So very, very scared…

Hi.  This is quite a tough one to write, but I need to  get this one out.

At the moment, I’m petrified.  Really, really scared.

I’m loving this new lifestyle, and I’m loving where it could lead, but I’m terrified that I’m going to muck it all up and go back to full-on fat-bloke status.  I know that’s not the way that I’m supposed to be thinking, and I’m certainly not supposed to be discussing it openly, as that’s probably setting myself up for failure.  The trouble is, I have every past failure weighing me down, and that’s a really heavy burden to carry.  I’ve been here before.

It does feel different this time.  Truly.  But it’s felt different before as well.  To paraphrase a certain Mr Mercury, “It feels right for the first time, and this time I know it’s for reeeeeal”.  Or something like that.

The bottom line is that I’ve been eating sensibly for just over three weeks now.  Three weeks.  That’s it.  And I’ve eaten less than sensibly for most of the past 27 years or so.  That’s 1404 bad weeks, and three good ones.  That does put it into perspective, and makes it difficult to really mark down what I’ve achieved over the past three weeks as being anything other than a temporary blip.

Thoughts like that are ever-present.  I’m aware that they’re destructive, and potentially harmful.  I’m also aware that they’re realistic, and pretending otherwise doesn’t change that fact.  In reality, I’m changing the way that I eat for the long-term, and not for the short term, but I’m living in the short term, which is what makes it so difficult.  I don’t think I could ever put into words how much hope and fear I have in my heart when I step on the scales for my weekly weigh-in.  I know that my weight loss will slow down, and that at times I won’t even lose weight in any given week, even if I’m sticking with the program perfectly.  BUT I JUST DON’T WANT IT TO STOP YET!

Can I tell you something really sad?  Truly awfully pathetically sad?  I’ve been meaning to get my haircut for a couple of weeks, and hadn’t got round to it.  I got it cut on Saturday, and while there are probably quite a few other reasons for it, including wife-pressure (a very powerful force) and personal pride, the main reason that I got it cut on Saturday, was because I had a weigh in on Sunday morning, and I thought it might help.  God help me.  Lol.

I have to be OK with not losing weight for a week or more if I’m eating sensibly and healthily, and if I’m exercising.  I’m scared that I’ll reach that point next week, and if I don’t reach it this week, then I’ll be scared about it the week after.  It shouldn’t make a difference when it happens, as it won’t mean anything, but I’m scared that I’ll let it mean more than it should.

No conclusions – just thoughts.

The Shrinking Man

10lbs and counting…

And still counting down!

Third weigh in this morning and another 3lbs off.  That’s 10lbs in total, and to say I’m as pleased as punch would be an understatement.  Let me summarise where I am right now – I’m eating far, far healthier than I have done in years, and I’m loving it.  More fruit than I’ve ever eaten, and lots of salad and vegetables too.  I’m not starving myself at all – if at any point I feel hungry, then I’ll find something too eat – the key is it would probably be something healthy and filling rather than the sort of crap I would have eaten before.

I’m also exercising more than I have done in years, and I’m genuinely enjoying that too.  I’m not running marathons or anything, but I’m doing 40 minutes of strenuous exercise at the gym three times a week, and taking opportunities for walking and stair climbing wherever possible.  I stayed on the 11th floor of a hotel in Cardiff earlier this week.  At one point I was waiting for the lift with a small group of people, and we’d been waiting for quite a while.  There were general mumbles of discontent from the people around me, so I took the stairs.  I voluntarily chose to walk 11 flights of stairs.  Now we were going down, so I can’t claim any major physical achievements here, but mentally it was quite a shift for me.

I’m having strange experiences.  I’m getting hungry.  But in a good way.  When it comes to somewhere near to meal time, there’s a ‘getting empty’ feeling in my stomach that’s actually quite pleasant and makes the food taste better.  My stomach rumbles!  These probably aren’t that much of a revelation to the thin-bloke in the street, but they’re actually quite exciting to me.

I had an interesting experience yesterday.  Twice.

I like sausages!  There – I’ve said it.  I really do like sausages.  Ideally fresh, meaty and organic, but to be honest, I just love sausages.  Now sausages can be quite high in points, so a little care has to be taken – I’ve only had one type of sausage since I started this and they were 3 points a piece.  If I was to have four of those, then that’s more than a third of my daily points total in itself, so caution is needed.

