THE BLOG

Fat Isn't Funny - When Two Become One

06/11/2014 11:42 GMT | Updated 05/01/2015 10:59 GMT

As I slid almost effortlessly into my size 12 jeans for the first time in several years, I felt a sense of achievement that matches some of my other notable life moments. This was closely followed by guilt - for conforming to the stereotypical norm that we have to be slim. Briefly I hated myself for believing in the Kate Moss (model not author) mantra: 'nothing tastes as good as skinny feels' and then I decided that I had to write this.

This is not a smug celebration of my weight loss which (suspend your disappointment) I can only equate in dress size as I never weigh myself - but it is one of achieving a difficult physical goal coming out of the fog of a major depression which probably ignited the weight gain in the first place. Medication, too many 'cheeky' glasses of wine, menopause and, the icing on the big fat cake, the return of an old knee injury. It just could not go on.

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I have not done this quickly either and the project is very much ongoing. Four months or thereabouts in, the benefits of being more like my former trim self are beginning to become apparent. Along with the jeans a plethora of other favourite garments banished to the nether regions of my wardrobe are now reinstated for everyday wear.

This is not without its dietary sacrifices - the last few months have passed without any kind of potato based treat - chipped, mashed or sautéed (all of which are more alluring to me than chocolate) - and what had become (shamefully...) my daily 'night cap' glass of wine has been restricted to weekends and special occasions.

I even appear to be 'on trend' - back in the balmy days of summer as I embarked upon the plan, a good friend had discouraged my wine drinking by equating the calorific content of just one glass to a sugar-coated doughnut. Now the government are in on the act too - just last week they started bashing out quantifiable calorific comparisons on alcoholic drinks including the wine/doughnut equation and I am already ahead of the game.

Even given the intervention of higher powers, weight - loss or gain - continues to be a huge topic in the body of women's media. Diets and an obsession with the highs and lows of celebrity life are figuratively measured in pounds and kilos - no sooner has a footballer married a WAG than the tongues are wagging about spreading waistlines or eating disorders.

Then there are the 'two become one' celebrities. Miranda Hart has seemingly halved her at body weight since she has become a successful television star and has even presented her own maraca-shaking comedy fitness video. And Davina McCall is on a constant quest to traverse Great Britain, run races and climb mountains dissolving before our viewing eyes while she puts on millions of pounds of the financial kind for charity. Her weight loss is Children in Need's gain.

As the chief executive of Funny Women I see women in many different shapes and sizes take to the stage in our Awards and showcases. It pains me that 'fat' still seems to be associated with 'funny' and I do think it is harder for slim, beautiful women to be taken seriously as comics. Fortunately as we have encouraged more and more women to embark upon comedy careers, there are less stereotypes and there are some women whose potty mouths bely their outward beauty. Both Andi Osho and Katherine Ryan, who have won our annual Funny Women Awards, combine wit with stunning good looks.

Our latest winner, Jayde Adams, is also a beautiful plus-size girl with a plus-size talent to match. It was frustrating to see that a feature in the Evening Standard about her win focused a little too much on her appearance rather than her ability to entertain.

Not everybody has the luxury of being able to carry extra pounds with ease and confidence. For some people weight gain might be the product of an illness or a life change. In my case, I was not hugely obese, but the extra couple of stone on my five foot three inch frame took their toll. When my knee gave way earlier this year just from standing up (from a sitting down position, that is, not the performance kind) I realised that this was not right. I did not feel good, I was sluggish, sad and uncomfortable on so many levels. The call to action was relatively easy.

I live and work in a supportive environment, have good eating habits and was offered some brilliant incentives like access to the fabulous Bootcamp Pilates studio in nearby Richmond. I am privileged to have had good treatment on the NHS for my knee and regularly see a sympathetic and engaged physiotherapist who has guided me back into regular exercise along with her extensive case load of people far more seriously injured and less capable than me. She has humbled me into getting fit again.

Despite the scourge of competitive dieting (yes, really...) which is so prevalent in my middle-aged, middle-class environment, I have prevailed. Being told by somebody that the reason I was susceptible to a recent bout of flu was because I am now 'too skinny' just demonstrates how disproportionately appearance is valued.

The upside is that I do feel happier in my slimmer skin and my own performance 'mojo' has returned. Consequently I have more public speaking engagements in my diary than I have had for years and I have the energy to face a busier and more concentrated programme of workshops around the country.

I am still a fulsome size 12 and, although size 10 would be nice, I am realistic enough to know that at my age, the buffer of a dress size is a good defense against looking 'scraggy'. I can comfortably leave the smaller sizes to my 22 year old daughter and her skinny jeans.