Weight Update

So, if anyone has been on tenter hooks waiting to hear from me about my surgery, it was cancelled. Unfortunately, covid 19 came to my work and we lost a few lovely old folks- who were end of life which is why they were with us, and about 21 of the staff team tested positive including me! I had felt some cold like symptoms- sneezing, snotty nose and my chest felt a little off, not unusual for an asthamtic in Winter. Anyway, I was self isolating on my lead up to surgery, following the Liver Reduction Diet and generally psyching myself up, went for the covid test and blood test on the Wednesday, got a call on Thursday saying I was positive for covid and surgery was cancelled for Saturday. Called work then booked myself and husband for another test as I was convinced it must be a false positive, it wasn’t! But hubby was negative and no symtoms of any kind which was good, so after already isolating for 12days, we then had to really isolate for another 10. I am lucky to get paid as I work in health care, hubby didn’t but managed to move some annual leave around to help him out. We are not eligible for any assistance as we earn too much- which isn’t actually a lot! I was on a total rollercoaster of emotions for next few days, angry, upset, frustrated, depressed, hopeless, glad, happy etc. After the weekend, I did start to even out again, the Saturday which was meant to be operation day was the worst emotion wise, I felt like a complete failure, I couldn’t even get surgery right.

Long story short, what I took from the LRD and lead up from the 1st Jan was that I had actually lost weight, I had walked a lot on LRD- completely on my own and in quiet isolated areas so no risk to anyone before I knew I was positive-so it proved my body was capable of so much more than I had ever realised. By the end of Jan I had lost 1stone 7pounds and was very curious about how I had done this! That month, we had one take away pizza on the day I found out I had covid, it was sooo good, and I drank one bottle of wine on the 31st Jan. I had no interest in chocolate and things were great, I was also off work for most of the month and this set me up well. Once I was back in work and trying to figure out eating, managing emotions and the usual crap thats difficult for those of us with weight issues I hit a plateau. Instead of my usual reaction of exclaiming I had failed yet again and was clearly a complete waste of space, I read about plateaus and wondered with myself if that might be why I had infact appeared to have gained two pounds yet knew I was calorie counting well. I stuck with it and the following week I lost the two gained pounds, plus another one! Over Feb I lost 5 and a half pounds. My exercise/walking went to pot in Feb, a mix of tiredness back in work, struggles with eating, feeling overwhelmed at times and general life made it a very tricky month. So, I decided that for March I wouldn’t focus on a weight loss goal, but a physical movement goal, so I decided to set myself a goal of 11k steps a day for the entire month. This has been the push I needed to get myself moving again and I have done some great walks and at 19 days in have done at least 11k steps every day! I am very proud of myself! Eating is still a massive issue and some days I am winning and others I am doing my best.

I feel I am learning lots of things about myself that I never knew before, I feel that some skills I couldn’t grasp before are starting to make sense and my ability to use those skills is improving. I am trying to just be curious, nothing is black and white, I am constantly learning and educating myself around weight management. I have ruled out bariatric surgery, but not the gastric balloon which would assist me with portion control and they have a substantial supportive 18month psychological program as well. As it stands I have lost 2stone 3pounds to date, I have never lost this much weight before! I am giving myself until my birthday doing it this way and then will revisit the balloon. Currently I am using my fitness pal to work towards a calorie deficit, continuing with DBT, reading books like Dr Chatterjee Lose Weight Feel Great and still speaking to fitness lady from the NHS!

Stay safe everyone!

Uber Frugal Month 2021 Homework

I completed the Uber Frugal Month Challenge (UFM) in 2020 with some really positive behaviours which have slipped during this crazy year, and due to deciding to have bariatric surgery, I will be entering February 2021 with personal debt of nearly £10k which I have never had before in my life! Though mine and hubby’s personal debt is now only the mortgage- we have paid off the car loan, bought a new second car outright (for a bargain) and paid off our credit card this year. Hubby has changed jobs and this one is much less money than his previous job, though he is so much happier which is the most important thing, meaning we have a little less money to play with than previous years. We have adapted to the reduction- we lowered the mortgage OP to £50 from £250 and paid off the car loan ‘saving’ £200, meaning we haven’t had to miss the larger wage too much!

One problem I have is that I do love things, hence the title of the blog being aiming for the good life, as I am not quite sure what that actually looks like, but I am trying to head in the right direction. Also, holidays, man I love holidays! I am working on creating a frugal lifestyle which incorporates holidays! Right, homework!

