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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Not drinking enough water
I prefer fizzy drinks
See diet coke above.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I 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.
Anyway, 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.
Here in the shrinking world, life is really quite busy at the moment. I mentioned last week that I’ve recently started a new work project, and that is taking care of my life between the hours of about 7:00 – 19:00 on weekdays. I’ve got a number of things going on at the moment in my personal life, including a couple of bands that I play in, a radio show that I write and present.
While the overall workload goes up and down from day to day, it’s fair to say that at the moment, I’m occupied a fair amount of the time. That’s quite important when shrinking, as it becomes really easy not to think about food if your mind is focussed on deadlines or other stuff that you just have to be done.
Weekends are hopefully a bit different, at least some of the time. While the bands, the radio show and other stuff gets in the way a little, it’s less intrusive than it tends to be during the week, and the consequence of that is that I end up with more thinking time. Time when my mind can wander towards food and just what I really ought to be eating at this very moment in time. Which is where the problems often start.
Let me introduce a key question that I have in my mind at the moment. Does cutting out processed, carb-loaded food switch off cravings for processed, carb-loaded food, or have I just been too busy to pay attention to them during the week?
A few weeks ago I was firmly in the ‘cutting them out kills the cravings’ camp, and at the moment, I’m a little less certain, and that’s down to two main things. First of all, during the last week, I’ve eaten scones for breakfast on a couple of occasions, and not noticed any craving difference from when I just ate berries and yoghurt. Secondly, last Saturday I had berries and yoghurt for breakfast and still had cravings straight afterwards. I think the answer to both of those things might be that there’s a time limit to the craving effect that crabs drive in me, and that it’s a cumulative effect the more carbs that I eat. Let me delve a little deeper into this and see if it makes sense.
Let me start with last Saturday’s berries and yoghurt breakfast. That’s a breakfast that’s relatively low in carbs, and also pretty low GI in the wider scheme of things. That means that it shouldn’t be delivering any major blood sugar spikes that I’m informed by the sciencey people are probably the actual cause of cravings. So why did I suffer cravings (for left over KFC if I remember correctly) having eaten that particular breakfast? Well I’d suggest that it could be the cumulative effect of the previous evening’s carb marathon that was still in my system the next morning, so that even the ‘right’ sort of breakfast wasn’t going to overpower the cumulative effect of the carbs. Just to reiterate, the day before, I’d eaten hot cross buns, crisps, a fair amount of KFC, biscuits and more.
That makes some sort of sense to me. So what about the lack of cravings during the week? How have I eaten scones for breakfast but not been subject to cravings during the day? I’m guessing here, but perhaps I hadn’t eaten enough carbs to cause me significant problems, and that the busy work schedule meant that by the time I sat and thought about anything, they’d worn off. Not the most scientific basis for a conclusion, but I’m just trying to make sense of it.
What I do now is that it’s Sunday, and that I’m surround by cravings once again. I’ve followed a similar pattern to last week, in that Monday to Thursday I’ve eaten pretty well, and from Friday it all changes. I had crisps and a cereal bar type thing with my lunch, a Chinese takeaway for my dinner and I snacked a bit afterwards. Less than last weekend, but still there. There are some subtle differences though and I think they’re important.
I posted last week about the Craving Cycle and that I saw things a little differently as a result of that understanding. That’s stayed with me this weekend. I had some hot cross buns for my breakfast this morning, and almost before I’d finished them, my cravings were suggesting that I ought to be having something else. I wasn’t satisfied by the breakfast in any way, it merely made me want to eat more, ably assisted by last night’s Doritos 😉 I know that in previous weeks, months and years, however hard I tried, I would give in to those cravings, because in the end, I wanted to get rid of the cravings. The fundamental difference now is that I understand (finally) that giving in to the cravings doesn’t get rid of them. Instead, it continues the cycle and causes the next cravings.
