Just a quick update today – I mentioned this in a previous post, but it’s happened again, and I’m not sure if I should even be paying attention to it, but it really bugs me at the moment.
During a facebook conversation with someone who’s become a pretty good friend recently, we were chatting about the gym, as we both go to the same one. We were discussing what we were doing there, and what we were trying to achieve, and she said that she was “in EXACTLY the same place” as me (her capitalisation, not mine). Now she might feel that she’s got to lose a bit of weight, but we’re talking about a few pounds here, or perhaps a stone or so. She’s at least 15 years younger than me, she’s fit and healthy.
IT’S NOT EXACTLY THE SAME!
IT’S NOT EVEN SLIGHTLY THE SAME!
This is quite difficult, because I’m not looking for sympathy, or understanding, but what I’ve got to deal with is not the same as what she has to deal with. She’s fine tuning, and I’m rebuilding. Or some other equally crap analogy. Perhaps just recognition of the task ahead of me would be something.
I’m feeling sorry for myself aren’t I? lol.
I probably need to let this go, and quickly, but right now, that bugs me sooooooo much.
Hi – I’ve had a couple of interesting experiences over the past couple of days, so thought I’d better share 🙂
First of all, I had a bit of a scare at the gym. I was on the treadmill, and I was pushing myself quite hard. It’s probably worth noting here, that this is all relative – what I mean is that I was alternating between walking pretty quickly and jogging slightly quicker, but believe me, that IS pushing myself quite hard. Anyway, I was jogging for longer than I usually manage, and started to get a very tight feeling across the left hand side of my chest. It didn’t hurt, but it didn’t feel good, and I slowed down quite a lot to see what happened. It stopped once I’d calmed down, and I was able to carry on with the rest of my workout, but it shook me up a bit.
I went to see the doctor this morning, just to talk about it, and he’s booked me in for some blood tests, but he’s not overly concerned. Or at least I hope he’s not, as the blood tests aren’t for ten days or so. The morbid side of me is slightly amused at the epitaph that sentence would turn into if he’s called this very, very wrong…;-)
It made me think about the way I’m approaching the exercise. So far, I’ve been pushing myself harder and harder each time I go, and I think I need to take a step back and take things a little easier for a while. I’ve been loving feeling myself getting stronger and fitter with each week, and at times I’ve felt absolutely fantastic, but I think I need to acknowledge that I’m not 20 anymore. Not that I was all that active at 20, but you know what I mean. Anyway, I think I need to be happy with exercising at the same level for a while and take things a little slower. What I’m doing now is a massive step up from what I was doing a month ago, so I don’t have to keep pushing further and further. Not just yet anyway…
The other thing I wanted to talk about was an interesting revelation that I’ve had. This is another one of those that I’m sure the thin world already knows perfectly well, but it jumped out at me as something quite interesting.
Here it goes.
Crap food doesn’t fill you up.
My standard response to feeling a bit peckish when it’s not a traditional mealtime is to grab a snack of some sort. A bag of crisps, or a biscuit or something relatively unsubstantial and unhealthy. I’m a little more aware of feelings of hunger at the moment, and I’ve noticed that if I’m actually feeling hungry and I have some sort of snack, I’m still usually feeling hungry afterwards. That means that I usually end up eating something sensible and more filling afterwards anyway. If I do it the other way around, and eat the healthy, filling thing first, then the hunger goes.
There are two specific outcomes to taking the former route, one for my current shrinking life, and one for my former non-shrinking life. In my current shrinking life, that means that I end up using points that I didn’t need to use, and meaning that I need to cut back somewhere else in the day to stay within my daily allowance. In my former non-shrinking life, it would mean that I’d eat more and get fatter. Hence the non-shrinking 🙂
This concept of there being consequences to my eating choices is still an interesting one for me. I can eat whatever I want, but if I eat something that’s heavy in points (or calories/saturated fat in a non-WW world) at one meal, then unless I cut back somewhere else as a result, then I’m going to store those extra calories as fat, and I’ll put on weight. It’s horribly straightforward when you look at it in those terms isn’t it?
