That time of year

It’s that time of year again, which comes around twice for a teacher at end of calendar year and end of academic year, where a scan through the diary reveals no blank spaces. In fact worse than that there are no blank spaces and double, triple, sometimes quadruple entries all glaring at you demanding you make a decision soon about which of those little penciled in appointments is going to take precedence when you know they are all equally important.

It’s hard enough managing work and life at the best of times but work, life and starting a new business and having a relationship to keep alive is pretty tough going but I’m keeping afloat thanks to the lovely people in my life who are acting as my buoyancy aids right now.

As ever deadlines are looming, marking and remarking is taking up so much time, giving unscheduled 1:1 tuition to students who have finally decided to do some course work saps what would have been desk time and so the workload which spills over into my home life and ‘free time’ expands until it has devoured every remaining second of time to be a mum, a girlfriend, a business woman and what is even worse is that it takes away the moments I’d snatch to spend being myself, doing things just for me. I’ve not had any salon pampering or a steam or blogged or written any of my book or shopped for me or even managed to throw a dinner party, go out for dinner or cinema with a friend or Nick or anything for so long and I’m craving a return to normality.

My son is 15 he can cope with a little negligence these days, he knows if there is a dire emergency I am here, he knows I disappear into a pile of papers and books to provide him with all that he has, he can reason now and I do find time to check in with him twice a day. We always breakfast and dinner together, nothing stops that and so he does get some time, just not enough time for my liking. Although being a 15 year old boy, it’s probably more than enough for his liking.

He’s finally reached that time in his life when his room is the place to be. I’d been pretty lucky that both of my kids liked to be in the communal family areas with me and each other and whoever else happened to be there. I never felt I lost them to their rooms but it seems this one is going that way but I’m not worried, it’s perfectly normal and healthy and as long as I’m still allowed in there, as long as girls are not in there for too long with the door shut and nobody else around, as long as there are no strange smells, vapours, behaviours or people coming out of there I think we’re safe.

My daughter gets a daily phone or Skype call and OK sometimes she has to instigate that when she realises it is probably time I took a break and enjoyed a quick catch up. I love to hear about her day, I love how well she is doing in her new life and how she’s made what appears to be a fantastic group of friends from all corners of the globe. She has a rich full and interesting life and I love that and feel happy that she is responsible and mature enough for me to not have to worry as much as I did when she first flew the nest.

Nick is feeling more like an employee at the moment or a work partner he has been a darling picking up the threads of my new budding empire and keeping the fires burning. I don’t want to launch my business fully until the new year but I couldn’t help but see an opportunity to make some quick money in the run up to Christmas. I was frustrated that I knew I would not have time to capitalise on that but with Nick’s help we are managing to do that without detracting too much from the original plan. He is more or less a permanent fixture here now and manages his own affairs from here and we’ve hosted his kids a few times and he’s been driving down to spend time with them regularly but comes back up more or less straight away. I did feel I was distracting him from his life but then I figured he’s old enough and open enough to say or do something if he wants to change things so he must like it this way, it’s not like I make any demands on him at all, he has always been a willing volunteer so I’m happy that it’s his own choice. He seems very happy, I believe that in spite of my lack of time i do make him feel happy, he says I do and I can see it, besides that I have no desire other than to believe him so that’s all good.

I don’t like to do things by  halves and so I really didn’t want to launch the business until after I’d left teaching but sometimes with a push and some extra effort and by accepting help (my new thinner self finds accepting help increasingly easy) things are possible.

So on top of all that I still run the house and do all of the usual stuff, shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, those jobs which never go away but again I am being assisted in those. My son’s really good at taking over after dinner and clearing everything away and making it look like nothing ever happened in the kitchen and dining room and I don’t have to nag. Someone, still not sure who, has taken it upon themselves to become my laundry fairy and as fast as there is some laundry in the basket it is washed, dried, ironed and returned to its owner. I’m not even going to try super sleuthing to find out who is guilty of that one, they are happily anonymous and I’m happily grateful.