What is in my head right now is that if I don’t give in to the cravings, then they will go away. I have no idea how long it will take today, but I don’t think it will be for too long. There’s a certain calm that comes from understanding this a little better, and however unpleasant the cravings are (and for those of you who don’t have them, it really is an unpleasant experience) they’re not going to kill me. It feels like I just understand it all a little better, and it brings perspective to something that I’ve struggled with for my entire adult life.
I feel like I’m getting a better awareness of how to approach this too. There’s a cause and effect thing here and it’s one that I can use to help me overcome this. If I eat some of the stuff that I know triggers my cravings, then I’m going to get cravings. Knowing that, if I still want to eat that stuff, then that’s fine, but I’ll have to deal with the cravings that come with the territory. If I give in to the cravings, then the cycle will continue for a while until I break it, and it will all have been down to whatever I ate in the first place that started it. The next time I’m asking myself the question “do I really want to eat this?” then that experience should be part of the evidence for the prosecution.
Regular readers will know that it frustrates the hell out of me that I’ve not been able to beat this food thing. Having stopped smoking and drinking without so much as a furrowed brow, the fact that I’ve not been able to stop myself overeating on a regular basis has always troubled me. The truth is that I was able to stop smoking easily once I understood how the addiction cycle actually worked – essentially that the cause of the cravings for the next cigarette was the nicotine in the last one, and that it was nothing to do with me enjoying the cigarette. That led directly to me stopping drinking too, as I was pretty clear that I drank for exactly the same reasons. What I’ve been looking for is the same psychological switch that would let me understand the food problem in the same way. On many, many occasions I’ve thought that I’d found it in the past, only to discover that to be untrue. That makes me nervous about saying this, because I’ve been wrong so many times in the past, but the craving cycle would appear to me to be that switch. For the first time, I think I truly ‘get’ it.
Only time will tell of course, and my promise to you is that I’ll share whatever happens with you. May your shrinking week be interesting.
The Shrinking Man
PS – I lost a couple of pounds this week too – oddly that’s less important to me at the moment, but it’s still good news.
Current Weight – 17st 6lb
Starting Weight – 18st 4lb
Overall Weight Loss – 12lb
Current BMI – 34.0 Starting BMI – 35.7
It’s been an interesting week or so here at Shrinking Towers. I’ve been very relaxed about what I’ve been eating over the last week or so, as I’m unsure of just what my next approach should be. I’ve not necessarily eaten to excess that often, but I’ve not restricted my food choices in any way – I’ve eaten whatever the rest of the family have been eaten, and I’ve eaten whatever I wanted. Can you guess where that ended up? It ended up with me last night, sitting on the sofa eating multiple bags of crisps, chocolates left over from Christmas and midget gems.
Just in case there had been any doubt in my mind about it, that’s a useful reminder of what happens when I stop controlling what I’m eating. I eat uncontrollably.
What is also clear to me is that this is not how it has to be. For the last month or so where I’ve been eating a generally low-carb diet, I haven’t wanted to snack out at the end of the day. I’ve occasionally had the urge to eat something in the evenings, but when I have, I’ve eaten something that fills me up, and you know what? I’ve felt full and that’s been enough.
Actually, scrub that. I really don’t think that full has anything to do with it. I’m pretty much always full. My desire to eat in those situations isn’t connected to hunger. Does that make any sense? My desire to eat, which is at times uncontrollable, has no connection whatsoever to being hungry. There’s rather important stuff in there isn’t there? First of all, if the desire to eat isn’t driven by hunger, then eating isn’t going to get rid of the desire to eat. Secondly, it begs a different question – what exactly is driving this desire to eat?
I don’t believe I’m necessarily an emotional eater, though I’m not completely convinced of that. I’m coming round to the point of view that what I’m eating is driving my desire to eat. When I eat sugar-packed processed foods, I get uncontrollable urges to eat. I’ve read a number of articles and books that support that as a possibility, most of which centre on insulin as the culprit, so there are certainly people who’d agree with my clumsy diagnosis.
