He changed into something more comfortable for the celebratory dinner, enjoyed the celebrations and the next day said he was going to lose weight.
I was absolutely thrilled but kept that to myself. Instead, I adopted the measured tones my mum used when I started losing weight and simply said: “I think you suit being slim and fit much better than being heavy.”
Every pound he reported lost I applauded him – as did his dad and sisters. He went for healthy portion control and liked the routine of intermittent fasting and as his weight dropped his mood lifted. He changed his university course, stopped beer and takeaways and ended the unhappy relationship.
He embraced exercise again, both aerobic and weight training and we could see the toned, muscular young man starting to reappear. By the time lockdown started – with our three youngest back home – James was three stone down, and in the intervening period he’s lost the last stone.
There was lots of cooking and more drinking than usual going on, but he didn’t touch a drop of alcohol for over eight weeks, allowed himself a treat every Sunday and was a total encouragement and support to the rest of us. Many packages arrived with new smaller clothes but no-one begrudged him, especially since his good mood affected all of us.
I’m not fattist when I say I’m delighted slim, healthy James is back. I no longer worry about all the problems that come with being fat, from poor physical and mental health to bad self image. I love seeing him heading out for a run, or all dressed up for a night out. We’ve agreed now to always talk about it, no matter how uncomfortable, if anyone gains weight again.
Body positivity should be encouraged, but it’s never an excuse for carrying far too much weight. Being fat – yes, I use that word – has significant health risks, including premature death, and if vanity doesn’t inspire weight-loss, being healthy should.
There are many reasons for people gaining weight, including poverty and being unable to cook, but we need to stop pretending that encouraging weight-loss is fat shaming. The two thirds of the population that are overweight and the 29 per cent who are morbidly obese need help to lose weight and keep it off. I recently interviewed a despairing cardiologist who said fat people risk ending up blind and limbless but no-one would quote him, or even condone his use of the word ‘fat.’
It’s not fattist to want your children to be fit and healthy rather than fat and miserable, but I’m not pretending it’s easy to lose weight. I’m so proud of James, though I wish I’d been brave enough to mention it when he was just a stone overweight and save him months of misery.