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

Week 6 weigh-in: I’ve started C25K!

Hey folks

Too fat to run? No!

I’m SO excited to tell you that I’ve started the running programme C25K (Couch to 5K). Yes, I know that I started some jogging on the spot a few weeks ago and injured myself but I made the mistake of not having any rest days. However, this time, I’m following C25K to the letter which means exercising 3 times a week, slowly increasing the amount of running. The aim is to do this over 9 weeks whilst following the app but you can repeat weeks if you need to slow down the pace.

I did wonder whether I’m too fat to run. I mean, we have to take care of our bodies but I’ve read lots of accounts from others who’ve done this when heavier than me….and I can’t tell you how great I feel. The music I talked about last week is now on my exercise playlist and it did just the job. This might sound really silly but I do like the idea of rewards to keep me going. I’ve found a website called Virtual Racing UK where you pay to enter a wide range of races including C25K. They give you a virtual bib number and then you submit evidence of achieving your goal in order to claim your actual-real-life-doesn’t-that-feel-good medal! Yes, if I meet this goal, I’ll have an actual medal sent to me which I can then share with you on here. So, I’ll keep you posted.

Clothes to inspire

I ordered some clothes the other day that I won’t be able to fit into for months and months as they’re UK size 14. It might seem a little premature but it was just a jumper, hoodie and some 3/4 length trousers (which I’ve never had the confidence to wear). Once they arrive, I’ll take a photo to show you and then I’ll hang them on my bedroom door so that I see them every morning.

And finally…..the scales!

So, I’ve lost another 3lbs! I’ve been drinking so much water this week which, despite sounding rather counterintuitive, helps deal with water retention. You know, my body is feeling very different. Yes, I have a long way to go but I’m moving more easily and clothes are feeling much looser. Happy times!

Have a great week everyone

Love Erika xx

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

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