Saturday, 18 March 2017

Please take a seat ...

Who would have thought that taking a seat is so difficult but trust me ... for fat people, taking a seat comes with a WHOLE lot of headaches! Just yesterday I was reminded of this very fact ... going for a simple coffee with a friend of mine, we opted to sit at a table which was essentially a booth seat (round table) and thankfully, there were two (2) separate chairs available on the one side of the table because I have almost developed a phobia for booth type seating ... why? Because, quite frankly, I feel that I might not fit between the table and the chair space and I don't want to make an idiot of myself trying to squeeze myself in that space even if the seat is more comfortable on my bum!!! It is made worse of course when the table is fixed to the ground and does not move so there's no room for making the booth seat space a bit bigger to accommodate fat people! I actually experienced this when I was pregnant too so quite frankly, people who own restaurants should think about this perhaps! It's such a hassle and it also means that fat people never get to really enjoy the booth seating ever!!!

Seating for fat people can be a real challenge ... I've not really wanted to disclose the "ugly" side of being fat but I also feel that it is important to be truthful about my experiences and it was something that really impacted me ... I've flown to Sydney and the Gold Coast and to Kalgoorlie in the past 4 years and how awful was that experience ... well let me fill you in ... not only was I squashed up next to the person next to me and feeling highly embarrassed that I'm practically overflowing into their limited space but in addition, I actually had to request an "extension" seat belt to be able to comfortably be seated through the 5hrs or more that it took to get to my destinations. Now I'm not a wallflower and I am not easily intimidated, however, having to ask for an extension belt was hard enough and I always did it as I walked on to the plane so that the air stewards could bring it to me without too much fuss or so I thought! In reality, they usually forgot my request within a few seconds and then I would have to push the bell for their attention which, as you know in those preparation stages of a flight are busy enough and then I would have to remind them of my request and then, and this is the embarrassing part, they would come over and at the top of their voices but in the most polite way say "Here you go Madam, here's your extension seatbelt" ... really ... was that so necessary? By this time, I'm surrounded by upwards of 50 or more people defeating the point of getting on early to settle myself in before everyone else arrived and really, I didn't need half the plane to know that I required an extension belt just to be able to do my seat belt up in the first place ... talk about wanting a black hole to appear and swallow me up at that very moment! And it happened time and time again ... nothing like starting a long plane ride in that frame of mind ... depressive thoughts were immediately present and there was nothing that I could do about it there and then! Of course, then when meal or snack times come along, or the person in front of you wants to recline their chair, thus diminishing the already highly limited space between my stomach and the back of their chair ... there were often times when I couldn't get the tray table out because it also couldn't fit or lie flat ... more embarrassment follows! Oh, it's such a nightmare all these things to consider and manage, all the while trying to enjoy your dinner which you feel you shouldn't be eating because that might contribute to another few kilos being piled on!

Restaurants are often no better!! Have you ever tried to squeeze yourself between other diners who have pushed their chairs out leaving room for stick figures only and then having to be seated by the hostess and all the time bumping into people with your stomach ... and/or having to push their chairs just to get through or trying to automatically find an alternative route to your table and chairs without causing a scene? I know this sounds like I'm whinging and some of you might think - well it's your own fault and you shouldn't complain but seriously people - if you know how hard it was, you would happily either get up and/or pull your chair forward for someone who was struggling at a restaurant or even stand up at the the cinema or concert hall to let someone through - it's not hard and it may be that this person has spent all their effort in just getting there in the first place because they know that this is one of the events in their evening that they are going to have to contend with when in reality, you may never have even thought about this at all because it's not an issue for you!

Chairs are not always designed with large/fat/big people in mind - take the bucket type seats at cafes ... it's uncomfortable and darn right painful when you have to fit your oversized butt into a bucket chair with arms that envelope themselves around you leaving you no room to move ... and sometimes there are delicate chairs that are so fragile you're afraid to even put one butt cheek on for fear they will not hold you! There are also the soft, comfy armchairs or lounge suites that seem to swallow you up when you sit down and you literally can't get out of them and when you do make it out, the indentation is obvious!

