The Not-So-Secret Diary of an OverEater

My Battle to Have a Healthy Relationship with Food


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Need to talk…

I am struggling this evening.  I’m really tired and the girls are being typical stroppy teenagers.  I want to sleep and I want to eat.  I have already eaten several stale cookies my eldest made with her boyfriend a couple of weekends ago (they were very tasty) and half a left-over Easter egg.

I thought I’d better start writing on here to distract me from eating the rest of the egg and anything else I can find in the kitchen.  Off the top of my head, that would be: salted cashews, a banana or two, a bag or two (or three) of the not-very-tasty Weight Watchers crisps, a yoghurt, a WW mini chocolate roll or two, and, and, and.  Some healthy, some not so – all unnecessary!

(As an aside, I was introduced to the WW mini chocolate rolls by a colleague of mine and she’s right – they are tastier than the “real thing”!)

I’ve got a whole host of jobs which need doing at home: we’re in the middle of re-landscaping our garden so there’re many tasks relating to that including weeding, digging, clearing ground, re-planting, planting seeds in seed trays, etc; I have a(n?) humungous box full of stuff which needs to be photographed and listed on eBay; I have about 6 boxes full of stuff which we were going to “car boot” but have decided for the £70 (if we’re lucky) we’d be likely to get it’s not worth the time and hassle so I need to get them into the car ready to deliver to a charity shop this week.  All the beds need to be changed.  The filing cabinet needs to be sorted and the old documents shredded.  You get the picture.

All I actually want to do is veg in front of the TV, or go to bed.  Or both – except we don’t have a TV in our room!

Then the guilt starts.  My lovely hubby says it’s good I have a rest as I deserve it.  I just think of the things I should be doing but can’t quite muster up the energy for and then I feel guilty.  Guilt makes me feel low.  Feeling low makes me want to eat.  Eating makes me feel guilty.  Guilt makes me feel lower and on it goes in an ever downward spiral.

The idea of writing this blog and doing the 5:2 Fast Diet is to help me to snap out of the spiral.  Can anyone else relate to this?  Or am I as odd as I suspect?  What do you do to help you snap out of it?  If you have managed to win in your battle against food (this is all assuming I’m not the only one), what was it that finally motivated you to keep going and beat it?

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Week One – A Success Story??

My first "fast" evening meal.

My first “fast” evening meal.

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I could have a guilt-free cake at my colleague’s leaving do on Friday!

Hello to my vast audience of two!

I really have no idea what I’m doing regarding making this blog. I know what a blog is, I have read blogs, but I have no idea what various terms mean like tags, categories, parent/children/orphan categories, etc. From just a brief exploration of my dashboard, my head is spinning!

I think I managed to add a category (weight loss) but I don’t know what difference that will make. I haven’t yet managed to work out how to search for other blogs on WordPress. I’m sure it’s not as difficult as it seems! I’m logged on at work though and lots of the pictures don’t seem to be showing properly so maybe it will be easier to see from home.

So, Wednesday’s fast day was okay.  Again, I managed to eat below the 500 calories with nothing between breakfast and dinner, and then nothing again until breakfast today.  I don’t think I was quite as hungry as I was on Monday so that’s good but it was very hard during the afternoon when I got in from work.  That’s my usual kitchen cruise time so I was pleased with myself for resisting.  I hope it will become easier with time.  My evening meal was roasted smoked haddock, poached egg and green beans.  Tasty.  Hubby had the same, except with a jacket potato as well.  My girls were not impressed with the strong fish and egg smells filling the house, both of which they hate!

On Thursday I was back to eating as normal.  I had a smoothie for breakfast although because it’s not a fast day I didn’t weigh the ingredients.  They are sooo yummy!  Lunch was pretty healthy with a tuna mayo and salad wrap, cherry tomatoes and sugar snap peas, a yoghurt and a satsuma.

Dinner was Stand ‘n’ Stuff Tacos and I even remembered to get the mince out of the freezer before I left for work.  Perhaps thinking about my food a bit more ahead of time will help me become more organized.  That’s the theory anyway!

