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

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

Atypical anorexia. Are you ready to recover?

Hey guys

I guess today’s post is to help me think through the concept of recovery from atypical anorexia although it can probably be applied to many other situations, not just eating disorders.

The thing is…. my current situation isn’t really about the food. Sure, the thought of food, how to avoid it, how I’m going to knock off another pound consumes almost every waking moment but things like eating disorders, alcoholism, self-harm and OCD are just the outward behavioural signs of inner turmoil.

As I’ve eluded before, I ‘get’ the logic about my situation as it links to being a carer. Focusing intently on my weight loss takes up a lot of mental space and helps me avoid focusing on the harder things. So, it serves a purpose. What I’m going to do is to look at the pros and cons of recovery. Even as I write that, I’m thinking “Erika, why wouldn’t you want to recover?!!!!” but let’s see how I get on with these lists.

The pros of recovery

  • I can become physically healthy again. I hope this is possible as I know that my organs are starting to be affected but I could possibly prevent them from at least deteriorating further
  • I can reclaim the mental space this is taking up
  • I can then refocus on adopting healthy eating patterns and fully embrace how I’ve lost over 160 lbs
  • I can stop panicking at the thought of meeting up with friends over meals as I love being with people!
  • I can take on the physical demands of things I’ve been looking forward to (which I don’t feel I can right now) like abseiling, adrenalin-filled rib boat experiences, etc.
  • I can get on with the therapeutic work that I’m mentally partly trying to avoid

The cons of recovery

  • It’s scary! If I don’t have this intent focus on all things food-related, I’m more likely to think about the painful stuff
  • I’m worried about increasing my calories in case I then can’t stop eating
  • If I can’t stop eating, I could put on all the weight
  • I don’t know how to recover

So, let’s challenge those cons:

It’s scary! If I don’t have this intent focus on all things food-related, I’m more likely to think about the painful stuff

Yes, it is scary and that’s understandable Erika. Thing is that those feelings about being a carer need to be processed and masking them isn’t going to make them go away. Talking about this stuff might be really hard but you’ve an amazing psychotherapist in place who you know you can tell anything to. Just think back to what it’s like when your mind feels free and you don’t feel trapped. You can do it, girl!

I’m worried about increasing my calories in case I then can’t stop eating

Isn’t that understandable?! You’ve lost all this weight, you’ve got a new body (including the excess skin but, meh, a small niggle). But you’ve also been doing the Noom program for 4 months and actually, despite the anorexia, you’ve been learning lots about healthy eating even if you’ve not been able to put it into practice. You’ve actually got a mental tool kit of strategies to now use. Yes, when you recovered from atypical anorexia 10 years ago, you did then put on a lot of weight but this time feels different. Apart from the carer issues, you’re in a good space overall.

If I can’t stop eating, I could put on all the weight

Check out what you wrote above, Erika. You can choose a healthy range to stay between which allows for normal fluctuations. You’ve already set this up as your body weight is 2 lbs away from being in the healthy range but you’d like to lose another 9 lbs overall so that you have some wriggle room.

I don’t know how to recover

And you don’t have to know. ‘Just eat more’ might sound SO simple but you don’t have to do this alone. You know that things have been escalated by your therapist and GP because of their concerns over physical risk so you need to pass over the control. You can’t do this any more. Keep an open mind. Listen to the eating disorder service people who have their area of expertise and work ‘with’ them. Don’t see support as something being done ‘to’ you but work with them like you’ve done with other professionals in the past. They’re just part of Team Erika and will want you to rediscover your true self.

— ❤ —

Gosh, that felt quite intense to write but I hope the above helps at least one person reading this, whatever their situation. In fact, the structure of pros, cons and how to challenge cons is perhaps a format for a range of ‘What shall I do?’ situations. I’m going to record myself reading the above in the next couple of days and then play it back… because I’ll then be able to hear an external voice talking to me which can feel very different to the inner one. Well, let’s see how that goes.

I’ll be back on Friday or Saturday but, until then, take care

Love 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

Week 50 weigh-in: Nearly a year of blogging!

