Well that was odd…

It’s difficult to know how to describe this week.  Truly it is.

It’s been a week of really not feeling all that bothered one way or the other about this.  I didn’t eat brilliantly, but I didn’t eat terribly either.  I had some days where I ate way too much, and other days where I probably ate OK.  I haven’t been to the gym once, even though I’ve been off work for a lot of the week.  I’ve eaten more jelly sweets than a grown man should eat in any given month.

All that and I still end up losing a pound?  Week 38 weigh-in has now been completed, and my running total is back to 51lb lost, which is fine and dandy by me.

I was chatting to a friend last night (the same friend who actually prompted me to join WW in the first place funnily enough) and was describing how this has now just become part of what I do, and how that makes things difficult at times.  It’s not something different like it was at the start – it’s more like business as usual, and that’s something quite challenging to learn to live with.  Whereas in the first weeks and months the general newness and the excitement of progress spurs you on and keeps you moving, it requires something different to keep it going after this length of time.  Something that I’m struggling to latch on to.

I have no desire to go back to where I was before – let me make that totally clear.  But I’m also short on desire to keep pushing this further and further.  That doesn’t mean I don’t want it, but I think it might mean that I don’t want it very much.  Or perhaps that I’m struggling a little in terms of belief at the moment?

It’s hard to put my finger on what the problem is right now, but I feel like I need to change something.  I am still making progress, but it’s very slow.  Perhaps that’s just the way it’s meant to be, and it’s by learning to deal with the fact that it’s going to slow down that I can just get on with real-life and let the gradual weight-loss continue in the background.  That sounds like something of a plan to be honest.

There have been quite a few occasions over the past weeks where I’ve been snacking in the evening.  OK; not quite a few.  A lot.   Not a problem in itself, but I was already at my daily points limit, so that’s a bit more of a problem.  That’s not so bad though, because I have my weekly points allowance to deal with situations like that, so again not a problem.  Except that I’d already eaten all of my weekly points too.  So definitely a bit more of a problem.  But if I’m hungry, then I really should eat, because that sort of denial isn’t going to help anyhow, so again, not a huge problem.  Except that I wasn’t hungry.  Not at all.

There’s always been something of a disconnect between my hunger and my eating.  I eat when I want to eat rather than when I’m hungry.  I stop when my plate is empty rather than when I’m full.  If I think of something that I want to eat, then I tend to eat it.  Right now, I feel like that hasn’t changed much, if at all, in the last 38 weeks.  The fundamental difference between the me now and the me of 9 months ago is that generally I tend to want to eat better foods and less of them.  It would be so easy to drift back though.

It is difficult to find the right line to walk here.  On the one hand, I have a system from WW that will pretty much guarantee that if I follow it’s rules, then I’ll lose weight most weeks.  On the other hand I’ve got the fact that in the real world, sometimes I want to treat myself, even if it takes me outside of the system.

That’s the one area of the newer WW system that I’m a little less happy with – in the old points system, if you ate too much on one day, you could manage your eating a little better on the day or days and make it up that way.  On the newer system, because you have points dedicated to dealing with those snacking moments, there’s nothing to help you if you go outside of them.  The points tracker just goes red and tells you off for the remainder of the week.  That’s actually quite demotivating, and I’m not sure I’d realised how much it was affecting me.  Once I go into the red, I stop pointing things.  There!  I’ve said it out loud!  It flies in the face of everything that I know to be true here, but once the little calculator starts telling me off, I start avoiding it!!!

Oddly enough, I think I actually start eating better at that point.  Perhaps that’s a reaction to the knowledge that I’ve not had a good week so far, perhaps I’m enjoying the freedom from pointing, or perhaps I’m just kidding myself and I’m actually eating terribly and that’s the real reason I’m not pointing.  Who knows?  Certainly not me!  But it’s an issue.  There is a way to get myself back into the black, but that’s by doing some exercise, and that’s not always practical.

Obviously there’s a simple answer to this, and that’s not to go over my weekly points allowance before the end of the week.  That’s got to be the norm, but I don’t care about the norm.  It’s when things don’t go to plan that I need to be prepared, as it’s in those situations that I could most easily go off track and lose focus.  Having said that, I don’t think there’s necessarily a solution to this anyway – it’s just something I’ve got to be aware of, and try to minimise the chances of it happening.

That’s quite an interesting revelation though – being told off by a computer stops me talking to the computer.  I feel like such a grown up 🙂

There’s an interesting pattern that I’ve noticed throughout my weight-loss and that’s that with the exception of the period that we don’t talk about commonly known as Christmas, I’ve not gained weight two weeks in a row since I started this.  That shows that I’m pretty good at responding to setbacks in the right way, and is a record to be proud of.  This week I genuinely thought I would lose that record, and I’m pleasantly surprised that I didn’t.

