Normal? What’s normal….

So things seem to have been going well over the last few weeks. I haven’t really been thinking about eating, my body, my weight most of the time. Of course I have occasional moments of panic: it’s funny how I can feel that I look and feel ok one day and then the next the self-doubt reappears and I am convinced I am on the fast road to becoming a whale! Just catching a glimpse of myself in a shop window or looking at myself in a mirror can have all those negative thoughts circulating again. I get fed up with them, but they are still lurking in the wings, waiting to catch me in a moment of insecurity, filling my brain with their toxic messages. Sometimes I find it hard to fight back, readjust my thinking and get back on the road I want to be on. It takes time.

But that’s all an aside: what I have been considering is what is “normal” eating. Take today, for example, a stressful morning: a long difficult drive to a meeting only to find the other person didn’t show up. I know that happens sometimes but I have been feeling really positive lately (if that doesn’t contradict what I wrote before?), especially about my work so I felt a bit of a dip. When I got home I made coffee and thought that I fancied a bit of chocolate, I knew I didn’t want a lot, but I had a long mental conversation about whether I really wanted chocolate or was I comforting my disappointment? Eventually I decided I did just fancy eating something sweet that had nothing to do with crushing my feelings, I broke a bit off a bar of chocolate, ate that slowly, enjoyed it and didn’t feel that I had to go back for the rest of the bar. Is that what normal people do (probably without the irritating internal dialogue)? Am I starting to be normal?


Am I coping?

When I’m feeling unhappy about me (my weight, dress size, my stomach, what people are saying about me) I think that buying some new clothes will help sort it out. Somewhere out there is that fantastic dress that will make me look two sizes smaller, have people asking me if I have lost weight, something magical that will make me feel better about myself. I have this idea in my head as to what I am going to look like and sadly even after finding a dress that matches my dream the results in the mirror don’t match up to my expectations. I didn’t like what I saw beforehand so putting a different wrapping on it isn’t helping.

I read an article the other day about accepting your body: this doesn’t mean loving it but merely realising the usefulness of parts of it and, I suppose, adopting a neutral tone when examining yourself. That would work for me if I couldn’t get to the point of loving myself but even that seems a step too far. Every mirror has to reflect back my flaws, my eyes instantly drawn to the bits of me I don’t like, can’t see the use of, and yet I am so, so sick of living like this with these tedious thoughts never far from my mind. And I hate how these thoughts have such a huge impact on my enjoyment of life. It’s stupid, pointless, ridiculous etc etc and yet I can’t seem to stop.

This morning I decided to try on my jeans: they fitted. They are tight but they were tight last time I wore them. What do the negative voices do? They keep telling me I am getting fatter (I was tempted for a fleeting moment to step on the bathroom scales – what a self-defeating catastrophe that could have been) even though the evidence didn’t back that up. Am I a less valuable human being if the scales reflect a higher number than they used to? The trouble is I think I am and I’ve got to keep working at changing that.

The shame of it….

We had a lovely family day yesterday: a birthday meal, plenty to eat and drink, lots of laughter, a really lovely day. I went to bed feeling blessed and happy. And then I had a horrible dream: the only bit of it I remember clearly is being told I had put on a lot of weight. I woke up feeling awful, and then sad that this obsession I have with my body, my eating, my weight, could impact on me so strongly and spoil the end of a lovely weekend.

The primary feeling I had was shame or embarassment. Perhaps the idea that I could enjoy a family day without monitoring all I was eating and drinking was too much for my subconscious, perhaps it was trying to inflict my old ways of thinking back on me? I sat and thought about it, remembering I hadn’t actually eaten that much so why were these negative voices so strong? And even if I had eaten more than normal why did it matter that much? We don’t do this every day, every week or even every month so one day wouldn’t have a huge impact. It just all seems so pointless and negative.

I don’t want the focus of my life to be on this, I want food to be simply fuel but it seems like parts of me are fighting back and I hated the feeling of shame, the idea of someone really hitting me where it hurts: the way I look and the way I feel about the way I look. I imagine every mouthful causing my hips to expand and I am fighting this really hard, talking to myself with the kindess I use with other people, but it is still fighting back. I still look at photos of friends from school to see if they are bigger or smaller than me: what a sad way to judge the world and the people in it. I realise the fight has just begun just when I was hoping it was getting nearer the end!

Say it quietly

It almost seems too much to write this down but things seem to be changing. I don’t mean I have reached the end, but I get the idea, a tiny idea, that things might be moving in the right direction. Ok, I still wake up every day thinking about my body, my weight, what I might eat etc but it feels like my perspective has changed, it feels almost like I am watching myself. I have made small changes: leaving a mouthful of food most times when I eat, being aware when I eat when I am bored (my usual reason) without being hard on myself, sort of accepting it as a step along the way.

Of course this all makes me feel nervous: is it real, will it last, can I be getting things right and at the moment I am trying to keep positive, keep working at it, keep making these baby steps. Is this the end of the beginning or the beginning of the end?

Don’t panic

I’m having a bad day. I understand what I am trying to do but today I am feeling FAT! Yes I know you can’t feel fat, but I feel out of control. Not I have been sitting around eating bags of crisps, bars of chocolate, fizzy drinks etc but I suppose I feel out of control because I’m not focussing on everything I am eating, working out the calorie/fat content, and worst of all I don’t know how much I weigh!

