Weight Loss/Management Is In The Mind

Experience is teaching me the truth of this thought. Yes, there are physical things that need to be done to manage weight, but so much of the ‘fight’ for want of a better word, is mental.

Take yesterday. What I call a ‘low day.’ I woke up feeling terrible about myself and my efforts and went to bed feeling the same way. I ate terribly, all day, including a heft wedge of Stilton and half a pot of Pringles. I followed that up with a trip to the cinema (Civil War is AMAZING by the way!) during which I ate a little bag of pick’n’mix and a couple of Minstrels.

This is significant because by the time I reached the cinema (7.30pm) the worst parts of my day were over. I felt calmer and more in control and, as a result, able to make sensible decisions guided by my brain rather than my stress. I bought a third of the pick’n’mix I might normally buy and made them last into the last half hour of the movie. By the time I got to the Minstrels, I didn’t particularly want them and only ate a handful before re-sealing the bag.

Today, another rough morning, but the act of stepping out of the house, sitting down and thinking calmly took me to my favourite coffee shop. There I ordered a single pot of fruity tea and no crisps or cake accompaniment. 

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The trend is easy to see the more I look. The calmer I am, the less stressed I am, the better I become at steering clear of those troublesome foods.

I’m sure I’ve said this before, but the battle is up in my head and I only lose it, when I let myself get tired, run down, or over stressed. I’m not entirely sure of how to do away with the stress aspect (I’m not able to relax in the same way I once was, and I’m also not sure of what soothes me these days—beyond snarfing a bag of popcorn) but again, as I always say, being aware of the facts makes it easier to deal with. Being vocal and public about it is also a help.

I’ve decided to make one change at a time. As small as possible. Small changes lead to big results (eventually) and the biggest challenge here won’t be the changes themselves but the patience to let them take hold. I’m not known for my patience . . . ask the other half.

These are the things I want to do in very broad terms:

  • Eat less in general
  • Make more sensible food choices in general and in particular in times of stress
  • Exercise more
  • Sleep more
  • Be happier

Yes, that last one is a big vague and wishy washy, but knowing what I want, even in those terms is more than I did yesterday.

I’ll probably break these down into actionable SMART goals another time, but for now, I’m going to focus on just one. Sleep.

We all know how important sleep is and yet it’s the one thing that drops off the list of priorities pretty darn quickly. I’m going to see what happens with a concentrated effort to get more sleep each night and work from there.

Next time . . . an actionable list of goals and/or checkpoints.

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Mental Health vs Physical Health

I watched Batman vs Superman yesterday, that may be something to do with the title of this post. But more to do with this post is what I’ve learned over the past few weeks.

You may have noticed that my posts to this blog have become sporadic. Those of you who know me personally may also have noticed that I myself have been sporadic with my usual Facebook interactions, letters, texts and phone calls. In general, contact with the outside world. Even my working blog has taken a hit with far less structured and organised posts. All this is part of the ongoing battle I’m having with my moods and my ability to control/manage them.

I’m not doing very well.

I don’t say that to downplay what I have managed to do over the last month or so. Rather, I want to highlight for myself that I’m becoming more self-aware; noticing how I react to certain situations, what my triggers are and where I ‘fall down’ when it comes to weight management. Because it’s all linked.

It isn’t mental health vs physical health at all, it’s mental health AND physical health. One feeds into the other and an issue with one will, in my case, always highlight problems with the other.

Back in January I stopped running because of my ankle (my first physio appointment is this week, by the way). Because I could no longer ride my bike I also stopped going to the gym. I can confidently say that the middle of January marked the start of a downward trend in my mood, ability to think forward positively and the first wobbles in my (to that point) steady and consistent weight loss. Feelings of helplessness and impotence are not things I handle very well and I see now that losing my ability to exercise in a manner I enjoyed (or at all) had a terrible affect on everything. Now, though I can walk freely, I still can’t run and my six month membership at the council gym, curtsey of the NHS, is over. I can’t get an extension or a renewal as the waiting list is miles long. I feel like I’m stuck in limbo.

I have plans to return to a gym. Plans to return to running after I’ve spoken to whoever is in charge of my physio. Plans to get a firmer grip on my eating habits and learn to control my less than healthy urges. I also have plans to talk more about what’s going on in my head, both in this blog, in my homelife and with a mental health professional.