My mission in life is to get in control of this. It annoys me – it really does – and I’m determined that somehow I’m going to master this thing. My instinct is to dive back into Atkins, embrace it fully and relax into a world of low-carb heaven. I’m resisting that at the moment for a couple of reasons. First of all, I’ve found it difficult to do the Atkins thing with enough commitment recently. Secondly, it feels like I’m giving control to the late Dr. Atkins rather than getting control myself, which just doesn’t feel right.
Having said that, I want to eat a lower-carb diet, and cut back on the processed stuff that’s in my diet. I’d like to think that will do a couple of things – first of all, it will stop the cravings and allow me to be in control of what I eat, and secondly, it might just help me to lose a little weight.
So – just random thoughts really, but very key to what’s going on with me right now – I’m not in control of what I’m eating, and I want to be. And I will be. Christ knows when of course 😉
Just a quick update here to keep you in the loop around what’s happening here in Shrinking Land.
I’ve been coke-free now for more than a month. That’s rather weird to be totally honest with you, but I’m pleased. I’ve honestly not missed it since the first week of tough withdrawal symptoms, and while it would be really easy to have some and start the whole cycle off again, I’ve not felt any pressure to do that.
That’s the positive stuff. The negative stuff is centred around the fact that I can now safely say that diet drinks haven’t been the sole cause of my general fatness. I do believe that diet drinks have been a contributory factor, but I still have all the same cravings and urges that I’ve come to know and despise so much. I think I can say with little doubt that those cravings and urges are caused by sweet stuff of all kinds.
I’ve been experimenting with a variety of different drinks, and can report that I’ve drunk too much sugary stuff, and I’ve put on weight again. The drinks themselves have contributed there, but the cravings and urges that they lead to are probably the main culprit, but the common factor is the sweet drinks.
My liquid intake these days is a mix of stlll water, sparkling water, water mixed with fruit juice, water with Ribena and 7-up. I can’t remember whether I mentioned this before, but 7-up has no artificial sweeteners in it, so that’s my ‘treat’ drink of choice. Of course, being me, I don’t tend to have it as a treat, it can very easily become the main drink on any day.
I’m deliberately not worrying about the fact that I’m drinking too much sugary stuff, or that I’m putting on weight. I’ve just removed Coke, Diet Coke and all forms of artificial sweetener from my diet in one hit, and I need to give myself a bit of a break. That’s enough for now.
I’ve noticed a couple of really interesting things in the last couple of weeks:
I noticed that artificial sweeteners give me headaches. I went out for a drink with some friends at the weekend and drank orange juice and lemonade, and lime and soda. It wasn’t possible to confirm, but I believe that the lemonade will have had sweeteners in it, and that will also be true for the lime cordial. The next day, I had the sort of headache that I used to get if I didn’t have coke for a few days. It hurt like hell, but didn’t last.
I can challenge myself when I’m eating crap stuff. An example from this very morning – I was in the kitchen and saw a big bag of crisps on the side. That’s usually enough. I ignored them, and got on with the day, and I quickly forgot all about them. Until the next trip to the kitchen. But I ignored them again, and this time put them in the cupboard so they were out of the way. I’ve not thought about them since. A while later, I went to the biscuit tin and grabbed four biscuits. I ate two really quickly, and then had a brief chat with myself. I wasn’t hungry, I was eating them too quickly to be enjoying them and I’d hate myself afterwards if I did eat the other two. So I went and put them back in the tin! That’s quite a step for me!
I’m really conscious at the moment that I don’t eat like most people. I’ve never really ‘got’ just how different my eating patterns are to other people, well to the thin people anyway. Little things. I had a bag of wine gums in the car the other day, and picked a friend up. I said help yourself to the wine gums, and he didn’t. He didn’t want them. I sat and ate them one after the other until they were pretty much gone. But he didn’t want even one. That’s weird. Not to him obviously. I presume it’s weird for him to see the fat bloke just stuffing his face that way.