Now on a trip to Morrisons the other day, I’d brought some special “eat-smart super low fat and fantastically healthy” sausages to make it slightly easier to fit them into my eating plan.  They had 1 point per sausage instead of the 3 mentioned above, which made them easy to fit into any meal.  And to be completely honest, it also meant I could eat loads of them if I wanted to.

To cut a long story short, they tasted of nothing, and the texture was horrible and just wrong.  I ate five of them.  Five sausages, each one probably quicker than the last, as I sought flavour, and lets face it, probably fat but all to no avail.

I had a similar experience late last night.  My wife and I both grabbed a pack of crisps on the way up to bed (wild aren’t we?)  She grabbed a pack of French Fries (1.5 points per pack), as she’d been out drinking, and sometimes you just have to grab a pack of French Fries when you’ve been out drinking.  I grabbed a pack of special Weight Watchers hula hoop type things (1 point per pack and especially made for, well especially made for fat blokes) because she was having crisps, and some habits are just difficult to break 😉 .

Similar scenario – the lower point stuff was tasteless and boring.  The texture was right, but the taste was all wrong.  My wife described it as eating crunchy air.

So there’s probably no big surprises there, even for me.  Modified versions of relatively unhealthy foods don’t taste as good when they take all the calories out.  What was different was my internal response to it.  With the sausages, I made a mental promise to myself that in the future I was only going to eat decent, tasty sausages, and that it would be nicer to eat a couple of those than a dozen of the tasteless crap things.  If I’m still hungry afterwards (which I probably wouldn’t be), then I’ll have some more veg or fruit to fill me up.  With the crisps, then if I’m going to eat them, I might as well enjoy them, so I’m going to buy shares in Walkers so I get some benefit from the experience 🙂

Keep on shrinking.

The Shrinking Man

D.I.S.C.O. – D.I.S.C.O.

Just a quick tale here about a bag of crisps.  I know that’s not quite up there with “I have a dream”, but it’s all I’ve got at the moment…

I was working away in Cardiff earlier this week, and stopped at a garage on the way down there to buy some lunch.  This wasn’t the brightest idea, and in reality I should have eaten before I left, where it would have been much easier to make sensible choices, but I’d listened to the voice that said I really had to leave right then.  The fact that the garage that I stopped at was only about twenty minutes from my home just shows how daft that idea was anyway.  You know what?  I think I need to give the voice in my head a name.  This is real spur of the moment stuff, but I think it would help to explain some of what goes in inside my head, and might also help to minimise its impact by externalising it.  Or something like that…

So what can it be called?  It needs to be a name that isn’t powerful in any way shape or form, but that makes some sort of sense.  Or perhaps it should just be something that makes me laugh.  Or something that’s just odd.  For some obscure reason I seem to have the name Sebastian in my head.  Is this the sign of some sort of breakdown?  Would a Doctor consider me to be slightly twisted if I start to refer to the narrative voice in my head as Sebastian?  Well I guess there’s only one way to find out…

So, Sebastian (That’s my inner voice for those of you who weren’t paying attention in the previous paragraph – I’m really not sure if this is going to work…) had told me that I should get my lunch at a garage rather than at home, so I did as I was bid.  I spent a while looking at the sandwiches, and chose a Tuna and Cucumber sandwich as being one that I expected to be both low in WW points, and also relatively pleasant.  I’d decided that I also wanted to buy a packet of crisps.  To be more specific, I’d decided that I also wanted to buy a packet of Salt and Vinegar Discos.  Now this might seem strange, and I’m not sure that I really understand this all that well at the moment, but I think that Sebastian had decided that I was going to have those Salt and Vinegar Discos.  I’ve bought those same crisps from that same garage on many occasions in the past, and while I don’t recall any conscious decision that I was going to do the same again, I have a feeling that Sebastian has more of an influence over me than I would care to admit.

Anyway, there’s nothing wrong with having a packet of crisps per se.  One of the cornerstones of the Weight Watchers program is that you can eat pretty much what you want, but you have to do it within a certain points limit.  That means that if you choose something that’s got a lot of points, then you’ll probably have to cut back on something somewhere else as a result.  Pretty sensible really.

