So, I thought I’d give an update about where I’m at with an eating disorder that I’ve been really trying to avoid over the past 15 months whilst on this significant weight loss journey.
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For those who haven’t come across my blog before, firstly welcome! I’ve lost about 160lbs since February last year and I’m now just a matter of a few pounds away from my BMI being in the healthy range. In fact, if my excess skin was removed (and I have a LOT!), my ‘real’ weight is probably already securely well within in the healthy range. However, finding myself within the anorexic grip is impacting my heart and kidneys so things aren’t great.
Although I’m having twice-weekly psychotherapy which is just incredible for dealing with some issues around being a carer to my son (and wow do I have the best therapist!), we know that I need some intensive support to avoid ending up in an eating disorder unit or medical unit. I don’t ‘do’ hospitals at the best of times and certainly not right now with Covid. I found a place in London but they said my eating and the weight loss aren’t stable enough to access their evening programme of meal support and therapy. They feel that I need their day support to get this under control…. but I couldn’t do that until late August / early September. Referrals to eating disorder services on the NHS are an all-time high so whilst I sent an email to my GP surgery last week about being referred, I would think that support will very likely be limited unless they wanted to admit me (which I don’t want!). .. but we’ll see. I was thinking this morning that another private option would be finding a dietician with expertise around eating disorders and there’s someone not too far from me who sounds experienced and personable. But when I see my therapist later on today, he may have some news about support from another professional he works alongside.
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I’ll be really honest here. I’m really scared about where I’m at and it feels like the eating disorder has a very tight grip on me as my calories have lowered from before (it’s gone under 400 calories in the past few days). It’s not that I don’t want to eat more. I do! I look at restaurant menus and think ‘yum” whilst simultaneously mentally calculating how many calories are in the photos and how it’d be so ‘wrong’ to eat it. And it’s not the case that I won’t try to eat more. The anorexic voice is loud, making it that I can’t eat more. Eating disorders are complex, very complex, but I know that whilst I went through this 10 years ago, I had many years enjoying food, enjoying socialising so I have to hold onto the hope that I’ll beat this… but I’m struggling to hold onto the hope right now.
You know guys, let’s see what support can be put in place and perhaps maybe, just maybe, I’ll be able to blog one day with excitement that I managed to go over X number of calories in the same way that I’ve celebrated moments over the past year like no longer being morbidly obese or getting into those jeans. I’m sure there’ll be many positive posts ahead as life is good and I need to get things back on track.
I’ll be back either tomorrow or Saturday but hope you all have a good day
My mid-week post coming a day early as it’d just be good to ‘chat’!
You know, I guess there are parts of this post that could also relate to those who’ve perhaps put on weight during the last year. Much of my life has gone remote with seeing clients online where just my shoulders and head are on show. I feel SO protected like this! I like the fact that others can’t see what lies beneath and I guess I could get very comfortable with being here…. perhaps a bit too comfortable. Virtually everyone I have seen face-to-face are either clients who see me as a one-off anyway or just random strangers if I’m out walking.
I shared last week that I’ve already had comments in the past 10 days from people who have seen me before (i.e. a pharmacy assistant and a builder) and have exclaimed “HOW much weight have you lost?” the moment they’ve laid eyes on me. The thing is that I know (or I guess) that such comments are very well intended and come from a really good place so I certainly don’t begrudge them. Even if I didn’t find myself currently battling an eating disorder, I think I’d feel some sense of awkwardness. Do I like compliments? Sometimes but not about my body. But when the two people have then gone on to ask how I’ve lost it, the last thing I want to say is “Well, you know, I’m battling atypical anorexia right now and I’m actually very poorly and my heart and kidneys aren’t doing great but, apart from that, yeah, just eating less and moving more“! People don’t need to know the truth and I don’t need to tell them. 3 friends, other than professionals, know what’s going on for me. But I feel that that once I crack the anorexic grip that’s dictating how many calories I’m eating, I will be in a better place. My understanding of eating and health have actually improved since the start of this journey. My mind has really changed in many good ways so I’m feeling positive that the weight isn’t going to go back on.
In the next few weeks, I’ll be back to a voluntary job I’ve done for 3 years (but they haven’t seen me since I was 158 lbs heavier last year), I’m bound to see family and I genuinely can’t wait to see friends. Yes, I want to reconnect with people but, you know, it would just be great if they could skate over the whole weight loss thing. But the reality is that I’m just pounds away from losing half my original body weight in 15 months and perhaps they think that I’d love a compliment! No!!!!! Please just ask how I am. Please just ask what I’ve been up to. Please just give me the choice about whether I even mention the whole body shape / weight thing… which I’m very unlikely to! But being able to blog about all of this and talking to my therapist (whom I’ve never met in the flesh since the world went remote last spring) over the next few weeks will be an enormous help. Just articulating how it leaves me feeling and processing that.
I’ll be back on Friday (I’ll try not to forget this week!) about where I am with my eating disorder. My therapist told me on Monday that there is a plan to offer me some additional support with another professional which will run alongside the work I’m doing with him. I have to say that even over the past few days, my calorie ‘limit’ has gone down further…. I won’t go into details right now and in fact I’m waiting to hear a bit more myself about this potential support but I’ll give you an honest update on Friday about where things are at.
Right, off shortly to watch the first semi-final of Eurovision 2021!
Just a quick post today as I’m super busy with work but my belt has run out of holes! Yes, this is the belt that I need for the jeans that are getting too big although I’m a bit mystified as the belt is a ‘medium’.
