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

Week 5 weigh-in: Anyone else dance like no one’s watching?!

Feeling the beat!

If none of my family is around and music comes on the radio or TV that gets my feet moving, there’s nothing better than jumping up, dancing around my living room without a single care in the world and knowing that calories are being burned. Can I dance? No, not really! But it does the power of good for mood and, as the weight comes off, I’ve far more energy to do this. After being on crutches for 5 days and my leg feeling so much better, I’m going to introduce dancing into my daily workout and that’s got me thinking. Which are the top songs that you like to dance to? I’m going to compile my top 10 songs for dancing and I’ll share these with you later this week.

Today’s result on the scales

On Thursday, I shared with you that I did a sneaky mid-week weigh in and was SO pleased to have lost 3lbs in 3 days! And today, the scales are exactly the same as then. However, whilst part of me is a tad bit disappointed, I must tell myself two things:

  • 3lbs is still great and in fact more than the 1-2lbs suggested. I think the weight’s currently coming off quicker as I have so much to lose. So, be kind to yourself, Erika!
  • I’m experiencing water retention with my period now due. And girls, this is where it’s important that we try to not let ourselves be affected by our monthly cycles. Try to fight any cravings, keep an eye on those calories and still do some exercise because once that water retention goes, those pounds are going to fall away!

Setting my June target

Rather than set a weight loss target (I know I’m focused on the pounds dropping anyway), my target is to drink water and unsweetened black tea every day. I drink way too much Diet Coke – I almost live on it – but let’s see if I can improve what I choose to drink for the whole month.

Love Erika xx

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

Lockdown and weight…I’ve won!

If you’d told me on New Year’s Day that we’d be under lockdown and asked what that would happen to my weight, I would have told you that it would pile on. With my business on hold, none of the usual volunteering sessions to do and none of my travels happening, I’m sure that the weight would have crept on whilst reaching out for yet another biscuit! Back in January, I knew I was big but, feeling disconnected to my body, I didn’t know how big I truly was.

February

And then something clicked in my mind in February when I knew I had to cut out the snacks and restrict my intake. And so healthy eating was happening and I estimate that I probably lost about 20lbs judging by the inch loss. But for me, diets then stop after 3 weeks. I get bored! I yearn for a toffee-cream Éclair!

Lockdown comes

However, by that 3 week point, we were very much seeing COVID-19 cases increase and then boom. Lockdown! Suddenly, we had to plan our meals. We couldn’t walk into shops as easily. I had so much time on my hands that could have lead to boredom and eating. But in fact hearing about the high percentage of overweight and obese people succumbing to the virus made me see that I could use this time to focus on me. What a precious gift that is! And so I started to blog, I started to create a daily workout, I finally got on the scales without hauling that huge chair with me and my weight is going down! Lockdown 0 – Me 1!

I’m back to work on Tuesday and part of me is a bit concerned about will I be able to maintain this journey? Well, yes! Okay, so my leg is injured AT THE MOMENT and I’m on crutches AT THE MOMENT but I’m still working out and watching everything I eat. So, if I want weight loss badly enough, I will make it work. I have had so many hits on this blog by people in the US (hello!) and I’ve been watching lots of US weight loss programmes like Fit to Fat to Fit and My 3000lb Family. These have been invaluable to watch…as I exercise of course!

A final note

And, yes, Monday is my next weigh-in. A note here for you girls because it’s almost the time of the month and perhaps I’ll gain a few pounds temporarily but I can still be good, still look after me and then see the weight loss afterwards. But bearing in mind that my periods have only just come back due to my weight loss (yes, I was so heavy that they stopped for 10 years), that’s a small price to pay for better health!

Have a great weekend everyone and I’ll be back on Monday

Love Erika xx

On crutches…but I will still exercise!

Hey folks

So, do you remember my last post when I was SO excited to tell you that I could now jog on the spot for 10 minutes on top of my 40 minutes of daily walking? Mmm, I suspect now that jogging every day wasn’t such a good idea after all, especially when I still have so much weight to lose. On Monday, I could feel some discomfort in my leg which has worsened each day since. I may have pulled something or, worse case scenario, could it be a stress fracture? If I have done any damage to the bone, it may be that I wasn’t spacing out the exercise enough and not giving the bone the chance to heal itself. So, I thought I’d chat with you about what I still plan to do exercise-wise but also why I’m reluctant to go to the doctors.