The problem here was the way that I rationalised to myself that I was going to have that particular packet of Salt and Vinegar Discos.  It went something like this.  First of all, I knew that there were some sorts of crisps that were particularly low in points, and that were ideal for anyone on a Weight Watchers eating plan.  The ones that I had in mind were Walkers French Fries, which come in at about 1.5 WW points per packet.  That fits comfortably within my allocated points budget, which at the moment is 31 per day.  Now there is nothing to connect Walkers French Fries and Salt and Vinegar Discos in any way shape or form, except that they are both crisps that are very loosely connected to a potato.  Bearing in mind that most crisps are at least double the 1.5 points of French Fries, it’s certainly not sensible to conclude that the Salt and Vinegar Discos would also be low in points.  But I did.

Where this gets really odd is that the packet of Salt and Vinegar Discos was more than double the size of a standard bag of crisps.  More than double the size of the 1.5 point bag of French Fries that I was incorrectly comparing it to.   So there were two real errors of judgement screaming out at me to take notice of them – first of all, that there was nothing to suggest that my chosen crisps would be as low in points as another unconnected type of snack, and secondly, that the pack size was double the size of a standard pack.

To my credit, when I reached the hotel, I calculated the points properly and added them all to my daily planner.  The total amount for the bag of crisps?  Six points.  Four times the amount that I’d used in my head to convince myself (or should that be that Sebastian had used?) to eat them.  Now just to reiterate – there’s nothing wrong with eating a six point bag of crisps.  There’s just something of a problem when the thought process that you use to decide that you’re going to eat them is blatantly flawed.

Does this mean anything?  Not the faintest idea.  Will it help me in the future?  It might actually, as it’s going to make me just that little bit more aware of what I’m thinking, and why I might be thinking it.  And it certainly makes me very dubious of Sebastian.

More Shrinking Soon

The Shrinking Man

It’s all in the mind…

The mind games that go on in the confused and muddled head of the fat-bloke are fascinating.  It’s possible that thin-blokes have the same sort of things going on, but it’s so long since I was one of them that I really can’t comment with any accuracy.

One of the cornerstones of the Weight Watchers approach is to record what you eat, and calculate the ‘points’ value for each food item (the points value of a food is arrived at by some super-duper sciencey calculations based on the calorific content and the amount of saturated fat).  That shouldn’t be too tricky really, and Weight Watchers go out of their way to provide simple methods for you to work it all out – I’m following the online version, and all I have to do is type the food in and it will tell me the points.

Would that it were so simple…

There hasn’t been a day so far where I haven’t had to really fight myself to make sure that I record what I eat accurately.  That little voice in my head (the one that we all have in our heads that gives a running commentary on your life – and if you think you haven’t got one of those, then it’s the little voice in your head that just told you that you haven’t got one) says each and every day “you don’t need to write that down”.  If there’s a choice between what I could record something as, then the voice is there, urging me to “choose the lower one”, even if it’s plainly ridiculous.  The same voice is also continually urging me to drop the whole idea, and to “JUST EAT!”

It’s an extremely destructive thought process, and while it’s quite amusing when you write it down, it’s actually quite challenging to live with it all the time.  Now it’s distinctly possible that everyone has that sort of self-destructive dialogue going on internally, and that thin-blokes are just far better at ignoring it.  I guess it’s also possible that for some people, for whatever reason, their brains have become programmed over time to sabotage their attempts to change, and to make improvements.   I think it’s possible that this self-sabotage is actually the real problem behind persistent fat-bloke status.  I know from my own previous experiences that on occasions I would eat fairly large quantities of food that I neither wanted nor enjoyed, particularly when I was trying to lose weight and that’s just insane.

I don’t have any conclusions to make here – just thoughts and ramblings – more soon (sorry;-) )

The Shrinking Man.

7lbs and counting…

Just a quick update here – lots to do today.

Second weigh in – 3lbs lost.  That’s seven pounds in total, which is half a stone in two weeks.  I’m really pleased, and am feeling quite proud of myself, as I’ve really dedicated myself to my shrinking art this week.

I’m very aware that this rate of weight loss won’t continue, and it’s probably not healthy if it does.  After the first few weeks, Weight Watchers aim for people to lose just a pound or two a week, and I’m interested to see how different that feels when the progress is slower.  There will be weeks where I’ll stay the same weight I’m sure, and also weeks where I’ll struggle with the whole thing and maybe even put on weight.  That’s where the challenges lie, so I’m mentally preparing myself for those now, while I’m feeling pretty good.

