Christmas, food and diets: it’ll be okay!

Hello guys

So, with Christmas just days away, I thought I’d share my views about how to handle food, etc. during what can be a testing time for many. Yes, things might be a bit different this year but I still think there can be different types of pressure when it comes to Christmas and other holidays around food. I wonder whether you can relate to any of the following:

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I know I’m going to blow my diet

How am I going to avoid all those tasty temptations that I can normally say “no” to?

If I eat one mince pie, I’ll end up eating the whole pack

My family will expect me to eat loads and they won’t let me say “no

I’m scared to eat and holidays are all about food. I’m dreading this

I’m going to put on so much weight

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So, let’s take a look at where pressure comes from:

EXTERNAL PRESSURE

So, you’re visiting someone who’s served dinner and tells you that you must eat up. They say that they’ll be disappointed if you don’t. They comment about you not eating as much as they think you should. They tell you that they’ve gone to all this trouble and they don’t want to be left with leftovers. My view? I would say that they’re projecting their hopes and expectations on you and perhaps some guilt too but it’s okay to say “no”. Yes, they may make comments but I can’t urge you enough to stick to your guns. At the end of the day, it’s your body and you can still be in control. There are plenty of recipes out there about what to do with leftovers!

What can you say to others?

“That’s really kind of you but eating any more will make me feel uncomfortable“.

“That’s kind of you but no thank you“. (It’s okay to say this over and over until they give up).

And then change the subject. Ask them an open-ended question to take away the focus from you. Saying no can be incredibly hard and, goodness, I used to struggle with this but the more you practise, the easier it does get. Don’t let their issues about you not eating more become yours. It’s YOUR body. You’re in control.

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INTERNAL PRESSURE

Even if you’re not on a weight loss journey, food and eating can still provoke fear or worry.

What can you say to yourself…which will depend on what’s hard for you?

It’s okay to eat more today. One day isn’t going to undo all the work I’ve done.

To even put on a single pound, I’d need to consume an extra 3,500 calorie which is so unlikely.

If I do put on weight, I’ll get it off again in the next couple of weeks.

I deserve to eat what I want to eat today!

I’m in control of what I’m eating today. Just because there’s more food around, it doesn’t mean I have to eat it.

I will stop when I’m physically comfortable and being honest with myself will help me know when I’ve got to that point.

I know myself best and how today’s eating regime needs to be like any other day.

I can still make good choices today.

Christmas Day is one day. Even if I’m dreading the holidays, this will be over very quickly

I’m going to have that mince pie because I fancy it. But rather than bring the whole pack into the living room, I’ll take just the one and eat it really slowly. I’m going to think about how it tastes. And then I’ll distract myself with an activity….and if I really can’t avoid eating the rest, I’ll throw them into the freezer.

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Before the holidays, perhaps take a moment to think about where pressure for you might come from. Sometimes, we need to rehearse the above lines because they can sound different when we say them aloud to when we read them in our heads. Perhaps write down or take a screenshot of what’s the most helpful statement for you (of course, you’re likely to have others that speak to you more).

Please feel free to share this post with anyone who needs a bit of support right now and feel free to share in the comments about your thoughts re food during this coming holiday season.

If you really struggle during these holidays, you’re so welcome to comment below (I will respond) or reach out to other support whether it’s a supportive friend or, if you have an eating disorder, your state/country’s eating disorder charity.

I’ll be back on Monday with my next weigh-in but we’ve got this! We really have!

Love Erika xx

When does a strict diet tip over into being an eating disorder?

Hey folks

There really seems to be a fine line between the two. A close friend has expressed concern that I’m in the grip of an eating disorder having lost a lot of weight this year and knowing that I had what would now be called ‘atypical anorexia’ in 2011-12. You can read about this (here). So, am I just super focused…or is something else going on?

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In the UK, the acronym SCOFF is used by medical practitioners to screen for the presence of possible eating disorders. Answering ‘yes’ to at least two of these questions would suggest possible anorexia or bulimia so here’s me being honest in answering each one:

1. Do you make yourself Sick because you feel uncomfortably full? No.

2. Do you worry you have lost Control over how much you eat? No.

3. Have you recently lost more than One stone in a three month period? One stone is the equivalent of 14lbs so yes…but my starting weight was very high? At the same time, I’ve lost more than the recommended 1-2 lbs a week and I’m jumping on the scales probably far more than is recommended.

