Tag Archives: breakthrough

Stepping in the right direction

Morning all.

First of all, thanks for everyone who got in touch last week following my rather gloomy update.  Your kinds words were much appreciated, and certainly helped make Shrinking World (not a phrase I’ve used before – that might stick!) a less isolated place.  For those of you who got in touch last week to tell me to just shut up as I was depressing the hell out of you, then my thanks go to you too – the thought that I was low enough to actually depress someone else actually cheered me up more than anything else 🙂

The weigh-in for week 59 has been completed, and I’m pleased to announce a “getting back on track” style -2 for the week.  I had a pretty tough start to the week, and had managed to eat about a third of my weekly points by lunchtime on the first day (for those of you unfamiliar with the whole weight-watchers approach, just take it from me that that isn’t a good thing) but I knuckled down, and on the whole I feel like I have taken control of things pretty well this week .

I’ve promised myself from the start of this process that this blog will be a warts and all account of what happens.  The whole reason that I’m doing this anonymously is to allow me the freedom to write what I’m feeling, without the need to filter or censor it because of what ‘people’ might think.  Because with just a couple of exceptions you don’t know me (although I have shared more with you than with my nearest and dearest, so maybe you know me better than I’m prepared to admit) I am able to share my deepest, darkest fears.  I must say that as time goes on, I find myself wanting to reach out to the people who’ve really taken an interest in what I’m doing here – there’s been more than one occasion where I’ve been tempted to step out of TSM and introduce myself to people properly, but I still think it’s the right idea to give myself the platform to speak freely, and that wouldn’t be the same if the veil of anonymity were lifted.  So it stays.  The plan I have in my head is that on the day I hit my 12st 4lb goal, I will stick up a before and after picture, just so that people can say “what a disappointment” and leave it at that anyway.

Just as a quick reminder, I’ve been down to 13st 12lb in the past on the Atkins diet, and managed to put it all on again, so the fact that I’m in that region again but in a far more sensible manner with WW (WW summary – eat sensibly and exercise) fills me with confidence.  Having said that, this 13st 12lb has been hanging over me for quite a while now, first of all because I’ve not been able to get past it, but also because I seem to be managing to convince myself that not only will I never get past it, but that I will fall apart at this weight again, and will put it all back on again in the next fortnight.

I’ve written before about mid-week weigh-ins and I’m always fairly certain that they’re not generally a good thing.  Having said that, I do on occasions weigh myself mid-week and this week I’ve done it a few times, perhaps because I needed some reassurance that I was doing OK.  One particularly interesting thing this week was that on Wednesday I tipped the scales at 13st 11lb, which is officially my lowest weight in recorded history.  It’s not an official weigh-in (and reaffirmed why midweek weigh-ins aren’t good, because in reality I’m less happy with my perfectly respectable -2 than I otherwise would have been, because -4 sounds much nicer) but it’s proof to myself that the 13st 12lb barrier is self-constructed, and that I can break through it.

It’s going to be an interesting few weeks, as I’m feeling a little more positive, and will break through that 13st 12lb barrier on an official weigh-in fairly soon, which is great.  In a few weeks I’m also off on holiday for a fortnight, so the possibility that I’ll find myself back on the wrong side of 13st 12lb again is very likely.  Which is less than great.  But realistic.

All in all, I’m very pleased with this week.

Have a good week yourselves 🙂

The Shrinking Man

 

 

 

Two Steps Forward; One Step Back

Morning everyone 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bring on week 38.  I’m ready.

The Shrinking Man

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

Morning everyone!

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’m a changed man I tell you!

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

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

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

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

Have a great week.

The Shrinking Man.

Mumble grumble moan etc.

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

Hi by the way 🙂

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

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

So how to respond?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I think I’ll settle for a good one.

Have a great week.

The Shrinking Man.

Well that’s a bit better then…

Morning all 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great week.

The Shrinking Man