Hello guys

You know, I really don’t think I would’ve lost so much if I wasn’t blogging. I’d already lost 21 lbs so my ultimate goal was to lose a further 150 lbs …. and I’m not far off 🙂 Of course, I could have been writing in a private journal but I find thinking aloud here helps me to process my complex thoughts and feelings. Blogging gives me structure with my weekly weigh-ins on Mondays and commitment to a further 1 or 2 posts during the week. And, ultimately, I hope that my posts help at least one other person…. whether it’s learning to set and focus on the small goals or, much more recently, knowing you’re not alone if you find it hard to eat enough. So, if you’re contemplating whether blogging might help you with your journey, I’d definitely urge you to consider giving it a go!

What’s happened this week?

  • I lost 1 lb
  • I’ve now lost 85% of my excess weight
  • I’ve been eating spinach… lots of it!
  • After a few days of not going out for walks, I grabbed my AirPods last night, clicked on a playlist and set out on a 45 minute walk around my hilly village…. it was freezing (it’s actually been snowing here today!!) but I came back feeling so glad that I’d pushed myself.

What could Erika improve on?

  • Increase my calories…. finding this hard. I managed to increase on Friday but found myself restricting more on Saturday….

Erika’s next target(s) along with the big ones!

  • 1 lb until I’m halfway through the overweight category (with a BMI of 27.5)
  • 1 lb until I’ve lost 10.5 stone in all
  • 2 lbs until I’m under 13 stone
  • 4 lbs until my weight’s in the 170s
  • 18 lbs until my weight’s in the healthy range (that’s under 1.5 stone to go)
  • 25 lbs until my ultimate goal so that I have a 7 lb buffer to stay in the healthy range!

I know I’ve got my battles right now with my mind and the eating but there’s part of me that really wants to mingle with friends this summer, especially as the lockdown measures loosen. And the invites have started to come through, from an English afternoon tea party in July (basically, very posh sandwiches, scones and cakes with lashings of tea) to friends asking about meeting up for lunches to a family get-together in August to celebrate lots of significant birthdays and anniversaries this year. And we have friends in the US, whom we chatted to last night for 2 hours over Zoom, who’d love us to go over there. Yes, we couldn’t go together due to our son’s complex needs but I’d still love to travel alone to the west coast to spend time with them. I know that life can be good and connecting with others has always played a huge part of my life…. so there is that part of me that wants this…. but the pull in the other direction feels stronger right now…

I’ll be back on Wednesday but, in the meantime, hope you have a good couple of days. As ever, please feel free to share your diet / weight-related successes, frustrations or anything else on your mind.

Take care

Love Erika xx

Recordable weight loss since blogging:Still to lose:Current weight:BMI:
125 lbs25 lbs183 lbs27.7
Plus 21 lbs lost prior to blogging



Anorexia in the UK headlines… Nikki Grahame’s death

Hey

I guess I need to talk. There’s a news story breaking right now in the UK about Nikki Grahame, a reality TV star who first came onto the UK television screens in Big Brother series 7 (2006). She openly told her story about how she’d been fighting anorexia since she was a very young child and she bore a scar in her abdomen from when she was fed directly into her stomach. Apart from singer Karen Carpenter, gymnast Christy Henrich and singer Lena Zavaroni, Nikki’s was the one name that was synonymous with anorexia. Over the years, she sought help from many treatment providers and she was back in an eating disorder unit. But she’s lost her battle, aged 38. So much to give. So much more life to lead.

I know that my calorie intake is low right now. This isn’t some intentional crash diet. It’s not a ‘very low calorie diet’ that’s being medically supervised but there’s a huge part of me that’s being drawn to reducing, reducing, reducing, part of me that feels like it’s being controlled. That part is also feeling totally invincible because I’m functioning. I’m walking, talking, working. But there is a logical part of me that knows I’m going to crash at some point. I know I can’t survive on what I’m eating, even if a large part of me feels that I’m perfectly fine. But, yes, I’m sitting here really tearful about Nikki. She may not have thought that anorexia would eventually take her… I watched Emma Wants to Live on Amazon Prime the other night about her fight and eventual death from anorexia…. she so wanted to live too….

