Archive for the 'Challenges' Category

Reminder: Why I Love IE!

Well, here I am again… The day after the third “gimme all the sugar” incident.

Back in the day, I would have thought I’d “blown it” and could just give up losing weight forever on account of not being perfect. Today, I woke still depressed, had a packet of Kettle Chips and a coffee with sugar for breakfast, then a few hours later…

The depression “broke”. The storm dissipated. You may think I’m weird, getting such short depressions, but it is how it is. The fog in my brain started to disperse. There’s no feeling quite like it. I’m hungrier than usual today, and have a bit of heartburn (on account of yesterday’s food). Now I have a donut left in the fridge and I can take it or leave it. And I know donuts taste best when I really, REALLY want them (like yesterday), so I’ll leave it. All I could think about eating was some wholewheat pasta with garlic, chilli & olive oil (above). So, I did! That was about 3 hours ago and I’m hungry again. I have my eye on some sweet potatoes with egg mayo, so I’m making that now.

I weighed in at 200 again today. It’s coming back down. I have a suspicious feeling that excess cortisol due to stress was a culprit here, so I’m going to try and relax, sort out my insomnia and chill out.

And THIS is why I love IE. I know when I “need” sugar, I eat it, and I know when I don’t want any more. I don’t have to use willpower, or expend my concentration on “combatting cravings”. I just eat, stop, and develop a craving for something healthy, then eat that. I have the eating part DOWN. I’m confident.

One thing I did notice in this depressed (sorry: reflective) period is that I’ve been trying to do too much, too soon. I want to be happy in my body NOW. I want to be doing 50 pull-ups and dead lifting my body weight NOW. I want to be wearing the size 10 skinny jeans NOW.

But I can’t. I haven’t consolidated my previous lifestyle changes yet. Cutting down on sugar I can do FOREVER because it makes me feel good. Intuitive Eating I can do FOREVER because it makes me feel good. My plan was to add walking most days, and learning tasty clean eating recipes so I’d have more food to choose from. But, I got lazy with the walking. It was cold. It was dark. I wasn’t sleeping. I had no money to buy more food. I started obsessing over strength training thinking I’d found a short cut.

Well, put it this way: if I can’t commit to a 2 mile walk every day, and I’m still trying to break 200lbs, I’m not in any place to be whipping P90X in the a** yet. One day, but not yet.

Back to basics. I’m getting down to 182 (13 stone) or thereabouts doing THIS, then I’ll tackle the hormonal craziness that is going back on the pill, and THEN I’ll readdress where I’m at.

While I appreciate my own enthusiasm, I’m not trying to build a house of cards. I’m trying to build solid, permanent, unshakeable habits. That way, when I do get to my goal of small & strong? I STAY THERE.

Gimme All The Sugar! Part 3

Yeah, I went there. Woke up snapping at everyone, haven’t got out of bed all day because I am just such a FAILURE, and perhaps it would be better for everyone if I just ceased to exist.

No, wait… a… minute……..

Bam! Depression! My f***ing favourite. AGAIN.

I want to show you what I’m eating RIGHT NOW. Seriously, I’m eating this as I’m writing this post. On my phone. In bed.

Donut 1 of 4. Cake 1 of 1. That’s an empty family-sized bar of galaxy. And a coffee. With a sugar in it.

I had to post this, because somewhere, someone is eating similarly unhealthy foods (I just can’t call something as benign as food “bad”, sorry – food, as with most things, is value neutral).

Maybe one day someone will see this when they’re bingeing. When they’re depressed. When they’ve had enough of their lack of willpower. When they’re hiding what they’re eating from everyone. When they feel ashamed.

I hope so, because if that’s you… I wanted to show you you’re not the only one who does this. I want to tell you not to be ashamed. Food affects your hormones, and your mood. Sometimes a “binge” is the best way you can find to get some happy hormones circulating. It’s physiologically logical. It is, inversely enough, a way to love and provide for yourself. You have officially been absolved. You are not guilty. I am a former binge eater, and this was not a binge. This is what my body and my mind wants right now. I trust myself to stop – not through willpower, but because this, too, shall pass. I’ve been studying my eating long enough to know. Study your eating too. Study your hormones. Read up on what different foods do to your body, and your hormonal reactions. We are hormonally-driven animals, we are not willpower-driven. Let go of your need for CONTROL AT ANY COST. Let yourself go. For a day. Or two days. Or however long you need. But do it mindfully. Arm yourself with knowledge and compassion. Understand that it’s ok… YOU are ok. Let it pass. Then get right back up and keep going. To err is to be human. I fell. I was defeated. You will fall too. And everyone who has lost weight? They all fell too at some point. They did, I did, you did, we all did. And we all will again. Do not feel guilty – you are just as human as everyone else. Guilt will keep you down. Let it go.

