All posts for the month October, 2014

Health at Every Size. Health at My Size

Published October 27, 2014 by Crystal

I have never really been one for health and fitness.  In school, sports was a must do, but never enjoyed.  Cross country running involved walking as slowly around the field as possible, tennis involved sunbathing when the teachers weren’t looking.  The only fun thing was the tiny room, on the far side of the sports hall, where a few of us would half heartedly use the weight training machines for an hour a week, while chatting about what really mattered to 15 year olds.

My late teens and early twenties consisted of drinking and clubbing and partying.  This switched quickly to motherhood and exhaustion, and having my time taken up by little people.  I started to walk a lot.  To baby groups, to the shops, to the school.  Not driving meant that if I wanted to go somewhere it was by foot.  A necessity, but not necessarily enjoyable.  I tried to fit in the odd exercise dvd, but there was no passion in it.  No real enjoyment.  I did it because I felt I must.

3 years ago something changed.  Signing up for the London Moonwalk gave me a goal to aim for.  26.2 miles to walk, and six months to train for it.

I was over 16 stone, but I believed that Health At Every Size, was very possible.  And any exercise, anything that got my heart pumping and muscles moving, had to be beneficial.  I walked every day, and I made it enjoyable by listening to music and audio books, changing my route, finding a walking buddy. I put time and thought into making it enjoyable.  I managed to complete that first Moonwalk, though it was hard, and I thought I might not.  I didn’t lose much, if any, weight during training.  But I completed that Moonwalk, and there was a very real feeling of achievement.  It showed me I was capable of something big.  I was so inspired that I signed up for the Cheltenham Half Marathon and my desire was to learn to run.

Sadly injury got in the way.  Achilles Tendinitis affected my left leg.  It made learning to run unbearable, and even trying to keep up walking was painful.  The day of the Cheltenham Half was a big fat misery, when a virus I was trying to fight off decided to hit with a vengeance.  I barely made a mile walking before collapsing in a hyperventilating heap.

It was a big disappointment.  I felt useless,  I felt fat and unhealthy, and unable to achieve anything.  A pity party started, and I was miserable.  Of course looking back, I should never have attempted the Half while feeling so rough.  A trip to the doctor showed an infection, but it also showed I needed to do more for myself.  I may have completed a Moonwalk 4 months beforehand, but I was far from a healthy specimen.

A change of eating ensued, and signing up for the 2014 Moonwalk also.  I started training again, straight away, with a goal of being able to complete it fitter and faster.

Alas, when the time came, it wasn’t faster, and it was this time with the injury of a stress fracture for me.

So why am I now training for the London Marathon, when the last two mammoth events have resulted in injury of some sort?  And what has changed this time to make me so damn determined and driven?  I’m 35 now, 40 isn’t far off, maybe the realisation of mortality is creeping in, and there are things I can do to improve my quality of life.

For me, it is evident that as I lose weight, these things become easier, and I feel generally fitter. I’m now 3 stone lighter than the first time I signed up for the London Moonwalk.  That is 3 stone less to carry around with me as I train.  It is 3 stone less that my heart is having to deal with as it pumps blood to all my vital organs.

3 stone lighter and I have not attracted Achilles Tendinitis when learning to run.  3 stone lighter and in less than a month I have managed to get to a point of running for 15 minutes continuously, with a recovery time that means I can run again after a fairly short space of time (for me).

I believe in Health At Every Size.  But for me, it wasn’t enough.  For me Health At Every Size was the encouragement to start at the size I was.  To believe I could, to feel I was not alone.  But now it is about Health at MY size.  To know I am an individual, to believe I alone am capable of what I am capable of.  And I’ve realised I love fitness goals.  But they have to be ones that a months away and push me in a time limit that is safe enough for me to manage.  Fitness goals that are based on what I put in.  I love being surprised at how my body works, at the achievements I can make, at the changes that take place.  Health At MY Size lets me see those differences and achievements.

Health At Every Size is a Great place for anyone who is scared of moving to start.  To know our bodies shouldn’t limit us, and to let us realise the benefits of exercise and movement.


