Excess skin from weight loss. What are my options?

Hey folks

Losing weight is amazing. Goodness, the high you can get from seeing the number on the scales go down and the feeling of the clothes starting to hang off your body… they’re just priceless. I’ll be doing a weight update for you on Monday as it’s been a while since I’ve weighed myself but the last time I did jump on the scales showed me that I’d lost more than 160 lbs.

But a huge weight loss can come with excess skin, especially bearing in mind that I’m in my late 40s and I’ve spent much of my adult like bigger than I would have liked to be. At the end of the day, I’d prefer to be carrying this excess skin than be carrying the excess weight but I’m lucky that it’s not causing me any health problems because excess skin can cause all manner of difficulties including infections and sores. The only two problems it is causing are a) sitting down on a reasonably hard surface which isn’t very comfortable and b) the psychological impact of not feeling comfortable in my skin – though that can be worked on.

So, what are my options?

a. Creams, lotions and all manner of things to put on my skin

You’ve only got to look at the beauty aisles in pharmacies to see products promising to tighten up your skin. I want to say that no amount of product is going to make a difference for me but perhaps I’ll give something a go… even if it’s for just one part of my body that would make a bit of a difference. But even if it does, I need to look into other options too!

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b. Eat more protein, lift weights and build up muscle mass

So, I’ve read that building up muscle mass can at least help make the body appear more defined and try to flatten some of the corrugated-card-type appearance to my upper legs… and perhaps reduce the effect of my bingo wings. My specialist dietitian said that as we get older, it’s important to eat more protein which is something I’m focusing on right now. This seems doable – perhaps booking a few sessions with a personal trainer first to get me on track.

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c. Non-surgical treatments

There are a few things out there but, goodness, it’s so important to choose someone who’s qualified! I saw a programme recently about how some people offering a variety of cosmetic treatments (like fillers, etc.) may have attended just a weekend course with barely any input about health and safety! But the main thing I’m currently looking into is radio frequency skin tightening as there’s a hospital near me offering this, a hospital with a good reputation, My plan is to contact them next week, book an appointment and take it from there.

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d. Surgery

Now, I am a realist and I feel that a body lift is the only way to get my body 100% toned. But from what I’ve read, it would involve at least two separate surgeries, each taking 4-6 weeks of recovery time. Whilst that sounds like a long time, I guess it’s a mere fraction of time bearing in mind how I could then have my toned body for some time to come. But I’m scared! The thought of going under the knife in any circumstance just terrifies me so whilst I could look at this, nah! I’d prefer to do one of the above options.

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I’ll be back on Monday to update you about my weight but also tell you about the most amazing adventure I’m about to go on this weekend. I’m ticking off another thing from my weight loss bucket list and this is a BIG one!!!

Have a great weekend, everyone

Love Erika xx

Week 65: a plan to eat more and crack the anorexia

Hello guys

Gosh, a mixed week in all honestly. I’ve a couple of friends facing really serious illnesses right now and it’s hard not to feel silly when talking about my battle with an eating disorder. But I spoke to my therapist and he said that, yes, we can all compare ourselves to others and think “but I don’t have it as bad as them” but we still live in our own reality… and it’s okay if things get to us. My therapist said that what we face at home with our very poorly son on a daily basis is far more than many people will have to cope with and therefore there’s so much that’s making sense about what I’ve had a reoccurrence of the atypical anorexia. It’s no wonder why I’m looking to find some control in my life but more about that another time!

But as well as seeing my therapist today, I had an appointment with my specialist eating disorder dietitian. Oh, she’s brilliant! She’s really warm and very easy to get on with but she’s also perfected ‘The Look’! Yes, the look to say “Erika, iceberg lettuce is not a meal!!” But she’s set out a meal plan for me for the next couple of weeks until I see her next based around increasing the calories and bringing in some more variety. So, this is what she’s set out for me to eat, knowing that I’m not a breakfast person:

Lunch: a chicken salad but add more to it than I’m currently doing. Followed by 150g fat-free FAGE Greek yoghurt with fresh fruit (like blueberries, raspberries, etc)

Afternoon snack: A Nak’d bar or Graze bar which are around 130 calories and not overly processed but full of protein

Dinner: A ready meal (as I take comfort from knowing exactly how many calories are in them – even if I’m still sticking to ones under 350 calories)

Evening snack (3 -4 times a week): 20g of cheese with an apple

That seems like so much to eat!!!! But it’s structure and I like structure. I know I’m still losing weight as my clothes are feeling looser but I’m still staying off the scales for now. Switching my mind from losing weight to maintaining weight is hard…. but one step at a time, eh. The other really good thing is that the dietitian emailed me the plan but, with my permission, copied in my therapist so it’s definitely helping me feeling supported by a connected group of professionals until I crack this.