We were away for the weekend, camping at the Big Church Day Out event in Wiston, near Steyning, West Sussex.  This is a weekend we’ve been to on three occasions now and for the last two years we have volunteered on the Saturday which means that we get the rest of the weekend and the camping for free.  This year we were on the stewarding team from 9am.  It had rained quite hard overnight so the ground was pretty muddy underfoot but was dry at the start of our shift.  Hubby was selected to go with the tractor rides to make sure that everyone stayed safe (remain seated until the vehicle comes to a complete stop and all that) and I was allocated part of the Food Avenue to patrol.  It rained for ages and I got absolutely drenched!  I was cold and my feet ached but later on it stopped and I had dried out by the end of the afternoon.  I dealt with a call for a first aider when a little girl tripped over, helped a parent who had lost their toddler (thankfully she reappeared very quickly) and found someone to help a teenager who had dropped her phone into one of the portaloos!  Hubby stayed pretty much dry the whole time.

Sunday was the complete opposite and it was beautiful sunshine all the way.  We even caught the sun a little bit.  What a contrast!

Anyway, the eating was a bit haphazard during the weekend.  We had planned our meals to save money and it all went well although I did perhaps eat more than I probably ought to have done between meals, including sharing a large bar of my favourite chocolate (Dairy Milk Marvellous Creations Jelly Popping Candy Shells) with Ian.  But that was fine.  I didn’t need to feel guilty.  After all, the whole point of this diet is that you are only deprived for a short time and then can go back to normal eating.  I know that normal for me isn’t the same as normal for other people and the advantage of being away is that we only had with us what I’d brought.  And I did put back a few things I had originally packed.  And I also resisted the temptation of the candy floss stall!

Then it was Monday and another fast day.  As it was a Bank Holiday we slept in and I decided not to eat anything until dinner time as I thought my meals would be too close together if I ate a late breakfast.  I made a chicken and bacon pie (it was supposed to have leeks in too but I didn’t have any) which according to the website I got it from should have been under 300 calories.  I couldn’t quite believe that considering that pastry was involved, but I only put the pastry on the top rather than it being a filled pie so that kept it down a bit.  Another time I think I’ll just do the filling and put pastry on it for everyone else.  It was quite tasty.

I decided that I will weigh and measure myself on Tuesday mornings, just after a fast day, for the best and most consistent results.  So here are my vital statistics – put here in the hope that being honest will help me to stick with it.  The first table shows my measurements before I started on 19th May.  The second one shows my measurements this morning (27th May).

Weight 11st 11lbs
Bust 42.5”
Waist 40”
Hips 40”
Left Thigh 23”
Right Thigh 24”
Left Arm 12”
Right Arm 12”

I’m not entirely sure why one leg is a whole inch larger than the other here – I did check them both twice to confirm!

Weight 11st 7lbs
Bust 42”
Waist 38”
Hips 39”
Left Thigh 22.5”
Right Thigh 22.5”
Left Arm 12”
Right Arm 12”

As you can see, a pleasing improvement!  4lbs off and 5.5″.  I like making measurements as well as weighing as I’m aware that sometimes weight loss won’t be as quick as hoped for due to hormonal cycles, fluid retention, muscle gain, etc and in fact for me the most important thing isn’t what I weigh, but what I look like in clothes.  (Well what I look like naked too, but that’s just between me and hubby!)

Well that’s all for now.  I’m going to try to get some photos and tags inserted as well so I hope I don’t lose it all!  (The photos have ended up stuck at the top of the page.  I’m sure there’s a way to move them to within the text.  I’ll maybe work that out next time!)


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Boiled Egg and Soldiers???

Here we are, day 3 of being on the wagon and my second fast day. I have decided to fast on Mondays and Wednesdays as I am at work then and so it is easier to be distracted from my hunger pangs/eating habit cravings.

Yesterday went well I thought. I didn’t feel as hungry as I usually do during the day and it was so good to not have to feel guilty when I ate things I normally “shouldn’t” eat. At break time at work I ate a Weight Watchers chocolate mini roll and I can honestly say it tasted wonderful. I savoured each bite. I don’t think I would have even noticed the taste before. Lunch was a sensible amount and then when I got home from work, instead of my usual trawl of the kitchen, I was able to get on with other things. My youngest daughter had been off school and had baked a cake during the afternoon. She cut me a slice and – wait for it – I only ate half! I put the rest aside to eat later.