All of this stuff is really just one additional stress for overweight people to negotiate when they think about going out in public and so again, I would like to encourage you to think about your larger friends and ensure that when you invite them out to a cafe, restaurant or dinner somewhere that you may just be mindful of the layout and seating that these places offer in order to ensure the true comfort and joy for everyone at the table!

Take a seat ... it's not as easy as you think!

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Saying "No" is the hardest word to say!

I've been contemplating some of my own pitfalls in the journey of weight loss and one of my key "fails" is the ability to say "No" whether it is politely or not! I was asked why I wanted to be so public in my journey and to be honest, it's taken me 2 years to really start writing this BLOG so I don't think I have jumped into this forum lightly! But now, I am in the right frame of mind to be addressing these issues for myself, and I feel that I need to really express these things to others around me and beyond so that they can gain an insight into who I am but also that who ever reads this BLOG might also stop to consider how they behave around someone who is struggling with their weight.

It's a very tricky situation actually ... fat people don't want to miss out on having fun and being entertained or entertaining with friends, and we certainly don't want to miss out on social events (unless they are introverted and choose differently) and we definitely don't want to miss out just because we have to watch what we are choosing to eat or not eat as the case may be!!?

It strikes me as fascinating that there are adverts on TV in Australia at the moment which are all about people who are attempting to quit smoking and the adverts are asking people not to smoke around people who are trying to quit because it's so hard for them!

This got me thinking about people who are struggling with weight issues ... I've never seen any adverts which ask people to not eat unhealthy (fast) food around people who have a weight problem and are trying to "quit" the weight gain! In fact, it's the total opposite - the TV advert breaks (which are ridiculously frequent - I timed it one night - approximately every 3-5 minutes that you watch a show, you will also watch 3-4 minutes of adverts!!) are constantly bombarding us either directly or in subliminal ways with messages about unhealthy foods! A "McD's" promotion just hit the TV as I'm typing this ... it's subtle yet not so subtle at all! A HUGE majority of these adverts are directly marketing fast food, chocolate, lollies and fizzy drinks!

There are very few, if any, adverts that I know of, that promote eating healthy foods ... unless they are attached to some diet program ie. JC or WW, L&E etc.? If there are, I must have missed them because I don't recall any of them. So when I'm sitting in my lounge room, in previous times, I would be trying so hard not to crave a block of chocolate, or when I was trying hard to do home cooking rather than grabbing some KFC ... then I would spend the night on the "mute" button every time the adverts come to air just to avoid hearing the jingle that got into my mind and sent me to the shop or the local fast food outlet or phoning for a pizza?!

Now I know that there will be people thinking ... but you don't have to eat these foods, it's your choice and if you eat in moderation, and exercise and watch yourself, you should be fine ... but this is not the case for people like myself who are categorized as being "morbidly obese" because one weekend of eating poorly would pack on up to 3-5kgs ... and then it would take me 3-6 months, yes, I mean months to get those kilos off again?! And who doesn't feel like they deserve a treat from time to time ... it's not like I eat junk food every night of the week?! I'm going to post photos of some of the meals that I was eating both now and before ... I've tried hard to be healthy 90% of the time ... but it's the 10% that makes my weight loss a failure every time!

And why? Because I struggle to say "No" ... "No" to myself and "No" to the temptations that are presented every night on TV or around our society and "No" to lovely friends who I don't want to offend or upset, and "No" to feeling cornered or restricted if I choose that option?! And, here's the worst part ... on the odd occasion, in the past, when I did have the courage to say "No, thanks" ... then inevitably, I would receive either cajoling or peer pressure ... "Ah com'on ... just one piece, it won't hurt, you're allowed ... it'll be okay - don't miss out, it's so yummy!" type talk which made me feel guilty for using the "No" words and then I would give in ... eat the delicious morsel ... and feel like rubbish afterwards ... and then the cycle would repeat the next time!

