In my first year of college, I gained what is commonly known as the Freshman 15.
Except in my case, it was more like the Freshman 475.
Having been kept on a rather healthy, regimented diet by my mother over the years, when I moved away from home I went slightly AWOL.
‘What is FUN about a fun-sized mars bar? I’ll tell you what will be fun… WHEN YOU WATCH ME EAT SIX!’
‘Awww don’t you just LOVE potato smiley’s? That cheeky, impish grin gets me everytime! DON’T WORRY LADS, I’M COMING FOR YOU!!!’
‘Oh dear, I appear to have put my knickers on backwards… Oh no wait, it’s just that my arse has grown. OH WELL, IT MUST BE GODS WILL! Let me celebrate the nature of the Lord by cracking open this pound of brie!’
Things reached a head when I came home for the summer and one of my best friends Andrew tentatively asked if I was ‘still eating fruit’.
‘Still eating fruit? STILL EATING FRUIT?!! I may be carrying a bit of extra timber Andrew but of course I’m STILL EATING FRUIT. Only last week I had a Terry’s chocolate orange! JESUS!!!’
‘That’s not quite what I-‘
‘I’M JUST CARRYING A BIT OF CHRISTMAS CHEER!!!’
‘Gabby, it’s July’.
So I took myself in hand. Having always been a ‘go hard or go home’ sort of girl, I signed myself up for 5 days at Army Camp. Which was basically intensive Fat Camp in disguise.
KILL ME NOW.
I cannot move my arms. Or face. I don’t even know if I own legs anymore.
You know how in the novel 1984 Winston is taken to Room 101 to face his ultimate fear of rats? I THINK MINE RIGHT NOW WOULD BE AN EXERCISE BIKE.
We started off in a team of 15 women but three have left already so we are down to the final 12. I am also the youngest by about 20 years.
On the plus side, the staff are all ex-Army men and are smoking hot. At least I think they are. Frankly, it’s a choice between them and a border collie named Albert so the selection is a little limited.
The exercise is horrific.
We got up at 5am (I have never seen this hour sober before) for an hours run, followed by an hours boxing, an hours circuit training and an hours life coaching.
I CANNOT take the life coaching seriously. It’s run by this bat-shit crazy woman called Mary- Lou, who looks a cross between Pat Butcher and a boiled egg.
I spent a ridiculous half an hour with her intensely probing me, DESPERATE to find out some shred of dark, juicy information.
‘So Gabrielle.. WHY do you think that you’re here? Do you think it’s possibly some DEEPLY ROOTED, DARK CHILDHOOD TRAUMA that makes it difficult for you to accept your body the way it is?’
‘Err no Mary- Lou, I think that I’ve just eaten too many pies’.
‘Ahh! Do you think these PIES you speak of could symbolise the PIE OF TURMOIL COOKING IN THE OVEN OF YOUR SOUL, FILLED WITH THE SECRET AGONY OVER THE LIFE THAT YOU ARE NOT FULFILLING?’
In the end, I got so racked off with the whole thing that I blurted out ‘Well frankly, I’m a little constipated right now, Mary-Lou’.
She leapt on this like a fly to shit (sorry).
‘CONSTIPATION!!!!!!!! Oh Gabrielle, I’m so glad that you have finally shared this. This ‘feaces’ that you are holding inside you is your bodies way of clinging on to past regrets and pain! Let it go! Let it go! Let the universe claim back what is rightfully theirs!!’
In the end I asked her to give me a bloody Senakot and leave me alone.
The day ended with 2 hours of ‘team games’, an hour of Zumba and an hours hike.
At the end of the hike a mini-bus came to collect us.
‘OH THANK JESUS!’ I cried, plonking myself in and doing up my seatbelt.
The army men absolutely fell about laughing.
‘No, no love… You’re PUSHING the bus home!’
They were not joking.
Went for a 5am run and promptly threw up in a bush.
The army men appear to find my pain hilarious and refused my request to carry me home (in hindsight, they were probably scared that they would put their backs out).
Staff Langley (our team leader) has also changed my name from Gabby to Gobby, which I think is distinctly out of order.
Then followed a monstrous blur of boxing, circuit training (which is seriously getting on my tits now), an ab class, an hours stretching and another 1.5 hours ‘team games’, which involved crawling through the mud with a pretend rifle. I have worryingly taken quite a shine to the rifle training. Probably because I’m fantasying about shooting myself with it. Or Mary-Lou.
The meals are quite nice but TEENY TINY ANOREXIC HAMSTER PORTIONS.
