Looking Back

Wow.

I’ve just done something that I’ve been meaning to do for a long time – I’ve just re-read the early stages of this blog in full for the first time.  I’ve always wondered how it must read to someone who doesn’t know me, and having had six years pass between when I started this adventure and now, it feels like a different person at times anyway.  On the other hand, I can remember vividly some of the experiences and how they made me feel at the time, so it’s a strange mix.

I read from June 2010 to November 2011 and my overwhelming reaction to it was one of great sadness.  In all honesty, I feel really sorry for that guy, and I feel like I’ve let him down quite badly.  There were a number of real stand-out points – first of all was seeing some real-life evidence of the ‘pile it back on plus more’ reality of my dieting life.  I started this journey at 18st 4lbs, and within the text I refer to my previous attempt, when I started at 17st 8lb.  And here I am, starting again at 19st 7lb.  That’s a frightening trajectory.

I found it quite difficult to read how determined I was that ‘this time it would be different’ and that ‘this time I was never going back’.  To that guy, I’m really very sorry, because as usual, we were wrong about that.  Is it weird to refer to myself in the third-person?  I noticed I’d done that a lot anyway, but I seem to now be referring to myself in both the first and third person at the same time, and treating them as two different people.  Anyway, I hope you get the point.

It was fascinating to see the weight coming off, seeing targets being met and seeing my confidence growing all the time.  And then something changed.  Somewhere around 4 stone off, the wheels started to come off and I really started to struggle.  I was still losing weight, but very slowly, and I was losing control of my eating.  I could see it happening, but just couldn’t understand why.  I couldn’t understand why I was unable to stop myself doing all the wrong things again, and I was terrified.

Having reviewed the dates of my posts, I had seen that there was a huge gap of 20 months where I didn’t post.  I had a vague memory of finding it harder and harder to post as the weight went back on, but that’s not what is actually shown in these posts.  I was still bouncing around near my lowest weight (13st 12) at the time of the last post, and actually sounding relatively positive, but when I jumped forward twenty months to the next post, I found out a little more about what had happened.

I didn’t just stop posting at that time – what I’d done instead was, flushed with my success at losing significant amounts of weight, I’d changed the format of this site into more of a community.  I’d forgotten all about this, but the idea was that if I encouraged more willing shrinkers to come and join me, then I could help them, and they in turn would help me.  I do remember posting a little, but that did all coincide with the time when I started to put weight on with a vengeance, and it didn’t last long.  The community site lay dormant for a year or so if i remember correctly, until I realised I was still paying $30 a month for the site, so I shut it down.

Unfortunately, in the process, I lost all of the posts that I’d made on the community site, along with some posts that had been made by other people who joined in for a while.  The end result is that there is still a large 20 month gap in my posting history, but I do now know that it didn’t happen quite like I’d remembered.

If I’m honest, I’m really pleased that I’ve got this record of the journey – it’s a fascinating read for me, and I think it could be really useful for other people on a similar quest, even if it’s just so that they know that they are not alone.  It needs a happy ending though, and right now, it doesn’t have one.

Th overwhelming question in my mind is whether I have what it takes to keep the weight when I lose it this time.  Obvious question, and to be completely honest, the realistic answer is ‘of course not, but go ahead and kid yourself if it helps’.  The one thing that I find both interesting and promising is that what I clearly couldn’t understand was why.  Why I couldn’t do what I knew I needed to do and why I seemingly had no control.  I can’t begin to describe how difficult it was to read myself going through that torment.

Well at least now I think I do understand why.  Everything that I’ve read about set points and famine reactions provides the answer to that question.  It provides no answers.  Maybe there are none.  But perhaps just understanding that the ‘why’ is my body trying to look after me and get back to where I was before, is enough to make a difference.  Just understanding that it’s a natural process and it’s a reaction to weight-loss that we’ve evolved as it protects us from potential future famine, that at least provides the context, takes away some of the shame and the guilt that comes from the overwhelming lack of control.

I may write more about this, as it seems a little naive not to explore it and see what I can use – more soon.

The Shrinking Man.

Quick Update – Low-Carb Is Going OK

Hi

Just a quick update today – I’ve been back in the low-carb world for a few weeks now, so thought I’d take a few minutes to talk about how it’s all going.

Quick answer is it’s going ok.  I’m 9 pounds lighter than a few weeks ago, and I’m generally feeling ok about it.

Longer answer – it’s going ok, despite some ups and downs along the way.  I’m not following any specific formula or method, though as I’ve spent lots of time doing it in the past, I guess I have the Atkins approach at the back of my mind.  Seen in that light, I’m not adhering to a strict induction pattern, which has some positives and negatives connected to it.

