It turns out ‘Eat-Less’ & ‘Do More’ Isn’t Enough! (for me)

I’ve always considered myself to be a practical and rational person. Dieting was a simple equation of energy in and energy out. But based on the past 9 months, I have to say that its just not that simple, especially people who like me have been considerably overweight for a long time.

My significant weight-gain started over 11 years ago.  While I don’t hold her accountable, its true that my pregnant teenage girlfriend (who I married a year later) peer-pressured me into eating much larger meal portions than I should have.  At the time I blamed this over eating on her need to feel better with her own weight, but the truth is that I ate it because it was in front of me and most of all, because I wanted too.

The gain was gradual at first…so gradual in fact that it wasn’t until I saw myself in our wedding photos that I noticed at all.  I hated what I saw in myself from those photos, but after many years of consideration I wonder if I subconsciously knew in my heart that I looked fat.  I wonder if that was the reason I prioritized the importance and the significance of our wedding photos (which turned out terrible due to poor lighting control and poor quality cameras – something I regret to this day).

But the fact remains that I ate when I was hungry, I ate when I was happy, I ate when I was sad, I ate when I was bored, I ate in company – I medicated myself with food.  Food never judges you, and at least in the moment, food is a powerful mood elevator.

I also never found comfort in exercise. People all my life would often talk about how they get the endorphins and “good feeling” that comes after exercise. I very much believe that some people don’t get this. I think this because I am one of them.  All my life, regardless of how much exercise I endured I never got any feeling other than hot, sweaty, tiredness.

Additionally, over the past couple of years I’ve battled diagnosed depression. Clearly, despite the growing disconcerted feelings inside about my body image, I wasn’t in a place that was conducive to weight loss. Those years were one of survival (and getting better) – not about vanity.

But 9 months ago I reached critical moment in my life. My darling wife and I were shopping for a new suite for me to wear at her 30th birthday party and after failure after failure in several various department stores to find a suite in my size, one of the sales assistants asked me (as delicately as she could) “I think perhaps you might have more luck at a store for ‘larger men'”. I don’t begrudge the assistant, because from the shaky delivery it was clear that she was extremely uncomfortable suggesting it and just trying to help however she could.  But those words echoed in my mind and tore at my very soul. It destroyed whatever self-respect and dignity I had left. I forced myself to shutdown all my feelings and emotions because the pain was so severe. I wanted to fall about. My wife, clearly saw that I was in extreme distress, but all I could do was make some vague hand gestures and walk around the mall, trying to focus on something, anything except the echo of the words: “you’re so fat you’re not even worth making clothes for” echoing in my mind. I remember forbidding my mouth to speak, because I knew that doing anything except focusing on holding myself together was going to cause a complete breakdown. My wife, feeling my pain tried to calm me. It didn’t help at the time, but it helps me now to remember how much she cares for me (and it makes me warm and fuzzy inside to think of it).

I have never felt, like that before. Not even during my depression years. In hindsight, it’s not entirely impossible that it in fact, was some kind of temporary relapse.

I eventually did find some courage in the tank, and having been completely robbed of any hope and completely defeated, my wife suggested we try “Roger David’s” on our way back to the car.  I was convinced it was a waste of time, but defeated people with no self-respect tend to go with the flow, so I said “ok”. As it had it, at 5 minutes to close we discovered that they did have a suite in my size (barely). This moderately improved my melancholy.  They put it on, measured me for the tailoring to make it fit better and we paid and left for home.

A couple of days later when I went to retrieve the suite after its alterations were complete, I was faced with the demons of the previous visit. Needing a coffee to bolster my confidence (and silence the pain) I entered the Border’s bookstore and grabbed one. On the way out of the store, standing quite prominent near the entrance was the “Dukan Diet” book. I’d never heard of it before, so I picked it up and had a flip though. I read some of the summary pages and the way it was written (pseudo-scientifically) really resonated with me. I proudly bought it home to @MrsAngell declaring my intentions to embark on the journey it described. There is something intoxicating and powerful about taking charge of your life.

Initially she was unconvinced and actually quite negative towards it and it quickly erupted into an argument. During the argument I pointed out that she hadn’t read the book yet a point she conceded. I also explained that I needed to do this to claw back the self-respect I so badly lost. That night we read a chunk of the book together and having been convinced by it, we elected a time to start it, together.

It’s been hard, and while my journey still continues, her’s is all but complete. She’s lost 25kg and I’ve lost just under 30kg (so far). I still don’t think that I look much better (believe it or not) but I hope the vanity will kick-in, in another 20 or so kg. My goal weight is somewhere under 80kg. A weight I haven’t been since the year our first child was conceived, 11 years ago.

And to be honest, vanity is what it’s all about. I don’t think that vanity should be demonized the way that it is. A number of weight loss friends, have all mentioned to me how family in particular trivialize their weight loss goals, and even on occasion directly sabotage it. Weight loss is hard enough without the people you love destabilizing your lifestyle changes. Naturally they don’t mean to, but since they love you unconditionally and aren’t attracted to you, they’re hardly objective folk. Friends are mostly supportive, but I have to say that this would have been impossible without the help, love and support of my dear Mrs Angell.