Shall I tell you the truly big thing that’s going round my head right now? This journey is not about losing weight. Let me repeat that. THIS JOURNEY IS NOT ABOUT LOSING WEIGHT! It’s about learning how to eat sensibly. When I do that, then the weight will come off anyway. I’ve proved time and again that it doesn’t work the other way around. If you focus on losing weight, you don’t necessarily learn to eat sensibly. That means that as soon as you stop actively trying to lose weight, you put the weight back on again.
The Shrinking Man should really be called The Learning To Eat Sensibly Man, but it doesn’t sound anywhere near as good, so I’ll stick with the original idea 🙂
Right – first of all, I’m really pleased with myself right now. I started this journey at 18st 4lbs and I tipped the scales yesterday morning at 17st 5lbs, which means that I’ve just reached my first target, which was to lose 5% of my starting weight. This is what is generally regarded as a good thing. I’ve now reset my target to 16st 6lbs, which will mean that I’ll have lost 10% of my starting weight.
I’m not sure yet what my overall target is. I have an idea that it’s somewhere around 12st, but that seems so far away that I’m not interested in focusing on that just yet. I think there’s an important issue there for fat blokes, as we’re usually encouraged to identify a very clear end result and go for it, but I think that approach can cause problems. This might just be me, but setting a smaller target like the 5% means that a very small weight loss can still make a significant difference towards the target, and that can really help to keep positive. I’ve currently lost 13lbs. That’s just one pound under a stone, and it’s something I’m very proud of. When measured against the 5% target, or the 10% target, that feels like a real achievement. When measured against a total target of over 6st to lose, it’s easy to feel like you’ll never get there.
One of the key things that I’m preparing myself for is that the rate at which I’m losing weight will drop. It will do soon, and it should do too – as I updated my progress online this morning, I was informed that as far as WW are concerned, I’m losing weight too quickly, and it’s not good for my health. The recommended rate of healthy weight loss is 1-2lbs a week, and if you work on the basis that the lower figure will be the norm, the time that it will take to reach any target obviously increases. If my target is to lose another 13lbs, then it’s OK to look at that and see that at 1lb per week, then I’ll reach that target in another 3 months or so. That’s a long time, but it’s something that seems feasible, and it seems feasible that I can maintain what I’m doing for the next 13 weeks. If my target is to lose another 75lbs or so, that’s difficult to imagine, it’s difficult to accept that I can do it, and it’s difficult to see a 1lb loss as anything significant. I’m not sure if that makes any sense to you, but it seems very sensible to focus on shorter term, smaller targets right now.
I’ve had a couple of very interesting experiences in the past 24 hours that I wanted to get down on paper/screen/whatever you call it these days. First of all, I had a bit of a binge evening yesterday. I actually weighed myself a day early, as I knew I wouldn’t be near my scales this morning, so knew that I’d hit my target, and went off to a family BBQ with a big grin on my face. I ate a lot. This is actually a good thing in a number of ways. First of all, I’d saved up a large number of points throughout the week, and also earned a large number of points at the gym, which mean that even though I pigged out a bit, and ate more than I really should have, or even wanted to, I still ended the week with about 15 points to spare. Secondly, I’m reliably informed by my good lady wife that even though I felt like I’d eaten a lot, I didn’t eat anywhere near as much as I would previously have done. Thirdly, I still wrote down everything that I’d eaten, and pointed it all – that’s the point at which it’s very easy to stop writing it all down (as it doesn’t make fantastic reading) but I took it all in my stride, pointed it all properly, and carried on eating more healthily today.
