I’m taking bit of a flier here but I reckon there can’t be many diet bloggers or writers who tell you that nostalgia is aiding their weight loss. I’ve always been bit of a nostalgia freak. Ever since I was nine years old and found a much-loved Matchbox car I thought was lost. It was a red double-decker bus and I said, “I’m so glad I’ve found this. It’s got lots of memories.” And my father smiled indulgently at my mother and said, “Nine years old and she talks about having memories…”
But it’s his fault I was this way. Still am this way. He was forever telling us how much better things used to be. Even nostalgia used to be better. I’m sure that Matchbox toy was just very precious to me and the memories remark was merely a typical childish imitation of how I heard my parents – but especially my father – speak. Always with the memories.
However, I’ve discovered this year that being a nostalgia freak is brilliant for weight loss. How so I hope I hear you ask.
It’s in a diary
I speak here not of finding old photos of me thin and wishing I could return there though, truly, I’m shocked by how thin I used to be when I thought I was fat. No I speak of my fanatical nay bordering on obsessive diary keeping.
They go all the way back to 1969 when I was 12! Such a treasure trove. In later years, ie by the time I was 15, I kept what I called an extension of my diary, a journal or log if you will. I still do that today. A friend used to accuse me of being self obsessed. Can’t imagine where she got that idea…
You want the truth?
A diary, if you’re honest in it – preferably brutally so – is an immense help in so many areas of your life. If you ever re-read them, and, really, you should if you’ve ever kept one, you will inevitably see patterns emerging. A voice comes through. There are so many longings, hopes, dreams. And these rarely change.
This is something you write just for you. Often when you’re at a low ebb and you’re hoping things will get better. A diary is therapy. They can be incredibly painful to read. You want to reach into them and tell the person who’s writing no one will ever love me again that this isn’t true. It will be all right.
Healing the past
Course you can’t do that! But if you can’t heal your past you can use the past to heal the present. I’ve been especially drawn to my diary of 30 years ago because it charts an incredibly painful time I’ve recently been reliving whether I wanted to or not. I can’t help my curiosity – was it really as bad as I’m now remembering, reliving?
As some readers will know, my ex died suddenly in February and that began a whole movie in my head that I can’t stop playing; though oddly, this is an entirely conscious affair. I am not dreaming about him. Which tells me it’s only going so far; it hasn’t gone down deep inside.
But the diaries and journals kept then have proved to be incredibly illuminating. I speak of a “euphoria” and a welcoming of being alone! Of finally having what Virginia Woolf called the necessity of having a room of one’s own. I was free to write whenever I wanted and no longer had to pretend or hide my efforts. I had freedom. I felt liberated.
Not only was this not such a bad time – it was actively a good one! And more to the point, and why I’m writing this blog, I not only lost weight but I started going to dance and exercise classes. I became fit and I was mostly quite happy. And this is important – it was long before I found someone else!
What I weighed
When I was with my ex I weighed in at 13 stone 10. At the age of 25. I’ve no idea how or why I got so big. But when we started breaking up, I began shedding the weight. And I kept it off. For years. Till I eventually did find lasting contentment with someone else and then got all fat again!
Do single girls inevitably weigh less than partnered ones? I know I’m being supremely sexist saying that but there is some evidence to back this up. There’s a reason why Bridget Jones’s Diary was such a smash hit! Mind, few seem to realise it was a satire on single women but never mind…
Reliving weight loss days
Anyway what’s happened is that I appear to be reliving bits of the past. My final way of working it all through I suppose. Like I say, it’s not a conscious choice though it does only happen when I’m conscious. Memories just pop into my head from nowhere. For a while, I was reliving the breakup with my ex in all its raw, awful, horribly painful emotion. But now I’m reliving the bit on the other side – the good riddance bit. The losing weight, taking up dance classes with an enthusiasm I am really rather proud of now and going to the theatre, especially to see musicals. I’ve even found an entry for 30 years ago that talks about going carb-free, eating lots of protein and doing 100 sit-ups a day!
See what I mean about patterns? It’s like deja vu all over again. Still, if I’m reliving some of my life from 30 years ago I am feeling a lot younger into the bargain. I’m regressing, tis true, and I’m obsessing, definitely. As that friend accused me of being all those years ago, yes, I’m self-obsessed.
I just find myself endlessly interesting but… I do find others interesting too. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have worked as a journalist, counsellor and case study writer for the past 30 years. But if you like people and find them endlessly fascinating well, isn’t it okay to find that’s the case with yourself too? A little bit, what could it hurt?