Eating to lose weight

HOW much are you eating, Erika?

So, my weight is coming off, I’m on course to lose quite a few pounds this week and I thought I’d share with you what I’m eating. I’d like to tell you that I’m eating copious amounts of fruit, veg, fish and lean meat but I’m not. You see, the biggest change I’ve made it about quantity. It can be very easy to guess how many calories we’re taking in but the results can be quite shocking.

Take this cereal for instance. When I see the box, I think it oozes wholesomeness and it must be super healthy Beforehand, I’d eat a huge bowl food (but dry! Yes, I don’t like milk). However, when I looked up the calories and weighed MY typical portion, I was horrified! What I now do is actually have this as a treat if I’m peckish in the afternoons (which is about every 3 weeks). I use a tiny white bowl to make it feel like I’m eating more and just pour in enough to cover its base…..resulting in a 88 calorie snack. Far better than the 750 I was consuming before!

One tip to start being aware of what you’re eating is to photo everything. Yes, photograph everything that goes in your mouth because reflecting on it at the end of the day can help you see where changes can be made.

I keep to around 1,200 calories a day because the key thing is to go into calorie deficit. The only way to lose weight is to take in fewer calories that you’re burning. Although I exercise and could theoretically treat myself whilst remaining in calorie deficit, I see that every workout means burning even more calories overall. But I have to put up my hands and admit that I don’t always get to 1,200 calories. Sometimes, I eat a lot less which is where I have to be careful not to slip back into anorexic behaviour. I’m working on this! 1,200 is my goal.

I love ready meals because they tell me how many calories I’m eating plus how much fat, etc.

This is one of my favourite ready meals right now as it’s under 400 calories. There’s no point eating healthily if it’s not tasty and I love food that smacks the taste buds and makes you feel full. The other thing I do is to eat food when it’s super hot. It takes me longer to eat and tricks my mind into thinking I’ve just had a huge meal.

And we had a takeaway tonight from our local Indian restaurant. I ordered half a portion of boiled rice and chicken tikka which comes without a heavy sauce but a yoghurt (which I poured half onto the chicken). So takeaways are allowed. It’s about making smart choices.

No sweet food

Some people can lose weight whilst merely cutting back on snacks like chocolate, biscuits and cakes. But I know myself well enough to know that this approach won’t work for me. I used to have a very sweet tooth and a packet of biscuits would soon disappear. But since cutting out all sweet food, I’m so much happier with savoury food and I can easily pass on biscuits when my family’s eating it. It’s a while until any family birthdays so let’s see if I can resist the temptation of cake then!

Intermittent fasting

When I started this journey, I made a concerted effort to eat breakfast despite never having really been a breakfast person. This was when I was eating the above cereal. However, I’ve restricted my eating hours from midday to 8pm. I can’t tell you how much this has helped me! You see, before I’d snack away all evening, often oblivious to what was going in my mouth. My pattern of eating is officially known as 16:8 intermittent fasting (IF) but there are different ways of doing such as having 2 very low calorie days a week. However, you still have to be in calorie deficit overall.

So, in a typical day, I’ll eat:

  • noon: lunch which is either a one-round sandwich on granary bread or an open sandwich (such as mackerel) on an open sandwich with one slice of bread.
  • afternoon: if I’m peckish, I’ll have the cereal treat, a cereal bar or piece of fruit
  • dinner around 6/7pm: usually meat with lots of veg. However, I may have other things like a personalised pizza with low fat cheese and topped with a bucket of rocket lettuce or mushrooms. I might have a ready meal. I might have a jacket potato with tuna and sweetcorn plus salad on the side.

And I don’t feel hungry. I’ve really upped how much water I’m drinking despite never being a water person. And the diet coke is now more of a treat…..I’m not getting rid of that completely!

At the end of the day, I think it’s about finding a way of eating that’s sustainable.

Anyway folks, I’ll be back on Monday with my next weigh-in. Before then, I’ll have run for 20 minutes non-stop as part of Couch to 5K and I’ve really got my fingers crossed that Monday’s going to be a huge result. I’m SO SO close to no longer being morbidly obese!

