Tag Archives: losing weight

What are we waiting for?

2 Oct

I spent a long time doing nothing about my weight gain, apart from add to it.

I’ve been asked on numerous occasions since I started writing about my story why that was?   The honest answer is I don’t know, days turned into weeks, weeks into months, months into years and before I knew it there I was at 41 and in quite a state. An element of procrastination together with a fear of failure, if I didn’t start, then there was nothing to fail at was there?  It all feels pretty ridiculous now but hindsight is a wonderful thing!

It does make me sad now to think about the amount of time it took for me to make the changes and all the opportunities I may have missed, some are more significant than others but it is a hard pill to swallow now. However it does make me even more determined not to go back and waste any more of my life.

I’m now looking forward to winter and getting down to work.  It’s a weird old situation, since I came back from Italy the sun has shone and today, the 2nd October I have been out in my flip flips in 25 degrees plus of beautiful weather!  Winter still seems a long way off however the BBC weatherman assures me it will make an appearance mid-week so my beloved flip flops will be consigned to their new role of slippers with only their memories of their summer of travel!

So if you do want to lose some weight, just ask yourself the question, what are you waiting for?   And if you want a reminder about getting motivated, take a look at my previous post on Motivation.



Being in the Black

4 Sep

When I was bigger the majority of clothes in my wardrobe were black, I was the queen of black clothes shopping, I could track them down, I could almost smell them! I would be overjoyed if one of the very few shops that stocked my size had new black stuff in!

What wasn’t black I had for years, things needed to last due to the lack of availability, one blouse I bought in 1996 was only thrown out last year. I would panic if it looked like a retailer would discontinue one of my ‘essential’ items, if they went having to replace them with something that fitted would be very stressful.  I even bulk bought some wide leg trousers from M&S just in case, I had seven identical pairs at one stage.  Evans introduced a new line in jeans once, I was overjoyed because a size 26 fitted, I did cut the label out though.

To compensate for the abundance of black I did though have great accessories, it was even brought up at a work ‘team away day’ that it was something people really noticed about me, I used them to detract from the rest of me.

From a clothes point of view I could cope with everyday, however parties were a challenge and entailed a lot of heart ache, and fancy dress parties, well they didn’t happen, I could come up with an excuse for not making it.  I had enough problems dealing with how I looked every day without having to dress up and the odds of there being something in my size that wouldn’t just look ridiculous were pretty slim, it was always easier not to go.

So the shrinkage was interesting, all of a sudden a whole new world of clothes opened up.  For the first three months I carried on wearing my old clothes, it felt good somehow to be covered and wrapped in them.  However I decided I would like a new dress to wear at Christmas, I arranged to meet my best friend at a shopping mall, I got there first and went for a bit of a wander.  I didn’t really know what size I was anymore so I was ambling around without any real focus, I walked past one shop that I’d never even been in before, after all they didn’t stock anything smaller than a size 18, the clothes were always lovely though.  I took a deep breath and went in to have a look, I found a beautiful purple dress, decided to try it on while I was waiting for my friend.

Off I went to the changing room holding the size 18, thinking it probably would be too small but at least I could then eliminate the shop and focus my efforts elsewhere which would be fine.  I looked in the mirror and realised that it fitted perfectly, but I was completely bewildered, I was still going through this period of not being able to see me in a mirror, so I took off the dress, went to a nearby cafe and sat clutching a coffee, I needed my friend to arrive, I needed her to tell me what I looked like in it.

Of course once she saw it, she told me how lovely it looks and half an hour later I walked out of the shop with not one but two dresses, both in a size 18, it turned out the dress came in different colours so I ended up with the purple one and a spotty one for work.  I was so happy, that bag meant the world to me.

I walked into work the next week wearing that dress, and my shrinkage was very evident for everyone to see, heads turned that morning!  It was a kind of coming out ceremony and letting everyone know what I was doing. I had been up to that stage not really talking about it to anyone other than very close friends, I was still getting my head around it after all, I didn’t even really know how to explain it.

