About Me

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I live in Kent with my husband, toddler Tilly (henceforth known as Monkey) and another baby due in November. We have two cats, Duncan and Lady Macbeth, and four chickens who kindly lay us eggs daily. We live in the picturesque seaside town of Broadstairs. I enjoy reading, knitting and cooking. I'm trying to be a bit 'greener' (not sure how successfully), and to be a gentle parent. Extended breastfeeding and co-sleeping don't freak me out, we use cloth nappies and try to follow some of the ideals of Attachment Parenting. If that sounds as if I know what I'm doing, I don't! I am also a psychotherapist with an interest in Focusing-oriented therapy, and I have a small private practice in the area.

Saturday, 30 May 2009

Weighty matters

I feel really fat today, and as often happens when I'm feeling low about the way I look, I over-eat. Which makes me feel worse, of course. I just seem to swing between feeling reasonably okay with myself, and really wanting to lose weight. I can think of lots of reasons to lose the weight:
  • I want to be healthier in general but also with a view to making another baby in 12 months or so;
  • I want to feel more at home in my body, and therefore more attractive. I find it hard to feel sexy when I look like this.
  • I want to dress more creatively and my weight prevents me from doing that because so much doesn't suit me now I'm a size 16/18.
  • We're moving to the seaside and I don't want to be sitting on the beach in my maternity swimsuit.
I could probably go on but I won't. Yesterday I visited a good friend who has just lost around 3 stone on the Slimming World plan. I am so pleased for her and she looks fantastic, but goodness I was so envious of her. I fantasize endlessly about what it would feel like to shed that much weight, how good it would feel to be able to shop wherever I liked, not to be hiding under cardigans and jeans. But I just can't seem to give up this obsession with food. And I don't use that word lightly, I really do feel obsessed with food. I become terribly anxious if I don't know when and what I am next eating. I always need to feel full, and my choices from a menu are often based upon how large I estimate the portion to be, rather than what tempts my tastebuds. I actually feel quite embarrassed writing that. 
I would like to be able to just cut down on the amount I eat and to slowly readjust to a healthier weight, but that doesn't seem possible. I think the only way I can tackle this is to follow a slimming plan, probably Slimming World as this is the one I've got along with best (and I also think it's the healthiest as there is no calorie restriction). I have two issues with this though. First is simply my lack of willpower and the difficulty in avoiding 'bad' foods, particularly as my husband and I are fortunate enough to eat out often. I don't have a very sweet tooth but I do crave Indian food and other savoury takeaway food. I can cook a great curry myself but it just doesn't hit the spot. The dieter's feeling of being deprived builds up insidiously until the Wanted Thing becomes the only thing thought about. My second 'problem' with following a conventional diet plan is that in order for it to succeed I have to be as obsessed with food as I am when I am not dieting. It's just swapping out-of-control for total control, but what I really want is to be somewhere in the middle. I just don't know how to get there. I've been seeing a homeopathic practitioner about this issue, which has been fascinating but hasn't cracked it yet. She has approached it from a more holistic angle and her consultations have delved into the root of the problem, my lack of confidence. That perhaps what is stopping me from losing weight is the fear of truly showing or revealing myself. This, I guess, is similar to Susie Orbach's thesis in Fat Is A Feminist Issue, that the weight is a cushion or shield from the world. 
Is analysis any use though? I've had five years of therapy and I haven't changed (with regard to this particular issue). I wrote my MA thesis about women and body image as part of working-through: nothing changed. Do I just need a kick up the backside, an injection of self-discipline and motivation? That's how it appears to me now, that I need to go back to the slimming group, avoid eating out, plan my menu well in advance and just bloody well stick to it. 
Answers on a postcard please (or alternatively just post a comment!)


Daisie said...

I was VERY fat after I had Francesca (but I could buy clothes to fit etc so didn't really see the problem) and when I saw myself on the xmas video I was soooo shocked.

I bought a small plate for me to eat from, I didn't wnat to restrict what I ate, didn't think it was a good lesson to teach my children, but just ate less of everything.

18 months later after swimming a couple of times a week and trying to walk instead of just jumping in the car I lost just over five stones.

I have put some back on since having Nathaniel and when I feel fat I just remind myself that I no longer need to wear size 22 jeans and I feel better!

Eating less but still eating everything we ate as a family (chips, cake, take away) made it easier and it was possible to stick to it.

Good Luck in whatever path you choose!


Liz said...

