January is a depressing month isn’t it? The month we all deprive ourselves of our beloved booze and food and begin a gruelling exercise regime we aren’t very likely to stick to past March.
I have given myself a ‘lose the baby weight before your birthday’ rule and plan on doing one long ‘power walk’ per week – pushing George’s pram up and down all manner of hills in Hampstead, Epping and Primrose Hill – and I’ll also be doing my 30 Day Shred dvd when his royal highness deigns to have a nap for longer than 20 minutes (ha!).
But I won’t be dieting and depriving myself this January. I’m sticking to my self-imposed ‘eat the cake’ rule as laid out in the blog post I wrote for Caitlin Moran’s website last year. I never posted it on this blog but I think January is a good time to dig it out again so I have done just that. Reproduced in full for your cake eating pleasure ;)
EAT THE CAKE
I love food. I have an extremely healthy relationship with it. One that nourishes my mind, my body and my soul. It makes me happy, soothes my weary brow, lifts my mood and comforts me. It keeps me alive and vibrant.
Of course we’ve had our disagreements. I still wince at the memory of a lost weekend held captive between bed and bathroom by a particularly vengeful king prawn jalfrezi. Or the time at a friend’s wedding in Los Angeles years ago when I came to the grim realisation that I had indeed developed a violent, all-encompassing allergy to my beloved oysters.
But these incidents are few and far between.
Now I must explain something. I LOOK like a woman who enjoys food. I have thighs that scream I LOVE CARBOHYDRATES AND EAT THEM FREELY WITHOUT GUILT. I have upper arms that are testament to my life-long obsession with cheese. One glimpse of my stomach will confirm that I love a good pie – preferably one washed down with a pint of ale and pork scratching chaser. I am in no danger of being called ‘skinny’.
BUT. I have also never – to my knowledge – been called ‘fat’. Granted, I’ve yet to meet Karl Lagerfeld – and I’m sure nobody would ever say it within earshot - but I feel confident that nobody has ever used the words ‘she’s a heffer isn’t she?’ or similar, when describing me. ‘Northern’, ‘gobby’, ‘freckles’ and ‘massive tits’ – definitely. But fat? No, I don’t think so.
Actually – I tell a lie. There is one person who has described me as fat. One person who, when taking in my 5ft 5” size 14 figure has thought ‘oh for fucks sake LOOK AT YOU: YOU’RE HUGE!’
I refer, of course, to myself.
Because – no matter what size we are – 6, 12, 14, 18 – we women are never truly happy with our bodies are we? There’s always something – an extra wobble, a slight double chin, cellulite, muffin top, pot belly – do I need to go on?
All of my girlfriends are beautiful – every single one of them, inside and out. But nearly every single one of them has, at some point in our friendship, complained about being ‘fat’. Beauty is famously in the eye of the beholder but for some reason when you put an intelligent, confident woman in front of a mirror she will immediately focus in on the bits she thinks are ‘wrong’ and start putting herself down.
And the first thing to suffer?
‘Right that’s IT. I’m cutting out carbs COMPLETELY’
‘No thanks I’m on the Dukan, I’ve already had my oat bran galette’
‘Can’t eat it. Wheat intolerance. Honestly the bloating is grotesque’
‘Cake?! I’M GOING TO IBIZA IN 6 WEEKS YOU FOOL!’
‘Skinny decaff soy latte please.’
‘I’m off wine for now – too many calories. I’ll have a vodka, soda and fresh lime.’
All words spoken by yours truly during the past 15 years.
It was whilst travelling around South America 2 years ago that I discovered something interesting. I felt great. My clothes felt looser, my skin was glowing, my hair nice and shiny. And it wasn’t down to the food I was eating – indeed, during a particularly bad 2 weeks in Bolivia, the food I was eating was regularly poisoning me – no, it was down to the simple fact that I was moving around a lot more. Hiking, swimming, strolling around sightseeing.
Since returning from South America I have started running, completed a half marathon, stopped running, starting feeling rubbish again, started cycling to work and back, started feeling great again, stopped cycling to work and back (due to pregnancy), started feeling rubbish again, started walking to work and back, started feeling great again.
It’s like there is some spooky correlation between my wellbeing and my activity levels…
And it’s NOT about losing weight – although often that will be a happy side-effect – it is genuinely about getting into work and feeling fantastic because I’ve spent the past 40 minutes walking. Indeed whilst I was cycling to work and back – a 10 mile round trip – I didn’t lose any weight, because I didn’t stop eating the food I love. But I didn’t put any weight on and I felt bloody brilliant.
It took me 34 years to realise it but come on ladies – it’s obvious. Eat what you want, just make sure you move around a bit more. It can be walking, running, yoga, pilates, swimming, boxing, running around after a toddler – SOMETHING that gets your heart rate up regularly enough for you to eat a biscuit without feeling like you’ve just punched a puppy.
STOP BLAMING FOOD.
And if you don’t want to move around more – that’s fine too!! Just accept that you’re going to be a bit more wobbly, cuddly and generally soft around the edges as you get older. Accept that you might not feel as energised as you used to. It catches up with all of us at some point – admittedly some more than others thanks to our varying metabolisms– but it will creep up, mark my words. It’s called getting old. And no amount of dieting, surgery or botox is going to stop Mother Time as she marches us towards our final hour.
Kate Moss might claim that ‘nothing tastes as good as skinny feels’ but this is a woman who is paid to be skinny. It’s her job. She probably gets equal amounts of satisfaction from zipping up her size 8 Stella McCartney trousers as I do from a cheese board and large glass of Don David malbec. Would I give up that cheese board and malbec to get into those size 8 Stella McCartney trousers? What do you think?
When I told my friends I was writing this blog post I asked them all to contribute their thoughts and opinions. I asked them what they wished women would stop worrying about. The answers varied but there were some clear themes – worrying about what others think, worrying about growing old, worrying about the way we look, worrying about our weight. And all of these things are tied in to what I have just talked about.
You will look and feel your best if you eat well and move well. You will age gracefully if you are healthy and happy. You will stop worrying about what others think if you are confident, fulfilled and content.
So please ladies, I beg of you… EAT THE CAKE
Happy New Year everyone!
Mrs L xxx