I really intended to blog at the end of last week but life became stupidly busy! However, I promise to finally blog about excess skin this week. Until then, please feel free to share your food-related achievements, frustration or whatever’s on your mind

Take care

Love Erika xx

Recordable weight loss Still to lose:Current weight:BMI:
164 lbs (last recordable weight)7 lbs165 lbs24.9
Not currently doing weekly weigh-ins as I’m trying to not be a slave to the scales! But recordable weight loss includes 21 lbs lost just prior to blogging

Week 64: Weird yet great to wear something new!

Hello guys

A slightly different-to-usual post for a Monday because I wanted to share something with you that happened on Saturday.

On Friday, I got brave and posted some photos on here with me wearing various clothes that had long been in my ‘mmm, might get into that one day’ pile. I really wasn’t sure about sharing but I was left feeling proud that I’d posted the photos because it was way out of my comfort zone and that’s where change can happen, isn’t it. If we do the same things within our comfort zone, are we really making progress when progress is something we’re ultimately aiming for? But the photos were taken in my bedroom and, goodness, I daren’t show people that I actually have legs!!!!!

But here in the UK, the weather has been beautiful and so I took my progress to the next level on Saturday. First of all, I wore what I wanted to wear rather than what I thought I should wear and that meant stepping out of my bedroom in the outfit below. My hubby and adult children were the first to see and it felt awkward wearing something very different to my usual ‘I must cover myself up’ approach! But they were great and so I knew I needed to push it further. I wore the outfit all day which was perfect for the heat and despite not going out anywhere as such, I wore these clothes when answering the door for a few deliveries we were expecting and to our wheelie bins outside a few times. Just stepping over the threshold of our front door was scary but I did it! Yes, I really did it. Once I have my car back in a couple of days, my next target is to wear the outfit to a shop. I guess this is all about incrementally pushing that comfort zone where one day I might be thinking “Meh…. what comfort zone?”!!

I’ve a clearer idea about coping with and/or addressing my excess skin so I’ll be back later this week to talk you though my thought process and see what I next put in place.

Take care

Love Erika xx

Recordable weight loss Still to lose:Current weight:BMI:
164 lbs (last recordable weight)7 lbs165 lbs24.9
Not currently doing weekly weigh-ins as I’m trying to not be a slave to the scales! But recordable weight loss includes 21 lbs lost just prior to blogging

Over 160 lbs lost: my bravest photos yet!

Hey guys

I’m currently not weighing myself because I was forever getting on and off the scales, probably about 10-15 times a day. But I’ve decided that today’s a good day to be brave and share some photos with you. Part of me feels really nervous, especially as one of them shows just some of my excess skin (oh, there’s a lot more, trust me!) but a bigger part of me is celebrating! I’ve had so many clothes in my ‘can’t get into that yet‘ pile but I can now get into everything I own – all US size 8 (size 12 UK). Right, Erika…. deep breath, girl! Here we go…..

Okay, I’m still here! I survived after sharing these! My next step is to look into how to deal with the excess skin because it’s stopping me from getting into the next size down but I just want to feel comfortable in my own skin. The main areas are all round my thighs (including saddle bags), my upper arms, my knees, my butt (woah, TMI there!!!!!) and my upper and lower abdomen. I found somewhere last night that does non-surgical treatment that I’ll be booking an appointment with. But I’m a realist and I know there’s only so much skin that can be dealt with but it’s about balance, I guess. Let’s see what I can change and what I can’t, and take it from there 🙂

Wishing you a lovely weekend everyone and I’ll be back on Monday

Love Erika xx

Week 63: the search for hobbies and connections!

Hey guys

A bit of a difficult week with feeling physically poorly but part of me wants to focus on positive things for the future, both fairly soon but really thinking about life balance in the longer term. Let’s check out this week’s news first:

What’s happened this week?

  • I booked myself some things for the diary to look forward to with a helicopter flying lesson in September and a Ferrari driving experience around the Silverstone circuit in October
  • I’ve started to think about hobbies (more about that in a moment)
  • I’ve continued to stay off the scales for the past week
  • I won’t go into details but the effect of trying to eat more has had quite a profound physical impact on me for the past 6 days resulting in very little sleep and being in constant pain every day. It’s only today that I’m starting to see the signs of potentially getting better so hopefully I’ll finally sleep well tonight!

What could Erika improve on / next targets?

