Two Stone, Twenty Eight Pounds and Ten Percent!

The running total this morning stands at twenty eight pounds!  That’s two whole stone!  That’s 14.6 kilos in new money!  That’s a grand total of just over 10% of my starting weight that has simply gone.  It is no more.  It has ceased to be.  It is ex-weight! (I’m aware that this probably wasn’t what John Cleese had in mind when he wrote the parrot sketch, but I’m in a good mood, so he’ll just have to put up with it 😉 ).

I’ve had an interesting week too – I’ve been staying in the beautiful city of York for a conference, so have had my food provided by other people for four days out of the seven.  That means that as well as there being a lot of bad choices available for me to make, I’ve also had considerably less control and information about what was in the food that I chose and how it was cooked.

I’ve also been away from the pool for a whole week due to the rather small (but lovely) guest house I stayed in refusing my request to get one built before I arrived, but I’ve gone some way towards making up for that by walking everywhere.

Each morning I’ve had the lovely owner of the guest house offering me delights that I’ve not experienced these past 12 weeks, and each morning I’ve been surrounded by large gentlemen sampling such delights.  Before you get the wrong idea and start booking up at the guest house expecting a rather different kind of room-service, I should point out that I’m talking about traditional English fry-up breakfasts.  It’s safe to say that a few months back I’d have taken advantage of her offer each and every day, but that was the old me.  That was the one that would have come back from York having gained weight and not lost it!  I also know that in previous shrinking attempts, I would have resented myself for not having the huge breakfast, and it would probably have dominated my thoughts throughout the day until I gave in and had one.  Sad, but true.

The great thing this time was that there wasn’t a moment where I actually wanted one.  I ate fruit and yoghurt every morning, and on a couple of occasions supplemented that with a delightful bacon sandwich.  Without butter.  That I carefully pointed and added in to my daily schedule to make sure that I didn’t go over my points.  What that means is that:

  1. I chose to add something I wanted for breakfast in the morning that was a little heavier on points than usual
  2. I then modified my food choices throughout the rest of the day to ensure that I didn’t eat too much for the day.

That’s proper grown up and sensible that is! 🙂

The lunch offerings were many and varied.  There were a few relatively healthy offerings surrounded by many relatively unhealthy offerings, in front of which a large queue of people waited their turn.  There was also a salad bar with no queue whatsoever.   I wasn’t going to mention the queue, as that will make it sound as if my choice was made for reasons other than genuine desire, but it was there and I don’t want to lie to you.  I wanted the salad bar.  No ifs or buts.  Each day I had a thorough look at all of the things on offer and chose a few slices of cold meats and salad.  Fruit for pudding too.  Instead of cheesecake.  I feel very strange at times…

The one thing I’ve got to be very aware of is that as the week went on I started to be less fastidious about how I was pointing my food.  I was trying to convince myself to leave things off, and if there were choices between two types of the food that I’d eaten, I was choosing the lower pointed one every time.  Kind of choosing the point values to fit what I had left rather than choosing those that accurately represented what I’d eaten.  Crazy, but very, very easy to slip in to that mindset.  I didn’t even notice that I was doing it for a couple of days.

Unchecked, I can see where that one ends up – you eat more points than you’re recording, you either stay the same or put on a pound or two for a few weeks, and your motivation starts to slide.  Dangerous, and yet another reminder of how easy it would be to slip back towards old eating habits.

Anyway, I’m chuffed to bits with this at the moment.  I’m setting a new target which will be to lose 15% of my starting weight, which will take me from the 16st 4lb man that I am today to the 15st 8lb man that I want to be next.  From here, the arrival of 15st something man does not seem to far away, and bearing in mind that 12 weeks ago I was 18st 4lb, that feels like quite an achievement.

May the shrinking continue!

The Shrinking Man

Give me an S! Give me a T! Give me an S!

STS!

To the uninitiated amongst you, that’s three letters that I’ve not had to deal with on this journey so far.

Stayed

The

Same

I’m actually quite pleased with this (or perhaps I’m managing to allow my more positive/delusional side the ability to take control and make it seem like this was what I’d planned all along) as it’s been a difficult week.

