Tag Archives: Obesity

Food Plan: A Week of Healthy Eating

It’s been six months since I embarked on my weight loss and healthier living journey. It’s been going with ups and downs. I lost five kilograms in my first month of attempting to lose weight. Then, I slowly lost more then gained it back. At the end of October, I was at the same weight I’d been at in early July. IN other words, while I had maintained the loss of those first five kilograms, I hadn’t lost any more. Now over the month of November, I lost three kilograms again. I now only need to lose two kilograms to no longer be obese. This means that the goal I set last June, which was to be just plain overweight rather than obese within a year, is still within reach.

One exercise I came across when reading journaling guides for overeaters, is to imagine one day of normal eating. The idea is to imagine what it’d be like to eat normally for a day, then put that plan into actual action. The thing is, even when I was still deep in disordered eating, I usually had a few days of mostly normal eating before I’d down a whole bag of sweets and/or a bag of crisps and/or other unhealthy foods wthin half an hour. For this reason, I’m going to change the exercise a little and create a food plan for a week. Most things I have already implemented, in fact.

Breakfast

I will eat a healthy breakfast each day. This means I’ll eat lower-fat yoghurt with muesli. I used to eat crunchy muesli most days, but I changed that to regular fruit muesli about a month ago. This contains significantly less calories than crunchy muesli, but it does seem to contan somewhat more sugar. Last week, I bought muesli with nuts, which I think I’ll like better than fruit muesli anyway and which is less sugary.

Lunch

I used to eat two slices of bread with peanut butter. Last month, I decided to get sandwich spread instead, which is much lower in calories, although some people tell me it’s not necessarily healthier.

In addition to bread, I started eating a few carrots, tomatoes and cucumber slices for lunch each day. I love to snack on vegetables and particularly the carrots make me feel full too.

Dinner

My husband cooks and serves my food, so I generally trust him to make me relatively healthy meals and limit my portions. Each Friday though, he gets us fries with a snack. When I restarted my weight loss journey a month ago, I thought I’d have to let go of this, but I don’t. Weight loss doesn’t mean never eating any unhealthy food, after all. That’s why I’m pretty wary of Overeaters Anonymous’ idea of abstinence as a goal. I much prefer Eating Disorders Anonymous’ idea of balance.

Snacks

I can have fruit or rice crackers as snacks when I’m home from day activities in the afternoon. During morning coffee at day activities, I should try to turn down the gingerbread, as it’s pretty high in calories and I don’t even like it very much.

On Wednesday, we have a cooking activity at day activities. I love it and am so glad I have been able to fully participate in it, including eating, while still losing weihgt. The staff usually serve it, so they decide on portion sizes.

Every other Friday, my mother-in-law accompanies me to the pharmacy to pick up my medications. I have decided that I can still buy myself something to snack on at the grocery store that’s near the pharmacy, but it needs to be something relatively healthy. For example, the last time, I had chicken bites. Then, I ate them all in one sitting, which I’m not planing on doing tomorrow. I’m still undecided as to whether I can get myself the chicken bites again and hope I’ll restrain myself and leave some for my husband, or whether I should get something else. Here, the goals of abstinence versus balance are competing again.

Drinks

I usually have coffee, tea and water throughout the day. I can have a fizzy drink or juice every once in a while. I should aim for at least two liters of fluids each day. Not even so much for weight loss purposes, but more to prevent getting constipated.

Book Review: Cruel to Be Kind by Cathy Glass

A few weeks ago, I found out about a new Cathy Glass book on an E-mail list I’m part of. Most of the members of the list are big Cathy Glass fans, but I’d never read a book by her. I badly wanted to. Cruel to Be Kind is Glass’ latest foster care memoir. I finished reading it on Saturday. Here is my review. It contains slight spoilers.

Synopsis

Cruel To Be Kind is the true story of Max, aged 6. He is fostered by Cathy while his mother is in hospital with complications from type 2 diabetes. Fostering Max gets off to a bad start when his mother, Caz, complains and threatens Cathy even before Max has moved in. Cathy and her family are shocked when they first meet Max. But his social worker isn’t the only one in denial; his whole family are too.