Exercises I’ll still do

First, I am still exercising although, for the past few days, it’s been just the upper body exercises that I can do whilst sitting down which have taken more than 2.5 inches from each upper arm! These usually take me about 10-15 minutes to do. But I’m going to build in some squats that don’t put pressure on my left leg – well, as much of a squat as I can achieve!!! I’m also going to do some half sit-ups to work on my tummy area. From someone who couldn’t walk 50 metres without getting puffed out 3 months ago, I’m missing the walking already!

Too embarrassed to see a medic

It’s actually embarrassing to tell you this but I do anything to avoid going to the doctor. Yes, I don’t know what I’ve done to my leg but I still have crutches from a bad fall I had 2 years ago. You see, my legs are huge which is why I wear maxi skirts every day as I can then hide them. They are big, lumpy and truly hideous to the point I can’t wear boots of any kind (including ankle boots). The thought of showing them to a doctor terrifies me. I suspect that when I had the previous fall that I was heavier and it was horrible showing the doctor and radiologist in A&E but I really couldn’t walk on the leg. But I’m hoping that by taking it easy, my leg will heal. If it starts to get serious, I will seek help….. but only if it gets much worse.

But a bit of good news to end on…

I did a mid-week weigh-in this morning and I’ve lost 3lbs since Monday! I’ll include this in my official weekly weigh-in next Monday but at least that’s put a smile on my face. Even if I don’t lose any more in the next few days, I’m happy. Yes I’m in discomfort, yes I can’t walk easily but I can still watch my calorie intake and do what I can on the exercise front. Being injured in no excuse, Erika!

Love Erika xx

Week 4 weigh-in: I’ve met a major milestone!

Before I share with you what the milestone is, I just wanted to start by saying a HUGE ‘thank you’ for lots of likes for my last post where I shared all the things I’ll be able to do when I lose weight. From being able to fit into chairs with arms to running 5K, from my feet touching when I stand up to having a helicopter lesson, these targets all things that are keeping me motivated.

Drumroll…

So, this week, I’ve lost another 3lbs and that means that I’ve reached 287lbs. Why is this significant for me? Well, it’s the heaviest I’d ever known myself to be (in 2010) so I feel like I’m back on familiar territory. Part of me is sad about how I’d piled on this extra weight and how I’d be so much lighter already if I hadn’t. However, rather than wallow in self-pity, I need to crack on, eat less and move more.

I’m enjoying exercise

It’s now 4 weeks since I started the daily exercise, all of which has been in my home which is perfect during lockdown and, goodness, it’s paying off with two noticeable achievements:

  • When I started, I could barely walk for 6-7 minutes without my back hurting and it would take many short bursts of walking to reach my daily target of 40 minutes walking. Well, yesterday, I walked for 40 minutes in ONE GO!
  • 10 days ago, I shared how I managed to jog on the spot for a total of 1 minute (broken down into 4 x 15 seconds). Well, yesterday, I jogged on the spot for 10 minutes (broken down into 6 x 100 seconds!). My aim is to build this up until I can jog on the spot for a continuous 10 minutes.

For anyone out there who feels that their weight stops them from doing any form of exercise, I hope this gives you hope that you too CAN make progress. From wherever your starting point is, progress is possible in quite a short amount of time.

My major scale milestones

And as well as the non-scale milestones I shared last time, these are the figures that I can’t wait to see on my scales:

  • 287lbs – previously known heaviest weight (ACHIEVED!)
  • 277lbs – 10% weight loss
  • 262lbs – my BMI will no longer be morbidly obese as I’ll be under 40
  • 229lbs – my BMI will be under 35
  • 196lbs – my BMI will be under 30 and therefore I’ll no longer be obese

And then, of course, there’s the day when I find myself in the ‘normal’ range!!!! I WILL get there. My weight didn’t pile on overnight and therefore it’s going to take commitment, patience and time for me get rid of it so I’ll be blogging for a while yet!

