Pre warning: period talk
Anyone here pretty sporty? Maybe good at track and field. Ever cleared any hurdles?
That’s a bit like what the early days of a weight loss plan feels like; a series of hurdles. I’m at the end of week three now and beginning to notice them more. Of course, the early days of losing weight seem to fly by. You drop water weight initially, and although it feels like the toilet has become your second home as you attempt to walk up the stairs whilst simultaneously crossing your legs, it is gratifying to see those numbers drop fast and you feel less bloated for it.
But what happens when the numbers start to slow down? In my first two weeks I successfully cleared a LOT of hurdles. I went for lunch at a dessert restaurant, but ate sparingly over the course of the day and came in within calories. I have turned down both cake and pizza (not even supermarket pizza but actual Papa Johns), to the utter astonishment of my husband.
I dropped my fizzy soda intake to half a glass per day maximum. My family had to endure the backlash of that one, as I struggled with caffeine withdrawal from a dependence built on drinking up to 1.5l of diet soda a day for years. I only found out recently that caffeine withdrawal is now classed as a dependence and added to the DSM-V manual of psychiatric disorders. The effects I feel when I try to stop drinking them means I am unsurprised.
I have had headaches that feel like a metal band being tightened around my forehead, exhaustion like I have only ever experienced when my M.E first set in, memory fog, and issues concentrating, which has had a very negative effect on my writing motivation and ability. So unsurprisingly I am what I class as a little crabby. There is probably no way of describing what my husband classes it as without making this blog unreadable. The irritability is also a side effect of the lack of caffeine.
So this is the main hurdle I have had to clear. And so far I have succeeded, ignoring junk food and fizzy drinks. But two weeks in is always a danger time for me, as the hurdles grow exponentially bigger. The numbers on the scale begin to slow down (I weigh daily as research has found this keeps you on track better), or some days stayed the same. And some rises have occurred meaning I have to keep it in perspective as part of a longer term goal.
As the numbers slow down I realise what a mammoth task I have. I need to lose 120 lb (55kg) to get to a target weight that is still actually classed as overweight, but where I know I can be comfortable in myself and maintain. That’s a person. I need to lose a person. Any volunteers?
And suddenly all I can see is miles and miles of hurdles to clear. A road that feels never ending. One hurdle is not allowing a small treat, like a mini Milky Way or mini can of coke, turn into a binge as soon as my sugar starved body dives upon it like a pro footballer if something touches their ankle. But then if I don’t allow myself that small treat I find myself dwelling on it, obsessing about how much I miss things like coca cola, chocolate, and mashed potatoes made properly with butter cream and cheese. For anyone who watches red dwarf I am ready to re-enact the scene where Cat buries his face in a mound of mashed potato and pours gravy over his head.
So essentially I have to choose which hurdle is bigger and which is more attainable so I don’t fall on my face – into a bowl of mashed potato.
This is where the concept of will power and motivation begins to be questioned.
The reason my hurdles seem so insurmountable is for one pure reason: I am addicted to food. For a long time food addiction was dismissed, and insulting to compare alongside addictions to alcohol, gambling, narcotics or smoking. These are still horrendous problems that need to be talked about and more support given to. But new research has shown this way of looking at food problems is incorrect. Food addiction/compulsive eating is classed as an eating disorder, after bulimia, anorexia and binge eating, though it falls into the category of behavioural addiction rather than chemical.
And the cravings have been ridiculous lately as I am either starting or close to starting what is euphemistically called ‘The Change’. The bit that has not changed is the flood of monthly chemicals, but this time without accompanying menstrual flow. Which in one way is a bonus, but the bit that has changed is the ridiculous amounts of time I get hot and sweaty. So now I’m a hot (not even in a good Lara Croft way, which would at least make up my crabbiness to my husband), sweaty mess, with a disposition of a hungry crocodile. I am sure my family are thrilled by this.
But this monthly hormone surge, added to my own history of crappy eating patterns and emotion related use of food as a crutch, does mean my cravings have gone batshit crazy this last week. So how do I keep clearing hurdles for long enough to reach and maintain the weight I want? I’m not even writing this blog because I have the answers. Because I really don’t. So if you do it would be great to know.
On the bright side I have a date to start my Saxenda treatment injections. Knowing this will suppress the massive appetite my head meds give me is a really ray of hope. But I am not sure it will help with the mental cravings I have struggled with most of my adult life. So I need to work on it before I trip on another hurdle. Who has successfully set themselves up to do this?