Maintaining my four stone weight loss ……

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For a long time I misguidedly believed that maintaining a weight loss would be rather easy and the hard work would come from the diet and exercise. How wrong I was! Of course I also think when you are dieting, you do have to have some belief that it won’t be forever or you won’t get very far with the diet. Let’s face it if someone told you one month into your diet, that you can never ever go back to eating what you like, when you like; you might well be inclined to politely tell them to get lost at the very least….

Unfortunately they would be telling you the truth. At least in my experience. I have found that if I want to keep the weight  loss off, then I have to watch what I eat every single day. Trust me, I have lost large amounts of weight (four or more stone) three times in my life and plenty of smaller amounts and until now, every single time has resulted in the weight piling back on and more often than not, some extra weight too.

So I knew I would need to work hard at keeping the weight off this time. To start with, I went to the gym three or four times a week and that really helped. Unfortunately I no longer have a gym membership and due to my chronic IBS I can’t exercise at all, right now. This lead to a further reduction in how many calories I can consume in one day. Fortunately not exercising also meant a slight reduction in appetite too. Sadly it did nothing for my inner fat girl who was still demanding cakes and crisps.

So, much like my diet, my maintenance eating plan involves eating a small amount of whatever I want. In fact, if I’m honest, probably a good quarter, if not more of my daily calorific intake comes from chocolate, cake, crisps and ice cream. I just have a very small evening meal to compensate and keep the portion sizes of my treats small too. For example, three Cadbury’s Heroes instead of half a box.  Not particularly healthy BUT neither was being four stone overweight. Not to mention all of the emotional problems that stemmed from being a big girl.It’s not easy, always watching exactly what I eat and never allowing myself more, (Christmas and Birthday excepted) but it is far preferable to gaining the weight. 

I love being a slimmer girl, admittedly it doesn’t make you completely happy all of the time. Life has a sneaky way of reminding you that many of your problems remain the same, regardless as to whether you are fat, thin, or the size of a small country. Celebrities can make a fortune from their yo-yo weight battles, sadly the same can’t be said for our finances. But what weight loss can do, is make you feel so much better about yourself.

There are the obvious ways, such as being able to walk into any high street shop and know that as a size 14 there will be something in there that fits. Sadly the same can’t be said as a size 22, when I would go shopping with my best friend in the now defunct Etam. As a size 12 she would get to shop downstairs, while I would take my heavy heart to the plus size section upstairs. Perhaps situating the big girls clothes upstairs was a cunning way to get us to exercise, in reality it was demeaning and embarrassing. Why the sizes couldn’t have all been together, I don’t know. Maybe the brand would still be in business, had they not alienated a large section of their clientele?

My health is perhaps the most important factor in staying a size 14. My fatty liver has disappeared, the fat not the liver that would have been a lb too far! I’m not as tired as I used to be and I can keep up with my active my boys. I also hope that I now set a better example to them, with my more healthy lifestyle. I no longer dread having my picture taken, the chances of my double chin making an unwanted appearance have lessened considerably. Although sadly not gone completely!

That said, this is my choice to be this weight and I loathe the fact that bigger people are sometimes viewed with contempt. Now I have lost weight, I see a different side to people’s attitudes regarding weight.  I hear the way big people are spoken about in a way that I hadn’t been privy to before and to be frank it has royally pissed me off. People almost whisper, when they mention a bigger person and they always seem to assume that the person must have issues with their weight.

Sadly, some seem incapable of accepting big people CAN be happy with the way they look. They wonder what has caused the weight gain and happily gossip as to why some people never seem to lose any weight. Others assume that they must be lazy and attribute any shyness to their weight. If an invitation to a social occasion is declined, it is assumed that it is because the person is self conscious about their weight (maybe they are just busy!)  I once even heard someone declare that a person possessed a caustic sense of humour, simply because she was over weight!

The terribly sad thing is, these were the very things that I feared people were saying about me as a size 22. It has shocked me to hear that it does indeed happen. Of course for every small minded person, there are dozens more that don’t give two hoots about the way people look – thank goodness. Not least because the odds are that one day, my currently restrained inner fat girl, will gain the upper hand and I will give into my piggy nature. So please don’t be judgmental of bigger people, being fat is currently not for me, but it may well be again one day and I will still just be me.

