Category: Uncategorized

30
May
2019

Perception…

I wrote this post today for a Facebook group I’m part of. Thought it was worth posting here as well:

There’s been a few posts on perception in here lately, and I thought I’d add my 2 cents worth.

As I may’ve mentioned, I’m bulking right now – I have let my eating get very out of control at times, and ballooned in weight really quickly. 

When I look at myself in the mirror, all I see is that I’ve lost all semblance of upper ab definition and my belly is round. When I weigh myself all I see is that I’m xx kilos heavier than I was a few months ago. When I get dressed, I freak out about the fact that my pants are tight and I’m on the last hole on my belt. 

Yet it’s really easy to forget about the other stuff.

OK, I’ve had some binges. I had another one yesterday, funnily enough. But I’ve also been enjoying many different types of foods that I’d previously cut out of my diet and so meals are more enjoyable. I went out for dinner for the wife’s birthday on Saturday night and it was almost a pleasurable experience, 6 months ago it would have been a really stressful experience of choosing what to eat and trying to fit it into a calorie target somehow.

Being well fed has also markedly improved my mood and motivation. I still get grumpy, but I’m generally happier than I was, and I’m actually getting more done at work instead of just drifting along. And people are noticing that I am easier to get along with, which is nice. This means I can be a better work colleague, husband and father – this is really freaking important!

On the training front, I am stronger in the gym than I have ever been – have been adding weight to the bar every single week and hitting easy PRs almost every session.

OK, my waist has grown. But my arms are filling out my t-shirts. My upper back wants to rip my work shirts open when I bend over to tie my shoes. My thighs are filing out my work pants and might be growing faster than my waist is. 

This week I have had 4 separate people comment on how good I’m looking. Obviously these are only people that see me with clothes on. But clearly, the changes in my body composition are noticeable and I have stacked on some muscle as well as the fat.

Not only that – while I do still have some niggles from training, I’m not sore all the time. I’m also sleeping better. 

So, am I happy with how I look naked? No. 

Am I able to rationalise it and be OK with it, considering all the other good things that have come along with gaining weight? Yes.

Sorry, this is a bit of a brain dump, but in keeping with this group’s theme… remember that the number on the scale and your physical appearance are just one aspect of the beautiful creature that is YOU. It’s OK that those things are important to you. In fact, I think they should be important to everyone, because if we don’t take care of ourselves and our bodies, we can’t take care of others.

But we can’t let them take over our every thought and feeling about our identity. There are more important things. 

I said to my dietician yesterday, I got into this fitness caper to get healthy, live longer, and be a better husband and father. Instead I let it become an obsession and the worse it got, the less time I spent living in the present with my family and giving them the attention they deserve. I regret that mistake deeply, but feel very grateful that I’m not divorced and I’ve taken steps to restore the balance in my life; I’m not quite there yet but have taken great strides.

If you’ve read this far, I hope it helps you in your journey. Examine your why, and consider whether your current path is really taking you toward that goal or if you’re just habitually doing the things you’ve always done. Is there something you can change? Why not make that change today? What’s holding you back? Probably just fear. It’s easy to say, but that’s just an emotion and usually, it’s an irrational one. The more you challenge that fear the easier it gets and the easier it gets the more motivating it is to continue.

I love the people in this group. I’m sorry so many of you are struggling. I know it’s damn difficult at times. But there is light at the end of the tunnel and you are all fantastic human beings that deserve happiness and peace. Go out and get it. Life’s too damn short to waste.

23
May
2019

Fitbit – gone, appetite – still insane

Good news and bad news.

This morning I took the Fitbit off and went back to a watch. The thing had been buzzing at me yesterday multiple times (since I’d been travelling and unable to move much) and I managed to ignore it. So this morning I figured it was time:

This is the longest I’ve gone without wearing one for a couple of years, it normally only comes off to charge or shower. I’m not sure if I’ll ever put it back on again – there might be some value in using it to track sleep – though in practice, what exactly will I do with the data anyway? If I ever do another longer term diet it might be useful to track steps, if I can avoid it becoming compulsive – but I don’t expect to do that for a while, hopefully.

