The Fatslayer Chronicles

Feb 27, 2006 at 17:38 o\clock

And the greatest of these is love...

Today's Weight 172.0lbs 

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The wedding was fabulous! My sister looked radiant and beautiful, the groom looked dashing, the barn dance was a hoot and there was only one (mild) fight towards the end of the evening. All told, I’d call that a successful wedding.

 

After much reflection, I’ve decided to break the whole anonymity thing, and post a link to the photos on Flickr. It’s not as if I ever write anything horrible on here about my family, or say anything that would mortify me if any of my friends and family discovered this site, so where’s the harm? I’m so proud of my lovely sister, and I want to share with you all how beautiful she looked. The link’s here (and also on the sidebar) if anyone is interested enough to follow it.

 

I got a pleasing amount of compliments on my outfit, and how much weight I’d lost, and as a result I was feeling pretty swell all day. My confidence soared, I danced every single dance, and I was determinedly unselfconscious about how hot and sweaty I was getting.

 

Then I came home and uploaded the photos, and my self-satisfaction dissipated instantaneously.

 

Sigh.

 

I guess (and it’s nice to know!) that my family look at me through the eyes of love, whereas I look at myself through the eyes of negativity and criticism. They saw vast improvement since the last time they saw me, whereas I zeroed in immediately on how fat and hideous I look, and how far I still have to go.

 

So the photos dampened my mood a little, but by then it was too late to ruin my day. I’d had a fabulous time, thinking I looked bloody gorgeous, and I’m glad my bubble didn’t get burst until I was back home and it was too late to worry about it.

 

And that’s progress, right?

 

 

 

Feb 24, 2006 at 20:11 o\clock

Tomorrow's A Big Day

Today's Weight 172.0lbs 

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Hallelujah, someone’s finally noticed that I’m losing weight! I was getting paranoid that somehow the loss of 58lbs (or 25.2% of my original body mass) was unnoticeable on my 5 foot 1” tall frame. But now, finally, I’ve had an “OMIGOD, you’ve lost a lot of weight!” conversation, and I feel pretty damn ego-boosted, if the truth be told.

 

It’s good to have a bit of an ego-boost today of all days, because tomorrow is my sister’s wedding, and the consequent gathering of the clan. 

 

I felt SO ugly and lumpy and unattractive at the last wedding I went to back in August last year, and though I know I look better today than I did back then I’m still woefully aware that I’ve a long way to go before I’ll feel properly comfortable with my size.

 

And photos – don’t even get me started on my dread of photos! I’m horribly non-photogenic, and manage to look even uglier in photos than I am in real life. Jabba the Hutt ugly, if I’m captured in an unguarded moment.

 

Sigh.

 

But hell, it’s my sister’s big day, so I won’t hide at the back of the group or put a paper bag over my head - I’ll take my place towards the front and smile my little head off instead.

 

Jeeze, the things I’ll do for my big sis!

 

Anyway, I did consider breaking my anonymity and posting a photo on here of me in my wedding outfit, but cowardice got the better of me so you just have to take my word for it that I look better now than I did 50 weeks ago, before I embarked on this weight-loss programme.

 

If you want to imagine what I look like in my wedding outfit, just fix a picture of Angelina Jolie in your mind’s eye, wearing a beaded, dark chocolate brown velvet skirt and matching cashmere top, and you won’t be too far from the truth. Heh. To be the spitting image I just need to grow around a foot, shrink around 70lbs and have a million pounds worth of cosmetic surgery work done – but that’s not much, right?

 

If the parental reports can be believed my sisters have engaged in much buying of stomach-control-Bridget-Jones-type underwear and other contraptions to corral their unruly flesh for the big day, but I’ve resisted the temptation to follow their example. The thought of having the breath squeezed out of me all day by boa-constrictor-strength knickers is too horrendous to contemplate. Instead I’m striving for serenity and body-acceptance, and I’ll hold my head high and try to be proud of my untamed (but much reduced) bulges. But what the hell, maybe I’ll do just a teensy bit of sucking-in-of-the-gut when the photographer tells us to say cheese.

