On Taking Control. Part 1: Fixing my relationship with food, making peace with my body, and *painlessly* losing 20+lbs in under 2 months (and still losing)…

On March 1st I started the Momedy Sketch Take Control Community Challenge and a lot of progress has been made in our little community since that time. It’s been a while since our last progress report . And so today I’m starting the series with how I’ve taken control of my relationship with food.
I’ve been a tad sheepish to even go here because when last we spoke of this topic I was poised for another round of the vile and heinous HCG diet as part of my Take Control Challenge.  You  may remember that I embarked upon this torturous experiment in order to look better for my sister’s wedding and after a summer of ceaseless whining and severe deprivation, I did indeed lose a significant amount of weight. Unfortunately the end of my first phase of HCG coincided with me arriving in South Africa whereupon I spent the next 10 days making it my mission to eat as much fat and sugar as I could muster. I had felt so incredibly deprived of these things for so long (I was literally dreaming about pizza on a nightly basis) and I was NOT going to be depriving myself of all the South African goodies I had missed. 
And so by the time my sister’s wedding rolled around at the end of my 2 week sojourn there, I looked just as chubby as I had to begin with. Although I had not yet put much weight back on (that would happen soon enough, though) my face was horribly puffy and I looked just dreadful.  It was all most disappointing, but in fairness to the HCG people, it was EXACTLY what they said would happen if I did not do the 2nd stage of the diet (which I was too weak and desperate to even consider doing by that point). So HCG: fail. Live and learn.
Actually no. Live and continue to be stupid. By this Spring I was once again desperate. I was ready to re-launch my personal training business but I didn’t look the part at all, I looked puffy and unhealthy. I was physically uncomfortable.  I was self conscious.  Running was torturous. I kept injuring myself.  I pondered summer and it filled me with dread. And so I turned again to HCG.
Now, unlike childbirth, I had not forgotten the pain. I knew how much I had hated the HCG diet and how hard it had been on everyone around me but I justified my plan to do it again by saying I would just do it for a shorter period this time, and I would do it properly so I didn’t put all the weight back on in a hurry.  Still I was thoroughly miserable contemplating it.  I started taking the drops over a weekend and “gorging” which is requisite. I felt awful. I was agitated and irritable. And I hadn’t even started the starving part yet! I felt so out of sorts that I started to wonder if I was having a bad reaction to the drops.  On the Monday morning by 11am I had decided that this was not going to happen.
Standing in my kitchen, I had experienced a small window of clarity in my irritability and angst and I had clearly heard something deep inside of myself say, “NO. STOP. ENOUGH. (Do not proceed, do not pass go, do not collect $200.)
This isn’t like me at all. My OCD makes “giving up” very hard to do, and it was. I was furious at being derailed, but I couldn’t deny the very strong and clear impression I had experienced. 
I knew that I couldn’t do this again. Standing there that morning staring into the kitchen sink, I decided that was done abusing my body, I was done being a poor example to my children. I was now finished with doing things to myself that I could not in good conscience recommend that my clients and friends do to themselves. (You will note that I always had a lengthy disclaimer in my past weight loss posts).  I grimly decided that if this meant I would remain overweight forever, then so be it,  I would no longer be perpetuating these horribly unhealthy attitudes for my children and others to learn from.  Being overweight was not something I was happy about being, but abusing my body anymore was simply intolerable and I knew it was very wrong.
A month or two earlier I had been perusing blogs and had seen a blogger that I’ve followed for years talking about her weight loss journey.  I was struck not so much about the fact that she’d lost a significant amount of weight very efficiently (which was certainly intriguing) , but more by what she was saying about how she was finally in control of her relationship with food.  I was also mesmerized by how healthy and glowing she looked.  When I’ve lost a lot of weight quickly in the past,  I didn’t look good.  People wondered if I was sick.  She seemed both physically and mentally health and I wanted to do this the right way.  I emailed her and asked her what she had been doing. She didn’t get back to me, and I assumed she had been inundated with messages and so I forgot about it.