I can no longer deny I’ve been neglecting my health by refusing to acknowledge that I am to a degree, depressed and anxious about tonnes of different things. I hope, going forward, that by focusing on both mental and physical healthy I’ll see progress towards the person I want to be, inside and out.

Treats

a puffy grey cloud
Credit: barnheartowl

Something has happened to me. Not sure when or how, but I recognise that something has changed, a great deal between now and the middle of my ‘black phase.’ I’m unsure of what else to call those few weeks of misery and low moral, but I’ll stick with ‘black phase’ until I find something better.

Anyway, back then, I was snarfing chocolate, wine gums and the other things I considered ‘treats’ as they were the only things that made me feel better. Problem is, they only made me feel better while I was eating them. After that, knowing I’d over indulged made me feel worse and sent me further into the terrible cycle of guilt > eating for comfort > guilt > eating for comfort.

I know and I can tell you from experience that is a horrible cycle to fall into and it feels impossible to climb out.

junk food
Credit: PeterBrough

Seeing Deepa for my last Get Healthy meeting made a big difference in that regard and helped me get back on track with small things, like the 10,000 steps (see to be doing pretty well there) and a more realistic expectation of myself. And it seems, just through doing that, my desire to snack on ‘treats’ has dropped dramatically.

Just the other day I had a choice between a grab back of salt and vinegar crisps, a 120g bag of popcorn and a 275g tub of fresh mango. I picked the mango (!). Now . . . I finished the lot (which was too much, really) but what fascinates me most about that night was the fact that I didn’t want the crisps or the popcorn. They are my sweet and savoury snacks of choice, but I didn’t want them. Hell, that packet of popcorn had been hidden away in my desk drawer for about three weeks. It’s still there.

Seems that taking control of other things around me has made it easier to make sensible healthier decisions with regards to food.

This is something I want to explore in coming weeks—I want to know if this change translates to the scales and if it continues—but I just wanted to put it out there so you know: it is possible to pull yourself out of the black hole of guilt > eating > guilt and it is possible to feel good again.

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Credit: skotan

All things considered, even though I still can’t run (though I do have a physio appoint at the hospital in a couple of weeks – at last!), I feel lighter and brighter now than I did through the whole of February. That’s something to cling to and, hopefully, use to pull me out of the next pit I fall into when something knocks me off course.

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Check In: 12

No measuring stats today. I know I’m not going to make it into town to get them and I know that the figures aren’t going to be what I hope.

However, this is as good a time as any to talk about my last Get Healthy meeting with Deepa yesterday.

At the penultimate meeting I expected this to be a cheerful chatter over what my future steps would be, a final questionnaire about how things have changed versus when I started the programme and a positive figure on the scales. What I didn’t expect was the decimation of an entire packet of tissues, big-fat-tears and snot. But that’s what I got. 😦

Given my post on Monday, it’s plain I have a lot to work through, not just in terms of getting back on track with healthier lifestyle, but in my overall outlook and mental stamina. Talking with Deepa served to calm me down, bring me out of my own head to look at the bigger picture.

Like I said a couple of weeks back, this isn’t the end. It’s a blip in the road, something that I clearly wasn’t prepared for. The idea now, is that I learn from the experience and formulate a plan to take the hold the next time I suffer a set back I can’t control, like my ankle.

As I trace it back, my mood and subsequent weight gain stems from my ankle injury. Realising I could no longer walk as I wanted, the temporary loss of independence and frustration at losing my ability to run (something I was—and am—very proud of), has put me in a place where I can’t see the good for the bad. Deepa has also helped me see that, despite feeling as though I don’t care, I clearly still do. Enough to continue logging my meals on my app, enough that I pay attention to the steps on my Vivo, enough that I haven’t totally descended into takeaways, chocolate for breakfast and cake every day. The very fact that I’m still posting to this blog is a positive I shouldn’t ignore.

I do still care.

And that is why this perceived failure is so hard.