At work we have all of the seasonal demands, attending shows and fayres and promotions for the college and meeting prospective new intake and of course as I am heading into my last three weeks as a teacher I am preparing my replacement to take over the helm as well and finishing off loose ends as well as thinking about Christmas gifts, parties, leaving parties and everything else.

But, through it all I am still eating healthily, I’ve resisted all chocolates in the staff room and I have continued with my exercise programme. The weather is so mild so biking to work is still happening and my daily run up and down the stairs still takes place and I actually have two companions who come along with me now… my example is contagious. I remember the first day I tackled all of those huge flights from top to bottom and how I thought my lungs would implode when I was half way and how my legs were shaking when I reached the top and the pain… I was in pain, every joint was aching, I was sweating, my heart was pounding and yet now I jog up them and down again and could easily manage more than once.

I still have my personal trainer sessions 3 times per week and Nick and I have a tai chi session every evening, even if sometimes it is near midnight when we get around to it.

I’ve started to notice my body changing shape these last couple of weeks. The strength training and toning (I started working in some pilates with my trainer) are really pulling things in and toning things up and my body is beginning to feel quite powerful now and I am aware of all parts of it in a way I never was before. It’s hard to explain but when I’ve exercised and I stand and drink some water for instance it’s almost as if I can visualise all of those muscles that have been worked still working and I can see the water rushing through my body, hydrating, carrying away toxins, I’m aware of my heart rate, of my breathing of my liver no longer being distended due to fat, I just feel clean, healthy and in good working order and that feeling is priceless.

I think this awareness of my body as a machine is something which is sustaining me, it helps me to avoid bad stuff and focus on good. Nowadays when I’m tempted to eat something bad I visualise, without conscious thought or prompting, how that will affect my body, I visualise fat settling around my organs and I sense the acid reflux that will occur as my stomach struggles to process garbage and I feel the irritation in my bowel at the thought of having to let cake pass through it and I just find selecting healthy options easy now as a result.

There is a lot to be said for getting to know your body as a machine, to understand what food and drink does to it, getting to grips with how it should move and function and seeing what you put in your mouth as fuel and nutrition. It does work and I think it works better when you go to a trainer or a gym and talk to people who are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about these things and when you take time to research what food does to your body and the true benefits of exercise. I felt that as an eternal dieter I knew everything there was to know about diet and nutrition and exercise but there is always something new to learn and new ways to look at things.

I wouldn’t class myself as a health freak, I don’t think I am but I really do care about myself now and I’ve found that caring about yourself helps you to love yourself and if you love yourself (something I believe a lot of people who struggle with over eating have an issue with) then you are on the way to healing yourself. If you can love you, then you have found your greatest ally in this war with food.

What is more, I’ve found that the more I love me, the freer I feel to love other people. I’m a nicer person now, I wasn’t too bad before but I am so much more easy going now and forgiving and accepting. I think that is because I’m not subconsciously looking for someone to bounce my own feelings of self loathing off of. I’m not critical anymore, I love everyone and that is the sweetest thing. That sense of love fills my heart and keeps me happy and makes me a better person and gives me strength to pour into improving myself. I’m truly becoming a better person in every respect, when I set out on this journey almost 8 months ago I had no idea of the treasures I was going to uncover, and those treasures were all inside of me, a part of me which had been buried under fat, food and unhappiness, self loathing was robbing me of even seeing let alone using the fabulous gifts I’d been given. Every pound lost unwraps another special part of me and I’ve come to see myself like a big exciting game of pass the parcel, it’s so amazing and such fun and what is more it will never end. It’s not going to stop when I reach goal, I have the rest of my life to find new bits of myself and to love new bits of myself and to learn new things and develop new talents and to love more people and to experience more places and to enjoy my family which will hopefully expand. Life is very good. I thought it was OK before, but now I realise it wasn’t, this is living… well at least it will be once I get past this term!

You can do it! If I can unlock my true self anyone can. Be committed, visualise what you want to achieve, see food as fuel not a hobby and take help and advice, be strong and remind yourself every day of the reasons you have to keep on living.