First of all, I’ve had some problems with my back which have restricted what I was able to do exercise-wise.  I’d normally expect to get to the pool at least three and hopefully four or five times each week, but this week I only managed one full 40 minute swim and one small testing-the-water (well testing the back really, but you get the picture) 25 minute swim.

Secondly, following the substantial losses of the past couple of weeks, I think I always knew it would be surprising to lose again this week, whatever I did.

Thirdly, I’ve been deliberately trying to slow down the speed at which I’m losing weight, so have been trying to eat more throughout the day so that I’m eating all of my points without having to grab a feast of biscuits late at night.  That’s been relatively successful, although the removal of the cushion that I’m used to having did lead me to going one or two points over my allowance on a daily basis, which was a bit disconcerting.

Fourthly, I had a bit of a blow-out last night on a home-made Chinese meal.  A blow-out on weigh-in eve was never the best of ideas, and I still feel bloated and heavy this morning, which suggests that without that, I might actually be showing a small loss this week.

So, I’m still sitting at 1lb off of my 10% weight-loss target, which is a shame as I’d like to hit that and move on to the 15% one.  Mentally I think I already have.  Having said that, I’ve tried to make some changes this week, and had to cut down on exercise, so I’m not really disappointed at all.

One thing that has been a bit of a shock to me is how appallingly rubbish my memory is.  One of the great feelings about losing weight is knowing that you’re now lighter than you’ve been in XX years.  Often the XX is actually translated as ‘many’, but I think I’ve usually got a fairly good idea of roughly how many ‘many’ really is.  It turns out that I could well be very wrong.

A couple of days ago I was reading through some back issues of a newsletter I used to write about work.  It was a light-hearted kind of thing where I discussed a lot about what happened in my personal and professional lives, and I was rather shocked to see that I’d written about weight-loss in a series of newsletters written about 3 years ago.  I was even more shocked to see that I’d written about having lost 2.5 stone since starting that particular weight-loss attempt.

There are actually a lot of positives that come out of that discovery, but what it means is that while I’m sitting here thinking that I haven’t been this light in seven years or so, it turns out that I’ve actually been this light just three years ago.  That’s quite a shock to the system to be honest.

In the wider scheme of things it doesn’t really matter.  I know that I was losing weight at that time on the Atkins diet, and therefore I know that it would never stay off, as I could never eat like that all the time.  How I’m eating now is healthy and I’m developing a way of eating that is totally sustainable and enjoyable.  This feels like real, permanent weight loss, whereas that was temporary, cheating weight loss.

It’s been a difficult week psychologically to be honest.  For some reason, things that I’ve found motivational in the past have felt depressing this week.  The Weight Watchers forums are technically very poor, but there are some great people on there who share their stories to help others.  There are people on there who’ve started from around where I started, and who are reaching the sort of weights that I dream of.  In the past, they’ve always been a bit of an inspiration, as they’ve shown me that it’s really possible, and that it really does happen.  For some reason, this week, they’ve just served to highlight just how far I still have to go, and that’s felt quite hard at times.

I think I’m just struggling to deal with the fact that this is a lifestyle change rather than some temporary distraction from the real world.  It’s all felt quite entertaining and new so far, and I think this week I came up against the potential dullness of the whole thing.  I think, to be honest, I’m a bit bored.

The fact that I’m recognising it and not giving in to it is a positive thing.  With everything above, plus the Midget Gem Horizon mentioned previously, I think I can safely say that in previous weight-loss attempts, I would have thrown in the towel at some point during a week like this, and I haven’t.  I haven’t even come close.  Even when I’m slipping back into something closer to my old eating patterns, I’m doing it in a controlled fashion, making a note of what I’m eating and getting back on with things properly straight away.

I had one moment earlier in the week where I just had to eat.  I knew I wasn’t hungry, but I also knew that I just had to eat.  It’s been at least a month since I had a feeling like that, and it took me by surprise a little.  I went to the cupboard.  I grabbed a whole pack of biscuits.  I went back to the sofa, opened the biscuits and tucked in.

Now I guess this could have gone a number of ways – if I’d grabbed some of my wife’s chocolate digestives, I could have ended up feeling a lot worse than I did (particularly when she came home – she’s very protective about her food).  What I actually grabbed was a pack of Weight Watchers caramel mallow wafers.  They’re huge, they’re crap and they’re relatively tasteless.  Like eating cardboard that someone has left in the same room as a grain or two of artificial sweetener (this advert has not been paid for by WW in any way 😉 ).  Anyway, I managed four of them before I just couldn’t eat any more.  Four.  Four crap biscuits.  Less points than a Mars bar in all four.

