All posts by TheShrinkingMan

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

Rock Bottom

Hi

I’m not sure whether I’ve ever felt this low before.  I probably have, but have managed to blank out the memory – I’m usually pretty good at that sort of thing – but I seem to have completely lost the ability to see the positive side of things right now.

I feel like the odds against me ever gaining control over my weight are so high and diminishing by the day, that I simply don’t know what to do.  I feel like action of any kind is likely to be a bad idea, but that inaction is contributing to my general low mood.  Which really doesn’t help much.

Let me tell you what it feels like right now.  I’m a 19 and a half stone man, and everything I’ve learnt so far tells me that while I can lose weight quite effectively, I can’t keep it off.  I’m reading a lot of studies at the moment that suggests that there are good scientific reasons for that, as my body is actively seeking to regain the weight I’ve lost, and will keep at it for years if necessary, until it succeeds.  It also adds extra weight on each time, perhaps to minimise the danger from any future weight loss.

That says that even if I manage to lose weight again, the only certain outcome is that I will put it back on again, with more on top.

I am not currently in control of what I’m eating.  I have no idea whether that’s because my body is still trying to hold on to calories as a result of previous weight-loss attempts, because I’m a greedy glutton or because I’m struggling with a number of food addictions.  probably bits of all of them.  That suggests that if I don’t diet, then I’m going to keep putting weight on.

So if I diet, I’m going to end up even fatter.  And if I don’t diet, I’m going to end up even fatter.

Add in the fact that several times a day I feel a dark cloud descending over me, and that my self-image and self-worth is so low that I can’t even bear to look at myself, and you end up with a pretty low TSM.

Oddly, for the first time in many, many years, I’m coke-free.  It’s been a couple of months or so now, and I guess I should be feeling some sort of achievement.  But I’m not.

I don’t feel healthy, I don’t feel happy and I don’t know what to do.

TSM.

Time for another list

I’m going to try something a little different here.  When it comes to lists, I’m a bit of a sucker.  I like to put together ordered lists of things that are good or bad, and use them to track my progress through many areas of my life.  If you go back through the history of this blog, (which I really must do at some point myself) you’ll find many lists of bad stuff that I do – essentially, lists of reasons why I’m fat.

Those lists then become the route map to thinness, with varying degrees of success, and eventually, the lure of the things on the list becomes stronger than the desire to avoid them.  From that point onwards, it’s just a short trip back to fatdom, and the general unpleasantness that all that involves.

So how about this then?  How about if I try to look at those things differently, and start to ask myself some rather searching questions about them?  I always remember how stunned I was when I realised that, contrary to everything that I knew to be true at that time, I did not enjoy smoking.  Once that realisation had sunk in, stopping smoking was genuinely easy for me to do.

Is it possible that I don’t actually enjoy the things that I do that keep me fat?  And if so, does that open up a new approach to shrinking that might offer a little more hope of longer term success?

Here are some of the things that I do that I believe contribute to my excess weight, why I think I like it, what the alternative viewpoint could be and the likelihood that the alternative could be correct

The Thing I Do/Think Why I Think I Do/Think It The Alternative View Likelihood that view is correct
Eating too quickly Because I love my food At present, I generally wolf things down due to a mix of habit and shame, and get very little enjoyment out of food.  Eating too quickly also makes it harder to spot when you’re full.

Eating slowly makes good food taste better.  You can savour every mouthful, and genuinely enjoy it.   It also shows up ‘crap’ food for the salt-laden rubbish it is – the first bite may give a rush of taste, but subsequent chews taste less and less good.

Very High
Drinking too much diet coke Because I love it and can’t do without it I’m used to it.  I’m probably addicted to it.  When I drink it after something naturally sweet like an orange, it tastes bland and chemically.  It doesn’t taste good on it’s own.  It used to give me headaches – maybe it even still does.  That means it’s an acquired taste, and that means I’ve taught myself to love it – that means it’s an addiction. Very High
Snacking in the evenings Because I can’t help myself It certainly feels like I can’t help it, not over any sustainable period.  By denying myself, it just builds and builds in my mind into something that I simply ‘have’ to have.  The guilt that comes from eventually ‘giving in’ just serves to reinforce all the bad feelings I have about myself.

If I’m hungry, and I’m eating it slowly, savouring every mouthful, then that sounds like it’s not such a bad thing.  If I’m not hungry, then saying ‘you can have it – no problem about that – but you’ll enjoy it more when you’re hungry, so hold on a little’ sounds like a plan.

High
Eating when I’m not hungry Habit, routine, not knowing what hunger feels like Food doesn’t taste as good when you’re not hungry.  That means that waiting till you’re hungry before you eat is more enjoyable.  Doing it ‘right’ is more pleasurable.
Cleaning my plate Habit, reward, being ‘good’ The thing that should determine how much I eat is my hunger.  Not the plate manufacturer or whoever dished up the dinner.

When I’ve stopped feeling hungry, that’s when I should stop eating.  After that point, food stops tasting so good, so it’s a positive thing to stop eating it.

Very high
Finishing drinks quickly Habit, reward, being ‘good’ I’ve never really thought about this before today, and am not sure that it’s relevant, but I certainly find myself forcing drinks down when I’m not thirsty.

Just as with food above, drinking when you’re actually thirsty tastes better, particularly water.

Medium
Not getting enough sleep I might miss something – staying awake is somehow ‘good’. The suggestion is that not getting enough sleep leads to weight problems, as the body has to replace the energy it’s lacking from food, so craves more.

I’m constantly tired.  Constantly.  Getting more sleep must make me feel generally happier and healthier.

Medium
Not drinking enough water I prefer fizzy drinks See diet coke above. High

 

Random musings at the moment, but interesting to look at these things differently.  The above suggests that instead of there being a positive side to some of my actions that counterbalances the negative outcomes, I’m looking at them all wrong.  That in turn suggests that there’s a way to change my approach to these things without it setting off a whole load of self-denial problems.

Anyway, it’s something for me to think about.  More as I make sense of it.

The Shrinking Man.

The Great Egyptian River – It’s all about Denial

I’ve mentioned before that I find my ability to control my eating more than a little frustrating.  Having stopped smoking and drinking successfully many years ago, I’ve never been able to understand why I find this so hard to control.

I think the way I’ve always rationalised it is that with smoking and drinking, I wasn’t looking to control, I was looking to abstain altogether, and that’s something quiet different.  If stopping eating altogether was an option, then I think I could probably do it, but sadly it’s not really viable.  And that means continuous moderation.  And that’s my nemesis.

I say continuous moderation, because I think it’s the continuous element that’s the problem.  I can be remarkably in control of my eating for days, weeks, months and even years at a time, but at some point, I lose that control, and all of my previous ‘good’ work is undone.  It’s also usually undone in significantly less time than it took to do the ‘good’ work in the first place.

