My belt has run out of holes!

Hi folks

Just a quick post today as I’m super busy with work but my belt has run out of holes! Yes, this is the belt that I need for the jeans that are getting too big although I’m a bit mystified as the belt is a ‘medium’.

Something that’s been puzzling me over the past few days is my body shape. I know our bodies change over time but I’m now lighter than 10 years ago when I lost a lot of weight… and in fact I’m the lightest I’ve been for 24 years. 10 years ago, I was wearing clothes a whole size down and people were telling me to stop losing weight as I was looking skinny (despite actually being overweight!). This time, I’ve got so much loose skin on my belly, going from the top of my thighs to my knees, on my upper arms. So, if I’ve got this excess skin that’s making me bulkier in certain areas, are there parts of me that are actually smaller than last time? How can I be lighter because I don’t physically feel it? I did have a friend tell me last night that I’m looking skinny… not in a “Hey, look at you girl!” way but actually concerned. What I don’t want to say is “I’m overweight“! And I had a pharmacist who hasn’t seen me for about 5 months exclaim when I walked in today about how much I’ve lost. She said “You’re not going to lose any more, are you?“. This was so awkward to answer but I spoke honestly and said “Yes, a bit more“…. to which she commented that I don’t need to and I need to buy smaller clothes. To be honest, comments about weight loss are feeling a bit awkward and the more I see people as we come out of lockdown, the harder it’s going to be. The pharmacy (who is really lovely and I’ve got to know a bit over the past 2-3 years) did ask how much I’ve lost and how I’m doing it…. mmm… “Eating less; moving more“. I don’t need to tell her what’s really going on!

Anyway, that’s me for today and I’ll be back either Friday or Saturday to continue thinking a bit more about what I’ve just written….

Hope you have a good day

Love Erika xx

Being brave and going out during daylight!

Hey guys

I don’t usually blog at the weekend but I’m currently on a walk and, unlike the walks I’ve gone on so far this week, it’s daylight! In the past hour, there’s been sunshine, rain and even hailstones but after feeling a bit meh today, I thought I would get out there and dust off any negative thoughts 😀 So, these photos won’t mean much to anyone else but, to me, here’s me saying that I don’t need to hide away! It’s okay to be seen. I’ve even discovered a monastery hidden deep in the woods. Despite living in the village for 18 years, there’s so much more still to discover…

Time to head home as my ears are frozen but I’ll see you on Monday for my next weigh-in

Love Erika xx

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

Hey folks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Love Erika xx

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

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