It started off the process of replacing my clothes, as soon as something was too big, it went to the charity shop or was thrown out. But this meant buying new things, there were all these shops now where I could go, it was exciting, overwhelming and rewarding. I did though find I needed someone with me, the head thing was still proving to challenge me in being able to see what I looked like, luckily I have wonderful friends who were more than happy to help me!

I have a lovely wardrobe now, full of colour, I find it hard now to buy black and I would never wear it head to toe. My accessories are now far more understated, I don’t need to hide.

So my thoughts from this for you are:

  • Evict the clothes that are too big, if you keep them ‘just in case’, what you are actually saying to yourself that you will fail and need them in the future, don’t give yourself the option, free yourself.
  • Buy new things!  There is nothing more exciting than finding a smaller size fits!  Don’t keep telling yourself you’ll wait until you’ve lost loads more weight, you’ll keep much more motivated believe me if you do it as you go along!
  • Look at things you wouldn’t have dreamed of wearing when you were bigger, there’s no need to hide anymore!
  • And ditch the black!

And the photos, the first one was taken in September 2009, I’d lost a little bit of weight then, the second one was taken in May 2010, that pink top proved to be very important and I’m wearing white, big girls don’t wear white?

Tricks for eating out and enjoying it!

3 Sep

The vital part of losing all the weight was finding a balance.  To be able to continue my love affair with food, I had to try really hard to find the best way to sort out how much I actually needed to eat.

My stomach was shrinking, my body was actually helping me to help myself. So the smaller portions weren’t that difficult to manage at home, the biggest challenge came when I had dinner with a friend, he is a great cook, the food was bound to be good, so how would I be able to cope, in my head was a fear I would eat too much and my stomach would protest and make me ill or that I would offend because I’d be seen to not appreciate his hard work by not being able to eat it if I was worried about eating too much and how bad it was for me! The trauma of it all!

As predicted the food was great, I asked for about half of what he had dished up, it didn’t actually look too bad, not ridiculously small anyway, I had still had something of everything, and I really enjoyed it!

That’s been the thing, I haven’t damaged my relationship with food in any way, I love food more now than before. Back then there was a love hate thing going on, I loved eating it but hated the control it had over me and my body.

Because I now have control, I can enjoy it and relax.

There were other challenges to come, eating out was an interesting one, of course I don’t have control over the portion size, however I decided early on that this wasn’t going to force me to always end up choosing what looked like the lower calorie option in a restaurant, that seemed like quite a waste!  Or even worse never be able to go out or always feel it was traumatic and no fun!

And after all because I was doing well at home, I should be able to go out and enjoy food too, for a long-term sustainable approach, this had to be tackled head on.

So the trick is to eat about half, then put your knife and fork down, I normally then have a bit of a chat with my fellow diners, while this is happening, my head and my stomach sort themselves out and I can then decide if I am full or not.  Amazingly this is the point where I do normally decide I have had enough, I have enjoyed the food, savoured it and am not stuffed, I then place the napkin over the food or if it’s looking like the staff are beginning to clear I put my cutlery on the plate, it’s then normally taken away – result. I have changed the way I eat, I stop more than I used too, I think we all perhaps just look at the food on our plates and just shovel, it’s a kind of endurance challenge!

Yes it takes a bit of willpower to be able to do that however I counterbalance with the thought of being stuffed and perhaps feeling ill later and the waste that will be, together with the fact that because I use this technique I can eat what I want, not the salad or the boring options.  It makes eating so exciting!  I’d never have been able to have gone on a week’s foodie holiday in Italy without being able to perfect it!

There are some things I do to help myself, I may not have the chips, I love chips however I love new potatoes just as much and I can have a few more of those…but essentially there isn’t much I won’t eat now.

I can do it for puddings too, more difficult but it can be done, Pizza Express have really helped me out here with their ‘tiny’ desserts which come with coffee, a result!    And often if I’ve been really good with the main then a pudding on a special night out is not going to end the world, especially now I’m in maintaining my weight loss!

