New beginnings

Just a quick one from me tonight; I’ve been AWOL for too long, and as I sit here on the precipice of a new year it’s inevitable that I’m reflecting on the past twelve months – good, bad and otherwise.

I’m not a fan of all this “new year, new me” malarkey, but I can’t argue that 1st January is as good a time as any to take stock. I’ve had a rough few months, work has been unbearable and has impacted appallingly on my mental health. I’ve been having therapy and interviewing for other jobs but nothing has been forthcoming, so I made the (brave/stupid?) decision to hand in my notice and remove myself from the major source of negativity in my life. As of tomorrow, I am unemployed. As of tomorrow, it’s up to me to make things happen.

And so, friends, I want to share with you something that happened to me just now: I’ve put on weight and have been dodging mirrors in my state of glumness, but I caught sight of myself in the glass of my back door this evening. My reaction? “You look so much better than before, look how far you’ve come.”, not “You’re disgusting, you’ll never succeed.” With that, I’m off to make friends with 2018.

Happy new year!

In a Viennese whirl

Bear with me here, I’m typing on my iPad and, being an old-fashioned girl, I much prefer to blog on a PC but I honestly haven’t had the energy lately.  True to form, I set up this blog with gusto and really enjoyed writing the first bits and pieces.  No sooner had I done that, though, insecurity and paranoia set in: I can’t write.  I’m boring.  Nobody is interested in what I’ve got to say.  Blah blah.

You know what?  Maybe this is horrendously dull but people will read it if they choose to.  Writing really made me feel better last week so I’m going to power on through, drivel or otherwise.

It’s actually really difficult deciding what to write about.  I have a million random little musings going on in my head at any one time but turning them into coherent text is tricky.  I usually try to come up with a fairly snappy title which will spur me on, and this one came about when I was sitting at my aunt and uncle’s dinner table last Saturday.  

We’d gone to visit them and afternoon had soon become evening, so my lovely uncle suggested getting some dinner.  My conscience silently hoped he’d suggest going to the pub (think chicken and bacon salad, steak or gammon) but instead, as he and my aunt were fighting off nasty colds, he suggested fish and chips.  My dad, who’s never been an ounce overweight in all his years, nodded enthusiastically while mum and I could only glance at each other in the knowledge that our collective willpower was about to be tested.  No, I thought, life doesn’t stop when you’re losing weight, so I resolved to have scampi and mushy peas and mum did the same.  I’m sure hardcore followers of the SW plan are wondering why I didn’t have fish and pull off the batter – it’s quite simple, I don’t really like fish shop fish, and frankly I feel like its sacreligious to not eat the batter.  Go big or go home!  Anyhow, I walked with my uncle to collect our dinner and dutifully stuck to the plan; chips weren’t a problem because my dad doesn’t eat many, so I just got a small portion to go with his fish.  Of course, when I unwrapped our order back at the house, I found that instead of two portions of peas they’d given us one portion of peas and some curry sauce.  I bloody love chip shop curry sauce, but polishing my halo I set it aside and shared out the peas between us.  And here it began: the scampi and paltry portion of peas looked small and unappetising (I’m used to eating quite large portions with SW because I eat so much protein and veg) and in true chip shop fashion my dad’s portion of chips was huge.  Sod it, I thought, a few cant hurt, and dished some up for mum as well.  Stick with me here, there is a point to this running commentary of my dinner.

After dinner (during which the junk food pleasure sensors in my brain were going haywire) my uncle brought out a plate of Viennese whirls.  Now, I don’t know about you, but Viennese whirls don’t really feature on my list of must-have fantasy foods.  I’ve never woken up thinking about them like I have McDonalds breakfasts.  That said, when they’re in front of me and the jammy filling is seductively poking out from between the crumbly layers, the fattie in me can’t think about much else.  Persevere I did, though, rationalising that if I had one (aside from the obvious) it would leave only one for my relatives to eat after we’d gone.  Hurrah, victory is mine.  At least it was until the chip-guilt started to creep in.  It continued to fill my brain with negative thoughts to the point where I sought solace in the biscuit tin when we got home.

