One Year Anniversary

My first post on this blog was made on 5th April 2014 and it kind of dealt with how I was sick of being so fat, sick of not having a life, sick of going to bed thinking I was not going to survive the night and sick of worrying about leaving my kids alone too soon. It stated how I was determined to change my life for the better. Subsequent posts revealed how I didn’t want to just lose weight, I wanted to get fitter, engage more with life, be a better person, be happier, get healthy and make changes forever which would help me to beat what I called my ‘fat demon’ and break a lifetime yo-yo cycle of gaining and losing weight once and for all. I wanted to get to the root causes of my issues with food and weight and deal with them. It was now or never.

HappyAnniversary.175114211_largeA year on, reading through those early posts for the first time since they were written I hear my old self in my writing but she is someone I don’t really recognise anymore, someone I’ve moved so far from that I even had trouble relating to her. That shocked me. It shocked me how much we can change as people in just one year, just by altering our lifestyle. How we can forget so quickly how we felt and transition into our new way of life. I think it’s a good thing that we can change and move on, I really wouldn’t want to carry the doom and gloom of my 2014 self around constantly, it would be as restrictive as carrying the weight I’ve shed around. But I really don’t want to forget how miserable I was and how hard I’d made my life. I thought that I could recall how bad I’d felt but reading back makes me realise I don’t come close to remembering at all. For that reason alone it has been worth charting my progress through this blog because I know now that I will never be able to forget how it felt because I can go back and read how it felt, at the time, for me. I can remind myself of myself and nothing will be more powerful than that.

This blog will make sure I never forget that person because if I forget her I have a chance of becoming her again and I do not want to become her again. I don’t have to relate to her, in fact the less I relate to her the less I’m likely to become her again. I’ve never been under any false illusion that this transition is a one off, short lived, time limited thing, I know it will be ongoing for the rest of my life and I know that there ill be times when sinking back to her may be tempting. I’m strong now but I’m not stupid, I know that something could send me spiraling back out of control and just being mindful of that, having things to remind me how that felt should I feel myself falling will help me to win over the compulsion that still exists inside me somewhere to use food to self destruct.

But positives…I can’t even list the amazing things that have happened in my life since I first wrote on this blog. I couldn’t begin to share the knowledge I’ve acquired about food, exercise, physical health, mental health, holistic well being in general and about how all of those things make me who I am and change who I am every day. I’ve experimented with food groups, cooking methods, recipes, home growing and fermenting and now we have chickens and fresh eggs.

I’ve experimented with exercise starting with walking and stepping from one foot to another I’ve tried out so many new things including swimming (which I only learned to do properly this last year and has now become one of my favourite pass times), tai chi, cross fit, climbing, pilates and I’ve even managed a little run or two and am now getting to grips with yoga. All of the experimenting pays off for me because it gives me a wide varied repetoire of activity which I can slot into a day no matter where I am or how busy I am or even if I’m not well or injured, I can do some activity, some form of movement which enhances my general state of well being and makes me feel good about myself and keeps my body moving. That’s all exercise is, I’ve learned that… it’s just moving however you can and however you want to and however you enjoy doing it. I do have a routine when it comes to seriously working out and keeping in shape because I need that in my life and I enjoy it and I get so much that I need mentally from it besides needing the discipline of a routine. However beside that I also have this huge bag of activities i can dip into when I feel like it for fun, pleasure and even just to enhance my mental state, to take away stress or give me thinking time or just to give me an energy boost.

The same with food, all of the trial and error and experimenting has kept my body on its toes, I’ve tried a few approaches and each new one has taken me a step towards finding an eating plan which suits me perfectly which makes me feel energised, satisfied and well. But it all came about through trial and error, this has been a year of experimentation for sure. It also came about from advice and links and reading blogs so again blogging has really had an impact on my success.

I’ve also delved deep into my past. My upbringing and my relationships with people throughout my life and found how those relationships have influenced my relationship with food and I’ve looked in to myself and found a way to love me and accept me and to stop self destructing with food and to stop thinking food is my friend when it’s actually not. I’m more open with my feelings more expressive and demonstrative a better mother friend and lover and I’ve learned that it’s OK to take from those relationships now and then to lean on people who love me at times just as I love them to lean on me when they need a hand.

Besides all of this I’ve changed how I work and what I do for a living and had the courage to do something I wanted to do for a long time. I’ve learned new skills and developed a professional confidence that other people always thought I had but I never really did. I’ve started a fabulous relationship and my kids are positively thriving and definitely benefiting from all of the changes either directly or indirectly. Their habits have changed and they’re healthier, sleeping better, doing better generally and they are benefiting from having a much happier, healthier mum who is engaging with life now instead of hiding and waiting to die. I think I’m far more fun to be around and they don’t say it but I’m sure they are relieved that they don’t have to worry about my health now.

I guess more than anything since this blog began I’ve learned to just relax, enjoy life, be me and let myself go with relationships (including those with food and things as well as people), not to question myself, not to doubt myself or to be so hung up on what other people think of me. I feel like losing the weight has just freed me from the hell I’d allowed myself to sink into, or even purposefully put myself into. I think I’ve become more conscious of myself whilst becoming less self conscious. That may sound weird but I think there is a definite difference between the two.