So . . . my plan is to start again. Not to say I’ll start at my previous weight and work from the top, I mean I’ll use my current weight (118.5 kg by Deepa’s scales) and use that as my baseline. From there I’ll steadily work my steps back up to 10k per day. I’ll continue logging in my food diary and slowly bring my calorie intake back down to a weight-loss level. I’ll return to a form of exercise that I can do gently and slowly increase. I’ll make concentrated efforts to ensure eight hours sleep a night. I’ll talk to people. I’ll ask for help.

These are all things I’ve stopped doing and contributory to the sensation of helplessness, anger and disappointment. The fact remains that I can change all these things, so long as I do them one at a time.

For now then, it’s chin up, positive thoughts engaged and one day at a time. That’s really all I can do.
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The Struggle Is Real

Late again. Not only that, but I missed check in 12 and I’ve not really been focused on anything to do with health.

I promised myself, when I started this blog, that if anybody at all started paying attention, I would be as true and real as possible. I’m sick to death of blogs and articles that are fizzing with kids-TV-show-style-pep, spouting all sorts of empty nonsense about how great everything is. Everything is shiny and happy and, to believe these articles and blogs, there is never a bad day, never a rough patch, never a moment or self doubt or panic.

Bullshit.

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Credit: Steren

Yes, some days may be like that, others are most certainly not. I think, if I’m going to keep this blog public, I have a duty to people like me to show them that they aren’t the only ones having a rough time. They aren’t the only ones have difficulty ‘staying on the wagon.’

Because the struggle is real.

And I am struggling.

I’ve mentioned before that food is my go-to in times of stress, anger, joy (any heightened emotion). Today, I look back over the past two months month and realise that I’ve been more stressed, tired, angry, sad and, as well as that, suffering extended bouts of roaring apathy which, against everything else I just described, doesn’t make much sense.

The struggle is real.

I thought I had my eating habits under control and, the reality is, I’m far, far from it. When I have a handle on my emotions, when things are going well, it’s easy to make sensible decisions about food. Reach for the apple instead of the chocolate bar, walk past the display of reduced crisps and buy the skimmed milk that prompted the walk to Tesco. It’s easy to choose an early night over lying comatose in front of a shitty film because the thought of going to bed and listening to the maelstrom your own thoughts is too much. It’s even easy to get out of bed, knowing it’s still dark outside, but getting dressed anyway, cycling to the gym and sweating for an hour.

But the struggle is real.

I didn’t go to the gym last week. Not even swimming. It was half term, so I had the kids with me for huge chunks of the week but, determined to rest my ankle, we barely left the house. I’m sure that didn’t help my mood.

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Credit: rdevries

I’ve not hit the proverbial ‘rock bottom’ but I know I’m not far off. Any and all passion or energy I had for this drive to be healthier has died and I have no idea how to revive it. The thought of buying smaller clothes, isn’t helping. The idea that I may like what I see when I look in the mirror seems so distant a dream that I can’t use it—the thought is too abstract. Even thinking of how much easier it has been to run around with my children is doing nothing to push me on. I’m rolling a boulder up a super steep hill while wearing weighted roller skates.

The struggle is real.

My partner and I have talked briefly about compulsive behaviours. We’re both certain that this clawing need I have for certain foods is a behaviour that can be managed, and slowly changed. I’m sure it can. Right now, what I lack is the confidence that can do it, which immediately makes the change more of an impossibility.

The struggle is real.

I’ve tagged this post under ‘Mindset’ because that is a huge part of the struggle. A positive, can-do attitude is the starting block for any major life change. Without that, one is simply floundering against the tide of their own habits and insecurities.

Credit: Arvin61r58
Credit: Arvin61r58

I’ll be going back to the GP on Friday, I’ve just made an appointment. I clearly need more help and I attribute a lot of the success I had prior to this, to the help provided by the NHS. Despite my complaints, LEAP was a fantastic programme and my time with Deepa is incredibly helpful. My last meeting with her is this Wednesday, so I’m hoping to use that time to discuss The Struggle (yes, the problem is titular now) and how on earth I’m going to keep going.

Because I do know this: giving up still doesn’t feel like an option, and that, in of itself, gives me hope.

