Atypical anorexia: the dietitian is pushing me….

Hello guys,

You know, the specialist eating disorder dietitian I’m working with has a wonderful ability to really listen to me, bring humour to our sessions, really involve me in the treatment around my preferences, etc. …. whilst also giving me ‘The Look’ and being direct with me which is just what I need.

I have to say that I’m finding it hard to keep pushing up the calories and I’m starting to hit a brick wall having got the calories up from a daily limit of 375 to 950. I mean, that’s a huge jump and she said that we need to do it in a way that feels doable but stops me from losing weight, especially as some of my weight will be due to excess skin after losing 170 lbs. What is exciting in many ways is that I’m actually learning about food, going for unprocessed foods (or at least those with minimal processing) and making smart choices. When I overcame atypical anorexia 10 years ago, I was under threat of being hospitalised under the Mental Health Act and it shocked me into suddenly eating more… but I had no idea about what I should be eating. This time is different. This time, I’m eating new foods, I’m not bingeing, I’m feeling some overall sense of balance. I’ve also signed up today to do a course about nutrition and health that should take me about 2 months to do via distance learning as I want to embrace a much healthier approach going forward.

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This is what my current food plan from her is, knowing that I’m not a breakfast person:

Lunch: chicken, watercress, spinach and rocket in a salad or sandwich on wholemeal followed by 0% fat Greek yogurt and blueberries

Afternoon snack: a Graze or Nak’d snack bar (which are made from wholefoods)

Dinner: a ready meal (which I always go low-cal anyway) followed by an apple and a 20g portion of cheese (but I’m not to go for the ‘diet’ or lighter version as she wants me to up the calories)

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This is EVERY day and it feels like so much to eat but she has also asked me to start building in 100 ml of Kefir every day which I bought last night and will try later on today. It’s the 1,000 calorie hurdle that feels daunting but, between her and my therapist, I know I’m in safe hands.

Just waiting for blood test results so it’ll help to see if my kidneys are still being impacted by the restricting. But despite the anorexia there, I’m really trying to focus on looking after me a bit more. I’m picking up new glasses next week, ears are being syringed in 2 weeks, hair is being dyed tomorrow, home-administered smear/pap test has been ordered and I’m considering speaking to a GP about the suspected small hernia. Self-care is something I’ve always struggled with to be honest…. perhaps linking to whether I feel worthy of self-kindness. Body confidence is wavering and so the thought of people ‘seeing me’ or needing to prod me feels really scary but perhaps if I can get my calories to more than double what they were, I can do this too! But I thought these were rather enlightening photos to show how my body has really changed from June 2020 (having already lost about 50 lbs) to January 2021 and then to 2 photos taken very recently:

Hope you have a lovely weekend everyone and I’ll be back on Monday. No extreme adventures planned for this weekend but I’ll be out with the paintbrush overhauling a bedroom which is equally fun!

Love Erika xx

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 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!

Making time to stay well…

Hey folks

A short post today but this image popped up on my social media this morning and, goodness, I needed to see this…

As a businesswoman, my diary is packed over the next few months. And whilst part of me knows that I need to take out some time for myself to get professional help with cracking the restrictive eating of atypical anorexia, there’s that part of me that can’t possibly let other people down. Yet if I was an employee, I’d be talking to my line manager right now about needing to go on sick leave. I need to look beyond today and see the bigger picture of the future on many different levels.

I had a meeting with a specialist psychologist last night about some very individualised support and she shared her significant concern about how many calories I’m eating, And I think it’s finally dawning on me that I’m perhaps more unwell than I previously thought. That’s hard to admit but perhaps it’s a necessary step before I fully realise that the next step has to be recovery….

Much to think about today….

Love Erika xx

When the weight loss thing went wrong

Hey guys

Well, I say it ‘went wrong’ but I need to hold onto the hope that I can get back on track.

For anyone stumbling across my blog for the first time, hello 🙂 So, I’ve lost more than 150 lbs so far and, for the vast majority of the past year, I’ve brought a really healthy mind, focusing on just the next tiny goal . And that can be tricky to do with a history of anorexia and bulimia but, for the most part, I was doing okay.

I was recently diagnosed with atypical anorexia because I meet all the anorexia criteria except I’m not underweight and things have got a bit serious. So, as I mentioned on Monday, I thought I’d reflect on what happened. What was the point where my healthy attitude changed and I started getting obsessive about every calorie I was eating?

Back in December, I started to get some vague idea about restricting my calories and I was desperate not to go back to this mental place from 10 years ago when I ended up on no more than 250 calories a day. From February until December ’20, I had a very rough idea about how many calories I was eating but I didn’t want to count every single one. I was losing weight eating sensible portions and working out. But I think it’s the moment when I found myself drawn into a mindset of weighing and calculating absolutely everything. At that point, it became all about the calories and a desperation to see the figure on the scales change. And I guess this coincided with some pressures here at home. There’s some serious stuff that I can’t control but eating is something that I can…..well, you know.