Same principle for takeaways, stop when you’ve had your small plate full, chat, reflect and if you then think ‘I’m full’, put the lids back on the containers, for some reason once I couldn’t see the food, I lost interest, others could help themselves but I was more than happy…..with a pizza, cut into 8ths not quarters…it’s all really about tricks.

And if the waste bothers you, well for takeaways, order less next time!  Even talk to your takeaway proprietor and see whether they can do you smaller portions, you may be surprised.  I’d love to see pubs and restaurants reduce their portion sizes anyway, some are just crazy, you don’t need to eat massive amounts to enjoy good food.

Give it a go once your stomach has started to shrink, you’ll be getting used to smaller portions, and have in your mind that this is the way forwards to be able to have a normal and healthy relationship with food, it is a head game of tricks!  I can go out and eat, enjoy a takeaway and the lovely food that friends prepare, that’s what motivates me!

So again, it’s all about less.  Just let your head and stomach work together, stop regularly when you’re eating and think, believe me it does work.

The photo is of my first attempt at home at making pasta from scratch! Went quite well, because I’ve sorted my relationship with food, I even love cooking more!

No Chocolate again, ever.

23 Aug

Does this sound good?  Probably not, it could of course relate to anything, cheese, cake, takeaways, all those foods that are bad for you, that you love and you probably eat too much of .

Most diets will say you can’t have them, your first thought if you want to lose weight will be that because you eat a lot of it, you should stop completely. It is about depriving yourself, and comes back to why diets always seem to feel like a negative experience.

But what happens when you come to the end of your diet, hopefully you’ve lost weight, do you still not eat them, I bet you’ll miss them too much and they could be key to why you fall off the wagon and put the weight back on?  And this may have happened more than once?

If you love food then to succeed in losing weight and keeping it off you need to find a different way. If you aim to cut out those things completely that you really love, it won’t work, you have to take control of them, not the other way around. The aim should be about how they can work for you long-term, there shouldn’t be any difference between what you eat while you are losing weight and what you are going to eat once you have lost it.

So look at what foods really don’t work for you, what makes you hungrier, what can’t you stop eating?  Worth mentioning at this stage, if you only eat the ‘bad’ stuff and don’t eat any fruit and veg, lean meat, fish etc, then you do need to think about that, my way is far easier if you eat in a ‘balanced’ way, it just makes sense? Take a look at my previous post on that subject.

As I started to lose weight I realised that food was in control of me, I used to say something to myself all the time to justify the amount I eat –  ‘if I eat it, it won’t be there for me to eat’, of course I would then just go shopping again, replace it and the cycle would continue.  Remember I had no willpower, I would eat a 6 pack of crisps, a tub of ice cream and even if I cooked for myself, the portions would be far more than I needed (more to come on that subject).  If the food was there I would eat it and this cycle had been in place for 16 years.

I loved bread but what I noticed was that if I eat it at lunchtime, within an hour or so I was hungry again. So now I don’t eat it at all in the week, I do though eat ‘good’ bread at weekends and special occasions, you know the stuff that is fresh out of the oven or comes from the olive stall!  Bread now sits on the ‘treat’ list, especially if I end up spending £3+ on a loaf!  And I actually enjoy it even more now.  My view is that this has been the central element of my weight loss, once I made this change, the weight started to really shift, this entailed listening to my body very carefully, I will talk about that more as it is key.

If it’s chocolate then don’t aim to cut it out completely, just buy less, and keep it in the fridge, it’s harder to eat a lot if it takes more effort, my trick is the smaller bars of Green and Blacks, once you get your head around the fact they make no economic sense!  Word of advice don’t go down the route of buying the treat size bags of chocolate bars, it won’t work, you will end up eating a lot of them, because they are there. Better to actually buy one full size one a week!

Buy smaller amounts of things like cheese, just don’t have lots at home, if you then suddenly crave it, if you have to make a degree of effort, get in the car to go to the shop, there are lots of stages that give you the opportunity to think about what you are doing and most of the time something else will crop up and you won’t bother.

