Tag Archives: denial

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.

41 Weeks and Counting

Morning all!

My name is TSM, and it’s been more than two weeks now since I last had a Tesco’s Value Midget Gem…

The weigh-in for week 41 has just been carried out, and I am pleased to announce that the scales are showing a -1.  I must confess that they didn’t at first, but I was slightly out of kilter this morning, and hadn’t completely finished my morning ‘routine’.  Once normal service had been resumed, then the scales did their job properly.  Sorry if that puts you off your breakfast, but it’s the truth 🙂

Anyway, it’s been an interesting week.  I’m feeling pretty good about myself at the moment, and feel like I’m definitely back on track – to be honest I was actually a little surprised and disappointed that I struggled to get the -1 today, as I’ve felt like I’ve been losing more than that.  Having said that, I made a point last week of just how much my weight can vary from day to day, so I’m not going to let it get me down at all.

I’ve reached the point where the L clothes that I’ve bought recently (as opposed to the XL, XXL and XXXL clothes that I still wear around the house sometimes) either fit perfectly, or are now starting to look a little on the big size.  I think it will be a while before I’m ready to take the plunge and dip my toe into the wars of Medium clothing, but I’d say a couple of months and I’ll be there – that will be exciting!  My first purchase will definitely be a Medium Fred Perry, as that’s my clothing measure of choice – I started this in an XXL, moved into an XL and now have a couple of Ls that are a bit too big across the shoulders, but OK across the stomach.  That’s the next move 🙂

I’ve been pleasantly surprised by my lack of desire to eat rubbish food this week.  I’m doing a lot of work at a client where I’ve not been for a couple of years, and they have a canteen serving a variety of hot food as well as the usual sandwiches.  When I’ve worked there before it’s always been a treat to just fill myself up, and the people I’m working with are having cooked breakfasts, cooked lunches and snacks throughout the day.  I’m sure I’ll have something like that at some point, but at the moment I’ve not been in the slightest bit interested.  I’ve been having a sandwich and a fruit salad when I’m hungry, and a pack of Walkers French Fries if I fancy a snack.  The key to the pleasant surprise is the lack of desire rather than any denial – that makes a huge difference.

I’ve got some fairly momentous targets coming up soon, and am starting to get a little bit excited by them.  Let me map out my next steps for you:

  • Once I’ve lost another 2lb I’ll have lost four stone, which is pretty massive (in every sense)
  • One more pound after that and I’ll be beneath 200lbs
  • Four more pounds after that and I’ll be thirteen stone something
  • Three more pounds after that and I’ll have lost 25% of my starting weight
  • One more pound after that and I’ll hit my next major target of 13st 9lb which will take me below the lowest weight I’ve been at any point in at least 20 years, and will be under the lowest weight I reached in a previous Atkins Diet attempt.  Simply from eating sensibly and exercising 🙂

I saw a post from someone on the WW forums this week who’d just reached 5st lost and that really got me thinking that that is totally achievable for me too!  I’m still not looking past that 13st 9lb target at the moment, but that did get me thinking about where I can go with this.  To reach 5st lost I would need to lose 16lb from where I am now, and that sort of figure is soooooo achievable it isn’t even scaring me any more!  When you factor in the fact that even at 5st lost I would still be classified as overweight, then it becomes almost rude not to hit it!

Targeting is an interesting element of this – I have a feeling that part of the reason I’ve struggled a little bit recently is that I set a target that seems a little too far away.  All I’ve done with my targets so far is to set them in chunks of 5%, so my initial target was to lose 5% of my starting weight, then 10%, 15% and 20%.  Once I hit 20% it seemed sensible to just go for 25%, however I think it might make sense to decrease the targets a little as my weight comes down.  It makes sense that my weight-loss will slow as this goes on, so smaller targets might make sense.  I’ll think on that and might reset my target over the next day or so.

That’s all from me this week – have a great week.

The Shrinking Man.

Another one bites the dust…

Morning all 🙂

Weigh-in number 33 completed and another 1lb lost.  Mildly disappointed, as I felt like I’d earned a little bit more this week to be completely honest with you, and I also physically ‘felt’ like I’d lost more too.  A loss is still a loss though, and it keeps me moving in the right direction, so I’m really not going to complain.  Much 😉

I’ve noticed a really interesting pattern this week, which would certainly explain why my loss this week wasn’t as much as I’d hoped, but also raises some very interesting questions about just how sustainable my current method of eating is.

