Anorexia in the UK headlines… Nikki Grahame’s death

Hey

I guess I need to talk. There’s a news story breaking right now in the UK about Nikki Grahame, a reality TV star who first came onto the UK television screens in Big Brother series 7 (2006). She openly told her story about how she’d been fighting anorexia since she was a very young child and she bore a scar in her abdomen from when she was fed directly into her stomach. Apart from singer Karen Carpenter, gymnast Christy Henrich and singer Lena Zavaroni, Nikki’s was the one name that was synonymous with anorexia. Over the years, she sought help from many treatment providers and she was back in an eating disorder unit. But she’s lost her battle, aged 38. So much to give. So much more life to lead.

I know that my calorie intake is low right now. This isn’t some intentional crash diet. It’s not a ‘very low calorie diet’ that’s being medically supervised but there’s a huge part of me that’s being drawn to reducing, reducing, reducing, part of me that feels like it’s being controlled. That part is also feeling totally invincible because I’m functioning. I’m walking, talking, working. But there is a logical part of me that knows I’m going to crash at some point. I know I can’t survive on what I’m eating, even if a large part of me feels that I’m perfectly fine. But, yes, I’m sitting here really tearful about Nikki. She may not have thought that anorexia would eventually take her… I watched Emma Wants to Live on Amazon Prime the other night about her fight and eventual death from anorexia…. she so wanted to live too….

Although I’m not underweight, that logical part of me knows that atypical anorexia carries the same medical risks as anorexia yet my internal anorexic voice feels that risk doesn’t apply to me. I’m meeting up with my therapist on Monday (the one who’s helping me come to terms with being a carer) and I need to talk to him. I really need to cry. He’s asking me very direct questions about my eating as he can see I’m losing weight and my doctor, who knows everything, has ordered various tests for me, such as an ECG which is in just over 2 weeks’ time. Just pretty conflicted in my head right now: the invincible anorexic voice versus the one who’s worried about me….

Sorry, guys. I just needed to write about how I’m feeling. Feeling rather lonely right now…..

Love Erika xx

Battling the anorexic mind…

Hey

I have an almighty battle going on in my head today….. the anorexic voice that’s been dominant recently and has taken me down to a maximum of 440 calories a day…. but also the ‘parent voice’ that’s bringing me some kindness.

I was thinking last night that the thing which helped me overcome eating disorders in the past was when something outweighed the need to hang onto the ED behaviours….. something that became more important than holding on a coping mechanism that was dangerous yet also brought a sense of feeling in control and on a high.

Today, I’ve had two amazing pieces of news (an incredible meeting that’s going to raise my professional profile nationally and even internationally) and I’ve been accepted onto a course that will enable me to train as a psychotherapist eventually. In fact, they say that good things come in 3s and I’ve bought some tickets for tonight’s Euromillions lottery!! So, there are lots of positive things happening and I really want to be well enough to enjoy all of this because despite struggling being a carer, there are some amazing developments coming. The future looks really positive …. and I don’t want to be ill. It’s late afternoon here and I’ve pushed myself to eat 410 calories so far which is about 300 more than I’d normally eat so far at this time of the day…. and I really want to eat dinner but then it’ll take me over the 440 calorie limit. Going over 440 is probably going to feel emotionally tough but I guess that’s to be expected. My comfort zone feels like a safe place to stay but, as one of two people in real life who know what’s happening, a guy said to me yesterday that there will come a point where the anorexia will cause me to collapse because it’s not sustainable. I might think I’m well, I might think there’s no reason to change what I’m doing but I’m heading towards a medical crisis where matters will be taken out of my hands. And, yes, part of me can see this because of the heart palpitations and dizziness. But it’s an all-consuming battle in my head, disguised by the smile that I’m rather adept to showing others…

So, I’m going to try to go over 440. I feel scared but I need to try. And I’ll report back here on Monday at my next weigh in

Hope you have a good weekend

Love Erika xx

How have I not discovered egg whites before now?!