Life is good and I’m so glad that I documented this past year and so glad that I went through everything I went through to get me to here. I’m feeling strong and ready for my challenges in the coming year and can’t help but get excited about whatever is in store for all of us.

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Losing Weight With a Huge Appetite – My Advice

One of my problems has always been that I just love food. I don’t only eat as an emotional crutch, I do love food. I have a big appetite too and probably have an issue with my cut off valve needing an overhaul.

When I started off on this journey I knew that one of the things that would be really hard to overcome was the hunger from a lack of food. I knew that the more healthy wholesome foods were going to do me good, make me feel better and give me more energy. I knew I could make them tasty and interesting BUT I worried that I would struggle with the small portions and lack of food. History has shown me that a ‘normal’ measure of cereal is less than I’d leave out for a starving mouse.

Now you can go about combating this in three ways (and I’m really talking here to people who have lots of weight to lose who are standing at the bottom of a huge mountain wondering how they are ever going to get to the top).

1. Plan lots of healthy snacks, pre-prepare them to stop yourself from grabbing the wrong stuff, weigh them out and faff with all that baloney – it works for some people and I’m not knocking it but it’s not for me

2. Graze rather than eat three meals a day. Spread your food out so that you are eating little and often rather than sitting down to three small meals a day. Again this works and I have and do practice this at times and it really does help.

Or – my favourite

3. Eat lots of food!

I know some people will say it won’t work but it will. It did, it does, it worked for me. I didn’t worry at all about portion size in the early days (to be honest I don’t worry about it now that much). I thought sensibly about this before and during my current journey and I figured these things:

1. I have A LOT of weight to lose, more than a whole average sized man – I have time to deal with this, it’s going to take a while, nothing is making it happen over night so I took a long term view of my weight loss and a life long view of my diet and lifestyle changes… very very important. When you get that life long perspective it helps you to realise that you have time to tweak things, getting started is the important bit.

2. I had been eating so unhealthily, 70% of my diet at least has been fatty, unhealthy killer food – I decided that I was eliminating ALL of that stuff, all of it, no more will anything remotely fatty touch my lips as a matter of routine. I will allow myself treats but not for the first few weeks at all and then only in moderation, like ‘normal’ people do. So 99.9% of my diet is going to be healthy, nutritious, low calorie food anyway and large portions of that has got to be better than large portions of what I was eating. Let’s face it a plate piled high with a tuna salad is not going to ever add as much fat to my body as a plate piled high with pizza and fries is it? I figured I have to lose weight if I swap out the latter for the former regardless of how much is on the plate right? Right, I did and I never went hungry, I still don’t go hungry. I have odd days where I’m starving and could eat a passing human but I cope with those days by… you guessed it… EATING lots of healthy good stuff!

3. I had not been moving, other than to walk to my car and back but I knew I was going to be moving a lot more, it all started with 20  minutes dancing with the kids (which was more like stepping from one foot to the other but very quickly escalated). So, I’m going to be doing more, which will use up  more calories so who cares if I have a double serving of salad or two pieces of chicken breast or a four egg omelette instead of a 2 egg omelette? What does it matter if my fruit salad has 12 helpings of fruit in it and two fat and sugar free helpings of yoghurt on top? Again I was right because I was full and the weight was coming off.

So that’s it, that’s my tip. Don’t think about portion size if you know it is going to make you hungry, miserable and give in to unhealthy temptations. Just don’t do it. Focus on healthy food and moving more. Forget about amounts of food, seriously just forget about it. Eat until you feel full in those early days, just chow away.

I did this and was losing good chunks of weight in my early journey, I wasn’t miserable, I wasn’t hungry, I wasn’t tempted to give in, I felt full, I was satisfied, I didn’t feel I was depriving myself. And you know what? I planned to address my portion size later down the line once I’d gotten into moving more and eating healthy but I never had to bother. As I became more healthy, more active and more fit and more emotionally stable and more inspired and encouraged by my success, I found my appetite diminished all by itself! I found that I was, for the first time ever, leaving food on my plate uneaten, I was leaving the table before the serving bowls were wiped clean, I was just eating less. I wasn’t using food so much as a crutch anymore, I wasn’t having pangs and cravings so bad, I just didn’t need as much food.

Now and then it comes back, that old feeling of insatiability and I recognise it and try to relate that need to something, is it an emotional need, is it a physical need following serious exercise? I try to figure it out while I’m preparing my food and usually by the time I’ve understood where the craving’s come from it’s gone, before I even get to the table. If it hasn’t gone then I eat a lot that day, but I eat a lot of good stuff.

I also let myself have things I crave. If I suddenly fancy chocolate I have some, but a small amount, which for me might be one normal sized choc bar instead of a family sized one or pack of 6. I don’t do one chocolate button, I’ll do a small packet and that is rare, very rare but when I want to I do it. In the early days I fended off cravings with distraction techniques but then I realised I’d served my time and I could allow myself the odd indulgence. Just be careful that it is rare or an odd occurrence, if it starts becoming a daily thing you are going back down the slope so keep check, don’t let that happen.