The other experience was potentially more disheartening, but I am refusing to let it be so. I weighed myself a day early, as I was going to be staying with relatives, but this morning I found myself in the bathroom, looking at my relatives scales and wondering whether I should step on. The little voice in my head (did I really call him Sebastian the other week?) was giving me some very good advice, saying “nothing good can come from this – do NOT step on those scales”. Of course, I didn’t listen, and got on the scales anyway. Result? According to those scales I was actually a full 6lbs heavier than I was the previous morning. Sorry Sebastian – you were right! Anyway, whereas something like this may have crushed me in the past, it’s not going to this time. Had I put on 6lbs in 24 hours? Nope. End of story. It’s possible that my scales are consistently recording me as being 6lbs lighter than I am, but even if that’s true (and it’s just as possible that my scales are accurate and the other ones are wrong) then I’ve still lost 13lbs in the last four weeks, so IT DOESN’T MATTER!
I’m not sure why it’s been difficult, but today has been pretty horrible. For no reason that I can discern, I’ve felt an overwhelming compulsion to eat on a number of occasions. It’s a feeling that I’m familiar with, as it’s been a fairly regular visitor for as long as I can remember, and it’s quite difficult to describe.
It’s not a craving, or at least it’s not in any sense that I’d understand. If I understand it correctly, when people talk about experiencing cravings, they’re referring to an urge to eat a specific food. This isn’t like that. It’s not a craving for anything in particular – just a compulsion to eat. That’s what it feels like anyway.
From previous experience, I’m aware that all isn’t what it seems in this situation. The compulsion doesn’t disappear, no matter what you eat, so it probably isn’t even a compulsion to eat at all, but that’s definitely what it feels like. It’s like an itch that needs scratching, or an emptiness that needs to be filled. It’s odd actually, because it obviously does disappear at some point, but I’ve never actually noticed when it goes, just that in the past I’ve piled food down my throat in response without noticing any relief from the compulsion.
Whereas historically, this would definitely have ended whatever diet attempt I was making at the time, I haven’t let it stop me shrinking just yet :-). My immediate response was to grab a biscuit (albeit a low points Weight Watchers biscuit) but that didn’t change anything. That’s where I would normally dive into anything that I’ve got in the cupboards and keep on eating, but instead I reached for the fruit bowl and grabbed a banana. Oddly enough, eating something healthy seemed to do the trick for a while, although I’m not completely convinced just yet, as there’s another angle to this that I need to consider.
I drink a lot of diet coke. And I mean a lot. I’ve never tried to keep track of the amount that I drink, but I’m aware that I drink too much of it to be healthy, particularly bearing in mind the caffeine content. One of the things that I didn’t have in the house today was diet coke, and I think there’s a possibility that a lack of either Diet Coke itself, or perhaps the caffeine it contains might have something to do with the compulsion. It may just be coincidence, but the other thing that I did after I’d eaten my banana was take a walk up to the local shop (not a drive I hope you’ll notice) and buy some Diet Coke.
That suggests that there are possibly five things that dealt with whatever that compulsion was all about:
That glorious banana
The walk to the shop
The Diet Coke
Anxiety about not having any Diet Coke
The walk taking my mind off of it
It’s come back a few times throughout the day, and I don’t have the faintest idea whether that makes it easier or more difficult to pin it down, but it’s been manageable.
What I do know is this. Something that I can’t really define or explain that often happens to me, that when it happens usually puts a halt to any attempts to lose weight, happened today. And I didn’t let it stop me shrinking.
Hi. This is quite a tough one to write, but I need to get this one out.
At the moment, I’m petrified. Really, really scared.
I’m loving this new lifestyle, and I’m loving where it could lead, but I’m terrified that I’m going to muck it all up and go back to full-on fat-bloke status. I know that’s not the way that I’m supposed to be thinking, and I’m certainly not supposed to be discussing it openly, as that’s probably setting myself up for failure. The trouble is, I have every past failure weighing me down, and that’s a really heavy burden to carry. I’ve been here before.
It does feel different this time. Truly. But it’s felt different before as well. To paraphrase a certain Mr Mercury, “It feels right for the first time, and this time I know it’s for reeeeeal”. Or something like that.