Which is made even more fun by the fact that we have to eat our food face down on the plate, as everyone’s arms are too stiff to move their hands up to their mouths.
Can you build up muscle in your fingers?! Because my fingers have most definitely inflated over night. To the point where they are starting to resemble giant clown hands.
It is absolutely sheeting down with rain here. BUT THAT’S FINE BECAUSE THE MORNING STARTED WITH 3 HOURS OF OUTDOOR ‘FUN AND GAMES’!!! WHOOPIE! This involved throwing 10 pound sandbags and chasing after them. Oh, what larks.
There was a distinct air of depression in the room at lunch, so the staff decided to cheer us up with the reward of a ‘dessert’. This caused great excitement. What would it be? Eton Mess? A nice bowl of sticky toffee pudding, perhaps?
Oh silly me! A quarter of an apple and a singular acorn. I kid you not.
The weather brightened up a bit after lunch, so we were taken out on a joyful 23 mile cycle ride.
Staff Langley told us that we would need padded cycling shorts and if we didn’t have them then we would need to line the crotch of our leggings with a flannel or small towel.
This caused great hysteria (we have basically all gone mad with lack of food). One woman came downstairs with a gigantic beach towel stuffed into her trousers and cried ‘SADDLE ME UP LANGLEY, I’M READY FOR A LONG RIDE!!’
The bike ride was actually a hoot. We are talking twelve delirious woman pumping up a hill with our padded crotches, florescent bibs and special ’emergency bells’. I’m sure I heard someone ask if we were out on day release.
Tempers ran high half way through, with one of our team jumping off and shouting ‘I’M GOING TO CHUCK THIS BIKE AT A FUCKING WALL!!!’
One of the army men, Staff Shenton, appears to have taken a bit of a shine to me. To the point where he insisted on cycling behind me the whole way and valiantly pushing me up the hills. I would normally be flattered but frankly I’m too exhausted to flirt and starting to get a bit racked off with him.
THEN, when we stopped for a break he went off and PICKED ME A DAISY!!! Everybody thought it was incredibly sweet. I was nearly sick in my mouth.
Oh god. Something rather disturbing happened last night. It was 10pm and we were all walking to our beds ready for the hell to restart at 5am.
I say walking- what I really mean is WADDLING. I have basically become so stiff that the only way I can physically move is to walk in a ‘squatted’ position, like I’m riding a small invisible pig.
Suddenly, Staff Shenton popped out from around the wall and pulled me aside.
‘There’s a pub down the road’ he said in a furtive whisper, his mad piggy eyes darting back and forth. ‘They do an offer… two pints and a pie for ten pounds. Meet me there in half an hour’.
For a second I was too stunned to speak.
‘Sorry’ I spluttered ‘SORRY STAFF LANGLEY? You think you can tempt me out of fat camp…WITH A PIE?!!! Christ! It’s like some sordid Enid Blyton novel! What were you going to do next? Carve out a love letter for me in mashed potato? Lower me out my bedroom window tonight by a string of Cumberland sausages? Leave me a trail of chocolate bon bons leading to YOUR COCK?!!’
The end. IT’S THE BEAUTIFUL END.
After the final morning of torture, we lined up one by one to be weighed and measured like prized pigs.
Having not had any mirrors at the camp, it was rather hard to estimate just how much weight we had lost. But judging by my level of fatigue and starvation I was imagining a hell of a bloody lot.
First woman came out- 8 pounds in 5 days. Not bad, not bad.
Second woman- 10 POUNDS IN 5 DAYS. This was getting rather exciting.
By now, I was starting to envisage having to buy a whole new wardrobe for myself. Golly, maybe even I was TOO thin?! Could people actually see me if I stood sideways? Perhaps I will have to go to another fat camp.. To get FATTER!
Smiling dazedly, I skipped into the room and onto the scales.
‘Congratulations’ smiled Staff Langley ‘You’ve lost a pound!’
I’m not sure quite sure what expression I was pulling at this point but I can only imagine it was rather terrifying.
‘I know it doesn’t sound a lot’ he reassured me, looking slightly nervous ‘But the great thing is you are young so will have built up loads of muscle!’
I finally managed to form words.
‘P..p…a pound?’ I stuttered ‘A pound?!!! I COULD SHIT A POUND, LOVE!
‘But Gobby, the muscles-‘
‘I don’t want the muscles!!!! Take them back!! I wanted to come out of here looking waif-like and gaunt! NOT RIPPED LIKE FLAMING POPEYE!!!!!!!!’
Needless to say, I have never been back.
P.S WELCOME to the rush of new followers, very excited to have you in my clutches!