Love Erika xx

Week 9: an extra weigh-in as I can’t help myself!

Hey folks

When I shared the results of my weekly weigh-in on Monday and told you that I was just 10lbs away from no longer being morbidly obese, I suspected that I had some water retention (time of the month and all that!) Anyway, I weighed myself this morning and I’ve lost another 3lbs since then which means:

  • I’m now under the 270 marks (as I’m 269)
  • I’m 7lbs from no longer being morbidly obese
  • My BMI is now under 41
  • I’m 5lbs from being able to do the longest zip wire in the UK (weight limit 264)
  • …..and so much more!

If you’re new to my blog, please do check out the ‘When I lose weight, I will…..’ page as it has all the things I want to do as I get smaller and lighter.

I’ve done 15 minutes running tonight (Couch to 5K week 3 run 1) and I’m just buzzing. I honestly couldn’t walk 200 metres back in February without being in pain.

And I just wanted to share a couple of items of clothing I’ve bought to slim into. They’re both UK size 14 (US size 10, I think?) but they’re 3/4 length trousers which I’ve never worn and a Superdry hoodie. I’ve a long way to go but I’m I’m visualising how I’m likely to feel wearing these and I’m sure I’ll reach my goal.

Anyway, Friday night, I’ll update you about the food I’m eating but have a great couple of days

Love Erika xx

Week 9 weigh-in: 10lbs to go until no longer morbidly obese!

Little goals. Day at a time!

Yes, I’m SO excited that the point of no longer falling into the morbidly obese range is within reach! You see, it can be very easy to focus on those long term goals such as fitting into those skinny jeans or being light enough to wingwalk on a plane but a long weight loss journey is about celebrating the short term goals too. Now that I’m 19 stone 6 (272 lbs), that 20 stone mark feels far enough way to change my mindset as I slowly but surely continue until I’m considered a healthy weight..

So, I’ve lost 3lbs this week through a combination of healthy eating and working out! Yay! I’ve got ‘Week 4, Run 3’ of Couch to 5K tonight. I was tempted to do it last night and not give myself a rest days as advised but rest is important! The body has to repair itself in between runs and I do have to be particularly careful knowing that I’m doing this fitness programme whilst carrying extra weight.

Inches are being lost

You may find sometimes that the scales aren’t budging but you can feel as if some change in your body is happening. When I started changing my eating habits back in February (prior to starting my blog and 2 months before I was brave enough to weigh myself), I measured my bust, waist, belly, hips and left calf. I have no idea why I measured just one calf!! Since then, I’ve added some more measurements as shown in the table below. I have to admit that I’m a bit embarrassed about sharing these stats with you as they’re like my personal secret that I hide under clothing which drapes to the floor but I promised when I started this blog that I’d be very open. So, here goes!

Body part20.02.2007.05.20TodayLoss
Bust52.5″-50.5″– 2″
Waist45″40.5″– 4.5″
Belly (spare tyre!)58″52″– 6″
Hips59″53″– 6″
Left arm16.5″14.5″– 2″
Right arm18″15.75″– 2.25″
Left calf24″22.5– 1.5″
Right calf22.5″22.25″– 0.25

And whilst the numbers are going down (look at the belly and hips stats!!), body mass is definitely being lost elsewhere too like around my shoulders, my thighs, my lower arms, my ankles, etc. ’tis all good. Won’t be long until none of my measurements is over 50″!

Next time

Later on this week, I’m going to tell you about what I’m eating just to give you some insight. I meant to say, please feel free to share my blog if you think it could inspire others. I’m just a regular 40-something year old who’s making changes and really getting there. I don’t have a magic wand but I’ve bags and bags of positivity!

Have a great week everyone and catch up next time.

Love Erika xx

Total recordable weight loss:Still to lose:Current weight:BMI:
36 lbs114 lbs272 lbs41.4

Get me! Exercising at 2am!!

Hey folks

Couch to 5K

I can’t stress enough that just 4 months ago, I was the person who’d choose to catch the next bus rather than run to catch the one about to leave! I’d be the person circling the car park to get the nearest space to the shop and would come back another day if need be! I’d be the person who thought Couch to 5K (C25K) was for the ultra fit…..well, I was out exercising last night!

