So I’ve always had an obsessive relationship with food. I own a billion cookbooks, watch loads of cooking programmes, I’m obsessed with finding random recipes online and have several Pinterest boards dedicated to food. I love going out to eat and equally love staying in to eat. When I wake up I think about what I can have for lunch. At lunch I wonder what I can have for dinner and at dinner I wonder what I’m having the next day. I make weekly menus, plan picnics that never happen and keep a myriad of snacks in my cupboards, drawers and bags. This is the way it’s always been.
As a consequence I’ve struggled with my weight since I was a kid. And this is the real obsession. I’ve been slim, big and somewhere in between. I’ve tried many many diets, I’ve done home exercise DVDs, joined a gym, gone on long walks, bought many random bits of exercise equipment (currently gathering dust.) Everything I’ve done has been keyed towards making myself look better.
Everything. Until the past year or so, when I decided to just ‘give up.’ You’d think this was a good thing: you’d think that this meant I’d somehow learned to let go of my hang-ups and stopped obsessing over how I look: that I’ve snapped out of my body-hating obsession. But that’s not what this means. I’ve actually given up caring about how I look because I don’t see the point in flogging a dead horse. I don’t brush my hair some days. Most weekends I only shower if I have to go out. I don’t wear make-up for work anymore and I wear the same 5 work outfits each week to work. The only clothes I’ve bought recently (and I only bought them because I literally do not fit into the ones I currently own) are big shapeless sack-like clothes which basically touch my shoulders and tops of my arms and then hang down not touching any other part of my body. I realise this makes me look even bigger, but at least I can blend in; by looking this plain, old and shabby, hopefully nobody notices how bad I look. At least, that’s how it goes in my head. I’m not particular comfortable in my clothes but that’s mainly due to not being comfortable in my skin.
Everything has suffered because of this: I have very little self-esteem. My social anxiety has peaked, I don’t go out alone as I’m too self-conscious. My relationship with my boyfriend has suffered. I don’t like him seeing me without clothes. I’m embarrassed that he has to be seen with me in clothes. I can’t possibly see how he can find me attractive when I look like this (it’s to his eternal credit that at no point has he ever criticised how I look). I don’t see my family as much as I’d like because I won’t travel over to see them on my own and my boyfriend doesn’t always have the time to take me. My physical health isn’t the best; I get out of breath really easily. My arthritis is not helped by my weight, obviously.
So a few months ago I decided I had to do something about this. I can’t see myself getting any better. I started looking at more extreme ways I could change the way I look. I’ve tried to change my body-image by mindfulness etc. but to be perfectly honest, I’m too far gone to think myself better. So first I was looking at cosmetic surgery. I genuinely looked into liposuction! After pondering this for a month or so, I realised that this was never going to solve the problem in the long term as I might feel better straight after (well I assume once any swelling went down I’d feel better) but my food obsession would soon bring me back up to my current weight again so it would be money completely wasted. So I looked into weight-loss surgery; something like this would completely change the way I consumed food. I could still be obsessed with food but I physically wouldn’t be able to eat too much. So this is the route I have chosen.
I have my operation for a gastric band on Monday morning. It has happened really fast but I’m so ready to take control of things again. I’m currently on a pre-op diet of 1000 calories per day. It’s difficult at the moment, but once I’ve had the op I will feel fuller quicker so the hunger should be less of a hindrance. I have to have a liquid diet for two weeks (I’ve stocked up on soups, meal replacement shakes, jelly, custard and yoghurt) then I will have two weeks of ‘soft foods’ which are basically anything you don’t have to chew. I know this won’t be easy. I know I will struggle with will-power and I will have to change the way I live my day-to-day life, but I really do think this is the best thing for me. Once the weight starts coming off, I’ll feel healthier, look healthier and might even start caring about how I look again. And that’s the ultimate goal – to actual like myself again