 

The bride will look beautiful, I’m sure. Of all us 4 female siblings she’s the only really pretty one (she takes after mom, as mom never tires of telling us!), and she also has the best figure by far. Hateful bitch! Heh, heh, I’m only kidding. I couldn’t be more proud of her. She’ll make a lovely bride, and I can’t wait to see her dress tomorrow – apparently it’s a hand-stitched, hand-beaded ivory velvet gown cut in an Empire style (think of the dresses in Pride and Prejudice), so she should look stunning.

 

Awwwww, my big sis is getting married. Sob. Sniff. I can feel the emotions welling already…

Feb 20, 2006 at 21:50 o\clock

Yellow Bellied

Today's Weight 173.0lbs 

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I dislike myself intensely today - I’m ashamed and disgusted at myself for being such a yellow-bellied coward.

 

I work in the finance department of an NHS hospital, and this morning I had a meeting with the Director of Finance and the Director of Patient Services. We were discussing the alert status of the hospital (we were on black alert, which means that things were very very dire with not a single bed available in the hospital and folks queuing in A&E for a place to lie down), and the conversation turned to demand management as the way to solve the capacity problem in the longer term.

 

The conversation went something like this:

 

Director of Finance (DoF):    One way to reduce demand would be to refuse to treat patients who smoke or who are grossly fat. It’s not fair that they block beds from more deserving patients when they’ve bought their condition on themselves.

 

Director of Pat Svs (DoPS):  Hmm, that’s a tricky one, because where do you draw the line?

 

DoF:                                Well, smokers should have to agree to quit before we commence treatment, and no-one with a BMI over 30 should be treated unless they’re classified as an emergency. Elective surgery just shouldn’t be an option.

 

DoPS:                              Isn’t drawing the line at 30 a bit extreme?

 

DoF:                                Not at all! You can’t argue with the facts, and it’s a fact that a BMI over 30 makes you obese. As a surgeon would you want to wade through someone’s wobbly fat before you could even see their internal organs? Ugh, it’s disgusting.

 

DoPS:                              But 30’s not exactly gargantuan, is it?

 

DoF: (with a shudder)         It’s big enough. I see them waddling round the corridors, wheezing and puffing and hauling themselves along to the orthopaedic department on sticks. It’s not sticks they need, it’s their jaws wired shut. That’d solve their joint problems AND our bed capacity problems, wouldn’t it?

 

The DoF carried on in this vein for some time, to the increasing discomfiture of both myself and the DoPS (himself not exactly snake hipped and lean). Her choice of words became more and more colourful, and she crossed the line from outlining a valid (if extreme) argument, into being gratuitously rude towards the obese.

 

She included words such as gross, wobbly and disgusting in her comments towards fat people, and generally belittled and derided them, without batting an eyelid or seeming to have any conception that her comments could be offensive.

 

I wanted so badly to say something, but I just sat there and tried not to look as if I was taking her comments personally, and I didn’t say a single bloody word. 

 

What a fucking coward I am.

 

Partly I kept my mouth shut because I felt humiliated, and partly because she’s my boss and she has a filthy temper, and partly because I didn’t want to sound like some prim and proper missy who took offence at the drop of a hat.

 

But hell, I WAS bloody offended!

 

I remembered her telling me when I joined the Trust that I would be held responsible for ensuring that my staff respected the Trust’s Equality and Diversity policy, and that I mustn’t let them get away with any off-colour jokes or comments that could be construed as racist, homophobic, sexist etc.

 

But it seems to be open season on fat people.

 

Presumably she wouldn’t have dreamed of making racist comments in front of a person of colour, or homophobic comments in front of a gay person, but (not for the first time) she openly insulted fat people in front of one of them (me).