Hubby and I went to the run club after the girls had been collected by their dad and I enjoyed the tasks we were set, even though it was hard work. Unfortunately though, by the end, the slightly painful shins that I have had when I run for the past couple of months had become worse. It looks like I have shin splints so I need to ice my legs and massage them as much as possible.

For tea we had roast chicken thighs, super noodles and a huge salad with lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, radish, sugar snap peas, carrot and baby corn. Before I would have had more chicken, more noodles and much much less salad so I am pretty pleased with myself. I didn’t have pudding, but then at bedtime I had a cake – before I would have had cake and chocolate and it didn’t seem to be too hard a choice to be honest.

This morning I decided to try a boiled egg for breakfast, with soldiers. Not the usual toast soldiers though – I went for raw carrot to dip in. It was tastier than it sounds but I probably won’t go for that too often as now I am left with the cloying feeling of the egg on my tongue at work. I hope no-one thinks my breath smells!

I think I forgot to talk about exercise in my last post. I have never been much of an exerciser – too lazy by half, that’s me. But in January 2013 I decided to embark upon the Couch to 5k (C25k) running programme. This is an app you can load onto your phone and when you go running, it tells you when to walk and when to run. At the beginning you are walking for 1.5 minutes and then running for 30 seconds and it builds up over 9 weeks until you can run continuously for 5 kilometres! When I started I was desperate by the end of the 30 seconds for the voice to say “start walking”. I could barely believe that I would ever be able to run for longer. But it really works.

In April 2013 I ran my first Parkrun (a free, timed 5k run by volunteers in many locations internationally every Saturday morning) in our local park. It took me 39 minutes and 46 seconds and I cried with joy and pride in myself when I crossed the line, having run every step of the way. The next week I knocked a few minutes off the time and my PB (personal best) now stands at 31:35. That was set in November and we haven’t been running quite so regularly since so I’m currently running it in about 33:20. Some weeks it takes me longer (jelly legs!) and other weeks I feel like it’s much easier. I entered Race for Life in June with my youngest daughter and then in November we ran the Brighton Brooks 10k race. Again, I ran every step of the way and cried when I crossed the line in 1:07:27.

A couple of weekends ago we ran the Woodland Woggle in Farnham which was a 10k race described as undulating through bluebell woods and heathland. Undulating is the understatement of the century; it was very hilly! I was still pleased with the time though seeing as I’m not as on form as I was back in November and the contrast between the flat Brighton seafront and the very hilly Farnham hills. I crossed the line in 1:22:14.

I am running Race For Life again this year, this time with both daughters, and we are all entered into ColorRun in Brighton which should be great fun. It’s a 5k race and you wear white t-shirts and people throw paint over you at various points. We are considering entering the Brooks 10k again and maybe our local 10k but it gets quite expensive unfortunately. I like running and this is mostly because I feel that it’s one of the few things I’ve succeeded in. The running community are so friendly and welcoming and I’ve made loads of new friends.

At this point I’d like to say a big thank you to my amazing husband who has been so supportive with my running. He ran/walked every step with me when we were doing C25k and patiently runs at my pace during Parkrun and other races. He has run the London Marathon twice in just over 4 hours and does the Parkrun in about 23 minutes when he’s on his own so it is fantastic that he supports me running at my snail’s pace.

In the summer we decided to join our local gym and this has been great as I have discovered how much I enjoy circuits and kettlebells classes. My daughters also come to the gym and although I don’t much like working out in the gym, I like to support them. I’m not so keen on the 5:15am wake up on the mornings when my youngest wants to get to the gym when it opens at 6am but it’s good to start the day with exercise.

Anyway, up until now I’ve been somewhat disappointed with how little weight I have lost. Previously I had tried diets but not exercised and didn’t lose much weight. I was sure that exercising would tone me up and the weight would fall off. Well I did lose some weight but not as much as I thought I should – partly probably because I wasn’t cutting back on the eating as much as I ought to have done. Then Christmas came around which meant I couldn’t get to the classes and I ate more, reinforcing the habit of eating whenever food was around whether I was hungry, full, stressed, bored, lonely or feeling down. In the new year I re-started the classes and the running but carried on eating as much as I had been over Christmas so the weight crept back on.

