Day One

swing, girl, book, 'Today your efforts will be rewarded'

My inspiration

I love this poster!!

It inspires me every time I walk past it at my local shopping centre.

It’s actually an advertisement for HSBC insurance, somehow, but I love the thought that the effort I put in will absolutely bring results. It keeps me feeling like there is a point to what I’m doing, and that the goal isn’t so far away.

Okay, time to get serious.

Yesterday I had an appointment with a dietician. Yes, a dietician. To discuss my diet.

Oh boy!!

My GP was lucky. He did some blood tests and found some nutritional deficiencies. Quite a few actually!!

So all he needed to say was that he wanted the deficiencies corrected through diet rather than by adding yet more tablets to my current regimen, and referred me to a dietician on that basis. This is why he didn’t want to add more tablets, and this is just the morning!!

capsules, tablets

My morning kickstart!

He escaped having to go through the process of telling me, ‘you’re fat”! Lucky him! Although we both knew that underneath the conversation that we were actually having was another silent conversation along the lines of “since we met 6 months ago you have gained a tonne of weight and you really have to do something about it, starting now!”

But coming at the subject from a less obvious angle made it a lot easier for him to bring it up, and for me to accept it. Clever!

I’ve seen a new side to being a health professional lately; the ‘getting patients to see things from your viewpoint without thinking they’re being forced there’ skill. It’s vital to successful relationships with patients, and to achieving the outcome that’s best for them. Even when they may not think so.

Kudos to the excellent health professionals that have cared for me over the last year! I respect and appreciate your negotiating and information-giving skills in hindsight, even if I was a difficult patient back when we met. Thank you!

So the dietician. A lovely softly spoken slim fit-looking girl who told me I was beautiful and had amazing eyes! Nice work!! Just like that she had me feeling flattered and accepting of everything she was about to say; well done. Seriously, I’m impressed! And I’m learning new skills in people-management.

So, what did she have to say? Nothing that I wasn’t expecting, to be honest. I knew the ‘what’ of the appointment, although maybe not quite the extent.

Here’s the facts:

1) On October 24th 2013 I weighed 77.65kg. I had spent 14 months from August 2012 to October 2013 losing weight, and had dropped 9kg which I was pretty proud of.

2) On May 23rd 2014 I weighed 95.4kg!! Nearly 18kg gained in 7 months!! Oh dear…

3) My cholesterol level has been borderline high since my first WorkSafe health check in 2010, at that point due to 4 years of chocolate bingeing. Unfortunately in the last 6 months it has gone from borderline high to do-something-now-before-you-have-a-heart-attack-or-stroke high!! At this point, it’s due to 8 years of chocolate bingeing!! My LDL cholesterol (so-called “bad” cholesterol) is 7.5, and the upper level of the range is 5.5! So, quite high!!

Question from the dietician: “do you want to live a long life with your husband?”. Me: “yes, of course!”. Dietician: “then you really have to do something about your cholesterol”!!

4) My vitamin D level is getting progressively lower. It was normal last year and at the start of this year and low a couple of years ago so I guess it fluctuates. Spending the last 3 months at home and not getting out much has not helped my incidental sunshine exposure! So back on supplements.

5) My iron storage level (ferritin) is low. This one puzzles me and everyone else because there’s no obvious cause. So diet, you need some change. More meat, but no more fat…interesting conundrum!!

6) My waist measurement is 100cm!! The safe upper limit of waist circumference to prevent heart disease in women is 80cm…quite a bit of work to do there! Oh, and I look like I’m 5 months pregnant!!

7) Most relevant fact: I now have 3 skirts left that fit (ish)and 90% of my wardrobe no longer fits!!! Or it squishes my waist into weird shapes and bulges, or clings to wide parts of me – not nice for anybody!!

So we know the what. Now for the why.

I know this one too.

Binge eating, comfort eating, boredom eating, drug-induced craving eating, habit eating…are there any other kinds? Oh yeah, guilt eating, shame eating etc.

Food has always been a weakness with me. I love it, I enjoy it but it has gotten to be a habit and comfort to me.

While I’ve been really sick it was one of the only things that I could still get enjoyment from when I’d lost interest in everything else. It was nice to be able to enjoy the flavour, texture, taste when everything else had lost it’s interest and enjoyment.

In times of severe depression when I have lost all my energy, motivation, and was tired, flat and struggling to do anything, I would eat sugar after sugar after sugar to try to get just a little scrap of energy so that I could do SOMETHING!! Sour straps, chocolate, licorice, berries, frozen yoghurt…the list goes on!

The rest of the time, just having the food near was enough reason to reach out and eat.

Did it work? Did it give me energy? No. But it made me feel good for a little bit. And I kept doing it, because I like it!