 

I phoned K to let off steam, and he told me I should see her obtuseness towards my feelings as some sort of backhanded compliment, as it suggests that she doesn’t consider me to be one of the much-maligned obese brigade. Hmm, that’s small consolation. She voiced the same views when I had a BMI of 43, and it didn’t seem to make her pause or think that I might find her attitude and comments insensitive and rude.

 

I know I should have said something, and I wish I could turn back the clock and act with a bit more backbone.

 

I am utterly ashamed and disgusted with myself. Having missed the opportunity to say something at the time, I can’t decide now whether I’ve left it too late, or whether I should bite the bullet and raise the issue with her again.

 

Any advice, anyone?

Feb 19, 2006 at 18:53 o\clock

Tough Love

Today's Weight 173.5lbs 

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Around 5 years ago my friend Angela left her husband because of his inability to tackle his severe weight problem.

 

He was only 34 years old at the time, but he was clinically obese – he weighed 30 stones (420lbs) – and he had significant co-morbidities (angina, hypertension, diabetes). His hospital consultant had warned him that he wouldn’t live to see his forties if he didn’t do something about his weight. He’d already had the toes of one foot amputated because of his diabetes, and he’d been told in no uncertain terms that his future would be blighted by further amputations, renal failure and blindness if he didn’t get to grips with his diabetes, and control his sugar intake.

 

The guy (I’ll call him ‘Dave’) was a lovely gentle man, who my friend loved deeply. However, she found it increasingly difficult to tolerate his complete disavowal of his health problems. He didn’t work because he was effectively disabled by his size, and she’d come home every evening and find that whilst she’d been at work he’s eaten a truckload of crap - a couple of McDs, a deep-pan pizza, a pint of ice-cream etc.

 

Then he’d cry with guilt, self-disgust and fright (because he knew he was playing Russian roulette - with food instead of bullets), she’d comfort him and reassure him that she loved him, he’d promise to try harder, and then in the middle of the night she’d wake up and come downstairs to find him eating a whole cheesecake or a whole box of chocolates, washed down with a few contraband litres of full-sugar Coke. 

 

She likened it to living with a junkie or an alcoholic – the sense of distrust because of the lies he told about what he’d been eating, the impotence about being able to make him see the consequences of his choices, the self-destructiveness of his behaviour.

 

The last straw came when she came home early on the day that followed yet another dire warning from his doctors, and found him sitting in his car in the garage, literally shovelling handfuls of chocolate into his mouth as fast as he could swallow it. The boot of his car was open and full to bursting with empty chocolate wrappers, pizza boxes, Coke bottles and take-out containers.

 

She stood there and forgot all about being supportive and nurturing. Instead, she shrieked her head off with anger and frustration, pelted him with chocolate wrappers and walloped him around the head with a plastic coke bottle for good measure.

 

She told him that he was selfish and inconsiderate because if he loved her he wouldn’t force her to witness his slow suicide. She said that if he couldn’t take care of himself he couldn’t expect her to keep on taking care of him, and that it would be nice if someone took care of her for a change. She said if he wanted to kill himself she wasn’t about to stick around to watch him do it.

 

Then she left him.

 

And stayed left, even though she was scared to death that he’d commit suicide or spiral down into an even worse depression or fry his brains with a diabetic coma.

 

Depressing scenario, right?  But wait – for once there’s a happy ending.

 

This morning K and I ran into him at a mountain bike race. He was competing, and he came third overall in his age bracket. He looked fit and lean and very, very happy. He told us in the five years since my friend left he’d really turned his life around and lost 17 stones (238lbs). He’s been following a low GI plan recommended by his diabetes consultant, which is controlling his diabetes without any other medication. He’s off his angina and blood pressure meds. He got remarried last year, and his wife gave birth to twin healthy boys in November ’05.

 

He’s never been happier.