The bad news is, I lost control at the conference buffet at lunchtime today and ate well past the point of fullness. I suppose there’s some consolation in the fact that it was mostly quality food, sandwiches and wraps and quiches and fruit and stuff, with only a smattering of extra small desserts. The anxiety of being in a strange place with strange people, I guess… but I wish I’d extricated myself from the situation. I’ve gained so much weight already, and feel like homeostasis at this size would be good. But that won’t happen if I don’t learn to maintain some control over my appetite and I’ll be cutting again sooner than I want to.

I was really looking forward to a decent takeaway/restaurant meal tonight, but now I’ll have to see how I feel. At least I had a small win last night and enjoyed a burger for tea, and avoided the temptation to get a light supermarket meal. That’s a win of sorts, I guess….

14
May
2019

My Thoughts on Diet Culture, Intuitive Eating and Health At Every Size

This might be a long post.

Some time ago if you’d asked me about the HAES movement, I would have parroted the thoughts of a podcaster I had been listening to at the time. He said something along the lines of the movement condoning (if not glorifying) obesity and that we shouldn’t have obese people on magazine covers because that celebrates and justifies unhealthy lifestyle choices. At the time I agreed fairly strongly. But having now done a lot more research into HAES I think I understand it a little better and feel like at least some of that condemnation might have been misplaced.

For a start, it’s Health at every size – not Healthy. I don’t think too many people associated with the movement would deny the fact that obesity is correlated with all sorts of negative health outcomes, and that in a perfect world nobody would be obese. I think the movement is intended to try and stamp out fat-shaming, and to encourage people to try and develop healthy lifestyle habits, regardless of where they’re starting from. I can’t fault either of these aims.

I guess where I do have an issue with it is telling people that all bodies are different and therefore you should be comfortable at whatever your natural weight is. Sure, all bodies are different – I’m cool with that idea. But if you’re a 5 foot tall woman weighing 100 kilograms is that really your natural weight? Or did you have to work a sedentary job, spend your evenings on the couch, and ignore a whole truckload of hunger and satiety cues over many years to get there? Not judging – I’ve been there (well, except for the woman part) but I’d bet that for most people, these lifestyle factors and overeating can be addressed with a little effort and the ‘natural’ weight you can sustainably maintain is somewhere well south of ‘dying young of a heart attack’ unhealthy. So I think we have to be careful in condoning people’s choices and telling them ‘it’s OK’ to be overweight especially when they are clearly unhappy about it.

On a related note – since I started really trying to fix my issues with food, I’ve been reading and listening to a lot of resources about intuitive eating and most of them are all very down on ‘diet culture’ – suggesting that it’s toxic and that dieting ‘doesn’t work’. Again, I have some sympathy with the viewpoint that slimness (women) or lean muscularity (men) is promoted as the ideal for everyone but we are all different and what is healthy (mentally and physically), sustainable and desirable is likewise going to vary. We would all do better to just focus on being the best version of ourselves that we can be rather than trying to compare ourselves with models and celebrities who have goodness knows what genetic, lifestyle and pharmaceutical advantages helping them to present those perfect bodies to the world on a pedestal. But again, that doesn’t mean there aren’t good aspects of it and that we shouldn’t give people the tools to change their lifestyles and their bodies if that’s what they desire to do.

The fact is – diets DO work – assuming the aim of the diet is to lose weight. Statistics show that the vast majority of dieters do manage to lose significant weight, the problem is that most of them don’t maintain it in the long term. And I would argue that that’s probably because most people choose the wrong approach and treat the diet as a temporary thing, instead of making permanent, sustainable changes. In many cases this is because they were promised the world by some charlatan fitpro or celebrity and after successfully losing that weight they went back to the same old habits that got them overweight in the first place. And so the circle continues….

