Mar­ian Keyes: on weight loss and Face­book

In her de­ter­mi­na­tion to lose weight, Mar­ian Keyes em­barked on a rig­or­ous crash diet, but found she lost more than ex­tra ki­los.

Australian Women’s Weekly NZ - - CONTENTS -

Long story cut short: I was a fatso and not happy about it. So, some months ago, af­ter check­ing with my doc­tor, I went on a crash diet: 600 calo­ries a day of re­hy­drated food-alikes (por­ridge, shakes, soups and things mas­querad­ing as din­ners). Feel free to crit­i­cise me: a) I shouldn’t have got fat in the first place. b) But see­ing as I had, I should have learnt to love my tub­ster self.

c) How­ever, if I in­sisted on mind­ing, I should have lost the weight grad­u­ally and learnt health­ier habits for the fu­ture.

Be­lieve me, I’ve heard it all, and my own voice is the most judg­men­tal of the lot.

Real life is messy, though, and there’s a back­story in­volv­ing med­i­ca­tion that had caused rapid weight gain (so the pink Mag­nums and I weren’t en­tirely to blame). I had tried and failed to lose weight by other means. And even if a crash diet wasn’t the most sen­si­ble way of los­ing weight, at least I was mak­ing an ef­fort – go on, will you grant me that?

Day one, the weigh-in was worse than ex­pected, so with a heart that wasn’t the only thing that was heavy about me, I had my first bowl of “por­ridge” and, to my sur­prise, it wasn’t that bad.

The in­for­ma­tion leaflet in­di­cated that the ini­tial five days of the diet would be the worst, as my body used up its stores of glyco­gen. Af­ter that

I’d move into some mag­i­cal con­di­tion called “ke­to­sis”, where my body got its fuel from my many fat re­serves and my hunger would van­ish. But be­cause this tran­si­tion was go­ing to be so un­pleas­ant, I’d been ad­vised to pick a week when there wasn’t much go­ing on.

The diet com­pany of­fered ac­cess to a se­cret Face­book site where I could gather with oth­ers of my kind for mu­tual sup­port. How­ever – and I know this sounds weird – I’d never been on Face­book. When it first started, I was too busy to get in­volved, then Twit­ter came along and that was the per­fect fit for me. I’d also heard noth­ing but bad things about Face­book – the whole

“You okay, hun?” busi­ness gave me the shud­ders. Still, all help was grate­fully re­ceived, so I joined and ten­ta­tively said hello. Within mo­ments,

I’d re­ceived an avalanche of smi­ley faces, “Woohoo!”s, “Lol!”s and “Wel­come, hun!”s. That scared me more than the hunger.

My morn­ing was spent lik­ing every ut­ter­ance from my many new friends – dark warn­ings about Face­book eti­quette had reached me – and lunchtime came quickly. There was a choice of soups – mush­room, veg­etable or chicken – each so dis­gust­ing, they had to be poured away, and in­stead I had a ba­nana-flavoured shake (quite nice). Din­ner was “pasta car­bonara” – re­pul­sive, but none of the other fake pas­tas was ed­i­ble. My evening treat was a “choco­late” bar, which I liked an alarm­ing amount.

That was my first day over. I went to bed, feel­ing smug. Who knew I had so much in­ner strength? Seem­ingly I could just de­cide to not be hun­gry! Then I lay awake half the night, feel­ing like my stom­ach was try­ing to digest it­self.

Day two wasn’t quite as easy, but I tough-loved my­self: “Do you want to be a fatso for ever? No! When are you go­ing to do some­thing about it? Right now, that’s when!”

Day three saw the ar­rival of the hor­rors. I felt ter­ri­bly de­pressed, and I don’t mean I felt sad, I mean I felt scared, as if be­ing alive was a ma­lign and ter­ri­ble state. Look­ing for some com­fort (but also feel­ing a lit­tle fool­ish), I went on Face­book and posted: “Day three. Full of name­less fear. Is this nor­mal?”