People also ask me about takeaways all the time, there are tricks to enjoying them, order less if you can, order the dishes not in sauces or limit them, and my very simple way of making sure I don’t completely pig out?  I put the lids back on once I’ve dished up what I want, my brain then doesn’t see what is still there, if I’m then full once I’ve eaten what is on my plate, I just scoop everything up and throw it away. And when I throw it away my thought is now, what a waste and the next time I order I reduce the amount even more, just think about it a bit more.

Some people will swear by having to eliminate their key ‘bad’ things entirely which is fine but consider whether you want to never have them again which is what you are really saying, if you don’t want to say goodbye completely then take control of them.  What you eat shouldn’t then change when you move from losing weight to sustaining it. And as you shrink, you get motivated, see how good your new life can be, the control you have gets easier and easier, believe me!  That’s where my willpower comes from.  I hope I’m also beginning to show you that losing and keeping weight off is as much (if not more) about your head as it is about the physical stuff.

So in summary:

  • Look at the foods that are in control of you and take control of them!
  • Buy less and in smaller versions
  • Start listening to your body
  • Eat less of them, don’t eliminate them totally…
  • If your diet isn’t balanced then give that a good think and make some changes

I’ll look at the question of ‘less’ in more detail later…

And the photo, well I bought that tub of Green and Black’s vanilla ice cream in August 2009, as I recall it was to serve after dinner with a friend, we never eat it, I decided to use it to test my resolve, in the past I could quite happily have eaten the whole tub in one evening.  It has one spoonful missing thanks to my sister. It’s become a bit of a symbol. I have eaten other ice cream since (I’ll buy the little tubs now!) but this shows me every time I open the freezer how I now have control.

Small & Achievable

22 Aug

If I had told myself in August 2009 that I was going to lose 6 stone, get fit, get to a stage where I loved exercise, swim 5k, climb a mountain, sail a yacht, do Race for Life and write a blog about it all, it would never have happened!

  • How many times have you started a diet and told yourself that you’re going to get into a bikini on this year’s holiday when in fact the last time you wore one was in 1996?
  • Or that you’re going to get into that pair of very small jeans that you’ve been keeping in the back of the wardrobe?
  • How about I want to look like the very toned, tanned, 20 something fit bloke who pounds the treadmill in the gym (that was for the blokes by the way!) but you get the idea?
  • And finally if you’ve been told or found out that you are obese or even morbidly obese, that to lose what is an enormous figure is just impossible.

If the goals are too big and unrealistic then you won’t ever succeed, you can’t visualise the end result, that may be years away, you won’t be able to appreciate what you are actually achieving and you are setting yourself up to fail from the start. It will be too overwhelming to comprehend.

As I’ve mentioned before think seriously about how many times you have started a diet, lost some weight and then put it back on, at the time can you remember what were you trying to achieve? Was it a ‘big’ goal?

The trick here is to set achievable goals, something that looks like it might just be possible.

What did I do?  Well I bought the next size down in my normal jeans, of course they didn’t fit when I started, but within a month they did, the sense of achievement was amazing, and this brought with a real sense of motivation, I was then firmly focused on getting to the next pair, I always bought the next pair as soon as I got into them. I still think though that the two best times were fitting into the size 22 ones and then being able to go into Evans, buy the size 14 pair and declare that as this was now their smallest size I wouldn’t be back!

From someone who had no willpower, I found I could walk past the ‘birthday food pile’ in the office or appreciate why the mini bar of Green & Black’s butterscotch chocolate was a better choice than the 2 for 1 offer on the full size bars.

I was celebrating the achievements as they came, I was buying myself something smaller to wear, they did eventually get sold on ebay but hey they did the trick in motivating me and making me feel great about what I’d done.

If you get complimented on how you look, bottle that, when you’re feeling de-motivated, think about that feeling, how good it was and how you want more of it. Think about what being ‘bigger’ means to you, do you want that anymore?

