

Life is too sweetly short to count every calorie, and we are such a LONG time dead...


  1. I was always stocky when young but never thought about it being lucky enough to grow up before girls became totally obsessed by not having their thighs touching.

    I am overweight now despite walking up vertiginous hills with the dogs but as long as I can still run for a bus without puffing like a grampus I'm not too bothered.

    When my husband spent long periods in hospital in France, though, I would drop the pounds as I didn't have to cook three meals a day and could eat what I liked.

    1. Physically active and yet overweight has been found to be surprisingly healthy combination, and running for buses is commendable.

      For the three years between husbands I lived on sandwiches, delicious and varied sandwiches, some hot, some cold, and lots of fruit and fruit juices, only some of them fermented (wink).

  2. Hari OM
    Congrats on sticking to the plan! I too fight weight - and am a long-term vegetarian tee-totaller who (until coming to the ashram) was extremely active. So as you say, 'go figure'... in this case, figure "8" about states it!

    Congrats, too, on achieving balance. I have two friends (1 in UK and 1 in OZ) with a similar story. Both flourishing after divorce. Funny that.

    Gosh I hope you're in for a decent summer. You all deserve it! YAM xx

    1. Evenin' Yam!

      I am not surprised you know of more cases. Recovery from mental illness is profoundly affected by what's known as the emotional environment. I would say I have recovered, but without being cured, and I certainly don't suffer any longer. But I do very clearly remember that I did, and have my own views about how and why. So I avoid triggers.

      Some proper spring would be lovely, if only this wind would drop, We're still having night frosts.

  3. We all have to find what works for us and stick to it, so congratulations for doing that for yourself.

    I was always heavier than you for my height (these legs!) and put more weight on when I gave up smoking in my early 30s. Having lost that, I stayed around 11 stone for many years because of my active job. It was being promoted to a much more sedentary one which did for me and my weight went up and up until I was over 15 stone at my heaviest in about 2005.

    When I was diagnosed with borderline high BP in 2007 I was still about 14.5 stone. Having been advised by my GP that weight loss would help I lost over 2 stone over the next 18 months and my Bp dropped accordingly. Since then I've put back about a stone (I blame blogging) so am around 13.5 stone at 5'8" and feel fit and well in my size 16 jeans. :-) I'll drop a bit over the summer when I'm more active, but am basically comfortable in my own skin.

    1. Don't blame blogging, Big Sis! Blame a wet summer and a long cold winter. The wind is dropping, and we might even get into double figures centigrade this week. Time to hit those gardens for both of us

    2. Sadly the weight gain considerably predates last year's bad summer, but I live in hopes....