Step 1: Establish your goals

  1. Why are you participating in this challenge? This is quite simple, I am entering this year with the largest personal debt I have ever personally had and it is scary! We made some great headway this year in reducing our joint debt and starting to rebuild our savings, the mortgage OP’s have taken a hit, but for hubby’s sanity that is worth it. Anyway, back to this challenge, I want to set myself up to start to repay this loan- £5k loan and credit card on 0%- £3.7k plus some tooth work at £720 (freaking ouch in more ways than one). I do have about £2.5k in savings but want to keep this until I am healthy and back at work as I am unsure how long I will need off and will be on sick pay for. I am using just under 3 weeks of annual leave so that is very helpful. I did some great work last challenge, and want to get back into it!
  2. What do you hope to achieve? I want to feel back in control of my money, and I don’t want to use spending as a replacement to eating after my operation which could easily happen! At the end of Jan I would like to be able to save extra money, to feel reasured that I can smash my personal debt as quick as possible! To add all this together into making a Jodie who is more focused on looking ater herself in a variety of ways.
  3. What are your longterm life goals? I won’t lie, I am not great at long term planning as such, I am not good at future thinking and planning apart from holidays! I mean my goals could be broken down, professionally- get my NVQ level 5 in management, my manager has requested this for me and hopefully it will be agreed. I would like to do a Masters in Dementia but this is quite costly and wouldn’t really benefit work, but it is a personal interest. I would like to consider perhaps looking at becoming a Deputy Manager, maybe, but also am not sure I want to go into management either! Personally- To have my bariatric op and use this tool to become more comfortable in my own skin and to be able to enjoy the adventurous things I want to do but am too heavy for. To fit comfortably in my car without the steering wheel touching my tummy, to be able to bend and touch my feet without difficulty, to be able to walk distances- which I can already do- with ease comparatively. To aim to walk a few half marathons, I have done one previously and it was so hard, would like to manage this with much less difficulty. To carry on loving my hubby and pups and having great friends and family. Mostly vague!haha.
  4. Where do you want to be in 5 years? In 10 years? This is like the above goals again! Ummmm, debt free would be good, in 10years getting close to mortgage free would be great, a healthy weight, active and doing lots of fun stuff, hiking, paddleboarding and zip lining to start! Maybe be in management in nursing, maybe having a small business on the side, still rescuing animals and travelling. Building up great savings, living a frugal life.
  5. What about your current lifestyle might prevent those goals from happening and what can you do about it? My weight will get in the way, but hopefully with bariatric surgery this will help this goal. Debt free boils down to me being more money savvy and frugal, so that boils down to me again! So really me and my lifestyle could all get in the way, plus my uncertainty about what I actually want and in what kind of timeline I want to achieve it.

And on that note Mrs Frugalwoods has written an article about the very areas I struggle with so off I go for a read!

Weight Part 4

A couple of months ago, I had a zoom meeting with a surgeon to discuss bariatric surgery. I have spent many years thinking about doing it, then hoping I could make the life changes needed to lose weight myself, failing and gaining more weight, whilst simultaneously eroding my self belief and self worth. By making everything about my weight, by tying all my self worth to the scales, I made my relationship with food and eating volatile and unpleasant, going from eating whatever I want, gaining weight, to trying to restrict, struggling to do so and then ‘failing’ continuing the cycle. Leading me to this person today, who is relatively happy with her life, who is actually quite successful in many areas, but feels her weight is the most defining thing. I have been working on this area, my brain, with some positive progress recently, but I am uncomfortable in my body, I do feel shame and guilt for being morbidly obese, I do feel less worthy, I am not someone who can love my weight as it is.

I started an online DBT group, which has definately helped me to start making some good progress brain wise, and the lady who created this group had a gastric sleeve, making her relateable in a way many others aren’t. One of the things she says, is that having surgery is not a cop out, it is not the easy option, it is a life chagning tool which just boosts those of us that struggle in this area. She said that when she decided to have the surgery, she felt a weight was lifted, and that it made sense. I felt the same after talking to the surgeon. This is a relatively low risk, minimally invasive- comparative to other surgeries-tool which could, no, will, assist me to change my life. It it not about my size as such, I just want to feel more comfortable, when I drive the steering wheel doesnt touch my tummy, when I reach to put socks on I can breathe, when I want to put clothes on I am not restricted in any way, if a resident falls, getting on the floor with them doesn’t make me want to fall into the ground because I am so awkward when getting on and off the floor. I cannot remember a time when I was a slim person, I have no comparison on how it feels to not be big, I am excited to move as a smaller person, to see how it feels, if life is less awkward and cumbersome. I mean, it would be easier if I could just love me and be happy, but this is not feasible at my current size. I have no interest in being tiny, I feel a size 16 would be tiny enough as a goal!