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Here’s the stats…

So here I am. I began this journey on 04 April 2014 too scared to get on the scale to find out how overweight I was. A week later I had already made progress enough to realise that I had to know what the damage was and had to give myself something to aim at and hold myself accountable against. On 11th April 2014 I discovered that this is what I weighed, having no doubt already missed out on capturing the first week big loss that often happens with a significant switch in eating and movement.

Starting Weight         24 stone 11 pounds        347lbs            157.4 kgs

This is what it looked like when I finally decided it was time to have a look at the controversial BMI situation months later

BMI-Graph

I found that I had been in the Super Morbidly Obese category and that meant that my weight was going to cut my life short. I was a single mother of two amazing children and I had risked leaving them in a world without me. I’m not sure I’ll ever forgive myself that. But, by then I had already shifted enough fat to be on the border of Morbidly Obese and just plain Obese. The next weigh in pushed me over that line and I found myself just obese. For some that would have been a horrendous thought but for me it was music to my ears. My doctor said that this meant I had significantly reduced the chances of contracting or dying from an obesity related illness, but I was not out of the woods yet and I knew there was still a way to go. On 7th November 2014 these are my stats:

Revised Weight        17 stones 10 pounds       246lbs                111.58kgs

and this is my BMI, sitting in the mid obese range and heading towards just overweight. I can’t wait to be just overweight but I will have to because this is a long, steady slow road to getting to a normal weight and more importantly, staying there.

Presentation3

I’ve lost 101 pounds which is 7 stone 3lbs or 45.81kgs.

I know that I’ve had a faster loss than I would anticipate at this stage in the past couple of weeks but I think that is nothing to do with exercise and diet, I think that is due to my cycle having returned to normal and so showing fluctuations in shedding of pre-menstrual water and all that palaver. I’d had no cycle at all for a long time and then something intermittent and now a perfectly healthy normal cycle again for the first time in years and so I guess my weight loss stats will reflect losses and gains which reflect that and so I’m ready for some fluctuations, familiar from weight loss efforts in the past. When we groan when everything gets blamed on our weight as fat people some of it is actually true. How fat affects menstrual cycle I don’t know but if it affects that then what else does it affect that is not as obvious?

I don’t have weight loss goals set against time frames but I really want to be looking at a sustainable 1-2 lbs a week now and as I adopt eating and exercise habits which I can continue long term as part of my every day life and also as I seek to shrink without leaving myself with saggy skin, something I’ve avoided thus far.

Out at the onset of this I developed a visual motivational tool to help me to lose the first 10 stone or 140lbs of weight and that visual was Tracey who you can read about in my introductory post here: Meet Tracey

Today Tracey looks like this and serves as a constant visual motivator on my blog home page and also as a paper version with removable sections which has been on my dining room wall since April.

14 pieces gone 101lbs lost
14 pieces gone 101lbs lost

So I have 101lbs gone and still a way to go. Tracey still has 6 chunks to be vanished away, that’s 49lbs alone and that still won’t be enough to get me into that normal BMI range, I’ll be at 197lbs by then and will still have around another 30lbs to go to get me safely inside that normal weight BMI.

I guess that is my ultimate goal but it could be that I never get there. I’m at a UK size 16 at the moment, a 14 if it’s got stretch and can’t imagine losing another 80lbs and not looking emaciated. But we’ll see. Emaciated is not a look I’m up for, I want a little bit of meat on the bone.

So this is just a milestone, 100lbs is quite an achievement for someone who thought she’d never get past the first 14lbs. I’ve found that although weight loss is a great indicator of success and a real boost at times, it is not everything. There is so much more to tackling obesity than losing weight.

I’m so much healthier, happier and mentally well than I was before. My life is enriched, my children have a better mum and I just feel as if the fog in my head is clearing, a fog that had been there for a very long time and is still very thick in parts but we’re working on that. I rest better, I trust more, I let go of control, I allow myself to be loved and cherished, I see opportunities, I have a different perspective on life. It’s about so much more than losing weight and while those targets are there, they are somewhat wishy washy because all of the other stuff means so much more to me now. Improving on my quality of life is what spurs me on but it doesn’t hurt to celebrate a little triumph along the way and without a doubt my weightloss and lifestyle change has been the catalyst for so much more change in my life and so as the foundation for it all it deserves a little bit of a hell yeah!