I’m changing.  I’m still having to fight myself at times, but I’m changing.

The Shrinking Man

Give me a B! Give me an M! Give me an I!

BMI

Three letters that are guaranteed to strike a mixture of fear, confusion and amusement into the heart of any fat bloke.

For the uninitiated amongst you, these letters mean very different things depending on who it is that’s using them.  In the hands of the medical profession, these letters are used to determine whether fat blokes are simply overweight or whether they’re obese.  Or seriously obese.  Or dramatically, uproariously obese!  In the hands of a fat bloke however, these letters have a multitude of uses.  They get used by every fat bloke to:

  • Beat themselves up
  • Make themselves feel truly wretched
  • Generally make it clear that any idea of them one day not being overweight is so distant and unreachable that it can officially be regarded as “something that could only ever happen to someone else”

Anyway, I just wanted to highlight the progress that I’ve made so far in the BMI stakes.  I started at a BMI of 35.7, which is officially classed on the motivational BMI scale as being “as good as dead”.  So far, the 25lb that I’ve lost has dropped my BMI to 32.2, which is officially classed as being “might just make it”.  Which is actually quite pleasing 🙂

There are a couple of BMI related milestones that I’m adding in to my goals.  I’m currently 231lb, and when I get down to 214lb, I will officially be overweight!  Rather than obese!  I will have to celebrate this in some wonderfully apt and interesting way when the time comes, even though right now it still seems a long way away.  The other major BMI milestone for me is 178lb, which is the point at which I will officially no longer be overweight.  Or obese.

Both of these will be quite wonderful when they come about.

The Shrinking Man

Interesting Times

Hi

I have a really interesting dilemma going on.

A few days ago I was standing in our local Tesco Express (I’m not proud if it, but it happened…) when I caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of my eye.  It was as if I’d seen a sudden movement or a flash of light from the grassy knoll in the distance.  Something had grabbed my attention, but I wasn’t even sure what it was.  I stopped and focused in the general area for a few minutes and eventually my gaze settled on the culprit.  There, in a small section of a very non-descript shelf, in a relatively dark corner of the shop, there sat what I believe could turn out to be the biggest challenge that I’ve faced since I began this journey.

Tesco Value Midget Gems.

Now I’ll be completely honest with you here – I’m not certain that I’ve ever eaten Tesco Value Midget Gems before, but they represent something enormous in my food history, and that’s JELLY SWEETS.  I have no idea why JELLY SWEETS have such a hold on me, but they’ve been a favourite for as long as I can remember.

I have a very strong memory of sitting on the school playing field on a summer’s day at the age of about 11.  A friend was going to the post office to get some sweets and asked if I wanted some.  I wanted some wine gums.  Oh yes!  I loved wine gums.  I asked for half a pound of wine gums, which for me was unheard of at the time – I don’t think I’d ever bought more than a quarter pound of sweets at one time before.  My recollection of parts of that lunchtime are quite incredible.  This was over 30 years ago, and my memory is often appalling, but I can remember so much of that lunchtime that it really fascinates me.  They cost 37p per quarter pound.  74p for the half pound.  They came in a brown paper bag.  I can see and feel the bag now.  The first sweet I had was a black wine gum.  With claret written on it.  An oblong one with crinkly edges.  Not crinkly – they’re smoother than that.  In my head they’re wobbly, but that’s not the right term either.  I can taste that sweet now.  I can remember the feel of the cool breeze on my neck.  The second sweet was an orange one.  Diamond shaped.  Port.

I have no recollection whatsoever of who went to the post office to buy the sweets.  I have no idea who was sitting with us, although I know there were two other people.  I have no idea why I had 74p on me at the time – that would have been quite surprising, as it was quite a lot of cash at the time.  It may have been my birthday.  What I remember is the sweets.  Am I very odd?

Standing in Tescos, I wanted those sweets.  Oddly enough, it was really simple to just say to myself “no you don’t” and leave the shop.  But they left an imprint.