The bottom line is that I’ve been eating sensibly for just over three weeks now. Three weeks. That’s it. And I’ve eaten less than sensibly for most of the past 27 years or so. That’s 1404 bad weeks, and three good ones. That does put it into perspective, and makes it difficult to really mark down what I’ve achieved over the past three weeks as being anything other than a temporary blip.
Thoughts like that are ever-present. I’m aware that they’re destructive, and potentially harmful. I’m also aware that they’re realistic, and pretending otherwise doesn’t change that fact. In reality, I’m changing the way that I eat for the long-term, and not for the short term, but I’m living in the short term, which is what makes it so difficult. I don’t think I could ever put into words how much hope and fear I have in my heart when I step on the scales for my weekly weigh-in. I know that my weight loss will slow down, and that at times I won’t even lose weight in any given week, even if I’m sticking with the program perfectly. BUT I JUST DON’T WANT IT TO STOP YET!
Can I tell you something really sad? Truly awfully pathetically sad? I’ve been meaning to get my haircut for a couple of weeks, and hadn’t got round to it. I got it cut on Saturday, and while there are probably quite a few other reasons for it, including wife-pressure (a very powerful force) and personal pride, the main reason that I got it cut on Saturday, was because I had a weigh in on Sunday morning, and I thought it might help. God help me. Lol.
I have to be OK with not losing weight for a week or more if I’m eating sensibly and healthily, and if I’m exercising. I’m scared that I’ll reach that point next week, and if I don’t reach it this week, then I’ll be scared about it the week after. It shouldn’t make a difference when it happens, as it won’t mean anything, but I’m scared that I’ll let it mean more than it should.
Third weigh in this morning and another 3lbs off. That’s 10lbs in total, and to say I’m as pleased as punch would be an understatement. Let me summarise where I am right now – I’m eating far, far healthier than I have done in years, and I’m loving it. More fruit than I’ve ever eaten, and lots of salad and vegetables too. I’m not starving myself at all – if at any point I feel hungry, then I’ll find something too eat – the key is it would probably be something healthy and filling rather than the sort of crap I would have eaten before.
I’m also exercising more than I have done in years, and I’m genuinely enjoying that too. I’m not running marathons or anything, but I’m doing 40 minutes of strenuous exercise at the gym three times a week, and taking opportunities for walking and stair climbing wherever possible. I stayed on the 11th floor of a hotel in Cardiff earlier this week. At one point I was waiting for the lift with a small group of people, and we’d been waiting for quite a while. There were general mumbles of discontent from the people around me, so I took the stairs. I voluntarily chose to walk 11 flights of stairs. Now we were going down, so I can’t claim any major physical achievements here, but mentally it was quite a shift for me.
I’m having strange experiences. I’m getting hungry. But in a good way. When it comes to somewhere near to meal time, there’s a ‘getting empty’ feeling in my stomach that’s actually quite pleasant and makes the food taste better. My stomach rumbles! These probably aren’t that much of a revelation to the thin-bloke in the street, but they’re actually quite exciting to me.
I had an interesting experience yesterday. Twice.
I like sausages! There – I’ve said it. I really do like sausages. Ideally fresh, meaty and organic, but to be honest, I just love sausages. Now sausages can be quite high in points, so a little care has to be taken – I’ve only had one type of sausage since I started this and they were 3 points a piece. If I was to have four of those, then that’s more than a third of my daily points total in itself, so caution is needed.
Now on a trip to Morrisons the other day, I’d brought some special “eat-smart super low fat and fantastically healthy” sausages to make it slightly easier to fit them into my eating plan. They had 1 point per sausage instead of the 3 mentioned above, which made them easy to fit into any meal. And to be completely honest, it also meant I could eat loads of them if I wanted to.
To cut a long story short, they tasted of nothing, and the texture was horrible and just wrong. I ate five of them. Five sausages, each one probably quicker than the last, as I sought flavour, and lets face it, probably fat but all to no avail.