My Review

It wasn’t clear to me from the synopsis what it is that shocks Cathy about Max. I need to disclose it to make this review at all meaningful, hence my spoiler alert. The shocking fact is that Max is morbidly obese. Whether childhood obesity is a form of child abuse, is a controversial issue at least in the Netherlands. As an obese person myself, I was at first a little like “What’s the problem?”. Clearly this is me still not being fully accepting of the health risks of my own obesity. Max though is not just obese – he weighs twice as much as he should at his young age.

As is said in the synopsis, Max’s family and social worker are in denial. His mother and sisters are all morbidly obese too and, even though Max’s mother Caz has type 2 diabetes, she at first refuses to admit Max needs to lose weight.

I at first thought this would be a rather boring story, but it isn’t. In fact, it has many layers. I really got to know Max, Caz and Max’s sisters as they struggle with the generational curse of child abuse and domestic violence. I loved how Cathy attempts to portray most people she interacted with as humans with their strengths and weaknesses. For example, at first Caz was portrayed like a demanding, hostile feeder. In the end, she warms up to Cathy and discloses the dark secrets behind her overeating.

Overall, I really liked this book and it totally has me hungry for similar books. The only thing I really didn’t like about the book, is its title. Max at the end uses the phrase that you have to be cruel to be kind sometimes as an expression of gratitude for Cathy’s having put him on a diet. This phrase and the use of the words “tough love” in the same statement, did trigger me a bit.

Book Details

Title: Cruel to Be Kind: Saying No Can Save a Child’s Life
Author: Cathy Glass
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication Date: September 2017

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Reasons I Want to Lose Weight

I am nearly three weeks into my weight loss journey. So far, I have managed to keep off the weight I lost in my first week, but haven’t lost any more weight. Next week is my birthday, which is too special an occasion for dieting. My parents and sister will be over this coming week-end, but I don’t hope that between this and my actual birthday, that will be three days of overeatig. I’m just hoping that I won’t gain any weight.

I fully intended to stick with the journaling challenge which my post last week was inspired by regularly. I did stick with the food journal, but other things got in the way of me journaling about my journey again. The second exercise in the 28-day weight control journaling challenge by Mari L. McCarthy asks me to list every reason I can think of why I want to lose weight. McCarthy recommends going beyond the obvious reasons and digging deeper into my motivation. I have been thinking all week and it’s proving harder than I expected. Today, I will attempt to do this exercse.

Health-Related Reasons

My health is the main reason I want to lose weight. I once watched an episode of Dr. G: Medical Examiner in which Dr. G examined the bodies of people who had died of the five most common avoidable causes of death in the United States. One of the bodies was of a young woman of my height who weighed 117kg. My first thought was: “So I’m not that bad.” Then again, that woman was dead. I am alive and would like to continue living for another five or six decades. Obesity was at the time the second most common avoidable cause of death after smoking. I am pretty sure it’s surpassed smoking now.

Here are the health-related reasons for me to lose weight.


  • I have high blood pressure, whch is linked to obesity. I want to prevent this hypertension from becoming chronic.

  • I snore. This not only wakes my husband. It also causes me to wake up unrefreshed. Snoring is bidirectionally related to obesity. I don’t stop breathing (yet), but I don’t want to get this far and ideally want to stop snoring entirely.

  • I want to increase my mobility, endurance, flexibility and general fitness.

  • I don’t want to become a type 2 diabetic.

  • Coronary heart disease runs in my family on both sides. I want to lower my risk of this.

  • I have back pain semi-regularly. This is in part due to scoliosis, but I’m pretty sure those 20kg of extra weight I carry don’t help.

Mental Health

Exercise and eating a balanced diet are not just good for your physical health, but mental health as well. I experience mild to moderate depression every once in a while. Though at the time I was most miserable in my life, I was at a healthy weight, my weight of course wasn’t the reason I was miserable. Besides, even though I felt miserable at the time, I didn’t feel as inert as I often do now. This could definitely be related to those extra pounds.

Then there is my self-image. I know that my body image and self-esteem aren’t magically going to increase if I lose weight and my husband still finds me attractive. However, I do feel that increased physical fitness will increase my sense of success.

Goals

So what are my weight loss goals? My ultimate goal is to be at a healthy BMI in 2 1/2 years. As I already said, in one year, I want to have dropped my first 10kg so that I’m no longer obese.