It’s something like four days since the Midget Gem encounter, and they’ve been sitting in the back of my mind ever since.  Taunting me.  A selection of midget gem related thoughts from the last few days:

  • “If you want them that badly, just have them – what harm can they do?”
  • “You must be strong, and never eat that sort of thing again – you know how that movie ends”
  • “If you want them that badly, it must be because there’s something in them that your body needs.  Listen to your body and eat them now!” (I love this one – I’m apparently very tempted by stupid logic 😉 )
  • “Work out the points and eat them in moderation.  Don’t give them the power over you”
  • “Moderation?  You KNOW you can’t do moderation!”

I’m not sure that I’d ever drawn all the strands of this together before, but I can see very clearly now that in a number of weight-loss attempts in the past, they have fallen down at this point.  Not some general, wishy-washy point about temptation, but at this very specific point that from this point forward I shall call THE MIDGET GEM HORIZON!  I’ve gone through exactly this thought process before, and the end result has always been that I eat the JELLY SWEETS and my diet ends.  I know there’s no sense in the diet ending once the JELLY SWEETS have been eaten, but it does.

So what do I do?

I think there’s actually some strong logic in each of the points above (except the “something that your body needs” one of course, although I love the idea that my body might be desperately trying to tell me that it’s short of carnauba wax) and I really have no idea how to approach this.  The safest way to deal with this would seem to be to abstain.  But that feels like I’m challenging the very basis of the WW method, where there are no forbidden foods as long as they’re within your points allowance.  Could that undermine what I’ve achieved so far in the long run?  Or am I just thinking that because deep down I just want to eat them?  Do I want to live my life in fear of small lumps of sugar and gelatine?  Is this just the part of me that wants/expects me to fail trying to take the reins for a while?

Bottom line?

I don’t trust my mind on this, and I have no idea whether I’m trying to sabotage myself or not.

That’s weird.

The Shrinking Man

Ten Weeks In

Hi.

It’s been ten weeks since I started on this journey, but it feels like a lifetime.  Ten weeks that I’ve been working out points values of foods, paying attention to my stomach and what it’s telling me, planning what I eat, and basically enjoying what I’m eating more than ever before.

It should be wrong to feel as good as I do right now 🙂

I’ve just stepped off of the scales following the weigh in for week 10, and I am pleased to announce the arrival of Mr Sixteen and a Half Stone man.  It’s a very, very long time since he was with us, and I’m rather pleased to say hi to him, albeit hopefully fleetingly.  I’ve had a second consecutive week of significant weight loss, having lost a further 5lb, which adds up to 10lb in just two weeks.

Now seasoned weight loss attempters (or as I like to call them fat blokes) will have alarm bells ringing right now, because by all accounts, outside of the first couple of weeks of any change in eating habits, that’s just too fast, and probably not healthy.  There are a number of medical reasons why losing weight quicker than a pound or two each week can be bad for you – it can lead to anemia, heart problems and other such nasty things, but I also think there are a number of psychological reasons why it’s something to be very cautious of.

I think that the psychological challenge raised by losing weight too quickly is how you deal with it when it slows or stops.  At some point you either have to slow the loss down yourself, or your body’s defences will kick in and slow it for you.  Either way, weight loss can’t continue at that sort of pace for long – IT WILL SLOW DOWN OR STOP.  When it does, you have to be able to accept that staying the same weight, or even gaining a pound or two every now and again is just part of the process.  When you’re used to losing a pound or two a week, then it’s easier to accept a slow down than if you’re used to losing five pounds a week.

I think perhaps the easiest trap to fall into is to begin to believe that losing a pound in a week isn’t a great result, when in reality it’s brilliant.  I won’t deny that losing big chunks of weight in one go feels great (although doing it two weeks in a row feels less satisfactory, for the reasons we’re discussing here) but losing a pound a week means that you’d shift half a stone every couple of months.  It means that you’d shift three stone in a year.  That is undoubtedly a good thing and that perspective has to be kept.  It’s important.

It’s been a strange week as far as my eating has been concerned.  I’ve really, really struggled to eat all of my points each day.  I’ve worked hard at it though, and have on a number of occasions been eating a pile of snacks late in the evening just to make up the points.  Let’s face it, that’s weird.  I think what’s happened is that I’ve started to get used to eating more healthily, and that at times I’m overdoing it.  I’m also still trying to save a few points each day so that I can afford to have a bit of a blow-out at some point, but I’m not having the blow-outs.