I am questioning the very idea of being ‘good’ and the denial that inevitably involves.  I’ve read that the brain is very good at overcoming denial – it goes out of it’s way to help address any suggestion that you’re not getting what you want.  That suggests that as hard as I might work to deny myself the things that I believe I want, my own subconscious is working overtime to address what it perceives to be a shortfall between what I’m getting and what I want.

There’s an underlying theme here, which is essentially me trying to look at this in a different way.  I’m trying to look at it in a way that makes me loathe myself a little less, partly because it’s not much fun, but primarily because the self-loathing seems to join forces against me anyway.  It’s a self-perpetuating cycle of me trying, failing, hating, trying, failing and hating some more.  The shame that I feel is incessant and strong, and much as I’d love it to spur me on to take control, it seems to simply push me further down.

I’m conscious that I’m rambling here, but as nobody is listening, that kind of feels ok :-).

To pull this together in some way, dieting doesn’t work.  In fact it’s stronger than that.  Dieting makes you fat.  Well it makes me fat anyway.  My attempts to lose weight have exacerbated rather than helped over many years, and the sad fat bloke sitting here is the end result of that.  I’m not a bad person.  I’m really not.  I’m not some lazy, slovenly, gluttonous slob.  I’m just a little fucked up.  And I’m not alone.  I have to keep remembering that.   I’m in good company.  It’s not – just – me.

Every bit of advice I come across seems to be coming from a place where the intentions are good, but the knowledge is poor.  If, as I mooted in my previous post, this is been controlled at a hormonal level, then nothing I have ever read about how to control my weight and my eating could ever work.  Nothing.

That’s depressing, terrifying and makes me really, really angry.

Where my hope lies right now is that there are other hormonal processes that I can tap in to that might sit even below the ones that seek to regain the weight I lose.  The most basic physical processes must be based on something akin to ‘eat when you’re hungry, stop when you’re full’.  If that sits underneath everything, even the ‘must regain weight to get back to where I was before I lost it, and add a little bit more just in case while you’re at it’ then that might be something that I can use to do this.

It’s important that I learn to love myself just as I am.  I’m not a bad person.  I’m more than just my weight.  I do many things in my life, and am good at many things.  I cannot let my challenges with my weight continue to cloud every other part of my life.  If am to be fat, then at least be happy and fat.  Maybe becoming happy with my fatness might even open up new pathways to becoming thinner.  Maybe stopping trying to shrink is the best way to actually start it.

Who knows?  Certainly not me, and if I’m understanding the weight problems across the world right now, then nor does anyone else.

For now, I’ll settle with one sentence from above.

I am more than just my weight.

The Shrinking Man.

Still Here – Still Fat :-)

Yup – I’m still here, and I’m still fat.  Fatter actually, if truth be told, which probably isn’t much of a surprise to anyone who has read much of the sort tale told on these pages.  I’m still quite happy though, so don’t worry about me :-).

It’s been nearly a year since I last wrote in here, and I’m not sure whether this is the start of another period of regular activity, or just a ‘see you in a year or so’ type of thing.  I guess we’ll find out in the next few weeks.

Anyway, let me describe where I’ve been in my shrinking journey in the last year.  Going backwards is probably the simplest description.  I’m currently weighing in between about 18st 13 and about 19st 12, which is the heaviest that I’ve ever been.  I don’t feel particularly healthy, and my breathing when I’m at the heavy end of that scale is really not good,  So all good then 😉

I’ve drawn some conclusions over recent months that are driving my thought processes at the moment.  First of all, I’ve come to the conclusion that all of my previous attempts at dieting, whether successful or not in the short term, have all had negative effects in the longer term.  I’m just getting fatter.  Secondly, while being fat makes me unhappy, failing at dieting makes me unhappier still.  I’d rather be fat and relatively happy than yo-yoing and genuinely unhappy.  To be serious for a moment, my weight might kill me at some point, but I’d honestly rather have five or ten years of being relatively happy than twenty or more years of being this unhappy.  Putting all that together, and it says that I’m giving up dieting.

That may mean that I’m giving up shrinking altogether, though I don’t think that it has to.  I’ve seen a number of videos and articles that have suggested some reasoning behind the ever-increasing weight of the serial dieter.  The standard explanation says ‘lazy glutton stops being a lazy glutton for a while and loses weight, then goes back to being a lazy glutton and puts it all back on again and more’.  That explanation leads to a very unhappy shrinker, who will end up feeling really, really bad about themselves, and that will help too perpetuate the cycle.

The revised picture I’m trying to work out at the moment, goes something like this – ‘Fat bloke loses weight.  Fat bloke’s body acts as if he’s just lived through a famine, and sets out to regain that weight, no matter how long it takes.  It also adds some more on, to help minimise the chance that it would happen again.  It works at a hormonal level, and fat bloke has no more control over it than he does over whether he breathes or not.  Fat bloke’s body doesn’t know what he should weigh, but it does know what he did weigh, and that becomes the target of the entire body if the weight drops.’

On the one hand, that’s liberating.  It says that ‘it’s not my fault’ loud and clear, and the guilt that I live with every single day because I can’t seem to control this, could possibly begin to lift.  On the other hand, that’s terrifying, because that suggests that there really is nothing that I can do about it.  And I’m not ready to throw in the towel just yet.

So at this stage I’m focusing on a few things.  I’m trying to be mindful of my eating, being conscious of what I’m eating, how it tastes, and trying to genuinely enjoy my food.  I’m trying to eat what I want, and cut out any sense of denial from my approach – that ends in tears every time.  And I’m relaxing about the time that it might take.  While there’s a big bit of me that really, really wants me to lose a lot of weight quickly, I’m challenging that with the part of me that says making the changes that I need to make will take time.  A lot of time.  And that’s ok.

I’ll write more soon, but for now, just accept that I’m trying to approach this differently.

The Shrinking Man

He’s Lost Control

The Shrinking Man - One man's Quest to make less of himselfI’m not sure whether to laugh or cry, but as I can’t stand how my face looks when I blub, I think I’ll settle for some mild giggling.

Having blogged recently about how this shrinking lark was all about control,  I think I can safely say that I have more than enough evidence to back that up, because at this point in time, I’ve totally lost control.  I’m back in a world where I’m not in control of what I’m eating, and I’m hating it.

For the first couple of months of this year, I was totally in control of my eating.  For the next couple of months, I was flitting between being totally in control and a little out of control.  For the last few weeks, I’ve flipped totally over to the dark side, and I’m now completely out of control.