Although I’m not underweight, that logical part of me knows that atypical anorexia carries the same medical risks as anorexia yet my internal anorexic voice feels that risk doesn’t apply to me. I’m meeting up with my therapist on Monday (the one who’s helping me come to terms with being a carer) and I need to talk to him. I really need to cry. He’s asking me very direct questions about my eating as he can see I’m losing weight and my doctor, who knows everything, has ordered various tests for me, such as an ECG which is in just over 2 weeks’ time. Just pretty conflicted in my head right now: the invincible anorexic voice versus the one who’s worried about me….

Sorry, guys. I just needed to write about how I’m feeling. Feeling rather lonely right now…..

Love Erika xx

The fear of the doctors’ scales

Hey guys

I’m feeling creative today! When exploring how even the thought of being weighed by a doctor sends a shockwave through my body, I’ve decided to deviate from my usual style of blogging and do it through the art of conversation that will give you insight into how my delightfully complex mind works. “A conversation? From sitting behind your keyboard, Erika?” Yes! I might be writing this script by imagining that I’ve been asked to get on the scales and every part of me just wants to run out of that room, close the door and never return. But I guess what I’m tapping into are the different voices or parts of ourselves that bring out our reasonable or rebellious personality traits. I could try to dress this up as a Freudian’s psychodynamic exploration of the human psyche but let’s see where this conversation takes me. Let’s set the scene. It’s Wednesday morning. I’ve spent the past two weeks feeling the anxiety intensify since making the appointment for a check-up and I’ve somehow got myself into the consultation room with a doctor.

  • Okay Erika, if you’d just like to jump on the scales please.
  • (Thinks to self: Well, it’s not a question of ‘just’ popping on, thank you very much! Why did I make this appointment?!) I’m really sorry but I don’t want to. (Notices puzzled look on doctor’s face)
  • Ah, why’s that?
  • All I know is that scales scare me and I don’t want to get on.
  • I hear you. I’m not exactly going to force you on there but perhaps we can talk this through.
  • (Nooo, I don’t want to verbalise my thoughts because I’m trying hard to come across as a competent adult and you’re going to realise that I have these illogical thoughts. But I need to give the impression that I’m playing ball here… as long as this does not end with me jumping on the scales!). Okay, that sounds useful.
  • So, Erika, when I say about jumping on the scales, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind?
  • Fear. Immense fear.
  • Right, I hear that. What’s the fear about?
  • Because if I get on the scales, you’ll then know my weight. That makes me feel uncomfortable.
  • Yes, I guess I’ll see what it says. Do you know what your weight is?
  • Yes, I do.
  • Okay, is it safe to say that this is about me knowing your weight?
  • 100%, yes! I guess I want to be so much lighter than I am now but I’m working on that and I’ve actually been blogging about my weight loss over the past year. I record my weight on there (Erika, what’ve you done?!!! Why mention the blog? What if she now comes across it and works out who you are! I mean, doctors are clever. She’ll know it’s me!)
  • So, you feel comfortable sharing your weight with people you don’t know?
  • Yes as I can hide behind my keyboard. I guess it feels safer.
  • You’re doing great talking about this with me, Erika. Let’s keep going with this as I think we’re getting there.
  • (Noooo! Can’t we stop there?!!. I know for a fact you’ve got a long patient list today). Mmmmm, right.
  • Okay. So, do you feel embarrassed about your weight?
  • Yes, I know I’ve come from being super morbidly obese and that’s not where I am now… but I don’t want this figure to become official on my health records.
  • But you mentioned that you’ve made amazing progress over the past year and seeing the figure just shows us where you are today – not where you’re going end up with the work you’re putting in.
  • True
  • Anything else?
  • Well, I know I have a history of eating disorders where everything becomes about numbers, such as calories eaten, calories burnt, heart tracing stats, blood test stats, etc. I just feel uncomfortable if everything becomes about the figure on the scales too. I think I could get obsessive about that figure. Not that I’m going to suddenly restrict as I have in the past to extremely low levels but I guess I’m aware that sharing my weight could make me desperate to lower it incredibly quickly… perhaps out of shame.
  • Well, I hear you Erika and, yes, there’s much more to eating disorders than BMI so it’s one figure amongst many. Does that make sense? And just think that you’ve made some huge changes to the way you think about food so whilst you think you could suddenly restrict, that won’t necessary happen. Try focusing on the long term goals, like changing your relationship with food, if you haven’t already.
  • Yes, it does make sense and, yes, that’s true.
  • Erika, can you think why I’d like to know your weight?
  • Yeah, all the health risks linked to being overweight or obese. I know my blood pressure’s absolutely fine and my BMI’s reduced lots but what if you then put me on the obesity register…if there’s such a thing. I wonder if I’d feel more comfortable about this once my BMI goes under 30 (Drat!!!!!! Stupid Erika! She now knows I am obese….and there I was tying to disguise this with my choice of clothes!!).
  • Mmmm, you’re great at deflecting, are you, Erika!!!! So, once your BMI gets to 29 point something, you’ll jump on? Or will you tell me that you’ll feel more comfortable once your BMI’s under 25?
  • (Foiled!!! She’s good at this!) Yeah, it’s like you know me. It might come across like I’m not listening and I’m not taking on board what you’re saying but I am. Honestly. I need to think about this. Can I call you very briefly on Friday about this?
  • Okay Erika. I know you’ll think it through. Why not share this conversation on your blog? Do you think that will help?
  • Oh, I’m one step ahead of you there, doctor!!!!!