It’s such a shame that the industry is so full of these people, and they do make diet ‘culture’ a pretty toxic place to spend time. But that said, I have a hard time understanding why so many people get sucked into the rubbish these people are spruiking. The old adage ‘if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is’ rings really true to me here, even when I was young and naive I don’t think I ever would have believed that eating that ‘one magic food’ or going on a 2 week juice cleanse would somehow magically make me lose weight and keep it off forever – I was always taught that nothing worth doing in life is ever easy. But yet every day people still get hoodwinked by all sort of scams and I think it comes down to the fact that so many of us are sad and lonely and just want to believe in something, even if it does seem a bit too easy. Unfortunately losing weight really isn’t – and it can be so overwhelming, especially if you have a lot to lose. But it’s like any major project, you just have to get started, and eat that elephant one bite at a time.

Which brings me to my final point, about intuitive eating. I’ve read the book, and I’m attempting to incorporate the principles into my lifestyle, because I believe that being a formerly obese person I need to utilise some sort of strategy to control my food intake and maintain a healthy weight for the rest of my life. In my heart I know that if I don’t, then I will continue to overconsume all the calorie dense foods that I love and will end up back where I started, fat and unhappy. However – I don’t necessarily agree with Intuitive Eating in the sense that it’s supposed to be entirely weight neutral and your body weight will settle where it does – I think true intuitive eating will result in a body that maintains a composition without excess fat. Sure, what constitutes ‘excess’ will be different for everyone, but as I said above I think in the vast majority of cases obesity occurs because we ignore the body’s signals and eat the wrong foods for the wrong reasons. I see no reason why most of us shouldn’t be able to maintain a body composition we’re happy with while eating intuitively, although this might also require some emotional deep diving to understand the reasons we eat foods outside of just hunger / needing fuel. And that takes work.

13
May
2019

Progress – Eating ‘Clean’ and Obsessing Over Nutritional Facts

In a related post I outlined how I would obsessively track and weigh all my food in MyFitnessPal to try and keep my calories and individual macronutrients as perfect and evenly spread through the day as I could. The other facet of this that of course I was obsessed with keeping fats down, keeping carbohydrate low (except around times of high activity like training) and keeping protein high, which meant I had to cut out pretty much any ‘junk’ food (most of it wouldn’t fit into my macros anyway) and I spent lots and lots of time looking at the nutrition labels on everything I purchased from the supermarket and everything I ate. This also used to cause a lot of anxiety when eating food prepared by others, both when eating out as well as family occasions, work functions, etc.

Thankfully, since I stopped tracking food in MyFitnessPal this has almost become a thing of the past and I’m now quite capable of buying and/or eating things without looking at the label. The temptation is still there a lot of the time, but mostly I am able to ignore it. Sometimes if I need to look at the packet (for example, I cooked some frozen oven bake vegetables the other night and needed to look at the cooking instructions) and I’m tempted, I’ll just cover them with my fingers so I don’t even accidentally see them. Other times I will look at them just for kicks but I will say to myself that if I am going to look at them that I am not going to let the macros influence my decision, I am eating whatever it is, regardless!

As far as the calorie/macro breakdown of food, I do still have goals of developing a decent physique so I still try to eat good quality foods most of the time, however I try to adhere to the 80/20 rule and allow myself plenty of treats. Not only that, but I am well aware that part of recovering from this thing fully is to teach my brain that no foods are off limits, so I need to regularly eat my fear foods, in order that they can just become ordinary foods again. I learnt the hard way, as I’ve been going through my extreme hunger phase, that any time I am craving something and I choose not to have it, it almost always results in a bigger feast (what I would call a binge) later on. And those episodes of extreme hunger are not fun – I don’t enjoy or savor the food because I am slamming it down so manically, and the digestive after effects last a day or two and impact on my ability to eat meals with my family. Plus psychologically they make me feel like shit – so I’m far better to just eat the fucking food and enjoy it!

And speaking of enjoyment – eating out and those family occasions are so. much. easier. now – I can just go and eat without guilt, mostly. I do still try to make healthy choices – both for my physique goals as well as my feeling of well being, because there are certain foods (mostly very high-fat ones) that will leave me feeling bloated and heartburny even in small quantities. I just have to be careful to make sure I’m restricting those foods for the right reasons and not listening to Dmitry.