I need to make sure that I react to this in the right way.  When I’ve not eaten fantastically and I STS or even lose a pound or two, it’s tempting to see that as a license to carry on not eating fantastically.  That way lies disappointment and I need to try to avoid that temptation.  It feels like I’ve been getting away with it for the last couple of weeks, and that won’t carry on indefinitely, so I need to find the motivation to knuckle down and do this properly again.  Not all of the time, just most of the time.

That would actually make a pretty good mantra for this.  Not all of the time, just most of the time.  Perhaps that’s the answer to bringing it all into the real-world of everyday life.  Not all of the time, just most of the time.

Have a good week.

The Shrinking Man.

Two Steps Forward; One Step Back

Morning everyone 🙂

Week 37 weigh-in completed and a +1 to bring me back down to earth.  The only surprise about this really was that the gain wasn’t greater – it has not been a good week, and I’m not sure how the gain has managed to stay so low.

There are some extenuating circumstances I guess – I’ve spent 8 of the last 14 days living in cheap hotels for one.  That brings a combination of limited food choices and a lack of gym/pool to work with for most of that time, which certainly doesn’t help, but it’s not the whole story.  Those things really just set the scene upon which I managed to eat relatively poorly every day this week, going over my points on every day, making poor choices where I had the opportunity to do better and generally sabotaging my progress.

I’ve not written about self-sabotage for a while, but this week has been a great example of that.  It’s an odd thing that happens on an irregular basis, but there does seem to be a pattern of sorts – whenever I’ve had a consistent period of weight-loss, particularly after a very good couple of weeks, this attitude of self-sabotage kicks in.  It leads to a period of me actively doing the wrong things and consciously making the wrong choices.

It’s the fact that it’s conscious that makes it difficult to grasp.  This isn’t something where I realise afterwards what I’ve been doing.  I’m fully aware of what I’m doing while I’m doing it; in fact I’m fully aware of it before I do it, which is probably even worse.  The awareness really ought to be enough to nip it in the bud, but it isn’t – it feels like I’m just watching it from the outside, and feeling completely powerless to do anything about it.

It’s not the end of the world of course – it’s not going to stop me from getting where I want to be, even if it does slow me down a little bit.  It might even be a necessary part of the process – some sort of mental correction going on that keeps me going in the right general direction.  The worrying thing for me is that it’s precisely that self-sabotage that kept me smoking for so many years after I’d decided that I wanted to stop.  In these moments, the ‘just one cigarette’ would pull me back in (am I the only one reading those words back in an Al Pacino voice?) and all my progress would be gone.

Actually that’s a really positive thing!  I’ve always struggled with the fact that I could stop smoking and drinking completely, but couldn’t manage to kick the over-eating thing.  The different scenarios around self-sabotage show that they really aren’t the same thing at all.  One cigarette used to pull me back into being a smoker, and whatever progress I’d made previously had gone.  This isn’t like that.  Not at all.  One bad choice doesn’t negate anything that I’ve achieved so far.  Nor does a week of them.  I can just pick myself up, dust myself down a bit, and then get on with heading to thinsville just the same.  I might be a pound heavier than this time last week, but I’m 50 pounds lighter than this time last year and that’s the important figure.

Let me tell you what the worst thing that comes from my periods of self-sabotage is.  Can you guess?  Tesco’s sales of value Midget Gems go up (three bags by Tuesday this week 🙂 ).  That’s about it.  I’ve had this uncomfortable worry about my tendency to self-sabotage lurking in the back of my mind for a long time.  I know it’s there, and I’ve always had this fear that it would be my undoing.  You know what?  In the last few paragraphs, I think I’ve started to process of putting that to bed for good.

Psychologically speaking, it would be great to understand a bit more about what’s going on with me when I self-sabotage, but it’s not as important as I’ve been thinking it is.  It’s a strange process, but in the wider scheme of things, it’s not actually going to stop me getting where I want to go.  I’ve often wondered if I’ve got some strange sort of food addiction going on, but for the very first time I can see that isn’t the case.  I’d love to know what the medical possibilities are of being addicted to Midget Gems, as if there’s a support group for that, I’m signing up today, but other than that, there’s no addiction going on here.  Just some really mucked up thought processes and habits that have built up over the years that are taking a while to unravel.  But they ARE unravelling, and with each little moment of self-discovery comes greater awareness of what’s been happening, and greater confidence that it will be OK in the end.