The positive thing about this has been that the catalyst in all the different stages has been my consumption of carbs.  When my consumption of carbs has been very low, I’m totally in control.  When my consumption of carbs has been erratic, I’ve lost control for periods, and then regained it once my carb consumption settles down again.  When my consumption of carbs has been high, I lose control altogether.

So far so predictable I guess.

This is the stage where in previous shrinking attempts, it all falls apart.  I revert back to my traditional out of control eating habits, all the weight that I’ve lost goes back on, along with a little more for good measure.  My mood settles into one of acceptance, and I drift along for a year or two before I get cross enough to start it all over again.

So I guess there are two key questions that I have to try to address:

  1. Is it possible for me to go through life never straying from my low-carb eating
  2. Is it possible to step away from low-carb eating occasionally without it ending up with me losing control completely

I’ve used the smoking analogy before, and I’m still trying to work out whether this is the same or not.  I spent years convincing myself that I could give up smoking, but then have a cigarette and remain a non-smoker.  That was rubbish, one cigarette was all it took to get me hooked again, but it took me years to accept it and finally stop for good.  Is my eating like that?  Do I have to accept that I can NEVER eat high-carb food again?  Will a single piece of high-carb food always lead me to this place?  An out of control fat-bloke feeling sorry for himself?

And if that’s true, can I honestly ever see myself actually being able to do that?

Honest answer to both questions is I don’t know.

I hate this.

The Shrinking Man

It’s all about control

The Shrinking Man - regaining control over my eatingHi all,

Time for an update, as I’m having interesting times 🙂

I’m still hovering between about 17.5 and 18 stone, which is obviously too heavy, but I’m surprised to find that I feel a huge amount better at 17.5 stone than I do at 18.  That seven pounds makes an enormous difference to how I feel mentally and physically, and how confident and relaxed I feel generally.

I’m not sure how much of an exact science this is, but once I hit about 17st 12, my breathing become a little more laboured during the day, and much more so at night.  I can’t really describe it much better than this, but I those few extra pounds make me feel much more than a few pounds heavier.  My clothes are tighter, and I just feel heavier.

Now to a person of more ‘traditional’ weight, that might seem obvious – a few pounds is a lot of weight, and seven of them is loads, but when you’re a lot bigger, the differences are often harder to spot.  They have been for me anyway.  I’m happy to be noticing some of the more subtle differences, so I’m not complaining about it, I’m just interested in it I guess.

I’ve been dipping in and out of low-carb eating over the last few weeks, and I’m learning a lot about how my body reacts to certain things.  I’ve always believed that it had to be an all or nothing decision – I was either eating low-carb or I wasn’t, and if I slipped off the wagon even once, that would be it, and I’d lose control.  In the past, I’ve certainly found that to be the case – once I dipped back into the high-carb world, that’s been it, and I’ve lost the control that I’d been enjoying.

I might be being rather naive here, and I may look back on this in months to come and establish that this was the point that I lost control altogether, but I don’t believe that it has to be that way.  I think that a better understanding of what’s happening when I eat certain foods gives me the power to exercise a whole lot more control than I feel I’ve been able to in the past.

If I’ve been eating low-carb and I step outside it even once, it has a number of effects on me.  First of all, I’ll put on about 3-4 pounds overnight.  That seems to be a clear pattern, and I did read something a while ago that explained what caused that, but I can’t remember what it was, so for now, we’ll just have to consider that it’s the Sugar Fairies moving in.  Secondly, I will crave other high-carb foods almost immediately, but I won’t notice that I’m craving them at first.  If I notice that I’m craving, and don’t give in, then within a couple of days of low-carb eating, the 3-4 pounds will drop off and I’ll be back to normal.  If I don’t notice that I’m craving, and I eat more high-carb foods, then before I know it, I’m back into the familiar craving-led cycle where I’ve lost all control of what I’m eating.

Let me just pull that apart a bit, because I’m not sure it makes sense when I say it out loud, even though it feels totally sensible to me.  If I notice that I’m craving high-carb foods, then I have decisions to make about what I eat.  Those decisions aren’t easy to make, but they’re consciously made.  If I don’t notice that I’m craving high-carb foods, then those decisions are made for me.  If I don’t notice that I’m craving high-carb foods, then eating them is as natural and automatic as breathing.  I just feel compelled to do it, but it’s not a conscious compulsion.  Does that make any sense to you?

Anyway, at some point, I realise that I’ve lost control, and I become conscious of the cravings.  By this point, it’s much more difficult to resist them, but there’s a really important point that makes it easier to work with.  If I resist the cravings to eat high-carb foods, then those cravings begin to subside within hours, and disappear within a day or two.  If I give in, then they embed themselves back into my life and they remain in control of what I’m eating.

So what does all that mean?  Let me sum it up as best as I can.  It means that while it’s a whole lot better and easier for me if I remain in a low-carb world, as the cravings that have previously dominated my life are kept at bay, stepping outside for a while isn’t the end of the world.  I’m starting to understand how my body and mind react to changes in my eating, and that means I don’t need to be surprised by it.  I can prepare myself for it, and regain control before it has a chance to bed itself in.

That’ll do for now – happy shrinking.

The Shrinking Man.

Doesn’t Time Fly etc. April 19th 2015

The Shrinking Man - 19th April 2015Well it’s been a while – how’s the wife etc?  I’ve had an interesting few months since I last posted here, so I thought it was probably about time that I posted here – I know how you worry.

So where should I start?  How about this – I currently weigh somewhere around 17.5 stone, which is about a stone and a half lighter than I was at the end of 2014.  Not earth-shattering in any way, and still much too heavy to be healthy and happy, but progress of sorts.  I actually dropped that weight off at the end of January and have drifted between about 17st 4lb and 17st 12lb ever since then.

I’m back in a low-carb world, and am generally enjoying it.  I’ve done low-carb eating before, and am always amazed by how good it makes me feel – I also end up wondering why I don’t eat this way all the time.  There are good reasons for that though, which I’ll talk about another time perhaps.

When I cut my carb intake down significantly, the cravings that I usually experience each and every day disappear completely.  I can’t begin to describe what that feels like.  Actually I probably can, so I’m going to give it a try 🙂  Imagine that you have a parrot sitting on your shoulder, that continually whispers in your ear, encouraging you to eat.  Wherever you are, and whatever you’re doing, the parrot is there, reminding you quietly that you should be eating.  Watching telly?  ‘Go to the fridge and get some food’.  Driving the car?  ‘Stop at the garage and get some food’.  Concentrating at work?  ‘Go to the canteen and get some food’.  You get the picture?

Weirdly, I was never actually aware of the parrot until I first tried low carb eating.  I’d lived with the parrot for so long, that I didn’t know he was there – he whispers ever so quietly you see.  He was as much a part of me as the shoulder that he sat on.  It was only when he disappeared that I realised he’d ever existed.

