Another Week, Another 16ozs

Hi everyone!  Hope you all had a good week and that you’re enjoying the cold/sun/snow/rain (delete as applicable)

Week 44 weigh-in completed, and another pound off.  I’m obviously pleased that it’s all still moving in the right direction, but the spectre of that gain over Christmas is still haunting me.  I’m still a couple of pounds heavier than I was before Christmas, and that’s hurting my pride quite a bit.  In fact I’m the same weight as I was at the beginning of December, so that’s a grand total of zero progress in about two months.

It’s situations like this where perspective is really important I guess, and where the ability to look beneath the surface is vital to keep things on track.  If this were a tabloid newspaper, the headlines would be screaming:

“Shrinking Man Not Shrinking – It’s Official!”

If this were a broadsheet, then hopefully it would say something more like this:

“The Shrinking Man has lost weight consistently for the last four weeks, and has managed to shift 80% of the weight gained during the Christmas excesses.  This is a vital part of the shrinking process, as real-life WILL get in the way of the best laid plans from time to time, and events such as Christmas can always lead to weight gain.  It’s important to see things like that as real-life, and not just some sort of weird aberration – stuff happens.  That it happens isn’t so important, but what is key is developing the ability to deal with that.  While TSM may be slightly disheartened that it’s taking so long to shift that weight, he’s still going at it, and is determined to keep going, as he wants to shrink.”

Back to 15st dead this week – next week we revisit the delights of the 14st something man once more, and this time it will be for good.

Have a great week.

The Shrinking Man

Another one bites the dust…

Morning all 🙂

Weigh-in number 33 completed and another 1lb lost.  Mildly disappointed, as I felt like I’d earned a little bit more this week to be completely honest with you, and I also physically ‘felt’ like I’d lost more too.  A loss is still a loss though, and it keeps me moving in the right direction, so I’m really not going to complain.  Much 😉

I’ve noticed a really interesting pattern this week, which would certainly explain why my loss this week wasn’t as much as I’d hoped, but also raises some very interesting questions about just how sustainable my current method of eating is.

Just for the record here, my goal is to reach a weight that I’m physically and mentally comfortable with, and then to stay there or thereabouts, pretty much indefinitely.  I’m not sure if I’ve ever actually stated that out loud before, but I think I’ve alluded to it on a number of occasions anyway.  From that perspective, I try to question how I’m feeling about what I’m eating on a regular basis, and to ask myself this question – “could I eat like this for the rest of my life?”.  If the answer is yes, then it ought to be sustainable, but if the answer is no, then that sounds more like a diet to me than any sustainable approach to eating.

Just for the record again, the problem with diets from where I’m sitting is that at some point you reach the end of them.  When you do that, by definition you then change how you’re eating, and it’s what you change to that determines whether the weight stays off or not.  In reality, most people go back to how they ate before they dieted, and then oddly enough, the weight just piles back on again, with a little bit more, and the cycle continues, and the self-loathing increases.  Losing weight is not a problem for me.  I’ve done it before.  Lots of times.  And I’m proving that I can still do that now.  Keeping it off however, is a rather different story.  I have never done it before (obviously).  Not once.  And I’m really, really aware of that fact pretty much every hour of every day right now.

Anyway, the pattern that I’ve noticed relates to how what I eat is spread across the week.  One of the key elements of the WW strategy is that you track what you eat.  One major benefit of this is that it really helps raise your awareness of what you’re eating, which might sound a bit stupid, but from the perspective of a fat-bloke is really important.  I can still remember my first day on this WW program – I decided to start it at about 6pm, and rather than start the next day, decided to start by tracking what I’d eaten that day.  It took me a few minutes, but I was able to sit back and see where I was for the day fairly easily.  And then over the course of the next 6 hours I kept remembering other things that I’d eaten and that had simply slipped my mind.  I’d actually missed about half of what I’d eaten from the first list!

