I’ve been working the Cambridge Weight Plan since November 18th 2010. It’s now mid-August and I’ve been at this nine months. This morning I start on Step 5, which is increasing my daily calorie intake to 1500cals and is their last step before they release you off into the wild to fend for yourself – so to speak.
I could have finished this weeks ago, but I’m taking a long time over working out the steps, for reasons I’ll elaborate on later.
The coincidence of it taking nine months to create a person and it having taken nine months to create the ‘new me’, is not one that’s lost on me, I can assure you. I am not the same person who downed that first shake back in November and I don’t think I could have ever anticipated the difference that losing so much weight (7 stone 4 lbs / 100lbs / 45kgs), would make.
I’m slimmer – that’s a given. I’m down six UK dress sizes (from a 24 to a 12) and my feet are smaller. I used to be a standard shoe size 7, but now I’m finding that 6½ will regularly fit.
But it’s not the physical differences that have been the biggest surprise about all this, it’s just how much emotional impact losing that weight has had in my head. I’ve been desperate for DECADES to tackle some of the self-confidence issues that have beleguered me, but could never do anything more than scrape my self-esteem off the floor. I certainly couldn’t get it walking about and functioning; but now it’s doing that all by itself. It is only managing baby-steps at the moment and it does have days when it scurries off and goes and hides in a corner; but for the most part, I now have confidence, although we’re not quite at the running-down-the-von-Trapps-drive-singing-about-it point.
I reached my goal weight over six weeks ago and I’m pleased to say that six weeks later I’m still there, right on the nail. I’m intending to do my damndest to stay here, I don’t want to be part of the 95% that put it all back on and more. It’s the reason I’m spending so long working up the steps, to get used to what eating at this level feels like, the retraining process is more important than the losing weight process in my opinion. I don’t want to return to what I did to gain all that weight in the first place. But as so much of it was to do with the nonsense going on in my head, there is no longer any motivation to consume food to hurt myself. These days I consume food because I like it.
I like eating. There, that’s a new one for me. I eat these days because I’m hungry and because I enjoy it. In the past I ate for many reasons and some of them were very self-destructive; but these two reasons I will keep hold of and work on.
Being on a calorie-restricted diet makes you get creative with what you can eat and I’ve fallen into the habit, in most cases, for choosing the option that gives me the most food for my calories – the most bang for my buck. So, why would I have a peanut butter sandwich made with one slice of bread, when, for the same calories (or fewer), I can have a massive bowl of tandoori chicken salad with sweet chilli and mango dressing, followed by a really large portion of fresh berries smothered in fat free vanilla yogurt? Yes, the peanut butter sandwich is very nice, but look at all this I can eat compared to that measly little thing!
It takes me time to eat all that salad and all those berries, but it’s good quality time; because not only am I enjoying what I’m eating (there’s lots of it, it’s colourful, it tastes gorgeous); I’m also eating slowly enough for my brain to register that food’s going in and my natural ‘I’m full, stop eating now‘ mechanism kicks in. I spent so many years eating too much too quickly to even realise I had one of these mechanisms. It’s there, I just had to slow down enough to find it.
I was talking to my friend Dee about this last night over a curry. She’s actively losing weight and she too gravitates to those things that give her the most amount of food for the calories she can consume each day. You very soon wise up that with some portions of breakfast cereals you’re almost hunting about with a magnifying glass to see them; whilst others give you a nice big bowl full, that both fill you up physically and emotionally. It sends you an ‘I am not depriving myself’ message, which is important to sustain any long-term weight loss plan. The minute you start feeling that you’re missing out, is the moment you’ll find yourself on diet quicksand.
I’m not perfect, sometimes only the peanut butter sandwich will do. Sometimes, like last night, the sheer pleasure of eating fabulous food means that you abandon all apparent reason and dive in the thing you want most on the menu – which I did last night with not the slightest bit of guilt.
For the first time since I started working the Cambridge Weight Plan, I went out for a curry last night. Curry is my most favourite food and I could quite happily eat it all the time (hence the tandoori chicken salad). I didn’t gravitate to my usual (lamb or chicken passanda), I embraced the change in myself, looked at the menu good and hard and chose what was really singing out to me – what did I really want to eat. I chose a chef’s special and I polished off the whole lot, it was gorgeous!
Got up this morning and, being mildly curious as to the weight gain that could be wrought by eating such a mahoosive curry… and rice and side dish and naan bread; I stood on the scales…
I’d lost 1lb. Am I living in Smugbitchfordshire? Yes I am! *giggle*
But it’s a tactic I’m going to keep using if I’m going to be successful at keeping this weight off in the long term. I have x calories in a day to spend on food, what do I really want to eat? What will not only fill me up physically but what will hit the spot emotionally? I’ve used food as something to beat myself up and hurt myself with for so long that I’d forgotten how to just plain-old enjoy it.
Yes, I know that to maintain the good health I’ve created, that there are going to have to be more salad days than peanut butter sandwich days ahead of me. But think of all the variety of things you can put into a salad, whereas a peanut butter sandwich is just that, a peanut butter sandwich whatever sort of bread or peanut butter you use.* With salad, the variety of what you can put in a bowl and drizzle dressing over is endless and I’m all about trying new things these days. I’ve never had crab, much in the way of duck, Jerusalem artichoke, kohlrabi or half the things you can find in the fruit and vegetable section of the average British supermarket. What exactly can you do with a kumquat for instance? These are the things I want to know.
And that peanut butter sandwich… What’s it going to taste like with cashew nut butter…
Food for thought this Friday morning – but what do you think? I’d love to get your comments.
* Unless, of course, it’s a Marks and Spencers peanut butter sandwich… 😉