If you're finding obssessive thoughts a problem, I wonder if you've tried Cognitive Behavioural Therapy alongside conventional therapy - it teaches you how to challenge each negative or obssessive thought as it comes rather digging to find the root cause. Some people find it really helpful in changing deeply rooted behaviours. I have certainly used it to success myself in changing negative/anxious/depressive thoughts (I'm a real brooder and can dwell on unlikely horrible things if I'm not careful). If you've found long-term therapy unhelpful, maybe worth giving CBT a try? Or even hypnotherapy, which I also know from experience can be helpful in changing the direction of deeply-ingrained thoughts.

Mon said...

I just want to say that, I understand. I also have food issues and have no idea what it's like to go a couple of hours without thinking about food.

It's so difficult to expalin to other people, who think just watching what you eat, calories, exercise, whatever is enough.

I have worked through a LOT of stuff on my own. You need the right therapist, or if self-reflection, the right triggers.

I know the whys of my problem, and I am more accepting of myself, VERY much more. But still have this food thing over my head, which means having a weight thing on and off over my head.

Just wanted to say, I get it.

Earthenwitch said...

Yup, I get it too - I'd quite cheerfully drop two stone or so, and while people say 'ah, but you've had a baby', I can't really say that's the reason: I wanted to lose two stone before I was even pregnant! I'm in the somewhat unlikely situation of being the same size I was before I was pregnant; the problem is that that size is rather larger than I'd like it to be!

The irony is that I have a very strong will. Just not regarding food. I am now trying to think that I'm going to lose some weight for the tiny daughter's sake; I had a mother whose weight made her unhappy (even though it wasn't huge), and I'd like to avoid passing on body image issues if at all possible... I'm hoping that if I tell myself I'm doing it for the witchling, I'll feel so guilty if I reach for that biscuit that I won't do it! Generally, I just need to eat 80% of what I eat, I think - we eat lots of fruit and veg, not much meat, not much dairy - but it's easily said, isn't it?

Oh, and like you, I'd quite like to have another baby at some point, and fitness seems the way to go again...

Miss Meep said...

Sorry you're feeling like this. I was a serial dieter with a very bad body image throughout my teens and 20s, but seemed to have fairly recently found a balance of exercise I actually enjoy (swimming and chasing toddler around!), eating healthy but yummy things (smoothies and houmous and veggie curries) and facing up to the fact that I am never going to be a size 10. I wish you all the best - my mates and I used to write a diet blog, where we all wrote down what we'd been eating and what exercise we'd done. I used to find it a big help - in fact, I'd be up for doing it again after my baby's born if you want to join me.

Good luck!

Cave Mother said...

I just wanted to say that I understand. I was size 16/18 until about 5 years ago. I could go on and portion sizing, exercise etc but I know that's not the problem. On the bright side, having changed my eating habits and lifestyle (rather than going on a diet) I have found it surprisingly easy to maintain my weight. So there is hope.

docwitch said...

I agree with what Cave Mother says.

And I'm personally in favour of small, gentle changes when it comes to health, rather than anything dramatic like dieting or deprivation. But also, go a bit easy on yourself - life with a 1 year old can be pretty full-on and tiring.


Claire said...

Oh I am sorry you feel this way! It is a horrible feeling. What works for me:

Every Mouthful Counts: Ask - Is this mouthful of food the most nourishing I can eat? Is it nourishing my body, my mind, my sanity? Is this mouthful needed - am I really hungry? It helps not to eat one day at a time, or even one meal - but one mouthful.

I recently cut out all grains and sugar and dairy from my diet. Sugar stimulates the appetite. It is really worth knowing that. Within two days I think I went down a dress size - I certainly felt *thinner* until I realised all my adult life I have been feeling bloated constantly and not knowing it. Now I don't.

Keeping your blood sugars stable helps a lot. Fluctuations mean that your moods swing more and you head for the buiscuit tin. For me this means eating no fruit either. Oh, I eat blueberries, daily, but they are low in sugar and high in anti oxidents.

More protein.

Supplements - algae/seaweed based, also something like Krill or CLO oils. They make me feel better.

I so know how you are feeling. For so long I have felt like you talk about (since having Esmé). i woul dbake constantly and then eat most of it myself! It was crazy really.

Telling myself I can't eat these things (grainds, sugars, dairy etc) as they may stimulate another auto immune episode for me has given me the motivation to pare back my diet so much and after three weeks I already feel and look so much better.

BUT BEST of all!!!! I am not as hungry. Can't quite understand that, but it is true, I think I have been feeding myself with appetite stimulating foods for so long, have been addicted to feeling full.

I do wish you well, you can do it!