Hey guys

Whilst I may be in the UK, I watch a lot of US TV around food, diet and obesity. From watching every season of The Biggest Loser to My 600 lb Life (I love Dr Nowzaradan!), these shows really inspire me. But I’m also aware that certain foods appear to be more prominent in the US compared to here. For example, I often see low-cal turkey bacon mentioned on US-based social media groups and egg whites too. I mean, we have eggs here! But buying egg whites on their own isn’t a thing in the UK…. so I thought.

For tonight’s dinner, I cooked 200g mushrooms, 80g spinach and 3 egg whites along with 3 calories of oil, and yum indeed. There’s a reason why I’m sharing the before photo and not the after one as the final product wasn’t pretty! But I’ve discovered today that the supermarket we usually buy from stocks cartons of egg white. Game changer!!! One egg white is only 17 calories compared to around 74 calories for an egg and I have to say that the omelette-kinda-thing I ate really didn’t miss the yolks at all. It was just as filling though I might add a teaspoon of herbs next time. I guess you can add some Parmesan too. For someone who strongly dislikes cooking and can think of many things more exciting than standing at the hob, this took no more than 10 minutes to cook up 🙂

I’d love to know what your top low-cal foods are and/or if there are foods you hear about but can’t get hold of.

Hope to be back on Friday although my next two days for work are super busy including a meeting where I’ve been asked to meet a firm of psychiatrists to work alongside them which is super exciting! So, I’ll do my best to blog on Friday but, if not, definitely at the weekend

Love Erika xx

Week 49 weigh-in: skinny fingers… loose rings!

Hello folks

Before I tell you about the rings, let’s check out this week’s report card:

What’s happened this week?

  • I lost 3 lbs
  • My weight’s now in the lower 180s
  • My BMI’s in the 27s
  • My BMI and waist size are now smaller than the average for women where I live
  • My in-laws saw me yesterday wearing jeans for the first time in about 10 years
  • I bought spinach!! Yep, I’m not really a fan of veg so I just need to come up with a plan now
  • I had the blood test that my GP ordered last Monday so hoping that no news is good news

What could Erika improve on?

  • Increase my calories…. finding this hard

Erika’s next target(s) along with the big ones!

  • 1 lb until I’ve lost 85% of my excess weight
  • 2 lbs until I’m halfway through the overweight category (with a BMI of 27.5)
  • 2 lbs until I’ve lost 10.5 stone in all
  • 3 lbs until I’m under 13 stone
  • 5 lbs until my weight’s in the 170s
  • 19 lbs until my weight’s in the healthy range (that’s under 1.5 stone to go)
  • 26 lbs until my ultimate goal so that I have a 7 lb buffer to stay in the healthy range!

So, yes, my engagement ring is loose and I can now slide it to the end of my finger. My wedding ring is also loose and so you can probably my next ring-related goal! Not that I’ll actually take off my rings though as I’ve worn them continuously since our wedding coming up 25 years ago but, you know, I thought my fingers looked slimmer yesterday so I’m super excited 🙂

I also realised an incredible coincidence yesterday…. when I get into the ‘healthy’ BMI range, I will have lost just over half my original body weight! Yes, I’ll be down from 329 to 165…

I’ll be back on Wednesday but, in the meantime, hope you have a good couple of days. As ever, please feel free to share your diet/ weight-related successes, frustrations or anything else on your mind.

Take care

Love Erika xx

Recordable weight loss since blogging:Still to lose:Current weight:BMI:
124 lbs26 lbs184 lbs27.8
Plus 21 lbs lost prior to blogging

Dare to dress! 2 items on their way I never thought I’d buy!

Hey folks

When I hit the ‘buy’ button on the UK clothing website New Look last night, there was a tiny part of me saying to myself “Really, Erika? You buying those?” But there was a much louder internal voice going “You go, girl!” You see, I’ve bought a couple of items that I’ve never worn as an adult.

First is a pj set with SHORTS!!!! The last time I wore any shorts was part of my school games kit and, before that, I might have worn them around the age of 8 or 9? You know, I’ve got so much sagging skin at the tops of my thighs (front and back) from the weight loss but I don’t care. I genuinely cannot wait to wear these, even if I don’t step out of my bedroom in them. So, US size 8 / UK size 12 are on their way to me and I’m really excited that I’ll be able to get into them straightaway.

