What is a time of joy for many women was my darkest hour.
**trigger warning – contains themes of weight loss, body image and, specifically, control**
I've often looked upon people with self-restraint as if they are a different species. The ability to choose fruit over cake even some of the time, to put a bulldog clip around a half-eaten bag of Walkers Sensations to save the rest for later, to walk past a Gregg's without nipping in for a sausage and bean bake, these things are all alien to me.
Things I was unable to do for more than two weeks until I found my fat club. The first session was nothing short of life-changing. The group leader dropped epiphanies like loose change.
If you are one of the aforementioned women who sees food as fuel, not simultaneously a treat, tool for self-flagellation, comfort food and friend, they may seem blindingly obvious. For me they were the start of a journey I hope will lead to a healthier, happier lifestyle, with two stone shifted by Easter.
YOU ARE NOT A DUSTBINSession one fell just after new year so the focus was on delicious festive left-overs. The message was to throw them out. 'NO!' I thought. 'What a waste!'
And yes, many of us clear up our plates, cupboards and fridges adamant that no scrap shall be wasted; as Bob Geldof and our mothers taught us: there are starving children in Africa who would love that food.
But here's the kicker – that food was wasted when you bought too much, made too much or served too much, you are not redeeming it from wasted to useful when you cram it into your own stomach, TREATING YOURSELF LIKE THE DUSTBIN.
This is what I did, every day.
You know what is a waste? Paying £5 a week for a fat club to then NOT lose any weight. I'm now buying, cooking and serving less food, weaning myself off the fear that I won't be full to bursting after finishing what's on my plate.
YOU WOULDN'T SMASH AN IPHONE FOR A CRACK IN THE SCREEN A lady in group was resigned to the fact that there was no way she was losing weight next week because she had friends cooking for her two out of seven nights.
I've been this woman: “Oh it's my birthday week, I have a night out and a posh meal so there's no point sticking to my plan at all until Monday, I may as well give up now and eat this family bag of Maltesers.”
WRONG! In that week there were 19 meals out of 21 that she could control. (This works whether your plan is a fat club, a quest to eat all natural, new-found veganism or that bloody 5:2 diet everyone seems to be on).
I no longer give myself the excuse of not being in control, or of having made one slip up, to gorge on crap that, ultimately, makes me feel worse about myself, making me want to eat more. The result? In a week when I had two nights out I still managed to lose an (albeit paltry) half a pound.
PLAN AHEADOk, this is pretty obvious, but if you bother to have healthy food around, you are more likely to eat that than a bag of crisps. I am lazy, if there's food on my desk I'll trough that before traipsing to Tesco for a Lion bar, so my desk is now covered with fruit, veg and cereal bars I can eat.
The fat club I've chosen encourages healthy choices and judgement rather than counting and weighing, so I'm learning how much is enough and the difference between a treat and a binge. But by buying in grapes and melon, batch cooking and taking my leftovers in for lunch, I'm making it much easier (and far less effort) to make good decisions (banana: good – three burritos a week: bad).
I AM NOT SHITThe most important thing I've learned is that I'm NOT shit at eating healthy. That was an excuse for me to keep eating rubbish.
I've now met a gang of women who all thought they were shit at losing weight, and were destined to be fat; they told themselves the same ridiculous things I did to allow them to keep eating refined sugar and additives and saturated fat, while knowing they were unhappy with the way they looked and felt, by making themselves more unhappy by perpetuating it.
And I hope this doesn't make anyone feel that they SHOULD be losing weight, joining a fat club or sticking to a diet. But if, like me, you have always thought you couldn't possibly change the way you see food, I'm afraid to say you are wrong.
I wasn't happy. I felt like crap after binging on sugar. I avoided the mirror because I knew I was letting myself down and I used food to beat myself up for being a bit overweight. I didn't respect my body or the things I want it to do.
So out of all the things fat club has taught me, the most important was that, I'm an idiot. I was kidding myself. I can be slim if I want to be, and I hope that soon I will.
Have you ever gone to a fat club? Did it work? Did you keep the weight off? What did you learn? Am I mad to wish it was twice a week?
Tory is on Twitter @ToryFrostWrites.