It’s quite difficult to stay motivated, even when you’re losing weight, as the sheer scale of the task can sometimes make it seem that 3lbs just isn’t much at all really.  It’s all relative I suppose – 3lbs to someone at 18st (17st 11 now 😉 ) is not as significant in the wider scheme of things as it would be to an 11st person.  Perhaps it is though.  I don’t know.  All I can say is that today, I’m feeling proud, and that I’ve achieved something significant, and that I’m now well on my way to my first target which is 17st 5lbs.  I’d like to think that I can hit that target within a month or so, and that would mean that I’ll have lost 5% of my starting weight.

The shrinking continues…

Where it gets tricky…

Let me tell you something about this whole losing weight thing.  It’s always, always easy to lose weight.  It’s difficult to keep losing weight for any significant period of time, and it’s harder still to keep that weight off.  For a fat bloke anyway.  If you scratch the surface of a fat bloke (which to be honest, probably isn’t a good idea – it can take ages to get that stuff out from under your fingernails) you’ll be scratching a serial dieter of some sort.

In the past I’ve lost weight on the Atkins diet (about 4.5 stone I think), I’ve lost weight on Weight Watchers (about 2.5 stone I think), I’ve lost weight on Paul McKenna’s method (1.5 stone or thereabouts) and I’ve even lost weight by just eating sensibly (countless stone over the years).  There is of course a recurring pattern in this, in that I’ve always put the weight back on afterwards.  On the face of it, that’s probably a good thing, otherwise I’d now be dangerously thin, but I’m really just clutching at straws here ;-).  So what’s the problem?  Why does the weight always go back on?  I know it’s obvious, but sometimes it helps to spell it out – the weight goes back on because I always go back to eating in pretty much the same way that earned me fat bloke status in the first place.

Part of the problem with this is that if it’s all so damn obvious (and most of it is really, really obvious) why do we still do it?  Why do we still continue to shovel food into our mouths knowing that our weight, our self-loathing and our shame grows with every forkful?  I think that’s where it probably begins to get a little complicated.  I guess it’s possible that all fat blokes are actually just really stupid and a bit slow on the update, but I don’t think so.  None of us like being the way that we are, yet we’ve all failed to do anything about it. 

It’s very disheartening to KNOW before you walk into a room, that you’re going to be the biggest person in there.  Now I know I’m not the fattest bloke on the planet, and that there are lots of people larger than me, but the odds simply aren’t on my side.  In most scenarios, I’ll be the biggest guy there.  That’s quite an important aspect of this, as everyone who’s ever tried to lose weight thinks that they understand what this is like.  Well let me tell you loud and clear, that YOU DON’T!  Honestly. I know you’re a nice person, and that you mean well, and you’re trying to show empathy, but the fact that you might be a couple of pounds, or even a couple of stone overweight does not mean that you understand what it’s like to be at the more extreme end of the weight scale.  The difference between you not being the weight that you’d like to be, and me not being even close to the weight that you’re so unhappy with, is the equivalent to someone saying they understand what it’s like to be an alcoholic, because they once sipped a gin and tonic.  They might be related topics, but the fact that you can say it, shows that you have no understanding of the scale of the problem.

Rant over.  For now.

The Shrinking Man.

If you can notice this notice…

I started this journey on Monday 7th June at about 6pm.  I could (or perhaps even should) have waited and started the weight watchers thing the next day, but I’m an impulsive kind of guy, so I decided to just dive straight in.  One of the cornerstones of the Weight Watchers system is to record the Weight Watchers Points values for everything that you eat, and I decided to record everything that I’d eaten that day so far, even though I didn’t start till 6pm that day.

What I expected to be a fairly straightforward exercise turned out to be both challenging and interesting.  I drew up a list of what I’d eaten that day fairly easily, but found myself repeatedly remembering things that I’d left off the list over the next few hours.  I was genuinely surprised at how much I’d eaten, and particularly at how quickly I’d managed to erase a lot of it from my memory.  It might sound daft that a fat bloke is surprised to find out that he eats a lot, but it really was quite a shock. 