 

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Are weight loss diets ever really successful?

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Having battled my weight for over twenty years, I’m finally hoping I may have conquered it once and for all.That said even if I remain at my current weight for the next twenty years, I’m not sure I will ever stop fighting my inner fat girl. I’m an addict in plain terms and an addiction to food is not an easy one to admit too. People often assume that an overeater is simply greedy and are unaware of the often complex emotional issues involved. Don’t get me wrong, for me, there is definitely greed involved as well. I LOVE MY FOOD! That said, I admit that I often use it as an emotional crutch as well. If I’m feeling sad or depressed I comfort eat and conversely even if I’m as happy as Larry. (Larry most definitely did not have weight issues, or he wouldn’t so happy all of the time!) I will celebrate with a nice big cream cake. So I’m well aware that my weight struggles are probably a lifelong battle.

Fortunately things have got a little easier after losing over four stone in weight. Life still has it’s many and varied ups and downs, but on the whole I do feel a lot better about myself. I am no longer depressed about the way I look and it really does make me happy to fit into size 14 clothes. That may make me seem a little shallow, but it’s something I have strived to achieve for a very long time and I want to enjoy my small victory. I really do hope that this time, I will manage to keep the weight off.

I’m hoping one of the main reasons, will be because I have done everything a little bit differently this time around. I’m a bit of a diet veteran, you name it and I have probably tried it. From Atkins to Weight Watchers, the Rotation diet to Slim Fast shakes and everything in between. I’ve even tried prescription pills, those marvellous little pills also known as Orlistat. Actually I’m being highly sarcastic when I use the word marvellous, because despite two months of regular pill taking and strict adherence to a low fat diet, guess how much weight I lost? Well it certainly wasn’t the promised 1-2lbs a week, nope it was zero! All that effort and dicing with the most unpleasant side effects, I’ll let you Google those …. Suffice to say I would NOT recommend those pills to anyone.

 

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I’ve even invented my own diets, perhaps the least successful being the Mint Diet. I was probably around 17 and finding it hard to give up on sweet treats. So in my infinite wisdom I thought, why give them up at all? Why not just give up every other food group instead?! So I did, I carefully measured out 800 calories worth of Murray Mints and 400 calories of Imperial mints. Divided all of the mints into three ‘meals’ and that’s all I ate(!) You probably won’t be surprised to learn that after 36 hours and with a huge headache, I ran screaming to the nearest McDonalds. Not my finest dieting moment. It did however, teach me something, although it took over  twenty years for me to figure it out.

I had it a little bit right with the sweets, because every time I have denied myself something, I would fall off of the dieting wagon and right back into overeating again. So it was time to try a diet that didn’t exclude any of the major food groups, but did include a small amount of whatever I was craving. For a long time it was Magnum ice creams, the basic ones are around 270 cals each. So I ate one every single day on my diet, until I got fed up and switched to a small piece of chocolate fudge cake. I also LOVE Kettle Chips or Tyrrells crisps, so I would eat a quarter bag of the sharing bag size every day. Not very healthy but then weighing 15.7 stone was even less healthy.

So I stuck to 1500 cals every day and included treats. I also took into account my inner greedy girl and ate little and often. That way I never went too long without eating and for a little piggy that’s always a good thing! I learnt from the Orlistat pills that I needed to shock my body into losing weight. It’s a sad fact that your body actually battles to keep you at a certain weight. Great if you weigh 10st not so great when you weigh a lot more! So I decided to exercise. It probably won’t come as a surprise for you to learn that I previously viewed exercise as diets’ evil twin brother. That said it was marginally less evil, I knew I would rather exercise than give up my Magnum every day. So I went to the gym five days a week for an hour of really intense cardio exercise. I researched everything I could, about the best way to lose weight through exercise. I wouldn’t allow myself to miss out a certain machine, even if I hated it – yes I’m talking about you Mr Treadmill. In short I worked my rather large butt off.