 

I didn’t think it would be diplomatic to mention Angela, but he raised the subject of his old life himself. He said the kindest thing she ever did for him was to withdraw her tacit consent to his behaviour. By being supportive and loving she allowed him to pretend he was helpless victim of fate, and allow him to abdicate responsibility for his actions.

 

He said he’d never once seen it from her perspective and, when she flipped and gave it to him with both barrels, it finally dawned on him how much his condition affected her too. He had to take a long hard look at himself, and he didn’t like what he saw.

 

Ironically, Angela was the one who died (two years ago in a black-run skiing accident), but I think she’d be thrilled to see how healthy and happy he is today. She never stopped caring for him (even though she too remarried), and she was always fearful that she’d get a phone call from her former in-laws telling her he’d popped his clogs. Now it looks as though he’s got a good few years ahead of him, God willing.

 

Yay.

 

Angie always regretted her outburst, and thought she’d been really heartless and cruel. He disagrees, and thinks she saved his life.

 

Maybe there is a time and a place for tough love, after all. It probably wouldn’t work for everyone – I’m not sure it would work for me, for example – but for some folks it may be just the wake-up call they need.

Feb 13, 2006 at 22:14 o\clock

The Wisdom of the Long Distance Dieter

Today's Weight 173.5lbs 

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Check out the new number – I’ve lost 3.5lbs this week! In the end I couldn’t bring myself to raise my calories significantly so I compromised by having a couple of higher calorie days followed by a couple of lower calorie days, and it appears to have jolted me off my plateau. Now I just hope I’m not stuck on 12 stones 5.5lbs for the next 9 weeks…

 

I’m trying to see this set-back as a positive learning experience, because it’s taught me a lot about patience and taking a long term view. In previous weight loss attempts, a 9 week plateau would have derailed me completely and sent me diving into the Haagen Dazs. Now I’m taking a much more chilled approach, and trying to just stay calm and focused even when nothing’s going to plan. I’m damn proud of myself for not having been discouraged by seeing the same numbers week in and week out. I can tell that my clothes are getting looser, and I know I’m doing everything I need to do to get to my goal, so I just need to have some faith in myself and the process, and not get spooked into doing anything rash and stupid.

 

**********

 

A couple of the guys in my office are around 100lbs overweight, and they’ve been talking the talk about getting in shape for the whole year that I’ve worked here. Lately, though, they’ve been talking more and more about fast, drastic weight loss, the sort brought about by liquid diets or gastric bypass surgery. They want to be achieving the 12lb+ a week losses that the contestants post on shows such as The Biggest Loser, and they’re simply not interested in losing the 1-2lbs a week that sensible medical professionals say is they optimal rate of weight loss.

 

One guy in my team is in his mid-thirties, and is both diabetic and hypertensive. He weighs around 22 stones (308lbs). A couple of weeks ago he was all hyped up about doing a very-low-calorie-liquid-meal-replacement-diet, because another colleague had told him he could lose 10 stones in 4 months. Then he watched a TV show which featured a woman who lost 15 stones in a year after having a gastric band fitted, and now he’s decided to save up his cash for that operation instead of going down the meal replacement route.

 

This is a guy who by his own admittance has avoided any form of exercise since he left school. He drives to work, though he lives less than a 15 minute stroll away from the office. He sends colleagues out at lunchtime to buy his newspaper for him, so that he can avoid the five minute stroll to the on-site newsagent. He laughingly admits that he never lifts a finger at home to help his wife with chores or looking after the kids, and that every night his armchair is surrounded by mugs and plates that accumulate through the evening until his wife finally walks them into the kitchen at bedtime.

 

His wife makes him healthy lunches which he leaves untouched, and he eats crap from the vending machines instead. He seems to be almost wilfully blind to good nutritional principles. He’s never kept up a ‘diet’ for more than two consecutive days, and he has no interest in healthy living or good nutrition. He’s adamant that he doesn’t want to change any aspect of his lifestyle, but he wants the body of a fitter, healthier person. He has no will-power or motivation whatsoever, yet he sees surgery as an easy option (!) and thinks that the weight will drop effortlessly off him with no appreciable change in his behaviour, and stay off, transforming him into a fit and healthy person in the twinkling of an eye.