Wow, okay, that’s far longer than I thought it would be with no resolution yet so, y’ know, I’m going to do part 2 of this conversation with myself on Friday. I’m going to keep you in suspense for now as I don’t know whether I’m going to get on the hypothetical scales at the end of this but this has helped. And thank you for bearing with me, you lovely group of people!

Love Erika xx (EDIT: feel free to read Friday’s blog here to see how the conversation ended!!)

You won’t get me seeing a doctor … yet!!

Hey guys

Okay, so, my ‘adult’ head knows that doctors see people of all shapes and sizes! Everyday, they’ll be seeing people like me, people who are bigger, people who are smaller, blah, blah, blah. So, what is it that makes me stay well clear of the local GP surgery? I thought it’d be helpful to talk aloud as I sometimes wonder if anyone has a fear as great as mine.

I should preface this by saying that I’ve been very lucky not to have developed serious illnesses or any health conditions that need monitoring…as far as I know! But I’ve become increasingly aware that if I did suspect something serious (like a lump), I still wouldn’t go. Now I write this, doesn’t it sound daft that I’d prefer to ignore a very serious health warning due to sheer embarrassment. So, I haven’t gone along for smear tests (though I do home kits to send off), I’ve ignored the free health checks for over 40s and I’ve even ignored a GP calling me as I’ve staying clear of the surgery for some time. When I’ve had two accidents in the past few years (including a broken toe), I had to go to A&E which, whilst mortifyingly embarrassing, I guess it made it feel a bit easier as I’d be seeing a doctor as a one-off. So, what’s behind this?

I don’t think it’s because I’m scared of being asked to stand on the scales as I’m big and bold enough to rebel and politely decline. But the thought of revealing my body which I go to great lengths to cover up everyday terrifies me. What will they think? Will they judge? So, I need to remind myself of the first sentence above that they’d probably not even blink because I’ll be no different to anyone else.

I wonder if this stems from being very ill with anorexic behaviour 9 years ago when there was a lot of concern about how much weight I’d lost over the space of months and now I’m so much bigger. It wasn’t even a diet that I was following as a life-threatening eating disorder was controlling me so I don’t feel that it was a ‘diet that went wrong‘ but I guess it’s how I feel. When you’ve been small and then you’re not, what will people think? In fact, I think this shame goes beyond doctors as I’ve definitely withdrawn more generally since I put all the weight on and more.

Clearly, I’m losing weight and perhaps that will give me the confidence to go to the GP if I need to… but I’m going to make a pact here and now. If there’s anything that I feel I need to see a doctor about, even if I don’t lose any more weight than right now, I will see someone. Yes, it’ll push me out of my comfort zone but I want to embrace all that life has to offer and there’s no point loving this new lifestyle if I’m not fit and healthy to enjoy it.

Thank you! Just talking aloud has made things click in my mind so you’ve been great listening. I’m now on countdown for taking part in the London marathon on 4th October and my official racing bib turned up in the post yesterday so more about that at my next weigh-in on Monday.

Have a great weekend everyone

Love Erika xx