Tuesday, 26 June 2012

3 stone

I was just reading an article about the link between obesity and the brain, and a particular study on mice. It showed that eating a high fat diet increased cells in the hypothalmus, the part of the brain responsible for metabolism. They then blasted those cells back off again in half the group and continued to feed them all the same high fat diet. The group with the new cells blasted off gained weight at a considerably slower rate than those who kept their new cell growth, plus they used more energy and were more active despite being fed exactly the same diet.

Whilst this is an early days study and hasn't been replicated in humans, it does go to add weight (pardon the pun) to the theory that being fat makes you, well, fat.

And as I was reading the article it struck me that I hadn't actually written a post about my own weight loss, or the 20 years of battling with my weight that preceded that.

So I thought I would.

What I am about to write is my own personal experience, and I am in no way trying to speak for anybody else. We all experience the world and ourselves in totally different ways, and this is how I experience me.

As well as making me fat, being fat made me miserable.

There it is. There is no dressing it up or getting around the issue.

Although you could argue that being miserable made me fat...that is also a possibility and it's hard to really tell which came first. I expect I started to feel better about myself enough to realise I didn't need to stay that way. Really I expect it's a vicious circle with one feeding (pardon the pun) the other until eventually something breaks the pattern.

Well after years off yo-yoing and trying every diet under the sun, I eventually succeeded and I cannot begin to put into words how much better I feel, both physically and emotionally, both about and within myself since I have lost weight.

Silly things like not needing to spend hours in front of the mirror every day trying to find something to wear that was acceptable (in my eyes). Or dreading standing up in front of people to present for fear they'd just be thinking I was fat instead of listening to what I had to say. Or continually looking at my reflection in shop
windows as I walk past to check what I'm looking like. Or being the only one sweating during a pilates class. Constantly arguing with myself over food choices, about going to the gym and constantly beating myself up when I made the 'wrong' choice.

Silly little things in the real world that made daily life in my world really quite painful.

I can hardly believe when I look back on those days that I actually managed to get through each day with all of those hang ups and worries going on, all the time. No wonder I was stressed and fed up and tired and emotional. It was a special day when I first realised that I couldn't remember the last time I'd looked in the mirror and hated what I saw. That I couldn't remember the last time I'd worried about how I looked when I got up to present. That I no longer fretted and faffed over what to wear every morning (extra time in bed, great!). It is very liberating.

I'm not perfect. I still have my moments, but they are only moments, they are no longer the constant soundtrack to my every day. I've killed my inner conflict over food with new found NLP processes, I'm making better choices and giving myself a break when I fancy a break. And I'm learning to love myself rather than stuff myself with food.

A very lovely lady from my NLP course said to me "you strike me as a really big person, who's been making herself quite small". She meant it metaphorically, but it made me think.  Would a 'big person who makes herself small', in some way try to compensate for this inner smallness by unconsciously making herself appear bigger on the outside? Interesting.

Anyway, I was a physically big person who has successfully made herself smaller and is now able to be much bigger as a person as a result. I am so proud of what I've achieved, and maintained subsequently and so happy that I now feel (and look!) much more like me.

Those 3 stone (and 3 dress sizes, actually 4 from my biggest moments) are a massive weight not just off my body, but more importantly a massive weight off my mind.


Now, as it happens, I actually drafted this post quite a while ago and haven't until now plucked up the courage to publish it. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's because it's intensely personal. Maybe it's because it's a bit sort of self trumpet blowing. Maybe it's because actually, I don't totally believe it's true. Mostly it is, but not all of it, at least not all of the time. Yes, I have lost a lot of weight. Yes I look a lot better. Yes, I feel a lot better. But I don't think I have really resolved my relationship with food, and recently I seem to be rebelling somewhat. I've started finding it almost impossible to stick to a routine with food, I've started letting bad habits creep back in and the pounds have started piling back on. I do know that when other areas of my life go a bit squiffy, so does my diet and eating, so going through a load of interviews and soul searching questions about career paths, resigning from my current job etc etc would count in that arena I guess! We're not talking anything too major here, but today, for example (and ok, after a particularly cake heavy hen weekend!) I'm 9lbs above the lightest I got to before. And while people are still telling me how skinny I look and blah blah blah, I can tell the difference, and I simply can't let it go any further northwards. It strikes me that unless I want to spend my entire life on some ridiculous scale watching, weight yo-yoing, in and out of dieting scenario I need to be tackling the emotional side of eating head on now.  I know all about nutrition, I know all about portion control, I know about carbs and sugar being particularly attractive to my fat stores...but knowing doesn't actually always help. Something clicked in my brain when I started doing the Dukan diet back in Oct 2010 that switched off all the other emotional signals and I was able to follow it to the letter for 8 months, even over Christmas. Whatever that something was, it's clicked back off again and I seem to have misplaced the bastard switch! It's not even just eating, I realised the other day that my inability to stop biting my nails here and there, even at 35, is just another oral fixation. I have no off switch when it comes to drinking either.

So, what to do, other than continue to swing wildly from protein eating tea-totaller one minute to cake scoffing alcoholic the next? Well, I've decided, since counselling never really touched the sides with this one, and since these are all habits deeply routed in the unconscious that my conscious mind seems completely pathetic at controlling, I will bypass the conscious bit and try hypnosis.

I've wanted to try hypnotherapy for ages, for various reasons and afflictions (!) and have decided that eating/weight management is going to be the one to try it on. I have 2 sessions booked in from next week and a load of self hypnosis mp3s to listen to so fingers crossed.

I shall report back shortly!

Wednesday, 6 June 2012


Today I felt a bit sorry for myself.