I wouldn’t leave the gym unless I was tomato red in the face (sometimes even a fetching shade of purple) and sweating profusely. I was too shy to attend gym classes, I didn’t want to be the big girl who couldn’t keep up with anyone. Until one day a lovely fitness trainer told me to stop being so silly and attend a half hour spin class. The studio was dark and I could hide away in the corner and because after three months I had lost a stone and a half I finally felt confident enough to give it a go …..

This isn’t the end of my weight loss story, but I’m approaching 1000 words and don’t want to bore anyone too much. So I will post again in the not too distant future. I’m not vain enough to think that my story is particularly unusual or exciting enough to be of interest to many people, but I hope someone might find it a help. I also took great inspiration from other dieters, whilst on my diet and hopefully someone might find this useful. If there is one thing I regret about this diet, it’s that I didn’t do it a long time ago.

My big fat weight loss story.

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diet   Being a stay at home Mum has had a massive impact on my weight. I’m a greedy girl and was struggling with my weight before I had children, but never went above  size 16. After having children, food was always around and became a treat/reward to terrible effect.

Two and a half years ago I wrote the following post:

To diet or not to diet? That is the question….. I guess the answer, unfortunately is diet! My recent diagnosis of a non alcoholic fatty liver, is making me feel it’s time to shift a few pounds, or preferably a few stone! I have been battling my weight for well over 20 years now. I would like to say that it is post baby weight, that stuck around; but that would make me a big fat fibber. Since my late teens, my love of food and a greedy nature, has meant I have been on what feels like a permanent diet. Not a very successful one, or there would be no need for this post. I have been all the dress sizes under the sun, from a size 22 at my biggest to a 14 at my smallest and hit every size in-between more than once….

I have just returned from a two-week holiday in Devon, where I probably ate enough to gain a fatty kidney! (NB not sure if a fatty kidney is something that is likely or not? But who knew a liver could be fat?) Anyway it is now day 2 of my diet and I am officially STARVING! I am addicted to watching Living TVs ‘The Biggest Loser’ and have decided that a low-calorie diet and lots of exercise is the way to go. I find it extremely inspiring that the guys and gals on this program, can lose serious amounts of weight in such a short space of time. And yes I am hoping it will work for me too (!)

The only one thing that seriously bugs me about the show, is the fact that none of the contestants ever moan that they are hungry. Sadly for my husband, that is all I have done for the last 36 hours of this diet. I am so hungry that it is a good job that the kids are back at school tomorrow or I might just eat one of them! So here we go guys, what shall we say 2 stone in 2 months or is the hunger making me a tad delirious?! Will keep you posted ……

Blogging is a wonderful way to look back at your life and I’m delighted to say that amazingly, my diet  was a success and for once I did indeed lose the weight! It took me a year to shed nearly five stone and a lot of blood, sweat and tears along the way. I have also managed to keep most of the weight off for the last eighteen months.  Due to ill health and the ever soaring cost of gym memberships. I have stopped going to the gym and exercising daily. I’m hoping to get back into exercising because it really was an amazing weight loss tool and I couldn’t recommend it more. It also has a lot of obvious health benefits too.

Since I have been maintaining my weight loss I think I have probably gained around a half a stone, mainly from stopping exercising. I couldn’t say for definite because I have thrown away my bathroom scales! I still can’t quite believe that I have no clue what I weigh, at a guess I would go for around the 11 stone mark and as I started at 15.7 stone I’m delighted with that number. That said I threw away the scales because I no longer want my life to be ruled by that set of numbers. You know the ones, that stare up accusingly at you and ALWAYS make you feel bad. Instead I rely on my clothes size to keep me on the straight and narrow. I have dresses in a size 12 if they have stretch, but without the stretch, it’s a size 14 for me. Having been a size 22, I’m pretty happy with a 14. Actually that’s an understatement, I’m EXTREMELY happy!

Usually I pile all the weight straight back on, so I’m pleased that so far I have kept the weight off. There is still a very greedy girl inside of me. I think, or rather I know, if I deprived her of all delicious treats she would win the battle. I would end up eating a mountain of forbidden foods, just to keep her quiet. This way, we are both happy, I realise that too many people a size 14 is not slim. To me it’s amazing, a testament to finally conquering my demons and loving my curves. In my next post I will blog about how I lost the weight.