Delusion can set up home in the mind of the fat bloke.  In the past I’ve managed to convince myself that I wasn’t really fat because I ate too much, but rather it was because of my genes, my glands, or just some other external reason that wasn’t anything to do with me.  I knew that at times I ate a lot, but it wasn’t all that often.  I knew that most of the time, I probably ate more than a ‘normal’ person, but not all that much more.  That couldn’t be enough to explain the huge difference between my weight and that of the non-fat-bloke population.  It might sound incredible, but it was only very recently (and I’m talking about the last few months here) that I realised, in a blinding moment of revelation, that calories are cumulative.  Even if I ate just 10 calories a day more than a thin bloke, that would add up, so that at the end of the first week, I’d have eaten 70 more calories.  At the end of the month, I’d have eaten 300 or so more calories, and at the end of the year, that would be more than three and a half thousand.  And that’s just with 10 calories.

If  you’re a thin bloke, then I’d guess this probably isn’t news to you, but I’d be fairly certain that there’s a fairly large number of fat blokes out there who have never grasped that simple truth.  It’s a little strange, because I like to think that I’m a fairly intelligent guy, but the blinding truth behind that revelation really never hit me until recently.  Anyway, that revelation, when combined with how unaware I was of what I was eating, really made me think.

From that day on, I’ve been accurately recording everything that I eat or drink, which I believe has had a strong impact on how much and what I’ve eaten.  I’m actually enjoying doing it at the moment, and as a result I’m making educated food choices. 

Anyway, that’s all for now.

The Shrinking Man

Farewell Big Fella…

First of all, let me state for the record that I’m a fat bloke. Chubby, cuddly, large, wobbly, big-bloke, biggun, big-fella. All descriptions that have been used about me, either to my face or behind my back, presumably when people thought that the sound of my crisp packet rustling would render my hearing useless.  There comes a point when it gets difficult to hide just how much that sort of comment hurts. You put on a brave face and smile sweetly. Maybe even make a joke about it and be the stereotypical cheery fat bloke, but inside, a little piece of you dies every time.  Because it’s true.

Part of the issue is that your size begins to define you. Perhaps it has for years, but I’ve only recently become aware of it. Realising that to anyone who doesn’t know you, you’re “that fat bloke”, and that even when your friends describe you, they probably wouldn’t talk about ‘you’. Just your size.  Just “the big fella.”   When you add that to the shame, the embarrassment and the feeling of abject failure that comes with being a fat bloke that’s just getting fatter, you end up with a recipe for feeling pretty damn terrible about yourself.  Which is pretty ironic considering that that creates pretty much the perfect state of mind to ensure that you stay that way forever.  Life’s sweet sometimes 😉

In the last 10 years or so, my weight has varied between 13st 10lbs and 19st.  If you don’t speak imperial, then that’s between quite a bit and loads.  I’ve spent most of the time in the upper regions of that, and on Monday 7th June 2010, when I became The Shrinking Man, I was tipping the scales at 18st 4lbs.  Not the heaviest I’ve ever been, but close enough for it to not make too much difference.

So what prompted me to become The Shrinking Man?  Strangely enough, I’m not actually sure.  I was chatting to a friend on facebook who mentioned that she’d just started Weight Watchers, and something just clicked with me, and within minutes I’d signed up myself.  I’m not doing the classes or anything like that, but I signed up for Weight Watchers online, which provides a method of keeping a tally of what you’re eating and tracking your progress on the web.  Anyway, I needed to choose a name for their forums, and The Shrinking Man seemed to be kind of appropriate.

I’m writing this some 11 days after the process began, but what I’m going to try to do on this blog is to be frank and honest about what has happened so far, and what happens in the future, good or bad.  I know that I’m supposed to scream from the rooftops “I AM THE SHRINKING MAN, AND I WILL SHRINK!” but I’ve been there and done that many times before, and I’ve always been wrong.  That’s not good for the ego, so for now, all I’m saying is this – I’ve set an initial target of 17 st 5lbs, as that will mean that I’ve lost 5% of my starting weight.  We’ll see what happens on the way, and decide what happens next when we get there.

Quite why I’m writing a blog about this, I’m not sure either.  I think it might help me, so it’s quite a selfish thing, but it might also be helpful to others going through a similar struggle.  On the other hand, it could come to serve only as a public reminder of yet another dismal failure, and you can read on in horror as The Shrinking Man becomes bigger still.  I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…

Yours etc

The Shrinking Man.