A fat lot of good: Eleanor's charity slim
Having struggled all her life, Eleanor Goggin is intent that her slim-for-charity will finally banish her unwanted extra poundage
If only I could get back all the hours in my life that I've spent talking about weight. There are certain friends -- obviously the fatter ones -- that I spend hours with, analysing diets. South Beach, Atkins, cabbage, and starvation have all come under scrutiny. We talk endlessly about fat asses, flabby arms and guts. I've wasted years of my life just talking about it all, and I'll never get them back.
I suppose I've always struggled. I tend to embrace the observation that loads of people waved away dessert on the Titanic. How foolish were they? I was never a waif-like child, more like a sturdy hockey player, but not fat as such. At one stage I thought my legs were OK, but I vividly recall an occasion when my mother -- who is no longer with us and consequently unable to defend herself -- was walking behind me, and gleefully informed me that I had the "Fitzgerald legs", which wasn't meant to be a compliment. More like a catty remark, lest I get above myself. She was alluding to herself and her camogie-playing siblings who had strong, walloping legs, and she was obviously very pleased to see that I had inherited her genes.
In my early 20s, with much starvation and an absence of alcohol for two months -- the only time I've ever managed to go on the wagon -- I managed to trim down to a sexy size 10. I loved myself. I preened and posed and wore short skirts despite the Fitzgerald legs. And then I had my first child and my new Jennifer Aniston body turned into that of Dawn French in a very short period of time. "It'll fall off you when you breastfeed," they said. They were liars. Every last one of them. I persevered with a weight-loss programme and managed to lose most of it and then, lo and behold, I was pregnant again. I was mountainous second time around, and I have the photos in a Little House on the Prairie dress and a big moon face to prove it. But the determination of youth took over again and, after a year or so, I was presentable enough and then, surprise, surprise, within no time I was pregnant again. And huge. Recidivism at its best. You'd think I would have learnt by then that shovelling food into my mouth for most of the day was going to result in a body like that of a sumo wrestler. But from then on I've had a see-saw struggle. I've tried slimming pills, having seen advertisements showing people who claimed to have lost four stone in two days. I suppose I should have guessed when the "before" photo was a blurred image from Moby Dick and "after" was a tall, willowy blonde. Were they even the same person? I've seen recent photos of myself, and we're talking the need for a wide-angle lens.
As middle age has advanced, I've latched on to the people who say that it suits you to have a "bit of weight" as you get older. In hindsight, they were nearly all skinny. And condescending. I've noticed, that as the years go by, the weight starts to go on to different places. I now have four boobs: two in the normal place, and two peeking out the sides of my short-sleeved tops. There are days when I feel I need a trolley to carry my stomach around. I'm exaggerating, but I have put on a lot of weight over the summer . Pints of lager and burgers and chips from catering vans in West Cork haven't helped. I've marked every Monday as the start date, taken out the juicer, bought the fruit and vegetables and thrown them all out, unused, by Friday. The call of the sausage roll and ketchup is too strong. I've tried wearing huge, chunky, statement jewellery to take the focus off the body, but I'm only fooling myself. It's all very depressing. When the sales assistant shouts across the shop, "Have we anything bigger than a 16 for this lady?" you know it's time to get a grip. I'm the worst I've been for a long time, despite having lost two stone earlier in the year. And then I went to Australia . . .
But that's all about to change. Cheshire Ireland is a charity very close to my heart and Fiona Gratzer, the MD of Unislim, has very kindly agreed to come on board in a fund-raising initiative in Cork, Kerry and Limerick for an eight-week sponsored slimathon, starting at the end of September. Unislim embrace the low-GI (Glycemic Index) way of life. The idea behind this diet is that if your body maintains a steady blood-sugar level you won't be screaming out for cream doughnuts during the day. It's a system of ranking carbs according to how quickly they are absorbed into your system. White bread is not good, but granary bread is. Ordinary potatoes aren't good, but sweet potatoes are. Most vegetables, pulses and fruit are good. Porridge is good. And I'm convinced the only way you'll stick to a diet is if somebody else is weighing you. And it's really not a diet, it's a different way of eating. So it's time to give it a bash. You join your local Unislim in one of the counties -- Unislim will waive the joining fee if you agree to get people to sponsor you -- you'll end up svelte for Christmas, and you'll raise much-needed funds for a very worthy cause. It's a no-brainer, really. So, why not join me in my effort to look stunning by the end of 2010? There will be a weekend getaway for the slimmer who brings in the most money in each area. I'll let you know how I get on after the eight weeks.
Cheshire Ireland supports people with physical disabilities and, due to funding cuts, is finding it increasingly difficult to provide a vital service to the community. The physical disabilities they cater for include multiple sclerosis, spina bifida, Friedreich's ataxia, Huntington's chorea, cerebral palsy, acquired brain injury and neurological illnesses. Cheshire operate 24 centres in Ireland and they also provide a range of community-based services where people are supported in their own homes. They also provide respite facilities. I can't let them down, and this time I'm definitely going to stick with it beyond the eight weeks and, hopefully, I'll move on to the next life as a size 10 in a short skirt and boob tube.