But then it would make me feel bad. Guilty, ashamed, embarrassed, feeling over-full and gross.

The dietician gave me a diagram that perfectly describes how I’ve found over-eating:

a diagram of the cycle of emotional eating

The Vicious Cycle of Emotional Eating – perfectly described!

But it’s time to stop. Time to break the cycle, for once and for all.

I’m (hopefully!) past the worst mood swings and have a bit more energy and time to put into Project Danika. So here we are, Day ONE.

And here’s the plan.

My cholesterol is shocking so it’s the first thing to be addressed. I’m trying a radical new meal plan: eat breakfast, lunch and tea. That’s all.

Hmmm. It’s a long time since I’ve eaten 3 meals and nothing else in the day!! I’m allowed morning and afternoon tea but from today, no more mindless snacking, eating from boredom, for sugar hits, mood improvers or anything else along that line.

What I eat for my main meals is actually fine, no dietician amendments needed. It’s everything in between that needs to be eliminated. So here goes, no snacking!

A few things I learned yesterday: cravings last from 9 to 12 minutes therefore if I can keep my mind and body busy for 10 minutes whenever a craving hits I will be able to get through feeling the need for food to feeling satisfied for food. Such a great tip!! Now I feel like I have an active plan that I can work on to achieve my goals.

I now know the ‘how’ of the equation! I love it. I have strategies and goals and it feels achievable. I’ve been letting myself have a free run but no more. Time for the better me to have a go at life.

The next dietician strategy if I get as far as the fridge; start asking questions! Why am I eating? Will this snack make me feel healthy? Am I hungry? Should I have a glass of water instead?

And if I get as far as actually eating? Next lot of questions: am I enjoying this? can I stop? Did I really taste that?

Failing that, just finish what you’re eating, put it down to experience and try again from now on. I’m psyched!! Having someone give me all these plans and strategies makes the biggest difference to me. I guess it may seem obvious to others, but I really need to have it broken down for me.

So with a fruit bowl full of mandarins and kiwi fruit, some celery sticks and baked bean cans, and a new approach of not buying anything that has more than 2g of fat per serve, off I go. I’ll keep you posted along the way to the 3 week mark when I revisit the dietician.

Wish me luck!

“Are you…?”

Today it happened.

Someone patted my stomach, raised their eyebrows, smiled suggestively and asked, “so, are you…?”

“Oh no”, I laughed, “it’s all fat”.

“Oh, too bad, I had my fingers crossed”.

Well it is too bad, too bad that I give the impression of a fairly pregnant lady! My husband told me so last week, and I know it. I’ve known it for a while.

In my life up until a few years ago any weight I put on was fairly evenly distributed over my body so that I never got the fat belly look, but maybe I’ve filled up all the other spaces because now it seems to go onto my belly really easily!

As a kid I could always eat as much as I liked and not put on weight. As a teenager and adult it took me a while to work out that this system no longer worked!

I’ve put on a lot of weight over the last while. There’s a few factors to blame but of course at the end of the day the only real cause to be found is food entering the body in excessive quantities. Something that I’m good at!

I love food. I’ve always loved food. I love looking at food, touching food, eating food. I love buying food, cooking food and I sometimes dream about food! I am a food person. A foodie.

I’ve always been this way, apparently right back to when I was a toddler and was easy to feed because I just liked food. As a little prep student, when the other kids were ordering 2 or 3 party pies for lunch on lunch order days (Mondays and Thursdays) I would order two full size pies and eat the lot.

But it’s more than just liking to eat and liking food.

I have a bit of a ‘thing’ about food. When we were little there was no “junk food” in our house. No lollies, chips, soft drinks, salty sugary high energy low nutrition lovely tasty food. We would have takeaway sometimes, KFC, charcoal chicken, fish and chips on a Friday night. I loved takeaway nights and hoed right in with gusto! Had to make the most of it.

We would go to the local agricultural show every year and get a show bag, the “quality” Search and Rescue for-a-good-cause type not the junky ones with lots of lollies. Still they had a few lollies and usually a Whiz Fizz. I would go home and immediately eat everything out of my bag til it was all gone.

I remember a school friend’s 7th birthday party clearly. There were Cheezels, chips, snakes and sausage rolls. I always got right in close by the table and ate as much as I could; you never know when you’re going to see Cheezels and snakes again! So I would eat mouthful after mouthful enjoying the luxury treats. Then a game was organised and everyone ran off to the next room to start it; but I stayed to cram in a few more mouthfuls so I made the most of it!

I  remember eating calf milk powder because it tasted like skim milk powder. I would take a cup full into the garden and eat it dry by the teaspoon, so it would form thick slabs on the roof of my mouth.

