I imagine if the majority of people were informed they would be able to work from home two days a week, their first thought would not be "Oh, crap. I am going to put on so much weight!". But, when my boss told me this six weeks ago, that was exactly what I thought.
You see, I used to be fat. Not need-to-join-a-club-with-a-points-system fat. Not need-to-have-an-operation fat. But I was definitely can't-squeeze-my-bum-into-h&m-trousers fat. I've read countless weight-loss stories where people were shocked into drastically changing their diet and their lifestyle after seeing a photograph of themselves looking bigger than the figure they perceived in the mirror, and I was no different. The photo that encouraged me to cut back on the cheesecake was this one. The black triangle on my skirt is my visible tights- I was literally bursting out of my outfit, because I refused to buy bigger clothes.
My relationship with food has always been an emotional one. For a long time, I was in complete denial about my comfort-eating- something brought on by factors ranging from PMT to a bad day in the office. My eyes were finally opened when, returning home from a rather emotional breakup with Costa Boy*, I bought a family-sized Tray Bake cake and devoured it in it's entirety, whilst sobbing out the entire break-up melodrama to my housemates between mouthfuls of chocolatey crumbs.
Food has been the constant in my life for as long as I can remember- never judgemental, always warm and comforting, and sometimes almost as delicious to look at as Joe Manganiello. To me, and my boyfriend, it's a social thing too. We made a rule no guest could leave our house without being fed- and we've managed to stick to it. I love that meals can bring people together- an idea that seems to be a universal idyll, given the amount of miles many people travel to meet up with their loved ones at Christmas, and the fact that so many best-selling cookery books are focused on "Cooking for the Family" or "Cooking with Love".
And, unfortunately, I am not a fan of exercise. Running for the bus I can just about handle, but anything that is exercise-for-exercise's-sake I simply do not enjoy. Dancing is my one exception, and that's only because I'm having such a good time bellowing out the lyrics to Starship I haven't noticed that flinging my body around the dance floor is doing healthy aerobic things to me. So, stepping up the step-ups just wasn't an option. The cake would have to be culled.
I refused to call it a "diet", because I think labelling it as such would have caused me to feel like I wasn't allowed to eat anything unhealthy and therefore I would've ended up cracking like Comte de Reynaud in Chocolat and woken up in Choccy Woccy Doodah's shop window. I simply cut down on cake and carbs, upped my fruit and veg intake, and my trousers gradually started to feel less tight. As a vegetarian, my diet already contained a variety of vegetables, but apparently they aren't as good for you covered in cheese (who knew?!)... And, as the weight fell off, it was easier to keep eating healthily because I could see the results.
However, it was also easy to see how people get obsessed with weight loss and can take it too far. Kate Moss's controversial comment in November 2009, claiming "Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels", caused a media outcry, as she was accused of encouraging teenagers to develop eating disorders. And I have to admit, for a while there, I almost agreed with Kate. I lost over 1-and- a-half stone in the space of a year- a very gradual weight-loss (due to not exercising) and one that doesn't sound that impressive to people who have lost multiple stones, but on my 5ft10 frame it made a very visible difference.
The trouble was, when I reached a weight and size I felt comfortable with in myself again, I thought "Great! Back to the cake I go!". And unfortunately, unless I want to join the gym and actually go there, this means the weight will creep back on again. My point, with regard to working at home, is our well-stocked fridge, and our broom-cupboard larder, are right there and much harder to resist than when I'm sat in the office with my fruit bowl breakfast and soup for lunch. I'm tempted to de-camp to our shed, after reading numerous articles about home-working women converting theirs into glamorous garden-based offices, but unfortunately ours is full of lawn mowers, and a spider the size of a small dog who would probably not take very kindly to being ousted from it's house.
Thankfully, vigorous housework seems to almost counteract the calories in a cupcake- as long as I listen to music whilst hoovering! But, with winter fast approaching, all I want to do is curl up on the sofa with a huge bowl of stew and dumplings. So I'm sending out a plea to foodies everywhere:
If you have any advice on combining a love of food with a flat stomach please let me know! Bicep curls with baked bean tins? Calorie free cake recipes? Sausages made from flying pigs?
And please feel free to share your own food-love or weight-loss stories below :)
*Who I'm pretty sure I only loved because he gave me free trays of Frangipans, but that is a story for another day.