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What are your guilty pleasures? Eighteen months ago, I would have said a box of expensive chocolates, consumed while curled up on the sofa watching a film on the TV. Now, the chocolates have gone. A re-training of my eating habits over the past year and a half means that chocolate is no longer on the menu – I have lost too much weight to wish to return to my old way of life.

I know that I sound sanctimonious, but I’m not. Honestly. My life used to revolve around food. I lived to eat and eat I would. The sweeter, the richer the food the better. As for carbohydrates, they were my comfort. Plates of pasta, risotto, chips. I ate it all and I enjoyed it all and my waistline increased. I spent my thirties being obese, I spent my forties being obese, and upon getting to the mid-point in my fifties, I realised that if I didn’t act, I would have spent over half of my life being obese. Added to this, my hips gave me pain, my knees gave me pain and I couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without getting breathless. I needed to do something before it was too late.

The catalyst was my son moving to Canada. The thought of squeezing myself into an airline seat, the thought of having to ask for a larger seat-belt and have other passengers nudge each other and whisper as the attendant carried it through the cabin. I couldn’t do it. I wouldn’t do it. That was the spark that I needed.

I’m not saying it was easy, but changing my lifestyle has been one of the best things that I have ever done. I stopped eating pasta, I stopped eating rice, I stopped eating potatoes. Bread I kept. I love bread and I love making bread, so every lunchtime, I have a sandwich. I haven’t given up chocolate entirely either. Every night, I would have a small portion of chocolate, I still do. That small act was a lifesaver in the beginning. If I had cut chocolate out of my diet totally, I would have craved it. After all, don’t we always want that which we can’t have? But I allowed myself chocolate every day. I found new ways of cooking my favourite foods. I still have the pasta sauces, but for pasta, now read courgette ribbons. I still have cottage pie, but instead of mashed potato I use mashed carrots and swede. However, when my husband and I eat out, then I allow myself a treat. I will always study a menu carefully and I tend to opt for the chicken dishes, but not always. Occasionally, I will also have a dessert, but I find that, actually, I don’t always want one. My palate has changed and I no longer crave sweetness all of the time. A meal out doesn’t ‘break the bank’ because once back home, I slip straight back into my usual routine.

I am now about half the woman that I once was and I love clothes shopping. The feeling of walking into a shop and knowing that EVERYTHING in there now fits me, is wonderful. I’m wearing clothes now that I could only dream of months ago. My confidence has grown and my hips and knees no longer hurt. As for stairs, when we visited Castle Loma in Toronto last summer, I walked the 100 steps up to the castle without stopping and without losing breath. Look up Baldwin Steps, Toronto on Google. I also climbed the tower in the picture.

2014-04-20 14.09.12I’ve got my life back. After spending nearly 30 years being fat and unhealthy, I now aim to grasp however many years I have remaining with both hands. My guilty pleasure is no longer chocolate, it’s shopping! And long may it continue.