Weight Loss Journey: The Sixteen Week Hitch

356055

I last wrote about my weight loss journey back in late February. I’m very pleased to report that I’ve made some great progress: from 117Kg in early February I’m now down to around 105Kg which is a real achievement to me!

The whole process of Weight Watchers has now fully ingrained into my psyche in a positive way – my whole perception of food as a whole has really shifted. I’m now a lot more conscious of what I’m eating; before I was less so, and even when I attempted a simple calorie count, that’s not the big picture at all!

20180405_183416474_iOS

I’m a convert to the Weight Watchers SmartPoints system – it’s a scientific approach to consolidating a lot of confusing and complicated nutritional stats into a system that can be understood a lot more at-a-glance! I’ve noticed it’s not foolproof (more on that later) but the results can be surprising and I’m finding it motivating.

I’ve noticed a lot of my go-to foods that seemed insignificant, like a McDonalds milkshake, or even a simple supermarket sandwich, are packed full of unnecessary, empty points and this is definitely an area I feel I was letting myself down with before. Less so now!

Overall though I’m feeling fantastic – others have noticed an appreciable difference in my physical appearance which is endearing and motivating, especially as I have no self-esteem when it comes to my appearance generally, so noticing I’m able to fit into older clothes again, and my current clothes are feeling and looking baggier is a happy result of my effort so far. One of the things I’m really having mixed feelings about, and have for a long time, is how to receive and handle praise but I’m doing my best to channel it into positive energy and it’s driving me forward!

However, it’s not been plain sailing. I’ve recently had a bit of a bump or plateau where I’ve not been losing (much) weight; indeed, I’ve actually put on a pound or two! This has been more a disappointment than anything.

Weight_chart

The important lesson I’ve learned from this recent wobble is firstly: not to panic. Some weeks are good, some are bad. That’s normal, that’s life. I’ve taken a few days to mull over my progress so far, which overall has still been encouraging. Firstly, what are the circumstances around my recent wobble? Easy:

  • Complacency: It’s so easy, even when strenuously trying to avoid it, to fall into the “I’ve lost so I can…” mindset. I’m certain in the last few weeks I have done this to a minor point, saying “my weekly points [intended as a buffer zone] can take it”. I need to be a lot more disciplined.
  • Lack of focus: The last few weeks I’ve both had to content with the mental struggles of my final year university deadlines and some time off work afterward. I hold my hands up to being less than completely focussed during that time on my weight loss goals and more on my immediate challenges and goals.
  • Time away: I also had a week off after my final deadlines which culminated in a pleasant, if not a bit undisciplined weekend away to see a friend. Honestly, that week I simply took my hands off the wheel.
  • Restrictive SmartPoints budget: This is an emergent challenge – as my weight decreases the suggested SmartPoints I should look to consume has shrunk also. This has been a challenge recently as my new target, 30, is remarkably easy to “blow” with an unwise, impulse-led food choice.

However I’ve taken this into account and I’ve given myself time to mull over where I’m potentially going wrong and, more positively, steps to take to rebuild my momentum:

  • 20180520_224022617_iOS
    View from a sunny walk in Sutton

    Getting active: This is a step that I initially tried last summer; now the long winter has ended and there’s some glorious weather I can finally get out for fitness walks. I do feel I do better to do multiple short-ish walks throughout the week – aiming for at least three 1.5 mile walks a week – than a few long ones for motivational reasons. They’re also great for starting the day and helping with my mental health!

  • Cutting out problem foods: I’ve decided that a go-to snack for me – pitta bread with houmous – has to go as I’m eating it to excess which negates the health and weight loss benefit. Because I know myself, it’s not enough to just say “no” internally; I’m just not having it in the house for a while.
  • Focusing my attitude: Ultimately I need to take this seriously again to get down to my personal goal weight of 95Kg; I’ve made good progress and I need to just carry on that momentum. Part of this was thinking I’d plateau’d but I don’t genuinely think this is the case and my mental focus just needs to be sharpened to the weaknesses I’ve identified.

So that’s my plan for the summer! I hope to be able to report more encouraging news next time!

Advertisements

Weight Loss Journey – Beginnings

scale-diet-fat-health-53404.jpeg

I was recently challenged by my fellow blogger Chris to write a post in a similar vein to his recent post regarding physical health and, after giving it a little thought – sure, why not!

I’m pleased to finally be able to say that I am making steps to address a longstanding issue that has bugged me for years – that being my weight.