Something that’s been puzzling me over the past few days is my body shape. I know our bodies change over time but I’m now lighter than 10 years ago when I lost a lot of weight… and in fact I’m the lightest I’ve been for 24 years. 10 years ago, I was wearing clothes a whole size down and people were telling me to stop losing weight as I was looking skinny (despite actually being overweight!). This time, I’ve got so much loose skin on my belly, going from the top of my thighs to my knees, on my upper arms. So, if I’ve got this excess skin that’s making me bulkier in certain areas, are there parts of me that are actually smaller than last time? How can I be lighter because I don’t physically feel it? I did have a friend tell me last night that I’m looking skinny… not in a “Hey, look at you girl!” way but actually concerned. What I don’t want to say is “I’m overweight“! And I had a pharmacist who hasn’t seen me for about 5 months exclaim when I walked in today about how much I’ve lost. She said “You’re not going to lose any more, are you?“. This was so awkward to answer but I spoke honestly and said “Yes, a bit more“…. to which she commented that I don’t need to and I need to buy smaller clothes. To be honest, comments about weight loss are feeling a bit awkward and the more I see people as we come out of lockdown, the harder it’s going to be. The pharmacy (who is really lovely and I’ve got to know a bit over the past 2-3 years) did ask how much I’ve lost and how I’m doing it…. mmm… “Eating less; moving more“. I don’t need to tell her what’s really going on!
Anyway, that’s me for today and I’ll be back either Friday or Saturday to continue thinking a bit more about what I’ve just written….
I think I need to take a bit of deep breath before I blog today as I’m trying to process a conversation I had with my doctor yesterday.
So, the upshot of the conversation is that I may have a problem with my heart, my kidney function is reduced, my vitamin D levels are extremely low and my folic acid levels are also extremely low. She said about prescribing tablets to increase my vitamin D and folic acid levels and the first thing that came to my mind (and which just feel out of my mouth) was “How many calories would be in those?” She said it would be next to nothing but I don’t know if I can ingest something without knowing the calories involved. My doctor seemed really concerned that I’d even have this thought and said that it’s the first time she’s come across this with anyone with anorexia or bulimia. In fact, she seemed commented about my comment a couple of times and said that this alone raised significant concern from her perspective.
So, she said that perhaps I need to be referred to the eating disorder service and the local mental health team…. but I don’t know what to do. Do I need support? What would be achieved when I’m already seeing a psychotherapist privately as I come to terms with being a carer. I’m feeling extraordinarily stuck about what help would look like. She did ask about what I felt I needed but the one thing that could potentially help me get out of this situation is something that’s not easily obtained through the health service or even privately…. meal support. Someone to help me break out of the trap of staying within so many calories… but, simultaneously, I feel really in control and I don’t want that control to be taken away. I don’t know, guys. I’ve never had physical health issues before so I’m trying to process all of this. I’m seeing my therapist on Monday so it’ll be good to talk it through.
But I’m focusing right now on drinking lots of water for the sake of my kidneys. I drink way too much Diet Coke but I’m really cutting this back to one can a day with the aim to stopping altogether. So, I suspected the results wouldn’t be okay and, unfortunately, I was right….
We’ll see what happens over the next few weeks when I undergo some more tests and try to decide if I am willing to accept help.
I’ll be back on Monday but wishing you a lovely weekend
Just a short post today but I read something the other day and, wow, it resonated with me so much that I wanted to share it with you.
How many times do you eat something but then afterwards feel that it wasn’t enough or it wasn’t what you really needed?
You see, it’s very easy to think that when we experience hunger, our stomachs are calling out for something filling. We might have had dinner but it doesn’t feel enough so we follow it up with some biscuits, some candy, etc. … basically, more calories.
It may be that your stomach is fine but it’s your taste buds that need something to hit the spot. In Monday’s post, I mentioned that Ryvita Thins have just 29 calories each and I find that the chilli in these completely do the job. Happy taste buds, happy Erika who’s kept in control of what she’s eaten.
But, as I’ve said before, remember that dehydration has that sneaky way to disguise itself as hunger so, first step, drink water!
And before you go…. I’ve hit another milestone. Where I live, we’re advised that women’s waists should be 31.5″ or less. I think you can guess where I’m heading with this but, yes, my waist is 31.5″!!! Last summer, it was 48″ so anything is possible 🙂
Okay, before I tell you all about this, let’s take a look at this week’s report card:
What’s happened this week?
I lost 3 lbs
I’ve now lost more than 10.5 stone in all
I’m now under 13 stone
My BMI’s in the lower half of the overweight category
I’ve bought more veg! Yes, on tomorrow’s menu are homemade aubergine (eggplant) crisps and I’ve bought spinach and red peppers to make omelettes.
What could Erika improve on?
Increase my calories…. yes, still finding this hard and it’s now just 10 days until my ECG…
Erika’s next target(s)along with the big ones!
1 lb until my weight’s in the 170s
2 lbs until my BMI’s in the 26s
4 lbs until I’m the same weight as 10 years ago
5 lbs until I’ve lost 11 stone in all
5 lbs until I’ve lost 90% of my excess weight
10 lbs until I’m at my wedding weight from nearly 25 years ago
15 lbs until my weight’s in the healthy range (just more than 1 stone to go!)
22 lbs until my ultimate goal so that I have a 7 lb buffer to stay in the healthy range!
So, back to the traffic light system Many food producers in the UK display nutritional information on products using a traffic light system so that we can see at a glance whether it’s healthy or not. I have to say that this makes food choice reasonably easy because I make a point of staying away from anything colour-coded red. Here’re some examples:
So, okay, the Ryvita one isn’t colourful but I can instantly see if these flatbreads are okay to snack on and yes they are! These are unbelievably tasty and just 29 calories. And this jambalaya is something I could live on everyday! Virtually green across the board and just 319 calories. Do you have anything similar in your country to help people make healthy choices? Please do tell!
I’ll be back on Wednesday to talk about mouth hunger versus stomach hunger 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.
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…..
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
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
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.