The other thing I’ve bought are these ripped jeans!!! Am I too old in my late 40s to be wearing ripped jeans?! No! If I’m not going to wear them now, when will I?

At the end of the day, the rules, boundaries, etc that I impose on myself about what I ‘should’ wear are very much in my head. I lived in maxi skirts day in, day out until very recently but I could have worn jeans or trousers. I guess I felt that wearing maxi skirts would hide my size from others. Wearing something new for the first time might feel awkward or wrong but there has to be that first time when we step out of our comfort zones and play. Yes, I’m now playing as I discover my new style and I’m not going to always get it right. But I’ve now bought several items that are items I wouldn’t normally wear and, in fact, these jeans are going to go fab with the most gorgeous second hand Jaeger coatigan I won on EBay. Perhaps one day, I might put a few photos on here of me wearing these clothes…. well, not the pjs! I’m not that brave!!!!

Hope you all have a lovely weekend and I’ll be back on Monday with my next weigh-in

Take care

Erika xx

Weight up? Weight down? Let’s draw a time line!

Hey guys

I thought I’d share something I did near the beginning of my 13 month journey because I was aware that there’ve been times in my life when I’ve been smaller and others when I’ve been bigger.

Now, there are different reasons why we can put on weight and, to be perfectly open, I usually love cake! I love candy, I love lots of other things that are going to move the scales in a rather undesirable direction. But I’m also aware that stress, emotions, mood, life events, etc. can also really impact.

So, this is what I did:

  • I drew a time line from when I was born to now in my late 40s
  • I got highlighter pens to note times of weight gain, weight loss and stability
  • I then used this to create another time line but with peaks and troughs which helped illustrate the changes in my weight
  • I then thought about what was happening when changes in my weight happened and added notes

— ❤ —

So, I was a 7 lb baby and I didn’t have a problem with my weight as a young child

Primary school, I went through some trauma (all dealt with now ❤ ) and my weight started to go on a little bit as a result.

I started secondary school (aged 12) where I lost some weight and was back in the average range.

My weight started to go on during my secondary years because of some difficulties at home

Bulimia started and the bingeing and purging sent my weight in all directions

In my early 20s, I got married so weight came off – I had a dress to get into!

Months after getting married, I was pregnant so lots of weight gain but I then lost it extremely quickly afterwards… restricting for a while rather unhealthily. Motherhood was a blessing but a bit of a shock at the same time.

My weight was pretty stable during rest of my 20s and for most of my 30s although I was a bit heavier than I wanted to be. Too much socialising!

Late 30s, I developed anorexia due to a significant trauma (all resolved now) and became ill. Started trauma therapy and weight went right up.

I became a carer in my early 40s to one of my children and my weight had remained high until last year. Stress. No binge eating but just found myself turning to snacking.

Last February, the pressure of being a carer started to impact me along with a couple of other things but also Covid presented me with an opportunity to focus on myself. Hearing more and more about Covid and obesity, it spurred me on. But, as I shared on Monday, I’ve now been diagnosed with atypical anorexia due to some pressures.

— ❤ —

So, I found it helpful to do this exercise as it showed that stress and trauma impact me. Now I know this, I can find healthier ways of coping with stress including talking it out with others. Life is full of events and who knows what I may face in the future so I’m determined to stop this yoyoing.

I hope this helps at least one other person out there. Reflecting on our past isn’t always easy but I guess facing up to events, etc. can help free us from this constant cycle of weight changes

So, I’ll be back later this week but, in the meantime, take care

Love Erika xx

Week 48 weigh-in: the doctor’s made a diagnosis…

Hello folks

Here in England, today is a good day! It’s the first day for months that we’re allowed into other people’s gardens (but no more than 6 people or two households) and it’s wonderfully sunny. Definitely a good start to the week where tomorrow and Wednesday will be warmer. With a quiet week work-wise, I’m going to head out on a walk along a disused railway line through a forest which is very popular with dog walkers, cyclists and horse riders. Yes, I’ll be heading out again during daylight where I don’t feel the need to hide as much 🙂

What’s happened this week?

  • I lost 4 lbs
  • My weight’s now in the 180s
  • My BMI’s is in the lower 28s
  • I’ve now lost more than 10 stone in all (that’s more than 10 x 14 lbs)
  • I got brave in Saturday’s post and shared how the old anorexic voice is back… but hopefully I have enough insight and determination to catch this early.

