Tag Archives: sustainable

On the verge of a great breakthrough!

Morning all!

The weigh-in for week 54 has just been completed, and I’m pleased to announce the departure of another pound.  A -1 for the week brings me up to 62lb lost, and down to 13st 12lb, and that weight is really significant to me.  I’ve mentioned in previous blogs that I’ve lost weight on a number of diets in the past, and the diet which allowed me to lose the most previously was the Atkins diet about 7 years ago.  Atkins was/is a great way of losing weight, but like every other diet plan you’ll find, if you stop eating according to the plan, then the weight comes back on.  I know that every diet plan will tell you that you can continue eating their way forever, but for me at least, Atkins didn’t fit into that category.

Well can you guess what weight I got down to when I did Atkins?  13st 12lb.  Go to the top of the class!  And I stayed there for about a month.  And then the slow but steady rise back up the pound scale began.

This is a significant stage for a number of reasons – first of all because it serves as a reminder that it’s not losing the weight that’s really important, it’s what you do after you’ve lost the weight.  Secondly, this is significant because while I know that none of the diet plans consider themselves to be diet plans, WW genuinely isn’t a diet.  It’s allowed me to change the way that I eat in a way that I genuinely believe is sustainable in the longer term. Alright, let’s be totally honest and say that it’s allowed me to change the way I eat in a way that I genuinely HOPE is sustainable in the long term.  The thought of going back to where I was before fills me with dread, and I’ve always had this 13st 12lb figure looming in my head.  To go past the level I could only reach before in an unsustainable fashion, but to do it in a totally sustainable fashion, well that’s pretty exciting to me, and shows that I’m doing pretty good at the end of the day.

I had a wonderful experience yesterday that I can describe, but not show you, as it involves photos of me, and one of the key elements of the whole anonymity thing is that it’s a little more difficult to remain anonymous when you put photos of yourself up.  Anyway without giving any specific details away (and because it makes me feel like a spy when I have to hide details and that’s fun) yesterday I did a thing that I also did at the same time last year, and on both occasions people took photos of me.  The two photos genuinely look like different people (in fact they almost look like different species!) and I’m absolutely chuffed to bits with the new one.

Highlights of the week this week include going to Gap and buying a huge bag of clothes in their sales.  Not an L in sight 🙂  And it all fitted except for a pair of swimming shorts that seem to come up small.  I bought a pair of Gap jeans with a 34″ waist and they’re too big for me!  I’m keeping them, as the 32″ will be way to small right now, but that’s exciting.  One of the genuine pleasures I’m getting right now is shopping for clothes, which is a very new experience for me.  Traditionally, clothes shopping has been a matter of finding a place that had lots of Xs in front of the Ls on their labels, then choosing something that was loose enough to allow me to think that it would somehow cover up the walrus within.  I have no fashion sense at all of course (I’m a heterosexual male) but I’m loving rejecting clothes because they’re too big.  I still smile when I think about that!

Another highlight was an exercise-related one.  A few weeks ago I set myself a new bunch of targets (see http://theshrinkingman.co.uk/2011/06/01/the-next-goals/) and three of them were exercise-related.  My exercise of choice is swimming, and I’ve pushed myself over the past year from swimming 40 lengths at a time up to 80 lengths each visit.  I set myself three swimming goals, which were to swim 100 lengths, 120 lengths and 150 lengths and this week, in a moment of madness decided to push myself to see if I could hit the 100 lengths.  One of my challenges at the moment is getting to the pool more than once or twice a month, and it had been a few weeks since I’d swum at all, but while the last 20 lengths were unbelievably hard work, I’m proud to announce that I can now tick off the 100 lengths.  It hurt like hell, so I have no idea how I’m going to do the other ones, but I never thought I could do this one anyway, so what do I know!

Before I go, let me just share something that I think will be of great importance to anyone new to the whole shrinking thing.  Last Sunday I was over the moon to see a 13st 13lb on the scales, which was a -4 for the week.  I really was absolutely delighted.  The very next day, I weighed myself again (never the best idea, but I wanted to check) and the scales showed 14st 2lb, which was an increase of 3lb in a single day.  A day on which I’d done everything ‘right’ and certainly done nothing to trigger a gain like that.  I’ve weighed myself on most days this week and have seen my weight gradually decreasing throughout the week, but there’s a really important point in there somewhere.  Whether that means that the -4 weigh-in was a blip, or whether something weird was going on in my body or whether I missed something important last Sunday and ate a horse without realising it, none of that really matters.  What matters is that your weight can fluctuate by quite a few pounds without you doing anything, which means that it’s a really good idea to take what the scales say on ANY given day with a pinch of salt.  It’s the longer term picture that’s important.  What I find most interesting is that I’d really knuckled down that week, and felt that I genuinely deserved a huge result.  Had the days worked out differently and I’d stepped on the scales and seen a -1 rather than a -4, that’s the sort of blow that could knock you off track a bit and really dent your motivation.