So by small and achievable try some of these:

  • I’ll lose a dress size/an inch in a month – even less if you get overwhelmed by the whole thing
  • I’ll be able to climb the stairs and not be as much out of breath in six weeks
  • I’ll be able to reduce the amount I eat in the evenings or halve my alcohol amounts in a fortnight
  • Be able to swim/run/whatever you’re doing by a small advance each time, not an enormous jump, as you shrink you will be able to increase at a faster pace, remember the Hare & the Tortoise?
  • I’ll feel great because I am doing something – celebrate that, look for the small things that seem easier

You’ll notice I haven’t mentioned actual weight lost, I don’t own any scales, I didn’t weigh myself until I’d lost 3 stones, all the initial shrinkage was monitored through how my clothes felt, it’s well documented that yo-yo dieters will weigh themselves very frequently and become quite fixated on it.  If you only see very small losses on a daily or even weekly basis, you lose motivation, you can’t really see what you are achieving, if you lose 2 pounds one week, then only one the next week, you’re already wondering if it’s all worth it, why if you’re doing the same things in respect to exercise and food why didn’t you lose 2 pounds.  However if you weigh after a month, and you’ve lost 6 pounds, that’s fantastic, you haven’t seen the up and down cycle across the month. Then there is biology, our bodies don’t help us here, we will put on weight due to not being 100% well, what we eat, a woman’s cycle will see weight gain at certain times of the month.

So I see the scales as taking away motivation in respect to small goals, you are taken straight back to that enormous ‘eventual goal’. Of course when I did get on the scales it was a very, very pleasant surprise and I can’t tell you how motivational that was. If you can put the scales away and even better get rid of them. If you do feel the need to weigh use the ones in Boots or at the sports centre and limit it to once a fortnight at an absolute minimum.

If you start off not being a slave to the scales then you stand a much better chance of being able to sustain weight loss too, I know that my weight will fluctuate now,  I’ve had periods of doing a lot more exercise or times when there have been holidays or events where I probably eat more than I would normally do, however by not getting on the scales I’m not feeling ‘punished’, my clothes might feel a bit tight, so I adjust exercise and food again (I’m learning all the time here by the way!).

The motivation that I got each time that new pair of jeans fitted was immense. Even when I first went to the ‘Eat as much as You’ want chinese buffet and I didn’t leave feeling as though I was going to burst because I was now in control of what I was eating was motivation too.

So following on from that a question for you to think about:

  • Are you in control of food or is it in control of you?
  • What are the foods that you feel are stopping you losing weight – for example bread, cheese, chocolate etc?
  • Are you prepared to give them up forever or would you like to be able to still have them in your life?

We’ll look at your answers later…as ever be honest with yourself!

Not a Diet

17 Aug

So I’ve been a bit bossy and very honest about what being big is like and what motivated me to want to change things.

Your question will be now – how did you do it?

Well initially through ‘food’  alone, no exercise, however as I got smaller I had more energy and then just moved more which does speed up your metabolism (more on that later or click on Top Ten Tips for some advance reading).

I didn’t go on a Diet

This was the most important thing for me – I love food, love cooking and love eating, this process wasn’t going to work unless I found a way to be able to continue my love affair. So this sparks off a whole discussion about how you can do this?

I’m not a fan of diets, for me they just say ‘hey, you can’t have me, I’m bad for you!’ no matter how you look at it, it’s about what you can’t have (normally the things you like) and you feel deprived.  Even if there is a nice long list of the things you can have there will be more that you can’t, that you will miss.  A diet always starts with something negative.  Common sense told me that  if losing weight could be a more positive experience, you were more likely to succeed?

On a diet food remains in control, I wanted to find a way of me being in control of food, that way I could always have the food I wanted and loved. I didn’t want to deprive myself of anything.

There is also an end date to a ‘diet’, the holiday or your target weight.  Taking away the ‘end element’ means you can focus on making long-term changes and achieving goals that can be sustained.

Sustaining weight loss means changing your life totally, if you always yo-yo then you already have your answer as to whether diets work for you.  If they did you would have kept the weight off, your issue isn’t losing weight, it’s about sustaining the loss therefore you need to change the focus.

So my first affirmation was that I wouldn’t be on a diet; I would purely change how, what I eat and when.  And most importantly how much?

