I am sure you will all be overjoyed to hear that Mission Make The Dress Less Small was successful, and without having to resort to the weird cling-film wrap treatment that my gym offers.
I admit that the day before the wedding, fearful of mission failure and in a moment of misguided panic I tried on some ‘shapewear’ in Marks and Spencer. After what felt like 10 minutes of trying to get into a ‘form flattering slip’ and subsequently deciding it did nothing for me other than reduce my capacity to move, dance or eat pudding, I experienced what felt like hours of terror when I couldn’t get the damn thing off. It was so tight and heavily constructed that I found myself in some sort of physical catch 22 where I couldn’t raise my arms because they were caught in a lycra vice but couldn’t take the slip off without raising my arms. I wondered if I was trapped forever in the fitting room; if the staff would find me after closing writhing on the floor, both shoulders dislocated, sobbing “I just wanted the dress to fit”. I got to the point where I almost tried to press the ‘call staff’ bell with my nose thinking they would have to come and cut me out with a pair of scissors.
I did eventually manage to extricate myself from the evil article of clothing without assistance, I have no idea how (I suspect my brain has blocked it, they way it would a significantly traumatic event) and I flung the garment back on the hanger and stomped out of the shop full of feminist anger at a society which makes women put themselves through such discomfort just to obtain an unrealistic shape, and anger at myself for perpetuating this due to an inability to accept my body as it was. We’ve come so far since the Victorian era in terms of women’s rights so WHY ARE WE STILL WEARING CORSETS. On the bright side, it made me care less about the success of Mission Make Dress Small. “It’s my bloody body.” I muttered as I headed back out into the rain, “and I’ll sodding well love it whatever lumps I’ve got.”
So the dress fitted, with only minor lumps and bumps which I felt compelled to embrace after the ‘shapewear’ experience. I felt glamorous and unfrumpy and I was thrilled – and amazed – that just two weeks of giving up sugar had such dramatic results. I say ‘just’ giving up sugar. I have to say that I had no idea how tricky it would be. First of all, sugar is in EVERYTHING. Some foods have ridiculously high sugars from carbs. I almost fell over when I looked at the nutritional value on a carton of apple juice. In my mind fruit = natural and natural = good for you. The same goes for potatoes. They’re natural, right? They grow in the ground. They are HEALTHY. But potatoes it seems are pretty much the Haribo of the vegetable world. It was hard to accept that things which are natural are also bad for you. Secondly, getting out of the ‘high fat = fattening’ mindset was hard work. Thirdly, I fucking love sugar. Cake is brilliant. Chocolate is the best thing ever. Pudding is compulsory. I don’t even feel like I can face the world without my morning soy mocha. Cereal is the BOSS. I could live on dried fruit granola.
Somehow I managed to (mostly) avoid sugar, despite it’s ubiquity in ALL OF THE TASTY THINGS, and by the time Friday and wedding #1 of 2 was in full swing and my starter arrived I was looking forward to tucking into some delicious carbs.The food was indeed delicious, and while I found myself delighting in treating myself to savoury pastry what I was really looking forward to was the dessert – chocolate terrine (which is basically a posh way of saying ‘mousse’ as far as I can tell from watching Masterchef).
One mouthful in to the dessert and I nearly fell off my chair. “Excuse me,” I said to my table companions, “This dessert and I need to be alone”. So effusive was I in declaring its deliciousness that one friend told me to “get a room”. But halfway through I realised I could barely finish it. It was too sweet. It was too much. It was making my brain zing and fizzle as if I was snorting champagne. For the rest of the wedding I was bouncing off the walls. I couldn’t sleep until 3am I was so wired. People thought I was drunk I was so hyper. I was also ravenously hungry again a mere 2 hours later but felt too sick to eat anything.
Previously I have worried about the upcoming weddings in terms of the champagne coming around and the toasts, and Talking To Strangers and Doing Small Talk and Having Sober Dancing Fun – but remained utterly untempted by the booze and no one batted an eyelid at my making toasts with sparkling water (or at one point a cup of tea.) I had just as much fun as anyone else at the party, once I was past the now familiar early party stages where everyone is a bit merry and you are jealous you’re not and into the latter stage where everyone is a bit flaily and fally overy and in some cases tearful and nonsensical and you cease being jealous and start being smug. But the extreme physical reaction to that much sugar after two weeks of abstinence knocked me sideways and put my booze crusade into a very new perspective indeed.
I thought at the start of the year that giving up alcohol would be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I was wrong. Giving up sugar is going to be so much harder. I wasn’t ever chemically addicted to alcohol, that much has been clear over the last 5 months. I was socially addicted. Driven by social awkwardness and a need to hide behind drunkscuses (“please excuse my behaviour, I was drunk”) and a need to be part of the party. Sugar however – and while I have suspected this for a while going without it really brought this home – is fully wired into my body chemistry. There’s been a fair number of articles over the last few months with “signs you might be a sugar addict” and I have ALL of the signs, and have done for as long as I can remember.
By wedding#2 of 2 I wasn’t even sure I wanted to eat any more carbs. I was grumpy, anxious and short tempered and the dress was starting to Not Fit Again. By the time wedding dinner #2 of the weekend arrived I could barely finish any of the courses, and didn’t finish my desert. I have never, ever, EVER not finished a dessert. The biggest shock was when the after dinner chocolates were handed out – beautiful little miniature recreations of classic desserts. I bloody love little chocolates. At previous weddings I have even ended up collecting uneaten chocolates from other tables, utterly perplexed as to how people could abandon them. But now I found I didn’t want one. More out of habit than desire I took one. I bit into it, the sickly sweetness filled my mouth. It was too sweet and my brain, far from going RAWR MORE SUGAR was going ‘please may I have some water?’ I struggled to finish it, only doing so because I am pretty sure that spitting food out at a wedding is a faux pas – particularly a wedding of your partner’s family.
Today I feel dreadful. I feel like I have been on a drinking bender for the last two days despite having had no alcohol at all. I feel like I have a hangover. And now I think about it, I have felt like this often; and never connected it to my raging sugar habit. I am in the grips of a full on level 11 sugarover, and I don’t like it. Far from being terrified of cutting out sugar for a few weeks I am now looking forward to getting it out of my life for good. If I lose weight as a result, then fine, all good, but that’s no longer my reason for doing so.
I have always been a complete sugar monster. I’ve always needed pudding. I could eat chocolate literally all day and never stop. On one occasion I even ate a full 12 box of assorted Krispy Kremes because my relationship ended and a work colleague with an alarmingly good memory remembered me saying “If I break up with X I am going to eat an entire box of doughnuts and everything will be fine.” (it wasn’t.) I don’t ever feel full up of sweets, and there’s absolutely no limit to the amount of ice cream I can consume. So thank you, SCIENCE, for explaining why, and thank you Mission Make Dress Less Small for not only opening my eyes to the problem, but to making me realise all it takes to break the habit is 2 weeks cold turkey.
I have an addiction to a legal substance which isn’t even seen as a drug – not in the same way as nicotine or alcohol, but seriously, LOOK AT THIS. Forget “this is your brain on drugs”. Sugar man. It’s good shit. but it’ll fuck you up.