Archive for the 'Learning experiences' 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!

Rethinking The Binge

Binge eating. A close acquaintance of many a dieter, including followers of IE.

You may recall, a week or so ago, I reported a binge incident. It was depression-related. I had all the signs of depression, the black dog that has been my faithful companion for over 2 decades.

Apathy. Numbness. Loss of pleasure in usual activities. Low motivation. Suicidal thoughts. Desire to self-harm. Lethargy. Brain fog. Low concentration. Laboured movement. Desire but inability to cry. Hopelessness.

Check. All of the above. So, I chose my mental health over my physical health. I ate 2 mars bars and 3 donuts. But do you know what else? That’s all I ate. I didn’t want anything else. I just wanted the SUGAR.

I figured this was a binge. I’d got so used to eating healthy. I was becoming accustomed to wanting, and eating, protein & vegetables, most of the time. For my old eating habits to appear out of nowhere? How could it be anything else?! My old, destructive habits were back. There could be only one answer:


Fast forward to today. Something made me question my assumption. WAS it a binge?

The NHS website defines binge eating as:

“an eating disorder where a person feels compelled to overeat on a regular basis. People who binge eat consume very large quantities of food over a short period of time and they often eat even when they are not hungry. Binges are often planned and can involve the person buying ‘special binge foods’. Binge eating usually takes place in private with the person feeling that they have no control over their eating. They will often have feelings of guilt and disgust after binge eating.”

From there, let me compare the depression-related “binge” of a week ago with the food I consumed today, namely:

A chocolate orange, a galaxy coffee, 2 donuts, half a mars bar, and vast quantities of coffee.

Depression-related binge & today: almost identical food choices. Increased caffiene today. Still under 1200 calories (I’m not counting, but for the purposes of this analysis, this information is useful). So far, so identical. Now, about the binge eating description above: been there, bought the t-shirt, couldn’t fit into it afterwards. I’d eat “normally” all day. Maybe add a cake at lunchtime. And one on the way home. Find something good on tv. Ritualise it. Order a 4,000 calorie Domino’s Pizza meal deal. Eat in secret. Throw away the boxes immediately. Wash up, clean the house, destroy the evidence. Feel awful. Hate my disgusting self for days. Go on diet. Rinse and repeat until 212lbs.

So, my old behaviour fits the description. I had an eating disorder. Only, you couldn’t tell – you expect someone with an eating disorder to be thin, not fat. Let’s compare both today & the other recent “binge” with the same criteria:

Consuming “very large quantities” of food? Not especially – given that I remained under the weight-loss benchmark of 1,200 calories. And I didn’t design it this way, it’s just the way it happened. Eating when not hungry? Nope. I was hungry. I didn’t starve myself to become hungry either – it was just normal, everyday hunger. Planned? No. Both times, completely spontaneous. “special binge foods”? No, just what I liked the look of. My special binge food is a large Texas BBQ Domino’s Pizza with 5 garlic & herb dips (1 per 2 slices), chicken kickers with 2 garlic & herb dips, chicken strippers with 2 BBQ dips, about 4 cans of Pepsi, and a cheesecake. In private? Nope. I casually munched on my donuts & chocolate in front of my partner & friends. I didn’t do the “hide the boxes” routine. No control? I wouldn’t say so. My cravings are strong, but so are those I usually get for steak, salmon, cucumber & peppers. I tend to eat what I crave, but I’m confident I could do otherwise. It’s only food, and I don’t care THAT much. Guilt? I can’t remember the last time I felt that, though I’m sure I’d recognise it. Disgust? None of that either. I went for a longer walk than usual today and did a tiny bit of strength & stability training. I love my body, it’s starting to feel smaller & stronger, just the way I want it. I didn’t exercise while depressed, but I didn’t feel disgusted either. I pretty much didn’t feel anything.

So there you have it. I ate nothing but crap all day, but it wasn’t a binge. What it WAS, I have no idea. Yet. Herein lies the nugget of IE advice to myself:


On, then, to the next part of the analysis: the common denominator. When this “gimme nothing but sugar” thing happens again (and it will), I’ll see if the conclusion I’m about to draw still fits.

Last “gimme all the sugar” day – depression

This “gimme all the sugar” day – hypomania

Now, I’m not about to sit here and call myself bipolar without a medical diagnosis, but it’s something I’ve suspected for years, and have become very comfortable with, even fond of. Let’s compare how I’m feeling today with the hypomania symptoms list from the site:

Increased energy & activity? Yes. Feeling full of ideas, with racing thoughts? Yes. Increased confidence and self-esteem? Yes. Decreased need for sleep? No. Talkativeness? A bit. Easily distracted? No, but impatient. Increased sociability? Yes. Increased sexual desire & reduced inhibitions? Yes. Increased involvement in pleasurable activities? Yes. Lack of insight? No. Increased awareness of senses? Yes. And I’ll throw feelings of grandiosity onto the bonfire for good measure.

In conclusion: I have a new hypothesis. If I’m not bingeing, then why the “gimme all the sugar” thing?

My theory is that at either end of the mood spectrum, I have increased need or desire for sugar.

Why this is, I have no idea, but I will let you know upon my return from my research expedition.