When you’re ready – you will get back up and face the challenge again. As will I. As did everyone who has lost weight.

But for now? You rest. Safe in the knowledge that the time will soon come when you can fight again.

Limit Break

I want to talk today about limits.

As I was about to go under 200lbs, I stalled for a week and a half. In the grand scheme of things, not long at all. I know of many people who’ve hit plateaus lasting MONTHS. Still, it was interesting to see a big drop down to 196 after that. I have a graph. It was a “falling straight off the cliff” drop – 1 to 3 lbs per day. Now, for those of you without an old-school analogue scale, 196lbs = 14 stone. That big, thick, heavy line with a number 14 (and “thou shalt not pass”) written above it. The line that, once I get past, signals a return to the weight I was throughout most of my 20s – approximately 175lbs (about 12.5 stone). The weight where most of my clothes fit. The weight where I’m not small, but not big either. The weight I hated being when I was there last. The weight where my BMI no longer classes me as obese. The weight where I can go back on the pill. The almost-half-way point of my entire journey. My next big mini-goal. The point where I declare *** VICTORY MODE ***

Once I pass that point, I’m on the home straight back to where I was. My pre-triple-job-loss weight. My pre-nervous-breakdown weight. My “I used to have a permanent place to live” weight. My “I used to have a social life” weight. My before all the **** happened weight. Once I pass the 14-stone gateway, I am no longer any more than ONE TINY STONE away from being 12-stone-something.

So, I had the “onederland” limit at 201/202. Then, I made it! I got down to 14 stone! *unicorns farting rainbows* But the next day… 197. Then 198. And today, 200! Where, exactly, am I at?

For starters, contrary to something I’d written in a previous post, I started intermittently logging my food in My Fitness Pal. Though, in the spirit of IE, not to “keep myself in line”. Completely out of curiosity. I felt like I was hardly eating – I was hardly ever hungry. I’d regulated my hunger mechanism for the most part, so bye bye empty hunger! My logging experiment yielded somewhat unexpected results. Here are some of them:

Thursday, 31st Jan: 1 veggie quarter pounder, 1 fried egg, 2 rashers of bacon & 2 bits of wholemeal bread topped with a can of baked beans and melted cheese. I thought I’d had a binge. 1505 calories.

Saturday, 2nd Feb: cheese omelette & wholewheat pasta with pesto sauce. I forgot to eat lunch. 815 calories.

Tuesday, 5th Feb: 1 Starbucks Seattle latte, 1 family sized bar of galaxy and 2 iced donuts. Severely depressed “gimme all the sugar” day. 1374 calories.

Saturday, 9th Feb: 1 bowl of home made wholegrain mushroom risotto. Seriously. THAT’S IT. 535 calories.

Sunday, 10th Feb: 4 veg samosas with home made tzatziki & a salmon fillet, chilled with lemon juice. 588 calories.

Sunday, 16th Feb: 1 wispa bar & 2 egg mayo rolls. 813 calories.

Allow me to accompany you in asking “what in the ****?!”. Most days under 1000 calories, completely by accident?! That would explain the super-rapid weight loss. But does it explain the following rapid regain? I was doing strength training, but I’m hardly at the point of dead lifting my body weight (YET). What gives?

I have 4lbs unaccounted for. Suggestion 1: muscle. Sure, I build up easily. My arms right now look like I could put someone through a wall. But, you can’t build muscle on a calorie deficit, and absolutely not without more protein than I was getting. A salmon fillet here and a pork chop there does NOT make 4lbs of muscle appear virtually overnight. Next! Fat? 1lb=3500 cals. 4lbs=14000 cals. I probably went through 3000 cals in 3 days, so even if you double that in case I put away a few cheesecakes and forgot all about it… AND add the BMR of a roughly 200lb woman, it’d still be defying the second law of thermodynamics. This leaves only one option:


Strength training causes tiny muscle tears. These cause an immune response in the body. The muscles swell with water to aid the transport of nutrients to the area. Fair enough. And regarding the low-calorie “starvation mode”, I still don’t know if I believe in it, but… Let’s say it’s true. My body is hanging onto what it can in case of famine. And if it hasn’t gained fat, it’s gained water to, once again, help bodily processes work more efficiently. When in danger, puff yourself out. Or something. Perhaps there is another reason (potentially): evacuated fat cells being refilled with water. Really. Check the link. Read the page. It may or may not be true, but I’ve heard this phenomenon being spoken of on every weight loss forum I looked at. What’s more, the fat on my arms (and sadly, ONLY my arms) has the weird “marbles” feeling.