“It’s Not About Food” extract

Published October 21, 2014 by Crystal

“We are writing this book to say there is another way. True recovery, going beyond hunger, is not a process of abstaining but of developing a self-assurance so that you choose what is best for your own unique body.  It is a process of reaching deep into your own insatiable emotional and spiritual hunger, that which you have been trying to satisfy with food.  It is looking at your eating disorder as a friend instead of an enemy, letting it teach you who you are and what you want from life.  It is healing your relationship, not only with food, but with yourself and your spirit.  What we’re proposing is not a quick fix.  In some cases it can be a long and challenging path because of the depth of the transformation that is required.  But one thing is certain, if you choose to undertake this path it will change your life forever.  Moving beyond hunger is a highly individualized process, one that is different for everyone.  Our eating disorders are a reflection of our different histories, different ways we’ve been wounded by our culture or families, different experiences with controlling our weight and food, and different emotional and spiritual needs.  For one person, it was always being overweight as a child and having her family and peers constantly teasing and judging her.  For another it was the pain of always having to have a perfect body, but never being seen for who she really was.  In both cases, the eating disorder was a reaction to the inner self being ignored, invalidated, and certainly not nurtured.  Although the core issues may be the same, the process of recovery, like the process of wounding, is very different.  You are the best judge of what you need for your healing.  This book will help you learn how to heal.”

“It’s Not About Food” Carol Emery Normandi and Laurelee Roark

If you would like to join a small group of us as we explore the chapters in this book, please do join us over on facebook in the Intuitive Eating Book Club

A new Book Club is created

Published October 16, 2014 by Crystal

Following yesterday’s bloggage, I have set up a facebook group in order to start a book club.

Intuitive Eating Book Club is a closed facebook group, and will remain as such.  What is posted within the group will only be directly visible to group members, and it is my hope that there will be a mutual agreement that “what happens in book club stays in book club”.

I have been wondering what book to start with, and to be honest, I feel that It’s Not About Food is as good as place as any to start.  Copies are available in the amazon marketplace for under £3 including postage (UK) and I’m sure there will be equally cheap and available second hand copies worldwide.

To give people a chance to get hold of a copy, and to start reading through, I will officially start Book Club on Sunday November  2nd at 7pm UK time, but I hope that people will feel happy to start chatting before then.  The book has 9 chapters, and it is my experience that some will raise more questions than others, but for now I envisage people will have been able to read through Chapters 1 and 2.

I do hope you feel this is something you would like to be a part of, and I look forward to meeting you over in the group

An Intuitive Eating Book Club?

Published October 15, 2014 by Crystal

I started reading to re-read a book that has been on my shelf for a few years now.

It’s Not About Food looks into the deeper reasons behind our obsessive behaviour around food, and our battles with dieting and anxiety over our weight. I say “our”, I mean me, and people who, like me, have or have had an unhealthy relationship with food for more years than they care to remember.

The book is a stark contrast to the continuous bombardment of ideal shapes, perfect weights, aspirational thinness.  It calls the reader to start to look within and explore and listen.

As I read through the pages, I started to wish for a way to open up a channel of communication for people who, like me, have felt the despair and feelings of failure around food and weight.  A safe space to discuss issues and feelings that come from reading those ideas in the pages of books. An opportunity to address real questions that come out of the various ideas and experiences of the authors.

I am not an expert.  I can only work with what I have learnt, and with what I have experienced.  But there are experts out there who have written books that can help us in our journeys to a healthy food and weight relationship, and I wondered if maybe a few of us might like to work through these books together, in a virtual world kind of way, and have an online book club?

I thought about a meet up, in person, local to me, and an opportunity for face to face chat.  But then I thought maybe early on in their journeys, people would appreciate the anonymity of online groups.

What do you think?

A book club specific to an Intuitive Eating Theme? Giving a good amount of time to each book, and to the themes within those books?

Let me know your thoughts.

A whole person approach to weight loss?

Published October 15, 2014 by Crystal

Yesterday’s blog entry continued to spark my thoughts and feelings throughout the evening, into the night, and even this morning when I woke up.  Something shifted in my thinking, and in what I wanted my approach to this whole weight loss and food situation.  I ran again today.  Because I have a marathon to train for, and I am more than aware that I have a long way to travel before I can even run a mile, let alone 26 of the little blighters.  But my knees felt it today.  There was pain.  And I know that pain such as that is not good.  I rested, added ice and ibuprofen, and thought about how I can continue to train and get fit without running every day.

I used to love Body Pump.  If you’ve not heard of it, it involves using weights during a class. I loved it.  It stretched me.  It exhausted me.  And I would leave the class feeling both shattered and exhilarated in equal measure!  Unfortunately I had to give up my gym membership, and in doing so, I had to give up the body pump classes.