But before we talk about now, how did we arrive here?

I think for the last nine or ten years I’ve had an issue with my weight, and I know precisely where it began. While I was at school, this required a two-mile walk from the bus to my house to school, twice a day. And that four miles, plus walking around school, kept my weight in check.

Then I left school and did pretty much nothing for best part of a year.

Well, I did eat. But I didn’t burn it off and, well, I’ve been overweight since that time in 2009.

I’ve wanted to address it – nagging from parents aside; that doesn’t particularly help, but weight loss feels like such a specious and arcane thing… it’s as if results take so long to see it’s easy to be put off by no apparent progress, and therefore be victim to temptation.

I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t smoke – these are very unhealthy things – so, my mind tells me, what’s the real harm in this packet of Quavers. This blueberry muffin. This whole quiche. This Vienetta – it’s only £1.

In older posts I talked about my struggle throughout 2016 with my mental health problems and depression. I was by no means in the right frame of mind to address my weight; if anything, my depression took over and my physical health deteriorated quite badly.

And also, since 2009… I’ve gotten older. And I feel that age is creeping up on me.

Last year toward the end of the summer I did decide to take some action – I was talking to Chris about one specific thing that “triggered” my mental switch to take my weight seriously. I had to buy a pair of 40” jeans, and crossing that boundary seemed to trigger me into actually taking the issue seriously and not kicking it into the long grass. So I took myself out for a walk and tracked it. And it felt good.

I started calorie-counting from that point, setting a fairly aggressive total and I found I did start to lose weight – I went from 124Kg (19st 11lb) to 114Kg (17st 13lb) in the space of a couple of months or so. But then it got cold, it got near to Christmas and my resolve wavered. I was conscious of this but, doing what I do best – procrastination – I resolved to take the bull by the horns again in 2018.

But I did realise that calorie-counting on my own, while somewhat effective, is not the entire picture. And I am accountable only to me – and I am an unreliable judge.

So I’ve actually taken a fairly big, proactive step toward combatting this issue by joining Weight Watchers – because I feel being accountable to someone (in this case my coach) is going to greatly help my motivation. And I’m already feeling the mental switch in my attitude toward food – and that can only be seen as a positive. I’m more mindful now of what I’m eating – the Weight Watchers plan being focussed on “points” derived from a broader nutritional base, taking into account sugar and protein – and I’m actively interested in preparing my own food more and relying on ready-made meals less.

Already I feel I’m challenging myself – there’s a bit of a stigma that “Weight Watchers is for women” – though if it helps me achieve a more healthy lifestyle and goals in terms of my weight loss then I call that stigma bunkum, and as before with depression, I feel it’s a really unhelpful thing – best challenged!

And to keep myself accountable – which I feel is going to be the driving force behind this journey – I’m going to consider tweeting my weight loss progress out to my followers so it’s out there, in the public domain.

So let’s see how this goes! I can’t guarantee as regular updates as Chris but it’s certainly another journey I want to chronicle here on this site!

If you have a story or tip on losing weight then feel free to share it in the comments! Happy to read and reflect!

Ghosting: Further thoughts and updates

A couple of months ago I posted an important (personally, at least) article where I discussed discovering that I had been ghosted by a close friend and the profound impact that it had had on my mental wellbeing. The reaction to that post was really and surprisingly positive and I’m still feeling so empowered that I was able to call out my ghoster and I could feel… not a sense of closure, but at least at peace in some way toward being ghosted.

Last week I was surprised to see this video by a friend of mine, Andy, which was inspired by my original blogpost, and I thought it gave a good opportunity to touch base on what I’ve discovered and how I feel since that last post, and to touch on some of the points Andy made in his video.

Again, I was genuinely touched that my post inspired Andy’s video, which I feel was greatly positive and captured the core points really well. I think there is a lot of confusion and misunderstanding of ghosting as a nascent phenomenon that has been made all the easier to do, and easier to notice you’ve been the victim of, through social media. The internet really does make disconnecting from someone as easy as clicking a button, but I feel that it also allows people to avoid a social responsibility or callback that would perhaps exist if they saw the person every day, or lived nearby.

20090529_Great_Wall_8185

And for me, especially, seeing a wall erected between me and someone I had a pretty deep and meaningful friendship with appear overnight was probably the most shattering part of it. When it comes out of nowhere, and with no explanation, it hurts the most; for me, relating to my own story of ghosting, I thought things were on the positive with this person and still, 18 months later, they refuse to answer any questions about it. How is that acceptable? Well, it isn’t; and I’m ok with that.