Hope you all have a good week

Love Erika xx

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

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When I lose weight, I will……

Mmm, what would you say if you’re on a weight loss journey? What does your weight or size currently stop you from doing? I think that starting to think about these things is helpful as it acts likes a carrot for me. Yes, the weight is coming down and, yes, the body measurements are getting smaller but when there’s still so much weight to lose (132lbs), visualising the ‘new me’ keeps me positive and focused.

So, here’s my list of targets and milestones that I can hopefully tick off on this ‘new me’ journey:

  • be able to put my feet together when I stand up (currently there’s a 1.5″ gap due to my large legs)
  • get into a dress that I wore on a cruise 2 years ago (UK size 22) – I’m almost there
  • wear ankle boots that don’t cut into my large calves
  • be able to wear 3/4 trousers once my legs are slimmer
  • be able to kneel down without experiencing excruciating pain in my legs
  • wear Wellington boots (haven’t worn for years)
  • be able to run 5K, first alone but then at a park run
  • be able to run a half marathon of 13.1 miles
  • get back into my 10 year old jeans (UK size 14)
  • not even think about whether I can comfortably fit in a chair with arms including at the cinema and on a plane
  • be able to resume smear tests (pap tests) without utter embarrassment (I currently privately pay for a test I administer myself at home and then send off)
  • ditch the maxi skirts that I wear every single day!
  • ride a horse (local riding school quotes 196lb maximum weight)
  • have a helicopter flying lesson (231lb maximum weight)
  • be able to go on a hot air balloon (roughly 252lb maximum weight)
  • go down Zip Wire Velocity 2 in North Wales which is over 1,500 metres long and involves going over 100 miles an hour (264lb maximum weight).

Wow! Reading through this list (which obviously isn’t in order of likelihood of being achieved), there really are some seriously big goals but smaller ones too. No doubt, this list will get added to over time and I can celebrate the small and large successes with you!

I’d love to hear about your goals and aspirations… or what you finally did after losing weight

Love Erika xx

Week 3 weigh-in: I was brave!

Well, it’s Monday and that means it’s time to share with you the results of standing on the scales this morning: I’ve lost 5lbs this week! Yay! Now that I’m 290lbs, I’m just 3lbs away from my previously known heaviest weight of 287lbs and I guess I feel as if I’m heading back into familiar territory, if that makes sense. There’s something wonderfully comforting about that.

But my even bigger news to tell you is that I got on the scales ON MY OWN! As you know, I’ve been hauling a chair onto the scales with me as I’d been too scared to see my ‘real weight’ and, suspecting the chair was about 28lbs, it gave me a rough idea of how much I actually weighed. However, on Saturday night, I was almost tying myself in knots researching the chair online, desperate to find a website that would give me its exact weight. I mean, what if the chair weighed 21lbs and therefore I was 7lbs heavier than I thought I was? It was like I couldn’t switch off and so, recognising that I needed to stop the obsessive thoughts, I knew I had to be brave, get on the scales alone and ‘just’ deal with it. So, I got on to find that the chair really is 28lbs! Yes, it was a relief that I’d estimated the chair correctly but you know, it was more of a relief that I could now deal with my new lifestyle in a less complicated way.

Hopefully I can lose 3lbs soon and reach that first big goal but I’ve also been thinking about the activities I’d love to do that have a weight limit, such as going on a zip wire or having a helicopter flying lesson. Just knowing that I CAN do these activities will be amazing but more about that next time!

Have a good week, everyone

Love Erika xx

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

Losing weight during lockdown

I don’t know whether anyone can relate but being on lockdown is actually helping me to lose weight, get fit and basically start investing in myself. Life can be really busy and whilst I’m certainly missing the income from not being able to work (I’m self-employed), it’s actually given me an opportunity to create some good habits that I’m determined will continue once I’m back working. To be honest with you, I should have taken stock of my health a long time ago but, whilst I knew I was big, it’s only recently that I’ve started to see the true extent of my size.