The glorious long weekend was over.  The once jolly bunting was now hanging all limp and soggy. My beautiful sweet smelling peonies were browning and stinky. My head hurt, my tummy hurt, my back hurt. I had no energy whatsoever. The weird poorliness I'd noticed creeping in over the weekend was making a final bid to take over.

I hauled myself up and out and into London, only to realise it had been a mistake and carted myself back off home again.

Where I sat in the cold and dark and stared at the wall wondering what to do next.

My options were: feel sorry for myself. eat things. go back to bed.

I tried all of those and got bored of each in turn.

I stared at the wall a bit more, just in case the answer was written there and I just hadn't noticed it before.

Then I had an idea.

I used to read. A lot. I have a Kindle onto which I have downloaded a multitude of books, from frivolous fancy to downright dry. But over the last few months, since I've become more and more interested in all this happiness chat and have been buying more and more books on the subject, I've also, paradoxically, been reading less. I can't seem to make myself read all these books I've been buying. They just sit on the shelf staring at me, reproaching me for bothering to buy them in the first place. Do I think their wisdom will transfer by some kind of osmosis just by being in the same room as me?  Or am I just rebelling against things I think I should do rather than what I really want to do? I read so many blogs and articles and reports online that actually, what I really want to read in book form is pappy nonsense. The kind of pappy nonsense you fill your suitcase with for a beach holiday. The kind of pappy nonsense that concerns itself with cupcakes and cocktails, where cliches abound. But I've stopped reading that too recently. I think I feel guilty reading such vacuous rubbish when I have a shelf full of terribly interesting sciencey type stuff to read instead.

There's a certain irony in there, that a little treat I used to enjoy, that acted almost like my sanctuary, has been dropped in the muddle of this happiness journey of mine. Which just goes to prove the old adage that you cannot search for happiness, you just have to realise where you had it to begin with.

Well reading nonsense was certainly a happiness of mine and I'd let it slip. But now I'd realised it, it was time to put it right.

So today, I gave myself a break. I dug out and dusted down my kindle and downloaded a suitably dreadful sounding book called "Through with men". And then I sat there and read the whole thing in one day. It was rubbish. And I loved it.

And feeling buoyed by this I took myself off to the Chinese Doctor who told me my Qi was too low because my meridians are all bunged up and proceeded to stick all manner of needles and weird cups all over me and then left me to fall asleep under a nice hot lamp listening to whale music. He then prescribed me some funny herby things and gave me some herbal plaster things to slap on my achey bits.

And now I feel much better.

Better because I gave myself a break.
Better because I allowed myself what I wanted and needed rather than what I felt I ought to be doing.
Better because I've picked back up an old pastime I used to enjoy but had let slip.
Better because I forced myself to stop moping about and to focus on solutions instead.
and better because this weird herbal plaster thing is actually working.

So today turned out ok after all.

And tomorrow is another day.

Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Hip Hip, Hooray

I feel moved to try and capture some of the spirit of this fantastic Diamond Jubilee weekend with a post, but fear I shall fail miserably. It has been too lovely by far to put into words, although I shall still try.

There are so many reasons why I, for one, have had such a jolly lovely time, and as soon as I try to separate them from each other they all lose something...I think this weekend the whole really has been far greater than the sum of all its parts.

It has felt almost like Christmas, where the whole nation, and beyond, has been focused on the same thing, on the same joyful celebration. The atmosphere has been truly amazing, it has really taken my breath away and has been absolutely lovely to see and to be a part of.

There's been flag waving and bunting, pork pies and fireworks, good old British spirit in the face of driving rain, good cheer & merriment all round. We've always said us British know how to throw a good party and I think we've certainly proved it this weekend.

But I think what I have been most moved by is the outpouring of affection for the Queen herself. Including by me.

I don't really think I'd stopped to think about what the Jubilee was really all about in the run up to the weekend, or to contemplate what it involved. It wasn't until a few days beforehand that I really understood what the running order of the weekend was and what was going on. So I was totally taken aback by the sheer scale of the thing. By how many people came out in force both in London and further afield to celebrate. By how people really came together.

It really did feel like something from another age, with crowds of people lining the streets spontaneously breaking into chants of God Save the Queen. I have never seen anything like it and likely never will again.

I have also been absolutely mesmerised by the Queen herself. I have been glued to the television watching every moment, every wave, every smile. I have loved all the footage of her through the years and listening to all the stories of her times gone by. Even her standing up for so long at a time over the weekend was remarkable enough! There are so many things about her, her role, her family and her background I didn't know before and never really felt inclined to find out. Now I could sit and watch her all day, and have done!

We didn't travel into London, we didn't go and line the streets ourselves, we didn't arrange our own street party (does a small house party count?) or even really attend one (although we went and looked at several!), we didn't watch either of the two beacon lightings near us. But we joined in in our own little way and it felt very, very special indeed to be a part of something so huge and so wonderful.

It is lovely to see such spirit across the UK given the doom and gloom we've been surrounded by in recent times. Whether it be double dip recessions, financial collapse, political disillusionment, war, terrorism, fighting, rioting and so on. It feels as if the combination of last year's Royal Wedding, the Jubilee and next the Olympics are bringing a new dawn of hope, renewing our faith, lifting the mood and reminding us of all the good stuff again.

For me, this weekend has been very, very special. And I'm aware that I've now said that twice but I can't say it enough. It has been truly humbling and inspiring in many ways and it has made me very proud to be British, amongst many other things. It has been much too big a deal for me to even get anywhere near to capturing here.

Over the last 4 days we've had compassion, community, good cheer, faith, dedication, affection, optimism,celebration, pride, being a part of something, giving back, gratitude, resilience, emotion, direction and meaning.

In bucket loads.

And that sounds like a pretty good recipe for happiness to me.

Long may it continue, and long live the Queen.

Hip Hip, Hooray! Hip Hip, Hooray! Hip Hip, Hooray!