I have some questions for you:

1.  Do you know how much you actually consume in a day – this covers food and drink?   Try writing it down across 24 hours, take photos of the plates of food you serve, this will come in useful later.  Be honest with yourself, remember to include everything, so if you put 2 spoonfuls of sugar in your tea, write it down.  Include the times you eat everything as well.

2. How many diets have you been on over the years?  Make a list of them, how long you were on them, how much you lost, what was positive about them and what things you really hated.  How long did it take for you to put the weight back on, and how much weight did you gain?

We’ll come back to your lists, are you interested yet in making the changes though?


17 Aug

Do you want to lose weight and keep it off?

What might motivate you to make it happen?

I’m going to be a bit extreme but it did work for me in the beginning.  When I was growing up the dad of one of my friends died, he was in his early 40s, he was at the local leisure centre, he had a sudden heart attack and couldn’t be revived. He was fit and healthy.

I was  now in my early 40s, I was obese, one of the things you will learn about me is that I will use that word, I’m honest in that way, it helps actually to use it, there is a degree of awakening and yes shame. There is a reality about being big that people seemed to be scared to talk about, maybe if we did, getting motivated to lose the weight and get fit would be easier. The reality is that being severely overweight and unfit will potentially shorten our lives and brings with it a whole host of problems.

blood pressure measurement

Image via Wikipedia

I already had some health problems, I had torn my cruciate ligament in my knee, it was a bother, however due to being obese the NHS could see little point in replacing it. I was petrified every time I went to the doctor for anything, that they would want to take my blood pressure and it would be off the scale. Before an initial surgery on my knee I honestly thought they would take my blood pressure and send me home because it was too high.

I suffered dreadfully with my feet, they would swell if I walked too far or if the weather was hot, I would end up with feet covered in blisters no matter what shoes I wore.  It ruined holidays and effectively made me a recluse during the summer months.  While it was hot as well, I was so self-conscious that I needed to be covered, so I was always overheated, sweaty and red-faced.

While putting on the weight I had developed a lot of stretch marks, some had faded over time, but the fact I had them on my upper arms wasn’t nice and of course added to my lack of self-esteem.

There are more intimate things too – a woman’s pelvic floor is actually very delicate, the pressure of the extra weight led to stress incontinence and that is horrible for someone in her 30s to have to deal with. I avoided having a relationship.

I would get out of breath easily, I remember being in Norfolk on holiday once and to get to the beach you had to climb up sand dunes, I could barely do it, it took forever and was excruciatingly embarrassing. After one day I didn’t go back again.  I also only went to one knee rehab physio session after the first op I had, I couldn’t do much of it, it was nothing to do with my knee injury, I was too big and too unfit.

What ended up being the motivator was the fear that I was getting bigger, the problems were increasing, I did get scared that perhaps something more serious would emerge, or that I’d not be able to get help because I was too big or I would be too ashamed to ask for it.  I worried about sitting on chairs and breaking them or getting stuck somewhere. It had got out of hand.  I couldn’t watch TV programmes about fat people, it was too close to my reality.

Of course my head was firmly in the sand for years while this was happening.  But I was getting older, I couldn’t hide forever and do nothing, I was hiding the issues from my friends and family and yes I was getting depressed?

So what are you waiting for?  The heart attack, the stroke, breaking a chair, not being able to keep up with the kids, not finding clothes that fit, having problems with relationships – the list is endless?

Don’t wait until you get the scare of your life, make the change to doing something about it forever and now.  My motivator now is knowing what life is like now as a fit and healthy person, going back is not an option in any way because I know what it was like back then.  My new life is wonderful.   Hopefully in what I’ve shared you’ll recognise yourself in some way, my story isn’t unusual but I am prepared to talk about it.  If you need to talk about it then contact me, I can  help.

And if you are still saying you ‘can’t do it’ because you’ve tried before and failed, I can help, if you’ve never managed to sustain any weight loss after being on a diet then diets don’t work for you,  try a different approach, it can be done,  trust me, if I can do it anyone can.

Do it for your family, the people who love you and most importantly for yourself.  So what are you waiting for?

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