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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.