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All posts for the month May, 2014

I know I’m a bit vocal about not dieting, but.

Published May 29, 2014 by Crystal

You may be perfectly happy dieting.  And if you are, then great!  We’re not all the same.  Maybe you just needed to tweak a few things to put you in a happier place.  That is awesome!  Maybe you just needed to up your exercise a bit, drink some more water. Fabulous.  And maybe you have never ever connected your self worth and self esteem with your clothes size.  That is the most amazing thing.

And if that’s the case then I’m not writing these blog entries for you.

I am writing these blog entries for myself, and for the 90% of dieters, for whom yoyo-ing has become a rule of life.  For those people who have more than 3 sizes of clothes hidden around their house, and who might feel lost, or out of control, or hopeless, or desperate, or worthless.

You see, dieting is seen as normal.  It’s the top of conversations between women.  In the workplace, people silently eye up each others lunches or snack time treat, and the phrase “Ooooh I really mustn’t” rolls off the tongue as often as “Coffee, black, no sugar”.  It’s acceptable to assume someone is on a diet, or going on a diet, or “Wow, you look so good, have you lost weight?”.  And I’m not criticizing anyone for complimenting another on weight loss here.  If I know someone has been on a diet, I know the hard work, I know they’ve put in effort.

What I’m questioning is so much more.  The acceptability of being on those diets.  Why are so many of us constantly returning to something that is so rigid, that inevitably sees us falling off and gaining back the weight?  Why do we allow our self worth to be measured by how much we managed to stick to this weight loss method?  Why do we berate ourselves so violently when a social event takes us over our allotted portions?

This is primarily a woman issue, but it’s affecting men too, and more and more as time moves on.  The media shows us perfection, we want to attain that perfection.  Both men and women are being shown a “normal” that doesn’t exist, and society continues to accept it.  We are so much more than our outer appearance, but you wouldn’t know it from the conversations we so often have.  “I feel so fat.  My jeans won’t zip up.  I’m disgusting.  I have no self control”  “But you look so good!  You’ve lost loads of weight!”  “Yeah, but I’m still so fat.  I’ve got gazillions of pounds still to lose.”  Of course our image is the first thing people see, and so, maybe naturally, the easiest thing to comment on.  But we are so much more than an empty vase.

Achievements based on image are fragile.  We yoyo dieters realise that.  Every time we lose weight, our spirits are lifted, we can feel that little bit more “normal”.  But when, after all that dieting, the euphoria vanishes, and our old habits return, the weight starts to slip back, and those uncomfortable, self loathing, critical voices get loud once more.

And what are those old habits that led to the weight gain in the first place?  The root cause?  For me, it was, and is, comfort eating.  Eating to cover emotions, to delay having to deal with uncomfortable feelings.  The irony is, that for me, dieting does nothing to address those issues, and I try to comfort eat lettuce….it’s just not the same.  So the struggle continues through the dieting, but in a more controlled way.  Until it all becomes too much, the binge occurs, and then the berating gets louder, and oh, that perpetual cycle.

So I’m vocal, but I want those people, who, like me, have dieted and dieted and dieted and dieted, to hear of a different way, of the small movement of intuitive eating, of starting to tune in to ourselves.

And it doesn’t mean never losing weight again.  It doesn’t mean you will get fatter and fatter with no stop button.  What it does mean is you will start to feel connected.  You will have the opportunity to learn to deal with the emotions that terrify you so much now.

A few helpful links can be found

Here and here

And a couple of old blog posts here and here

 

And don’t mistake me for someone who’s pretending to have it altogether! I will no doubt return to that dieting pattern yet again, when life gets too much, and the voices get too loud, it happens periodically.  But each time I am brought out of the fairy tale with a start, when the self hatred takes me spiraling into the disordered eating patterns I have fought hard to leave behind.  And sharing my journey will hopefully help people that have gone through some similar experiences

 

 

 

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Does the NHS referral system for weight loss actually work?

Published May 28, 2014 by Crystal

This has been brought into the news again today.

Questions that arose were firstly how much it costs the NHS, secondy how much weight loss brands actually pay the NHS for all this publicity, and thirdly, how effective is it long term?

On the plus side there was talk that only a few pounds lost can make a big difference.  But the cynical side of me then asked whether it was the diet companies saying it so that they invite people in and get them hooked.

How long do these referrals manage to keep going?  Do they reach their targets?  Do they maintain weight loss?

Well I’ve found an evaluation about the Slimming World Referral Scheme (google it, I can’t seem to link to the pdf location) and the results are somewhat depressing in my opinion. Out of over 800 people introduced to the scheme, over 400 started.  Of those 400 106 did not complete the 12 week scheme.  Out of the 400 only 128 people attended the full 12 weeks.  And out of those 400 people only 47.4% achieved 5% weight loss, and 9.4% achieved 10% weight loss.

There are many questions as to why this hasn’t worked.  What limited the people entered in to the scheme?  Why did some only attend one session?  Why did the majority not achieve 10% weight loss over 12 weeks?

I don’t have the answers.  I can only go on what helps and hinders me.  I can only say that for me, old style dieting does not work, and those statistics would suggest that I’m not alone.