What could Erika improve on?

  • Increase my calories. A large part of me feels I’m eating way too much (more about that in the moment) yet I know cognitively from experience that this is dangerous.

Erika’s next target(s) along with the big ones!

  • 1 lb until my BMI’s apparently the average for where I live
  • 3 lbs until my BMI’s in the 27s
  • 4 lbs until I’ve lost 85% of my excessive weight
  • 22 lbs until my weight’s in the healthy range (that’s just over 1.5 stone to go)
  • 29 lbs until my ultimate goal so that I have a 7 lb buffer to stay in the healthy range!

So, where am I right now with what I’m eating? I don’t know why but, in my head, I’ve become very obsessive about how many calories I should be eating and the self-imposed limit is reducing quickly. Right now, I’ve a strong need to stay under 500 calories a day. Of course, there are ‘very low calorie diets’ (VLCDs) out there where people will typically eat 600-800 calories a day or perhaps do intermittent fasting where some days are cut back drastically…. but it’s usually advised that people do these under medical supervision, such as if they need to lose weight very quickly for something like surgery. When I was in this situation before, that calorie limit reduced and reduced until I’d eat no more than 250 calories a day but my heart was affected when I was eating no more than 600 a day. So, this is where I’m at and it’s like this strong voice has a tight grip on me. But something struck me yesterday. I was thinking about my aim to get to a ‘healthy’ weight and, wow, the word healthy is really important. It’s far more than what the scales show. Whilst the anorexic voice is feeling pretty good right now as I keep my calories low, my other (much more stable) voice wants me to reach my target weight with a healthy mind and body, and is telling me to see if I can first aim to raise my calorie limit to 550… one step at a time. I hope that what I’m saying makes sense! Two competing voices in my head, each trying to dominate the other!

I had a call this morning from the doctor who’s now officially diagnosed me with atypical anorexia. She’s asked me to have an ECG and a blood pressure test taken lying down and then immediately standing up because of some symptoms I’m getting relating to postural hypotension. That’s not until April because things at the surgery are so busy right now but she wants me to have a blood test this week. Whilst my weight is the one thing I couldn’t tell her, I did tell her my clothes size which felt scary but I did it. Small steps 🙂

I’ll be back on Wednesday about plotting our dieting histories on a time line so if you’re someone who considers themselves to be a yo-yo dieter, this post might be particularly pertinent.

Take care

Love Erika xx

Recordable weight loss since blogging:Still to lose:Current weight:BMI:
121 lbs29 lbs187 lbs28.3
Plus 21 lbs lost prior to blogging

An eating disorder or strict dieting?

Hey folks

So, since Monday at my latest weigh-in, I’ve gone a bit quiet on the blogging front. I’ve always promised to be really open with you as I venture through this rather large weight loss journey but, as my blog tag line says, it’s been a case of trying to keep it a healthy diet rather than slipping into previous eating disorder behaviour and mentality. Goodness…it’s a fine line between the two! I mean, can we be super focused on the calorie counting, the exercising, etc. whilst keeping a healthy mindset and without it becoming obsessive? Up to now, I’ve had times when it’s been really hard but I’ve been slipping in a rather large way more recently.

Where am I right now? The anorexic voice is dominant in my head and I find myself becoming terribly fearful of eating, of not having larger losses on the scales, of not exercising enough. I find myself planning how to miss meals, how to get rid of food (not in a purging way but basically not consuming all the food I’m dished up). And I guess I have two voices in my head: the side which is probably an anorexic voice (all consuming, obsessive, berating, etc) and then the other voice that’s caring and knows I could end up ill again like 10 years ago. And, as I’ve said before, it’s possible to have ‘atypical anorexia’ when your weight is average or even above average if all the other DSM5 diagnostic criteria are met. Am I there? Yes, it really pains me to admit this but I think that my strict dieting has turned the corner. 10 years ago, things got really serious when I started to have abnormal heart tracings and I’ve noticed two things recently: I can get dizzy when I stand up and I can also find my heart racing some mornings when I wake up and I’m getting out of bed. Of course, it may not be heart-related but I’ve done something that I didn’t think I’d do. Despite my intense fear of doctors, I contacted my local surgery yesterday to explain the situation and I’m waiting to hear back.