As humans, we are social and relational by nature, and pretty much from the days of Adam and Eve, we have gathered together to enjoy fellowship with one another over ... one thing ... FOOD!! Food is not the enemy ... there have been so many times in my life when I've hated food, I've hated food for the way I look, I've hated food because there are so many options to choose from and I never seemed to get that choice correct ... I always chose the so-called wrong food and it was to my personal detriment! Then the see-saw would tip the other way and I would spend endless hours berating myself for my lack of self-control or willpower, for being weak and wondering why I just couldn't seem to make the choices that would bring me success instead of failure. "No" is the hardest word to tell myself, let alone anyone else!

Finally, I feel it would be remiss of me not to make at least one request to anyone out there who loves their friends or loved one (regardless of their size or shape) to just be mindful that not everyone is going to tell you they are on the weight management journey for fear of judgment, cajoling and/or being left out ... and not everyone is going to be able to say "No"!! So when they do, please, please, respect that decision and don't badger them to change their mind! You never know ... it may have just taken a monumental amount of inner strength to get the words out in the first place without having to justify why they said "No". It also does not mean that they don't like your food or that they are being rude in any way ... they are choosing "No" for so many other reasons! Most importantly, if they do choose to eat the food (whatever it is), please don't judge that action either, because it may be that this choice is their one treat for reward and, you can bet your bottom dollar, they are not just eating that food without having gone through a lengthy debating process in their own mind first - weighing up (excuse the pun) whether it is or is not the correct choice to make at that very moment?! Ultimately, they will be their own worst judge in the end so they don't need additional criticism piled on top of them from you!

Sunday, 5 March 2017

I like to move it, move it ... I like to MOVE IT!

Well, I've had a love/hate relationship with exercise all my life ... I wanted to write about this particular topic because it inevitably goes hand in hand with weight management and can be a real source of criticism for those of us with large exteriors!

Now I need to say that for many years, I never shied away from being active ... I started off doing ballet, modern dancing and tap dancing ... it's so sad that in one of my concert dances, I had to wear a little yellow bikini and in my photos, you can visibly see me trying to hold my little flabby tummy in! At school I was part of the tennis team, the hockey team and I also did netball and swimming but I was never really a runner! I also longed to go to a gym and do aerobics (think 1980's hairstyles, illuminous gym gear and wild hair!) ... but this did not happen for a few reasons - cost, time and effort to get to the gym. I did end up funding myself, I used to walk down to the gym after school and then my mum would pick me up but it didn't last long as I couldn't afford it. I've attempted boot camps, personal training (at 5.00am), powerwalking at 6.00am and more gym!

I used to spend most of my school holidays on my uncle's farm where we did heaps of walking, bicycle riding and horse riding too - I even competed in gymkhanas with my favourite horse! I loved being in the country (still do!) and being outdoors and I was always in the pool at home doing water aerobics or dancing and playing pool volleyball with my family!

I also absolutely love shaking my bootie ie. I love dancing ... and still do too!

Over the years, I have undertaken weekly beach volleyball in Manly Beach, Sydney as well as regular power walking, bush walking for up to 15kms, climbed mountains, kayaked, went on a flying fox (if you can call that exercise), did archery, sailing and even tried windsurfing and being on a catamaran too! I again tried the gym from time to time ... and I bought the Zumba DVD and weight set to do from home along with some other home aerobics videos (yes, videos, not DVDs!) which I attempted to do in a ridiculously small apartment covered in wooden floorboards (much to my neighbour's dismay!) ... the elephant upstairs was at it again?!

What else ... hmmm ... I've been skiing in Europe several times and once in Australia, I've done white water rafting and fishing! I've played table tennis and badminton but never quite got the feel for squash! I have climbed to the summit of a mountain in Canada near Jasper (admittedly from the Gondolier station to the top at a very high altitude)! I've trekked the mountains of the beautiful Drakensberg range in South Africa and I've also trekked the beautiful Blue Mountains in NSW. I also went on safari in Kenya and Tanzania (on my own with a tour) for 2 weeks where I pitched my tent and camped under the stars - I love camping and have been many times - some of the best adventures ever! I love the beach (but don't like being in my costume in front of others) and I've tried body surfing and boogie boarding but hated being dumped! I've snorkelled and I've "floated" down fast flowing rivers in Turkey and on Fraser Island.