Another benefit of the tracking is that it also allows you to see patterns developing, and what I’ve noticed is that I always peak towards the end of the week.  This week for example, by the end of Thursday, I’d eaten my daily points each day, and had eaten about 20 of my 49 “use them if you want to or need to” bonus points.  By the end of Saturday, I’d used up the other 29 bonus points and dipped into a few of my exercise points.

One of the most challenging things about what I’m trying to achieve here is to work out what’s going on in my own mind, and whether that’s actually different from what I think is going on in my own mind.  I don’t trust my mind to always do what’s in my best interests here – after all, it was my mind that controlled the approach to food that got me to 18st 4lb in the first place.  In relation to the peak at the end of the week (that’s a phrase that has a certain something to it!) my mind is giving me a couple of reasons why that’s all ok and tickety-boo.

  1. It’s the end of your week, and you’ve got points left – eat them and stop worrying.  You’re still losing weight aren’t you?
  2. It’s because you weigh-in at the weekend!  Everyone lets themselves go a bit at the weekend.  Relax.  It will all be OK.  And you’re still losing weight aren’t you?

They’re both viable explanations, and they both make perfect sense.  But I don’t think they explain what’s going on.

If you’ll allow me to digress for a moment, sometimes I feel like a spy.  Not in the James Bond kind of way (although that would explain the costumes and night-vision goggles) but in the fact that I’m trying to listen to all the ‘chatter’ going on in my head to see if I can pick up important details.  It’s an immensely dull pastime, but no-one else is going to do it for me (hopefully) and it’s only by doing this that I’m able to start to identify the thoughts I have that might just contradict the “everything is going to be alright” messages.

I think that I’m eating more towards the end of the week in response to thoughts that go something like this:

You’ve been depriving yourself all week, and you’ve got a few points to spare, so let yourself go a bit and eat.  Do it.  You know you want to!

That’s all OK except for the third word of the first sentence.  I have a problem with depriving myself, or to be more specific, I have big concerns about how I react when I do deprive myself.  There’s a sort of self-indignant thing that kicks in and encourages me to have my fill of whatever it is that I think I’m depriving myself of.

I’m opening up a big can of worms here to be honest, and I need to go and think some more about this so I can make some sense of it all.  I can see three specific things coming out of this:

  • On the surface, the issue is that as far as I was aware, I was happy eating what I’m eating, and that it felt sustainable.  I hadn’t realised that I felt deprived in any way, but subconsciously, there’s something going on that I’m not completely aware of just now.
  • Underneath all of that, there’s this question of deprivation and whether that’s a bad thing or not anyway.  One of the triggers to me starting this whole WW thing was accepting that it was a lack of personal deprivation that got me fat anyway, so I needed to accept that I would have to deprive myself of things to lose weight.  But how does that fit with the whole sustainability thing?
  • Lastly, I have to question whether it’s a good idea to spend so much time questioning what’s going on in my own head, and thinking about myself and my thoughts and actions in the third person.  Slightly concerned this morning.  Lol.

This is definitely a “to be continued” session.  Need to go and think.

Have a good week.

The Shrinking Man

Mumble grumble moan etc.

What is it about me that means that whenever I really apply myself to this and get a great result, I seem to fall apart the next week?  There’s definitely a pattern here, and it’s stupid, annoying and frankly a bit ridiculous!

Hi by the way 🙂

Week 32 weigh-in just completed, and 1lb lost.  On the surface of it, losing a pound is great, but in my head this isn’t even a real pound, as it’s still taking off weight I put on over Christmas.  Following last week’s spectacular 5lb loss, I wasn’t expecting a repeat performance, but I was expecting to drop two or three pounds and get myself back closer to my pre-Christmas highs (well lows, but you know what I mean).  In fact, to be honest I probably was expecting a repeat performance, and wouldn’t have been happy with anything less than a -5 to get rid off the last of the Christmas weight, but a measly pound?  Frankly I’m almost insulted.

The really disappointing thing about this week is that I haven’t deserved or expected anything better.  For the whole of last week I was focused and dedicated to removing that Christmas weight, and it wasn’t a surprise when I dropped off a lot.  This week I’ve been the opposite.  I’ve snacked and picked and pulled at the boundaries on every point, I managed to eat half of my daily bonus points on day 1, and have struggled pretty much all week long.  And it wasn’t a surprise when I only lost a pound.