I am always mindful that it took me years to get to the state I was in and so I’m happy if it takes me years to get out of it, this early fast progress has been inspirational and is a fantastic building block or foundation on which to base the rest of my life and my slow and steady weight loss in the future.

Thanks to all of my followers in the blogging community who have commented, liked, asked questions, spurred me on and encouraged me every step of the way and put up with my ramblings and wobbles and given me sound advice and lots of laughs. This really wouldn’t have happened without you all, you’ve been my counsellors and partners on this journey and I think of you as valuable friends, who have offered me more understanding and human compassion than many of my real life ones. I’m truly grateful but unfortunately I have to inform you that there are years of this to go yet 😉

Over 100lbs lost

I did it. I got over the 100lb mark. I’m terrified of being identified as I know there are people who would love to put me off this journey and I really am not ready to let them into my life to cause chaos but at the same time I want to share myself with people who have been following me… something I always said I would do at the end, when I’m at goal… well you know how I feel about calling that the end, when actually it will be the beginning of a totally new way of life which I’m learning along this phase of my transformation.

Anyway, I’ll do the full details of the weight loss to date later and update Tracey, I think she has a couple of chunks to come off now. But I’ve tried to show in this picture without revealing any identifying features (I’ve even black and whited it so no one recognises my top and cropped out my decor in case anyone recognises my wall paper, I’m not paranoid, I just know what they will do to me if they find anything out about my life and especially if they see me healing), but anyway I’ve tried to show my ‘day one’ photo, taken as I was at that point in time when I resolved to do something about my grotesque self and my picture taken yesterday when I tried on a dress I’ve actually shrunken out of before I got chance to wear it.

Hopefully you can see how I’ve progressed without giving away too much of my identity. My face will have to live in your imaginations until I’m there, I just can’t risk those people getting involved in my life, even to think of them talking about me makes me feel like eating a whole chocolate cake. I have to work on this with my counsellor, it’s the hardest challenge because nobody really believes how evil they are and what they are capable of and how much they affect me. It’s a shame because my facial transformation is perhaps the most shocking when I looked at these photos, I was just some features pressed into a massive lump of fat, now I have a face and cheekbones and a nose and eyes again! It’s amazing and you will see them one day I promise.

me

On my fattest picture I’m just a blob, over 300lbs, no shape just a rotund blob.Look my arms, they don’t even touch my sides, they’re hanging out there like useless appendages supported by fat and they’re even shortened by the side boob or whatever it was under there. And they used to hurt, they had no strength, muscles were wasting, seriously.

Look at my chins coming down to my chest, no neck at all, deep crevices where the fat must have rolled up when I lie down. I purposefully wore a top which had a spillage of curry on it, to remind myself of the glutton I’d become, shoveling food in so fast I didn’t care if it fell onto me.

My bust is indistinguishable, my collar bones vanished, my shoulders starting to slope and my spine starting to curve because of it…it makes me sad to look at this picture. I’m sad that I hate myself in it and I just fill with tears thinking about the people who still loved me, when I was like that and how amazing those people are/were and how unworthy I really was. What had I done to myself? So so sad, looking at this I can’t tell you how this makes me feel.

How could I risk that? I was killing myself, I ask if I even loved my children, did I even think of what I was doing to them? It makes me so sad. I did love them, I just didn’t know what I was doing, I was destroying myself. So sad. People might say nasty things about me but they will never know what led me there, they won’t know how they could never say anything as bad as I say to myself. Gosh, it’s awful to look back now and just think about what I was doing to myself and my kids, we, the morbidly obese or super morbidly obese,  just really don’t know, we’re lost in a world of hurt and misery and weakness and while we’re in there struggling, this happens.

