Today, I took a brave step back into territory I haven’t dared enter for more than three years.
I weighed myself.
It’s something I’ve assiduously avoided for a long time. I knew the numbers that it blinked back at me – even stark naked, with newly-shorn hair and after a visit to the littlest room – would not be happy ones.
They would stare back accusingly at me, defying me to feel good about myself in the face of evidence of my obvious gluttony and general piggery. And in doing so, they would rip my self-esteem to shreds, despite the fact that I know I have many qualities unrelated to what size jeans I wear, and I have lovely friends and family who judge me for ME, and not whether my undies are teeny-weeny thongettes or the biggest pair of control knickers M&S can churn out.
And yet, just a few numbers on the scales display can cancel out all the positive and return me to that gibbering lump of insecurity that haunted my teen years.
So for the past few years, my closest contact with the bathroom scales has been making the sign of the cross as I walk past them, occasionally throwing some holy water in their direction and hissing like a scalded cat when someone suggested hopping on them.
It was either that or surrender and submit myself to a very 40-something rage against the machine.
I’m a big girl, always have been, and tall with it. Think Miranda, but less posh and with the kind of chunky thighs that make me look like a human representation of a bell-curve. But despite my bulk, I’ve always been healthy and active. My bulk has never stopped me doing a thing, except hold my head high and come back with a witty reposte worthy of Dorothy Parker when a pasty, spotty stick insect of a shop assistant looks me up and down with a look of thinly-veiled disgust before announcing loudly to the entire store that “We don’t have anything in YOUR size”.
But I recently decided that after years of accepting middle-aged frumpiness, it was high time to take myself in hand and DO something. To take control and refuse to go quietly into the menopause that’s lurking somewhere around the next corner, or at most a couple of blocks down from it.
I’ve changed my way of eating and I’ve hit the gym with a vengeance. I feel good. My clothes are a little looser, I have more energy and parts of me stop wobbling a little sooner after I’ve stopped jumping up and down in front of the mirror than they did a month ago. (You may ask why I jump and down in front of the mirror? Don't, it’s another story, for another day.)
And now I’ve succumbed to the propaganda of lost pounds and swallowed the story that I have to track what (if anything) is falling off me as a result of all my efforts. So today, I stripped down to my trusty M&S undies, took a deep breath and stepped on.
On the plus side, there was no scream of electronic agony, or a panic-stricken robotic voice telling me “One at a time, please!” but the number was much more than anyone would be prepared to admit to in public, private or even the safety of the cupboard under the stairs.
Of course, I knew it would be. But that didn't stop me wincing and feeling a wave of self-disgust and defeatism threaten to engulf me. I hopped off those scales quicker than a Chinese gymnast can dismount the asymmetric bars, I can tell you.
While the dreaded number is – and will remain – a closely guarded secret, at least now I have something to compare to when I bravely drag the dreaded confidence-buster out from its hiding place again next month.
But I will not, repeat NOT, be getting back on again a moment sooner!