I can't tell you how many times I've run to catch a bus or train - I have walked up escalators instead of just riding them, and you must know that I really hate stairs! I would rather walk a hill than climb stairs! And then I went and lived on a 9 Deck ship for 2 years where there was no option of a lift and my cabin was on Level 2 and everything else that happened was above me, so I climbed a LOT of stairs in those 2 years! None of us had a car in this time either so, if we wanted to go somewhere, we used our own horsepower!

Now, however, in my later years, after I got married and fell pregnant within my first year of marriage (I was 37yrs old), being active just seemed to get harder ... and that made me larger ... which made it even harder to get back to exercising again! And then I let things slip by me and before I knew it, I was 41yrs old and had just had my second child but I had reached my heaviest weight ever whilst pregnant with my son!! Being a mum of two small kids was, in my opinion, enough exercise to keep me busy ... but it wasn't enough to stop the weight creeping up and up the scale!

All in all, I believe that my life has been amazing (but that is only my humble opinion, it's not meant to sound arrogant or self-praising)! The one thing that I can honestly say I don't regret is, that I have never let my weight prevent me from doing things that mattered to me (except for bungee jumping and sky diving)! At times, it's true that I felt unfit but most of the time, I felt quite fit, BUT ... at all times, I was always FAT!

Now I don't know if you consider me to be unfit or unhealthy or both when you look at my size but please, let me share one other thing! When it comes to exercise, just because I'm not in a gym or affiliated with some dedicated exercise regime, does not make me a lazy, fat person who doesn't care about my body or doesn't enjoy exercise type activities. I long for the day when I can just go to the beach or a friend's pool and be in my costume without any fears of my own harsh self-judgments and self-consciousness ... but even if I lost heaps and heaps of weight, if my mind does not change, it won't matter what size I am because those mind-barriers will still be there!

Why am I telling you all these things ... well simply to ask that when you look at my size, you don't judge me for what you see on the exterior but rather that you realise that right now, at this very moment, being in a gym takes a monumental amount of effort - not so much physically for me, but more importantly psychologically! I started personal training in July 2016 for 8 weeks and I can honestly say that when I was standing in this small gym with only 3-4 other ladies around, I just wanted to burst into tears (and I often did on the way home) and overcoming my own mind was of far greater challenge than getting my body to do a few step ups or squats or walk on a treadmill! I don't hate the gym but I don't particularly love it either ... and at the moment I'm committed to going to personal training 1-2 times a week thanks to the amazing support of a dear friend who has just been such an encourager to me!! I can't name her unfortunately but I hope she reads this and knows how much her efforts and support mean to me right now.

Finally, I want you to really think about what thoughts go through your mind and how you react when you see a "body challenged" person who is half walking, half jogging down the street or around the oval, or in the gym with all those fat rolls bouncing around with them - turn your thoughts to an encouragement and silently pray that they will stay motivated and keep up their great efforts! Not everyone wants to have a body like "The Body" (Elle McPherson) or something similar ... and just because we are fat, doesn't mean we don't care about our temples, our bodies and all that means for our overall health in life!

At the end of the day ... it comes down to choice ... choosing for myself ... choosing to push through my barriers rather than be overcome by them!

Perceptions and Essential Truths

Some days it is so hard to shake my unrealistic and often times inaccurate perceptions of who I actually am. I know who I want to be and what is important to me, but then when I fall short of my own expectations, I become disappointed, frustrated and disillusioned that I will never be that person. I'm referring both to my visual perceptions and my psychological or cognitive perceptions of myself.

That little inner voice that tells me stuff about myself can really sway from one end of the spectrum to the other ... from self-acceptance to self-loathing and hatred. On a good day, I look in the mirror and I think ... you're okay today, maybe even a little attractive and then on a so-called "bad" day, I think ... ugh! You are so fat, and ugly and well ... just awful! It's a roller coaster of emotions that go with those thoughts too - I start to change my outfits three, four times before I find something that I'm comfortable to go out in and I have to put on the brave face and tell myself ... "I don't care what anyone thinks of me" when in reality, I cringe if I perceive someone is looking at me with critical eyes or vaguely mentions anything to do with looks or weight.