  • I’m really trying to get above 900 calories but I’ll no doubt feel more focused once I feel better

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We can have times when we take stock of our lives, perhaps initiated by a significant event or change like losing weight or recovering from an illness. There may be things in our lives we have to do. There may be things we enjoy having in our week. But we may also think about further things to build into our lives to address an unmet need. As a wife, mum, businesswoman, student and carer to my son, life is busy and I’ve been recognising that I need to have some time for me, especially with Covid restricting my usual coping strategy of travelling. When I did the recent 4 hours eating disorder breakthrough session, the therapist used the word balance several times and that word rings true for me…. whether it’s about balancing my calorie intake so it’s healthy, whether it’s about balancing my weight so that I’m not obsessed but I can give myself see leeway. I also need to apply the word balance to my week which means finding hobbies which introduce some fun. I’m about to finish a course where I’ve met up with the same people for 3 hours a week since September and I’ve come to realise that seeing familiar faces on a regular basis has been good for me. So, here are some thing I’m considering at the moment to start after the summer:

  • horse riding
  • martial art lessons
  • joining a gym
  • finding an adult education course, perhaps something like photography or furniture restoration
  • becoming a first aider for public events – though Covid would make me feel very nervous
  • finding an outdoors community project, perhaps something around gardening. Now, that would be ironic as we actually have gardeners who come here every fortnight to make our gardens really lovely but getting involved in a practical community project does appeal
  • or (and this might come as a surprise)…. something food-related like baking!

I’d really love to hear what hobbies you have. Yes, there are things I could do at home and I’m a real sucker for jigsaws but the ‘people person’ within me knows that connecting with others does me the power of good. And having done voluntary work for most of my adult life, I guess I’m not feeling compelled to look for another voluntary job unless it really ticks the box for me. So, I’d love to know what you like doing or perhaps would consider in the future if you wanted to meet people too.

Once I feel better, I’ll share some photos with you about my journey but I’ll be back later on in the week as I’m starting to research how to handle significant excess skin. Yes, there are supposed treatments out there but it’d be great to find something evidence-based …. without going under the knife!

Take care

Love Erika xx

Recordable weight loss including 21 lbs lost before bloggingStill to lose:Current weight:BMI:
164 lbs (last recordable weight)7 lbs165 lbs24.9
Not currently doing weekly weigh-ins as I’m trying to not be a slave to the scales!

I told someone my weight… and I survived!

Hello guys

A quick post today but those who’ve been reading my blog for some time will know that I don’t share my weight with anyone, even doctors. Yes, it’s ‘just’ a figure but there’s something historical about even the idea of sharing my weight that’s brought a lot of shame. And I think there’s a lot of shame about my shape and size too but I’m working on that. You may want to check out these posts where I was trying to ‘logic’ my way through this fear…. scales part 1 and scales part 2

I have to say that I’m not having the best couple of days and so I realised that I needed to do something positive to get myself out of this hole… and I’ve booked my first ever helicopter flying lesson for the beginning of September. Why then? My daughter will be heading back to university a few days earlier and it’ll give me something to look forward to as I’ll miss her. And it didn’t even cross my mind when I phoned the airport to book but the lady at the other end of the phone line asked me my weight…. and I told her within a couple of seconds ….. and the earth around me didn’t quiver! She didn’t tell me that I couldn’t fly. She didn’t judge. To her, it was no doubt just a figure that she’s entered onto the IT system and she’s not even thinking about it now but I said my weight aloud. It’s a very weird feeling and there’s part of me that’s truly elated with feeling free and another part that’s slightly overwhelmed … but I did it!

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

Love Erika xx

Why do we turn to food in times of stress? It’s our brains!

Hey folks

On Monday, I talked about a 4 hour breakthrough session I had with an eating disorder specialist which has really helped me (you can read about it HERE). However, I held one thing back so that I could share it with you today. I don’t know but it just really clicked in my head and it’s all about stress.

One of the things possibly stopping me from giving up the anorexic behaviour is the fear if what if I put on all the weight. What if the weight just creeps on and I’m back to where I started 18 months ago? After all, we all have stress in our lives and I’ve been aware that, pre-weight loss, I could wander into the kitchen and unconsciously find myself eating. But the therapist explained something about why we can turn to food when under stress and it’s all to do with the pink part of the brain diagram: the basal ganglia.

This is what was explained to me. At any time, the basal ganglia will be thinking of about 8-10 things we could be doing. Perhaps check our emails, change the TV channel, grab a drink, tidy up the kitchen, etc . But when we’re under stress, eating often goes to the top of that list, obscuring any other option. So, we can find ourselves eating something which in turn increases the level of dopamine in our bodies which in turn reduces the stress we’re experiencing. Food can feel like it’s providing comfort for us; a culinary hug.