For years my mood would be dictated by the numbers that appeared on the scales first thing in the morning: a lower than expected number would lighten my mood and a leap upwards would let my inner critic run riot inside my head. After a little while I would consider reasons why my weight might have gone up (eating late for example) and my mood would improve. How much of my life was dictated by a swing of a few pounds one way or another! Now I am trying to take that out of my life but without it I feel rudderless. I think my weight, dieting, my size, has occupied so much of my life for so long that it feels like there is something missing without it. I am eating what my body wants, when it wants it, but I am so used to denying myself, living by dieting rules, that I don’t know how to be in this new state.

I need to persevere but I am really struggling. My clothes feel tight, I don’t feel right, how long will this go on for?

I don’t want to do this

Well, you’d think that someone who has spent most of their adult life dieting, studying nutrition, trying one plan after another, might feel that they had gained something, moved on from their starting position but I would have to say “No, I haven’t”. All those years of worrying about eating, throwing myself into the latest diet, getting to my “target” weight, slowly creeping back up again and then repeating the whole boring process has taught me completely and utterly nothing. What a waste of time and in the meantime I still had boyfriends, a husband, children, a career, a new partner, studied some more, had a different career, life went on and still I worried about the size of my bum, what people were saying about me, how fat I actually was or more importantly how fat I looked to other people. Were they talking about me, discussing my increasing waistline? Or when I was at my slimmest (for the five minutes I seemed to spend there) were they admiring me from afar, wishing they could be me, the person who seemed to be able to eat anything and never put on weight? I can’t measure how much time and energy I have wasted on this and yet I still can’t put it down. I can’t eat normally, I can’t forget about it: it’s like carrying around a huge weight and yet I feel unable to put it down.

Let’s start with some facts: I weigh something over 83 kilos (I have refused to get on the scales for a few weeks as I don’t think it actually helps me) and I am 1.7 metres tall. I have a bmi of 28 which puts me in the overweight category and my rational mind tells me that for a woman pushing 60 with a number of serious health problems that’s ok. I wear a UK size 14, something a 16 (I have very large boobs) and again I can say that’s ok but it isn’t really. I don’t want to look like this, I don’t want to think about this all the time, this to be the biggest worry in my life when so many other things are going so well. I want to be a size 12, slipping comfortably into size 12 jeans that don’t cut off my circulation when I sit down but most of all I want to be somewhere with my weight where I know I am going to stay, I want to stop thinking about dieting, I want to eat like a normal human being, I want to stop filling large parts of my brain with this so I can use that capacity to think about more interesting and important things.

So where to begin? Yes I know how to lose weight but do I simply weigh myself, go on another diet, get down to another target? If I do that will I be reading this in a year’s time whilst I slowly slide back up again? How can I get this sorted for ever?

It’s so depressing writing this: I just don’t know what to do and all I can think of is stopping this and then I can have my lunch! I do eat healthily most of the time: cooking from scratch, lots of vegetables, I try to keep crisps and chocolate (my two big temptations) to a minimum but how do I sort this? What is the answer?

New Start – again!

I’ve finally realised that I can’t lose weight just by following someone else’s diet plan. Well, that’s probably not strictly true: I can lose weight but I can’t keep it off. I am a serial dieter, a yo-yo dieter, great whilst I am following the plan but once I go off it….? Well you know the rest. I’ve probably lost the equivalent of four baby elephants over the course of my life but those elephants are still lurking in the corner of the room, waiting for me to stop ignoring them and welcome them back into my life. I don’t want to, I want them to go away, and never to see them hanging around waiting for yet another upward surge on the scales, gleefully discussing the inevitability of another relapse.

Of course there are more important things to worry about in the world than the size of my jeans but I really don’t want to waste any more time on it (I had to stop and think how to spell waste there, a sign of too many wasted/waisted years?). So let’s start with what I have discovered on this monumental voyage around the worlds of dieting.

1 Low carb high fat seems to be the most successful weight loss tool for me but now in its purest form. I have lost 3 stone following their plans but following surgery I have found 10lb has crept back on, taken root and seems to have no intention of leaving no matter how much I try to encourage it.

2 I have digestive problems (details removed in case you’re eating) and LCHF hasn’t helped. I need something slightly different that will help here and also help me lose weight.

3 I don’t have any problems giving up bread, flour-based products as I think this helps re problem 2. Generally I don’t mind not having sweet stuff either but I do miss potatoes if I don’t eat them so I need something that will fit in with all that.

4 I am now over 50 and I feel it’s harder to lose weight than when I was younger. My body behaves differently so I need to take this into account.

5 I want a plan that is for life, not something I am going to “do” for a while whilst patiently waiting for the purgatory to be over so I can back to all the things I’ve been missing and the elephants come back.

So I am going to use this blog as a way of developing an eating plan that gives me a clear plan of what I can eat whilst I am losing weight and then a clear idea of how to eat once I arrive at the point that works for me. I want to have a strong image of what will and will not be normal for me so that I don’t have to keep going on the dieting merry-go-round (far from merry, isn’t it?). Do you fancy coming on the journey with me?