There is one key point that it’s worth making here that might help to really highlight the progress that I’m making.  First of all, when I talk about eating a pile of snacks in the evening, what I mean by that has probably changed a little over the past ten weeks.  Before I started this, a pile of snacks in the evening might have meant a large packet of hand-cooked crisps, perhaps a few biscuits, a packet of cheddar biscuits and maybe some ice cream.  Now when I talk about a pile of snacks, I’m referring to perhaps a small pack of baked crisps, a low-fat breakfast bar and a couple of weight watchers biscuits.  Lol.  I’m broken.

Anyway, I need to make a few changes, and need to accept that it might take me a while to get this right, which means that I have to be prepared to put on a pound or two while I get it sorted.

I think the first thing that I’ll do is stop trying to save points each day in case of a blow-out.  I’m earning exercise points three or four times a week, and they’re more than enough to cover any blow out that I might put myself through.  That means that I’m going to end up with my (albeit feeble) pile of snacks in the evening on most days, unless I can make a few changes to spread some more points around during the day.

I’ve noticed that I’m often really, really hungry come lunchtime, so I’m going to increase what I eat for breakfast a little bit.  Usually I tend to have a couple of bits of fruit and a yoghurt, which feels fine at the time, but doesn’t seem to do the job for long enough.  I suppose I could factor in a snack or something mid-morning, but that sounds like a bit too much to remember.  Anyway, I might grab a couple of bits of toast with marmite in the mornings as well.

I’m also sometimes really hungry at dinner time, so might increase what I eat at lunchtime too, but will play that by ear a little bit.

Let me tell you about a very strange pizza related experience that I had this week.  It was my good lady wife’s birthday this week, and at her request we got a Domino’s pizza delivered.  Pizza has always been a favourite of mine, and Domino’s are a particular favourite, but they’re so full of points that so far I’ve avoided them altogether.  I was determined to enjoy it, but to enjoy it within reason and not to end up hating myself in the morning.

Anyway, I spent a while researching through my WW books and the Domino’s website to work out points values for different pizzas (that sounds really geeky and sad – it was only about ten minutes really).  The initial conclusion was simple – if I ate what I would normally eat from Domino’s, I would end up eating all of my points for the day, plus all of the exercise points I had earned, plus about another half a days worth of points (and there were times in the past where I really used to wonder why I was so fat – lol).  So what should I order?

All the measurements in the WW book were for medium pizzas, which was strange because until I read the book, I hadn’t realised that Domino’s even sold medium pizzas.  Apparently they sell even smaller ones too!  Who’d have thought it…  I decided on a medium Ham and Pineapple pizza at 3.5 points per slice.  I figured (wrongly) that it would have six slices, and that would mean that I could eat the whole thing for 21 points.  If I was a bit careful with my lunch, I could manage that without dipping in to my saved points at all.  All would be well.

I ordered online, and that was a strange experience in itself.  They have an “any pizza, any size for £9.99” deal on, which in the past was exactly the sort of thing that would have prompted me to scrub the medium pizza and replace it with a large one.  Or probably two.  I did think about ordering a large one for a minute or two, but it was only for a minute or two and then I chose the medium one.  The website even checked to make sure that I didn’t want a large pizza as it was the price, which was nice, but not what was needed at the time :-).

When it arrived and I opened the box, I was a little disappointed to see that it actually had 8 slices rather than six.  That meant that the whole thing would actually be 28 points rather than 21 and would definitely take me over my points for the day.  I still had plenty of points saved, so it wasn’t a real problem, but it wasn’t the way I’d planned it, so it felt a bit disappointing.  The really strange thing was that I just couldn’t eat it.  four and a half slices I managed.  Four and a half slices.  Of a medium pizza.  What is wrong with me?  I truly am broken!  I grabbed another slice before I went to bed, still ended up saving points for the day, and had the rest for lunch the day after.

There are strange things happening to me 🙂

The Shrinking Man

If you’ve ever wondered…

If you’ve ever wondered just who would win in a fight between a badger and a hedgehog, it would be the badger. I have personally witnessed such an event, and it wasn’t a pretty sight, although the hedgehog won the prize for “most noise created by a supporting actor”. I suspect that this wasn’t much of a consolation for him…

If you’ve ever wondered just who would win in a fight between me and my holiday weight, I can proudly announce, exclusively, here this morning, that it would be me!