So, here I am, booked in for surgery on 23/01/2021, I have had my preop assessment, and am now very nervous when I think about surgery, but I have tried so many different things and I am ready for a big change. I am planning on changing many things in the next few weeks, not for ‘new year new me’, but for new year and more adventurous me!

Weight Part 2

So after looking around at different options, including a life coach, psychologist, counsellor etc, I decided to join the Bariatric Mind Mastery Course. I had a life coach a few years ago and whilst it was good, the work didn’t manage to get my mind on board with itself, and I didn’t lose weight. I have had a virtual gastric band via hypnotherapy, which at first was great but then I put all the weight and more back on again. I have tried all the fad diets, I have tried weight watchers so many times and slimming world slightly less, all work initially but I felt deprived and that meant it wasn’t sustainable and as soon as I got fed up/disheartened all the weight and more piled back on. I was tempted to go private to a counsellor/psychologist but it is very hard to know online who is actually going to be any good. I am under the NHS weight loss service, that pretty much shut down with Covid, except for the lovely exercise lady, Steph, she has been fantastic throughout. If I am honest, I feel very let down by the service, if it wasn’t for Steph I would have given up. I was referred to have a Psychology assessment and the Psychologist felt I needed to do some psychological work in order to move forward with my journey- this was in May 2019. This year in June they finally started virtual group sessions, on a Thursday which I have to work every week as other nurses are already off. So I was not able to attend. To say I was disheartened would be an understatement especially as I had been told they would more likely be on a Friday, which I could have worked around. I got dispondant, Covid was smashing through, stuff was going on with hubby’s job, I couldn’t see loved ones and I put on weight getting to my highest ever weight. Cue crying and self hatred going through the roof, which led to overeating to smoosh down such horrid emotions.

I got in touch with a company which specialises in gastric balloons, they offer one for a year and it has an 18month support program after which I felt would be beneficial and necessary. I clearly could not get into the right headspace, I was frustrated with people who said they had gotten fat during lock down, maybe putting on a stone or two. That added to my self loathing, if they hated two stone they must think I am disgusting and awful. My head wasn’t a nice place to be.

I am a member of two bariatric support pages on facebook, and have been for a while, these are for people who have bariatric surgery which I have been toying with for a couple of years now. One of my biggest fears, was getting surgery, it being life altering, yet I put all the weight back on because it is a tool and won’t fix my brain. The NHS weightloss group are clear that I wouldn’t be a candidate until I could prove I could lose weight on my own- ironic as the reason I was part of the group is because that is my problem! Emotional me finds that upsetting and frustrating, rationale me understands that to make this tool work I have to think differently. There is very clear evidence that says that people who are morbidly obese will find it extraordinarily difficult to lose more than a stone or two without drastic steps, such as surgery. There are many reasons for this, including that our bodies will have stopped producing the I’m full hormone, so even if we eat less we won’t get that full signal, our gut bacteria is often full of unhelpful bacteria which craves sugary food, and because we are used to huge portions etc it is just so hard to manage. There is more about this that I will waffle about at some other time!

So anyway, one of the facebook groups I am in, is ran by Debbie- The Shrink on Your Couch. I have seen her advertise her Bariatric Mind Mastery courses several times and toyed with it. She uses DBT (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy) as a cornerstone to the course, DBT focuses on emotional regulation and understanding behaviours. I have used it in my professional role on a small scale with people who self harm and suffer with suicidal impulses, and it has worked well when implemented as it taught them how to understand themselves and work on other ways to cope. So I decided, fuck it, its £473 (500$), I am worth that small investment and worst case it won’t bankrupt me if it doesn’t work- I am so optimistic!

I love this course, I love it. Debbie had a gastric sleeve, she was obese, she struggled with her mind like I am, she gets it. Other’s think they get it, but they don’t. I said to my dad, I know you think everyone is the same, but they can’t be, or else they would all be morbidly obese like me! It felt so validating to read someone else felt similar, and the first week of the course was eye opening. A new chapter is released weekly over eight weeks and I have just worked though week 3. I don’t feel like I am dieting, I feel like I am just thinking it through, if I want cake or chocolate, that is fine, if I want wine, that is fine. But think about it, examine any feelings and emotions that are showing up, do I want it, or am I suppressing a feeling? Its a wonderful, complex topic and I would like to share some of the things I have learnt going forward, I feel this could be it, whether I will still need the assistance of a balloon or surgery in the future or if I can do it alone, I don’t mind.

