I never thought I was an anxious person. A few years ago when I experienced anxiety and depression together I thought my world was falling apart. The sick feeling, the inability to be still or settled, sleeplessness and constant horrible feeling felt like the worst thing ever. And I remember saying that I’d never know what anxiety was before. Now, of course there is a difference between anxiety in its extreme form which is an illness and day-to-day anxiety which many of us experience. But I realise that I never recognised that day-to-day feeling as anxiety because I never let it permeate through long enough for it to reach my consciousness. Instead I would find ways to numb it, usually with sweet stuff. Other addictive behaviours like shopping or creating some drama also figured fairly high on my ‘coping mechanisms’, I use the phrase lightly.
Over the last few months I have been on a new learning curve. As part of a support group for compulsive eating I been ‘abstinent’ from sugar and other trigger foods for several months. That has taken care of the physical craving for all that stuff. But the hardest part, as everyone knows, is the mental obsession and the feelings that drive us to want to make ourselves feel better in the first place. Not so easy! And one of the first things that came up for me was, you got it, anxiety. At first I have to say I wasn’t too good at recognising it. Sometimes I must have it pointed out to me by my nearest and oh so dearest, “You are anxious” she’ll say, “about x or y”. My usual first response is to deny this vigorously. I didn’t get where I am today by admitting to having uncomfortable feelings! But I am trying to listen and not always be right ( That’s a Tough One). And 9 times out of 10 it’s true. ( It may be 10/10 but I have to have room for growth here). And then I am confronted with realising I have a Feeling That I Don’t Know What To Do With. My previous ‘coping mechanism’ hs been consigned to the bin ( food) and I am working on the shopping/drama/distraction ones one day at a time ( Sweet Jesus).
Last night for instance. I was giving a talk at the support group. This was the first time at that group that I had given a talk. I wanted to ‘get it right’. I re-wrote what I was going to say 3 times, I changed it again when I got to the meeting. I was pretty anxious. And this is even with a) planning b) praying c) knowing I was with friends. And I realised that the only thing to do was to say, ‘Yes, I am anxious!”. It didn’t stop me from doing what I wanted to do,
it was Just A Feeling. It wasn’t going to kill me. And the fear was what? That I wouldn’t get it right? That I’d make a mistake or make a fool of myself or not be helpful to someone else? Well phooey. Isn’t it wonderful how ego gets in the way of just being present and doing the job in front of you?!
So this morning I am sitting here knowing I did my best and that was good enough. That is pretty damn good for me to say. And today I am just going to be grateful to that anxiety when it comes along because it lets me know that all I can do is my best. And that the feeling will pass and today is always a new day.
Dail Mail Today
Headlines in some of the todays British tabloids concern the shocking statistics of over 100 under fives admitted to NHS hospitals in the last year suffering from anorexia.
Where the ins and outs of those headlines are not so clear, nevertheless we all know of the worrying trend for young girls in particular, but also some boys to become caught up in the devastation of eating disorders.
Being on the weight loss journey makes me even more conscious than usual about the politics of food and diets. I don’t have girl children so I don’t think I as exposed as some Mothers are to the impact of the diet police on young minds. Boys in my experience tend to deal with being fit in a more pragmatic way and one based around exercise as a way of controlling weight. Of course that too can get out of hand.
It seems that little girls are hardly out of playgroup before the group pressure and competitive edge kicks in. All those super cute clothes in baby girl sizes can so easily cross over into little sexy misses trying to be teens before their time.
Now I was a chubby child. I didn’t like it and I was conscious of it. But when I look back on photos of my 11 plus self I see a healthy pre and then teen girl. I had a healthy diet like many of us growing up. Not much processed food, fresh veg and fruit. Drinks as a child were water or milk. That’s not to say I didn’t have treats, butterscotch angel delight still holds fond memories as do sherbet dips and fruit salad sweets. My sugar addiction was alive and kicking by the time I was 7 or so but lots if outdoor activities and healthy meals kept me steady until late teenage when I had more control over what I ate.
The tragedy of eating disorders at a younger and younger she seems not just the loss of childhood and the family trauma but also the desperate searching for control in an alien and chaotic world, that the ED seems to signify.
So what can you or I do? I have no special magic wand or fancy answers. I wish I did.
But it makes me wonder if we can try to keep food simple, keep mealtimes a place for families to share more than just food and as a society do our damnedest to ensure that we don’t let either fat fascism or the diet police take over our own heads.