I’m not sure whether any of that will make sense to anyone else, but to me that’s a couple of pretty huge mental breakthroughs that have happened right there before my very eyes.  I’ve got a sneaking feeling that I make all of my mental breakthroughs in weeks where I gain weight too, which is an interesting concept too.

I’m not addicted to food or overeating (just possibly midget-gems).  And my self-sabotage can’t hurt me.

Bring on week 38.  I’m ready.

The Shrinking Man

Suddenly; I’m 80% of the man I used to be…

Morning everyone!

Week 36 weigh-in just completed, and I am very pleased and also immensely proud to report that I have dropped another 2lb.  That pushes me over another couple of milestones, so I hope you’ll excuse me if I go on a little bit this morning 😉

First of all, that brings my overall weight-loss to 51lb (23.22kg in new money), which really is a pretty huge amount of weight to have misplaced.  That’s about the weight of a seven year old child, so if you have one of those, then go and pick them up and that will give you a pretty good idea of what I’m no longer carrying around with me all the time.  You’ll also have a pretty good idea of just how annoyed a seven year old child can get, but that’s the risks you take when you follow instructions blindly.  It’s also about the weight of a small adult dalmatian, so if you’ve not got a seven year old child, and don’t learn very quickly about the risks of following instructions blindly, then go find one of them and pick it up.

Secondly it brings me to the point where I’ve now lost 20% of my starting weight.  20%!  That feels really significant and huge to me.  A whole fifth of the me that started this thing hasn’t made it through to this point.  I am aware that this achievement is only possible thanks to the huge fat-bloke that I once was, but that’s what I was, and I’m starting to accept that it really isn’t what I now am.  Slowly.

I’m particularly pleased with this week’s results because they follow a week spent in a hotel, with the associated lack of control over exactly what I’m eating, the mind-numbing boredom of five evenings alone in a hotel, and the general expectation that I’d probably put weight on as a result.  Hotels aren’t necessarily the enemy of The Shrinking Man, but in some cases they certainly don’t make it easy.  Sadly this wasn’t some high-class swanky top-notch five star establishment, where a simple word to Marcel in the kitchen would have the finest salad money can buy being presented on a silver platter.  Nope, this was the cheapest Premier Inn that East-Anglian currency could buy, with a set ‘Meal Deal’ menu which allowed you to choose from eight separate highly calorific main courses.  And chips.  And puddings.

When I checked in to the hotel on Sunday night, I got an inkling of just how much I’m starting to change as a result of my shrinking.  I checked into a hotel which had no gym, no pool and which had a menu that provided no healthy-eating options whatsoever.  I hope you’ll believe me when I say that the pre-shrinking me would have been in his element.  But not the new me.  Not the ‘I’ve already lost nearly 20% of my starting weight and I’m now looking to lose exactly 20% of my starting weight’ me.  I immediately started estimating the points values of the foods on the menu, planning my breakfasts, working out which foods would be ok as they were, and identifying whether there were any that might be ok with a bit of substitution.   I also started hunting round the web for local gyms to see if any had offers on that might be useful.

The end result was a couple of starters that were ok, one main dish that was ok on its own and a couple more that were ok once I’d explained to the staff that potatoes could come in different options to chips (seriously – this took a while).  None of the desserts were ok, but with a bit of persuasion, I was able to substitute with a fruit salad each day.  I also managed to get a three-day pass at a local gym.

I’m a changed man I tell you!

I know it’s not all sorted for ever, and that it would still be really easy to slip back into my old ways.  What’s been really interesting is that, in a week where I had many things to use an excuse for doing just that, that I not only didn’t, but also, and most importantly, I didn’t want to.

The other interesting thing for me was that for a number of reasons this week, I’ve only been pointing my food properly at the end of the day.  Usually I try to do it as I go along, so I’m always aware of what I’ve got left for the day, but this week it was something I couldn’t do properly until the end of each day.  It turns out that I was pretty good at estimating my way through the days without the aid of the usual database/safety net.  I wasn’t always spot-on, but I was generally close.  The only place where I was significantly out was where I chose a sandwich for my lunch, thought I’d chosen one of the lower pointed options and turned out to have bought the highest pointed option.  The key thing there was that as soon as I started eating it, I knew I’d made the wrong call, as it had cheese in it that wasn’t in the product title, and just tasted heavier.  I kept the packaging and checked it properly that evening, and it was about double what I’d estimated.