So when I cut back on carbs significantly, I genuinely don’t think about food.  I have to remind myself to eat at times, as it’s just not on my mind, and that makes it much easier to lose weight.

I have no idea whether everyone has a parrot, but I’d bet significant amounts of cash that most overweight people do.  Anyway, I can’t ever really know about them, but I can say for sure that I have a parrot.  When I feed him carbs, he encourages me to eat more carbs.  He does it very, very subtly, and unless I’m really listening hard, I can’t hear him consciously.  But my subconscious mind hears him perfectly, and eat I do.

The trouble is that eating very low-carb isn’t something that I find very easy to sustain.  All of the foods that I would consider to be my favourites are laden with carbs, and that makes it a significant sacrifice to cut them all out.  No more crisps, wine gums, midget gems (oh those midget gems 😉 ), biscuits, pizza and so on?

So what happens is that I’ll just have a little bit of something that I fancy – a pack of crisps at the weekend, or a couple of biscuits late at night – that’s not exactly going to kill me is it?  And that’s where this starts to get interesting, because that’s where the parrot starts whispering again.  BUT I CAN’T HEAR HIM!

I’ve been experimenting with what it feels like when the parrot starts again, and I’m learning lots.  I can tell you that it doesn’t last for long, unless you do what it says.  If you give in, then before you know it you’re back in the crazy world of out of control eating.  If you eat something carb-free or low-carb as soon as you notice he’s back, then it tends to shut the parrot up, but he will keep coming back for a few days until you’ve got the stuff out of your system.

There’s a whole lot more to write about this, but that’ll do for now – I’m tired and want to sleep.  The parrot wants crisps too, but he’s getting nothing tonight.

More soon.

The Shrinking Man

Objectives and Things to do

goals1I mentioned yesterday that I’d drawn up some objectives and things to do to meet them, but didn’t have time to get them up here.  Actually I was struggling with the limitations of the WordPress app, but I’ve found a better app to use now, so sharing can begin again.

My objectives at this point in time are:

  • To feel happy with myself
  • To improve my health
  • To reduce my risks of developing type II diabetes
  • To be able to wear nicer clothes
  • To reduce my weight
  • To improve my breathing
  • To look sexier
  • To improve my confidence
  • To have my daughter feel proud of me
  • To have my wife feel proud of me
  • To have my mum worry less about my health
  • To help me look more professional
  • To make clothes shopping fun
  • To feel lighter
  • To feel sexier
A few ideas to help me on the way to the above:

  • Drink more water
  • Eat more healthy meats
  • Eat more cheese
  • Eat more olives
  • Walk more
  • Cycle more
  • Dance more
  • Sing more
  • Eat more fruit
  • Eat more vegetables
  • Read more books
  • Go to the cinema more
  • Swim more
  • Relax more
  • Stretch more
  • Meditate more
  • Eat more slowly
  • Be more present
  • Sleep more
  • Be proud more
  • Be happier more
Some very specific things in there, with quite a few more general things, but enough to be going on with for now.
More as I think of it.

The Shrinking Man.

And so it begins again :-)

incredible_shrinking_manIt’s not quite new year yet, but I’m starting early. I’ve been under the weather for a few days – ropey throat – but am using the time to think a little on next shrinking steps.

Current weight is 18st 11.5lbs which is clearly very heavy. It’s heavy enough for it to affect my breathing, and to generally have me feeling unhealthy, and it isn’t sustainable.

All I’m going to say for now is that I’ve just signed up and paid for a 14 month contract at my local gym, and I’ve put together a list of things that I’m going to do to make some changes.

Happy Christmas etc.

The Shrinking Man

Get The NEED – Get It!

The Shrinking ManHi all

It’s always been difficult to write on here when I’m not shrinking.  It feels a little ludicrous to be writing about it when I’m blatantly not doing it, which is why you’ll see a fairly disjointed history if you look back over time.  When all is well, I struggle to contain myself before the regular Sunday update, whereas when I’m not doing well, I’m too ashamed to write.

Shame holds a powerful place in the shrinking world.  I feel ashamed that I’m fat again, and ashamed of what other people might think of me because of that.  I know I won’t be top of their list of things to think about on a daily basis, but I also presume that friends, family and casual acquaintances will see a grown man incapable of controlling what he eats and feel a degree of disgust.

It genuinely is true – I am incapable of controlling what I eat.  That’s both a horrible, horrible thing to admit to oneself, but also something that relieves some of the pressure of this.  It’s true that I can control this for months at a time, but absolutely true that I can’t control it on an ongoing basis.

There’s a temptation to use that acknowledgment as an excuse to give up.  To sit back and embrace the fatness within me, and just accept that this is who I am.  Let the diabetes, heart problems and other health issues that are waiting round the corner for me, let them have their way and let destiny take over.

I still don’t think that all is lost though.  I think that lack of control is fed by what I feed myself, and that for reasons that I’m not sure I can properly explain, some of what I eat drives the rest of what I eat.

I have no idea if this is common, or if I’m just a little odd in this way, but I still don’t think of myself as fat.  It’s still a surprise when I see myself in photos and get to see what everybody else sees.  I know I’m a big guy, but I still don’t really believe just how big – I have no idea if that’s a good thing or not.  Or relevant in any way – you’re getting a real dump of my troubled mind right now – sorry.

The bottom line for me is that my lack of control is making me desperately unhappy.  On a daily basis I struggle to do what should be easy, and over any significant period of time, I lose that battle.  I’m an 18.5 stone man, and that tears me apart.  I don’t want to be a fat man.  I really, really don’t.

Grant WilliamsI don’t think that as a society, or even as a species, we understand what’s happening to people like me.  I know I’m not alone.  This is a growing problem and despite massive awareness campaigns, obesity is getting worse pretty much across the globe.  Something isn’t working.

I’m going to stick my neck out and say that the things that we’re proposing as the solution to obesity, may well be the cause of obesity.  The shift towards low-fat foods, the massive increase in processed foods and the corresponding influx of sugar into our diets might just be the thing that’s driving this.  I doubt that I’m likely to crack the cause of this worldwide problem, but I’m determined to find out what makes me like this.

I’ve been experimenting a little over recent weeks, trying to understand what my reactions are to the foods that I eat, and trying to understand whether there are links between what I eat and what I then want to eat.  It’s early days, but I’d suggest that so far, I can say that there are three categories of foods.

  • There are foods that fill me up and satisfy me
  • There are foods that make me want to eat more
  • There are foods that make me NEED to eat more

This isn’t the most scientific approach of course, and it’s over a very short space of time, but there are genuine differences between what I eat and how I feel.