I’ve just stepped off of the scales for my weekly weigh-in and have somehow managed to lose a grand total of 5lb this week. That’s just mad! It’s also way faster than a medical professional would recommend, but I think at the end of the day, they just like to support the underdog. Or hedgehog. Or something like that.

The important thing here is that by getting back in the driving seat and taking control of my eating again, I’ve managed to shift the extra weight I gained while I was on holiday, and also take off the two pounds I’d have been aiming for anyway.

I’ve found it difficult a few times to stick with it this week – just taking a week’s break had quite an impact when it came to knuckling down again, but I’ve done it, and it paid off.

That’s interesting actually. I think that sentence above shows just how far I still have to go with this. Truly it does. Psychologically, I’ve still got it all wrong in my head. Taking a week’s break suggests that there’s something bad to take a break from. Talking about knuckling down again, suggests that this isn’t something that I really want to do.

It’s not that I need to brainwash myself into thinking that I’m enjoying this. I AM enjoying this! It’s a pain to have to think about what I’m eating some of the time, but is it more of a pain than being an 18st 4lb man again? Honestly, totally, completely 100% NO IT ISN’T! It’s actually been a relief to be back in control again, and physically I feel better when I eat properly. Mentally I feel better when I eat properly.

It’s as if I’ve always missed out an important link when thinking about this stuff. Having to think about what I eat is a pain. But so is being fat. The two are clearly linked, yet when I’m thinking it’s a chore to think about what I eat, I’m not including the “staying fat” part of the argument when I weigh it all up. When you weigh up the sides of the argument properly, you get this:

  • In the Blue Corner – thinking about what you eat, and getting slimmer, being and feeling healthier, and generally feeling pretty damn good about yourself.
  • In the Red Corner – not thinking about what you eat, getting fatter, being and feeling unhealthier, and generally feeling pretty damn awful about yourself.

When you look at it like that, there really isn’t much of a battle to be had. Stick me in the blue corner, and watch me shrink!

That’s all for now.

The Shrinking Man

Cardiology is a dirty word…

A month or so ago I had a bit of a fright while exercising on a treadmill in the gym (I think I mentioned it at the time).  Not a pain, but a very sudden, and very disturbing feeling of tightness in my chest that was directly related to increased effort.  Once I slowed down, it went away, but it shook me up enough to go and chat to the doctor about it.

There’s something in every fat bloke that is really scared of serious illness.  I know that everyone is probably scared of serious illness, and I know that being a fat bloke increases the risk of serious illness, but there’s something extra involved in the fat bloke world.  If a thin person gets diagnosed with heart problems, or diabetes or something equally nasty, then they can sit back and say “I guess that’s just the luck of the draw then – tough luck”.  If a fat person gets diagnosed with any of those, then what they’ll hear is “WELL WHAT DID YOU EXPECT?”.  And not just from other people – the loudest voice will probably be their own, and quite rightly so.

It’s a difficult scenario to deal with, as in most cases, I don’t think that fat blokes are any less intelligent than thin blokes.  In fact, some of the cleverer people I know could do with losing a little weight.  And yet, knowing that our eating habits will increase the risk of serious illness, we still continue piling on the pounds.

It’s the embarrassment of being responsible for making yourself ill that I think makes fat blokes dread that trip to the doctors more than anything else.  How crazy is that?  More concerned about the embarrassment than the illness?  Perhaps that’s just because they don’t really get just how real and just how serious the risk of illness can be – I’m not sure.

Anyway, the Doc booked me in for some blood tests, and I went back to see him to get the results.

He sat in front of me and read down his computer screen, mumbling quietly to himself.  Then he came across a figure that clearly concerned him.  “Your cholesterol is through the roof”.  Not a good start.  After a few minutes he said “Hang on a minute – no it’s not.  It’s actually better than mine.”  That’s a little better then.  The mix of HDL and LDL wasn’t quite where it should be, but the overall figure wasn’t too bad.  It was 5.5 if you’re interested – certainly not great, but not stupidly high either.  Not for a fat bloke anyway…

The long and the short of it is that the blood tests didn’t show anything of concern.  He explained that he could send me off for an appointment at the Rapid Access Chest Pain clinic at the local hospital, or we could just mark it down to experience, and he asked me what I thought we should do.  I think the phrase I used was “well it doesn’t sound like I’m about to die, so I’m OK with option 2”.  That clearly shocked him into a different approach, and he said “Well you might.  You might go to the gym and drop down dead.  Then I’d feel really terrible!”