Within mo­ments, some­one asked: “Wot u scared of, hun?”

It took every ounce of re­straint not to bash out: “I said the fear was name­less, you id­iot! By the way – LOL!”

Day four was worse – the dread was al­most un­bear­able. I cow­ered in bed and de­cided that if things didn’t im­prove, I was buy­ing a chip van.

I’d live in it and eat the con­tents, and, yes, I’d be fat, but I couldn’t pos­si­bly feel as bad as I felt now. Mer­ci­fully, the fol­low­ing day the hunger went and the fear lifted. Clearly, I was now in the calm wa­ters of ke­to­sis.

My “weigh day” was Sun­day, and I’d lost 2.7kg. Most of that was wa­ter, and if I’d eaten a sin­gle slice of bread, it would have piled back on, but nev­er­the­less I posted my news, and the in­ter­net nearly broke with the pos­i­tiv­ity from my new chums. Many posted a gif of a danc­ing girl

Even if a crash diet wasn’t the most sen­si­ble way of los­ing weight, at least I was mak­ing an ef­fort – go on, will you grant me that?

that made me feel dizzy. But most things were mak­ing me feel dizzy – stand­ing up too quickly, peo­ple talk­ing, the smell of cau­li­flower.

De­spite the gid­di­ness, life on the diet got into a rou­tine. I iden­ti­fied the meals I liked (all of the shakes, none of the soups, all of the “choco­late”, two of the din­ners) and I ate noth­ing else. Ever. In so­cial sit­u­a­tions where I had to spurn real food, I de­fused things by ges­tur­ing at my lardy frame and say­ing, “Try­ing to de-fatso my­self.” And every­one seemed to un­der­stand.

Mirac­u­lously, I was never hun­gry. How­ever, I wasn’t ex­actly fir­ing on all cylin­ders – my con­cen­tra­tion was shot and my mem­ory a shadow of its for­mer self. At the end of every day, climb­ing the stairs was ex­haust­ing, but on the up­side, I’d never slept so well.

In my first month I lost 6kg, and an­other 5.4kg in the sec­ond month. I started buy­ing clothes – skinny jeans, a leather jacket. My mammy said: “Don’t lose any more, Mar­ian, your face is get­ting too thin.” Which made me so happy, I got her to re­peat it 20 times. I begged her to say, “I’m ac­tu­ally wor­ried about you Mar­ian,” and be­cause she’s lovely, she did.

I’m now su­per­aware of calo­ries - I fear sugar and I’m wary of carbs.

Then the wheels came off – I de­vel­oped hang­nails, mouth ul­cers and cold sores, and my en­ergy, which had been low since I’d started the diet, flat­lined. Prob­a­bly be­cause of its long-term de­fi­cien­cies, you can only stay on the plan for 12 weeks tops. I man­aged 11, dur­ing which I lost 15kg and went from size 14/16 to 8/10. But my big­gest chal­lenge was the re­turn to nor­mal eat­ing. I’m now su­per-aware of calo­ries – I fear sugar and I’m wary of carbs. A Fit­bit rules me with an iron fist, and I am its most obe­di­ent ser­vant: most nights, at bed­time, I can be found march­ing up and down the land­ing, re­fus­ing to stop un­til I reach my tar­get of 10,000 steps.

These days, when emo­tional dis­tress comes call­ing, I don’t numb the pain with food. In­stead, I med­i­tate. Ah no, I’m only jok­ing, I try to side­step the un­pleas­ant­ness by spend­ing money. (Man­ag­ing my many ad­dic­tions feels like a life­long game of Whack-a-Mole – as soon as one is un­der con­trol, an­other one pops its head up.) Most of my splurg­ing now is on new clothes. Four months since nor­mal eat­ing re­sumed,

I have kept the weight off and be­ing un­fat still feels thrilling.

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