The COVID-19 stats show that people who are obese, morbidly obese or even overweight are at greater risk of complications and death if they catch the virus and I have to say that this fact alone has spurred me on. I know my morbidly obese BMI has already reduced having lost 13 lbs in the past 3 weeks and, having introduced a daily fitness routine in this short time, I’m hoping to be under than 40 mark reasonably soon. Of course, my eventual aim is to get my BMI in the ‘normal’ range. But it does scare me about what would happen if I caught the virus, not that I have any underlying health difficulties.

The other motivation is that I’d love my weight loss to be recognisable when I see people again. I’m not usually someone who seeks attention (far from it!) but it’d be great if I move down clothes size-wise and find myself holding myself differently when I see family and friends. Wow….I’d love just one person (beyond hubby) to notice! I love TV shows where people go away for a makeover and then come back for the big reveal! And I guess this is my own makeover opportunity.

My daily exercise regime is giving me routine in my day and, as we’re food shopping as infrequently as possible, food needs to be planned carefully. Hubby and I have said that we’ll continue with the pattern of food shopping post-lockdown but I’m going to build in my exercise around my work. even if I work slightly fewer hours. The other good thing that’s helping is stopping myself from eating after 8pm and this has instantly cut out the almost mindless snacking where food goes in without me realising it.

I’d also love to share 2 others things with you today:

  • First, I managed to jog on the spot for 1 minute (broken down into 4 x 15 seconds). Oh, I know this doesn’t sound long but I’ve heard that very large people can have heart problems if they suddenly start to jog. So, I want to build it up slowly, especially as I haven’t jogged since, er, back at school?!!
  • Second, as you may know from my blog, I’m scared to stand on my scales without hauling a 28 lb chair with me! Yes, I don’t want to see my chairless weight quite yet but when the scales say that me AND the chair weigh 300 lbs, I’m going to go for it! It should mean that my body alone will be around the 272lbs so, even if my calculation of the chair isn’t 100% spot on, I will certainly be under the 280 mark.

Have a great weekend everyone and I’ll let you know how Monday’s weigh-in goes

Love Erika xx

How do I know if I’m losing weight?

Well, I’m sure ‘using scales’ and ‘using a tape measure’ come to mind but I really wanted to blog today about the other ways that don’t rely on reading figures. Sometimes, it’s the small (or perhaps big) signs that show us that our new lifestyles are paying off and these signs in themselves can be SO motivating! When I started my journey, I wrote a list of all the things my weight and size were stopping me from doing and, oh, what a depressing list it was! But it was the reality check I needed and, I don’t know, putting it in writing just made it more real.

However, now, it’s time for a more positive list and this is what I’ve noticed so far:

  • My clothes are feeling loser. In fact, a T-shirt I couldn’t previously get over my belly is easily going over!
  • I’m walking more quickly
  • My back no longer hurts when I stand up for a while. Before, it could hurt after standing for 5 minutes whilst washing up but I stood the other day for 3 hours whilst chatting to neighbours on VE Day (whilst standing apart, of course!)
  • I’m getting up from the sofa very easily
  • The daily exercises and walking are getting easier and so I’m now holding onto a couple of tins of baked beans to add some weights!
  • My increased stamina makes me less panicky about walking. Just yesterday when I went to the pharmacy for my son, I couldn’t park outside and that’d usually result in trying on another day but, instead, I parked at a car park and walked there
  • I’m not bumping into furniture so easily when it’s a tight spot
  • I can bend over more easily
  • My fingers easily touch when I place them around each wrist
  • Turning over in bed is far easier
  • I don’t feel the fat pushing against my neck when lying on my side
  • I’m starting to feel more confident about going outside whereas I would shut myself away before
  • My husband says that my snoring has improved!

As I read through this list, the words ‘easier‘ and ‘easily’ keep jumping out at me. Yes, that really does sum up my experience so far as daily actions are feeling less effortful.

I also wanted to share a photo of something I had yesterday which was really yummy! It was a mushroom and spinach risotto that took just 3 minutes to microwave but I would love to get to the point where I’m cooking from scratch – but that’s another blog in itself!

Have a great day everyone and stay safe

Love Erika xx