Laura said...

Sorry to hear you're feeling this way. Just wanted to say that I really struggled - I've always been bigger than i should be and never really lost much after I had Phoebe. I was in 16/18s but I did find something that helped me. I signed up (with hubby too) to weightlossresources.co.uk and found it brilliant. It met my obsessive food tendencies, was cheaper than weight watchers, and though i only did it for about 3 months i lost a stone and a half. Had to stop then as I was pregnant! xx

The Broken Man said...

Speaking as a fat man who periodically loose weight..it tends to be about eating less and exercise..all the counseling in the world - all the therapy..it comes down to saying i will not eat the cookie! Kick up the backside i fear - now i just need to give myself one..and stop eating the cheese

willow81 said...

Thanks, all of you, for your comments and words of wisdom. I feel a little better, the problem with food is still there but I'm being a bit kinder on myself and just mulling over the possibilities. It's my birthday tomorrow and I can't contemplate anything until that's out of the way, cake and all! The bottom line, as Broken Man rightly points out, is exercise more and don't eat the cookie. But... ah, so many buts!

Small plate= good idea, Daisie that's an amazing weight loss. I also think it's really important that I eat 'normally' for Tilly's sake.

EW, Cavemother and DW, I am attracted to the idea of long-term lifestyle changes rather than dieting and deprivation. And Miss Meep, I really like the idea of a blog, although I don't think I'll call it a diet blog, I'll have to think of another name for it!

Claire, thanks for taking the time to post your response. I find myself wondering what you DO eat, and I mean that quite seriously, I'd be interested to know what a typical day's menu looks like. How do you fit your diet restrictions around cooking for the family? You are right about avoiding sugars though, that definitely has a impact on hunger.

Thanks again all xx

Claire said...

Ok! :)

I didn't mention that besides being grain, sugar and dairy free I am also not eating eggs, corn, soy or potatos right now :) How funny is that?

This was what I ate yesterday and the day before just so you can see:


Breakfast - Romaine leaf filled with leftover roast veg and hemp seeds. Blueberries, handful. Barley green drink with acerola cherry powder, seagreen caps x2, probiotics x2, CLO.

Lunch - Bowl of leftover soup (chicken and veg made with bone broth), pollen mixed into cashew nutcream (made with cashew nuts, dates and water).

Dinner -Piece of fish, grated carrot salad with spring onions and vinegar dressing.


B - Bowl of yesterday's chicken and veg soup, usual supplements, handful of blueberries.

L - salad leaves, with stir-fryed veg on top (sweet potato, aubergine, carrot, onion, w. garlic and herbs and seasoning), hemp seeds over the top. Side plate of salomon rolled in nori sheets that I shared with ds1.

D - Spinach layer on plate with lamb/veg bolognase type sauce over.

For snacks I have been making some 'cookies' - I use that tern loosly though. I mix one cup of ground nuts (almond, hazelnut etc) with one cup of arrowroot powder (this is my flour substitute but actually is really good for you too - although I am thinking about experimenting with coconut flour soon), then I add 1/2 cup ful of melted organic virgin coconut oil with a good squeeze of agave nectar (low GI index) and a grating of lemon zest plus a pinch of himalayan salt and a bit of vanilaa extract. Combine, shape into cookie shapes and bake for about 15 mins, medium heat. I have experimented using desicated coconut in place of some of the gd. almonds - thatmakes for a sweeter cookie. Also adding in flax seed or ground seeds. But they are quite nice. For me, not eating refined sugars they taste plently sweet enough.

So you see, I can eat kind of normally :) I am not impossing on my family, they eat what we have always eaten thus far, I am happy to make things for them as usual, the things I eat take far less time actually! It felt tricky at first, maybe for a week, but at the time it felt like I just HAD to do it, health wise. It was not a decision based on weight or anything. So that is motivating for me. My family eat whole foods, organic andf I cook pretty much everything but I plan ahaead and my dh does stuff too (like putting spelt and sheep yogurt on to soak overnight for breakfast pancakes for the boys so all I need to is add the eggs and bicarb in the morning.) We have a dishwasher and my dh does the other stuff on an evening.

My milk supply is fine, my dd is still maybe 50 - 70% breastfed right now.

Anywa, I am happy to answer questions, if you have any, and I am always trawling the net looking for inspiration for foods. Like I make this divine 'chcoolate' (with coconut oil, coconut cream, agave), everyone in the house wants it, even those who eat regular goodies so it can't be too bad! I like Susan Jane Murray's site. I think she sometimes does a recipe for GP mag.