I tend to be quite hard on myself. I feel like I have failed (yet) again. I feel like I am useless and so what’s the point in even trying? If I try I will only fail again so why bother? I feel like giving up altogether, just eat what I want, stop exercising and give in to my lazy gluttony. I know my lovely husband will still love me whatever I look like – but will I love myself?? If I’m really honest, I’m not that keen on myself now so being massively overweight will make me feel worse every time I look in the mirror and I could end up seriously depressed.

I don’t want that. I don’t expect to look like a super model but it would be nice to be able to enjoy looking at clothes in the shops rather than feeling horrible when a nice top doesn’t look nice once it’s on.

So – I’m really hoping that this is new start, that this time I will be successful. I want to lose weight healthily and be fitter so I can learn to like myself again and live life to the full.


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Back on the Wagon!

Monday 19th May, 2014. Will this be the day that I finally start a diet which suits me and which I can stick with for the rest of my life? Not just a “quick fix” but a healthy eating plan which is sustainable alongside normal life?

I am tired of dieting. I am tired of feeling guilty when I eat too much. I am tired of food being in charge of me, taking me over, making me feel like a failure when I fall off the wagon yet again.

It feels like I have battled with my weight all my life, although when I look back at photos of me as a school girl I don’t see the slightly podgy girl I remember; in fact she is slim and even pretty. Maybe I didn’t need to worry quite so much about treating myself to the very delicious and more-ish iced buns they sold in the school cafeteria or popping into the sweetie shop around the corner from school during lunch break.

Sadly though, looking back, I can see the foundations being laid for a lifetime of comfort eating. I was bullied through school and turned to food. I liked anything sweet and can even remember on more than one occasion mixing myself up a batch of meringue mix to eat raw, with 100’s and 1000’s sprinkled in!

After that, any stress made me turn to food, resulting in the weight slowly but surely creeping up. I had some success losing weight in 1997 when I went from 10st 8lbs down to 9st 4lbs by following the Rosemary Conley diet and exercise programme. I used to cycle to the class, and I also went swimming and did a deep aqua class a couple of times a week.

Then I found out I was pregnant. Well that was just a licence to eat for two! I ate for two (and maybe even enough for three) throughout the pregnancy and then when I was breastfeeding my lovely daughter of course I had to keep my energy up…

I lost a bit of weight, maybe I got down to just below 11st and then I got pregnant again. This time I put on even more weight, getting up to well over 13st. Breastfeeding meant I didn’t cut back on what I was eating and well the weight just wouldn’t go. Because I was eating too much.

Feeling very conscious about my shape I joined a gym and was very successful for a while in losing some weight (I think I got down to about 10st 7lbs) and exercising in the gym and in body pump classes. I don’t remember why I left the gym now but yet again the weight slowly crept back on until by the end of 2009 I was 12st 3lbs.

There was a combination of reasons why I put on weight then. Partly stress from a difficult marriage, and partly because I was really suffering from unexplained back pain which resulted in me having to take a cocktail of pain killers which left me too exhausted to do any exercise (it hurt too much anyway), and ended up with a serious operation to fuse my spine. By this time the habit of eating, then eating some more, and then eating yet more had become entrenched. Every time I entered the kitchen I felt the call of the cupboards!

In 2010 I made the difficult decision to end my marriage of 17 years. Some of the stress lifted, and with it my back pain eased. After a few months I met the wonderful man who would become my second husband. With less stress the weight started to drop off without me even trying, and the nervous excitement of meeting up with this new man even took away the desire to snack. People noticed I had lost weight. It was great – had I finally beaten food?

No is the short answer. I don’t know what happened. I could make excuses – my lovely daughters’ teenage years were upon us along with the associated tension in the home. We were trying (and failing) to get pregnant. I was hormonal and menopausal (hence no baby). I was doing something I loved but the boundaries of my job description were not clearly defined and I hadn’t been able to make any close friends there.