Andy, in his video, reflects on his own experience which I saw the parallels of in my story – he had a friend, a best friend in fact, who would go out of their way to not ghost them, but made moves that gave mixed messages. Not sharing a new contact number, or email address, and not explaining why. I feel that’s insidious – as much as we all hate confrontation, when it comes to interpersonal relationships, especially friendships, I just feel to lead someone up the garden path when they are unaware of the twisted rationale behind it is quite discourteous. If you’ve made the choice to end a friendship then I feel it’s at the very least disrespectful to not be open and honest about that.

When you communicate through a screen, you can say whatever you want to someone, or completely ignore them, without having to physically face the consequences of seeing their heart break, or hearing their voice whimper when you tell them it’s over.

People aren’t disposable, and being ghosted made me feel like I was, and I feel that was one of the worst feelings it was possible to experience, especially when I was mentally fragile to begin with. For me, it led to a lot of resentment and, worse, it led me to question myself in the worst possible ways. What did I do wrong? What’s going on? Which leads to well, bad people get treated like this, so I must be a bad person. The self-doubt that it instils bred depression and low self-esteem, a rut that I’ve only just felt strong enough to come out of. You can’t help but, in the face of no facts to the contrary, blame yourself and that quickly leads to dark places. I’m only glad that I can say I triumphed over those dark feelings and I can look back and recognise that – I’ve never felt as mentally strong as I do now, but I’m not going to deny that the journey was painful and tortuous, both for myself and the friends that were there to support me.

51NEBPHiLjL

With ghosting, it’s easy, as Andy said in his video, to try to deflect some of the responsibility back to the person who was ghosted, but this isn’t helpful, and it just makes the damage the ghosting has done worse. I had it with my own post, where an associate of my ghoster decided to anonymously comment, trying to do that very same thing, to try to justify their friend’s actions.  They were simply missing the point.

ghosting-comment

If you’re feeling like you’ve drifted apart from a friend (which is normal and fine, these things happen), or they’re doing things that they’re subconsciously unaware are irritating, or you can no longer countenance their different (but totally valid) opinions because somehow you want a pure echo chamber on your Facebook, and are emotionally immature to the point where you can’t handle that difference, the least you can do is give them the courtesy of telling them, especially for a long-term relationship or friendship. Courtesy costs nothing, and failing that basic social premise will invalidate any beef you had. You don’t just up sticks and disappear, as that just isn’t justifiable, whatever you may think. As before, it’s emotional and psychological bullying, plain and simple.

Psychologically, we’re abandoning someone, betraying their trust, and leaving them completely in the dark as to what happened and why we left.

When we’ve been ghosted, before the anger sets in, we turn inwards and blame ourselves.

Did I do something wrong? Am I too clingy? … Is my radar broken? Am I unlovable? There’s so much mental anguish that goes into over-analyzing what happened. It’s soul-crushingly painful.

Ghosting impacts our self-esteem and self-worth. It can lead to depression, which affects our sleep, appetite, concentration at work, and desire to be around friends. It can also cause anxiety in which we obsess and ruminate about what happened, feel on edge, and are filled with worry and insecurity.

Whereas I’ve accepted the criticism, the friend that ghosted me hasn’t. That’s really sad. They chose to shift the emotional responsibility, and that’s just wrong. It’s indefensible, it’s immature and it’s just cruel, ultimately – I found it very difficult to deal with, and it’s insidious. Like Andy, who had a best friend who seemingly didn’t know how to do the decent thing and end the friendship, not with a blazing row, but with a calm discussion, respectful and civil; unlike Andy, I suppose my ghoster skipped straight to the “erasing from existence” phase; whether that was more or less “cruel” is entirely another question. With either case, there’s no answers, no closure, no tying up of matters. And with long-term friendships, especially deep and meaningful ones, I think ghosting is even less acceptable than it is for, example, after a relationship or when dating – it’s that sudden, unilateral severing of an emotional relationship that causes that pain.

ghosting-cartoon

But what do I aim to achieve with these posts? Partly they’re an open letter – yes, if my ghoster dropped me a message tomorrow, I’d listen. To be honest, I’d probably forgive, but listening is the start. I’d have that conversation. I don’t want to shout at them, or vent; I’d rather I helped them understand that their conscious choice of actions, to “duck the issue”, did more harm than good. Yes I have been angry, I do feel they’ve been “immature” and “cowardly”, but those are just words, and I don’t think, especially in my case, words should be held against me, especially out of context. I do think they’re scared because they know they let me down, but they never gave me the chance to explain how I felt and to make reparations. It’d be a hard conversation, sure,  but it would also be cathartic and, I feel, a good opportunity to part on less ignoble and ugly terms, especially context taken into account.