I had a similar experience late last night. My wife and I both grabbed a pack of crisps on the way up to bed (wild aren’t we?) She grabbed a pack of French Fries (1.5 points per pack), as she’d been out drinking, and sometimes you just have to grab a pack of French Fries when you’ve been out drinking. I grabbed a pack of special Weight Watchers hula hoop type things (1 point per pack and especially made for, well especially made for fat blokes) because she was having crisps, and some habits are just difficult to break 😉 .
Similar scenario – the lower point stuff was tasteless and boring. The texture was right, but the taste was all wrong. My wife described it as eating crunchy air.
So there’s probably no big surprises there, even for me. Modified versions of relatively unhealthy foods don’t taste as good when they take all the calories out. What was different was my internal response to it. With the sausages, I made a mental promise to myself that in the future I was only going to eat decent, tasty sausages, and that it would be nicer to eat a couple of those than a dozen of the tasteless crap things. If I’m still hungry afterwards (which I probably wouldn’t be), then I’ll have some more veg or fruit to fill me up. With the crisps, then if I’m going to eat them, I might as well enjoy them, so I’m going to buy shares in Walkers so I get some benefit from the experience 🙂
Just a quick tale here about a bag of crisps. I know that’s not quite up there with “I have a dream”, but it’s all I’ve got at the moment…
I was working away in Cardiff earlier this week, and stopped at a garage on the way down there to buy some lunch. This wasn’t the brightest idea, and in reality I should have eaten before I left, where it would have been much easier to make sensible choices, but I’d listened to the voice that said I really had to leave right then. The fact that the garage that I stopped at was only about twenty minutes from my home just shows how daft that idea was anyway. You know what? I think I need to give the voice in my head a name. This is real spur of the moment stuff, but I think it would help to explain some of what goes in inside my head, and might also help to minimise its impact by externalising it. Or something like that…
So what can it be called? It needs to be a name that isn’t powerful in any way shape or form, but that makes some sort of sense. Or perhaps it should just be something that makes me laugh. Or something that’s just odd. For some obscure reason I seem to have the name Sebastian in my head. Is this the sign of some sort of breakdown? Would a Doctor consider me to be slightly twisted if I start to refer to the narrative voice in my head as Sebastian? Well I guess there’s only one way to find out…
So, Sebastian (That’s my inner voice for those of you who weren’t paying attention in the previous paragraph – I’m really not sure if this is going to work…) had told me that I should get my lunch at a garage rather than at home, so I did as I was bid. I spent a while looking at the sandwiches, and chose a Tuna and Cucumber sandwich as being one that I expected to be both low in WW points, and also relatively pleasant. I’d decided that I also wanted to buy a packet of crisps. To be more specific, I’d decided that I also wanted to buy a packet of Salt and Vinegar Discos. Now this might seem strange, and I’m not sure that I really understand this all that well at the moment, but I think that Sebastian had decided that I was going to have those Salt and Vinegar Discos. I’ve bought those same crisps from that same garage on many occasions in the past, and while I don’t recall any conscious decision that I was going to do the same again, I have a feeling that Sebastian has more of an influence over me than I would care to admit.
Anyway, there’s nothing wrong with having a packet of crisps per se. One of the cornerstones of the Weight Watchers program is that you can eat pretty much what you want, but you have to do it within a certain points limit. That means that if you choose something that’s got a lot of points, then you’ll probably have to cut back on something somewhere else as a result. Pretty sensible really.
The problem here was the way that I rationalised to myself that I was going to have that particular packet of Salt and Vinegar Discos. It went something like this. First of all, I knew that there were some sorts of crisps that were particularly low in points, and that were ideal for anyone on a Weight Watchers eating plan. The ones that I had in mind were Walkers French Fries, which come in at about 1.5 WW points per packet. That fits comfortably within my allocated points budget, which at the moment is 31 per day. Now there is nothing to connect Walkers French Fries and Salt and Vinegar Discos in any way shape or form, except that they are both crisps that are very loosely connected to a potato. Bearing in mind that most crisps are at least double the 1.5 points of French Fries, it’s certainly not sensible to conclude that the Salt and Vinegar Discos would also be low in points. But I did.