As I sat there with ice resting on my knees, I thought about the benefits of club membership.  A swimming pool for non weight bearing exercise that will still work muscles.  A comprehensive class timetable with a mixture of styles to suit.  Treadmills inside to avoid heavy rain and dark nights (though I do love running outside).  The main problem is the cost, especially when I already pay Weight Watchers £21.45 a month.

But after yesterday, and my awareness around food, and my desire to be mindful more, the necessity of a Weight Watchers membership seems rather hollow and empty.  What is more important to me at this moment in time?  Well, for now it is most definitely improving my fitness.  Being able to run for more than 3 minutes.  Strengthening all the necessary muscles that will help me achieve longer runs.  I have friends I can talk to about food, and about my issues around food.  I have sympathetic ears who understand the problems of disordered eating, binge eating, comfort eating.  I have friends who, like me, have spent years coming to grips with intuitive eating, and feel progress to various degrees.  I think, at the moment, that support network is covered with people who actually “get” me, and know that a flippant comment about scoffing cake will have me analysing not only myself, but those around me!

It’s not all about food when it comes to weight loss, is it?  Food is the easiest thing to look at, sure, but moving my body, and building muscles, and changing what I am capable of, is all of equal importance to me.  I don’t want to be slim and unhealthy.  I’ve been there and done that.  I want to be healthy because of the choices of both what I consume and what I do.

And I want to keep on top of this depression as much as I can.  And getting fitter is helping that.  It might not always.  But it is for now.

So I’ve cancelled my Weight Watchers membership, and that frees me up £20 a month to put to a better use at this moment in time, and the search is on for a useful, affordable gym, and the hope of more Body Pump and swimming!

Cake is not the enemy!

Published October 14, 2014 by Crystal

Since reading this lovely phrase this morning, it has been going around and around in my head and I just had to come and write the stream of thoughts going through my head.

I was sharing a throw away comment made by someone last evening about me scoffing cake the previous night.  It upset me a little. Not because there is anything at all wrong with scoffing cake.  Not because cake is evil and must be tamed.  Not because I hate cake, or love it so much I cannot get enough of it.

I was upset because it seems to be an assumption of people dieting that we must not or can not be trusted around food.  I didn’t scoff cake.  I ate cake.  I ate a few more mouthfuls than I needed, and I certainly regretted that decision moments later when my tummy started to hurt.  But I didn’t “scoff” cake.  I ate every mouthful mindfully, really, every mouthful. It was a conscious choice to have cake.  I didn’t walk blindly into the kitchen, hunting through the cupboards for something to eat.  I had made the cake on Friday for my son’s birthday, and the rest of the family were about to have some.  I weighed up whether I really wanted some, or whether something else would satisfy, and I decided I wanted cake. I put a portion into a bowl, and I ate it slowly.  I noticed every single taste, the slight burnt sugar, the sharp honey, the rich cream. I was aware of the different textures, the slight crunch of one mouthful contrasting with the soft sponge of the next.

And I had every right to eat that cake!

And cake is nice!

Why shouldn’t I, or you, or anyone, enjoy a piece of cake?

And I realised then, in that moment, how far I have really come through learning of mindful eating, and reading all those books, and practising all those different ideas and principles in the various Intuitive Eating Books.  I can take or leave nearly any food these days.  Crisps are nice, chocolate is nice, cake is nice.  But they all have their time and place and I don’t need to eat the whole multi pack after eating one packet.  I don’t need to finish the whole bar of Dairy Milk because I opened it and broke off 4 pieces.  I certainly don’t need to finish off the cake that serves 12, because I baked it, and it needs eating.

And I am grateful, so so grateful that I am in this place now. I don’t scoff cake, because there is no need to scoff cake.  It serves no purpose.  My binges are so few and far between these days.  And it really is down to all those books about Intuitive Eating and Self Acceptance, and how Diets Don’t Work.

And I still believe Diets Don’t Work.  Maybe even more so today than of recent months.  I have lost 3 stone, and I have enjoyed taking what I can from Weight Watchers, and using it for some accountability, but I don’t believe Weight Watchers is the answer to all my problems.  It has helped me zone in on more optimal food choices at times.  It has helped me make balanced decisions through the day when I haven’t wanted to think too hard, when I haven’t wanted to be mindful, when mindfulness has felt like it would too much like hard work.  But using Weight Watchers, or Slimming World, or whatever else, or using none at all, it was ME that put all the effort in to get and maintain that weight loss over the year. It was me using the clubs in a way that helped me.