So why are the NHS continuing to support this as the only really feasible option for the majority of overweight patients?  And why are they continuing to fund this when statistics would suggest a lot of money is being wasted by non completers?

Surely it must be time to look for other ways?

I overate on the weekend. I should just give up now.

Published May 27, 2014 by Crystal

If I was dieting old style, right now I would be planning my meals for the rest of the week.  Damage limitation.  Juicing vegetables, or lots of soup.  Hunger would be a main feature of the week.  And it would be a daunting depressing look into my immediate future.  The thoughts running through my mind would be (and they still are a little until I silence them) negative. Criticisms.  Why can’t I eat normally?  Why am I such a fat heffer?  Why can’t I put the chips down when I’m not hungry?  I won’t ever be slim because I’m lazy and greedy.  Oh yes, Mr Weight loss expert, I’m perfectly capable of slagging myself off.  Your services are not required.

If I was dieting old style, the weekend would have been a pleasure/pain filled experience.  Loving the family time, the food, the drink.  Loathing the lack of control I feel around food and drink.  Monday (or in this case Tuesday) would be the inevitable “I’m starting the diet again, tomorrow”.  The thought of the future tingeing the enjoyment of the present.

So what is different when I’m not dieting old style?  What happens when I make the conscious effort to tune in to my body emotionally and physically?  And when “the diet restarts tomorrow” isn’t a phrase in my little language book?

Well.

Firstly there’s the living in the moment of the overeating.  We all have reasons for behaving differently at certain times.  For example, on holiday, when food choice is different, when maybe you’ve tried a meal at a restaurant and loved it so much that you didn’t mind how full you would feel, you just wanted to finish it all.  Or a birthday party, where the host has made the most delicious cake, and you wanted to enjoy a little extra.  Sometimes we associate overeating with celebration, for others it might be comforting after a hard day at work.

And it’s not wrong.   Even my naturally slim friend will finish off the chocolate brownie during a coffee stop at the cafe as a reward for a hard days shopping!

By living in the moment, becoming aware of why I’m doing it, and tuning in to all the physical and emotional feelings as I overeat I am learning something about myself and the way I respond to food and to my life.

But as dieters we’re taught that overeating is always wrong.  We learn to associate guilt with eating those extra mouthfuls we didn’t need.  For taking one too many sausage rolls from the buffet table.  So for a dieter, overeating will always be tarnished, and the promise of punishment in the following weeks is almost a certainty.

 

For me?  Well, last night I went to bed and thought back on the weekend.  Saturday I had been at college.  Sunday we had gone for a long, wonderful cycle ride as a family.  10 miles all in.  I felt ecstatic after 2 weeks inactive.  Sunday evening we enjoyed wine and chips and dips and easy cook food.  Yesterday, a bank holiday, was slightly groggy from a little too much wine on the Sunday, and overeating was in part due to the tiredness and grogginess from the wine.  Feelings….tired, a little emotional after such a lovely weekend, glad to have bought a patio set to put my plans of al fresco eating into plan.  The odd horrid message ran through my brain “You always let yourself go, you’re never going to be healthy”.  I let it run through my brain, and let it leave.  I know they’re not true.  I know it’s my horrid inner voice.  I know that mental health is as important as physical health, and dieting is not beneficial to my mental health right now.

And today?  I woke up.  I felt a pang of hunger.  Mused over what to eat for breakfast.  And I wanted a scrambled egg on a slice of pain de campagne.  No super thin nimble.  No wholemeal.  I made my breakfast, plated it up and went and sat outside at my new table, without computer, or phone, or tv to distract my mealtime.  I lay down my knife and fork between each mouthful.  I paid attention to the flavours.  I stopped when I was satisfied.  I gave the leftovers to the dog.  There was no guilt associated with the previous days events.  No pay off now for what had happened then.  I ate what satisfied my hunger and tasted every mouthful.  I enjoyed the garden (granted, slightly wet this morning) and I enjoyed my egg on toast.

Because for me, not dieting means taking things one meal, one bite even, at a time.  And the amazing thing is, that my body knows how much I need.  If I’ve overeaten, my body is capable of compensating for it. Today I might just need a fraction of what I might have on a normal day.  But I don’t need to worry.  I just need to tune in, and let it be.

 

“Fat people are making excuses”, Um, No.

Published May 22, 2014 by Crystal

Apparently obesity levels are getting out of control because people don’t take personal responsibility.  So there it is. Cut down on your pork life, mate, get some exercise.  Then the obesity crisis, as the media so loves to call it, will reverse itself and everyone will be happier.

Let me have a bit of a look at this Personal Responsibility claim, from a personal experience perspective.

I grew up in a house with a little yellow book.  A tiny little book, but one with power.  For it told you the calories of so, so many foods. My mum referred to it regularly, and when I could read I too would read it. Then came that beautiful Jane Fonda with the biggest workout book a child could dream of.  A woman, donning leg warmers, and looking very strong and beautiful.  Oh, and tapes, there were lots of tapes to go with the book.