All I’m going to do for now is to relax a bit, try to challenge myself while I’m eating stuff that I don’t really want or need, and start to bring more water into my diet.
I’m really quite sorry to have been so sloppy in my updates over the past month or two. A combination of holiday (good excuse), loads of work (good excuse), loads of study deadlines (remarkably good excuse) and a whole load of couldn’t be bothered at the time (less than good excuse) has led to a dearth of updates, so for those of you for whom this has become a regular part of your week, I apologise most profusely.
Just to recap where I was the last time we spoke. I’d been on holiday, had gained 8lbs, and was looking nervously towards a week of hotel living as I went away for business. Well just to relieve the tension a little, let me say that the week did not go well. A combination of restaurant meals, snacks in my room and a whole load of midget gems ended in an STS. After a week like that, an STS has to be seen as something of a result, however following a +8, I was quite disappointed with myself to not lose a single pound of it.
As is usual in cases like these, there are two options:
Let it put me off for a few weeks before I finally knuckle down and get back on track
Don’t let it put me off for a few weeks before I finally knuckle down and get back on track
I’m rather pleased to say that I chose option two, and am chuffed to report a whopping -4 for the week. I’ve got a way to go before I get back to where I was a couple of months ago (another six pounds to be precise) but I’m really pleased to have taken control again. I haven’t gone mad and stopped eating – that -4 came in a week where I had a KFC and fish and chips – but I managed to avoid over-eating throughout the week, and basically remained in control. It’s also true that I was stupidly busy at work all week, and was literally running all over the building for most of the week, but it’s always the food that makes the biggest difference.
A few points that I’ve noticed over the past few weeks:
Adding 8lbs to a 14st frame makes a much bigger difference than taking 8lbs from an 18st frame
‘New’ weight feels very different on your body the week after you put it on
A few pounds can really make you feel fat
Perhaps the biggest conclusion that I’ve drawn recently is that I really would have to go some to put all of my weight back on. I’ve proved on a number of occasions that I can pile weight on pretty quickly, but I’m finding it difficult to understand how in the past I’ve allowed it all to go back on, almost without noticing. I’m so aware of the weight I’ve put on recently, and that’s just a few pounds. It feels horrible physically, and I feel quite horrible mentally. My clothes don’t fit as nicely as they did a couple of months ago, my face looks fatter than it did, and I’m generally very aware of the differences. I’m really struggling to understand how that could continue for long enough for me to put on four stone, but in the past it has. I feel different now though. Really I do. Is that good? Or am I just fooling myself? Who knows. The most important thing for me is that I’m moving back in the right direction, and that I’m still four stone lighter than I was when I started this. That’s what’s generally known as a good thing.
Anyway, that’s all for me for now – I’m intrigued to see what happens this week. I’ve got a slightly less busy week at work, and have a bit more time on my hands in the evenings too, which is often a sign of impending difficulties, but I’m feeling fairly comfortable that it will be OK.
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.
The Shrinking Man is absolutely ecstatic to announce the departure of 14st-something man, and equally proud to announce the arrival of 13st-something man. Indeed I am 🙂 Weigh-In number 53 has just been completed, and a whopping -4 brings me to 13st 13lb (195lb/88.6kg) and puts my total weight-loss to date as 4st 5lb (61lb/27.76kg) which represents a grand total of 24% of my starting weight. To incorrectly and inappropriately quote Tony Hancock, that surely has to be more than a leg-worth!
I’m now a 13st-something man for the first time in a very long time, and that really feels fantastic. This has been a long time coming – the last half a stone has taken me over three months to shift, so I’m feeling chuffed to bits that I haven’t given up, binged, built and then eaten a model of the Close Encounters mountain out of midget gems (mashed potato is so last-millennium) and generally let all my good work so far go to waste. Because that’s exactly what I’d have done in the past! Well perhaps not exactly, but you know what I mean…
The odd/great/intriguing thing about this sudden leap in the right direction, is that it was totally predictable, and to be totally honest, I could have done it at any point in the last few months. All I’ve changed is that I’ve gone back to controlling my eating a little more closely than I have been in recent weeks and months, coming in on or under my points total each day (as opposed to coming in over, or really over my points total each day) and suddenly everything clicks back in to place again. I have still snacked on occasions, but it hasn’t been the norm, and I haven’t done it if it would take me over my points. I have still had junk food on occasions, but again I’ve one it within my points, and I’ve made a conscious point of not snacking if I’ve had, or am planning to have junk food. A Burger King and a Fish and Chips this week. And a few subways for lunch too! Diet? What diet?