Just for the record here, my goal is to reach a weight that I’m physically and mentally comfortable with, and then to stay there or thereabouts, pretty much indefinitely.  I’m not sure if I’ve ever actually stated that out loud before, but I think I’ve alluded to it on a number of occasions anyway.  From that perspective, I try to question how I’m feeling about what I’m eating on a regular basis, and to ask myself this question – “could I eat like this for the rest of my life?”.  If the answer is yes, then it ought to be sustainable, but if the answer is no, then that sounds more like a diet to me than any sustainable approach to eating.

Just for the record again, the problem with diets from where I’m sitting is that at some point you reach the end of them.  When you do that, by definition you then change how you’re eating, and it’s what you change to that determines whether the weight stays off or not.  In reality, most people go back to how they ate before they dieted, and then oddly enough, the weight just piles back on again, with a little bit more, and the cycle continues, and the self-loathing increases.  Losing weight is not a problem for me.  I’ve done it before.  Lots of times.  And I’m proving that I can still do that now.  Keeping it off however, is a rather different story.  I have never done it before (obviously).  Not once.  And I’m really, really aware of that fact pretty much every hour of every day right now.

Anyway, the pattern that I’ve noticed relates to how what I eat is spread across the week.  One of the key elements of the WW strategy is that you track what you eat.  One major benefit of this is that it really helps raise your awareness of what you’re eating, which might sound a bit stupid, but from the perspective of a fat-bloke is really important.  I can still remember my first day on this WW program – I decided to start it at about 6pm, and rather than start the next day, decided to start by tracking what I’d eaten that day.  It took me a few minutes, but I was able to sit back and see where I was for the day fairly easily.  And then over the course of the next 6 hours I kept remembering other things that I’d eaten and that had simply slipped my mind.  I’d actually missed about half of what I’d eaten from the first list!

Another benefit of the tracking is that it also allows you to see patterns developing, and what I’ve noticed is that I always peak towards the end of the week.  This week for example, by the end of Thursday, I’d eaten my daily points each day, and had eaten about 20 of my 49 “use them if you want to or need to” bonus points.  By the end of Saturday, I’d used up the other 29 bonus points and dipped into a few of my exercise points.

One of the most challenging things about what I’m trying to achieve here is to work out what’s going on in my own mind, and whether that’s actually different from what I think is going on in my own mind.  I don’t trust my mind to always do what’s in my best interests here – after all, it was my mind that controlled the approach to food that got me to 18st 4lb in the first place.  In relation to the peak at the end of the week (that’s a phrase that has a certain something to it!) my mind is giving me a couple of reasons why that’s all ok and tickety-boo.

  1. It’s the end of your week, and you’ve got points left – eat them and stop worrying.  You’re still losing weight aren’t you?
  2. It’s because you weigh-in at the weekend!  Everyone lets themselves go a bit at the weekend.  Relax.  It will all be OK.  And you’re still losing weight aren’t you?

They’re both viable explanations, and they both make perfect sense.  But I don’t think they explain what’s going on.

If you’ll allow me to digress for a moment, sometimes I feel like a spy.  Not in the James Bond kind of way (although that would explain the costumes and night-vision goggles) but in the fact that I’m trying to listen to all the ‘chatter’ going on in my head to see if I can pick up important details.  It’s an immensely dull pastime, but no-one else is going to do it for me (hopefully) and it’s only by doing this that I’m able to start to identify the thoughts I have that might just contradict the “everything is going to be alright” messages.

I think that I’m eating more towards the end of the week in response to thoughts that go something like this:

You’ve been depriving yourself all week, and you’ve got a few points to spare, so let yourself go a bit and eat.  Do it.  You know you want to!

That’s all OK except for the third word of the first sentence.  I have a problem with depriving myself, or to be more specific, I have big concerns about how I react when I do deprive myself.  There’s a sort of self-indignant thing that kicks in and encourages me to have my fill of whatever it is that I think I’m depriving myself of.

I’m opening up a big can of worms here to be honest, and I need to go and think some more about this so I can make some sense of it all.  I can see three specific things coming out of this:

  • On the surface, the issue is that as far as I was aware, I was happy eating what I’m eating, and that it felt sustainable.  I hadn’t realised that I felt deprived in any way, but subconsciously, there’s something going on that I’m not completely aware of just now.
  • Underneath all of that, there’s this question of deprivation and whether that’s a bad thing or not anyway.  One of the triggers to me starting this whole WW thing was accepting that it was a lack of personal deprivation that got me fat anyway, so I needed to accept that I would have to deprive myself of things to lose weight.  But how does that fit with the whole sustainability thing?
  • Lastly, I have to question whether it’s a good idea to spend so much time questioning what’s going on in my own head, and thinking about myself and my thoughts and actions in the third person.  Slightly concerned this morning.  Lol.

This is definitely a “to be continued” session.  Need to go and think.

Have a good 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