The last time I struggled with an eating disorder, I lost so much weight but I then put it all (and more) back on. And I’m worried that this will happen again. However, a difference this time is that I have therapy to help me come to terms being a carer to my child and talking things through with my therapist will hopefully help me find a way to get that healthy mindset back and be able to eat in a less restrictive, less dangerous way.

So, I feel embarrassed admitting all the above but I owe it to you readers and I owe it to myself to be upfront. How do I overcome this? I need to allow my caring voice to quieten the anorexic voice so that I stop heading down this destructive route, find a way to regain a healthy mindset, find a way to eat healthily so that I can still get to an average weight and use my story to inspire others

Hope you have a great weekend everyone and I’ll be back on Monday

Love Erika xx

Those jeans I couldn’t get into? I’ve bought a belt!

Hey

Well, my plan for today’s post was to keep writing about how I’ll be continuing with my weight loss journey after lockdown finishes but I had to come on here to share something completely different. I’ve bought a belt for my jeans! And it’s size ‘MEDIUM’!!

The reason why the jeans are so significant is that, back in July, I couldn’t get into them. They went up no further than my knees but I decided to try them on once a month and take a photo. Finally, in December, I could do up the button! Documenting my journey through photos was extraordinarily motivating because there were times when the scales hadn’t shifted hugely yet I could sense the changes in my body and it helped to focus on the non-scale victories too.

Since then, my jeans are now very much gaping at the waist and the belt will be delivered later on today. Yay! But I ticked off another ‘push that comfort zone’ challenge yesterday as whilst I’ve worn my jeans around the house, I wore them outside yesterday for the first time! Yes, I revealed to the world that I…. have …. legs!

Have a great weekend everyone and I’ll be back on Monday with my next weigh-in.

Love Erika xx

Week 47 weigh-in: Let’s smash those goals!

Hey guys

When I started out with 171 lbs to lose (including the 150 lbs since I started to blog), I knew that if I focused on only my long term targets, they’d feel insurmountable. Perhaps I wouldn’t have even started! So, I’ve been including my short term goals on my weekly report card, those within my reach. However, today marks the day when my two ultimate scale-related targets are added! Yes, I genuinely feel that I’m getting closer and closer to my target weight so I’m going to let myself imagine how it’s going to feel and, you know, I’m beyond excited!

What’s Erika done well this week?

  • I lost 4 lbs
  • I’ve now lost more than 80% of my excess weight
  • My weight’s now in the lower 190s
  • My BMI’s in the 28s

What could Erika improve on?

  • Nothing… 🙂

Erika’s next target(s) along with the big ones!

  • 2 lbs until my weight’s in the 180s
  • 2 lbs until I’ve lost 10 stone in total (that’s 10 x 14 lbs)
  • 4 lbs until my BMI’s in the lower 28s
  • 26 lbs until my weight is in the healthy range (that’s under 2 stone to go)
  • 33 lbs until my ultimate goal so that I have a 7 lb buffer to stay in the healthy range!

To anyone who’s reading this who’s perhaps at the start of their journey or finding it hard to stay on course, I really want to instil some confidence to say that you CAN do it! Honestly, I’m just a regular 40-something year old who’s not following any particular diet, not spending money on gym membership (but instead working out for free), not devouring many vegetables, etc. One of my biggest tips is to blog! This is very much a headspace journey as much as it is about changing my body and thinking aloud here helps me to ‘sort out’ my head! I guess I feel accountable to give a weekly update with my weigh-ins and there’s no denying that I love it when I get comments from wonderful people like Matt and Ang ❤

So, upcoming posts over the next few weeks include:

  • plotting the dieting history on a time line
  • keeping healthy when life gets busy
  • tips to not give up on your weight loss journey
  • identifying non-scale victories

I’ll be back later this week but, in the meantime, take care

Love Erika xx

Recordable weight loss since blogging:Still to lose:Current weight:BMI:
117 lbs33 lbs191 lbs28.9
Plus 21 lbs lost prior to blogging