Then there’s my Uncle’s 30th birthday. Instead of hanging out with my cousins I hung out by the table glorying in the rare and amazing foods: cheese, fruits, lollies, chips, and one fabulous honeycomb! I stayed and ate and ate and ate. That night we drove back to the hotel where we were staying and on the way I started to have stomach pains. Stabbing, burning, hard hot pains. I had gorged myself til my stomach was literally stretching to bursting point! I rolled in agony for a couple of hours before enough food passed out of my belly to release the pressure and ease the pain. Not a great moment.

I remember stealing sweets at home on the occasion that they made in into the house. The art of finding the hidden stash, removing some of the loot and rearranging the rest of the food (dehydrated apples or apricots, fruit cakes, fruit chew bars, chocolate etc) to look as though nothing has been removed.

I remember eating frozen pastry sheets, sneaking cups of ice cream after work and eating them with a teaspoon; I loved teaspoons! Making soy and sweet chilli stir fries after work. Eating cups of cranberries and white choc chips.

Next vivid food memory: moving out of home. Getting my licence, a car and living a couple of minutes from the local supermarket. A quick drive, park and browse. I had my own money from scholarships and school holiday work and a whole supermarket. I developed some favourites and tried some new things. Twiggy sticks, brie, Shapes, Cadbury chocolate, sour straps, other lollies, chocolates, chips and drinks. And I could buy what I liked! No rules! No forbidden food. I could just go nuts!!

One favourite was Cadbury’s Peppermint Chip flavour, sadly no longer available. A fabulous combination of milky sweet chocolate with the crisp menthol tang in crunchy mini-chips. Ahhh. I would smuggle these past my chef of a Grandma and eat them in secret seclusion in my room where no one knew and no one could tell me no. Then, when tea was announced, I of course was already full but made myself eat the meal so I wouldn’t have to tell anyone that I’d already eaten, and also as a punishment for eating “naughty” food. A weird system.

So it’s been a battle of the “junk food” ever since. I read this week that 1 million Australians have an eating disorder. And I don’t think it’s only anorexia and bulimia; I think there are many over-eating disorders as well. But over-eating disorders are easily blamed on a person, calling them lazy or greedy. I’m not saying that I have an eating disorder, but I do have a certain amount of disordered thinking and eating  about food.

So that’s one factor, kind of a big one.

Second: anxiety/depression/bipolar. Lack of motivation, feeling down, feeling strung out, no energy, unable to enjoy anything. Comfort eating, eating to get energy, binge eating so that my body feels as bad as my mind, eating to enjoy at least one thing when I can’t get enjoyment out of anything. Many reasons and combined with absolutely no motivation to improve myself or keep fit at the time, make a fateful combination. Plus boredom eating.

So here I am.

9 months after I finished a 10kg weight loss over 12 months to get down to 76.7kg, my lowest weight since high school, I have put on 16kg!! I have a weekly weigh-in which is a non-negotiable thing; the theory being that at least I keep track of my weight. Yeah, that’s working! But it all happened pretty fast, with the binge eating, the medicines and the sitting/laying around the house.

So my current weight is 93.2kg. The heaviest I’ve ever been. Actually, not true – the heaviest I’ve ever been was last week, 93.75kg. Yes, I have lost 500g over the last week. It’s a good start. And I’m determined: right now I have energy, motiviation, I can get up in the morning and so it’s on!! Watching my food and exercising, here we go!!

I’ve always loved using the MyFitnessPal calorie counter. It used to work really well for me. It was a challenge, and I loved it. But now, as soon as I see the calories go into the red I just bust and go nuts! It’s not giving me the right psychology right now.

I used to love training myself. I did a three month Madison magazine fitness program where I watched my food, did 3 couch-to-5km training sessions per week, 3 strength training exercises per week and 3 stretch sessions per week. I lost weight, learned to jog and run and it was awesome. But now I just don’t have the motivation and energy. So now I need the gym – and I have an awesome trainer and a great bunch of girls at Urban Fitness doing the fab Fit Chicks program. I’ve just gotta get myself up and going and get there and it’s all on!

Third: medication. Both my antidepressant and mood stabilisers change my hunger sensors so that half an hour after a meal I can be salivating and my stomach can be rumbling even though I KNOW that I’m not hungry. Annoying, but something I can manage if I have the motivation and mental energy. Which I do now, but didn’t before.

So despite being confused for being halfway through a pregnancy, I’m pretty positive. In fact, I’m gunna go hit the gym now!! I’m psyched, I’m pumped and I love it!! I feel like a regular girl 🙂 I feel like I’m back to my old self 🙂 It’s awesome!!