So how to respond?

The immediate reaction is to knuckle down and repeat the focus and dedication of the previous week, but perhaps that’s part of the problem.  If I always follow a very strict week with a very lax week, then perhaps the strict weeks are causing problems by being just a little too strict?

With it being resolution time, the forums (and the gyms, but more on that later) are full of newbies, and there’s been a recurring question coming up over the past week or so, from fat blokes of all degrees of fatness and that’s:

  • “Do I really need to eat all of these points?”

For me there’s an important point in there – the simple answer is probably that if you’re looking to lose weight, then no, you don’t really need to eat all of those points.  If however you’re looking to keep weight off for good, then perhaps you do.  I’m not looking to lose weight, however obsessed I might seem about that on a weekly basis on here.  I’m looking to educate myself into a better, healthier and sustainable way of eating that will allow me to keep the weight off once I get to wherever it is that I’m going.  My presumption is that the people who are asking whether they need to eat all their points are people who are focused on losing weight, which in the short term is great, but they will probably go back to eating how they ate before once they’ve lost the weight.  And guess what happens then?  No need to guess of course, because we’ve all been there before.  The weight comes back on.  And brings a friend along for the journey .

The $64,000 question (I wonder what that figure should be when adjusted for inflation?) that I think needs to be applied to what you’re eating is this:

  • Could I eat like this for the rest of my life?

If the answer is yes, then it’s a sustainable way of eating.  If the answer is no, then whatever it’s doing in terms of weight-loss, it’s not achieving anything towards the goal of keeping weight off.

Was my approach to food in the previous week sustainable?  You know what, it probably wasn’t.  It was a deliberate response to a heavy gain to shift as much as possible as quickly as I could.  So in that respect it was a completely appropriate response to a large gain, but also possibly counter-productive in terms of the long-term goals.

Can I draw any logical conclusions from that?  I think perhaps that I can.  If there’s a line of sensible eating drawn in the sand, then perhaps it’s totally understandable that if I spend a week too far on one side of the line, then rather than just returning immediately to the middle, I drift into the other side for a while before I regain proper balance.  That’s not saying it’s unavoidable, but it does sort of make sense.  What that really means perhaps is that spending too far on one side of the line isn’t without complications, even if it’s supposedly the good side of the line.  And maybe I’m not too different from all the new guys on the forum after all…

Let me pick out a couple of real positives from the week to make sure we finish on a high (although I’m actually feeling pretty positive after making some sense out of the above anyway).  First of all, I’ve really pushed myself in the gym this week, and have broken a couple of personal records.  I’ve been feeling a little odd that even though I’ve been swimming regularly for more than seven months now, I’m still swimming pretty much the same distance in the same time, even though I’m more than three stone lighter.  I asked about that on one of the WW exercise forums and got some pretty helpful advice, the crux of which was that if I really wanted to see an improvement in my speed or distance, I would really have to push myself, but also that it was only a problem if I saw it as one.

Anyway, as a result I’ve approached my usual three swims this week a little differently.

  1. My first swim I did as usual, and managed my traditional 1200m in 40 minutes
  2. My second swim, I pushed myself and managed to swim 1400m in 45 minutes
  3. For my third swim I really pushed myself as hard as I could and I managed to swim 1600m in 45 minutes, and I’ve never swum that far before in my life!

I can’t move my arms, legs, back or shoulders without wincing at the moment, but I feel really proud of myself for pushing myself to break through a barrier.  It felt gooooooood.

The other thing that was great this week was also exercise related.  I got my Wii Fit out for the first time in a few years, and it didn’t believe it was me at first, as I was 2.5 stone lighter than the last time I stepped on it.  This is a good thing.

Anyway, I’m intrigued to see how things go this week.  Having noticed a pattern where a great week is followed by a difficult week, I’m conscious that a difficult week can easily be followed by a terrible one or a great one.

