I had a bit of a reality check this afternoon as I got on to the Victoria line tube at Euston station.
After feeling quite frankly a little smug at my successful weight loss over the last 2 months I was reminded that I've still got a long way to go before I'm happy with my figure.
My weight gain started when I was 20 heading into my 3rd year of university and moving in with my boyfriend at the time, I decided to go on contraceptive injections. I piled weight on going from 8 stone 3lbs to 10 stone 8 lbs in just 6 months. And the weight naturally congregated in one place.
I got stretch marks - vivid red angry lines across my lower back which shocked me when I caught them in the mirror and my sister advised me that she had only seen stretch marks like that when she was pregnant.
Everyone thought I was pregnant " the girl behind the bar is pregnant" my fellow students whispered amongst themselves and some even asked me outright. One guy, when I said I wasn't expecting pointed at my stomachs and said "then what is that?" "ma big fat belly" became my usual response. I'm not pregnant it's just ma big fat belly.
Over the years I got used to the fact that I had a weird body shape. I didn't like it but I accepted that while the rest of my body had stayed pretty much the same my belly looked that much more out of place and I totally understood the reason people assumed I was expecting.
Social occasions became a nightmare because I could never find a nice dress to wear that didn't look like maternity wear on my odd shaped body.
I thought that I could work it to my advantage however in public places, buses, over crowded tubes etc...surely I would always get a seat, but I don't know what happened to the youth of the last 10 years, but not a single person offered me a seat on the bus...my inner mother to be was outraged while my common sense berated me for being outraged at not getting something I didn't need anyway. I was lazy...as well as fat!
Finally I met someone who didn't notice or care about my odd shaped body and we settled into a fabulous relationship. But we ate lots of takeaways and watched a lot of TV and the rest of my body caught up with my belly...at least I was in proportion!
I made a few attempts at losing weight, tried various diets but even if I lost a bit of weir I lost interest and piled the weight back on.
2 months ago I decided I truly wanted to do something about it. I'm not aiming for 8 stone 3lb but something a little less maternity would be nice. I started counting calories thanks to a brilliant website and iPhone app called My Fitness Pal. I started swimming too - to earn extra calories to eat at the weekend. I calculated my calories and set my limit to 500 less a day.
3500 calories is roughly the equivalent of 1lb of weight loss and I've been losing 1 or 2 lbs a week.
I also started doing strength exercises with free weights to tone up my arms and legs and stomach muscles. When I was 8 st I looked Ill, skin and bone, my head was too big for my body and I looked pale and withdrawn with hollow dark eyes. I don't want to look like that again but I was always afraid that in order to lose my belly I would have to return to that type of figure. But I realised that I could tone and strengthen my muscles while working on the fat loss and hopefully I can gain a nice shape rather than go from chunky to bony.
So I've been feeling pretty good about my weight loss, I can see some improvement myself and I feel healthier, more energetic and stronger. I was particularly excited about visiting friends in London who have been encouraging and advising me on exercise and weightloss because I hoped they would notice a difference better than I can, seeing myself in the mirror everyday and not really registering the change.
So I arrive in London during rush hour and I get on the tube at London Euston and shuffle down the carriage and hold onto the hand rails when a youngish guy attracts my attention and offers me his seat. I frowned and said " no you're ok thanks" then I pondered why he'd offed me a seat and not the clearly older woman in front of me...and then it clicked. 13 years of looking pregnant and the first time someone offers me a seat is when I look slightly less pregnant than before...
Actually the incident made me smile for the duration of the tube ride because it reassured me that there are still a few gentlemanly type young men in the world.
But even so, 12 pounds lighter is great and everything but I've got a long long way to go yet.