This fat girl can:

I thought I would do a little post about some of the misconceptions of being fat people have. I am fully aware that as a morbidly obese person I am much more at risk of many horrible diseases and illnesses, I am aware that I could in theory be a big drain on the NHS- this isn’t a given, lots of fat people have minimal contact with health services, though we are aware we are more at risk. I also think that we are judged harshly by ourselves and others, there are many people who are disgusted by the fact I take up more space than others, and I myself can also feel disgusted and try and fold myself up into the tiniest space I can. So here are some things that this fat girl can do!

  1. I can walk really far, before lock down I walked 12.5miles with my dad, made good time and though I was tired the next day I could get up and walk again if I wanted. Some thin people would find that hard.
  2. Last year I walked 15miles for charity, it was a 20mile walk, but despite training I ended up with blisters and still managed 15miles
  3. My blood test results are perfect-I am not borderline Diabetic, my cholesterol is great, the GP has no concerns about internal health, and neither should anyone else
  4. I can work 12hour shifts as a nurse, carrying out personal care and doing general duties as expected, my weight may make this more difficult on a personal level, I assume, as I have never been slim so have nothing to compare it to. But I am a damn good worker and do not slack off because of my weight
  5. I am a good nurse who is compassionate and caring, I am a good team leader and share mutual respect with my wonderful care team. My weight has no bearing on this
  6. I can be a lot crueler to myself than any other person can be, I don’t need trolls to tell me awful things about myself, I have probably said worse- and am working on this!
  7. I am not restricted, I can dress myself fully, cut my toe nails, clean the house, etc etc
  8. I can spend hours thinking about my mortgage and overpayments, checking we have good deals and working out where I want to go on holiday!
  9. I am trying to know my worth, I am more valuable than my weight alone, my weight is one part of me and in fact, not very important in the grand scheme of me!

This was a small exercise in reminding myself of how much more I am than my weight, that my skills and value as a person are not encompassed in my looks. I follow Iweigh which was started by Jameela Jamil on instagram, she started it as fat people are more likely to be undiagnosed with serious illnesses/diseases, as it will be put down to being fat and not explored. The world can be a cruel place, and so can my brain, so I am working hard on not being ashamed as I take up more space, as what I have to offer is much more than my weight. Within that, I am on a journey to feel more comfortable in my skin, which for me would include being physically smaller, but shouldn’t be defined by weight itself. 🙂

Weight part 1

So, I have struggled with my weight for my entire life it feels- in my memory I was always a little bigger than others, except when I was a baby maybe…I always had a little tummy- oh its just puppy fat, you will grow out of it! Except, I would have had to grow to about 10ft tall to have been in proportion by the time I was in my 20’s. I remember very distinctly when I was 11, we went to Florida for the first time, I wasn’t fat per se, but I was soft, and on the first day I ended up with horrid chaffeing on my thighs and it really put a downer on the holiday.

I don’t remember ever being comfortable in my body, it feels as though we have been at war for so long. I remember trying the Atkins diet with my mum and stepdad when I was around 13/14, trying weight watchers by 15 and all sorts of other diets from then until now. None of these things ever helped me, and I feel that they in fact increased my very unhealthy relationship with food. I lived between my parents and they were both very different in the way they treated food. My mum didn’t believe in restrictions or not having certain foods, my stepdad cooked well and we always had access to sweets and chocolates, I would get pudding but had to eat all my dinner first. My dad was very much a ‘we don’t have that crap in this house’ kinda guy, my stepmum is an amazing cook and would make great meals. It was at my dad’s house I first started to secret eat. I would buy crap and eat it in secret then hide away any evidence, I did this from a young age- definately early teens until mid way through my 20’s. Though it wasn’t always a secret and I would definately binge eat too. I spent a lot of time with my grandma when I was growing up, and she would always give me the biscuit tin with my cup of tea and she would allow me to have as many biscuits as I wanted, it was always a lot. I do not blame my family for my poor eating habits, but feel that I was confused about the role of food and treats and always having to eat until over full to fit in a pudding, food was a source of comfort and pleasure, it didn’t judge or make rules and it made me feel happy. I have over eaten for as long as I can remember, always eating until it was uncomfortable, doesn’t matter how big a portion, I would eat it!

I was planning on writing more, but to be honest, this has made me feel quite vulnerable and emotional! I am rarely honest about my eating with anyone, I accept I am fat and do not pretend that I don’t know why. I understand exactly why, I understand how to lose weight but the brain battle and habits are so entrenched and fixed, it is very hard to move forward. Bear with me, I am hoping that by allowing my brain to fart all this stuff, I can help to get it on my side 🙂

Jodie