  • Real, unprocessed food fills me up and satisfies me.  I’m talking about meat, eggs, cheese and some fruit and vegetables (e.g. apples, salad vegetables)
  • Some food fills me up but makes me want to eat more – not necessarily of it, but other processed foods.  I’m talking about processed meats, some fruits and vegetables (grapes, potatoes)
  • Some food doesn’t fill me up at all and makes me NEED to eat more.  Here I’m talking about biscuits, crisps, chips.

That NEED that I’ve mentioned there – it genuinely is a NEED and I could no more avoid it than I could stop breathing.  But it’s triggered by other things that I eat.  It’s not there all the time.  If I eat real unprocessed foods, then I don’t get the same compulsion to eat.  I still have the desire to eat stuff, but that’s a habit thing, and is very different to the NEED.  The habit is something that isn’t easy to deal with but I can deal with it.  The NEED is different.

careyAnyway, right now I’m sitting back and studying what happens to me.  I’m not beating myself up if I eat stuff that isn’t great for me – I’m studying what it does to me, both in the moment and afterwards.  As it stands right now, I’m eating mainly the first category on Monday – Thursday and eating pretty much what I like on Friday – Sunday.  No real logic behind it, just taking some of the pressure off of me.  I’m actually dropping weight off while I’m eating better, but then putting it back on during the days when I’m not.

Today is a ‘eating what I like’ day and I’ll give you a very brief glimpse into my day.  I had bacon, eggs and fried bread for a late breakfast.  I was full, and had no desire to eat anything else.  Mid afternoon, I had some processed meats and cheese – I was relatively full, but wanted to eat more.  I had a bag of crisps.  Almost as soon as I’d had the crisps I NEEDED to eat something sweet.  NEEDED.  I don’t expect the thin blokes amongst you to understand that, but I NEEDED it.  I had six biscuits that I wolfed down in seconds.  No pleasure, just guilt, shame and calories.  For dinner I had a fish pie with peas and sweetcorn.  It filled me up and I had no desire to eat more.  I had some cheesecake for pudding.  I was tempted to eat more after that, though I wasn’t hungry at all, but avoided it.

So what does that tell me?  It tells me that there might just be reasons why I can’t control what I eat, and that those reasons might be connected to what I eat.  It’s not about the calories in a bag of crisps.  It’s about the calories that eating a bag of crisps makes me NEED to eat afterwards.

Early days, but interesting times.

Have a good week.

The Shrinking Man.

And so it goes on ;-)

careyWell once again, I’m officially fat.  I’ve just returned from holiday and tipped the scales at 19st.  19st!!!!

That’s really rather fat.  I’m feeling wheezy and out of shape and that’s not good.  I’m too old to not be getting to grips with this stuff – I won’t get away with it for ever.

So the eternal cycle goes a bit like this:

  • I get fat
  • I hate myself
  • I eat more
  • I get fatter
  • I lose weight
  • I hate myself
  • I eat more
  • I get fatter
  • Repeat till fade

It’s a very difficult circle to try to square – the hatred I feel for myself when I”m fat that drives me to lose weight doesn’t seem to disappear when I’ve lost weight, and that hatred makes me eat more and I get fat again.

Hatred may be too strong a word really – I don’t find myself detesting myself on an hourly basis, though I am aware that I am more critical of myself than I would ever be of another person.

That suggests that the real quest needs to be to learn to love myself.  When what you see in the mirror never fails to shock, disturb and horrify you, that’s a difficult thing to do.  I need to learn to love myself so that I lose weight because I love myself rather than because I hate myself.  That seems to make some sort of sense anyway.

I’m not kidding about mirror-shock.  I look at my face every morning and that I’m never surprised by.  I actually quite like it to be honest, though I can see the chins and jowls for what they are.  But whenever I see myself in a full length mirror or a photo, I never cease to be amazed by the fat bloke looking back at me.  I’m not sure what sort of denial I’ve got going on there, but it’s very strong.

Anyway, I know I eat badly.  Or well, depending on your point of view.  I drink too much fizzy crap and not enough water.  I eat when I’m not hungry and I eat to excess, and I eat a lot of processed crap.  I eat loads of sweets.  I eat a fair bit of chocolate.  I eat loads of crisps.  And I’m very fat!  Who’d have thought it?

I think if you were to sum up my attitude to food over the whole of my adult life, it’s been to cross my fingers and hope that one day, I’ll be able to eat as much as I want of whatever I want and lose loads of weight.  That’s probably not going to happen.

I’ve got a headache and I’m going to bed.

Thoroughly fed up.

The Shrinking Man

Sunday – my day of reflection

The Shrinking ManHi 🙂

Here in the shrinking world, life is really quite busy at the moment.  I mentioned last week that I’ve recently started a new work project, and that is taking care of my life between the hours of about 7:00 – 19:00 on weekdays.  I’ve got a number of things going on at the moment in my personal life, including a couple of bands that I play in, a radio show that I write and present.

While the overall workload goes up and down from day to day, it’s fair to say that at the moment, I’m occupied a fair amount of the time.  That’s quite important when shrinking, as it becomes really easy not to think about food if your mind is focussed on deadlines or other stuff that you just have to be done.

Weekends are hopefully a bit different, at least some of the time.  While the bands, the radio show and other stuff gets in the way a little, it’s less intrusive than it tends to be during the week, and the consequence of that is that I end up with more thinking time.  Time when my mind can wander towards food and just what I really ought to be eating at this very moment in time.  Which is where the problems often start.

Let me introduce a key question that I have in my mind at the moment.  Does cutting out processed, carb-loaded food switch off cravings for processed, carb-loaded food, or have I just been too busy to pay attention to them during the week?

A few weeks ago I was firmly in the ‘cutting them out kills the cravings’ camp, and at the moment, I’m a little less certain, and that’s down to two main things.  First of all, during the last week, I’ve eaten scones for breakfast on a couple of occasions, and not noticed any craving difference from when I just ate berries and yoghurt.  Secondly, last Saturday I had berries and yoghurt for breakfast and still had cravings straight afterwards.  I think the answer to both of those things might be that there’s a time limit to the craving effect that crabs drive in me, and that it’s a cumulative effect the more carbs that I eat.  Let me delve a little deeper into this and see if it makes sense.

Let me start with last Saturday’s berries and yoghurt breakfast.  That’s a breakfast that’s relatively low in carbs, and also pretty low GI in the wider scheme of things.  That means that it shouldn’t be delivering any major blood sugar spikes that I’m informed by the sciencey people are probably the actual cause of cravings.  So why did I suffer cravings (for left over KFC if I remember correctly) having eaten that particular breakfast?  Well I’d suggest that it could be the cumulative effect of the previous evening’s carb marathon that was still in my system the next morning, so that even the ‘right’ sort of breakfast wasn’t going to overpower the cumulative effect of the carbs.  Just to reiterate, the day before, I’d eaten hot cross buns, crisps, a fair amount of KFC, biscuits and more.

