Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Sixty-one and on a diet

Sixty-one and on a diet.

Will I end up thin or fat

When my heart and brain go quiet?

Sixty-one and on a diet

Yet again. My hopes run riot:

Better life, new start - all that.

Sixty-one and on a diet.
Will I end up thin or fat?

by Wendy Cope

Thirty-one, forty-one, fifty-one, sixty-one… How old do we have to be? For how many years will we keep buying into the fantasy? For how long do we let our hopes run riot? I dieted for 20 years. For all that time I yo-yoed up and down in weight. Thin, fat, thin, fat. Endlessly. Hoping beyond hope that I would ‘end up’ thin. For good.

Diets equal deprivation, iron will, endless counting and measuring, trusting anyone but ourselves, our own bodies, often, far too often, starving. Literally. Starving, to have a body that says “I am in control, I am successful, I am acceptable, I am lovable, I am sorted”. Starving to make sure our bodies project the security and confidence that we don’t necessarily feel inside. Going hungry. Going without. Forgetting what it means to experience the sensual pleasure of taste, without guilt. So long as we look acceptable we can play the part. We can act as if, we don’t have to acknowledge
even to ourselves that all is not as perfect as it looks. No one need know that our houses are built on sand. That when we look in the mirror we don’t like what we see, that our reflection will never be quite good enough.

I am so grateful that I won’t reach the age of sixty-one still wondering whether I will end up thin or fat. So grateful in fact, that I have made it my lifetime’s mission to empower myself and other women to know and trust our bodies, to reach sixty-one feeling good about our relationship with food and the way we look. To know that we are good enough. That confidence and beauty and value does not depend on the size of our bodies. For me, that’s what Beyond Chocolate is all about.

PS - Thank you to the Beyond Chocolater who introduced me to Wendy Cope's poetry. This one is taken from her book Family Values


  1. I wanted to say that there are probably some women 60 plus reading this blog and its never too late to change. And if there are any of them reading this then good on you!
    I think what you say here is very important....
    "No one need know that our houses are built on sand."
    A friend of mine committed suicide earlier this year, leaving behind her two small children and a husband. I had been out of touch with her for a few years because I found it so painful coming up so short whenever I compared myself to her and her "perfect family". I think I have learned the hard way that we never know what is going on inside another persons mind or life. As Geneen Roth says "We compare everyone else's outsides with our insides"

    With your help Sophie, I did a "relationship with food timeline" yesterday and found it to be very enlightening. I realsied that ever since I left home I have not been dependent on my mother to provide for my eating needs. Since I left home, I get to choose what goes into me, I am in charge. And yet, often I eat as though she(my mother) is still in charge (sneak eating, eating in an atmosphere of guilt and shame, resenting meal preparation as she did). God bless you mum, you did your best, but I can create something different for myself. I am in charge. It feels so liberating to finally get this.
    I can choose foods that I really love, that make my body feel good. I can eat them with enjoyment and pleasure.
    I too am so grateful that I am feeing myself from the madness and tyranny of having to look a certain way and in its place finding what is right for me and for my body.
    Thankyou Sophie and the BC community for the support which is making all the difference.

  2. Yes, it's a terrifying thought that this will be the reality for many women - they may by the age of 61 have been dieting for over 40 years ... and where has it got them?
    I am also glad to have stepped off the unmerry-go-round and I am working on the idea that what I see of other people's lives is only what they project and it may not be what's happening for them really at all.

  3. My 83 year old mother-in-law is off to weighwatchers again in preparation for a family wedding. I won't say it is sad exactly, but I would wish something different for her.


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