4. Do you believe yourself to be Fat when others say you are too thin? No…as I’m still in the obese range. I feel far bigger than my clothes size would suggest but can’t that be the case for many people going through a transformation? Does the mind need time to catch up with what’s going on with the body?

5. Would you say that Food dominates your life? Yes! All day, every day. I wake up thinking about food, I think about how to avoid situations where others, like my husband, will expect me to eat more that I want to, I take ages to go to sleep because I’m thinking about calories and, well, my Google history is full of food-related searches. So, this is a resounding yes.

So, okay, I can say ‘yes’ to two of these.

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When I was ill in 2011-12, the mental health team said that I had all the features of anorexia as I’d gone from a BMI of 43 to 27 very quickly….but I was still actually overweight. They could see that day-to-day life was consumed with all things food-related and almost this obsession about losing that next pound on the scales. They could also see how my heart QT’s interval was becoming prolonged with regular heart tracings. The term ‘atypical anorexia’, which was added when the DSM-5 was published in 2013, basically means that the criteria for anorexia is met except that the person can be ‘normal’ weight or even overweight. So, I think it’s safe to say that this would have been my diagnosis at the time if it existed.

As some of you know, I do have a lot of pressure at home as I’m carer to one of my adult children and so, whilst I’m always the one with a huge, beaming smile, I know there’s a lot of sadness going on right now. So, am I struggling to sometimes eat enough because I’m tired and perhaps struggling as a carer or have I turned to being rather strict because eating and losing weight is something that I can control in life? I’ve decided to pursue some therapy to explore this so I’m hoping that will start in the next few weeks. But returning to my original question ‘When does a strict diet tip over into being an eating disorder?’, I guess this can happen when thoughts about food and losing weight permeate into almost every aspect of life. I’m having days when I feel almost scared of eating so I know I need to challenge my thinking around food to stay well. So, in answering this question, I’m going to have to get back to you. I’ve always been (and I’ll continue to be) open with you.

I hope you have a super weekend. I’m seeing my parents this weekend which is the first time for about 7 months due to Covid so I can’t wait. And I’ll be back on Monday with my next weigh-in

Love Erika xx

Week 32 weigh-in: an advent calendar with a difference!


Hey guys

I can’t wait to show you my advent calendar. The rest of my family have chocolate ones but my one is, er, a little bit different! More about that in a moment but, first, let’s take a look at this week’s report card.

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What’s Erika done well this week?

  • I’ve lost another 3 lbs 🙂
  • I’m now under 100 kg! (99.97 kg to be precise)
  • I’m light enough to take a helicopter flying lesson with a local company
  • I’ve been focusing on upping my protein (mainly cooked chicken) and cutting back on carbs

What could Erika improve on?

  • Mmm, this is going to be the subject of my blog later this week but I’m at the point of thinking “Am I just super focused on losing weight or am I beginning to develop the symptoms of atypical anorexia?” There can be such a fine line between the two and I’m not saying that I have an eating disorder again but, if it’s okay with you, I’ll think aloud on here probably Thursday or Friday. As ever, I’ll be very open and honest about where I’m at.

Erika’s next target(s):

  • 1 lb until I’ve lost a third of my original body weight and I’m out of the 220s
  • 3 lbs until I’ve lost 8 stone in total
  • 4 lbs until my BMI is in the 32s
  • 21 lbs until I’m in Onederland (yes, I’ll be less than 200 lbs)
  • 24 lbs until I’m no longer obese as I’ll be overweight

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Right, back to my advent calendar… this is a fitness one! Virtual Racing UK organise this every year but post these calendars abroad too. The idea is that behind every door, you may find part of a medal which you build as you head towards Christmas and you also have a fitness challenge. Today’s challenge? 30 x crunches, 30 x cross crunches, 20 x leg raisers and 60 second plank….. and repeat all of this TWICE!!! It’s actually really exciting to see what the daily challenge is. If you fancy this, perhaps follow them on Facebook so you can see when the 2021 advent calendar is launched. But once my whole medal has been built, I’ll share a photo with you.