All excuses when the truth was I had allowed myself to relapse; I was once again addicted to habitual overeating and the weight was creeping back on and had edged over 12st again.

It’s hard to explain to someone who has a normal relationship with food just how hard it is not to eat. I eat pretty normal-sized portions as main meals, but so many snacks between that my stomach is stretched. I feel hungry all the time, even when I’ve just eaten. I occasionally feel full, but if I eat even one extra thing I feel hungry again. I eat until I am physically sick sometimes.

Back in the day, they used to say “inside every fat person is a thin person waiting to come out.” I am hardly thin but I frequently think that there is a fat person in me trying to come out. If I really let myself go I would be 20st before I turned around I think. And as I said at the beginning of this enormously long blog post (maybe I’ll have to serialize it!) I am fed up.

I want to be able to eat a bag of crisps without craving a second; to eat a few Haribos rather than scarfing the whole bag; to be able to eat just two or three squares of Dairy Milk Marvellous Creations Jelly Popping Candy Shells and leave the rest for another day – or several other days.

I want to be able to walk into the kitchen and prepare our evening meal without eating my way around the kitchen from the fruit bowl to the biscuit barrel (via the fridge).

So here we are, back at the beginning, starting (yet) again. A good friend discovered the 5:2 Fast Diet. Not fast as in quick, but fast as in not eating. Now after all these years I’ve picked up a thing or two about healthy eating (even if I find it hard to actually achieve) and I know that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, that fasting is usually just for religious reasons and should be done carefully and well quite frankly, fasting as a diet seems a bit faddy.

My friend has lost 1st 3lbs in 2.5 months. Her husband is also doing it with her and although he hasn’t lost much weight, his body shape has completely changed.

I decided I had to find out more. I looked on Amazon and found the book was only £2.85. Not many £s to lose then (hopefully lbs though). So I ordered it and when it arrived I read it in about 2 days. It is written by Dr Michael Mosley (of BBC’s Horizon programme fame) and Mimi Spencer (a food journalist), easy to read and full of scientific information to back up the claims and the safety of the diet as well as testimonies from people who have actually done it (including Dr Michael and Mimi).

The basic premise is that you fast for two days in a week – not full fasts, but you only eat 500kcal for women and 600kcal for men on those days. The rest of the week you can eat what you want (within reason). This not only leads to slow and sensible weight loss (ie not lbs and lbs in a week) but has associated health benefits as well such as potentially lowering your chances of getting cancer, Alzheimer’s and various other serious life-limiting diseases.

I won’t go into all the ins and outs here – try Googling it for more information or buy the book yourself.

So – today was my first fast day. How did it go? What did I eat? Well actually it was hard but not too hard. My tummy is rumbling as I type but it’s nearly bedtime so it can go to sleep soon and dream of tomorrow’s “normal” eating day.

For breakfast I had a banana and strawberry smoothie which was delicious. I’ll definitely be majoring in them for fast day breakfasts I think. Then nothing to eat during the day. I even managed to resist the mints I keep in the car to freshen my breath (I usually eat rather more than necessary for that admittedly…). I had loads of water to drink and then for tea I had a salmon fillet roasted with cherry tomatoes and green beans on the side. I don’t “do” vegetables really (I’d never survive as a vegetarian) and so I think today was the first time ever when vegetables have been in greater proportion to everything else on my plate! It was very tasty and I found myself almost struggling to finish eating it all. I felt hungry later on but didn’t give in.

How long will this last? I am hoping that it will be forever. I know that Dr Michael says it is a way of life for him now and he fasts at least one day a week to maintain his weight.

My aim is to get from my current weight of 11st 11lbs down to around 9st 11lbs. So that’s 2st to lose. At 2 lbs a week, I’ll be there in 14 weeks. We go on holiday in 10 weeks – a 20lbs loss by then would be amazing. Even a 14lbs loss by then would be great.

We’ll wait and see. I don’t expect this blog will end up being very widely read, but I hope that one or two will follow my journey and encourage me along the way.

Please leave comments so I know what you think. Thank you for reading this crazily long post! I promise any others will be short and sweet (well I’ll try!) but I felt it was important for you to have some background to my journey.