I don’t see the point in grudges; fair to say I have been angry, I have been resentful but I don’t have any energy left for that. I’m honest about my flaws and I’m open – I just want them to understand about the harm they have caused me, not to make them feel guilty, but to hopefully enrich their own life so that they don’t, inadvertently or not, do this again. As no-one deserves to be ghosted. Some deal with it better than others, but I am proud to say I am a survivor and I still feel mightily empowered, and I hope that my advice continues to inspire people to realise that it doesn’t have to negatively impact them.

Ghosting, like I said before, says more about the ghoster than those being ghosted. Courtesy costs nothing, and the rise of ghosting as an apparent “acceptable” way of ending interpersonal relationships in the digital age… it’s a side of the times that I’m not keen on. But talking about it, being open and realising, first and foremost, that if you’re being ghosted, it’s not your fault; and, if you’re ghosting, yes that’s a bad choice, and you shouldn’t, but you shouldn’t run from those whose emotional judgement you’re probably seeking to avoid. Accept that you are, which is the first step. The second? Message them, be optimistic, open and at least try to open a dialog? Because, ultimately, even after a month, a year or more, what do you have to lose? You may even be surprised!

But in either case, I don’t believe there’s an emotional chasm too wide to at least attempt to bridge. So then, even after this long a time, what do you have to lose?

Article Referenced

“What You’re Really Saying When You Ghost on Someone” – The Good Men Project

Website Update

I realise I have been absent in posting updates to my site recently, which is a shame as I enjoy posting – but I do have some valid excuses! And I haven’t done a Website Update in so long it felt only right to briefly talk about what I’ve been doing and what I’m going to be doing for the next while!

So a lot of what’s occupied a lot of my time in the last month or two, and has really precluded my working on personal projects has been finishing the second year of my Creative Writing degree at Kingston University. It’s been… a mixed bag but I’m definitely. at this point, glad to have gotten my assignments submitted – and some of them I’m pretty proud of. I’m absolutely, over the summer, going to reflect on this year and contrast it to how I felt about first year like I did previously. But naturally, these assignments have been important to do as I need to complete them to progress. I’m relatively confident I’ve achieved what I need to – it’s been a difficult, challenging but also enlightening year.

I’ve also very nearly completed the first draft of my post-apoc novel The Thaw. This has taken longer than I originally anticipated but with that extra time I feel I’ve not rushed things and I’m solidly happy with what I’ve produced. I’ve a couple of chapters left to do and they’re important ones – so I’ve taken some time to a) get University commitments done first and b) give these concluding chapters a lot of thought so I can execute the end of my story as best I can. But I’m also seriously proud of what I have achieved here – with personal circumstances being quite difficult at times – and I look forward to moving forward with my next planned steps. I’ve learned a lot while writing The Thaw and I want to codify those lessons into something definite!

Also, recently, with my good friends (and independent filmmakers) Gary Thomas and Mark Lever we’ve embarked upon a new film project – a Doctor Who-themed fan film entitled Reverence of the Daleks. This has been a really fun project that’s finally got started and I look forward to sharing more about it very soon (there’s not much to show from the first filming day just yet, though I think chatting about the writing process would be a good idea too)

Sadly my Goodreads reading challenge is quite badly lagging – I’m about 3-4 books behind schedule as it is and my review list is lengthy. I enjoy writing book reviews as it’s a good opportunity to synthesise what I liked and didn’t like about a book – this is helpful as an author as generic feedback such as “I liked it!” is pretty much useless. Again, a combination of personal circumstances and University deadlines being an absolute priority have meant I’ve had to dial back on my reading – but with Summer here I aim to put the pedal to the metal and enjoy some cracking reads!

Recently, too, I’ve found writing about my battles with depression and my mental health has been an invaluable and infinitely useful tool for dealing with this, and I’m humbled by the support I have gotten, and if my experiences can help others struggling with depression – a condition I feel is widely misunderstood – then that’s all the validation I need. My writing on the subject is meant to be cathartic, but also reflective. Looking positive about this can be very difficult but when it is done, it’s just extremely comforting and engaging to know, even if only one person reads, it’s not confined to my head.