That makes some sort of sense to me.  So what about the lack of cravings during the week?  How have I eaten scones for breakfast but not been subject to cravings during the day?  I’m guessing here, but perhaps I hadn’t eaten enough carbs to cause me significant problems, and that the busy work schedule meant that by the time I sat and thought about anything, they’d worn off.  Not the most scientific basis for a conclusion, but I’m just trying to make sense of it.

What I do now is that it’s Sunday, and that I’m surround by cravings once again.  I’ve followed a similar pattern to last week, in that Monday to Thursday I’ve eaten pretty well, and from Friday it all changes.  I had crisps and a cereal bar type thing with my lunch, a Chinese takeaway for my dinner and I snacked a bit afterwards.  Less than last weekend, but still there.  There are some subtle differences though and I think they’re important.

I posted last week about the Craving Cycle and that I saw things a little differently as a result of that understanding.  That’s stayed with me this weekend.  I had some hot cross buns for my breakfast this morning, and almost before I’d finished them, my cravings were suggesting that I ought to be having something else.  I wasn’t satisfied by the breakfast in any way, it merely made me want to eat more, ably assisted by last night’s Doritos 😉  I know that in previous weeks, months and years, however hard I tried, I would give in to those cravings, because in the end, I wanted to get rid of the cravings.  The fundamental difference now is that I understand (finally) that giving in to the cravings doesn’t get rid of them.  Instead, it continues the cycle and causes the next cravings.

What is in my head right now is that if I don’t give in to the cravings, then they will go away.  I have no idea how long it will take today, but I don’t think it will be for too long.  There’s a certain calm that comes from understanding this a little better, and however unpleasant the cravings are (and for those of you who don’t have them, it really is an unpleasant experience) they’re not going to kill me.  It feels like I just understand it all a little better, and it brings perspective to something that I’ve struggled with for my entire adult life.

I feel like I’m getting a better awareness of how to approach this too.  There’s a cause and effect thing here and it’s one that I can use to help me overcome this.  If I eat some of the stuff that I know triggers my cravings, then I’m going to get cravings.  Knowing that, if I still want to eat that stuff, then that’s fine, but I’ll have to deal with the cravings that come with the territory.  If I give in to the cravings, then the cycle will continue for a while until I break it, and it will all have been down to whatever I ate in the first place that started it.  The next time I’m asking myself the question “do I really want to eat this?” then that experience should be part of the evidence for the prosecution.

Regular readers will know that it frustrates the hell out of me that I’ve not been able to beat this food thing.  Having stopped smoking and drinking without so much as a furrowed brow, the fact that I’ve not been able to stop myself overeating on a regular basis has always troubled me.  The truth is that I was able to stop smoking easily once I understood how the addiction cycle actually worked – essentially that the cause of the cravings for the next cigarette was the nicotine in the last one, and that it was nothing to do with me enjoying the cigarette.  That led directly to me stopping drinking too, as I was pretty clear that I drank for exactly the same reasons.  What I’ve been looking for is the same psychological switch that would let me understand the food problem in the same way.  On many, many occasions I’ve thought that I’d found it in the past, only to discover that to be untrue.  That makes me nervous about saying this, because I’ve been wrong so many times in the past, but the craving cycle would appear to me to be that switch.  For the first time, I think I truly ‘get’ it.

Only time will tell of course, and my promise to you is that I’ll share whatever happens with you.  May your shrinking week be interesting.

The Shrinking Man

PS – I lost a couple of pounds this week too – oddly that’s less important to me at the moment, but it’s still good news.


 

Current Weight – 17st 6lb
Starting Weight – 18st 4lb
Overall Weight Loss – 12lb
Current BMI – 34.0
Starting BMI – 35.7

The Craving Cycle

word-lockThree updates in a single day?  I don’t know whether to apologise or start charging.

I’d like to propose something here that seems to me to be quite sensible.  I’ve just had a sandwich, and am craving crisps with it.  I don’t think that’s a ‘normal’ state of affairs, as I’ve eaten sandwiches every day this week and not craved crisps with any of them.  That suggests to me that as a result of some of the stuff I’ve eaten over the past two or there days, my body’s reaction is to crave more of that stuff.  In simple terms, I think I’m craving crisps because my body wants more of the processed crap that I’ve fed it in the last couple of days – KFC, cheesecake, crisps, biscuits, chocolate and so on.

Now my traditional response here is to eat the crisps as a way of dealing with the craving.  Is that stupid?  I think it probably is anyway, but up until now I’ve allowed the cravings to win.  What I hadn’t considered before was that by giving in, I’m feeding the cravings and making them stronger.  Why hadn’t I considered that before? Because I’m a bit of an idiot at times I guess 🙂

What I’m trying to say here is that traditionally if I was craving crisps, I’d eat the crisps because it got rid of the cravings.  Even with all the cumulative downsides that came from eating the crisps, at least eating them dealt with the cravings and brought me peace.  What I’m saying now is that perhaps eating the crisps doesn’t deal with the cravings at all – perhaps eating the crisps causes them.  Just as a cigarette sets up the craving for the next one, so eating the sort of the processed foods that my body is craving sets up the craving for more later on.

Wow.

That may be obvious to many of you, but that’s just flicked a light-switch on for me.  That puts everything into a very different perspective and challenges my inbuilt response to cravings, which is usually to just give in so they go away.  But they never have done.  They’ve always been there.  But when I stop eating that stuff, they disappear.

I need to think on this for a while, but that’s a fascinating development for me, and I’m really pleased you were here to share it.

Enjoy your week.

The Shrinking Man


Current Weight – 17st 8lb
Starting Weight – 18st 4lb
Overall Weight Loss – 10lb
Current BMI – 34.3
Starting BMI – 35.7

Coke, Caffeine and Sleep Disruption

Coca-Cola-LogoI promised an update earlier on regarding the diet coke situation, and this is it.

Just to set the scene for those of you who are new to my ramblings, I have spent the majority of the last 25-30 years drinking mainly sweetened (sugar or artificial) soft drinks of some sort or other.  Diet coke has been the mainstay of my life for at least the last 15 years, and I’ve recently broken what I can safely say was a dependency – read here for more on that.

At first I abstained completely, then I dipped back in occasionally, and I’ve now been dipping in and out for long enough to be able to draw some firm conclusions from it.

