For many years I was what the office staff back in Cape Town where I used to work and live used to call a fatty boom-boom. For many years it didn’t bother me much because my husband loved me just the way I was, big breasts, big, flabby bum and all. That’s all that really mattered to me then. I have what is called a thick skin, so what folks were saying behind my back, didn’t bother me at all. But as my girls started growing up and running away from me, and as my husband was forced to give up on me in the sack and roll over and go to sleep, being obese and hugely overweight started to bother me.

I couldn’t keep up with the girls during their athletic exploits out in the park or their excitable ‘mommy this, mommy that’ up and down the aisles at our nearby shopping centres. I was always gasping for breath. I couldn’t keep up with my husband in the one area of married life that is still being overlooked by many couples, even as late as today. I was intelligent to know that my sedentary lifestyle and lifelong love for cakes and other sweet treats were coming to an end.

I was wise enough to realise that there were underlying reasons why I depended on salty snacks, crème sodas, chocolates, donuts and cakes for so many years. I was in self-denial, all the years believing that I was in seventh heaven where my marriage was concerned and that the world only revolved around my husband and two girls. I visited a psychiatrist to get to the root of the problem. Psychological stress can be quite damning, even for the hardiest of women.

Deep down it seemed that while I was a model mom and a good wife, I was always struggling to live up to their expectations. I was always forcing myself very hard to please them all day long. Then there were the pressures of work. It took me only a few minutes to verify a few of the facts why women are more likely to overeat and go for sweetened foods to satisfy a craving for the falsely-termed comfort foods. I was also a hoarder of unnecessary things.

I used to buy DVDs and paperbacks which I ended up never watching or reading anyway. And I was always trying too hard to please others while forgetting to look after myself. I also found a string of incoherent suggestions along the sides of the World Wide Web when putting together this post. But one statement from a teaching hospital made a lot of sense.

These suggestions to kill desires for fatty and unhealthy foods and turn your life around also boil down to common sense, if only it were that simple. I speak from first-hand experience now too, of course. Wholesale meditation was suggested as one common cure. So, used to talking to myself anyway, I would say to Mel in the mirror every day, “Mel, you will never eat cake again.” Exercise is another. It’s hard going in the beginning, but once you start modestly, it can make a difference.

And the last suggestion was support from loved ones. Of which I have aplenty.