 

His reasoning is that a gastric band will miraculously suppress his appetite, so that he simply won’t feel like eating, and that this will negate the need for willpower or effort on his part. And he argues that through eating less he’ll lose weight, with no need for exercise or modified behaviour.

 

Hmmm.

 

Call me sceptical, but I’m fundamentally suspicious of quick fixes, and I don’t think they deliver much by the way of long term results. Sustained weight loss depends on fixing the mind as much as it does fixing the body, and the mind-fix comes about through navigating through the whole process, not by taking a shortcut to the finish line.

 

Don’t misunderstand me - I’m not saying that weight loss surgery is an easy or ‘cheating’ option at all. On the contrary, I’m sure it’s much, much harder than regular dieting, and I’m always amazed when people see it as an easy option.

 

But I do think that any methodology that delivers astonishingly rapid weight loss in some way robs the recipient of something precious and vital, which I think of as the wisdom of the long distance dieter.

 

Long distance dieters have a world of experience under their (much tighter) belts by the time they even begins to approach goal, and that experience will be invaluable when it comes to negotiating successfully through the tricky terrain of maintenance.

 

They’ve learned how to cope with setbacks and disappointments, how to retrench after small gains, how to avoid being discouraged by the slow rate of the losses. They’ve learned through weeks, months and years of practise how to make the wisest food choices that they can make on that particular day and at that particular meal – which may be wiser choices on good days and less wise (or downright foolish) choices on bad days.

 

Long distance dieters have learned what combination of exercise regimens they can live with for the rest of their lives, and which activities they wouldn’t do unless their lives depended on it. They’ve given up pretending even to themselves that they’ll ever be Olympic athletes, but they’ve learned what works and what doesn’t and they’ve arranged their lives to accommodate that level of activity.

 

They’ve learned to curb their unreasonable expectations of attaining perfection, or of achieving a 5lbs a week losing average. They’ve learned to be tough on themselves when they need to be, and to cut themselves some slack when life is shitty. They’ve learned to take the rough with the smooth.

 

This experience – earned over months and years - is the foundation and cornerstone of keeping the weight off in the long run, and I suspect that if you lose your 100lbs or 150lbs or whatever in three months of lightning-speed losses, you don’t develop this foundation. For fast losers the wisdom isn’t as deep rooted as it is for those people who have chipped away at their losses for months and years, and who have a wealth of knowledge and experience to draw on in the years ahead.

 

These are just my thoughts on the whole fast-vs-slow debate, and maybe I’m just trying to denigrate the experience of the fast losers to justify my own snail-like progress. After all, on some level I’m decidedly envious of those people whose weight drops like a stone.

 

But I’m confident that for me the slow-and-steady approach is the right choice. I’ve undergone fundamental changes in the past 11 months, and I’m beginning to really believe that I’ve turned a corner and will never revert back to the worst of my old bad habits. I’m not saying I’m ‘cured’, or that I won’t ever make poor choices or have setbacks, but there are some things I simply can’t conceive of ever eating ever again, simply because they’ve lost all appeal and temptation for me.

 

I suspect that if I’d reached my goal in just 3 months, I wouldn’t have changed so deeply and so permanently, and so I’d be less confident of my ability to maintain my weight loss over the long haul.

 

Will some kind soul please remind me of this when I’m stuck on the next plateau and screaming with frustration…

Feb 1, 2006 at 20:51 o\clock

Drastic Measures

Today's Weight 177.0 lbs 

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I’m fed up of stepping on the scales every morning and seeing it flash either 12st 9lbs or 12st 9.5lbs – I want to see a new bloody number!