Yes, I did ‘Week 4, run 1’ of C25K in the middle of the night and this particular run (which I’ve got to repeat twice more before progressing to week 5) meant I spent more time running than I did walking. My running is more of a jog but I’m actually getting fitter and my runs this week involve 2 x 3 minutes and 2 x 5 minutes along with some brief walking episodes in between. And it felt really doable! Plus it was way cooler after the intense heat during the day. I also feel like the inches are falling off more quickly and I’ll talk about this more on Monday where I’ll share my ‘then’ stats and my current stats of my waist, hips, belly, etc.

So desperate to no longer be morbidly obese

I can’t tell you how driven I am to get out of the morbidly obese category and I really feel that I’m going to achieve this in the next 3-4 weeks. I think the more I connect with my body, the more aware I am of the need to get fitter because of all the linked risks. Of course, I still have some way to go until I’m in the healthy range but I’ll get there! I can visualise how much easier things will be in terms of how I move, what I’ll wear, what I’ll do, etc.

What’s coming in my next few blog posts?

As well as my weekly weigh-in on Mondays, I’ll share with you more about what and when I’m eating, I’ll show you the ‘inspiration clothes’ I’ve bought which I hope to wear by the end of the year and lots of other things about how my mind works! You see, I’ve tried to do this new lifestyle change before and it hasn’t worked but something feels very different this time.

Have a super weekend everyone

Love Erika xx

Week 8 weigh-in: a non-scale victory!

Hello feet!

Well, my non-scale victory might be something that nearly everyone can do but…..I can now stand with my feet together! For quite some times, there’s been a 1-2 inch gap but I suddenly looked down the other day and woah!!! My feet touch!!!

The scales say…

I’ve lost 2lbs this week. I know that I can be very open here but, with this being my lowest weekly weight loss so far, I’m a tad bit disappointed BUT I know that these 2lbs add up and it’s much better that not losing weight or putting on weight! I guess I hoped for more as I haven’t once gone over my calorie limit in all this time and I’ve been exercising so much this week. Could it be that I’m gaining muscle? 1lb of fat is the same weight at 1lb of muscle but muscle is far more dense and therefore takes up a much smaller space. That could explain why I’m losing inches and moving so much better but not seeing greater numbers come off the scale today. But let’s not overthink it, Erika. Celebrate 2lbs!

Couch to 5K

I’m continuing week 3 of this running programme tonight and I thought I’d share with you what I’ll be doing. 9 minutes of running in all including 2 x 3 minutes. I mean, I couldn’t even run the length of my body when I started this!

And finally…

Whilst every pound lost or even 1/2 point on my BMI is an achievement, I have a few big milestones to reach too. And my next one is something I hope to achieve by the end of July. My BMI is currently 41.8 which puts me in the morbidly obese category. This is down from an estimated BMI of 50 back in February before I started this blog and down from about 46 when I started this blogging journey 2 months ago. So, my next major milestone is to get my BMI to under 39 and no longer be morbidly obese. That means I have 11 lbs to lose. You can do this girl!

Love Erika xx

Total recordable weight loss:Still to lose:Current weight:BMI:
36 lbs114 lbs272 lbs41.4

Overcoming anorexic behaviour

I wonder whether anyone can relate but I used to think that somebody would have to be within or heading towards a dangerously low weight for mental health professionals to talk about anorexic behaviour. However, back in 2011-2012, I spent 6 months in this horribly restrictive headspace that almost ended up with me sectioned against my will using the UK’s Mental Health Act.

How did it begin?

I didn’t realise it at the time but I was later diagnosed with Complex PTSD (I’ve since recovered). One day, probably trying to cope with trauma, I found myself thinking that 800 calories was to be my maximum daily intake. Not a calorie more. In many ways, I was probably trying to find something in my life that I could control. I was 287lbs so it was seen initially as me just ‘eating healthily and being very careful’. But I obsessed about calories. Everything was weighed and calculated to the nearest half calorie. As you can imagine, the weight just fell off but my grip on the calorie limit got tighter. After 800 calories, my limit went down to 500 calories, then 300 calories and ended up 250 calories a day.