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Right, I’m off to do my daily challenge workout but I’ll be back Thursday / Friday. In the meantime, please feel free to share your own weight loss successes, frustrations or whatever’s on your mind ❤

Love Erika xx

Recordable weight loss since blogging:Still to lose:Current weight:BMI:
88 lbs62 lbs220 lbs33.5
Plus 21 lbs lost prior to blogging

Week 30 weigh-in: letting go of old clothes…

Hey guys

YES!! As shown in my ‘report card’ below, I’ve lost a lot more than one pound this week so I’m truly buzzing today! Perhaps it’s because I’d plateaued for about three weeks and the scales are now reacting again to me controlling my portions and exercising. I don’t know. There could be 101 reasons why but I’m hoping it won’t be too long until I’m out of the 220s.

Okay, let’s have a look at this week’s report card:

What’s Erika done well this week?

  • I’ve lost 4 lbs
  • I’ve ditched most of the clothes that are too big for me… more about that in a moment.

What could Erika improve on?

  • I’ve always said that I’ll be honest with you and I do need to watch that being ‘eager’ about a new lifestyle doesn’t slip into being some form of eating disorder. A friend has shown concern about how quickly I’ve lost this weight over the past few months, especially when my heart was put at risk many years ago when I lost a lot of weight through anorexic behaviour (although the weight loss was quicker). Do I have an eating disorder? I don’t think so but I will be reflecting on that.

Erika’s next target(s):

  • 1 lb until my BMI is in the 33s….so close!
  • 4 lbs until I’m weighing less than 100 kg
  • 25 lbs until I’m in Onederland (yes, I’ll be less than 200 lbs)
  • 27 lbs until I’m no longer obese as I’ll be overweight
This is the MY Weight app

Before this weight loss, I was wearing approximately US size 18-20 / UK size 22-24 clothes although trousers would have been slightly bigger. And, you know, I’ve still been wearing some of these clothes… just very loosely! But I had a big sort out on Saturday night, dumped all my clothes on my bed including those I’d kept from my previous ‘slim days’ that I’ve wanted to get back into and tried on EVERYTHING! I’ve been buying a few bits over the past few months but hadn’t wanted to buy too much knowing that I’d likely be ‘passing by’ certain sizes. The result? I have a huge bag of clothes going to charity and I’m now wearing clothes to reflect my current size. Tops? I’m a US size 10 / UK size 14. Bottoms? I’m a US size 12-14 / UK size 16-18. (I don’t think I’ve ever shared my height with you but I’m 173 cm / 5 foot 8). And I’m thinking more about how I want to style myself. I could buy completely new clothes but I’m actually really loving searching on EBay where there’s a huge range ….some pre-loved clothes that reportedly have been worn just the once but also lots that are new and still have their tags so I’ve a few bits on their way 🙂

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So, upcoming posts include:

  • coping with and breaking plateaus
  • what I’m eating (I’ve been taking photos!)
  • choosing how the ‘new me’ will dress
  • the fine line between very focused dieting and anorexic thinking

Please feel free to share your own weight loss successes, frustrations or whatever’s on your mind ❤

Love Erika xx

Recordable weight loss since blogging:Still to lose:Current weight:BMI:
84 lbs66 lbs224 lbs34.1
Plus 21 lbs lost prior to blogging

You won’t get me seeing a doctor … yet!!

Hey guys

Okay, so, my ‘adult’ head knows that doctors see people of all shapes and sizes! Everyday, they’ll be seeing people like me, people who are bigger, people who are smaller, blah, blah, blah. So, what is it that makes me stay well clear of the local GP surgery? I thought it’d be helpful to talk aloud as I sometimes wonder if anyone has a fear as great as mine.