I also think back to comments from my childhood that have really stuck with me ... two in particular ... both were told to me by friends who had gorgeous figures but psychologically were messed up by their obsession with weight loss!


(2) When you're fat, people will always comment on how beautiful your hair is because they can't comment on your overall look!

Well ... let me tell you that I lived these two statements in great belief that they were true! Of course, I was justified in my beliefs, or so I thought - Fat is Ugly ... isn't it? I'm fat, therefore I'm ugly ... and since I was single for nearly 10 years with not even so much as an interested glance from any man, it must have been true ... I was fat, therefore I was ugly! And secondly, if I had a dollar for every time I have been complimented on my hair ... I'd be a millionaire for sure right now! So again, that second statement was totally reinforced every time someone commented on my hair and nothing else about me ... gee ... I must have truly amazing hair - LOL!!

These became what I term "essential truths" in my life - truths that are, in reality, horribly distorted because although I am fat and my hair is very thick and blonde, I started to internalise the underlying messages more than the surface level statements could ever actually mean! As a result, I gave up on myself many times thinking ... it's futile to even try to lose weight because even when I was at my thinnest, I was still fat and therefore unworthy of being loved, inadequate and unable to achieve what the world was setting up as an expectation for beauty!

So this is just a short message today to get you thinking about what "essential truths" you may be holding on to from your childhood or current situation and how you are allowing these to impact your behaviours? I also have to say that for some reason, when people start to notice my weight loss and give me a compliment or make a comment, even if it is encouraging, it somehow has the opposite effect of making me self-conscious and almost throws me off track ... so whilst I know their intentions are good, I would actually prefer not to have any compliments or comments on my appearance because it feeds into some of these essential truths ... there are a lot of them to deal with!

Saturday, 4 March 2017

A year on ... 2017 ... moving from Defiance to Determination!!

I started this BLOG about a year ago and at that time, I was so motivated or so I thought, and yet throughout the year, I reverted as I have done so many times in my 44yrs back to old habits, denying my own success through self sabotage and an unwillingness to give myself the encouragement I needed to keep motivated and keep going.

I am actually a Psychologist and I spend my time motivating others to set their goals based on their values and I knew, deep down that I was not living what I was "preaching"!! It was so frustrating to me and yet I couldn't get my mind right ... and so I sought professional help towards the end of 2016 which, was helpful because it made me realise that my greatest sabotage was the word "DEFIANCE"!!

I hated others commenting on my weight, and/or giving me advice on what they thought was best for me and offering me all sorts of different ways to reduce my large appearance! I know that pretty much every one of those friends and family had the best of intentions (or so I hoped), however, unbeknown to them, they were all setting me up for further failure because I would get into a downward spiral of fear and pressure that I was now not only letting myself down, but letting them down too ... and it just exacerbated the pressure to "perform" and achieve results. It also had the effect that I was terrified to be seen eating food of any kind in front of them for fear of their judgment (even if they never said anything directly to my face) - I imagined the judgments that were potentially going through their minds without actually checking to see if I was correct! And so on and on the cycle has been perpetuated ... and it was all too much!

But in December 2016, when that one little word became so evident to me - DEFIANCE - I realised that whenever someone tried to tell me what not to eat, my defiance would actually intensify and strengthen and then I would eat twice the amount that I had intended to, just to prove that I am not under their control! Of course, this was completely to my own detriment and was a very subtle, yet significant form of self-sabotage! I realised this when my therapist said "Don't eat the whole block of chocolate, try to just eat one or two pieces tonight" ... and I went home and literally, I wanted to eat two (2) blocks of chocolate that night ... just to defy her ... and it was a revelation!

Subsequently, I reflected on my life and various events where for example a close family member, God Bless them, tried to be helpful by telling me I didn't need to eat a teeny tiny mini Lindt chocolate (for Easter!) ... and I just looked at them and said "Watch Me!" and I literally shoved two or three more in my mouth just to defy their criticism of me! I also realised that there was plenty of critics but not many real encouragers, except for my amazing husband who has only ever been accepting and supportive of who I am, what I look like and how I live ... I was very rarely praised for making good choices in food or for abstaining ... I was only ever pulled up when I ate the "wrong" foods or appeared to be over-indulging, despite the fact that I don't believe I have ever been an "overeater".

