The Shrinking Blog

Quick Update – Low-Carb Is Going OK


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

The Shrinking Blog

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

The Shrinking Blog

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.

The Shrinking Blog

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

The Shrinking Blog

And so it goes on

incredibleshrinkingman2Morning 🙂

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 😉

Have a good week.

The Shrinking Man