Fast forward to the morning after my epiphany (perfect timing)  she emailed me and offered to call me sometime to tell me more. I eagerly accepted. From the first sentence she spoke I knew this was for me.  She talked about controlling hunger and cravings by controlling blood sugar. This has always been my issue. My blood sugar is very easily affected and when it is out of whack, like most people, I am a disaster. Everyone is to some extent.  Look, I tend to have great self discipline when I am committed to something (vanity related), but once blood sugar is low, almost everyone loses control physically and starts to forage uncontrollably. It’s the body’s survival instinct and we can’t really hold ourselves responsible for our actions when we have low blood sugar.  (Have you ever seen a two year old have a tantrum when they are late for a meal?  Those same instincts kick in for a 32 year old…although they generally skip the kicking and screaming part and are just plain irritable and start making bad choices. Like opening the fridge and stuffing their face with anything they can find. 
She also mentioned that she was NOT calorie counting, and the heavens opened and the angels sang.  It’s not that I just hate the hassle of calorie counting (which I so do)  it’s more that the minute I start having to calorie count or “dieting” in any way,  I start obsessing about food. It’s so draining and boring.  And I was determined NOT to obsess about food anymore! She talked about eating a normal, healthy meal with her family every night  And I knew this was for me.  This was not a diet it was a lifestyle, and it was a healthy sustainable lifestyle. It was one I could model for my kids with a good conscience. It was one I could recommend for my clients with confidence. Long story short, I'm a huge convert.
Ok so is already too long (and I have sooo much more to say)  so not going to go into any more detail about the program here, but let’s forget about what I’ve lost because that is not nearly as interesting as what I have gained over the last couple of months
An acceptance for my body. I hardly ever weigh myself anymore, even though my scale is right in the bathroom where it ever was. This is so huge for me as I have really struggled with scale obsession in the past.  The number on the scale doesn’t have a great bearing on my life anymore,  because since starting this program, I have felt good about myself as I am where I am.  I have felt physically and mentally healthy all the way down. Having clothes fit nicely or finding my (pre-pregnancy!!) pants are too big to wear is always a pleasant surprise but it’s truly (for the first time in my memory) a secondary perk.
A huge increase in energy. I started running again, but not to burn calories. I ran to have fun, to be with friends, and to feel good.  And it was actually fun again.  Despite my casual attitude toward training, I was pleasantly surprised to find that could run faster than I have in a long time and without injury because I felt under no pressure to run further or harder than my body should  in order to lose more weight. I run to feel good for as long as it feels good.  (And carrying around a lot less baggage certainly doesn’t hurt either).
A healthy attitude toward food.  My obsession with food has gone away. I’m not feeling an emotional attachment to it anymore at all.  Food is neither good nor evil, it’s fuel.  Which is not to say I don’t still enjoy it, I absolutely do! Food can be great fun and I enjoy eating every single meal.  (And I eat a lot of meals!)   It’s just that I don’t NEED it emotionally anymore. I no longer need it to celebrate or mourn, I no longer turn to it when I am bored or stressed.  I enjoy it when it’s time to eat, and when it’s not, I don’t think about it.   This has NEVER been the case for me before.  Absolutely, without a doubt the worst part of HCG for me (worse than starving all the time) were the feelings of isolation I had because I couldn’t use food to self medicate, to celebrate with, to socialize with others over.  Conversely, I don’t use the lack of food to punish myself or to feel more in control any more. Food is a non-issue emotionally.
A sustainable, healthy lifestyle. Unlike HCG where I literally counted the hours until it was over, I feel as if I could do this forever.  Due to extreme life circumstances lately, I have gone off plan briefly a few times (which I don’t really recommend just because you will have even better results if you don’t) and each time I have not felt as if it was worth it. Not because I put on weight (because I actually didn’t) but because I didn’t feel as good.  But there was no, “well I’ve blown it-I’m off the wagon..may as well binge!” mentality this time. There was no self loathing leading to self destructive behaviours. I saw being off plan as what it was. A couple of days off plan. Not a total system failure. And I couldn’t wait to get back on it. There was no girding up my loins to get back on track, I just looked forward to it and dived back in.  Not only do I feel so much better when I’m on it, it’s just really enjoyable and painless.