I’d advise avoiding all of your demon foods for a couple of months to  wean you off them, some are just addictions and some are even allergies. Allow yourself to start feeling and seeing the benefits of your weight loss, then you are more resilient and can control that temptation better. Also when you crave a snack type food try to get the lowest fat, best quality you can, I go for organic choc high in cocoa solids these days and you can find tiny bars in chocolatiers or you can purchase per chocolate so getting one is no problem. I tell you spending less than you would on your family bar of mass produced choc on one quality, supreme chocolate and sitting savouring every morsel of it is ultimately more satisfying than stuffing a whole bar down your neck.

Look at things differently, keep a healthy perspective, don’t let food or lack thereof make you miserable, you might lose weight more slowly but there are benefits to that… research shows time and again that the slower the more likely you are to keep it off, the slower the less chance of skin saggage, the slower the more likely you are to adopt the changes as real lifestyle changes and habits that you will take on forever not just as a quick fix.

Don’t shock your body and mind into too many changes at once, improve your diet, increase your exercise and gradually everything else will fall into place.

I’ve read a lot of inspirational things while I’ve been blogging and one of those in the early days which really hit home was a guy who said he had 500lbs to lose and he didn’t think he could do it, he knew he couldn’t do it but he thought “You know what, I can’t lose 500lbs but I can lose 5lbs” and when he’d lost 5lbs he thought “I can’t lose 495lbs but I can lose another 5lbs” and when he’d lost that he thought… well you know what he thought and I think at the time I read that he’d lost about 50 of those 5lbs in less than one year he was half way up that mountain of his and going strong.

Lifestyle Sweep

I didn’t realise that when I started my healthy eating, weight loss, life extending plan back in April that there were so many things in my life which needed attention. But as I started to make changes to what I ate and what I did in terms of activity, I started to notice more the things around me and about me which could also use some attention. IEmilysQuotes.Com-death-reborn-rise-strength-wise-change-inspirational-amazing-great-unknownstarted to realise how everything impacts on our emotional and mental health.  I started to realise just how much I had given up on living.

I noticed how drab the decor had become in the house, how it had been left virtually untouched for a couple of years, how lack lustre everything was around me, how sparse the house was with my beautiful little objects gathered from my travels not even unpacked since I’d moved into this house. I realised that as I walked into the house, the hall was tired and fed up and I realised that there was no wonder I felt the same (drab and tired) every time I came in. Was the house a reflection of me? I think so. Had I become a reflection of the house? I think so. It was a horrid circle, I couldn’t be bothered with it and it wasn’t helping me. So I changed it. images (3)

As I ventured out more into the garden I started to recall how much I loved to grow things, how much pleasure it used to give me and how relaxing I found it and I realised it had been a long time since I’d cultivated anything. As I became more focused on eating healthy I thought about combining my two passions, new and old and growing some food to save money and to assure myself that at least I knew where some of what I ate came from. I started growing things.

I started to realise that although I love my job, the environment was stifling, the way education is governed and dictated in this country the target focus, the back office politics, the bad attitude towards the students, regarding them as an inconvenience notimages (4)the reason, the lack of support for innovation, the huge insurmountable culture shift needed and I realised that although it sustains me it doesn’t uplift me. I’m going to change that.

I looked at my kids and realised they were frazzled, they had been living with a shadow of their former mother, they  had been worried, they had been supporting me at times when I should have been supporting them. I haven’t neglected them but I’ve not been the person I was, the mother I want to be, the mother they deserve. I want to be happy and hopeful and vibrant and strong, I want them to bring their worries to me and let me help them not be afraid to put another nail in my coffin. So I’ve changed that.

I thought I didn’t need a partner, I thought I could get through life alone, without romantic love, without passion without a companion by my side, without someone’simages (2)hand to hold on a long walk or someone to laugh with or dance with or to just feel pretty for. I thought I didn’t need it, I didn’t want it, I’d had my share and I was used up, I was like a crazed horsewoman driving a horse and carriage as it sped along, bounced over rocks and pot holes and sent my fat ass crashing down onto the wooden bench and sliding around as I wildly held onto the reins wishing I could have a break but not daring to let go of those pieces of darned leather that were cutting into my hands. Each time some one came along and sat beside me and tried to take those reins I’d boot their ass off the cart and leave them bouncing behind me down the road. I’ve allowed myself to fall in love for the first time. I’m handing over the reins.

download (2)I believe that when we set out to change something about ourselves it’s like we start with a drip as we make that move to change one thing, we have no idea how soon making that change will empower us to make another and another until the drip becomes a cascade, a refreshing tumult of change which opens up new parts of ourselves, which cleanses our life and gives us it back again, which washesdownload (3)away the film from our eyes and makes us see the possibilities for yet more change. It’s liberating, truly liberating.  I say it all the time but it’s true, every journey starts with one step and even if we have an idea of our direction we really do not know where that journey may lead wherever it is, it’s got to be better than the nowhere I was heading before.