One month from now, I want to be able to work-out on the elliptical trainer for 25 minutes a day, five days a week. I also hope that by that time, I’ve heard from the adaptive horseback riding school I signed up for last week. Lastly, I hope to have dropped one kilogram.

Inspire me. What are your reasons for staying at or getting to a healthy weight?

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Finally Starting My Weight Loss Journey

On the Sunday before yesterday, I finally stepped onto the scale for the first time since leaving the institution. I had resolved for months that I’d be losing weight once home. Though I had done an okay job of not overeating, I made up for this by regular evening snacking.

I was rather scared as I went onto the scale. In the institution, I had felt nervous, but I didn’t feel like I had to compare myself to the nurses who were weighing me. My husband is at a healthy weight yet still wants to lose a little, while I am obese. I was very scared that my husband would judge me. I hoped I had lost weight, but I had not been on this particular scale in months. As it turned out, I had unfortunately gained quite a bit of weight. I was at my highest weight ever. Being shocked that I weighed nearly 80kg (176lbs), while I am only 1.53m (5ft) tall, I decided to finally lose weight. I use a journaling workbook by Mari L. McCarthy to guide me through the first month. Today’s post is an adaptation of the first jornaling exercise. It asks me to freewrite for ten minutes. I need more time to write out my thoughts on the start of my weight loss journey.

I started a food journal last Thursday. It was hard, because I really had no clue how to know whether I was consuming too many calories. Not that I meant to be too judgmental of myself. I had kept a food journal once before when I was around fourteen and all it did was depress me. Now at that time I just went on overeating like I’d done before and judged myself without actually using my findings as a starting point for change.

On Saturday, my husband showed me a site where you can see how many calories are in each product. I still don’t plan on keeping full track of my calorie intake, but it does help me become aware of which foods are healthy and which are not. For example, people believe that dried fruit is healthy, but for weight loss it definitely is not. I happened to know this one, but a few other calorie facts are surprising to me. For example, I sincierely believed gingerbread is healthy until I found out that a large slice of gingerbread contains about 150 calories. Now I know why at day activities, we can only have it once a week.

When I went onto the scale again on Saturday, I had lost 2kg. It’s probably more because I had been a bit bloated the week before, but it still gives me hope. I originally resolved to lose 10kg in a year, which would put me in the overweight rather than obese range. I hope that over the next month, I can keep these 2kg off at least and maybe even lose some more. I need to lose about a kilogram a month to reach my goal.

Besides making sure I eat less and healthier, I decided to go get my butt off the chair. On the day I started my journey, I resolved to walk for 36 minutes, which would burn the amount of calories I’d have to consume less each day to reach my goal. After 20 minutes, my right foot hurt so badly that I had to slowly walk back home. I do better on the elliptical. Last Saturday, I managed 25 minutes on it. We also went swimming a few times last week, which I love.

I really hope that this journey is going to be a mostly positive experience. There will be hard times, as I’ll no doubt be tempted to overeat again. I hope I will overcome these without giving in or giving up.

Mummy Times Two

When I Look in the Mirror…: Blindness and Body Image

Today, Finish the Sentence Friday’s starter sentence is: “When I look in the mirror, I see…”. Now I could easily respond that I’m blind so I don’t see anything in the mirror. That would however be feeding a common misconception, that is, that blind people don’t have body image issues because they can’t see what they look like in the mirror. Some people even go so far as to assume blind people can’t have eating disorders for this reason. First of all, of course, not all eating disorders are about body image. However, let me tell you, I know several blind people with anorexia, which is in part about body image.

The relationship between my blindness and my body image is however quite complicated. I can’t say there is no relationship, because there is. For example, I gained over 40lbs in the last four years. I know this because people tell me the number on the scale. However, I haven’t tried this but I’m pretty sure that if I had to estimate my size, I would be far off and see myself as far thinner than I am. I do obviously feel my body and I use my hands to measure it. That’s gotten harder as I’ve become bigger, but I don’t notice it as much as someone would by looking in the mirror. I don’t exactly see myself as skinny, in that I know I’m quite fat, but I do often have a hard time reconciling the numbers on the scale with how I feel like I look.