Where this gets really odd is that the packet of Salt and Vinegar Discos was more than double the size of a standard bag of crisps. More than double the size of the 1.5 point bag of French Fries that I was incorrectly comparing it to. So there were two real errors of judgement screaming out at me to take notice of them – first of all, that there was nothing to suggest that my chosen crisps would be as low in points as another unconnected type of snack, and secondly, that the pack size was double the size of a standard pack.
To my credit, when I reached the hotel, I calculated the points properly and added them all to my daily planner. The total amount for the bag of crisps? Six points. Four times the amount that I’d used in my head to convince myself (or should that be that Sebastian had used?) to eat them. Now just to reiterate – there’s nothing wrong with eating a six point bag of crisps. There’s just something of a problem when the thought process that you use to decide that you’re going to eat them is blatantly flawed.
Does this mean anything? Not the faintest idea. Will it help me in the future? It might actually, as it’s going to make me just that little bit more aware of what I’m thinking, and why I might be thinking it. And it certainly makes me very dubious of Sebastian.
The mind games that go on in the confused and muddled head of the fat-bloke are fascinating. It’s possible that thin-blokes have the same sort of things going on, but it’s so long since I was one of them that I really can’t comment with any accuracy.
One of the cornerstones of the Weight Watchers approach is to record what you eat, and calculate the ‘points’ value for each food item (the points value of a food is arrived at by some super-duper sciencey calculations based on the calorific content and the amount of saturated fat). That shouldn’t be too tricky really, and Weight Watchers go out of their way to provide simple methods for you to work it all out – I’m following the online version, and all I have to do is type the food in and it will tell me the points.
Would that it were so simple…
There hasn’t been a day so far where I haven’t had to really fight myself to make sure that I record what I eat accurately. That little voice in my head (the one that we all have in our heads that gives a running commentary on your life – and if you think you haven’t got one of those, then it’s the little voice in your head that just told you that you haven’t got one) says each and every day “you don’t need to write that down”. If there’s a choice between what I could record something as, then the voice is there, urging me to “choose the lower one”, even if it’s plainly ridiculous. The same voice is also continually urging me to drop the whole idea, and to “JUST EAT!”
It’s an extremely destructive thought process, and while it’s quite amusing when you write it down, it’s actually quite challenging to live with it all the time. Now it’s distinctly possible that everyone has that sort of self-destructive dialogue going on internally, and that thin-blokes are just far better at ignoring it. I guess it’s also possible that for some people, for whatever reason, their brains have become programmed over time to sabotage their attempts to change, and to make improvements. I think it’s possible that this self-sabotage is actually the real problem behind persistent fat-bloke status. I know from my own previous experiences that on occasions I would eat fairly large quantities of food that I neither wanted nor enjoyed, particularly when I was trying to lose weight and that’s just insane.
I don’t have any conclusions to make here – just thoughts and ramblings – more soon (sorry;-) )
Second weigh in – 3lbs lost. That’s seven pounds in total, which is half a stone in two weeks. I’m really pleased, and am feeling quite proud of myself, as I’ve really dedicated myself to my shrinking art this week.
I’m very aware that this rate of weight loss won’t continue, and it’s probably not healthy if it does. After the first few weeks, Weight Watchers aim for people to lose just a pound or two a week, and I’m interested to see how different that feels when the progress is slower. There will be weeks where I’ll stay the same weight I’m sure, and also weeks where I’ll struggle with the whole thing and maybe even put on weight. That’s where the challenges lie, so I’m mentally preparing myself for those now, while I’m feeling pretty good.