 

At the weekend when the scales showed 12st 7.5lbs and 12st 8lbs I thought I’d left the realms of the 9s behind me for ever, but yesterday and today I was back up there at 12st 9lbs – which means that my weight hasn’t budged at all since the middle of December.

 

What’s all that about?

 

Why the fuck does my body just refuse to play by the laws of physics? Create a deficit between the calories you consume and the amount you burn, and you WILL lose weight, right? Isn’t that what the experts tell us?

 

So why isn’t it quite that straightforward and predictable?

 

Every day I write down every morsel (of food or drink, heh) that I put in my mouth. I never cheat. I never lie. I weigh and measure almost everything, and keep a close eye on my portion sizes. I keep my calories between 1200 and 1400 per day. I’m back on the exercise bandwagon, and for the past fortnight I’ve done some form of cardio work for at least 40 minutes a day, and some form of resistance work (crunches, press-ups, weights) at least 3 times a week.

 

I follow my own bespoke high fibre, low-fat, medium-proteins-and-carbs diet, making sure I eat plenty of fruit, veggies and whole grains as well as lean protein and complex carbs. I never add salt to my cooking or to my food. When I snack, it’s on fruit, unsalted nuts (weighed and measured), pumpkin and sunflower seeds (ditto with the weighing and measuring), and (very occasionally) 70% cocoa-solids bitter plain chocolate (two tiny squares only). I drink at least 2 litres of water a day, and only a couple of cups of tea or coffee.

 

I hardly ever indulge in ‘empty’ foods that offer no nutritional benefit. Everything I eat is chosen because it helps me reach daily goals – it’s high in fibre or protein or calcium, it’s crammed with vitamins, it’s low in fat, it contains anti-oxidants etc. Balancing all the requirements feels like a full-time job sometimes – it’s all so damn complicated, and for once it would be lovely just to eat something unthinkingly, without worrying about bloody targets all the time.

 

I’m being so damn good it hurts!

 

So what the fuck am I doing wrong?

 

I’ve decided it’s time to try something radical. I’ve had a good hard think about the kind of lifestyle I want to lead when I get to goal, and I’ve realised that I don’t want to have to live on supermodel rations or exercise like an Olympian in order to maintain a healthy BMI. That just seems way too restrictive a lifestyle to maintain for the rest of my life.

 

So, since I don’t want to have to survive on 1200 calories a day or take up marathon running, I think it’s important that I don’t do anything foolish at this critical stage to fuck up my metabolism even more than I’ve done already.

 

I have this theory (it may be crackpot, but what the hell, it’s MY theory) that if you starve yourself to get thin, you have to continue starving yourself to stay thin. I think that your body adapts to the harsher regimen, and eventually becomes so maladjusted that it will gain weight on what anyone else would consider a normal-to-low daily calorie allowance. And once that maladjustment’s happened, I reckon that it’s difficult-to-impossible to reverse.

 

I’ve decided that even if drastically reducing my calorie intake for a few days would probably catapult me off this plateau, in the long run it would probably be counter-productive.

 

Soooooo, I’ve decided to be daring and reckless, and to try a completely different approach.

 

From today, I’m raising my calories to between 1500 and 1600 each day. I’m going to eat a lot more protein and a little more fat, and I’m going to make sure that I have at least one pot of yoghurt every day (because I read somewhere that yoghurt actively aids fat burning).

 

It doesn’t sound particularly radical in comparison to what I’m doing already, but mentally it feels radical, because my natural inclination is to do the opposite and cut my calories to try and provoke a loss. Raising my intake makes me feel daring and impetuous. It’s thrilling to be such a rebel.

 

Heh, what a sad person I must be.

 

I’ll try it for a week and then take stock. If I’ve lost weight, I’ll report back the happy news. If  I’ve gained weight or stayed the same I probably won’t report back, because by then the scales will have driven me insane, and I’ll be rocking in the corner of a padded cell somewhere.