 

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Sisters are NOT doing it for themselves

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I have been writing this post in my head for a few months now. On Saturday something happened and it made me decide to finally commit these thoughts to text. Why on earth are girls/women so mean to one another? It’s something, that sadly most of us encounter at one stage or another in our lives. Starting from the playground and taking on a life of it’s own during teens. I had hoped our sex, might at some stage, finally grow out of. Sadly at the age of 41 and having been insidiously insulted by an older woman, over my appearance, I fear that women being bitchy to other women, is here to stay. That said, I’m rather hoping that when I hit my 80s, other ladies won’t be bitching about my using Tena Ladies (I’ve had four children, I’m preparing for the inevitable,) or the fact that I have bucked the trend and gone for a pink rinse instead of the usual blue ….

So what happened on Saturday to make me so mad? I had a much longed for night out, dealing with chronic IBS and being on so many strong pain killers, have meant my nights out have dwindled into non existence. In fact it had been six months since I had thrown caution to the wind and let my hair down. So I was ridiculously excited to be going out, a chance to have time away from my children. A chance to let off steam and have a good old girly catch up with one of my closest friends. Plus I got the chance to put on makeup and wear a pretty dress.

We chose our favourite bar in town, one which we have frequented over the last few years, mainly because we like the atmosphere and inclusivity. I love a bar where you can meet a seventy year old man one evening, or spot a guy with an excellent mohican the next. Anyone and everyone is always welcome and that’s what makes it a great bar. No pretentiousness and no need to be under twenty five, always a plus in this old gals book. On the flip side, this makes being judged on my appearance by a random stranger, all the more annoying.

Why do other women feel the need/right to comment on other women’s appearance, in such a negative fashion? Friend and I were having a grand old time, drinking wine and catching up, we were putting the world to rights, at least our small corners of it. Then a random lady decided to talk to us. We politely listened to a lengthy tale about her quitting her job and privately sighed with relief when she let us carry in our own conversation. Sadly though our previous politeness meant that, she felt the need to talk to us again later and this time she brought the insults. She wasn’t down right rude but almost worse it was thinly veiled insults, dressed up as well meaning concern. She criticised the pair of us, about our appearance.

To me, it was you’re a big girl, but it’s alright because you’re well proportioned. You’re a large girl but it’s alright because you dress well. My son wants to dance with you, because you remind him of his fiancee before she lost four stone in weight. Now as a bigger girl, I’ve had a lot of these sorts of comments over the years, sadly almost always from other women. This time they were twice as painful, because 2 and a half years ago I weighed 15.7 stone and have since worked extremely hard to lose over 4 stone and have managed to keep the weight off for 18 months. Now I’m a size 14 and extremely happy about that. Not the worst comments a girl could hear, but for me my weight is my Kryptonite. I’ve long been judged for my appearance and quite frankly I’ve had enough

Don’t get me wrong some mean comments have come from men, but the majority are from women. Shouldn’t we be sticking together as a sex? We know only too well what it’s like to be objectified. We often feel immense pressure from the media and society in general, over the way we look. If I had but a penny, for the amount of times I’ve cried over my weight, I would be a rich woman. So why do it to each other? Most women on a night out have put a lot of thought and time into their appearance. Even when you have simply looked in the mirror and thought, ‘sod it ,that will do.’ You never go out and expect negative criticism on your appearance. Any such criticism invariably hurts, even confident girls can feel it’s cruel bite.

Shouldn’t we be kinder, more supportive to each other? It can be a wonderful thing to receive a compliment, particularly an unexpected one. May be we should remember that it really doesn’t matter how we look and cheesy as it may be, what’s inside really does count. So give it a try, pay a compliment to another woman, fight back against the ridiculous socially constructed idea of beauty! Stick up two fingers to the media and tell a girl you like her dress/hair/makeup/figure. I bet you she will thank you for it.

 

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A Mother’s guilt ….