I’ve been really quiet about all this, up until now for a few reasons. One of them was because I didn’t want it to be another HCG scenario, I was somewhat embarrassed at being “that” girl.  I also wanted to make sure the program was what I was really looking for before I started talking about it in a public forum.  If it was successful I wanted it to be something I could recommend without disclaimers. And it is.  (The couple of people I have shared this with-a couple of friends and a client are  saying the same things. They feel in control of their bodies and their lives again. They do not feel deprived, they don’t feel hungry. And they are losing weight after endless struggles.  My PT client described herself as feeling as if she was coming out of a “15 year fog”.  And to me, that’s better than fitting into your skinny jeans any day. (But I have to say, fitting into your skinny jeans totally doesn’t suck either..I just slid into some this morning!)
I really want to help more people experience what I’m experiencing, to feel in control of their bodies and heal their relationships with food. Mostly I want to help people to love and accept themselves wherever they are on their journey to optimal health. 
If any of this resonated with you and you want to talk to me about it some more,  email me: kirsty.sayer@gmail.com
And now since this is a weight loss related post and this is a blog after all..I suppose I must unveil..the requisite. Before and after pictures: (such as they are).
Since I’m the only one who ever takes pictures full length shots of me are hard come by.  This delightful family outtake from Easter, along with every other random shot I managed to dredge up from that day will have to serve as the befores. Unfortunately (?) although the poses weren’t,  this was actually a pretty flattering outfit and not really an accurate representation of what was going on.
And then we have these blurry, badly lit iphone gems from today. Taken  at the end of a long day and evening on various soccer fields. Ah the glamour never stops my friends. They will have to serve as the victorious afters. (But you get the gist.) I am still in the process of losing though, so maybe the real afters will be more inspiring.
****6-10-11: Addendum. I had to add this because I found it so fascinating:
Yesterday I was looking at my timehop app (it tells you what you posted on this day in history)  and I saw that yesterday one year ago I had posted this on facebook:
“SO: Exceptionally diligent no cheating low cal clean eating all week. Exercised hard 5x this week. Stayed super active during the days.....and:...UP a lb. Which means in all the many weeks (almost 2 months) that I have been working SO hard on this endeavour I have lost a grand total of 4lbs. Lest you try to comfort me with the "but it must be muscle" adage: my fat/muscle scale informed me that I was down in muscle and up in fat. (And this would be a good time for the personal trainer in me to remind everyone that muscle does *not* weigh more than fat, muscle just takes up less room) Also?? My measurements all stayed the same or got larger. HOW IS THIS EVEN POSSIBLE?????????? Perhaps I am doing that sleep eating thing?? Seriously because that is the only thing that could possibly make sense. IT. IS. MADDENING. I think I might eat some ice cream tonight since the deprivation is actually working against me. This is getting quite surreal.”
I also looked for some photos taken of me from this week last year after I had been trying so hard for 2 months and had lost 4 lbs Sad smile  Here they are compared to me this year after an enjoyable and effortless not quite 3 months when I have lost 25+ lbs . (Exercising very moderately 3-5x a week). I was the same weight when I started both times. I am so sad for the me of a year ago. I wish I could go back in time and do her a solid.  I’m really happy for the me of today (and the future) though.
****Next up in the Take Control Challenge Report:  Part 2: How I took control of my home (and attitude)  and fell back in love with my tiny (perfectly sized) house. linking up with works for me wednesday at we are that family. because this has worked for me like nothing else ever has.

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Jennifer P.S. said...

I'm dying to know what your method was! I really need the help.


Emily said...

I'm dying to know, too! I've tried the HCG and it was miserable for me and even more so after I gained almost all of it back within a year. I have small children and I want them to know a happy, healthy mom. Please share what you did!

Anonymous said...

Wow! You look great!!!! SOOO glad you have got past the HCG thing which always sounded very unhealthy and counter intuitive. Well done. I am sure you will be able to help others too.

warmfuzzies said...

NICE job!!

Emily said...

Would LOVE to know how you did it. Will you be doing a blog post on this soon? Please??? :-)