For once in my life, I see the newer body next to it, a size I’ve been at many times in the past and not seen for what it was, a relatively OK size and shape, in need of some trimming still but I saw this body as a monster for so long, I saw this size body as twice the size of the one on the left, in the mirror it was bigger, huger, uglier than what I eventually became and that, that is what made me the bigger huger uglier thing I became, because I had no concept of my own size.

Life, people, the media, my family, myself had made me think I was already a grotesque monster and dieting only made me grow bigger and bigger as I yo-yo’d… no, not even yo-yo’d there came a point where I wasn’t going down I was just going up, like the great glass elevator, straight up, no sideways or downwards, just up and out.

Now I quite like the body on the right, it’s healthy, it’s got a shape, it’s got tone, it fits in clothes, it moves, it doesn’t ache, it doesn’t creak, it works efficiently, it’s well fueled, it doesn’t have curry all over it, it has a neck, it’s not engulfed in folds of fat when it sleeps, my arms move around like a human’s instead of a warped T-rex, over a hundred pounds of fat has gone from around my body, it’s been sweated off, it’s been nourished off, my skin is glowing and healthy and bronzed, my hair is thick and shiny, my posture is one a ballet dancer would be proud of but more than that I know I’m saving my life. I have more to do, further to go, another mountain still to climb but I’m loving being on top of this one. I’m not only giving myself more life, I’m making myself happier and this last phase is going to be all about bringing sexy back so watch this space.

Anyone can do it. Just want to. Find something that makes you want to and latch on to it. Please if you are in the state I was in or heading there find something in your heart that makes you want to stop and rewind, your kids, your mortality, your happiness…anything. Don’t destroy yourself anymore, just find a way to heal. I started in April 2014 and I’ve come so far, it’s not even about weight loss alone, my mental and physical health, my attitude to work, my love life, my friendships, my hobbies, everything has changed for the better. I’m buying life, not only in terms of a longer one but in terms of a more fulfilling, enriched one. We all deserve that, even us broken, fat, miserable folk. We do.

Autumn Traditions

It has been crazy hectic around here the past few days.

My kids came back from their trip totally thrilled with their independent extravaganza. My son was rendered speechless by having seen his heroes in action. Nick picked them up from Heathrow for me and brought them home and I got to have them both together for a few days before my daughter had to go off again to work. Blessed,  blissful days when we are all together.

I know it might sound ridiculous but just lying in bed being able to hear them both breathing in deep slumber from their rooms is something which stills my soul and makes me feel that all is good with the world. It must come from years of being finely tuned to their every sound and without even realising it taking some kind of subconscious satisfaction in just knowing they are safe and well. Having had silence for a few nights perhaps my ears were waiting to hear those gentle sounds again before I could fully relax.

Anyway mission accomplished, I feel I have let loose another few yards of apron string, we all survived and they more independent for it and my daughter is not traumatised by having the responsibility for her brother whilst thousands of miles away from the mother hen.

Nick has been spending more and more time with me. He’s been great helping me get my business ready and he’s done a few jobs around the house for me which I can’t say didn’t need doing. These days I’m not so hot on the DIY front as I once was. So we’ve had some decorating finished which I had started and my son’s bedroom and man pad/den were completely refurbished as a surprise in his absence, he loved them so that was a hit.

I got to give my garden a pre-winter tidy up. We’ve had such a mild year, last winter was a non-event, the summer was hot and long and we’ve had a very mild autumn so we may be in for another killer winter, but hopefully it will be mild. I don’t think I will be out gardening quite so much although the things I have growing under my greenhouse stylie covers are doing good.

My daughter’s room is becoming more and more empty with each visit as she takes another load of stuff off with her. i think we’re almost at done now with just a few things which she wants to keep but doesn’t want to take with her. I smiled remembering the box of my things which were too important to give up when I left home, similar things which are no doubt still in my mother’s loft and have never been touched since. It made me think about how fleeting some of the value we place on objects is and made me realise how insignificant possessions really are when we balance their worth against the next ‘thing’ we’re on to.

