Sunday, 30 June 2013

A change in perception

A common issue when losing weight is simply how you (the person losing the weight) perceive yourself. This isn't about negative vs. positive mental attitude this is a genuine issue of how you see yourself in the mirror. You will have lost a stone, two stone,  50 lbs, 125 lbs and yet, when you look in the mirror you still just see you. It's almost impossible to see the changes, despite the fact that you rationally know they're there. You wear different size clothing, you take up less space and people constantly tell you 'wow, you look amazing. I can't believe how much you've lost!' Well, I have to tell you nearly 2 stone lighter I can't believe how much I've lost because I look in the mirror and I look pretty much the same.

The reason that I came to write this today in part came from watching 'Secret Eaters' last night. This show follows around a group of people, usually a family or housemates, and tracks what they eat. They usually come in saying 'I just don't know why I keep gaining weight!' and with the help of secret cameras and private investigators the team work out where the extra calories are coming from. But I digress, last night there was a gentleman who started off at over 29 stone. My first comment was that he didn't look 29 stone but then you realised how tall he was and it made sense. By the end of the program and a 10 week nutritional upheaval he was in the 26 stone mark. The presenter dutifully drilled him to ask how much of a difference it had made and he replied he felt great but couldn't 'see' the difference when he looks at himself in the mirror. She was shocked, borderline horrified even that he couldn't see how much change had come about. And I sat there with my all knowing Yoda hat on thinking, 'I wonder when I'll start to notice a genuine change'. I can feel differences. I can feel the shape of my skull more (weird...) can feel the muscles in my arms and legs more, and can feel the all important collar bones (I'm slightly obsessed with female collar bones, I think that they're beautiful and delicate). That being said I look in the mirror and I look the same. Until today...

I went to the gym (I do that now, dontcha know) and afterwards I was looking at myself in the mirror as I brushed my hair and my arms looked smaller. I had a bit of a double take and I'm sure to the other women in the changing room I looked ridiculous as I just stared at my arms raised above my head and saw that they'd shrunk...when did that happen?!

To me, the number on the scale can often be enough to keep me going. If I see it going down, even if I can't 'see' it on myself, then it's going down and therefore, I must be taking up less space. That being said, I know plenty of people who will look in the mirror, see no change and feel completely disappointed that they can't see this apparently amazing change that people are commenting on day in, day out. It starts to mess with your head a bit and all you need is a bad day and a bad angle in the mirror to make you feel like it's all been for nothing. It really just is a case of the change being so gradual on you, the person who lives inside your body, that you can't see it as easily as everybody else. Now, I don't know this for sure-maybe I actually have a case of body dysmorphic disorder..who knows- but there has to come a point where you see a truly visible, dramatic change. It's just a case of trucking long enough to see it.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

The temptation to give up.

Hello again all. It's been the better part of three weeks since I last wrote anything here and this has been for several reasons. The final few weeks of the summer term at university took up a great deal of my time and I procrastinated on the consistent recording of my feelings and successes (or failures-as the case will be further on). I'm now home for the summer and thoroughly committing myself to getting the best results I can achieve in this window.
As an update, here's my beautiful face at the summer ball. I finally found a dress!

The other main reason that I didn't want to write is purely and simply the fact that I had a blip.

Two weeks back I wandered into a meeting on the Thursday afternoon, knowing full well that preparations for the summer ball and general end of term stress meant I hadn't been tracking as well as I could. I'd gained a pound. That one pound to me felt like nothing. I could rationally understand it. I decided I would simply pick myself up again and keep going and that is what I've done. Two weeks and 5lbs later I have lost that pound and got myself to another important goal for me- the loss of 25lbs. But still, that gain meant more to me than I was allowing myself to accept when I first got off the scales. That pound could easily have been the end and the next day, when a friend made a foolish comment about it, it nearly was. I simply didn't care anymore. I felt like a complete and utter failure and I just wanted to pack it in, put away my new (semi) active lifestyle and eat a burger, three cupcakes, two bags of pick n mix and all of the cheese strings I could manage. I moped for the next two days in my self loathing feeling like this was the beginning of the end. The next week I'd get on that scale and, as has happened before, I wouldn't go back again after the (presumably) shocking result. So I did something (arguably) even worse. I didn't eat. I made myself unwell with a cheese string as all of my daily sustenance and 32 hours of sleep out of 36. I sobbed and sobbed and begged to go home early because I was so unhappy with the state of affairs.