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A Slip Up Is Not The End

I’ll be honest, folks, I’m still incredibly down. Down, down, dooby-doo-down-down. 😦 Later today I’ll be going to the hospital for a scan on my ankle to assess exactly what the damage is. After that I’ll know when I can get back to any sort of exercise schedule. I’ve no choice but to accept that for now, running is off the cards, but, after two mornings of swimming, I feel that I managed to achieve something last week.

But food is still where I’m losing.

Today, I’m going to see if fiddling with my mindset helps. What if I call the last couple of weeks a slip up? Or even the last month (giving myself the rest of February to recover from my funk)? What if those weeks are just a ‘slip up’ and after that, I’m back to normal.

Is it the end? Is it time for me to roll over, stop trying and just let all the progress I’ve made slip away?

No. No, no, no.

A slip up is not the end. I try to imagine it as a single road with occasional humps and pot holes. The road leads to the top of a hill and, at the top, is my goal.

I’m near the start of the road. The end is a long way away and from where I stand I can’t see all the humps and potholes. I know they’re there, but I don’t know when they’ll hit. The potholes are unexpected, they’re rough, bumpy and sometimes painful. Sometimes I even have to go back and walk around them. The humps are little jolts that raise me high enough to see the end of the road, then let me settle back onto my steady, upward road.

Yeah, it’s clichéd, it’s corny, but we’ll see if it works. If this idea of a slip up being a temporary backtracking will help. I’m in a pothole right now. It’s a deep one, bumpier than others and rough on the knees (and ankles!) but if I can get out the other side, the road ahead will once more be smooth and clear. For a little while.

Eating Your Emotions

No round up of the week today. The week has been rather shitty, which is exactly why this topic *points* is probably a good one to cover.

First up, that pain in my ankle? I finally went to the GP and she reckons it’s probably a torn Achilles tendon. She pressed her fingers to the back of my ankle and told me to bend my foot. I did it, but I could feel everything inside grinding as I performed the motion. Far worse, she could feel it too.

20160206_2219470.jpgFuck.

I’m not happy. This, obviously means no cycling, no gym and certainly no running, the one thing I was certain was going to keep me going. Yes, there are other things I can do (swimming, for instance, assuming I can get to the pool) but the news has really knocked me on my metaphorical and mental arse. And I haven’t gotten up yet.

What I have done instead, is eat. A shit load.
Yesterday I snarfed a mini Mars bar during my critique group without thinking about it and the night before that (the day of my GP visit) I guzzled a whole bag of microwave popcorn and an entire tub of salt and vinegar Pringles in front of the TV with my ankle propped on a gi-normous stack of pillows. There might have been a couple of Malteaster Bunnies in there too.

So I’d say that counts as ‘eating my emotions.’

I’m in a rotten mood because I can’t exercise the way I want, I’m feeling stressed because my work is suffering as a result, and I’m frustrated that I can do the fun things I usually do with my boys like rush up and down the streets with them and play chase games with their cars.

My learned response to those feelings is to eat terrible, terrible foods.20160206_222036.jpg

I’m not sure of exactly how I’m going to combat this, since my usual methods of coping are off limits right now (rigorous exercise, or at least a super-fast walk around the block), but I’m writing this as a means to acknowledge that I know what’s happening. I truly believe that acknowledging and accepting the issue is the very first step. Now that I’ve done this (publicly too, I might add!) I can now take steps to change the behaviour.

I’ve already started: instead of watching a film last night, I stayed up and worked on the editing for my latest novel. By keeping my mind occupied, I avoided the mindless hand-to-mouth motion that often happens when I watch TV. I’ve also made a specific point of staying away from Tesco. Since I know I’m fragile and weak willed right now, I know that visiting the store will only see me trundling home with more naughty treats. I even made sure I was in bed by 10:30 pm last night, something I know my body is already thanking me for.

Emotional eating is a very real problem, something that sabotages my efforts more than anything else I might do day by day, week by week. If you’ve come to this post looking for help to combat it, I’m sorry, right now, I’m not in a position to help you do that. More that I want this post to let you know that you aren’t alone and that there are small things you might be able to do that will help. And, of course, once you get past the funk (which I hope to do pretty damn soon) you’ll have far more control over your eating decisions.

It might put you back a little but, isn’t the whole world about ups and downs?

Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh
Siiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiigh

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