GoWoman Diary : Confessions of a Serial Dieter

I am serial dieter. Okay maybe I was a serial dieter but, this year I ditched all that and to be frank, I am probably the sort of person nutritionists write about. I am a size 16 (thank goodness my fat is in all the right places) and by my African standards I am healthy. Even my doctor agrees. However, here, I am supposed to be a size 10-14.  I don’t and never have smoked, I don’t drink, although cautious about what I consume I love food and restaurants (it really does replenish you) and I love to cook and I can cook. Still, I have lost the diet wars. I never felt like this when I was back home in Africa and I am really starting to think that it is my environment that is shaping this body dysmorphia. The idea of it all, in my case, sounds ridiculous.

Growing up, I was involved in a lot of extra curricular activities. In primary school I was in the debate club, the library club and took on chapel duties. I played tennis for the Phyllis and seniors, played squash and actually ran for my house called Mitchell. I would swim for my house as well and generally loved treasure hunts. The really great part about the treasure hunts were that, you not only got treats, but you learnt all sorts skills, including team work, leadership, identifying flora and fauna, map reading and logistical strategy , mountain climbing; most importantly it was fun and one got the exercise one needed. There was no need to fluff around with scales and worry about every gram you had gained. The enjoyable aspect of it all was the shared victory and the sense of camaraderie.

In secondary school, things sort of fell by the way side largely because I went to a catholic convent school run by nuns and with very little focus on sport and more concentration on academia. Later on, sports were introduced but, unless you played basketball, volley ball or hockey you did not  get much support. We did try to revive the tennis club but tragically it wasn’t cool enough for most people. Why am I writing this? To highlight that never in my life did I ever feel the need to loose weight or define myself through the size of my bottom. I have never felt unloved or unlovable or not beautiful or that “my body needed work” until I was made aware of  something called the BMI scale. To this day, I have quiet contempt for BMI scales and they seem to be something that nutritionists invented to make sure that we absolutely got the fact that we need to work for our health.

My friend Lara encouraged me to write about this because once again, I was embarking on that familiar trodden road called the nutrition plan (mind you, I have abandoned the word  ‘diet’, ‘nutrition plan’ sounds more tolerable and less taxing and imposing). After failing the “pre-op diet” which came highly recommend by my nutritionist and whom I always call “that woman” begrudgingly (really she is lovely, extremely patient and laughs her head off every time I remind her that every visit I pay her is an indication that they have to invent something new that will make us less tired and run faster and loose weight the easy way before I book our next appointment and in my diary quotes I write “visiting that woman”).

Why do I hate dieting? Firstly, from an intellectual and philosophical perspective, I just think that, since the turn of the century, mankind has made great strides to ensure availability of highly nutritious and wonderful food and as long as it is in moderation that should be fine. Also, If you are not ripping a page from Nigella Lawson’s cook book, yes, taking into consideration that some of the ingredients are very difficult to get hold of, you need to start doing so.

Secondly, Lynn’s pantry is absolutely yum. Lynn’s pantry is a little independent own restaurant that prepares the best homemade meals  everyone has to try.

Thirdly, food was really made for sharing and I remember growing up, when ever any one of my sisters went into town for anything they would bring something home to share because somehow not even a pizza tastes that good if you have it on your own. So what do you do when someone comes to your house with little slice of French heaven Patisserie Valerie? Even if you are on a diet you have to share in the pleasure.

Perhaps the picture I am painting is that of a gluttonous foodie who will dig her teeth into anything. Surprisingly no. I won’t eat until I am hungry. I am lucky to live just a train ride away from a great fish monger and our local non kosher butcher for some reason or the other, stocks kosher chicken.  I work out like a mad woman and although lately, I have been thinking about joining a team sport as this will keep me motivated. I have stopped wishing to have Angelina Jolie’s body and  I am more content with my voluptuous God given ‘assets’. What has got my hackles rising a little bit is, I find myself in my leisure, looking at the ideas of beauty we hold. Am I identifying with a new sense of what beauty is outside of Africa? I realise now my sense of beauty is seeing oneself and others’ yes with their quirks and awesomeness as deserving of individuality and how we are all beautiful but, we spend so much wasted time on diet kerfuffle’s such that, we miss appreciating how all our lumps (healthy lumps) really add value to us. So, by revisiting my past and trying to replace and replenish old hobbies and activities, this will perhaps give me a new zest of life, building on what I already enjoy.

Most Importantly, I would like to rant about the unrealistic concepts of beauty that are exerted on women.  I never thought I would become one of those women whose worst nightmare was having a bulging waist line but, some where between  the aggressive marketing and a desire to be healthy, I have succumbed to the disease of our time ‘obsessive compulsive dieter and mini marathon runner’.

Are you battling with your weight? Have a story to share? Weightloss victory? OR have you just decided to own  the curves? Send us your story here…

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GoWoman is the reawakening of the 21st Century African Woman - a bi-annual magazine sharing the complete stories of the African Woman who finds a way or makes one. We do this for self-love, for womankind and for the continent.

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