It’s quite difficult to stay motivated, even when you’re losing weight, as the sheer scale of the task can sometimes make it seem that 3lbs just isn’t much at all really. It’s all relative I suppose – 3lbs to someone at 18st (17st 11 now 😉 ) is not as significant in the wider scheme of things as it would be to an 11st person. Perhaps it is though. I don’t know. All I can say is that today, I’m feeling proud, and that I’ve achieved something significant, and that I’m now well on my way to my first target which is 17st 5lbs. I’d like to think that I can hit that target within a month or so, and that would mean that I’ll have lost 5% of my starting weight.
Let me tell you something about this whole losing weight thing. It’s always, always easy to lose weight. It’s difficult to keep losing weight for any significant period of time, and it’s harder still to keep that weight off. For a fat bloke anyway. If you scratch the surface of a fat bloke (which to be honest, probably isn’t a good idea – it can take ages to get that stuff out from under your fingernails) you’ll be scratching a serial dieter of some sort.
In the past I’ve lost weight on the Atkins diet (about 4.5 stone I think), I’ve lost weight on Weight Watchers (about 2.5 stone I think), I’ve lost weight on Paul McKenna’s method (1.5 stone or thereabouts) and I’ve even lost weight by just eating sensibly (countless stone over the years). There is of course a recurring pattern in this, in that I’ve always put the weight back on afterwards. On the face of it, that’s probably a good thing, otherwise I’d now be dangerously thin, but I’m really just clutching at straws here ;-). So what’s the problem? Why does the weight always go back on? I know it’s obvious, but sometimes it helps to spell it out – the weight goes back on because I always go back to eating in pretty much the same way that earned me fat bloke status in the first place.
Part of the problem with this is that if it’s all so damn obvious (and most of it is really, really obvious) why do we still do it? Why do we still continue to shovel food into our mouths knowing that our weight, our self-loathing and our shame grows with every forkful? I think that’s where it probably begins to get a little complicated. I guess it’s possible that all fat blokes are actually just really stupid and a bit slow on the update, but I don’t think so. None of us like being the way that we are, yet we’ve all failed to do anything about it.
It’s very disheartening to KNOW before you walk into a room, that you’re going to be the biggest person in there. Now I know I’m not the fattest bloke on the planet, and that there are lots of people larger than me, but the odds simply aren’t on my side. In most scenarios, I’ll be the biggest guy there. That’s quite an important aspect of this, as everyone who’s ever tried to lose weight thinks that they understand what this is like. Well let me tell you loud and clear, that YOU DON’T! Honestly. I know you’re a nice person, and that you mean well, and you’re trying to show empathy, but the fact that you might be a couple of pounds, or even a couple of stone overweight does not mean that you understand what it’s like to be at the more extreme end of the weight scale. The difference between you not being the weight that you’d like to be, and me not being even close to the weight that you’re so unhappy with, is the equivalent to someone saying they understand what it’s like to be an alcoholic, because they once sipped a gin and tonic. They might be related topics, but the fact that you can say it, shows that you have no understanding of the scale of the problem.
I started this journey on Monday 7th June at about 6pm. I could (or perhaps even should) have waited and started the weight watchers thing the next day, but I’m an impulsive kind of guy, so I decided to just dive straight in. One of the cornerstones of the Weight Watchers system is to record the Weight Watchers Points values for everything that you eat, and I decided to record everything that I’d eaten that day so far, even though I didn’t start till 6pm that day.
What I expected to be a fairly straightforward exercise turned out to be both challenging and interesting. I drew up a list of what I’d eaten that day fairly easily, but found myself repeatedly remembering things that I’d left off the list over the next few hours. I was genuinely surprised at how much I’d eaten, and particularly at how quickly I’d managed to erase a lot of it from my memory. It might sound daft that a fat bloke is surprised to find out that he eats a lot, but it really was quite a shock.