How can you survive on 250 calories a day?

Well, it turns you can’t for long! Initially, I become extremely creative with what I ate so mushrooms were my friend. Lunch would be a low-cal cereal bar of 68 calories. I was never hungry but I became very devious at avoiding meals. The children were younger and when my husband got back from work, I’d say that I’d already eaten, etc. In 6 months, I lost 112lbs. And whilst I was just into the overweight range even at my lowest, I carried the weight in a way that actually made me look skinny. People would tell me that I’d lost too much. I looked gaunt. I had large black circles under my eyes.

So, if you weren’t underweight, how was it dangerous?

My heart was affected. When it became noticed by a mental health nurse that I was in this very dangerous headspace, I had to start having ECGs every two weeks to check my heart and blood tests. And I developed Long QT Syndrome that affects how the heart beats. It can be fatal. My bloods were also a mess. There were frequent discussions between the mental health team, the severe eating disorder service, my GP, etc. On one occasion, my ECG results were so bad that I had a call from a nurse later that afternoon saying that I was to go straight to A&E where they were expecting me.

What helped you recover?

I was formally assessed under the Mental Health Act which was to decide if I had to be taken to hospital where they’d do whatever was needed to break out of this trap and save me. I don’t know what it was but something just shock me out of this headspace and I got my calorie intake up to 1,000 and then back up to how I was before.

You’re on a weight loss journey now. Do you see yourself slipping back into this anorexic behaviour?

Being very honest with myself, yes, I think there’s potential. A few weeks ago, I found myself working out how to avoid meals but I had to give myself a good talking to! “Eat Erika, just eat!” That did the trick! I’m not counting exact calories as I think I could become obsessed with counting again so I’m aware that my intake is in a certain ballpark. But it’s liberating that I’m losing weight AND eating without being scared! Yes, I wish in some ways that I’d been helped all those years ago to slowly increase my calories so that I’d get a better relationship with good and not end up so big. But I’m on a weight loss journey now with a far better relationship with food. It’s no longer my enemy. I need to eat to stay healthy and do all the things I want to do like horse riding on the beech and doing zip wires!

I hope this gives some context about my journey but feel free to ask questions.

Hope you have a great weekend and I’ll be back on Monday with my week 8 weigh-in!

Love Erika xx

Week 7 weigh-in: claiming two scale victories today!

Hey folks

I love my scalesright now!

Sometimes, we can tell that we’ve lost a bit of weight by the way our clothes feel, the way we move more easily or because we just feel ‘different’. People might start to notice although this typically happens after we see the first signs. But, of course, the figures on those scary scales can tell us too. I have to admit that I’ve become a bit obsessed with the scales this week as I’ve been weighing myself more than once a day but more about that in a moment.

First, I can’t wait to share with you my two scale victories after losing 4lbs this week.

  • I’m under 20 stone! As I blogged about recently, us Brits often talk about our weight in terms of ‘stones’ where 1 stone is equivalent to 14lbs. So, at 19 stone 11, I’m now in the teens. I can’t tell you how good that feels!
  • I’ve lost more than 10% of my recordable weight loss. Now, although I’ve lost 31lbs so far, this is only in the past 7 weeks since I started blogging. However, I estimate I’d probably lost about 21lbs before I was brave enough to get on the scales judging by inch loss. When someone’s very overweight or obese, the initial guidance is usually aiming for 10% weight loss to help with blood pressure, etc. so I’m super pleased.

But I feel as if I need to scale back on the weighing (no pun intended!). The scales seem to have a power where they can almost dictate whether this is going to be a good or bad day so I’m making this commitment here and now that I won’t weigh myself again until next Monday. There are going to be weeks where I might lose a single pound, not lose weight or even gain temporarily due to water retention but my eyes must be on the long term goal to create a healthy relationship with my scales.