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As a stay at home Mum, I have a terrible sense of guilt that seems to follow me wherever I go. I thought that because I am almost always available whenever my children need me, guilt wouldn’t be an emotion I would experience often. Oh how wrong I was…

I’m almost always in attendance for every assembly, play, or theme share that my children have participated in over the last eighteen years and thus I don’t feel guilty that I am working instead of being with them. I am also always there to take them to school and pick them up. Even though I’m well known amongst my friends for my inherent lateness, somehow I manage to avoid being late for the children. Oddly enough, It’s only the pub that i struggle to get too on time!
I try very hard with my children’s nutritional requirements, I breastfed all four of my children until well after their first birthdays. I try to limit their intake of sugar, salt, fat and processed foods, Teddy has been to McDonalds only twice in his seven years. I also try to limit the time they spend on their respective electronic gadgets, although admittedly I struggle daily with this one!

I try to fight my boy’s corner whenever necessary, when W was diagnosed with fairly severe dyslexia I appealed to the local Grammar school for a place on the grounds that he hadn’t been diagnosed with learning difficulties at the time of the eleven plus exam. When that failed, I battled with the head of SENCO at his local comp, because they held no record of him ever being diagnosed with dyslexia. His primary school had failed to pass on his test results. After a while though all of his needs were being catered for. That is until they decided he qualified for a scribe for his GCSEs but not a reader, despite the fact that his main struggles are with reading. So once more i took up my mantle as warrior Mum and went into battle for my child and lo and behold, their mistake, W did indeed qualify for both a scribe and a reader.

In short I try my very hardest for my children and they are my world. So why then do I feel extreme guilt almost constantly about the things I don’t do or could do better? Sadly I’m somewhat lazy by nature and that can impact on my parenting. I do rather enjoy the easy life. When T unexpectedly asks to have a friend over from school that very same day and I know that I’ve had a very long day or the house is too untidy to be seen I will say no or reschedule for a different hopefully tidier day. I do occasionally buy Coco pops instead of Weetabix because I have had enough of W moaning about the lack of sugar in his life, or the fact that everyone else’s parents always let them eat whatever and whenever they want. Even though I know full well that if I spoke to said parents, they would probably tell me an entirely different version, than the one my 15 year old is giving me. I do sometimes skip watching S play in a football match, because it is pouring with rain or I really can’t stand the idea of trying to amuse T for at least an hour, by the side of a football pitch.

I feel terrible guilt if the children are all quiet, but only because they are playing on the tablet. Even if I know that their allotted time for the day has well and truly passed, there is no way I’m going to jeopardise the unexpected peace and quiet. Although their poor little eyes are going to be square by bedtime, or that they play on Minecraft so often, they are in danger of turning into zombies themselves.

J got excellent A level grades and is currently studying Biology at the best place to study that subject outside of Oxbridge. I took three children and a my nine month baby bump on four bus journeys and wrote endless letters to secure him his place at Grammar school and he has blossomed academically. But still I feel guilty because, like his Dad, he is naturally very shy, and I feel as if this might somehow be my fault that I didn’t manage to help him overcome his shyness before he left home.

I feel extreme guilt when my kids don’t have the latest gadgets or brand name clothes because I don’t work. One income plus four kids doesn’t stretch very far. I felt horribly guilty that I took out a gym membership to try and finally conquer my weight battle and it worked, I have lost four stone. Should I have spent the money on things for the children instead of myself? Will their feet suffer from years of Tesco/Asda shoes rather than expensive and properly fitted ones from Clarks?

I chose to become a stay at home Mum because I thought it was the right thing to do for my children, to be at home during their early years. I hoped that they would never cry, because Mummy wasn’t there on time to pick them up from school, or watch their starring role as a donkey in the Nativity play. So that the only person picking them up when they fell down would be their Mum or Dad but what if it wasn’t the right choice? Maybe they would’ve preferred me to work so that they could holiday abroad instead of a caravan holiday in Devon. But as I’m not starring in Back to the Future and can’t time travel to make a different decision I guess I need to kick the feeling of guilt into touch and accept that no matter how hard I try as a Mum my best is never going to be perfection and I am sadly only human. Although how amazing would it be to be superhero Mum not only would I get to wear a cute red cape my kids would definitely think I had the coolest job in the world…..