I’ve just realised that I need a new target now!  I’ve reached the lowest that I was prepared to say I was trying to get to, and now need to decide where I’m going next.  I could stay here and be much happier and healthier than I was when I started, but I wouldn’t be happy knowing that I could go so much further.  Having gone through 5%, 10%, 15% and now 20% of my starting weight, it now seems a bit daft not continue the cycle, so my next target will be to lose 25% of my starting weight.  Actually it’s going to be to lose 1lb more than 25% of my starting weight.  That will take me to 13st 9lb (191lb/86.8kg) which will be 1lb below the lowest weight I’ve been in living memory.  I did get down to 13st 10lb for one week in a previous stint on the Atkins diet.  To get down below that weight by eating sensibly and exercising (aka something sustainable) rather than doing anything drastic like Atkins will be a huge achievement, and I’m really looking forward to it.  I’m 14st 9lb today, so that’s another stone to go before I get there, and I’m aware that it might take a while, but get there I will.

A statement like that would have felt like bravado a few months ago.  Now it feels like the truth.

Have a great week.

The Shrinking Man.

Three – is the magic number…

I always make a point of not preparing for this blog.  I hope that doesn’t make you, dear reader, feel unimportant at all, but it’s genuinely true – every Sunday morning I jump on the scales and then dive on here to let you know how I’m feeling as a result.  I’ve always figured that to plan and prepare this wouldn’t give an honest reflection of what this is really feeling like, and I think it’s important that I get the reality down on paper.  The glossy sheen that falls over everything after even a little time tends to soften the edges, and it’s in the immediate reactions to events that the learning experiences can often be found.

The reason I’m highlighting this today is that throughout this week, I’ve been preparing what I was going to write to you, and I wanted to apologise.  It has not been a good week.  Genuinely, honestly it hasn’t.  Woeful in fact.  I’ve felt unmotivated.  I’ve eaten rubbish food.  And a lot of it.  Fish and Chips.  Chinese Takeaway.  KFC.  I’ve comfortably gone over my daily, weekly and exercise points.  I’d managed to eat 39 of my 49 “emergency just in case” weekly points by the end of Monday. I’ve exercised less than I have done in the last month or so as well.  This pretty much set the scene for the week, and hopefully explains why I’ve had a little more time to think about how to document it.

And then I get on the scales.

-3!

Having been relatively dedicated and only just managed to lose a pound in each of the last few weeks, I really, honestly was not expecting that.  I’m giggling a little bit too.  Giggling is good and is officially my word of the week – feel free to use it (and of course do it) wherever you like!

It could be a totally freak reading of course, although I’ve taken three different readings this morning just to make sure.  In reality, I think this is probably a really useful example of why any single week’s results really shouldn’t ever be taken in isolation.  Neither last week’s -1 or this week’s -3 actually mean much, but the trend is the important thing – that means everything.

That tells me a number of really important things:

  • I’ve dropped 11lbs since Christmas
  • That means that I’m now finally below my pre-Christmas weight!
  • I’ve now lost 49lbs since the start of this journey
  • My BMI is now under 29
  • I’m now just a couple of pounds away from having dropped 20% of my starting weight

I’ve struggled psychologically with the whole ‘Christmas weight’ thing, and have been questioning whether this WW thing is still ‘working’ for me over the past week.  It seems odd that I can be questioning it when I’d lost 8lb in the previous four weeks, but that didn’t feel like ‘real’ weight.  That was Christmas weight, and somehow didn’t count.  There’s a big lesson in this I think, and that’s that I need to ignore whatever happened in the previous week, WHETHER IT’S GOOD OR BAD!  That weight gain over Christmas has been preying on my mind ever since, and in reality I should have ignored it and just carried on.  Weight gain is weight gain, and there is no point pretending that certain types of weight are different to others – at the start of every week you are a certain weight.  End of.  Fact.  No debate.

Does that make any sense?

The bottom line for me is that I’m still doing well.  I’m certainly making slower progress overall than I have in the past, but that’s life and stuff like that happens.  Well it does if you eat like I did over Christmas anyway ;-).  In reality what I’ve proved to myself over the past month is this:

  • I’ve proved to myself that by going back to what I know works, which is eating sensibly, exercising and tracking what I’m eating so I’m fully in control, then I can retain control over my weight
  • I’ve also proved that even when I start to let things go a little, I’m not letting myself go in the same way that I would have done before I started this (Christmas excepted of course;-) ).  Even the fast food I’ve eaten has actually been chosen quite carefully and pointed well
  • It’s very easy to be unrealistically negative
  • It’s also very easy to be unrealistically positive (if I don’t knuckle down and get a bit more control this week, then I’ll be moaning and complaining about a gain next week)

That’s a good thing, and I’m pleased.  I’ve got a difficult couple of weeks ahead, as I’ll be in hotels for a fair part of it, so will have less control over what’s on my plate than usual.  We’ll see how it goes I guess.

Have a good week.

The Shrinking Man