I think I’ll settle for a good one.

Have a great week.

The Shrinking Man.

Well that’s a bit better then…

Morning all 🙂

Weigh-in number 31 done and 5lb lost.  Isn’t the body a fascinating thing?  You eat without control for a couple of weeks and stop exercising, and you put on 10lb.  You control what you eat and do lots of exercise, and you lose 5lb.  That’s scarily like common sense!

It’s been an interesting week.  It started out feeling quite difficult, as I’d been used to eating whenever and whatever I wanted for a while, so I was having to keep myself in check quite a bit initially.  That in itself turned out to be a positive experience, as I was able to study what happened when I ‘denied’ myself food.  Oddly enough I didn’t die, panic, fall apart or suffer in any way whatsoever.  In fact, I just put that bowl of peanuts/piece of shortbread/bag of wine gums/pound of lard to the back of my mind and got on with something else.  The desire to eat was clearly still there, as it would reappear from time to time, but there’s an important point in this – when it reappeared, it wasn’t any stronger than it had been before.  That seems to me to be extremely significant, because it changes the worst case scenario that is often in my mind, and that often leads me to just eat.  My inbuilt belief is that until I give in and eat whatever it is I’m craving, then I won’t get a moments peace, and the desire will grow stronger and stronger.  So I might as well just eat.  So historically, that’s what I’ve always done.

I’m starting to look at this weight loss thing as being a combination lock.  If that seems a little odd, then bear with me for a while and I’ll try to explain a little better.  Actually, I’ll rephrase that statement – I’m actually starting to look at this ‘keeping weight off’ thing as being a combination lock.  Losing weight isn’t a problem.  I’ve proved before that I can do that, and I’m proving again that I haven’t lost the knack.  What I’ve so far been unable to do is keep that weight off, and that’s the part that is of most interest to me.

My initial response to the rather ridiculous 10lb that I put on over Christmas was to just accept that I would need to follow some sort of weight control method for the rest of my life.  In other words, I accepted that I simply couldn’t do this on my own, as whenever I removed the external control from what I ate, I immediately ate too much.  That’s not a great feeling, but I think it’s a fairly practical response, and one that would pretty much guarantee that I would keep the weight off for the long term.  The more I think about what happened over the Christmas period however, the more positive I become that it’s all in my mind, and that there might just be some fairly simple misconceptions that are making this difficult for me.

I can’t remember whether I’ve mentioned this before, but over the past 12 years or so I have stopped smoking and drinking completely, and in both of those situations what made the difference for me was to ‘get it right’ in my head.  I won’t go into the whole story here, but in simple terms, once I managed to understand that I didn’t actually enjoy smoking, it was rather easy to stop and stay stopped, and exactly the same applied to drinking.  The comparative ease with which I managed to stop those two things has always amplified how difficult I’ve found it to stop over-eating (you wouldn’t believe how long it took me to work out that it was over-eating I actually needed to stop) and that’s always frustrated me.

So back to the combination lock – getting clear in my head that not giving in to cravings categorically does not lead to greater cravings feels like I’ve just found one of the numbers to the combination, and that therefore one of the wheels has just clicked into place.  There are others that have already clicked in to place:

  • Understanding that weight gain is a cumulative thing, and that something relatively insignificant in itself (like a packet of crisps) adds up over time
  • Understanding that weight loss is also cumulative (that one literally just clicked into place this second!)
  • Accepting that the only reason that I’m overweight is that I eat too much.  Not metabolism, not hard luck or anything else
  • Realising that I feel better physically and mentally when I eat sensibly
  • Discovering that I genuinely enjoy exercising
  • Discovering that I don’t actually enjoy the over-eating itself (not sure if that wheel has properly clicked into place yet actually!)

Each of those probably seem stupidly obvious to the thin-bloke on the street, but I’d be interested to know how commonly they’re misunderstood among the fat-blokes of the world.  It might be just me of course, but that doesn’t really matter – I can state for the record that I genuinely and honestly did not know or believe any of those things until very recently.  Each new wheel that clicks into place makes me feel stronger and more capable of dealing with all of this in the long term.  The only issue is, I don’t know how many numbers I need to find, but I guess that’s what’s going to make this interesting :-).