Through the 80s my mum constantly watched what she ate, with the guide of books, telling her what she shouldn’t eat, what she she eat more of, how much of all those things she should be eating.

Come the 90s I remember Rosemary Conley, The Metabolism Booster Diet, and a VHS.  This is where I really started to join in voluntarily.  Being a larger girl than most others my age this was my first serious self motivated venture into weight loss.  Garlic mushrooms the diet way, wow, you never forget that.

As a young child you receive the messages from those around you.  “Clean your plate, there are children starving in Ethiopia”, “You can’t eat those sweets, they’ll make you fat/fatter”.  As a child you rely on external cues an awful lot, and you learn what is wrong and right from what is said to you, not always from how you feel.  So the child who feels full after a few small mouthfuls, but is then told they have to keep eating, learns that they can’t trust their body.  Adults must surely know better.

This isn’t a post about blame, but I know, as an adult who has grown up having heard the words “Clean your plate, there are children starving in Ethiopia” I am surrounded by many others with very, very similar experiences.  Adults who grew up in homes with mothers very conscious of calories, of worrying about every morsel that went into their mouths. And it has an effect.  For me, I started to firmly believe I could not trust myself.  That I did not know what my body needed.  That I needed some diet and fitness expert to tell me how much was enough.

 

To finally hear the revelation, at the age of 28, that actually, my body can look after itself if i start to listen, was a freeing, amazing thing.  But at the age of 27 it’s a hard message to process, and takes a long journey in finally believing it.  7 years down the line I feel it is more of a cha cha than a straight forward walk.  And in moments of doubt I start to hear those negative messages again, telling me I can’t be trusted.

 

Especially messages such as the big lie that I’m “Making Excuses and Taking No Personal Responsibility”  

Because actually, I am taking MORE responsibility than ever before!  I’m owning my body.  I’m owning what I put into my mouth.  I’m owning the good choices and bad choices.  I’m owning the amount exercise I do or don’t take part in.  I’m not listening to the critics who tell me I can’t be trusted, so that they can sell me their message. I’m listening to my body, my hunger, my emotions.

And that might just scare the experts.  Because what if we all suddenly realised this innate ability?  What if every fat person started to believe that tuning in and listening to their bodies would actually help them lose weight?  What if every emotional eater allowed themselves to sit with their emotions without reaching for food?  What if every big woman finally decided she wasn’t going to wait until she’d lost a few pounds before getting into the pool and moving that beautiful, powerful body?

So you there, the weight loss expert, we know your tricks. With your disempowering words.  Your polls.  Your blame game.

And I, for one, know you’re wrong.

 

 

On a Good Day, be Good to Your Body

Published May 21, 2014 by Crystal

Maybe it’s the sun streaming through the cracks of the blind.  Maybe it’s the freedom of not having thought about breakfast until the point of hunger, of knowing I could take it to and eat it in bed.  Maybe it’s feeling twinges of pain in my leg, but knowing I am doing the right thing by resting as much as possible to encourage quick healing.

But all in all, I awoke feeling good.  I felt hunger straight away this morning, and thought about what I wanted. Toast and jam? Poached egg? The decision was made, a scrambled egg, a bit of marinated salmon, a piece of toast.  One egg, one piece of salmon, one slice of toast, a drizzle of mustard and orange sauce.  Not because I’m dieting, but because I know that when I tune in, and focus on my meals, without distraction, I don’t actually need that much food! If I taste every mouthful I am satisfied so quickly.  I even left a couple of crusts, because it turns out they don’t make your hair curly.  What a shocking lie to tell a child.

So after breakfast I felt good!  Still enjoying that sun streaming through, loving the photos I was seeing on social media, of low cloud looking like see around nearby hills. Loving the noise of my children chattering and singing.

And because I felt good, I looked in the mirror and loved myself.  There was no criticism of the soft overflowing belly, no grabbing of jiggly thighs.  Just an appreciation of what my body is, what it does, and that I am ok.  I feel confident in the clothes I’ve chosen, there’s no need to shrink away, slope the shoulders, try to be invisible.

And there’s another thing.  If, for just today, you stop worrying about your body.  How much more will you be able to do?  If you refuse to give mind time to whether your tummy is toned, what better things will you be able to think about?

reasons-to-love-your-body love-your-body

 

So what.

Published May 21, 2014 by Crystal

Worth following this inspiring lady. Here is a reason why we need to nurture an environment of love and acceptance of all.

project: keep the girl

So this weekend I made some pretty bad decisions that if I could I would take back. I woke up the following morning feeling huge and immediately started having eating disorder thoughts. “I’m so fat; that’s why this is happening.” or “I’m so gross. Seriously, look at me.” I stared at my naked self in the mirror with hatred and picked myself to pieces. I started thinking of ways that I can begin engaging in the eating disorder again; I’d just have to be sneakier because people know my past.

Weight is the problem. If I can fix the weight part then everything will be better. I will be happier, I will make better decisions. “You are fat. Fix this. Remember when you were skinny, you never felt like this then. Just lose the weight.” says my eating disorder.

I agreed. I swore I would be better and do better. I would count my bites. I…

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