I should preface this by saying that I’ve been very lucky not to have developed serious illnesses or any health conditions that need monitoring…as far as I know! But I’ve become increasingly aware that if I did suspect something serious (like a lump), I still wouldn’t go. Now I write this, doesn’t it sound daft that I’d prefer to ignore a very serious health warning due to sheer embarrassment. So, I haven’t gone along for smear tests (though I do home kits to send off), I’ve ignored the free health checks for over 40s and I’ve even ignored a GP calling me as I’ve staying clear of the surgery for some time. When I’ve had two accidents in the past few years (including a broken toe), I had to go to A&E which, whilst mortifyingly embarrassing, I guess it made it feel a bit easier as I’d be seeing a doctor as a one-off. So, what’s behind this?

I don’t think it’s because I’m scared of being asked to stand on the scales as I’m big and bold enough to rebel and politely decline. But the thought of revealing my body which I go to great lengths to cover up everyday terrifies me. What will they think? Will they judge? So, I need to remind myself of the first sentence above that they’d probably not even blink because I’ll be no different to anyone else.

I wonder if this stems from being very ill with anorexic behaviour 9 years ago when there was a lot of concern about how much weight I’d lost over the space of months and now I’m so much bigger. It wasn’t even a diet that I was following as a life-threatening eating disorder was controlling me so I don’t feel that it was a ‘diet that went wrong‘ but I guess it’s how I feel. When you’ve been small and then you’re not, what will people think? In fact, I think this shame goes beyond doctors as I’ve definitely withdrawn more generally since I put all the weight on and more.

Clearly, I’m losing weight and perhaps that will give me the confidence to go to the GP if I need to… but I’m going to make a pact here and now. If there’s anything that I feel I need to see a doctor about, even if I don’t lose any more weight than right now, I will see someone. Yes, it’ll push me out of my comfort zone but I want to embrace all that life has to offer and there’s no point loving this new lifestyle if I’m not fit and healthy to enjoy it.

Thank you! Just talking aloud has made things click in my mind so you’ve been great listening. I’m now on countdown for taking part in the London marathon on 4th October and my official racing bib turned up in the post yesterday so more about that at my next weigh-in on Monday.

Have a great weekend everyone

Love Erika xx

Trying to avoid the anorexic thinking…

Hey folks

Mmm, so you may see that my BMI is in the obese range and then be puzzling about why I’m talking about anorexic behaviour. After all, I’m not underweight. However, I’ve posted before that about 9 years ago, I became trapped in the anorexic behaviour where my daily intake was capped at a mere 250 calories a day, I ended up with heart problems after losing about 8 stone very quickly and I was very close to being sectioned under the Mental Health Act. Yes, it’s possible to adopt anorexic behaviour whatever your weight….and become so poorly.

So, I’m just a bit aware that some of those past thoughts are creeping in again and I’m getting panicky about certain things like:

  • being so rigid about eating only between midday and 8pm. I’ve had a couple of days where I’ve almost gone without dinner as eating past 8pm would be ‘wrong’
  • starting to count calories very strictly. I’ve deliberately stayed away from calorie counting up to now as, 9 years ago, I’d count every half a calorie. Yes! Every half calorie!
  • seeing some foods as ‘bad’
  • jumping on the scales again…again…and again
  • starting to think about how I can avoid meals

But I think it’s good that I’m recognising these thoughts as I can take action and tell myself:

  • Erika, you’re allowed to eat outside that 8 hour window. Just do it when you need to.
  • Erika, you know what’s a sensible portion. You don’t need to count calories as the weight is coming off so you’re doing great. You’re doing something right.
  • Erika, food isn’t bad. You’re allowed to eat anything but you just to need to learn about moderation so that one piece of chocolate doesn’t mean the family size bar! When you’re ready, you can start to reintroduce more foods so that you know when to stop and don’t feel bad about having treats.
  • Erika, you need to be eating enough. Be kind to yourself! Missing out meals will affect your energy levels, especially when gearing up for London Marathon day.

When I started to blog, I promised that I’d be very open with you and, you know, I think writing this is really cathartic. Hopefully it’ll help others who have a history of eating disorder thoughts and just see those behaviours creeping in.

Have a lovely weekend and I’ll be back on Monday

Love Erika xx

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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

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