Delusion can set up home in the mind of the fat bloke. In the past I’ve managed to convince myself that I wasn’t really fat because I ate too much, but rather it was because of my genes, my glands, or just some other external reason that wasn’t anything to do with me. I knew that at times I ate a lot, but it wasn’t all that often. I knew that most of the time, I probably ate more than a ‘normal’ person, but not all that much more. That couldn’t be enough to explain the huge difference between my weight and that of the non-fat-bloke population. It might sound incredible, but it was only very recently (and I’m talking about the last few months here) that I realised, in a blinding moment of revelation, that calories are cumulative. Even if I ate just 10 calories a day more than a thin bloke, that would add up, so that at the end of the first week, I’d have eaten 70 more calories. At the end of the month, I’d have eaten 300 or so more calories, and at the end of the year, that would be more than three and a half thousand. And that’s just with 10 calories.
If you’re a thin bloke, then I’d guess this probably isn’t news to you, but I’d be fairly certain that there’s a fairly large number of fat blokes out there who have never grasped that simple truth. It’s a little strange, because I like to think that I’m a fairly intelligent guy, but the blinding truth behind that revelation really never hit me until recently. Anyway, that revelation, when combined with how unaware I was of what I was eating, really made me think.
From that day on, I’ve been accurately recording everything that I eat or drink, which I believe has had a strong impact on how much and what I’ve eaten. I’m actually enjoying doing it at the moment, and as a result I’m making educated food choices.
First of all, let me state for the record that I’m a fat bloke. Chubby, cuddly, large, wobbly, big-bloke, biggun, big-fella. All descriptions that have been used about me, either to my face or behind my back, presumably when people thought that the sound of my crisp packet rustling would render my hearing useless. There comes a point when it gets difficult to hide just how much that sort of comment hurts. You put on a brave face and smile sweetly. Maybe even make a joke about it and be the stereotypical cheery fat bloke, but inside, a little piece of you dies every time. Because it’s true.
Part of the issue is that your size begins to define you. Perhaps it has for years, but I’ve only recently become aware of it. Realising that to anyone who doesn’t know you, you’re “that fat bloke”, and that even when your friends describe you, they probably wouldn’t talk about ‘you’. Just your size. Just “the big fella.” When you add that to the shame, the embarrassment and the feeling of abject failure that comes with being a fat bloke that’s just getting fatter, you end up with a recipe for feeling pretty damn terrible about yourself. Which is pretty ironic considering that that creates pretty much the perfect state of mind to ensure that you stay that way forever. Life’s sweet sometimes 😉
In the last 10 years or so, my weight has varied between 13st 10lbs and 19st. If you don’t speak imperial, then that’s between quite a bit and loads. I’ve spent most of the time in the upper regions of that, and on Monday 7th June 2010, when I became The Shrinking Man, I was tipping the scales at 18st 4lbs. Not the heaviest I’ve ever been, but close enough for it to not make too much difference.
So what prompted me to become The Shrinking Man? Strangely enough, I’m not actually sure. I was chatting to a friend on facebook who mentioned that she’d just started Weight Watchers, and something just clicked with me, and within minutes I’d signed up myself. I’m not doing the classes or anything like that, but I signed up for Weight Watchers online, which provides a method of keeping a tally of what you’re eating and tracking your progress on the web. Anyway, I needed to choose a name for their forums, and The Shrinking Man seemed to be kind of appropriate.
I’m writing this some 11 days after the process began, but what I’m going to try to do on this blog is to be frank and honest about what has happened so far, and what happens in the future, good or bad. I know that I’m supposed to scream from the rooftops “I AM THE SHRINKING MAN, AND I WILL SHRINK!” but I’ve been there and done that many times before, and I’ve always been wrong. That’s not good for the ego, so for now, all I’m saying is this – I’ve set an initial target of 17 st 5lbs, as that will mean that I’ve lost 5% of my starting weight. We’ll see what happens on the way, and decide what happens next when we get there.
Quite why I’m writing a blog about this, I’m not sure either. I think it might help me, so it’s quite a selfish thing, but it might also be helpful to others going through a similar struggle. On the other hand, it could come to serve only as a public reminder of yet another dismal failure, and you can read on in horror as The Shrinking Man becomes bigger still. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see…