There’s a lot talked about the importance of the ‘bedside manner’ of doctors, and personally I’d never really given it much thought until that very moment.  He was being light hearted, and meant well, but you really don’t want your doctor to be telling you that.  Well I don’t anyway.  Anyway, he sent a letter off to the cardiology department, and an appointment was made.

That appointment was yesterday.

It was a day of firsts to be honest.  It was the first time I’d ever been in a waiting room full of such scared looking people.  It was the first time I’d ever been weighed sitting down (17st 3lbs in my clothes and trainers, so I think I’m moving away from the holiday gains).  It was the first time I’ve ever had some of my body hair shaved off by a woman that I’d only met a few minutes before.  It was the first time I’d ever watched rolling news with subtitles on, and seen how badly they do it  – when Naomi Campbell gets repeatedly translated as Gnome i Campbell, someone really should be telling them to slow down.  It was also the first time I’ve ever been on a treadmill whilst attached to an ECG monitor, a blood pressure monitor, and with two nurses urging me on too.

I can’t fault the service I received there – they were prompt, professional, friendly, reassuring and thorough.  I had my vitals taken, then an ECG, then a chat with a doctor, then an examination by the doctor, then a treadmill test and then another chat with the doctor.

Anyway, at the end of the session, I’m pleased to announce that I was given a clean bill of health.  There’s nothing wrong with my heart.  On the one hand, it would be nice if they’d have said “ah – this is what caused the problem you had, and this is what we’re going to do about it”.  On the other hand, if they’re saying “this is what caused the problem you had” in a cardiology department, then you’re in a fair amount of trouble, so I think it’s better this way.  The cholesterol is too high, but other than that, nothing to be concerned about right now.  The really positive thing was that both my GP and the Hospital said that if they were to draw up a list of the things that I should do to improve my health, then it would be exactly what I’m doing already.

I hadn’t realised just how much it was worrying me until I came out of the hospital, into the sunshine, feeling that I had an opportunity to make things better this time.  If ever I feel downhearted and can’t remember why I’m doing this, then point me back towards this post.

A reality check, that this time came out OK.

The Shrinking Man

Holiday over, back to the scales…

Well I’m back from a week in the sun, and I’ve put on the grand total of 3lbs.  Not a glorified success by any means, but not a complete disaster either.  I didn’t stick to my points, and I put on weight.  That’s kind of useful in a way, because it sums up the whole thing really.  Eat too much and gain weight.

I didn’t go on a massed eating frenzy, which was quite an odd feeling at times.  We were on an all-inclusive deal, so technically I’d already paid for the privilege of eating and drinking from dawn till dusk, and I think it’s fairly safe to say that had I gone on holiday a couple of months earlier (in the time before I became The Shrinking Man of course) then that’s just what I would have done.

The positive things that I took from this week were firstly that I didn’t feel right unless I exercised.  I swam either 30 or 40 lengths of the pool on six out of seven mornings, which I really wasn’t expecting to do.  It was a fairly large pool – I’d estimate about 33m, so that’s a fairly good tally even if I wasn’t on holiday, but as I was, I think I probably deserve a medal.  The other really positive thing that I did was to make notes on my phone of what I ate, and estimate a points value for it.  I knew that on most days (all except one actually) I ate more than my standard points, but just simply writing it down and estimating helped keep me in check.  I think.