This may seem weird, because I do have a negative image of my body’s shape and size. I hate the fact that I’m fat. When I notice clothing getting tighter, I feel pretty awful about myself. I’ve said that I should weigh half as much as I do now (which would put me in the underweight range). That being said, I play these mind tricks where I allow myself to gain weight despite wanting to lose it. Like, I’ve gotten this insane kind of logic where I’m at a good weight if halving it would put me in the anorexic range. I got it from a Dutch book called something like “How I halved myself and won the battle against anorexia again”.

There are other aspects to body image of course. People who estimate my age by looking at my face, usually think I’m quite a bit older than I am. I can feel the tiny wrinkles on my face, of course, if I really attend to them. That in turn makes them feel a lot larger than my husband says they are – he actually says I don’t have wrinkles at all. However, again, in my mind I still see myself as looking like a teenager.

The last time I had some vision of what I looked like, I was about thirteen. In this light, it makes sense that I am stuck on the image of myself as a teenager. It’s not just my body image though. I still see myself as somewhat like a teenager in many ways. That could be my autistic difficulty adjusting to change applied to myself.

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Fighting My Disordered Eating

“Fight” is one of the writing prompts from Mama’s Losin’ It for this week. The first thing that came to mind as I reflect on this word is my fight against my eating disorder tendencies. This fight has been on my mind a lot lately.

Last week, had a bad binge and then in the evening, a fellow patient gave us cake. A nurse was joking about all the calories in the cake, poking my tummy as she asked: “Do you want whipped cream on your cake?” This was extremely triggering to me. At first, I thought “screw you” and decided to indeed get whipped cream on my cake. As time went by and I ruminated on what had happened, the nurse’s words and actions took on a life of their own, causing me to doubt my will to recover from binge eating. Not that I didn’t want to lose weight, but my initial instinct was to move back in the direction of bulimia by starting to purge again.

I later told the nurse that what had happened had been immensely triggering and she assured me that she’d just been fooling around a bit. Usually, this nurse has quite good ideas for helping me recovr from my disordered eating tendencies, so I took no further offense.

This doesn’t mean the doubts about how to fight my obesity have gone. In fact, the only thing holding me back from starting to purge again is my chronic heartburn, for which I’m getting an upper GI endoscopy done to see what might be wrong. I don’t have that long of a history of purging, but that doesn’t mean that the purging I did do can’t have caused damage. It certainly won’t get better if I resort back to purging now.

However, eating disorders are not just about preserving one’s health. After all, they often do the exact opposite. There is this hierarchy in eating disorders where restrictive anorexics rank as most perseverant and stubborn, followed by binge/purge anorexics, bulimics depending on their weight and the biggest losers (no pun intended) are the compulsive overeaters. In other words, as someone who suffers from binge eating only, I’m a total failure of an eating disorder sufferer. Yet I am not just an eating disorder sufferer, I am a person who happens to have disordered eating tendencies and who wants to fight these tendencies.

This hierarchy of the eating disordered is, however, also reflected in how seriously I take myself and am taken by other people with regard to my disordered eating tendencies. When I still purged, my GP put in my file that I had bulimia. I didn’t – bulimia has very strict criteria that I didn’t meet -, but it was in my records nonetheless. Now that I probably do meet the criteria of binge eating disorder, I’m commonly seen as just a little overweight at best and as an unmotivated, lazy fatass at worst. It’s probably crazy that I’d rather be seen as sick than lazy.

Mama’s Losin’ It

A Letter to My Body

Dear body,

I am sorry. I have not been taking good care of you lately. I have not been exercising regularly, have been binge eating a lot and have slept at all the wrong moments and been awake at night.

Of course, I could blame my eating disorder and see it as something entirely separate from myself. I could blame the holiday season. I could blame the winter blues (or general blues, since I’m not sure if it’s seasonal at all) for my laziness regarding exercise, my increase in binge eating and my poor sleeping habits. Then again, that’d be avoiding my responsibility.

Sometimes, I feel as though you don’t deserve to be taken care of. I feel you’re ugly, fat and unheathy anyway. You’re fat, but at least my husband doesn’t consider you ugly and you could be a lot less healthy than you are.

