When I was born, seventy eight and a half years ago, I weighed (I’ve been told) seven pounds, three ounces. I put on weight as expected and was never overweight as a child. It was the same with my sister, Judy – we were both rather slim, even skinny, girls. Jennie was tiny at birth and continued to be tiny until she was around seven when she had her tonsils and adenoids out and she became more robust – but definitely not overweight.
Patty, my mother, was also slim, as a girl and as a young woman – you can see that in all the photos I’ve put in posts. But, when she was in her forties, she suddenly started putting on weight and – guess what – so did I when I hit my forties!
At first it was just a couple of un-noticeable pounds, which became a very noticeable stone. Even a stone (14 pounds, 6.35 kilos) didn’t make me fat, but most of that extra weight seemed to be on my lower half (to put it delicately).
I always had a rather pear-shaped body – my figure at 18 something like 32-22-34 – so, flat chested, small waisted and slightly bigger hips. My legs were short but reasonably shaped. I weighed about seven and a half stone (105 pounds) until I was in my later 30’s.
I suppose each decade after 40 brought an extra stone or so and I started worrying about my weight when I was 42 and weighed about 9.5 stones (126 pounds, 60.3 kilos).
I remember going to a weight-loss group with Angela, who was also overweight. It wasn’t one of the franchises, just a group of women who wanted to lose weight. We weighed ourselves, paid in a token 50p per week, sat around and chatted and, each month, the woman who had lost the most weight that month, got her month’s money back while the rest of the money paid for the coffee we had drunk that month.
A few years went by and I started to go to Weight Watchers in the local village hall. I probably was about 10 stone then and wore size 14 (UK) which was a big size for me, who had worn size 8 or 10 only a decade earlier.
So, there I was, a rather sedentary 40+, weighing around 10 stone. I went to weight-loss groups from time-to-time, signed up to a gym, paid out a lot of money to lie on a table and let the table do the moving (what a waste of money that was!) and – meanwhile, carried on eating my standard diet.
Looking back, I can see why I started putting on the weight. When I was teaching at St. Katherine’s I always had a school dinner – the dinner ladies were wonderful cooks! But, when I started being a supply teacher, I would go home and make myself a fried cheese sandwich with butter every lunchtime, if I was working at a school not too far from home. Oh, those fried cheese sandwiches! Heavenly!
Most days, on my way home from school, I would stop at Safeways and buy a fresh, unsliced white loaf and, when I got home, slice a few thick wedges of bread and butter them, then take them into the lounge with a cup of tea and sit and watch The Wonder Years. Or, maybe, I’d substitute the bread for two or three donuts! Then, I’d make dinner in the evening for Julian and me. I can’t remember what we might have had but there would have been meat, potatoes and veggies or pasta with a meaty sauce.
When we opened our shop in 1997 I weighed around 13 stone! (182 lbs, 82.5 kilos). But the year 2000 came along and I knew that I was too heavy and unhealthy so I decided to do something about it for real. I wish I could remember what I ate during that time….I successfully lost 3.5 stone. I did get up early every morning and walk to Manor Park, up the fields and round the lake then back home to shower and dress for the day. (In case you are asking yourself why I didn’t ‘run’ or jog, there is no way I could ‘run’ anywhere. I had never been a runner – I was always the last one across the playground, with my short legs, during skinny childhood.)
I kept that weight off for about a year but started eating whatever I wanted again, and also discovered the delights of dry white wine! Unlike many in my family, I was more or less tee-total till I was in my 50’s, then would often have a small glass of white wine with my dinner in the evening.
For some reason I was able to keep my alcohol intake on the low side while other members of my family partook of rather more – Patty always told us that everyone drank loads in the 1940’s, which may, of course, have been true. (Patty seemed to be a part-time alcoholic – she could go for weeks with only one or two drinks a day then would “fall off the wagon” and binge-drink until she was too ill or till no one would go out to get her booze for her. She really never stopped drinking until she had to live in a care home, where she also had to give up smoking! She was 90 when she had to give up cigarettes and alcohol!)
In my later 50’s and early 60’s, a group of our friends organised walks of 3 to 5 miles. We would meet at a pre-arranged car park somewhere not too far, then would do a circular walk which would bring us back to the car-park which almost always was a pub car park or, at least, very near a pub that served Sunday meals. I think the walks helped me keep to a reasonable weight, though the pub lunches were usually fairly high in calories.
At that time, too, Julian and I were ‘standing’ at various antique fairs around the country. Many week-ends would find us travelling in Julian’s van – or even a larger hired van – to such places as the NEC, Newark, or as far as Lancashire. We stayed in bed-and-breakfasts or cheapish hotels but rarely covered our expenses with sales – we were, though, always optimistic! During those years I was Julian’s helper when we needed to carry Georgian secrétaire bookcases or Victorian chests-of-drawers. I must have used quite a few calories and blame all that carrying for my later knee problems!
In 2014, after I had my knees replaced, I decided that I had to lose weight and got down to around 10 stone but it wasn’t too long before my weight shot back up! I have always known that eating what I love wasn’t good for keeping the weight off but couldn’t seem to help myself….if there was a choice of puddings at Angela’s Christmas dinner, I would have the one I preferred first, then try some of the others. If there was a packet of biscuits (cookies), I would have a couple. If I made pasta, I would have a good big helping and sprinkle the lot with cheese.
In April of 2019 I decided to try again. I was over 13.5 stone – my heaviest ever – so joined online Weight Watchers and was very ‘good’. From then until Christmas that year I lost about 3 stone and was very pleased with myself. That Christmas we were joined by my sister, Jennie, and Veronica and her husband plus a couple of friends for dinner.
Jennie now realises that she wasn’t feeling very well but didn’t say anything. She couldn’t really taste the food she was helping to cook, but carried on, as there were so many of us. On Boxing Day she felt worse and spent the day lazing about but not letting on she wasn’t well. On the next day, she somehow drove back to London as planned and went to bed for a day or two.
Meanwhile, in Broadstairs, I started coughing – a dry cough, at first without any other symptoms , which stayed with me for about four weeks – and incredible fatigue. Every other day or so I would wake up and think I was feeling much better, then would begin to feel bad again.
In the February, news was coming from China, of a really horrible ‘flu, and it sounded like Jennie and I had had mild cases of ‘covid 19’. By the time antibody tests were available at a fairly low price, six or so months had gone by and my self-administered test was negative so I don’t suppose we’ll ever know if it was covid-19 or something very similar.
All this time, I was eating normally again and had joined the millions of others, adding a ‘covid-stone’. So, April 2021, I resumed my weight loss journey, yet again. Now it is nearly November and I’ve lost the covid-stone plus a little. I seem to have reached a plateau and for weeks my weight has hovered around 10 stone 6.5 lbs.
That’s not the weight I was aiming for but it means that I can wear loads of clothes I hadn’t been able to squeeze into and that makes me quite pleased! I am not dieting but am being ever so careful. If one day I eat more than I should, the next day I eat less. I plan to start the dieting again but am enjoying the occasional bowl of ice cream or slice of pizza.
But – here’s the thing about losing weight at my age. Ten or fifteen years ago, I was lucky that my skin was still quite ‘elastic’ and my muscles didn’t make my skin sag, now I’ve got saggy everything – bosoms, tummy, arms, legs – even my face has started to sag a bit but I find that if I smile 😊, most of the face-sag goes away. So if you see me walking down the street smiling, you know why! 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