We live what we believe after all. Let us believe in our children’s right to have a happy and healthy childhood and to know they are beautiful and healthy whatever size they wear.
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It’s a whole new language isn’t it? Points. Not as in, ‘what is the..” but as in the divine weightwatchers system. Of course being a big girl I have done diets before and weightwatchers too in various incarnations. But I decided to sign up to their online system last week. I get a discount for joining from the NHS where I work so it seemed like a good enough sign to take the plunge and leap in.
I like having something to record what I’m eating and how much and cleverly the online programme works out your points and adds them up for you. here’s what they say about their philosophy, I kind of like it :
Our approach is built on four pillars that have the greatest impact on success. Our philosophy is that a person should:
▪ Learn to eat more healthfully
▪ Increase physical activity
▪ Learn to create and live in a supportive environment conducive to achieving a healthy weight
▪ Manage the challenges involved in changing behaviors weightwatchers on facebook
As those of you who’ve been around me a while know I’m pretty keen on what I’ve learnt and know from my own experience about sugar addiction and I have integrated the seven steps from Kathleen DesMaisons work into my life over the last few years. I see those as the cornerstone of my health and recovery. But I want to add in other things to help me on my journey to weight loss. There is so much wonderful information available to us and I love reading and researching about health and diets and nutrition as well as about addiction. It is a good way to employ my addictive personality from time to time into doing research!
So this is week one of WW online. I am getting my head round the points thing. With their new system all vegetables and most fruits are points free which is great. I am focusing on really increasing my veg anyway but I am trying to keep the fruit to meals and the lower sugar versions like berries as they suit my sugar sensitive biochemistry the best.
Activity points are another thing to ‘collect’. Apparently you can swap these for food. I am not sure my mind needs to get its head round do this then eat more! But I know movement and activity are Good Things and I love ticking boxes so that is helping me to move more too. Last night me and the Missus went back to the gym and had a swim at 8pm for half and hour. We came out feeling refreshed and both slept well too. Very therapeutic.
So I am looking at this as the next step for me for now in my journey. I don’t see it as a competition between diets or programmes just a way of following a path towards health. I realise I am in this for the long haul. I have had my blips and fits and starts since January but the direction of travel has been the same. I am going to do this and do it well. One day this blog will say Fat Girl IS Slim.
New start, new day, same journey.
Talking to me is something I do quite a lot. Mostly I try to do it in my head but sometimes, like tonight after work when I was walking the dog, I forget and have those conversations out loud. So there is this middle-aged round woman in a green T-shirt with a beetroot stain on it from lunchtime, wandering around the field and talking to herself. The dog meanwhile is off investigating interesting sniffing material and getting a sneaky chew of the long grass. Still, it means people leave me alone to my meanderings which is just what I need.
I have had an odd sort of day today. I was feeling quite anxious this morning, which is something I have had much less of the last few months,. It’s always a bit of a shock when it resurfaces. Before I experienced being really ill with anxiety I never understood quite how horrible and gut wrenching it is. For me that’s where I feel it first, in my stomach. other people experience it as headaches or a tight feeling in the chest but for me its a low gnawing sensation. I couldn’t really put my finger on what it was about except I’d got a pretty busy work day with one thing after another and all of them being quite intense. I had to have a talk with me about that. It went something like this” It’s ok you can do it”, and “take it one bit at a time, if it gets too bad we can take another look at it”. I know how much progress I’ve made because I didn’t end up crying, panicking and not being able to function and I did get through the day and enjoy my job which is how I like it.
It’s days like this when I’m glad of routines. I had a great breakfast – my green shake from yesterday plus some porridge. I made my lunch and took a fork with me so I could eat it in the car between meetings. I took a bottle of water and my fish oil caps that I’m trying to remember to take every day. Just those little self-care things that make me feel anchored and stop me lurching for a diet coke and a chocolate bar.
When I got home, after a successful day, I felt a bit teary and emotional. What was that all about? I think it was a mixture of relief and a letting go of the tension. So I had a plan. Firstly take the dog for a walk. We have a routine walk that he knows as well as I do, so its a no brainer, change my shoes, get doggy bags and lead and get out in the evening sunshine. Whilst we were out I was thinking and talking to myself about what to eat when I got back. There is just me for an hour or two. Missus has gone out for tea with friends, two sons are away for the week with their dad and one son is permanently attached to his girlfriend at the moment. So my conversation was a lot about what I could be bothered to cook and what was good for me! I’ve settled on vegetarian spicy bean burgers with salad from the garden, tomatoes and beetroot and wholemeal pittas. The great thing with the bean burgers is that they sort of mush nicely with a fork when they are cooked and squeeze into a pitta with lots of sald to make a yummy spicy fresh mouthful
This is a lesson in why planning what you are eating before you are starving is important! I’m pretty sure ive made too much and will get stuffed half way through. but I can talk to myself about it and I know I’ll make sense.