Now I should disclose that I was diagnosed with Poly-Cystic Ovary Syndrome ("PCOS") at the age of 29yrs and whilst this is no excuse for being overweight, it certainly doesn't make weight loss easy!! I know that many other women struggle with their weight as a result of PCOS and I empathise completely! I was put on medication and told my life would be transformed but 15yrs later, I am still struggling and reached my heaviest weight ever! No one told me that the medication would make me have an upset tummy pretty much permanently, that my tummy would make awful and very loud gurgling noises, that I would feel nauseous and awful from it ... and I'm a shocker at taking pills - I avoid them at all costs, so I was on and off the meds over the years, along with yo-yo diet fads - believe me, I think I've probably tried 90% of diet programs on the market - and this didn't help either!

Lo and behold ... in December 2016, I realised that something had to change ... I had to change ... and I decided to make one last ditch effort to lose this weight and try what I thought was a radical way of eating ("WOE") ... which I committed to commencing from 01/01/2017. This is not for everyone so I'm not trying to convince anyone to take this WOE on, however, if you have struggled for years and are sick of your weight being in control of you, rather than you being in control of your weight, I urge you to investigate, research, learn and trial this WOE ... it's working for me and thousands of others ... and I believe it is the "Fat Loss Secret" that most of these diet generating "gurus" are not talking about because it won't keep you fat, and so you won't relapse and put on again ...and then go back to their diets time and time again without real, long lasting success! This WOE is nicknamed "LCHF" or Low-Carb, High Fat but has other names like Banting or Ketogenic Living or just Keto.

Disclaimer: I am not competing with any of the big players, I am simply journalling my experiences and outcomes, progress, set backs and thoughts around how this has changed my life. If I can encourage one person in this world, that will be sufficient for me!

Since 01/01/2017, I have quit sugar, I no longer eat anything that is high in carbs - if a food product contains more than 5g of carbs per 100g, I steer clear of it and I've learnt about the "Green, Orange and Red List" of foods so that I can stay on track. I don't weigh my food, I don't count calories, I don't measure things but I am careful not to over do things ... and it's working ... I've lost 11kgs and 8cms off my stomach girth measurement since 01/01/2017. I lost 7.3kgs in my first 4 weeks and 10kgs within 6 weeks, but then I had to do a blood test and I put on 4kgs due to carbo-loading. I have proved to myself that carbs are not healthy for my body because I had to do a fasting, carb-loading GTT (Glucose Tolerance Test) and in 3 days of carbo-loading, I gained 4kgs!!!! That both freaked me out and pissed me off ... but also made me more convinced than ever, that it was not fat that was causing me to be fat, but the carbohydrates that I was eating ... so they are now gone forever (in the way I used to eat them)!! I'm so thankful that finally, I have found a WOE that is suited to my body!

I am now more determined than ever before ... 2017 is my year to be healthy and reach a weight that is more sustainable and better for my body but my expectations remain realistic!

The other really significant revelation is that I truly believe that my mind is in the right framework or state to be doing this now - nothing will deter me from this WOE. There is a lot of skepticism and criticism about LCHF from so-called experts ... but there is also a growing move towards it! I note that the CSIRO (in Australia) has just released their new way of eating and it pretty much promotes LCHF!! I am convinced and my results are my proof, but I also feel so comfortable and I'm loving the food too! I can put butter on my vegies, cream in my coffee and sauces - hmmm delicious! There are so many recipes to try so you can never complain about getting bored or eating boring meals ... they are delicious and there is a period of adjustment as your body re-tunes itself to not relying on processed sugar and carbohydrates for energy but instead goes into "ketosis" and literally uses your own stored fat as an energy source which releases your cells and reduces weight!

For more information on LCHF, please see the links on my BLOG and research for yourself whether this is something you want to try!

So ... welcome to 2017 ... I'm hoping to be more diligent in writing regularly and keeping you updated!

Let Determination triumph over Defiance ... every time!