Besides, right now I don’t have as poor an image of you as I had before. I like my skin feeling softer when I apply shower cream, then scrub it, then apply body butter. I particularly even like my belly, which is the part you seem to be storing most of your fat.

I want you to know there’s nothing you did to deserve me stuffing you with binge food and depriving you of the exercise and sleep you need. I’m stressed, but you didn’t cause me to be stressed. I’m slightly depressed, but you didn’t cause me to be depressed.

So I want to thank you for being relatively healthy while I don’t take as good care of you as I should. All your major functions (except for vision of course) are intact. You keep your vitamin and mineral levels okay. You haven’t developed diseases like diabetes or heart disease in spite of your obesity, caused by my lack of proper care. You are okay.

As I said, I could look at your negative attributes: your not being as fit as I’d like you to be, your causing me acid reflux, irritable bowel syndrome and random pains and aches. Then again, whether it’s you causing me these problems or me causing you these problems, could be debated. The thing is, I can’t change your functions without taking better care of you first.

As dialectical behavior therapy also teaches, I can’t change you witout accepting you as you are first. You are okay as you are. Now I can work on improving you.

Yours,
Astrid

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Mom's Small Victories

Those First Five Pounds

As regular readers of this blog will know, I am quite overweight. In fact, I need to lose about 30lbs to be at a healthy BMI. Thankfully, I haven’t gained any weight in the past eighteen months, but I haven’t lost any either.

One of this week’s prompts over at Mama’s Losin’ It asks me what is sabotaging my plans of losing five pounds. Though five pounds isn’t even enough to get my BMI under 30, every journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. So what’s keeping me from losing those first few pounds?

Let me for once not go into the details of my disordered eating habits. I have written many times abut my tendency towards emotional eating and bingeing, but this does not seem to be the only factor keeping me from dropping those first five pounds. Of course, weihgt loss requires self-control, and this is exactly what I lack during a bingeing episode. However, doesn’t everyone have times when they lose control over themselves? Also, I’ve not binged in a few weeks and yet haven’t lost any weight. Could it not be the simple habit of eating too much over an extended period of time and not getting my butt off the chair that is truly keeping me from losing any weight?

I don’t check food labels when I get something to eat. I don’t count calories. Now I’m not advocating obsessing over calories, but some awareness is essential for weight loss. I habitually think that foods are less calorie-rich than they actually are. This doesn’t just go for binge foods like candy, where I can easily exceed 2000 calories in one binge. I was shocked one day when my husband and I went to McDonald’s for lunch and I had downed 1000 calories with what I considered a small meal. Like, a burger, small serving of fries and a small milkshake. Yes, I do know milkshakes are not healthy, but I seriously didn’t know they were that high on calories. My husband warned me that I shouldn’t eat 1000 extra calories everyday or I’d gain over 100lbs in a year. The truth is, I probably exceed the number of calories I burn by at least 500 almost everyday.

I also don’t exercise nearly enough. I get fitness-focused physical therapy once a week and go to the gym once a week for 45 minutes. That’s not enough. In addition, I should be going on the elliptical or stationary bike at least twice during the week. I did this faithfully for a while, but have been too lazy to do this lately. I do go for walks, but not as often as most people do.

Now that I review this post, it’s a miracle I am not over 200lbs already. I went to the gym this morning, so I’m not sure it’s healthy to go on the elliptical now. Then again, I didn’t disclose how much I ate today and am not going to go into detail on it either (hint: 720 calories for lunch). It’s too bad writing about weight loss won’t get me to drop those extra pounds.

Mama’s Losin’ It

Physical Effects of My Eating Disorder

The first journaling question in Journaling in Eating Disorder Recovery is about body image. The author asks you to journal about what your eating disorder is doing to your body. She also asks you to contemplate whether your body image is worth these effects.

My eating disorder mostly involves bingeing, which is good for neither my body nor my body image. After all, it not only causes me to be nauseated after a binge and get acid reflux (I believe this is also triggered by bingeing and not just by purging), but above all it has caused me to gain about 40lbs in a two-year period. As a result, I am now about 30lbs overweight. This of course results in poor body image, because, you know, I don’t just think I am fat.