  1. First of all, if I drink a small bottle or glass of coke while I’m out (diet or regular) then I can function perfectly normally.  I don’t feel desperate cravings to buy another one, and it doesn’t seem to affect me in any other way.
  2. Secondly, If I buy a large bottle of coke for home (diet or regular) then I’ll really struggle not to finish the bottle in one go.
  3. Thirdly, if I have more than a glass/small bottle of it, my sleep is really disrupted.  I can get off to sleep ok, but I will wake again after a couple of hours (oddly enough at around 2am every time) with an actual buzzing in my head.  I’ll struggle to get back to sleep at all, and what sleep I do get will be disturbed.
  4. Having had more than a glass or small bottle of it on one day, the next day I will feel cravings for more

I’ve noticed similar cravings from other fizzy drinks recently, but without the sleep disruption, which I presume is down to the caffeine (I don’t drink coffee so this would be my only caffeine intake).

So what does all that mean?  It probably means I shouldn’t be drinking any of this sweetened crap, but if I do, then I need to carefully control my intake of it.  More than a glass in a day and my ability to control the amount I drink after that is weakened considerably, and if it’s coke, then I’ll struggle to sleep.

That’s all for now – more as I think it.

The Shrinking Man


Current Weight – 17st 8lb
Starting Weight – 18st 4lb
Overall Weight Loss – 10lb
Current BMI – 34.3
Starting BMI – 35.7

What an odd week

The Shrinking Man - Weight loss for menHi all

Just a quick update today – it’s been a rather odd week.

When we last spoke, I was unsure how to proceed.  I knew I couldn’t continue eating what I wanted without losing control and piling the pounds back on again.  I also knew I was finding it difficult to give Atkins the dedication it requires to be successful.

I wasn’t clear how to proceed, so decided that I would remove a lot of the processed carb stuff from my diet, but not get too uptight about it all.  I’ve just started a new work contract, so have been ridiculously busy which has helped.  I’ve also had very busy evenings, which again has made it easier to distract myself.

What that’s meant is that I’ve had a simple bowl of fruit (mainly berries) and full fat greek yoghurt for breakfast on most days.  For lunch I’ve had a brown baguette with ham, egg mayonnaise and salad.  For dinner I’ve had whatever my wife and daughter have been having, but with less or no potato/pasta/rice at all.  For the majority of the week I’ve drunk water all day, with at most one glass of diet cherryade or orangeade in the evening.  I’ve not snacked all week.

The weekend has been different.  On Friday I had a couple of hot cross buns for breakfast, and added a pack of crisps to my lunch.  We then got a KFC as a treat of sorts in the evening, including a bottle of diet coke.  I hadn’t felt any different during the day on Friday, but once it got to KFC time, I certainly ate more than I needed to.  I still left some, but felt unpleasantly stuffed afterwards.  Following the KFC, I snacked a bit during the evening – I ate crisps, biscuits and a few other bits.  Nothing too much (not for a fat bloke anyway) but the old cravings were definitely back.

Saturday followed a similar pattern – I had my fruit and yoghurt for breakfast, but very quickly was into the leftover chicken.  Crisps and biscuits during the day and homemade pizza for tea, with cheesecake for pudding.  Again an evening of snacking, including a bit more cheesecake, some chocolate and some biscuits.

Since I left work on Friday, I’ve not touched a drop of water.  Everything I’ve drunk has been some sort of diet drink – some diet coke, but mainly orangeade and cherryade.

It’s Sunday morning now, and I’m finding writing this really interesting, as I hadn’t really taken on board just how much I’d snacked since Friday.  What’s most interesting perhaps is what led to the change in behaviour.  I guess it could have been down to a few things:

  1. I can’t do that sort of sensible moderation for more than a few days at a time
  2. As soon as I stopped being busy, I had too much time to think and my demons took over
  3. The food that I ate from Friday breakfast time started a cycle of craving that made it inevitable that I was going to carry on eating too much
  4. The artificially sweetened drink that I’ve been drinking since Friday evening has triggered cravings of some sort that made it inevitable that I was going to carry on eating too much

Now I’m sure that there are elements of all of those going on.  I’ve got a lot of ingrained habits to break, so it’s probably sensible to expect a few lapses.  Suddenly having time to sit and do nothing probably also played a part – it really has been a crazily busy week.  But my money is on the main driver being a combination of the latter two.  Once I started eating the wrong stuff, and drinking the wrong stuff, I found it pretty much impossible to stop eating and drinking more of the wrong stuff, and all the familiar cravings were back.

Does that mean I never eat stuff like KFC again?  It would probably be a good idea, but rightly or wrongly at the moment, I still see that stuff as a treat, and I like treats.  What I think it means is that I’m going to have to accept that when I do eat stuff like that, that it’s going to lead to some cravings that I’ll struggle to control.  If I accept that and still want to eat it, then that’s an informed decision that I’ll have to accept the consequences of.  The same for the drinks – the cherryade and stuff that I’ve loved since childhood can’t be all I drink – if they are, then I’ll always struggle with my weight.  I think the coke is different altogether, and I’ll write more on that in another update later.

Anyway, the long and the short of it is this.  I’ve spent the week feeling pretty much in control of what I’ve been eating and drinking.  Then at the weekend, I’ve changed things around and have lost control of what I’ve been eating and drinking.

And I’ve lost three pounds.  Which is rather funny when all is said and done.

Have a great week.

The Shrinking Man


Current Weight 17st 8lb
Starting Weight – 18st 4lb
Overall Weight Loss – 10lb
Current BMI – 34.3
Starting BMI – 35.7

And so it goes on

incredibleshrinkingman2Morning 🙂

It’s been an interesting week or so here at Shrinking Towers.  I’ve been very relaxed about what I’ve been eating over the last week or so, as I’m unsure of just what my next approach should be.  I’ve not necessarily eaten to excess that often, but I’ve not restricted my food choices in any way – I’ve eaten whatever the rest of the family have been eaten, and I’ve eaten whatever I wanted.  Can you guess where that ended up?  It ended up with me last night, sitting on the sofa eating multiple bags of crisps, chocolates left over from Christmas and midget gems.

Just in case there had been any doubt in my mind about it, that’s a useful reminder of what happens when I stop controlling what I’m eating.  I eat uncontrollably.

What is also clear to me is that this is not how it has to be.  For the last month or so where I’ve been eating a generally low-carb diet, I haven’t wanted to snack out at the end of the day.  I’ve occasionally had the urge to eat something in the evenings, but when I have, I’ve eaten something that fills me up, and you know what?  I’ve felt full and that’s been enough.