There were a few interesting things that came out of this week.  One was on the plane, where my wife had a bag of sweets.  Not just any sweets mind.  These were Haribo, and therefore officially classed as Jelly Sweets and therefore should be raised on a pedestal above all other confectionery.  Anyway, she offered my daughter some, took some herself and then put the bag away.  Now I know that on her part that was a very conscious choice not to offer me any, and that it genuinely came from the ‘right place’.  She knows that I have a very close relationship with jelly sweets of all kinds, and didn’t want to throw unnecessary temptation in my path, but it was a really difficult thing to deal with.  I didn’t want one.  Not at that point anyway.  I genuinely didn’t want one.  But I still wanted to be offered one.  I wanted the chance to say “no thanks – I won’t have one of those delicious jelly sweets thank you very much”.  I didn’t want someone else to make that decision for me.  I didn’t want someone else telling me that I wasn’t going to have them.  Even though I didn’t want them myself.  Does that make any sense?

I have a real problem with people telling me what I can’t do.  It’s ridiculous and childish, and I think it has a lot to do with my weight problems over time.  In fact it’s not just that I hate other people telling me what I can’t do – let me be more specific.  I hate being told by anyone what I can’t do, especially when it’s by me.  I’m sure that sentence is enough to keep my future psychiatrists in sofas for many decades, but I’m also sure that it has played a fairly major part in my life as a fat bloke.

I seem to have an ongoing battle with different parts of my own mind.  I make conscious decisions to act in a certain way, and then seem to make a concerted effort to undermine and challenge those decisions.  That’s left me in a situation where I’ve accepted that I don’t do well whenever I try to deny myself things, so I’ve been rather stupidly expecting to find a way that will allow me to lose weight without changing anything about the way that I eat.  That really is a little odd when I read it back, but I think it’s a fairly accurate summary of my previous mindset.

One of the mental shifts that I made when I started this process was to accept, and even welcome the fact that I had to change my eating habits.  Not temporarily but for good.  That included a conscious acceptance that I would need to deny myself, and probably quite regularly too.  That’s been a little strange to come to terms with, but I’ve been generally OK with it.  It’s part of the process- if I eat everything that I want to, then I’ll get fatter.  If I control what I eat, then I’ll get thinner.

Having dealt with the self-denial, it was therefore a little odd to have such a strong reaction to someone else denying me food.  I’m not sure what conclusions I need to draw from this, or what I can do about it.  I’ve tried to let my wife know that not only does she not need avoid offering me things, but that it’s actually counter-productive when she does, but I doubt that will actually help too much.  We’ve had that conversation in the past, when I’ve noticed myself rebelling quite strongly against her attempts at control.  When all is said and done, it’s my problem, and it would be easy to make it hers – “I’m putting on weight again because she tried to deny me food, and that made me want to eat it”.  That’s childish and rather silly when you look at it like that.

There was one other thing that was quite entertaining, for my wife and daughter at least, that happened while we were out there.  I was having my morning swim, which was normally while everyone else was at breakfast, so I was used to having the pool to myself, but I noticed someone else had got in.  Not a problem – I was feeling good enough about myself that I wasn’t concerned about competition.  Swimming is quite a solitary pastime, which is partly why I like it I think, but it changes the moment someone else gets in the pool.  I find it impossible not to measure myself against the other person, seeing how fast they’re swimming, how smoothly, what stroke, and for how long.

Anyway, this person just flew past me, which wasn’t too unexpected really – I’m not a very fast swimmer, more of a slow and steady tortoise than a racing hare (please kids, don’t thrown your pets in the pool to see who would win – it’s not clever).  What then happened was that my ego-preservation mentality kicked in and started looking for reasons as to why he was so much faster than me.  The easy one is usually “well he won’t be able to keep that up for long”.  But of course he did.  Anyway, as he was flying past me for the umpteenth time, I caught a glimpse of him properly, and something didn’t look quite right.  There was a flash of something yellow and I realised with a smirk that he was wearing a flipper.  That would explain why he was swimming so quickly – it wasn’t that I was just rubbish, it was because he was wearing a flipper.  Even that didn’t seem quite right though.  Something was wrong, but I couldn’t work out what it was.  He was wearing a flipper, and was therefore able to swim faster than I could.  Flipper.  Singular.  Flipper.  Not flippers.  Not plural?  Oh dear.

Just in case you’re not picking up the problem here, let me spell it out for you.  While I wanted to believe that he was faster than me because he was wearing a flipper, it turns out that he was wearing a flipper because HE ONLY HAD ONE LEG!  That doesn’t feel quite so good really.  Just to cap it all off, a few minutes later I noticed that he only had one arm as well…

Happy Days 🙂

The Shrinking Man