I feel so much better about myself this week than I have for the last couple, and I’m pleased to have shifted 5lb of that Christmas weight.  I’ve still got 5lb more to lose before I can start to make real progress again, and realistically that’s going to take a few weeks to achieve, so I just need to be a little bit patient and keep doing the right things.

Have a great week.

The Shrinking Man

If ever proof was needed that I’m not safe to be left to my own devices for more than an hour or two…

If ever proof was needed that I’m not safe to be left to my own devices for more than an hour or two, then the impact of me stopping tracking what I’m eating over Christmas and New Year should be all the proof that is needed 🙂

I’ve just completed the weigh-in for week 30 and am oddly amused to report a whopping +10 over the last two weeks!  10lbs.  In two weeks.  That’s a fifth of my total weight loss in 28 weeks I’ve put back on in two weeks!

I did actually step on the scales on boxing day and was showing a +8 then, so it’s not a surprise (and in some ways I’m quite relieved that it’s not more overall) but it’s still a huge step in the wrong direction, albeit one that I’d planned for.  Planned for isn’t really true – it would perhaps be more honest if I said I’d decided to just stop tracking over the whole Christmas and New Year period, but I’m not sure that actually constitutes a plan.

There are most definitely some positives and some negatives to take from this experience.  First of all the negatives:

  • I’ve not weighed this much since the 17th October 2010, so that’s 10 weeks of work undone in a fortnight
  • I’m officially obese again
  • I’ve gone back under the 15% mark
  • I feel fat, heavy and bloated
  • My clothes feel tighter
  • I’m feeling slightly ashamed at my gluttony over the past couple of weeks

In isolation, those don’t add up to being a particularly happy new year, so what are the positives to draw from this?

  • I know about it and now have the opportunity to do something about it
  • It’s a really, really timely reminder of what happens when I stop exercising and go back to my old ways of eating
  • It brings home the simple choice that I face each and every day between the freedom of not thinking about what I’m eating and the happiness that comes from being thinner
  • I was conscious of the fact that I was over-eating
  • I started noticing how heavy and fat I felt very early on
  • I didn’t enjoy the feeling that came from over-eating
  • I was very aware that I didn’t actually enjoy some of the over-eating itself
  • I’ve got some cool targets to revisit very soon

It’s felt like a strange sort of experiment, where I was observing myself from outside, and trying to see and understand what was happening to me in as dispassionate way as possible, but without interfering.  It’s a fairly masochistic approach, as in reality I should have just stopped it, as I think I’d actually have enjoyed myself a little bit more, but it felt as if I needed to complete it and get to the New Year before I stopped.  Even last night, I was eating sweets and chocolates pretty much on autopilot, even though I was feeling stuffed and bloated already.

So where does that leave me?

As I was preparing the Christmas dinner, I had one of those experiences that really helped me to understand just how much weight I’d lost – lifting that 12lb turkey out of the fridge and realising that before I started this I was carrying around FOUR of those with me every day!  (Not literally of course, as that would have been rather silly, but I hope you understand what I mean.)  The excesses of the last couple of weeks leave me carrying around the best part of a turkey with me that I wasn’t before.  That’s huge, and it needs to be lost as soon as possible – I don’t like feeling like this!

I’m surprisingly positive really, as I know what I need to do, and I’ve done it before.  That’s an empowering feeling!  A little nagging voice at the back of my mind is whispering quietly “that’s it!  you’ve blown it now fat-boy!” and is trying to pull me back to the dark side, but I can hear it, and I’m not interested in it.  I’m also very aware that I need some sort of framework within which to approach this, and the WW world, even with all it’s recent changes, is the right place for me to be right now.

Anyway, this is a fatter shrinking man than I’ve been for a while, but I’m back on the shrinking trail once more.

Happy New Year!

The Shrinking Man.