I just googled the physical effects of bulimia, and some I find are related to bingeing. For example, people who binge get a bloated stomach and stomach pains. The bloated stomach causes it to take longer before you feel full. A severe binge can even lead to a ruptured stomach.

I also purge on a semi-regular basis. While I don’t purge nearly as often as some bulimics, I do vomit significantly more than people who are sick every now and again with a stomach bug. Purging can have the following effects:


  • Tooth decay.

  • Erosion of dental enamel.

  • Dehydration.

  • Irritation of the esophagus.

  • Sore throat.

  • Acid reflux.


I have many of these symptoms.

Of some symptoms I found, it isn’t stated whether bingeing, purging or laxative use causes them, but I have them whichever is the cause. For example, one source listed acne as a possible effect. I use to think I’m too old for acne, but nonetheless I do get an eruption when my eating disorder is particularly severe.

Effects that aren’t mentioned, are the long-term consequences of obesity. Think, for example, type 2 diabetes. I don’t know where he found this so can’t check the source, but my husband says that eating lots of sweets is now thought to actually lead to type 2 diabetes because of leading to a chronically elevated blood glucose level.

Is my body image worth these consequences? Of course, my body image is damaged by my being obese, but what if purging actually causes weight loss? Note in this sense that in my case it hasn’t led to weight loss, but just suppose it did. Then, still, I would have to say that health is more important than outer beauty.

I do, however, sometimes believe that purging can’t hurt while obesity can. In this sense, I weigh the health risks rather than the effects on my body image. Or do I?

After all, people’s encouraging obese people to lose weight for health reasons is generally coupled with a lot of shaming of people’s fat status. Even if other people don’t say so, I tend to think that I need to lose weight to be good enough. I still tend to think my husband doesn’t find me attractive even though he’s stated a few times that his reason for encouraging me to lose weight is my health. Other people, like some staff, do more clearly fat-shame. For example, we get metabolic screenings, including waist measurements, every six months to a year. At my last screening, the nurse took my measurements and then commented I really need to lose weight. So far it could still be interpreted as pure concern for my health, but another patient was next. She took this woman’s measurements and then commented to me: “See, it can get worse.” That really was an unnecessary comment that instilled shame rather than motivation to get healthy.

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Where I Am on My Eating Disorder Journey Right Now

I had a particularly bad week in the eating disorder department. I joined a (not too bad) American pro-ana site and considered joining the bad pro-ana sites that the Netherlands is rife with but was held back by their requirement that I post my weight. I had two binge episodes (Wednesday and today) and am currently fighting off the urge to purge.

In order to motivate myself for recovery or, if that doesn’t work, at least to distract myself from the disordered thoughts, I searched for recovery challenges agian. I remember starting one last year but never completing it. I have no intention of really completing this one either, but I thought I’d answer the first question, which asks you to assess where you are in recovery.

First, here are my stats:


  • Height: 1.53m or 5.0ft.

  • Weight: 74kg or 163lb or 11st 9lb.

  • BMI: 31.6.


Since becoming a psychiatric inpatient in 2007, I’ve gained 20kg, most of which I gained over the past three years.

It would be tempting to say I’m at my lowerst point ever in terms of recovery. After all, I’m one kilogram from my highest weight ever and to be honest I didn’t weigh myself just now but am taking my weight from a few weeks back here. For this reason, chances are I’m currently a bit over that 75kg mark.

If I’m truly honest, I must say I’ve never been truly recovering from my eating disorder. My eating disorder has changed, but some behavioral manifestations were always there. I’ve been overeating for fifteen years, probably binge eating to some extent even for all those years, although I didn’t recognize that what I was doing was more than just overeating until a few years ago. I purged for a while too.

On said American pro-ana site, I defined my eating disorder as in the middle between bulimia and binge eating disorder. In fact, however, I’ve not purged in months so am actually suffering with pure BED (I’ve never engaged in other compensatory behaviors). My staff see it as simple overeating so I’ve not been formally diagnosed with an eating disorder. I guess they’d rather see me as one of their so many obese patients who refuses to lose weight than deal with the underlying problem. I don’t know honestly whether I’m motivated either. Not having had any therapy that worked for any of my issues except a bit of guidance for my autism in 2007, I’m uncertain that I’m fit to ever recover.

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