And this really helped me because whilst it’s to do with brain chemistry, I could see it as a linear process whereby changing my response to stress in the first place can make it less likely that I’ll turn to food. And this has given me huge comfort that once I’m back in that middle ground with my eating, I can make better choices so that I’m achieving balance in my life.

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But things are coming together in terms of getting support. Not only do I have an amazing therapist and a specialist eating disorder dietitian on board but I’m now in touch with a psychiatrist who seems brilliant and has already said about liaising with the other professionals. And sometimes it’s about getting the right people on board and, in my case, about creating Team Erika! I don’t know. Just feeling ‘held’ by others when things are hard feels like a good place to be so I’m really hoping that the next few weeks are going to see much progress.

And before I go, I thought I’d share my afternoon snack (snacks are new to me but I’m trying to eat little and often): blueberries with 50g of Fage 0% fat free Greek yoghurt. This isn’t easy but I’ll get there

As for my evening, England is through to the Euro 2020 semi finals so I’ll be glued to the TV tonight cheering on our lads (I’m so excited!!) and catching up on the Tour de France followed by a walk 🙂

I hope to be back here before next Monday

Take care

Love Erika

Week 62: a 4 hour ‘breakthrough session’ with an eating disorder specialist

Hey guys

This weekend didn’t involve ticking off another activity from my weight loss bucket list like zip wiring or going on a Segway! No, apart from a couple of walks, it’s been a very quiet and reflective weekend after spending 4 hours on Friday talking to an eating disorder specialist but let’s check out this week’s news first:

What’s happened this week?

  • I did get my daily calorie limit over 900 calories last Monday and whilst the physical shock of doing that lead to a psychological wobble and my calorie intake dipping again, I’m currently back up to 650 calories a day
  • I’ve continued to stay off the scales for the past week

What could Erika improve on / next targets?

  • My next calorie target is to maintain over 900 a day. By last Monday evening having eaten more, I was in so much physical discomfort which is probably no surprise with my stomach needing to stretch and my instant response was to then cut back quite severely. But I’m back up a bit and I have to hold onto the fact that increasing is going to feel uncomfortable initially but I need to lean into that discomfort.

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When I booked this 4 hour session, a HUGE part of me wondered how it’d be possible to find things to talk about for 4 hours! I mean, was there enough to talk about for longer than a traditional 60-90 minute therapy session? Well, yes, it turns out there was lots to cover and doing this over Zoom from the comfort of my own home was perfect. I’m going to hold off sharing one of the main headlines about eating and stress as I’ll cover that in more detail either Wednesday or Thursday but here’re the other salient points from Friday:

  • I may well be scared to abandon the anorexic behaviour because the eating disorder is serving a purpose to help me cope with being a carer and Covid is preventing me from accessing my usual coping strategies of trips away. So, I need to think about alternative ways to cope with the stress that are far healthier than restricting my food to this level.
  • One thing I haven’t mentioned on my blog is that I have bipolar though I spend the vast majority of the time in the middle ground and my high and low episodes don’t shift very quickly. But the therapist said that people with bipolar are more likely to have eating disorders as a way of coping with changes in mood. And he wondered whether I’ve actually been experiencing a prolonged high as there’s overlap between the feeling of invincibility, sharpness in thinking, etc. He said that social rhythm therapy might be worth looking into where regulating food, sleep, movement and social situations can help mood.
  • I can change my vocabulary. So, I can aim for words like balance rather than control, guidelines/principles rather than rules. Although I’ve done intermittent fasting for over a year now, he said that this is becoming unhealthy for me because it comes with lots of shoulds and rules.
  • I may be holding onto a lot of shame around my body which is why I’m secretive (except with you lot!) about my weight. I don’t disclose it to anyone including doctors which I thought is quite normal. Perhaps it’s not????! But I’ve also been advised to look at ways to address my excess skin after losing half my body weight because it’s important that I stop hiding from my weight and size.
  • I’ve a special event coming up next month. I identified this one myself but wouldn’t it be good if I could look back later on this year about how I managed to go out for a meal to celebrate this event rather than look back with regret about how a meal felt beyond my capabilities.

There’s been a lot to think about and I’ve already been challenging my language so that it creates more flexibility in my mind. I’ve my second meeting with the specialist eating disorder dietitian later on today and I’m lucky that she works alongside Friday’s specialist so she will have seen the notes on the organisation’s IT system and hopefully help me address my next steps. Really… I do know what I need to be doing but I think it’s okay to admit that sometimes we need a helping hand so that we’re not doing it alone.