Actually, scrub that.  I really don’t think that full has anything to do with it.  I’m pretty much always full.  My desire to eat in those situations isn’t connected to hunger.  Does that make any sense?  My desire to eat, which is at times uncontrollable, has no connection whatsoever to being hungry.  There’s rather important stuff in there isn’t there?  First of all, if the desire to eat isn’t driven by hunger, then eating isn’t going to get rid of the desire to eat.  Secondly, it begs a different question – what exactly is driving this desire to eat?

I don’t believe I’m necessarily an emotional eater, though I’m not completely convinced of that.  I’m coming round to the point of view that what I’m eating is driving my desire to eat.  When I eat sugar-packed processed foods, I get uncontrollable urges to eat.  I’ve read a number of articles and books that support that as a possibility, most of which centre on insulin as the culprit, so there are certainly people who’d agree with my clumsy diagnosis.

My mission in life is to get in control of this.  It annoys me – it really does – and I’m determined that somehow I’m going to master this thing.  My instinct is to dive back into Atkins, embrace it fully and relax into a world of low-carb heaven.  I’m resisting that at the moment for a couple of reasons.  First of all, I’ve found it difficult to do the Atkins thing with enough commitment recently.  Secondly, it feels like I’m giving control to the late Dr. Atkins rather than getting control myself, which just doesn’t feel right.

Having said that, I want to eat a lower-carb diet, and cut back on the processed stuff that’s in my diet.  I’d like to think that will do a couple of things – first of all, it will stop the cravings and allow me to be in control of what I eat, and secondly, it might just help me to lose a little weight.

So – just random thoughts really, but very key to what’s going on with me right now – I’m not in control of what I’m eating, and I want to be.  And I will be.  Christ knows when of course 😉

Have a good week.

The Shrinking Man

New Year, Same Quest

The Shrinking Man - One man's Quest to make less of himselfHi.  It’s been a while.

It’s three and a half years since I started this blog, a couple of years since I stopped updating it regularly and five months since I updated it at all.  I’m about the same weight as I was when I started the blog, having lost more than 60 pounds and put it all back on again.  It would be best to describe me as being pretty much the same, but perhaps a little more jaded.

On the one hand, I’ve proved to myself that I really can lose weight when I set my mind to it.  On the other hand, I’ve proved to myself that I don’t know how to stop myself putting it all back on again pretty damn quickly.  Certainly much quicker than I lost it anyway.

Anyway, I’m tempted to write a little more at the moment, so I’ll give it a try and see whether it helps or not.  When things aren’t going well in the shrinking stakes, it can be quite a negative thing to write about it, so I’m not sure whether I’m in the right place to write right now (try saying that when you’re drunk).

Let me sum up recent events.  I’ve recently dipped back into the world of Atkins for a bit, but struggled to do it ‘properly’ and then got cross when I didn’t lose vast amounts each week.  I’ve dipped in and out of artificial sweeteners altogether, cut out coke, brought coke back in, cut back on coke and generally tried to be aware of what’s going on when I eat.

Here’s some stuff that I’ve noticed recently.  This will probably sound really obvious to all of you out there in thin world, but I’ve noticed that there are some foods that fill me up and some foods that make we want to eat more of them.  That seems to be pretty significant, particularly as the foods that make me want to eat more of them are foods that I eat a lot of.  All the snacks that I like – crisps, jelly sweets, midget gems (oh those midget gems) cocktail sausages, cakes, biscuits and stuff like that – they all fail to satisfy me, and make me want to eat more of them.

It’s not just snacking either – with things more closely related to proper food such as chicken, I think there’s some interesting stuff going on there too.  If I eat a chicken breast, I find it satisfies my appetite.  If I eat chicken that is coated, breaded, or generally covered in processed crap of some kind, then it doesn’t satisfy my appetite and makes me want to eat more.  That’s not quite true actually, I do end up full from eating breaded chicken, but not till I’ve eaten too much and am already feeling really stuffed.

Let me go a little further with this and see if it makes sense.  If I put a plate of chicken breasts in front of me, then I would eat until I’d had enough, and then I’d stop.  If I put a plate of breaded chicken breasts in front of me, I’d eat more, and there’s a good chance that I’d clear the plate, no matter how much was on there.  Chicken breasts = satisfied appetite, feeling physically comfortable and mentally in control.  Breaded chicken breasts = overeating, feeling physically stuffed and mentally out of control.  Factor in all the self-loathing that goes with that and you’re halfway to describing my life around food.

Let me add in another element to that.  Some foods make me want to just eat more.  Yesterday I had a traditionally unhealthy lunch of mushrooms, bacon and fried eggs.  I felt full and satisfied.  A short while later I had some wine gums that I just happened to find around the house.  First of all, I wasn’t hungry, and I knew I wasn’t hungry.  I really wasn’t enjoying them either – I really, really had to work hard to finish them all, which of course I did.  What I found particularly interesting was that a short while later I wanted to eat crisps.  I’ve hardly eaten any wine gums or crisps for a few months, which made it easy to notice that there was a link between the two.  If I hadn’t eaten the wine gums (which I didn’t really want and didn’t enjoy) then I wouldn’t have wanted the crisps (which I didn’t really want and didn’t enjoy).

There’s something significant in here I think.  My holy grail has always been moderation.  I’ve always sought this perfect mix of healthy eating and treats, but I’ve never been able to moderate the treats.  Never.  Not for any period of time anyway.  It might just be that what I’m looking for is never going to work – the very fact that I eat some of the stuff that I tell myself I want makes it almost impossible for me not to eat more of it.

I’m definitely coming at this off of the back of my brief stint with Atkins – the foods that I struggle with are pretty much all carbohydrate-rich processed crap, which ties in very strongly with the Atkins philosophy.  What’s been quite interesting for me has been delving a little further into the low-carb world and seeing that there’s a lot of people talking about similar approaches.

So what does that mean for The Shrinking Man?  Good question.  I’d say it means this – there are some types of foods that are likely to work against me when I’m seeking to lose weight.  Foods that not only make me want to eat more of that food, but also make me want to eat more of other foods.  None of the things that do this to me are what I’d class as healthy anyway.  Are they even foods?  Does something that doesn’t fill you up qualify as a food?  That’s a point for another day I think.

Does this mean I never eat those foods?  In an ideal world yes – I’m not sure that’s all that viable in the long-run (says the man who’s stopped drinking and smoking without so much as a second thought) but it would be great.  For now though, what I’m determined to do is to go into anything with my eyes open.  If I choose to eat those foods, then I’ll do so knowing what the likely impact of that will be, and being aware of it as it happens.  (I can see a link to cigarettes in this too.  If I don’t have those foods, I don’t crave them.  If I don’t smoke, I don’t crave cigarettes – more on this later too.)

Anyway, it feels quite good to be back right now.  That was an interesting piece to write.

More soon.

The Shrinking Man