How I Started to Lose Weight

Carol pre weightloss with arrow to Carol having lost weight
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Like many people I felt utterly unable to lose weight. I have been overweight my entire live. Add to that at the time I finally got started with weight loss I had been a powerchair user for around 17 years and couldn’t move independantly. I had reached the point of being able to transfer without the hoist but that was about it.

I was under the misconception that we need to exercise to lose weight, this just is not the case, of course it helps and helps us in lots of other health ways too but it’s not essential.

Weight loss is simple but not easy!

If calories in (what you eat) is less than calories out (energy you use) then you lose weight.

The biology of weight loss really is that simple, however the phsychology is not.

I made this video about this but in this post lets go through is in more detail

My Diet Pre Weightloss

I wish I could blame the pandemic but honestly my diet has been like this for years. A typical day:

Breakfast: Bacon butty
Lunch: Sandwich
Dinner Pie, peas, chips (fries)
Snacks: crisps, sweets, cake
Drinks Apple juice and Pepsi Max

When I say crisps I mean a full multi pack within a day and similarly with the sweets. Whilst my meals alone would put me above my necessary calories, it’s the snacking that was my problem and made up most of my calories, especially during the night. I do not sleep well and so would eat sweets and crisps pretty well all night.

Meaning I was getting over 4000 Calories

A Typical day now

Breakfast: 2 eggs with one slice of toast
Lunch: Tuna (full tin) tbs low fat mayonaise, salad
Dinner: Chicken, broccoli, sweet potato
Snack: banana, and plain yoghurt
Drinks: Water with calorie free flavour drops, Pepsi Max

Around 1200 Calories

Why Did I Gain Weight

I have always been overweight and as an adult will have always been in the obese category however there are definitely a few points in my life where it got worse:

The first big one and when I probably switched from weight not really affecting me happened at University. A terrible thing happened and a mixture of not wanting be attractive to men and the depression following the event meant that I gained weight, I ate and drank to excess, I would have my dinner in college and then go round to my friends and have pizza or toasties all washed down with plenty of beer.

Even before that though, as a child food was my coping mechanism, I would get up in the night to eat cheese or pickled onion sandwiches, I would sneak sweets and pop into my room. I guess the secretive eating was a clear sign this was all unhealthy but it’s something that never really went away.

Moving forward and into disability and immobility food was my coping strategy and so at each of the large changes in my health there was food as the coping mechanism and escapism. Now, though, I also had lots of boredom and inactivity. I couldn’t move much for large amounts of my later 30s and 40s and so I would eat not just as a stress releif but also from boredom.

This is how the feels of not being able to address my diet happened. I ate to excess every day. It was no longer just because I was upset or in pain it was what I did, especially at night. If I was awake I was eating.

Having now identified the reasons I gained the weight I needed to overcome them.

In August I had a heart scare, this was mid pandemic with all the research showing the hugely increased risk that being obese brings in a Covid world. Thankfully this was enough to get the motivation I needed. At first, I wasn’t thinking about weight. My mind was all on my sugar consumption and switching the nighttime snacking to be healthier. I did not have a weight loss target. I just wanted to feel generally healtheir. My disabiling conditions were affecting me less than they have for years and so it was good timing to get started.

Increments

For me, the first few weeks of weight loss were all about making achieveable incremental changes. I swapped the sweets for crackers but the crackers I chose were very high calorie and so then when I realised I switched to grapes, at that point I did start to lose weight but again grapes are quite high sugar/calories and so then I switched them to strawberries before starting to reduce them. When it came to reducing the night time snacking I increased my evening meal size to avoid feeling hungry at that snacking time. Once that was addressed I could turn my attention to meals and gradually bring the calorie content down.

Getting Help

I decided I needed some help early on, eventually, this didn’t work out but I went to see my doctor about 2 weeks after the heart scare and asked for help. He gave me 3 months of slimming world but with Slimming World but at that time they were going back to in person meetings something I didn’t want to do and so I subscribed to weight watchers, which I did for about a week but I didn’t like the whole free food thing. I realised it was still possible to over eat whilst staying within my calories and ultimatly I decided to go it alone and use MyFitnessPal to track my calories, this is something I still use.

Whilst I did not use the help my doctor offered and he didn’t offer anything else it was still an important step in my move towards addressing my health. It was the first time I’d said out loud that I was obese and wanted to lose weight. This was very important for me. I didn’t want to tell people I was losing weight and then fail. Getting to September instead of telling people I was losing weight I took up a 30 miles in 30 days challenge and told people about that. Of course, some friends did make fitness / weight comments in response to me getting more active. I responded positively without confirming I was attempting to lose weight but when we look at photos from the start and end of September it was becoming obvious.

Main Message

The thing I most want to stress is the importance of working through your whys. Why am I overweight? Why do I need to lose weight?Mine were a mixture of depression and messages I’d had about my ability, the inability to move.

Had I not addressed the mental health of this already or if this was more complex I no doubt would have needed therapy to be successful. I want to stress this. If you are struggling to get going do not be afraid to get some therapy to work through the reasons for your weight gain. If you have a largish amount of weight to lose do also talk to your doctor. Here in the UK there are vastly varying levels of support available, in some areas there are integrated services with councilors, nutritionist, PTs or physios and doctors offering a coordinated services, making success more likely.

My why for losing weight was painfully obvious due to the heart issue, if you are younger it may take more work to look for the reason that is important enough to keep you motivated. In a future post I want to talk about all the risk factors of obesity but want to do more research for that.

I do believe we can all lose weight with the right support. Motivation is all very well but losing weight is a long term project and so we do need to move beyond that as we progress, seeing results helps make the actual loss become part of the motivation but also getting routines established so that eating healthy is just what I do in the way that eating sweets was just something I did.

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