Gretel Hallet, is a Trained Chocolate Fairy and is running the Getting Started half day workshop in Norwich - perfect for beginners to experience the core principles of Beyond Chocolate and equally great as a refresher for any Beyond Chocolater. If you live in East Anglia and want to know more about Beyond Chocolate or her workshops, get in touch with Gretel.
I can clearly remember the time in my life when I felt confident and good in my body. I was a slim tall child, bronzed from years spent living abroad, with a shock of white sun-bleached hair and very blue eyes. I look back at that child in wonder – the photos show no self-consciousness, just an enjoyment of life that I would love to re-capture.
I don’t recall when that confidence and unselfconsciousness turned into body loathing and I lost my self confidence. It was possibly in my teens, possibly my early twenties, but it happened and I have no idea why.
I was lucky to grow up at a time when there was far less pressure from the media to conform to a body type – women’s magazines had knitting patterns and make up advice rather than features on ‘how to lose a dress size in a week’, and the Cult of Celebrity was far less influential when it comes to how the ordinary person views themselves.
But it still got me.
By my mid-twenties I was on a diet and I continued dieting and bingeing for over 20 years, desperate to be something I could never be; desperate to be effortlessly slim and hating every glimpse of myself in every reflective surface. I started retreating to the back of group photos and avoiding being photographed on my own. I bought clothes that covered as much of me as possible and never wore anything fitted.
I gave birth twice to beautiful baby girls. And I hated my post-pregnancy body even more. All that left-over flab; the saggy tummy, the bulging thighs, the stretch marks ... My eating throughout my pregnancies was out of control and all the extra fat was self-inflicted. I saw pregnancy and breast-feeding as an opportunity to eat completely unregulated by any sort of diet. It was probably the only time in my life when I felt justified in over-eating massively – it was one time of my life when I was fairly confident that no-one would criticize me for not being thin.
This stage in my life couldn’t last forever. By the time each baby was toddling about, people were starting to mention my persistent weight gain and encouraging me to go on diets to ‘get rid of it’. So I did. Over and over again. Somehow ‘it’ always came back again. I had a fridge magnet which said, ‘I lost weight but it keeps finding me again’, and that kind of summed up how I felt at that time. This was a mysterious process that I had no control over.
It didn’t occur to me that there could be an alternative to what I was doing. Now that I know differently, maybe I should get a new fridge magnet that says, ‘There’s always an alternative’?! Because of course there is and eventually I did find it – Beyond Chocolate. And the rest is my future and it’s looking good.