I have that rebellious streak that so many dieters do, and when someone starts to question my eating of cake, or chocolate, or meal out, then something in me starts to react and resist their rules and regulations. Thankfully now, though, it just means I rethink how I want to handle this whole weight loss thing.  In the past it might have meant a binge.  “YOU tell me I can’t have cake. I will eat 10 cakes!!”

I do wonder if the “scoff” comment was a bit of projection, because it’s a given that we can’t trust ourselves around food, isn’t it?  Maybe they would have scoffed cake if they had allowed themselves any?  I don’t know.  Maybe they just think I’m a piglet, and so obviously I would “scoff” the cake!

What it has left me feeling though, is that I need a break from following a diet plan, and to instead trust myself a little bit more for a couple of days.  No points, no syns.  Just tuning in at meal times to what I want to eat, and to how much I need.  Back to leaving food on my plate because I reach that point of satisfaction, and don’t need to eat everything just because it is there.  Getting out and exercising because I am enjoying the feeling of pushing myself, and because I know it is good for my overall health, and promotes better sleep and a general feeling of wellness, and not just because it means I can eat more food (though that has not been a reason for a number of years now, anyway)

And what it has also left me feeling is that Intuitive Eating is something people would really benefit from reading about!  To remove that guilt and anxiety around all those foods that diet clubs continue to have you fearing.  To gain some self belief that we can be trusted.

If you’ve got a kindle I would recommend How To Have Your Cake for a simple read, too.  And kindle or paperback Beyond Chocolate

I’m never going to make it as a diet magazine success story.  I can’t advocate one way to easily lose weight and keep it off.  But I continue to make it as a Stepping into yourself success story, because I am my own success story.  I fight depression, I keep making peace with my body, and I’m getting there in marathon training.  LIfe isn’t all smooth sailing, one size doesn’t fit all, and no slimming club is going to change your life without you putting your own effort and thoughts and decisions into the mix.

Cake is NOT the enemy

Thought this picture perfect to show how lovely and loving cakes really are! 😉

But cake.  Cake is definitely not the enemy.  And sometimes it can be what makes a crappy day a little bit better!

I do have my own food (well, drink) kryptonite.  Don’t get me wrong.  I can’t stop at one glass of red wine.  Not ever.  It’s not that I’m an alcoholic.  I just love red wine, and once I’ve had one glass, my resolve and common sense vanish. After a glass of wine, anything goes.  And so there is no “legalising” wine.  It’s an all or nothing thing, and it’s simply how alcohol affects me.  So for a number of benefits, it is better to avoid it rather than attempt to learn moderation.  Any other food though, it really is take or leave.  And yes, it may have taken many, many years to get to this point, but here I am. 

The scales are but just one marker of change, we do well to remember!

Published October 13, 2014 by Crystal

Earlier this week I celebrated a 3 stone loss. That magic number, marking 42lbs of weight loss showed itself up on the scales. It had been such a long time coming milestone. Of course, it wasn’t my official class weigh in. It was my at home, on scales that give the same results, but half way through the week. Anyway, anyway, anyway. Tonight, I was disappointed to see that I’m up from that weight, and the same weight I was this time last week.
It’s disappointing. But I am more “meh” than wailing and gnashing of teeth.
Because mother nature delivered yesterday. I am bloated. I literally gained weight overnight, and I know it isn’t possible to gain fat that quickly, not on what I am eating currently. But it is possible to retain water, and it is possible to be utterly pissed off at that water retention.
So I decided I need a reality check. Health and positive changes are not marked by simply the scales, so what else has happened this week?
Well this week I ran further and for longer than I have in 20 years. My last running session saw me running even after the lady in my ear told me I could stop running. I found myself wanting to go out running even on days I was allowing myself to rest! I ran on 4 days, and walked extensively on 2 days. I moved. I enjoyed moving. And I slept better as a result.
My face looks slimmer. I noticed I do not have a double chin when I now look in the mirror. And my little black dress is now a big black dress and needs to go!
I am still not smoking. And NOT smoking has not led to weight gain. That has to be a biggy to celebrate.
My clothes feel baggier this week. I have not had a drop of alcohol in 2 weeks, and my skin feels clearer along with my head.
So the scales didn’t show a substantial change this week. But what I have done this week has indicated that things are moving forward. And I really, really need to acknowledge and recognise these things. Even if I do feel slightly cheated by the scales this week.