Next time

Later this week, I’m going to blog about my battle with anorexic behaviour 9 years ago. In fact, I was going to blog about it last week but the scales were teetering on that 20 stone precipice for a couple of days and I was holding off so that I could share that victory with you. But look out for my next blog on Thursday/Friday as I think it’s important that I don’t slip back into that obsessive way of thinking which, even being very overweight, can still be extremely dangerous.

And, yes, I’m still doing Couch to 5K. I’m doing week 2 run 2 tomorrow and I’m loving it. Get me….I’m running!!!!!!

Anyway, have a super week, everyone

Love Erika xx

Total weight lost:Still to lose:Current weight: BMI:
33 lbs117 lbs275 lbs41.8

Week 6 weigh-in: I’ve started C25K!

Hey folks

Too fat to run? No!

I’m SO excited to tell you that I’ve started the running programme C25K (Couch to 5K). Yes, I know that I started some jogging on the spot a few weeks ago and injured myself but I made the mistake of not having any rest days. However, this time, I’m following C25K to the letter which means exercising 3 times a week, slowly increasing the amount of running. The aim is to do this over 9 weeks whilst following the app but you can repeat weeks if you need to slow down the pace.

I did wonder whether I’m too fat to run. I mean, we have to take care of our bodies but I’ve read lots of accounts from others who’ve done this when heavier than me….and I can’t tell you how great I feel. The music I talked about last week is now on my exercise playlist and it did just the job. This might sound really silly but I do like the idea of rewards to keep me going. I’ve found a website called Virtual Racing UK where you pay to enter a wide range of races including C25K. They give you a virtual bib number and then you submit evidence of achieving your goal in order to claim your actual-real-life-doesn’t-that-feel-good medal! Yes, if I meet this goal, I’ll have an actual medal sent to me which I can then share with you on here. So, I’ll keep you posted.

Clothes to inspire

I ordered some clothes the other day that I won’t be able to fit into for months and months as they’re UK size 14. It might seem a little premature but it was just a jumper, hoodie and some 3/4 length trousers (which I’ve never had the confidence to wear). Once they arrive, I’ll take a photo to show you and then I’ll hang them on my bedroom door so that I see them every morning.

And finally…..the scales!

So, I’ve lost another 3lbs! I’ve been drinking so much water this week which, despite sounding rather counterintuitive, helps deal with water retention. You know, my body is feeling very different. Yes, I have a long way to go but I’m moving more easily and clothes are feeling much looser. Happy times!

Have a great week everyone

Love Erika xx

Total weight lost:Still to lose:Current weight: BMI:
33 lbs117 lbs275 lbs41.8

Overcoming bulimia

Hey folks

So, although I’ll be back on here Monday after my weekly weigh-in, I thought I’d share some really personal experiences with you. You see, I struggled with bulimia from the age of around 10-24 although it was the latter years when it became far more serious. Why am I sharing this with you? Well, I hope it helps one person out there and gives hope that recovery is possible.

In brief, bulimia really robbed me of many years of happiness. Especially from age 18-24, nearly everyday was spent planning how I could binge, doing the bingeing and then purging the thousands of calories I’d consumed. It was almost like there was very little room for anything else so it’s quite miraculous that I got married during this time (and am still extremely happily married) but having an eating disorder is almost like a full-time job. I found that there were certain things I would binge on, namely food that didn’t take much chewing and food that was cheap. So, most things were very sweet like mini chocolate rolls that I could eat within seconds. Anything that would fill this hole inside of me. And, of course, bingeing is hugely private so if I was out and about, I’d go into places where no-one could see me, even if it was dark and I could have been in danger. I remember on a family holiday to Hong Kong, I left the hotel room very late at night just to binge. I remember when I was still in education and had a Saturday job, I binged once in the stockroom on chocolate without being caught out. I would have to plan the shops where I’d get the food so that I wouldn’t be recognised by staff as there ‘yet again’. Bingeing happened nearly every single day.

I couldn’t make myself sick but I abused laxatives. So many laxatives. I’m not going to go into detail but I became very used to stomach cramps and dealing with the inevitable. How my heart survived, I don’t know. One pharmacy actually refused to sell me laxatives as it’d spotted that I’d been in there recently. People would comment how ill I looked all the time. Dark black circles under my eyes. Cold hands. Very pale skin. My social life was almost non-existent.