I’ve been doing this too long now to not be aware that this could all stall again this week. A big loss for me is generally followed by an STS or a small gain, so I’m not getting carried away here, but this is a really positive reminder of the mechanics of this whole thing. I think it goes like this:
If you stay within your points, then you’ll lose weight
If you don’t, then you won’t.
Tough system huh? Not sure if I’ll ever really be able to get my head round something that complex 😉
A few other positive things from this week. I had someone who I know to chat to but who I don’t see very often fail to recognise me yesterday, which was pretty cool. Also, I mentioned a couple of weeks ago that I’d bought some Large Gap tops that were a bit big, and that against my Wife’s advice (as they were certainly a little snug), I decided to change them for Medium Gap tops. Well yesterday I wore one, and she didn’t notice! That was a genuinely pleasant experience, because I appear to have a better handle on my size at the moment than she does, which is quite remarkable because I’m usually rubbish at that, particularly in relation to clothes.
When I’m doing it right, it does all feel very different. There’s a lightness in my body as a whole that just feels ‘right’ when I’m eating the right amount for me. At times I’ve let it go too far the other way, and have ended up feeling too hungry and that doesn’t feel nice. A little bit of hunger in the run up to food can feel really pleasant, but not for too long. I’ve also eaten too much at times this week, and that doesn’t feel nice either – horribly stuffed and unpleasant, even though the old me wouldn’t even have registered what I’m eating as a snack, let alone as being too much!
The interesting thing for me at the moment is that I’m learning more about how I eat, and I’m really becoming aware of some things that I will need to work on to keep this weight off in the long-term. First of all, I eat too quickly. Almost always. That’s not good for a number of reasons – first of all, it means that I don’t actually enjoy my food very much, and secondly, it makes it easier to eat rubbish, because I’m not taking the time to really taste the difference between great and rubbish foods. Secondly, I still have (and perhaps always will have) a tendency to binge, it’s just that these days I tend to binge on healthier things. For lunch one day this week, I had a Subway Melt (disturbingly delicious, in the sense that it feels like there’s something put into it that makes me really, really want another one) followed by a whole punnet of strawberries and a whole punnet of cherries. I didn’t eat all the fruit because I was hungry, and after about half of it, I wasn’t even enjoying it any more. Yet I still ate it. What’s that all about then?
For now, let’s just say “who cares! I’m a 13st something man again, and that’s fantastic” and we’ll come back to it later, but there’s definitely some stuff to think about in there.
The weigh-in for week 45 has just been completed, and I’m delighted to announce a whopping great big 4lb loss. That brings me under 200lb, under 90kg (thanks for that one Reg!) and very close to my next target. Just to recap my total progress so far, that means that in the last 45 weeks I have lost a grand total of 59lb/26.85 kg.
The BMI figures are also quite significant, as my new BMI figure is 27.5. That feels pretty great to be honest, because when I started my BMI reading was 35.7, which is officially classified as being huuuuuuuge. I know that I’m still considerably overweight, but I’m now exactly halfway between the overweight mark (25 and above) and the obese mark (30 and above), so from here on in, I’ll be closer to being “not overweight” than I will be to obese.