In sum it’s clear that weight loss is not simple as most people believe. There are layers and complexities so deep and contradictions so entrenched that it’s becoming harder and harder to differentiate the fact from fiction. Despite it’s recent popularity (especially in Hollywood) it’s easy to trivialize Dukan as being a fad diet – but as someone who has been on it for nearly a year, I can say that isn’t the case here. In the three people close to me who have embarked on it (and stayed on it) its got a 100% success rate, and so far, they’ve held a constant weight after it. I’ve also discussed the diet with my GP and had 3 general checkups, 2 broad spectrum blood tests performed and given blood 3 times since being on this diet (one of them on day 0 of the diet as a control). I was in general good health prior to the diet (all measurable indicators within acceptable margins) but now my GP describes me as being in textbook perfect health. This diet is not something I did with whimsical triviality. I was cautious, calculated and scientific with it. I had some bad days (some of them several in a row) but for the most part I was true to the Dukan Diet. Birthdays, Christmas and Easter were basically “write-offs” and I blame these (and my own lack of self-control) for the plateau I’ve experienced over the past few months.

However, its not the only way to loose weight – its just what works best for me. My very dear Sister-in-law just reached her goal weight (horray!) recently using a diet prescribed by her personal trainer. I must admit that sometimes I found myself frustrated on her behalf on her bad/stagnant weeks and I tried as best as I could to help, motive and support her on her personal journey. I can say that she’s done an outstanding job on the same, for me. Honestly, without her and her sister; I don’t think I could have gotten this far. However, while I am happy for her, I am also selfishly saddened because now I am about to embark the second half of my weight loss on my own. The journey is long and lonely on your own. I know they will still support me, but they’re no longer in the game; and that makes a difference. I try to reassure myself that I haven’t failed in not reaching my goal weight yet, but rather, that I’ve got 3 times as much to shift as they did.  But I will do it.  I have to.

I am now happy to discuss weight and diets with people now. Something I always felt awkward about before. But the one constant and most important fact I’ve learned is that when it comes to weight loss, its more complicated than ‘Eat-Less’ & ‘Do More’.

Do I Look Like I’ve Lost Weight?

I’ve been on a new diet recently, and it’s had really good results.  I started out 123.8Kg and a little over a month later, as of today, I’m down to 111.9Kg.

Now obviously by the numbers, this is a great result, but the sad fact is that I dont feel different.  I dont feel like I  look different either, despite what friends and family have  said.  I’m wondering if being obese (that word cuts like a knife, doesn’t it?) effects you psychologically more than we think.  This then, after loosing 10cm off my stomach circumference, which should be clearly obvious – just isn’t to  me in the mirror.  I wonder if I might have some kind of body image problem, or worse still, a kind of eating disorder?

I like to think that I am a level-headed person, but over the past 3 or 4 years I’ve been becoming increasingly self-conscious about my body – to the point that I no longer go swimming!  I’m not really sure what to do from here, but since this diet has been working, I guess I’ll just keep doing it, and hopefully, when my current clothes simply do not fit any longer, I’ll feel differently.

Bikes

I can’t beleive how excited I am about the new bike.  So as a tribute to my ever increasing impatience, I thought I would post this tribute:

Life. Be In It.

The last year has really been the hardest of my life.   My healthy life goals serriously handicapped by a semi-recent diagnosis of Atypical Depression.  After talking to some people who have previously dealt with the illness themselves, and after going and seeing my GP – I am happy to say that life is starting to get its colour back.

Being the end of a year which has been particularly difficult for me I thought that it would be an ideal time to renew some old commitments which have fallen by the wayside.

Thanks to a kind heart, and great generosity, my wife’s grandmother has given me $100 to buy something for myself for Christmas.  So, instead of getting an electric shaver or a DVD Boxset or something, I bought a Mountain Bike.  I found a bargain at Target, and while I was initally prepared to pay the extra $100 – $150 for the bike, the checkout girl only charged $130 for it (hehe.)

I didn’t correct her.

So my plan is to bike to the train station nearest me (Home > Kuraby Station about 6.5Kms) and train to one near work (Yerongpilly Station > Work about 4.5Kms) each day.  Later I hope to just go the whole distance.

I don’t want to be overweight and unhappy anymore.

3 Months

Its been 3 months yesterday(ish) since my new fantastic 2 stage diet plan began. It’s really hard. Seriously – really hard. But rewarding. I’ve been very careful to reward myself and not make this whole thing as painful as it could be – although I still feel guilty that I could be doing more.

I am still boxing as regularly as I can, and in 15 minute chunks sparkpeople.com tells me that I burn about 100 calories each time. Being a serial entrepreneur, it dawns on me that living the life of an internet startup founder doesn’t lend itself to helping with weightloss.

I also find mslef being very conscous about excercising in front of my kids (7 and 4). The only reason I can think of for this, is that I am simply extremely embarrassed that I allowed myslef to get like this in the first place. Shame is a very powerful demotivator. If I didnt have Julie helping me, I dare say I would have bailed by now, which seems quite counter-productive given that I seem to be making good results.

I am looking forward to breaking the 100kg mark (not there yet) – but I think I might have to reward myself with something cool.

Burning Calories at Both Ends

I’ve learned something today…

When you’re a fat bastard, and you exercise before breakfast, you feel so sick afterwards, you don’t want to eat anything!