Since then, I’ve just started feeling uncomfortable about what I’m eating, feeling as if I’m eating too much. As I mentioned on Friday’s post, the little I’m eating is starting to hugely impact my body and my doctor is very concerned. She’s mentioned about referring me to the eating disorder service although she needs my consent but I have spent the past couple of days looking into some private options too that could more easily fit around my life. Goodness, as a business owner, taking time out is hard and, yes, I know I have to prioritise my own health but doing it in reality is hard. Anyway, one place got back to me today and we’re currently scheduling a conversation to chat things through, such as what they offer, if they feel they can help me. Yes, I’m recognising that I do need help but giving up control feels scary.

If anyone’s losing weight and signs of eating disorders are creeping in, I’d really encourage you to seek help straightaway. In no time at all, we can end up in this place where we feel stuck and the earlier that help is sought, the easier it may be to unstick ourselves. To be honest, I wish all this stuff with the anorexia would just go away as I want to pretend it’s not happening. I think the next few weeks and months are going to be a rollercoaster but, as ever, I’ll be open with you and perhaps I can get back on track and enjoy all that life has to offer. ‘cos life is good! And, especially post-Covid, I want to be jetting off for weekends away!

Take care

Erika xx

Atypical anorexia… the medical results are in…

Hello guys

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

Love Erika xx

Being a ‘healthy’ weight is finally just around the corner!

Hi guys

You know, there’s a page on my blog that I sometimes forget to update as my weight loss journey continues. Yesterday, I realised that I needed to tick off a few more goals I’d achieved and, wow, the visuals illustrate how my BMI and other stats are getting so much nearer to the ‘healthy’ category… something I couldn’t have dreamt of. So, today’s blog is basically showing you what’s given me a lift today as I start on the homeward straight…..

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Ticking off every 5lbs of weight loss (starting at 329 lbs…goal is 158…. though 165 puts me in the healthy range)

329325320315
310305300295
290285280275
270265260255
250245240235
230225220215
210205200195
190185180175
170165160158

Ticking off half BMI points (starting at a BMI of 50…goal is under 25)

5049.54948.5
4847.54746.5
4645.54544.5
4443.54342.5
4241.54140.5
4039.53938.5

3837.53736.5
3635.53534.5
3433.53332.5
3231.53130.5
3029.52928.5
2827.52726.5
2625.525<25

Getting under each (UK) stone/half stone (1 stone = 14 lbs) Started at 23 stone 7…goal is 11 stone 4 though 11 stone 11 puts me in the healthy range (I’m 5 foot 8)

23.52322.522
21.52120.520
19.51918.518
17.51716.516
15.51514.514
13.51312.512
11.5 11 4lbs

Weight classifications

No longer being super obese (BMI 50+)
No longer being morbidly obese (BMI 40-49.9)
No longer being in the upper obese range (BMI 35-39.9)
No longer being obese (BMI 30-34.9)
No longer being overweight (BMI 25-29.9) because I’m a HEALTHY WEIGHT! (BMI 19-24)

You see, my journey is all about focusing on the next tiny goal as I could have easily felt disillusioned at the beginning of this journey thinking that I’d never get to where I’m at.

I’ll be back on Monday with my weigh-in. To be honest, I’m dreading next week as I have my ECG and I heard a couple of days ago that my blood test has shown something that my doctor wants to talk about…. so a potentially challenging week next week but that’s not now! I’ve a weekend to enjoy first and I hope you enjoy your weekend too ❤

Love Erika xx

THIS shows me how far I’ve come!

Hello guys

Sometimes, I find it hard to think back to where I started off 14 months ago except that I weighed 329 lbs. However, yesterday, I was flicking through my Filofax where I found something I’d written. It’s not dated but I seem to recall it being reasonably close to the beginning because, weeks later, we were in lockdown and therefore I certainly wasn’t meeting friends for lunch! Anyway, this is what it says…

I now feel more comfortable when I’m asleep

I don’t feel the fat around my neck so much

I got behind the restaurant table when I met up with Claire

I walked to the post box there and back without stopping

I don’t get out of my breath when I walk upstairs

The sofa no longer squeaks when I sit down

#small things #tiny goals #Illgetthere

This is precious! This illustrates how far I’ve come on this journey. Little things, eh?! Yes, it’s good to look ahead to our goals but goodness it’s great to glance in that rear view mirror to see where we’ve come from and smile!

Love Erika xx

Battling the anorexic mind…

Hey

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

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

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

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

Hope you have a good weekend

Love Erika xx