And then I got a high powered job in London that just exasperated my bulimia. I turned to a private London hospital for outpatient treatment and I attended the day hospital for about 2 weeks. My parents thought I was going to work every day as I didn’t want to tell them. But then the staff could see how I needed more intense care and I found myself being admitted to its eating disorder unit where suddenly everything was controlled. My meals. My ability to purge. My time. But actually this is where I started to work on what lead me to binge and to finally open up to things I’d wanted to mask. Things I’d wanted to push down inside of me through binging. It’s too easy to block emotions but actually recovery happened when I faced what had happened to me when I was very young. Without processing this in a healthy way through therapy, I could still be struggling with it. After this 6 week inpatient stay, I then attended the day hospital again for 4 weeks before being discharged. So, it’s thanks to Nightingale Hospital, Marylebone in London whose programme of therapy got me through it.

Since then, I haven’t binged once. Yay! There have been times when I’ve been tempted to take laxatives but I know that laxatives and other forms of purging can be fatal. Actually, when you look up laxatives, they’re not that effective anyway. in terms of weight loss. An eating disorder is only the symptom of something being wrong and whilst facing the most horrendous experiences can feel like an insurmountable mountain, I feel it’s the only way for sustained recovery.

So, if you’re struggling, I’d encourage you to reach out. Help is there, whether it’s from your doctor, school counsellor, eating disorder charity, family, friends or anyone else who will really hear you and help you take the next step.

Next week, I’ll share with you my experience of anorexic behaviour that almost took my life 9 years ago and, in all honestly, this restrictive thinking is probably what I’m finding hardest not to slip back into whilst on this weight loss journey – but I’ll leave that for next time!

I’ll be back on Monday so have a great Sunday everyone

Love Erika xx

lbs or kgs? No, us Brits talk about weight in stones!

What are stones?

At least historically, the people of the UK and Ireland have talked about their weight in stones and I’ve only just found out that very few countries to do this. In fact, when I started this blog a few weeks ago, my challenge was to lose 10 stone and you may be thinking, Erika, what on earth are stones? That’s a good question!

Well, 1 stone equals 14lbs so rather than say how we weigh 280lbs, we would usually say how we weigh 20 stone. However, I see on Facebook groups that the universal language of weight loss appears to be lbs so that’s why my blog name changed. I thought that losing 150lbs felt like a more round number than aiming to lose 140lbs!

Anyway, there’s a reason why I’m telling you about this. You see, at my weekly weigh-in on Monday, I was at 283lbs. And when I get to see 279lbs on the scales, this is going to be SUCH a momentous weigh-in as it’ll mean that I’m under 20 stone! I’ll be 19 stone 13lbs and well on my way to success.

What music gets you up dancing?

In Monday’s blog, I asked what music gets you up dancing and burning away those calories. As promised, here’s my list of the songs that get me up but these are 10 of many:

  • Wake Me Up Before You Go Go (Wham)
  • 1999 (Prince)
  • I’m Still Standing (Elton John)
  • I’m So Excited (The Pointer Sisters)…….I LOVE this!
  • Fame (Irena Cara)
  • Footloose theme tune
  • Shake It Off (Taylor Swift)
  • (Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher (Jackie Wilson)
  • 9 to 5 (Dolly Parton)
  • Reach (S Club 7)

And finally, eating disorders

My blog tagline is about not falling into the traps of eating disorder behaviour which can be hard when embarking on a weight loss journey. Now that we’re getting to know each other a bit more, over the next couple of weeks, I’ll be telling you about my struggles with bulimia in my 20s (which ended up with 6 weeks spent in an eating disorder unit as an inpatient) and then being very ill with anorexic behaviour 9 years ago in my late 30s that lead to very serious heart problems. But it won’t be all doom and gloom. You see, I’m celebrating right now as I’m losing weight healthily for the first time free of my ED history which I hope helps at least one person out there. There is hope!

Okay guys, next blog will be my weigh-in on Monday…..although I might sneak in an extra one over the weekend!

Love Erika xx