PS: In case you wondered, I had one and a half burgers and the same of pitta, but I ate all the salad and got another nice purple blob on my T-shirt form the beetroot.
I learnt something new today. Spinach in a shake is just amazing! I can’t believe it either but it is true. I have been studying along with my friends on ‘Your Last Diet’ programme ( don’t you like the sound of that? )Huh?
And one of the ideas is to increase potassium and reduce sodium in our diet. So potassium comes from increasing veggies and beans and reducing sodium by not eating processed foods and not adding salt. I have noticed a few people have been adding in veggies at breakfast. That was something I struggled with 🙂 Except for tomatoes and mushrooms with a good old fry up English breakfast, but that is not really the look Im aiming for!
My usual breakfast is a shake. I make it with protein powder. Right now I’m using a whey protein which is vanilla flavoured. I tend to add some banana or some berries, or maybe some coffee, soya milk and whizz it up. Its nice with ice too.
So I thought this afternoon that I’d have a little experiment. I find it best not to inflict experimentation on myself at breakfast time. I need calm and quiet and breakfast on automatic if I’m not to end up frazzled and weepy. So this was my shake :
2 scoops of vanilla whey pp
About 6 strawberries
3 blocks of frozen spinach, they are about the size of a plum
It is a nice green colour and honestly tastes delish. I am a convert. Some people are adding kale. I guess nice dark green veggies are the best for potassium. I only have a stick blender so I wanted to see how it would work and it turned out just fine. If I am going to progress to kale I think Id need a jug blender. So I’m pretty excited about this new discovery and just thought Id share. I definitely find increasing my veggies makes a BIG difference.
Oh and if you are interested here is a link to YLD ( Your Last Diet). See what you think. YLD
Image from http://international.stockfood.com/image-picture-Live-snails-on-lettuce-in-bowl,-salad-servers-961652.html
Walking is getting easier – I can walk further without being out of breath, I can walk more quickly and I don’t need my walking poles. My knee is feeling better too. I have been for an X Ray on it today and have to go back to see the Dr. in a few weeks. My guess is it is arthritis and she thinks so too but the X Ray is just to make sure. I read some advice about arthritis and lifestyle. Losing weight is good of course, less strain on the joints. And so is exercise, more not less with walking and swimming being great. My skin is bad at the moment so I’m not risking the chlorine right now but I can walk. So the dog is happy too. We are both doing better with our joints. His recipe was lose weight, take joint supplements and walk more. I might try the joint supplements too.
I am losing weight. My magic formula is do some exercise and watch what I eat. I am feeling focused again so I’m capitalizing on that. Today at work we were having a bring and share lunch. I decided I’d take some sandwiches for myself plus some flavoured water and some biscuits to share. I had wholemeal buns with turkey and our own lettuce in. The lettuce was fresh from the garden on my way out. I gave it a quick shake and put it in my sandwich. As I bit in there was a crunch and I thought I’d lost a filling. Oops it was a snail. Aaargh. Can’t get much fresher than that.
There was lots of fruit as well as homemade cakes and puddings. I had melon and strawberries and a few grapes. I looked at the homemade lemon cake. But the cost is too high. I eat that and I am on a downward slope of wanting more tomorrow. And I feel so much better.
I talked about joining a diet class. I am in two minds about it. And my plan was for Wednesday nights. Last week I had a committment to a curry with colleagues. Tomorrow we have tickets from a friend for a play of ‘Kes” at the local Repertory Theatre. Can’t say no to a free night at the theatre on our new slimmer budget now, can we? And my thinking about going to a class was to give myself a kick-start again. But I am a bit worried about the fitting in to a set way of eating based on another diet guru’s plan. So for this week I will carry on the way I am. It seems to be working. Snails and all.
I was looking at diet and health books the other day and realising just how many ‘guru’s’ there are out there! Each one has their own special diet magic that means that This time you will ose weight, or Lose Weight and Keep It Off for Ever. Well yes I confess that is my goal. Me and most of the adult female and a good proportion of the male, population. And yet we get fatter.