Here comes some background information: I've struggled the last 6 months with depression and there has been more than one occasion where I simply don't want to get out of bed. Losing weight has, at times, been my only source of feeling in control and I didn't realise just how initially devastating this gain would be for me. As the days went on I felt totally out of control and it wasn't until Monday when I finally pulled myself out of my cave and went to sushi that I started to feel like myself again. (BTW the prawn katsu, fewer calories than the hairy prawns and yum-highly recommend) Most of the week I was dreading getting on the scales at the next meeting. I didn't want to see the damage. I had to be practically pushed on to the scales by Lucy and only after a final series of jumping jacks (apparently to burn off any final calories...), and the removal of all superfluous clothing, would I get on the scales. When I saw the number go down it was like some kind of outer body experience. I stood there, jaw to floor, flabbergasted and completely incapable of coming to terms with the fact that not only had I lost that pound I'd gained but I lost another two for good measure. And it was right there that I realised the one piece of advice I can give anyone is simply to keep going. It's so easy to be beaten down, whether by yourself or someone else, and to just want to mope in your own little hole but it's just then that you need to show the world what you're really made of. Obviously, this relates to more than just weight loss and is a good guide to life. To quote Buffy 'the hardest thing in this world, is to live in it' but if you don't keep pushing forward and trying, what's the point?
A girl's gotta have a Vampire slayer idol. . .

Monday, 10 June 2013

Weight loss and Exercise

It's been a while since I wrote and I've reached 21 lbs. This week has been a strange one though. This is the first time since starting Weight Watchers that I feel hungry. I don't know what it is. I've dropped points as I've lost weight but I went from a week where I never went over my points to a week where I consistently use a few of my weekly points. This shouldn't be an issue but it's still making me uneasy.

This, I feel, somewhat brings me onto exercise in weight loss. As a result (or perhaps its the cause) of feeling hungry I've upped my exercise. I went for a walk/jog/run thing on Saturday evening and as I was moving I started thinking about all of the things that have held me, and other overweight people, back from exercising. My first issue came from genuine fear. When I exercise, I worry that I will damage myself and put myself out of action for lord knows how long. As a result of my weight I probably couldn't have surgery and if I were to, I don't know, badly break a bone I'd be sentenced to my bed and would gain weight from lack of moving. I know that when I twist an ankle or sprain something that it takes me a long time to recover and I even managed to track my recovery time getting faster over time as I lost the 75lbs before. However, the reasoning stands, I worry about damage and injury and I'm not known for being the most stable of people...I tend to fall over.

I know this is a common issue among the overweight community. You hear stories of people who have been bed ridden for years because of physical issues caused by their weight. I know people personally who cannot exercise because of years of damage to joints and muscles and tendons. And with that, we go back to a comment I received a few weeks ago: change of diet does nothing, the only thing that makes people drop weight is simply, unequivocally, exercise. I'm here to say that this concept is utter crap. Exercise is great for you, don't get me wrong, but what kind of hope do you give to someone who's struggled with their weight for years, decades even, and have crippling physical issues that the only thing that can do is to get up on their broken bodies and exercise. Doing an activity that could potentially permanently damage them.

Further to that, there's just the embarrassment of it. I'm not good at exercise, except (strangely) ballet. I get sore, I worry that I'm not doing it correctly and could (no surprise) injure myself. That people are watching and laughing at me. There's the insecurity. I look silly, lumpy, uncoordinated. Everyone knows someone who HATES going to the gym for fear of people looking at them. Maybe that person is you. We've all seen those people who go to the gym just to show off whilst they preen themselves in the mirror and for people like me, the ones who are going there in some desperate attempt to get fit/lose weight it screams of our insecurity.

But on Saturday, I had a break through. I was walking along, looking back and forth at all of the people who must no doubt have been looking at me and I stopped caring. I remember reading a comment on the site tickld where someone mentioned seeing a very overweight man jogging. I read the first line and assumed 'oh, here comes the mockery'. I couldn't have been more wrong. The original poster said how inspirational this man was for his trying, how it would get easier and how those who see those who struggle at exercise should have nothing but respect for people simply making an effort. And so, Ke$ha's 'warrior' came on and I started running. Not for too long and I was all out of puff at the end but I ran and I felt free of my worries that people were looking at me. They say 'you have to learn to walk before you can run' and that's true. But it's learning when you've come to be able to run and this was also holding me back. I didn't know if, when I came to speed up, I'd be capable in the slightest. And I was shit, and that's okay. It's just going to take time and every step and every mile will make the trying easier and the training better.