I am a real woman, and I’m wise to your weight loss diet clichés

My daughter took this photo of me yesterday at the opticians and I was horrified. She’d sent it out on Instagram.

"weight loss diet cliches"

Don’t get me wrong, I know I’m no Barbie, Elle McPherson, or any of the other images of perfection the media tell me I could be. If I swallowed all the weight loss diet clichés the advertising industry fed to me (pun intended), I could supposedly look perfect. Not only would I be a size 8, I’d also have flawless skin, salon-finished hair, a perfect family, and silky-smooth legs. Which -as one friend quite regularly publicises – is not really me.

So what is me? Well plainly, it is the above photo, much as I hate to admit it. This is how I look, to most people, most of the time – minus the weird facial decoration, obviously, although now I think of it, an appointment with the electrolysis lady is long overdue… However, I also look like this:

"normal weight, normal woman"

Weight loss diet clichés are not normal

All of these pictures were taken in the last year. In all of them I weigh more or less the same as I do today. The same as I did yesterday, when my cheeky child shared an unflattering image of me with the world. I am middle-aged. I am a writer. I am an award-winner. I am successful in my work. I am a mother. I am a normal woman, with a normal weight. I like to drink wine, eat good food, and laugh with friends. Sometimes I look good to myself in the mirror. Sometimes I look bloody awful. All of this is normal.

So is it time I stopped worrying about my weight? Is it time to accept that all that, up there, is what I am? What I always have been (if you don’t count that year at University after my first love dumped me and I briefly looked like Keira Knightly – *sigh*), and who I always will be, assuming I have health, enough money for wine and roast pork, and friends with whom to enjoy them?

I hereby resolve – today, this evening – to stop mithering over those women in adverts, whose swishy dresses skim hips achieved through hours of misery and deprivation. My kids need me healthy for at least 15 more years. I plan to achieve that by eating good food, home cooked food, slow food, with my family, and consuming good wine at the weekends. I plan to teach my daughter to love her blossoming body, to take care of it with good fuel, good energy, and good friends. I want to let my son know that a curvy woman is probably more fun than Keira Knightly, as long as she respects her body, enjoys the fruit of nature and keeps treats for treats.

By the way, my husband makes a mean Mojito, and I didn’t feel the slightest bit guilty when I drank one tonight. Followed by another 😉

I’m linking this to Mummy Barrow’s Ranty Friday this week, because – let’s face it – this is an issue that affects lots of people!

27 thoughts on “I am a real woman, and I’m wise to your weight loss diet clichés”

  1. Well said! A photo can say so much and give us a boost or a kick in the teeth in the space of a shutter click! Oh, I too had the skinny response to being dumped at Uni!

    • I looked the best I’ve ever looked (in my warped mind) but I felt the worst I’ve ever felt. That says something…

  2. I am not the biggest I’ve ever been, but I’m bigger than I want to be. I have been dancing the same three pounds up and down on the scale for a month.

    I want to not care. But I care.

    • I know, and I care too, but I’m making a conscious decision to remember that other people think I look good, and that I do too when I see a good photo of myself. I’m exactly the same, but those 3 pounds have been lurking for 5 years now, so diets and exercise regimes clearly aren’t working. I think Mamacook has it nailed – I’m going to trust my body to tell me when I’ve had enough delicious food, and eat for health and enjoyment rather than quick fixes. Maybe I’ll lose some weight, but in the meantime I know I look ok, and I’ll enjoy my food more.

  3. Hmm. Love you to bits but I have to say I disagree. I decided about 2 years ago to stop thinking “this is me getting middle aged” and do something about it. I’m now 2 stone lighter, through doing nothing apart from not shovelling down my food, stopping when I’m full, finding an exercise I like and ditching the diet products. Sorry but diet products to me just mean me feeling like I’ve had something not quite so good as the real thing. I’d rather have the real thing but less of it!

    I’m now a size 12. Seriously, if you aren’t happy, then do something and it really is possible. If you are happy, be happy but do look in the mirror and feel like you look good not “bloody awful”! Own it, whatever size and shape you want to be, be it! I think my size 12 shape is super bloody skinny, others might disagree but it’s right for me. I will never be a size 8 but I look at my 36 year old self in the mirror and think “yeah, I’m ok!”

    • I totally agree with you. That’s why I’m giving up on calculated calorie restriction – it just makes me swing from one extreme to another. I tell myself it’s just for a few weeks, but it’s been going on for years, so it clearly doesn’t work! I think your approach is the right one and I plan to treat myself with respect and enjoy my food. Eating what you want, but less of it, is so much more sustainable, and if I lose some weight of course I will be pleased. In the meantime though, I imagine my diet and health will improve simply by cutting the crap in favour of more delicious flavours – olive oil, avocado, wine, good sausages, stroganoff, cheese – all banned substances under the diet regimes, but all good for you in sensible quantities! Well, maybe not the sausages 😉

  4. The weight loss clichés have become really tedious! A brilliant post, you’re so right although I’ve seen those pins of yours! I love the Low Low ad, reminds me of the Bodyform spot a few months ago -very funny 🙂

  5. So with you on this one.

    I long to be the size you are. But I refuse to go on a crash diet and pass on any hang ups I might have to my three teenagers. I want them to know that food is not evil.

    I like the idea of slow food.

    • I loved the Slow Food day I went on. Just about enjoying the kitchen and food as a family. I think what Mamacook said is all part of it – enjoying good food in sensible quantities rather than the yoyo of diet food that sends me lurching to sugar fat and salt in huge quantities.

  6. I have a sassy, skinny image in my head of how I look …. however photos tell me different!!

    • At the end of the the day, we never look as bad as we think we do – we look with a critical eye at ourselves, but a non-judging eye at our friends. We have to remember that

  7. Some pictures I look good in, some horrible! I tried to take a few of myself when I was camping last week, of the five I took, I liked one. I haven’t deleted them, (okay, one I did,), I left the rest because one day the kids will look back at them and not see my weight but the fun I was having.

  8. Oh I’ve given up worrying – I’m bigger than I was last year but not the biggest I’ve ever been so for now I’m just chilling with my hairy friend to keep me warm 😉

  9. Society is a bitch! So sick of being told that I should be this size or that size or eat this crap or don’t bla bla bla!

    I say embrace the wobbly bits and be done with it!

  10. You are a real woman, and look FABULOUS! Keep it all in balance and it will be fine 🙂 That’s what I tell myself anyway!

  11. You look bloody good woman, especially love that pic of you in a wedding dress, gorgeous. ell all go through god and bad days, sounds like you have your head screwed on OK to me.

    Mich x

  12. Firstly, you look damn amazing.

    Secondly, that advert! They’ve knocked it right on the head. Awesome stuff. I hate that people are made to feel bad about food. Food is to be loved and enjoyed. I think it’s the diet cliches that give people bad relationships with what they eat. I’m told that cake it bad for me but when it’s in the house and I get a craving, I eat it, then I feel guilty even though I know those 300 or so calories aren’t going to make a damn bit of difference to my health, weight or how much I can lift (I’m one of those chicks that lifts :D).

    Great post.

  13. Very good stuff. I would like make a suggestion for a site that worked for me. http://www.quick-weight-loss-direct.com They have some really good schemes.


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