So the point of all this rambling is to demonstrate a situation which I’m sure is familiar to many people in a lifelong love/hate relationship with food: why, oh why, when we’re feeling guilty about what we’ve eaten do we then sabotage ourselves?!  It’s a vicious and self-destructive cycle with no hope of a positive outcome.  I consider myself to be a fairly intelligent human being, so why is it that I lack the emotional maturity and fundamental self-respect that it would require to stop doing this to myself?  Guilt has no positive effect on those trying to improve their health, but it’s so overwhelming. I used to think that it could be quite an effective springboard for change – not anymore.

Ironically, I’m a very forgiving person.  I just find it so hard to be kind to myself.

I’m pleased to say that my eating habits have been far better today and that when I’ve finished writing this I’m going to treat myself to a bubble bath.  Baby steps.

Is it easy?

The most common question from people when they hear I’ve lost this much weight is, “have you found it easy?”

There’s a can of worms!

My standard response is, “if it were easy, nobody would be fat.”

The truth is – and I don’t generally bore people with this – a lot of the time it feels nigh on impossible.  They want to hear you say, “yeah, it’s a great eating plan and it fits around my social life” but the reality is that, as great as the Slimming World plan is, all calorie-deficit plans work if you stick to them, but it’s the sticking to them that’s so bloody hard.

I’m no stranger to “dieting” – I’ve been overweight for as long as I remember and I’ve tried pretty much everything apart from weight loss surgery.  Xenical tablets seemed like a good idea at the time – they bind the fat in your food so that you pass it in your stools, and you’re told by the doctor to eat below a certain number of grams of fat in each meal to avoid diarrhoea.  Sound reasonable, right?  Wrong!  For me, anyway, I got to a point where I was scared to move!

The fact is, boys and girls, there is no miracle fix.

There’s no denying that SW’s Food Optimising plan is really user-friendly – I love that fact that you start with all the “free” foods you can eat (in sensible portions) without weighing them or counting calories.  It’s easy to follow and – shock horror – you can still eat out.  It’s become apparent to me that the only difference between my current weight-loss endeavours and those I’ve gone through in the past is that this time I haven’t given up.  That’s it.  However, chuck in years of low self-esteem and a handful of mental health issues and the “not giving up” part becomes that much more critical.

I was diagnosed with depression and general anxiety disorder back in 2009, and with the benefit of hindsight, I suspect my mental health issues started in my late teens.  Having said that, I was a very anxious child and always sought solace in food (ding ding!).  No, I didn’t have a desperately unhappy childhood; I have a very loving a close family and I could have talked about how I was feeling anytime, God knows why I didn’t.  I guess I assumed everyone felt the same way I did.

Right now I’m stuck in a self-destructive mire of depression and anxiety which (and I only realised this recently) has been going on for about 9 months.  Having had Cognitive Behaviour Therapy, having practised mindfulness on a daily basis and having continued to take my prescribed medication, my head is still a foggy mess.  Turns out there’s no easy way around that, either.  The problem I have is that my mental health bears heavily (no pun intended) on my self-belief, and therefore on my weight-loss momentum.  For years I thought I was depressed because I was fat, but it turns out the opposite is true.

When I first started losing weight, I felt amazing – we know that success breeds success, and so the first 7 stone or so came off nicely.  Ironically, though, that was around the time I began to panic that I couldn’t do it.  SEVEN STONE DOWN THE LINE!  I was my own success story, but all of a sudden I couldn’t visualise myself crossing that virtual finish line.  I got to about 8st off in total (1st on my own pre-SW and the rest with SW) and I hit a wall.  Since then, all I can think about is failure.  Some days I even manage to convince myself it’s easier being fat (it isn’t).

I’m still working on this, and I know it’ll be an issue for the rest of my life, whether I reach “target” or not.  Right now I’m muddling through and doing the best I can with the support of absolutely fantastic people.  I’ve regained half a stone and I hate myself for it, but I know that hate won’t help me.

So, is it easy?  No, it bloody well isn’t.