That’s quite interesting actually, because I’d generally suggest to people that they don’t weigh themselves mid-week, as nothing good can really come of it.  This week I think that something good HAS come from my extra weigh-ins.  If I’d have carried with a “I’ve just lost four pounds” attitude, I can pretty much guarantee that I’d have relaxed a bit more, and ended up looking at a 2-3lb gain this week.  As it is, BECAUSE I weighed myself when I ‘shouldn’t’ I was aware that things might not be quite as I’d thought, so have perhaps been more focused this week.  Food for thought anyway.

Look – it’s like this.  I’m just about to step into unchartered territory – I’ve not weighed less than 13st 12lb since I genuinely don’t know when.  I’m feeling a weird mix of emotions right now, because on the one hand I’m feeling elated at my progress, and on the other hand I’m feeling terrified at how easy it would be to slip back into fat-bloke eating.  Although I’m starting to doubt just how easy that might be, and I guess that’s progress.

Have a great week.

The Shrinking Man

Four steps forward, after one step back…

Morning all!

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.

That means that I can do it.

Have a good week.

The Shrinking Man

Well I’m Still Here!

Morning everyone 🙂

The weigh-in for week 40 has just been completed, and I’m chuffed, relieved and more than slightly proud to report a -4 to get me back on track.

As of this morning, I weigh a grand total of 14st 7lb.  That’s 14 and a half stone, 203 lbs or 92.3kg in new money and brings my running total up to 53lb/24.13kg lost.  The 18st 4lb fat bloke that started this thing back in June 2010 now has hip bones and ribs!

I’d like to offer my heartfelt thanks to those of you who took the time to get in touch after last week’s blog and offer some advice and support.  The shrinking world can be a very lonely and scary place at times, so to Dave, Jim, David and Kate in particular, your kind words and encouragement genuinely helped me to pick myself up, dust myself down a little and just get on with it.

This week I’ve been the model WW shrinker.  I’ve eaten within my daily points on most days, used some of my weekly points for special circumstances on a couple, pointed everything I’ve eaten, drunk lots of water, and generally ticked all the right boxes (and not a midget gem in sight!).  And oddly enough, I lost weight.

And yet last week, where I ate above my daily points on most days, used all of my weekly points within the first few days, didn’t point everything I’d eaten, didn’t drink much water and generally ate as if I wasn’t trying to shrink, I put weight on.  Strange how it all works isn’t it?

The simplicity and predictability of this is quite powerful at times.  You do the right things, and you get the right results, as with just about everything else in life I guess.  That doesn’t help when you know that, but aren’t actually doing it, but that’s just something that I’m going to have to learn to deal with as I go on 🙂

I tend to make a point of only weighing myself once a week, but this week I weighed myself almost every day.  I wouldn’t recommend it, and certainly won’t do it regularly, but it really throws up some interesting information when you do.  I weighed myself after a couple of days of knuckling down and doing things properly and the scales showed a -4.  Obviously thrilled to bits with that.  The next day, I was showing -2.  Slightly less thrilled.  The day after that, I was showing a STS (stayed the same).  The next day a -1, then a -3.  Put simply. it was all over the place!

That tells me a couple of really important things.  First of all, if ever I had any doubt about just how much your weight can fluctuate naturally from day to day, then that’s just sealed the deal.  The answer is lots.  Secondly, it tells me that there really is no point weighing yourself more than once a week, and that you should never get too down or happy about any particular weigh-in, as it might not be showing you the true picture.  Lastly it tells me that how I’m eating is more important than what the scales are showing, as that will, in the end, be the thing that will control what the scales are showing.

I’ve had a great week, and I’ve enjoyed being back in control.  I feel a little bruised and battered right now, but I’m very aware that it would have been easy to drop the whole thing last week.  The fact that I didn’t let it drop fills me with hope for the future, and confirms that this time I’m approaching my shrinking in a sensible and sustainable manner.  I also feel less alone, so thanks again to you all.

Have a great week.

The Shrinking Man

Another one bites the dust…

Morning all 🙂

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a good week.

The Shrinking Man