What do you call “not overweight”? Oddly enough, I don’t seem to have the terminology to describe it, which is rather strange. Do you call it normal? Or healthy? Skinny? Shrunk? Interesting…
It’s been a strange week, as yet again, I’ve not eaten what would be considered to be the healthiest of diets. A combination of work pressures on both myself and my wife, together with a distinct lack of organisation and planning has led to a Chinese takeaway, a KFC, a Burger King and a Fish and Chips this week. I almost feel guilty at losing weight to be honest, but it’s a pretty good example of the whole WW concept in action. First of all, while my evening meals weren’t great, they were balanced by very sensible and healthy breakfasts and lunches. Secondly, the choices I made for each of those takeaways were considerably better than I would have made 45 weeks ago – the difference between a BK Chicken Royale that I had now and the BK XL Bacon Double Cheeseburger that I would have eaten then could feed a family of four for a few weeks. Probably.
It’s also a good indicator that things even themselves out over longer periods. The last couple of weeks have brought me a +1 and an STS, even though I haven’t felt like I’ve been all that far outside of the system. If you even that out over the past three weeks, it means that I’ve lost an average of a pound a week, which is much more sensible.
My watch is getting looser again, my ring is getting looser again, and I definitely need some new jeans, as the ones I’m wearing are hanging off of my backside. Not a pretty picture I know, but much better than it was. I met up with a friend yesterday who started on a similar journey at about the same time. We’ve been encouraging each other along the way, and he’s been a useful benchmark and a bit of competition for me. He started lighter than I was, and has now reached a weight where he’s happy, which is to remain somewhere between half a stone and a stone heavier than I am now. That means that he’s fatter than me! And he looks it! And even my wife noticed!!!!! He still looks much better than he did before, but that’s not the point – the point is that he looks fatter than I do 🙂 Am I a bad person? 😉
My weight currently stands at 14st 1lb/197lb/89.5kg. That means that I’m now just 2lb from being 13st something for the first time in a very, very long time, and that’s quite an exciting prospect. The other big target that I have coming up soon is to reach 13st 10lb, which will mean I’ve lost 25% of my starting weight, which will be pretty cool.
Sitting in between those two points is another target that is hugely significant personally. Once I hit 13st 11lb/193lb/87.7kg I’ll be in completely uncharted territory. I’ve mentioned a few times that I lost a lot of weight on the Atkins diet in the past, and it’s probably worth explaining a little bit more about that. I managed to lose just under 4st over a fairly short period about 8 years ago, felt great about myself, but then went back to eating ‘normally’ and put it all back on and more. Which pretty much sums up my dieting life before, and to be totally honest, haunts me on a daily basis right now.
I’ve actually got a record of my weekly weigh-ins throughout that whole period, and there are some very significant points to draw from it. First of all, when I started that time, I weighed 17st 8lb. This time I weighed 18st 4lb. Secondly, the lowest I got that time was 13st 12lb. I’m currently 3lb heavier than that, but have no idea yet how far I’m going this time, but have a sneaking feeling it will be a fair bit further than that. Thirdly, I had to use Atkins that time, whereas this time I’m doing it by eating sensibly and exercising. That time, I knew that I would be able to stay there as long as I kept eating within the Atkins program. This time I know I’ll be able to stay there as long as I keep eating within the WW program.
And there lies the rub. This gets scary precisely because I’ve been here before. The toughest challenge for the serial fat-bloke is to be honest with yourself about the fact that you’ve succeeded in losing weight before (probably many times) but that you have never succeeded in keeping weight off before. I see people come on the WW forums talking about how they know that WW is a good system because they’ve lost weight on it before. That scares the life out of me, because losing weight isn’t the point. Losing weight isn’t even difficult once you put your mind to it. Keeping weight off is the challenge.
What fills me with hope is that to my mind there is a significant difference between the long-term outlook now and the outlook before, and that’s all based on the principles behind the WW system. If I had kept on eating within the Atkins system before, then I wouldn’t have gained weight again, but I don’t think that was ever a realistic proposition. While it’s very effective whilst you’re within it, the whole Atkins thing just didn’t represent how I want to live my life. But Weight-Watchers does. It’s eating healthily and exercising.