The essential fact is: large calorie deficit + strength training + period of rapid weight loss = stressful physical environment. I suspect my body is having one big WTF moment. I had no idea, as I wasn’t especially hungry, I wasn’t uncomfortably full, I was feeling good from lifting manageable weights with adequate rest (2-3 days), getting enough sleep… I was just… happy. Physically comfortable with the process (if mentally impatient).

Well, once again, in the spirit of IE… It’s “listen to your body” time again.

I am doing a Limit Break. As my beloved hero & role model Lightning (the badass chick in the picture) would say: Keep the enemy off balance.

So, switch it up time! I am writing this while uncomfortably full. I have, today, eaten things I don’t want when I’m not hungry. I have broken my rules by following the rules. I have eaten whole carbs, refined carbs, sugar, healthy fat, unhealthy fat, vegetables, protein, the works. Here are today’s force-feed stats:

Bit of a white baguette with olive oil. 2 snickers bars. 2 galaxy chocolate mochas. King prawns with baby new potatoes fried in olive oil with chilli, garlic, sweet pointed peppers & onion, 4 coffees and a quarter of a packet of Spanish chorizo sausage. Party like it’s 1999 calories, because according to MFP, it is.

I feel decidedly dodgy! I will be eating the prawn thing again but wish I’d skipped the potatoes. I feel a bit sick from the chocolate. I ate about 4 hours ago and still feel stuffed. I am fully aware I’m p*ssing in the wind here with no scientific evidence this is gonna work. But hey… that’s what experiments are for, right?

Either way, I will get my Limit Break. Through this method or whatever else. And the next time my body hits me with a plateau, no matter how short, I will hit it right back! And if the look of my arms are anything to go by, knock it straight into the middle of next week.

(Image from Final Fantasy: Lightning Returns – Developer: Square Enix)

What a difference 5 months makes…

Binge eating, dieting, takeaways

Look what I found hiding under the bed… The Domino’s Pizza monster from a previous life. See the “hiding the evidence” routine I talked about, from my binges back in the day? THIS IS WHAT IT LOOKS LIKE.

All I could do was laugh. This box is dated 9th September 2012. I remember being pretty depressed about work, but I distinctly do NOT remember ordering a 4,000 calorie feast and hiding the evidence under the bed! Isn’t denial a wonderful thing?

If I can give you any advice based on this picture… If you wouldn’t eat it in public, don’t eat it in private. I can’t believe I used to feel such shame about feeding myself that I had to do it in excess when nobody else was looking.

On another note, I know I’ve been slow posting as of late. Stressful times. And don’t fret, I have not been buried alive by a mountain of takeaway boxes, I am taking my frustration out on some weights! What a positive (if sonewhat painful) development. In fact, that may just be the topic of my next post. By then I’ll be back to drafting in a book first, so should be more coherent.

I just had to share this photo. If there’s a place for something I’ve been so ashamed of I hid it and forgot about it, it’s out there on the Internet for the world to see! 😉

While I’m here, I may as well state for brevity that this is the first time I had the privilege of being able to post in the 3FC mini-goal forum! Now I’ve hit onederland, and lost 16lbs, I know it’s time to work out how to use the photobucket iPhone app and get some progress pics up! The thread can be found here.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Domino’s Pizza!

So, What Exactly IS Intuitive Eating?

Intuitive Eating. Or, Instinctive Eating. What is it?

A diet? A lifestyle change disguised as a diet? A diet disguised as a lifestyle change? A form of self-help for disordered eating? A revalation? An all-you-can-eat bingefest? A waste of time?

I’d love to tell you the answer, but I don’t actually know. It’s different for everyone. I’ve heard it’s good for maintenance. I’ve heard it doesn’t work for weight loss. I’ve heard it takes a long time. For me – it IS taking a long time.

Intuitive Eating is a bit like The Loch Ness Monster, The Abominable Snowman, The Bermuda Triangle. People are aware of it. However: if you try to find proof that it exists, nobody has a picture to show you. And like all good urban myths, if you DO find proof of its existence, you’re tempted to call Photoshop on it.

Stories abound from people who’ve lost weight on whatever low calorie, low carb, low fat, low salt, low anything diet. You want motivational photos of someone who’s lost X lbs on Y diet? You got ’em! You want motivational photos of someone who’s lost X lbs by eating whatever they want, whenever they want? That, my friends, is a challenge.

About time I got to the point. Intuitive Eating is about understanding your own body’s hunger signals and reacting appropriately most of the time. Hungry? Eat. Not hungry? Stop. Guilt? Counterproductive. Cheesecake? Sure, just follow the “eat when hungry / stop when no longer hungry” thing. It’s the closest you’ll get to rules. Being dismissive toward food you don’t really, REALLY want? Encouraged! Counting food stats? **** off. Weigh yourself? Whenever, if you like.