I’ll be back later in the week to talk about why we may turn to food in times of stress (can’t wait to share what Friday’s expert said about this as it makes complete sense in my head!). And I’ll soon be talking about excess skin in more detail along with some brave photos because, yes, I’m still hiding behind clothes despite my BMI now being in the healthy range. As ever, please feel free to share your diet / eating disorder / weight-related successes, frustrations or anything else on your mind.

Take care

Love Erika xx

Recordable weight loss including 21 lbs lost before bloggingStill to lose:Current weight:BMI:
164 lbs (last recordable weight)7 lbs165 lbs24.9
Not currently doing weekly weigh-ins as I’m trying to not be a slave to the scales!

Week 61: another challenge ticked off my weight loss bucket list

Hey guys

Another weekend has passed and another challenge has been ticked off my list of things I can now do at my lower weight. More about that in a moment but let’s take a look at this week’s report card:

What’s happened this week?

  • I’ve now got my daily calories up from 385 a day to 645. I still have a way to go but it’s heading in the right direction and, having just spoken to my therapist, it was helpful to chat through my next calorie target before I meet with my eating disorder specialist dietitian next Monday.
  • I went on a Segway!!
  • I’ve booked my abseiling experience for August so that I have always something in the diary to look forward to
  • I’ve stayed off the scales for a few days
  • I took decisive action to control how much work I’m doing running my business as I need to build things into my week that make me smile and help me connect with others

What could Erika improve on / next targets?

  • My next calorie increase target is to get to over 900 a day by next Monday. Part of me feel it’s doable although it’s horribly close to 1,000 and, well, seeing 4 digits feels too much but I don’t need to worry about that right now. I need to focus on the current target.

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So, on Saturday, I was back at Go Ape and I had my first experience on a Segway. It was really fun although I assumed that turning the handlebars to navigate bends would be like a bike but it’s a different action. And I had to learn to start and stop the Segway by pushing my body forwards or tilting backwards. The other adults in the group were lovely and we went deep into the forest. And I could feel my confidence increase, my speed and increase and then BAM!!!!! I fell….. hard!! I truly thought I might have broken something as the pain in my arm and shoulder was immense and any touch was awful but I also thought I’d perhaps just need to rest it, apply ice and see how it goes. Lots of top layer skin is missing from near my left elbow and my upper back and neck are painful 48 hours on but I’m SO SO SO pleased I had a go. It’s something that I couldn’t have done before because of the weight limit but it’s doing things like this that’s slowly breaking down the physical and mental barriers I’d put up pre-weight loss.

My next bucket list challenge? Abseil off this!!!!! It’s the UK’s tallest sculpture at the Olympic Park in London.

As ever, please feel free to share your diet / weight-related successes, frustrations or anything else on your mind and I’ll be back later in the week

Take care

Love Erika xx

Recordable weight loss including 21 lbs lost before bloggingStill to lose:Current weight:BMI:
164 lbs (haven’t weighed for a short while)7 lbs165 lbs24.9

Panicked… paused… and then faced a fear!

Hello guys

Let’s just say that my shoes are still on because I wanted to quickly come on here and tell you that I’ve smashed a HUGE fear! Whilst I’m confident in nearly every situation and I’ve got no problem whatsoever talking to anyone far from home, I have some elements of social anxiety in my own village and it’s been 6 years since I’ve even stepped into my village shop. What’s behind this? I think probably the weight loss from 10 years ago and then putting it all back on and more. I would hide away from anywhere I might bump into someone I know. Shame, I guess.

But hubby is cooking dinner for him and the adult kids…. and realised we’re out of a key ingredient. I panicked, thinking “I should offer to go to the shop. But he needs it urgently and I can’t resort to my usual strategy of heading to the nearest town. I’ll have to face the village shop. What if. What if. What if“. Then I paused with the offer to help on the tip of my tongue, not sure if I was strong enough to face my fear and then, next thing I knew, I was getting into the car to race to the shop (walking would have taken too long). Yes, wearing a mask helped me to feel safe and I even walked past a restaurant with outdoor seating where people were gathering on this sunny Friday evening but I went into the shop and survived! I did it! In fact, I had the song ‘Face your Fears‘ playing in my head from the TV show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend ( I simply LOVE that show) and I could hear Paula’s voice (played by Donna Lynne Chaplin). Gosh, the adrenalin is kinda still there but I did it. And I need to do it again before the anxiety creeps in again so, by this time next week, I will have gone back into the shop.

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

Love Erika xx