If I were to be stricter about restricting my carbs, I’d be losing weight quicker than I am.  (I actually weigh slightly more than I did about ten days ago, though that’s as much due to a single low weigh-in than it is to anything else.) Instead I’ve been having fruit salads after dinner on a number of days, and where I’ve eaten out, that’s not been restricted to the berry-type stuff that Atkins would recommend for later stages.

The positives are that I feel less restricted, and I feel relatively comfortable that even if I do veer from the path for a day or two, then all I’ve got to do is get back on it and start again from there.  Having said that, there’s a double-edged sword in that too – one of the most wonderful things about low-carb eating is the lack of cravings.  It’s something that always surprises me, because I don’t tend to notice just how present the cravings were until they go.  Actually that’s not quite right – it’s not when they’re gone that you notice – it’s when they return, and all it takes for them to come back is a single bit of the ‘wrong stuff’.  More on that in a bit.

Things I’m pleased about this week – first of all, I’ve had a few days in a hotel, with the associated reduction in control over my food choices, and increased temptation that comes from being away.  I didn’t get too stressy about it all, and I didn’t throw caution to the wind and ‘give in’.  Instead I took what looked to be the best choices from what was available, and enjoyed it.  End result was a couple of pounds off after three days of hotel eating, which was a pleasant surprise.

Secondly, I’ve found it pretty easy to not overeat.  When I’m full, I’m stopping, and right now it feels pretty easy to spot the full signals, and equally easy to leave food on the plate.  In the long term, that’s more important to maintaining a healthy weight than anything else, so I’m pleased with that.

Thirdly, we took a family meal out to TGI Fridays’ to celebrate TSM Junior’s exam results.  The menu isn’t ideal there, but again, I chose what looked to be the best thing available.  This time though, there was a significant difference – all the food seemed to have been drenched in sickly-sweet Jack Daniels sauce.  Not a lot I could do there, so I ate it, but almost instantly I started to get the familiar cravings for other sickly sweet stuff.  It really is that quick.  What I’m pleased about is that I didn’t react to it, didn’t have the dessert that was calling to me and didn’t descend into an uncontrolled sweet binge when I got home.

Lastly, and perhaps most importantly in terms of successes, I’ve got a lot of ‘life stuff’ going on right now, which would make it really easy to drop any attempt at control for a while.  While the voices are there pretty continuously, calling on me to give in and eat stuff, I’ve not succumbed, and I’m pleased about that.

Main learning point for the week – caffeine and me really do not get on.  If I have more than one diet coke, then I will get awful caffeine withdrawal headaches the next day, unless I drink gallons of the stuff.  I’ve switched to caffeine-free (I know – abstinence is better, but shh – I’ve got a lot on my plate right now) generally, and am restricting myself to a single ‘normal’ diet coke on the occasions where I’ve got no caffeine-free available.

That’ll do for now.

The Shrinking Man

Picking Myself Back Up Again

Having hit rock bottom recently, something had to change.

Devoid of inspiration, and nervously aware that it flies in the face of all of the informative, if depressing, things about longer-term weight gain that I’ve read, I’ve come to some conclusions:

  1. I have to address my longer-term eating issues if I’m to remain at a sensible weight
  2. My current weight has such a negative impact on my general well-being and ease of self-worth that I’m struggling to deal with the longer-term issues while at my current weight
  3. So I need to lose some weight first, and then try to tackle the longer-term issues from a ‘better’ place

On that basis, I’ve started a low-carb eating approach and will see how that works out.  It’s been 18 months or so since I’ve dabbled with low-carb, and perhaps five or six years since I’ve approached it with any consistency, so I’m having to re-learn a lot of things.

My basic approach is to restrict my carb intake to the good stuff – salad and veg and to enjoy the protein and fat that will make up the bulk of my food.  I’m not going to be too anal about it, but it does take a bit of planning and general awareness to keep my head in it.  So far so good though – four or five pounds off in the first week, so that’s ok.

I’d forgotten how quickly the general cravings disappear, which is a pleasant surprise.  I’d also forgotten how quickly it gets really boring just picking at meat and that I need to put some thought into it to keep me motivated.  I’d forgotten about the nighttime leg cramps if you don’t get enough carbs – rest assured I’ll be trying my best to avoid them in the future.  Ouch.

It’s very easy to drift back into mindless eating, which I was surprised to notice myself doing, which suggests that I’ve made some progress in that area generally.  I’m trying not to get too het up about any of it right now, but over time that’s still a massive one to tick off.  I’m also back on the diet coke, and it’s easy to get back to binge levels on that, so I’m looking to moderate with water and other drinks.

In summary, I’m feeling a little better, in that I’m exercising a little control, and feeling like I’m doing ok.  Watch this space.

The Shrinking Man