It’s a rebel’s diet. Take away my donuts and I will demand to eat nothing BUT donuts for a year, out of pure defiance, if nothing else. Give me all the donuts I want, guilt free, and I will sneer at your suggestion that I eat something so… common. Donuts are below me. I will take my chicken salad and turn my back on you with my nose in the air, taking my air of superiority with me.

What a “normal” diet consists of in rules and counting, IE consists of in mental gymnastics. Doing reverse psychology on yourself the vast majority of the time. Here are 2 things I’ve found you need to get well acquainted with:

1. Your mind

2. Your hormones (that’s for a later post, but google leptin, grehlin and insulin if you want the basics).

I will be perfectly honest with you: when I began IE, giving in to every food my body wanted, I ate nothing but crap. Donuts. Chocolate bars. Large ones. Sugary coffees. Burgers. Chips. Pizza. Twice a day.

I will be honest again: this phase lasted under a week. It might happen to others, or not, depending on body composition, activity levels, hormones etc… But anyway. I could eat ANYTHING I wanted, but… the constant heartburn? The feeling of lethargy? The sense of coming down with a cold from my nose and head being bunged up? My eyes watering for no reason? The insomnia? A big no thankyou to all that!! I could barely get out of bed. This is when I really broke the back of it.

I looked at what I was eating – basically, anything high in sugar. I looked up the effects of excessive sugar, and what I found echoed what I was experiencing. The biggest factor was the constant, unrelenting hunger. I just ate a veggie sausage sandwich! Why am I ravenously hungry after half an hour?! I listened to my hunger for the first time – and it was telling me something was seriously wrong. This is when I started making changes. First, I cut sugar out of my tea, but not my coffee. I just started drinking coffee. The symptoms persisted. I got serious. I cut sugar out of my coffee. (to let you understand, I go through about 10 mugs a day between them. The effect will obviously be different if you don’t drink as much).

About 2 days later… the problems were gone. I didn’t crave sugar. I craved salmon and roasted vegetables. So that’s what I ate. I wasn’t hungry for about 5 hours. And when I was, it was a gentle, quiet hunger that slowly built in intensity over a few hours. I would think of eating, then a while later get a slight rumbling feeling whispering at me to eat. It never became painful. It was a million miles away from the old, familiar hunger that made me want to be sick, that would hit me square in the face like a ton of bricks. My hunger signal had been regulated. It was a revalation.

I ate healthy the first week, and lost 1lb. The next week, 21st December… I remember it well because it was End of the World Day… I had cheesecake for breakfast, walked a few miles to meet a friend, had a large white chocolate mocha with whipped cream, and we shared 6 expensive chocolates, had a cocktail and a beer, then I walked home and wasn’t hungry for hours. I now try to eat sugar (if I want it, not “just because” – some things are worth being saved for special occasions!) on days I’ll be walking a few miles. On 22nd December I was 3lbs down on the previous week. Off I went, skipping through the dasies. This is how it’s supposed to be! This is how thin people eat! I couldn’t return to my old habits if I’d wanted to! Once again, it was all unicorns farting rainbows.

Until last week. Disaster struck! *insert dramatic gesture here* I had a 3-donut, 2-mars bar, depression-related binge. I didn’t feel guilty, and I still don’t. I was getting over the cold. I had “ladies’ issues”. Life started getting difficult, what with an upcoming employment tribunal, and not having enough money to live on. I stalled. I have been re-losing and re-gaining the same lb for over a week. Every day… 202, 201, 202, 201, 201, 202, 202, 201, 201… Why is it a coincidence that my head isn’t in the game? I can hardly hear my long-sought out hunger under the din of life’s stresses.

No way will I be stopping at this weight. Just resting. My mind is in control of my body, but not in control of itself. Perhaps it’s self-sabotage as I can see this is starting to work. I do know one thing though: diets don’t work for me. The restriction. The measuring. The “allowances”. The counting. The tracking. The feeling of it being temporary. The “everything in moderation” advice. The. Whole. Enchilada. I hate them so, SO much. Never again. The only thing that’s keeping me in temporary maintenance is the fact that it feels better to live now. I persevere. Life will always get stressful, but whether or not I lose, 202 is now my “highest weight”. My cutoff point. My glass ceiling. I will go no further. 202, not 212. It’s contrary to most IE advice about finding your healthy weight, but if any day I hit 203, I will exercise like a demon, drink more water (which I hate), do slim fast, anything to get back under my cutoff point. Very, VERY temporarily, to keep myself from going over the slippery slope like I’ve done so many times before.

When I break the back of 201 as well, and make it to onederland and 1 stone lost at 198, and pick up and continue, I’ll post again when I work out what changed everything. It’s only a matter of time.

And as for WHAT Intuitive Eating is? I still don’t know. But this is my personal experience of HOW it is.

Happy Eating, everyone! 🙂