I’ve got a few posts in draft state so no doubt they will get finished this weekend and I’ll do a post bombardment including a weigh tloss update, so I need to get myself weighed in for that. I’ll also  have a reading catch up frenzy too so don’t freak if it looks like I’m stalking your blogs with comments and likes over the next couple of days. I miss having time to read so much when I’m sidelined with other things.

I’m pretty much home alone this weekend. My son has things planned, residual events from bonfire night. When it is midweek it seems to go on forever with parties the weekend before, on the actual night which was a Wednesday this year and then the following weekend. It’s been a crazy fortnight of halloween and bonfire/Guy Fawkes night celebrations to be fair, there has scarcely been a night I’ve not seen or heard fireworks exploding over the sea from my bedroom window… I’m not complaining about that, it’s a beautiful sight and the smells of bonfire night always get me reminiscing to when my dad would come home with boxes of fireworks and the neighbourhood would pile into our garden as we were one of a few families in our neighbourhood who could afford the luxury of sending pounds worth of hard earned money up in smoke. I loved the smell of sulphur in the air and the sound and smell of the crackling bonfire with the guy we kids had made perched on top.

My mum would take on a mission to feed the entire neighbourhood too, cooking from the day before, making trays and trays of toffee apples, bonfire toffee in little bags, parkin (a kind of dense oatmeal and treacle cake) and ginger cake and filling the oven with tons of small jacket potatoes with crispy skins served up in paper with dollops of butter and a sprinkle of salt. I used to love the warm feel coming through my gloves when on a really cold night she would pop a potato in each pocket for us to warm our hands on. Old school tricks and traditions… memories are good and I like to dwell on those good childhood memories these days.

If I hadn’t been fat I think my child hood would have been near perfect, but then I guess they would have found something else to be horrid to me about and the sibling rivalry would have still been there. But it’s far more healthy to remember the good stuff, when we were all enjoying something with a common purpose and shared wonderment and the bad stuff was in the back ground where it belonged.

So it’s been a good few days, if busy with work and caring for my family and spending time with Nick… not that it’s hard work doing that, he’s super sweet and things are going really good. I’m letting someone do things for me for the first time ever and I’m starting to quite like it. I’ve lost my feisty edge and feel much softer these days and far more relaxed.

Life is good and although I don’t for one minute think it will stay this way forever, I ‘m enjoying it while it is. This road to a new me is tough, make no mistake, the food is not the biggest obstacle to overcome, the exercise isn’t the toughest challenge I’ve faced, it’s this inner battle to find peace, to find a safe place where it’s OK to love myself and to let other people in to love me that is the hardest part.  BUT… I’m getting there and it feels better and better with every step forward… there are steps back too but I’ve learned to get over those. I still maintain that this blogging community and the ability to blog has been my real lifeline, in spite of the people who have helped me in my ‘real’ life, the help, inspiration, laughs and sense of camaraderie I get from here is second to none in terms of support and I’m grateful to everyone who has inspired me to keep on with this and to recognise that it wasn’t just about physical health.

How Times Change

I came across this today… someone figured that Taylor Swift’s new song Shake It Off went well with this 80’s video from an aerobics championship. Genius.

This is a great song to have a bit of a dance to, especially on those days where this whole weight loss thing feels like a bind or you’ve had some douche rain on your parade. Just get up and shake it off or if you can’t get up and do it, sit in your chair or lie in your bed and just shake your arms about, play it loud and you will guaranteed feel better afterwards. Get up, go wild, nobody is looking and if you have kids they will spontaneously join in and before you know it you’re having great fun and burning off calories and getting fitter without even realising it. Trust me, it works, I did it in the beginning and I’m still doing it now. Instant mood lifter.

But anyway…what struck me, besides wondering how I ever thought I looked good in those high leg aerobics pants and reminiscing about the days I would have given those high kicks a run for their money, was that many of these aerobics experts/leaders/champions/instructors whatever, would by today’s standards be considered on the larger side of acceptable. Back then they seemed so skinny that ever having bodies like that seemed not only impossible but undesirable… these were the too thin Barbie dolls.

There are two versions below not sure if both play universally but can try each/both as they are slightly different.