So what goes wrong? I know there are some crazy half-assed diets out there. Cabbage soup, grapefruit, slimfast, Cambridge – starvation diets really. So of course you lose weight, initially. And darn it, of course you put it back on.
But we know what to do, right? Less fat, whole grains, reduce or eliminate sugars and alcohol, sensible amounts of protein, good fats. Some supplements for good measure – I like Vitamin C, B complex and zinc plus a good fish oil. And exercise.
Not quite Eat Less, Do More but nearly. More like, Eat More of the Good Stuff and less of the bad. And Move
A friend of mine pointed out that the trouble with some good diets is they don’t understand addiction. So true. So the diets that allow you treats and Syns and extra points to spend on a glass of wine or an ice lolly or a jaffa cake don’t cater for those of us who don’t do the ‘stopping at one’ thing. I know that moderation is a good thing but it’s not the way my brain and body works. I was the same with cigarettes. I can’t just have one. I stopped smoking a few years ago now but if I started again today Id force myself through the horrible taste of the first three till I was back to twenty a day in no time. Mad isn’t it?
And I don’t do one chocolate. I know people who can just have one biscuit or maybe two. The same people who still have chocolate left from Easter in June and can have a family size bar of Dairy Milk in the fridge for when a chocolate moment strikes. Oh how I envy them some days. So I much prefer to have none. None means that my food tastes clean and clear and I don’t salivate after cream cake. As long as `i dont ‘just have a little bit’.
so why am I writing about this today? Because i am reminding myself I know how to do this diet thing. And I know how to do it for good. And that is by changing the way I eat and move and live. One baby step at a time. Not because a guru said so but because I can take all this knowledge and use it to make it work for me.
Well I didn’t get to my ‘diet class’ this week as planned. A night out for a curry with work colleagues just couldn’t be avoided! But I stayed clear of fatty sauces and had a vegetable curry with mushroom pilau rice. Mmmm. No pud and no alcohol so that was a good night. And we had a laugh which has got to be one of the best ways to spend an evening.
I have been focused this week. The last 2 weeks had seen me put on a few pounds so this week back at work has been an opoortunity to get back into routine. Sometimes weekends and holidays are hell on diets aren’t they? A normal week means regular meal times and being prepared with my lunch in a bag and dinner happening on time. I need to work on making that happen on holidays.My body like routine. and that way I am so much less likely to succumb to stuff I don’t want to eat because I’ve let meals get too late and I’m starving.
It’s funny how easy it is to let slip habits and routines that I think are as well established as breathing. And getting habits established is hard. I always struggle with consistency with exercise. Some people seem to find it easy. Not me. I am intrinsically lazy. And yet I remember loving movement as a child ( who thought of it as exercise then?). I loved swimming and skipping and walking and hop-scotch. Riding a bike, a scooter and playing games like rounders. Doing hand stands and cartwheels and roly-polys and the crab. How flexible and fun that all sounds.
I think one of the keys to getting moving must be re-creating that sense of fun and play.And the other part must be being the grown up who knows its good for me and says ‘Just Do It’. But I am still being kind to myself here and recognising that I am doing pretty well. I’ve been much clearer with my food this week. I have had one too many cappucinos and exercise has been sketchy. But I’m still moving forward one little step at a time.
Next week my plan is to make sure I’m writing down what I eat and how I feel. Step 2 of the Radiant Recovery Programme is about keeping a journal. To know more follow this link: Seven Steps of RR
I am going to join a class where I can do an aerobics workout as well as the diet. I feel like I need the support and motivation to go alongside what I already know and do. And I am going to commit to taking the dog for a proper walk every day. I posted a blog earlier in the week which linked to some research that has shown how writing a blog about dieting / losing weight really helps. See it again here: blogging-it-off-lose-weight-with-help-startribune-com
The evidence seems to show that it’s the interactivity that really makes a difference. When the topic starts a conversation and when it means a current of support and encouragement flowing back and forth. Pretty cool I thought. And in my own little way I can testify that this is true. One of the tools for success seems to have been being honest about sharing photos of progress, weight lost and gained etc. Well this is my photo of me taken in May. I think I’ve lost about 10 pounds since then. We will get to starting weight on another occasion when I’ve got used to the numbers!
So thanks for reading, listening and commenting. Thanks for sharing the journey. And lets kick some fat ass this week!