Week 3: Yeowch

My body is starting to lose it’s shit slightly. It’s not entirely fun, but at least I know I’m not just ingesting a christload of placebos.

(warning – gross body talk incoming)

I mentioned in passing that I’d been “spotting” through the second week – welp, that turned into an epic, completely unscheduled period, the likes of which I’ve not seen since high school. It was kinda horrific and unexpected and creepy.

Interestingly, Pharmacist Jerry was really kind of thrilled that this has happened (he’s very invested in this, btw). Conversation went like this:

JERRY: Hangon. So – we started the diet just after your last period, so this one’s really early?

ME: Yes. It’s the worst.

JERRY: (thinking face) OH. I know what’s happened.

ME: ?

JERRY: When a fat deposit is formed, it essentially cryo-freezes whatever’s happening in your body at the time. When the fat deposit breaks down, whatever was in there becomes active again. So in your case, you just accidentally triggered a big upswing of estrogen, which caused a period.

ME: Is this sort of like how the arctic circle is melting and all these ancient plagues are re-emerging as a result?

JERRY: (long pause) Sort of.

Once this particular womanly ailment had passed, my nethers had greater things in store for me – in the form of a slowly brewing UTI. It’s being dampened a little by a Cranberry supplement but if the damn thing doesn’t shift soon, I’m going to have to switch to antibiotics, which is DEEPLY undesirable.

I have been sitting in a stew of discomfort and irritability as a result. Apologies to all who have discovered this the hard way.

What went wrong:

  1. WELL. All of the above?
  2. Work has been an escalating epic of diva behavior and passive aggression (mostly not from me) and it’s taking it’s toll. It’s been very – VERY – hard not to just huddle in a corner with a bottle of wine. There has been some chocolate. I’m not proud.
  3. I did some yoga, it was hard. I also learnt that my mat is not thick enough to let me do this on a hardwood floor (RIP my knees). So I need to clear some room on carpet to try again – and anyone who has visited my house knows how laughable that is.

How I feel:

  1. Sad, most of the time. Food is an emotional crutch and I haven’t shaken that.
  2. It sounds like a given, but I’m not often actively hungry on this diet. The supplements and suppressants are mighty. That said, I’ve been having more moments of gutchurning hunger. Especially during my period, that was the worst.
  3. My skin is drying up horribly. I’ve been going to sleep with a big layer of sorbolene on my face, but the cats keep trying to eat it so this plan is flawed.
  4. God I love eggs. Eggs are the best.
  5. I did an “apple day” on saturday – i.e. I only eat apples for all three meals. I think the recommended was seven, but I could only manage four. I would have been so much happier if it had been ANY other kind of fruit.
  6. This has got to be the longest I’ve gone without coke, and I miss it horribly.
  7. The level of food prep is getting pretty old. Because I can’t face cold fish, all my work lunches have to be chicken, so even if I’m not eating chicken for dinner, I’ll still be cooking chicken in prep for the next day. Two separate lots of cooking in an evening is hard. On the upside, I’ve learnt a lot about how to make endless chicken palatable.

These are from a few days ago. At the stage of the photos I’m about 126kg. (Apologies for my cluttered nonsense of a room. I WILL point out however that the piled blanket behind me is actually a catbed and not just dumped laundry but yes).

(I am contractually obliged to pull a stupid face)

So I’m currently about 7 kgs down. My clothes haven’t entirely gotten looser, but they do sit differently, and my belly has deflated somewhat. I see no particular difference, but apparently my face shape has shifted a little. So… yay?

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Week 2: This proves that it’s all my Manager’s fault

I had a bit of a meltdown this week.

Firstly – Monday was my first monitoring checkup with my pharmacist, and he’s pleased with how it’s been rolling. Apparently i’m losing at a slightly faster rate than average, which is all very nice. My water retention and soluble fat mass are dropping but my muscles have not deteriorated at all. So : great. The honey crackle did not undo me.

I mentioned that endless chicken was killing me and he suggested I have eggs instead sometimes and by god I will. You know what has very few calories or fat or anything in it? Peri Peri sauce. This changes everything! (Unless you’re watching your salt intake, in which case: nein)

So things started out good, and my walk home was jaunty. Then Tuesday at work was rough. I’m really overstretched at the moment and recently booked tickets to hong kong in january – then got told by my manager that my assistant and I were currently overlapping two days and one of us would have to change our holiday days. I wanted to cry, but kept it together. Until I ate a bag of kinder chocolates. Turns out my body is not into this kinda thing no more and I then threw it all back up (I’m at home at this stage. No witness but concerned cats).

So then I am a useless pile of crap who broke a pretty substantial good run by having no self control. I didn’t have dinner and cried a bit while I played Divinity.

The Chocolate Incident didn’t undo anything. I was another .7 down the morning after. But I am miserable, and I am very, very self pitying. The sheer scale of what needs to happen is sitting on me a bit.

I bought flavored Crustinis instead of Grissinis by accident and then by accident ate half a box accidentally. Fate is cruel.

timthumb

What went wrong:

  1. The Chocolate Incident. Let us never speak of this again.
  2. Still doing flat whites. I got tsked at.
  3. Sometimes the suppressants work a bit TOO well. Last friday I forgot to have dinner, then forgot to have lunch the next day. Not recommended or smart.
  4. I confessed to using olive oil for cooking, and was advised to switch to a coconut oil spray. Smells very odd when cooking but doesn’t change any of the taste, which is a pleasant surprise. Coconut oil, guys, it’s the best.
  5. I attended a conference that was intensely catered. There was a chocolate slice and some apple juice. There was no clear physical backlash so I think I dodged a bullet, but still – bad form from me.
  6. Thursday was a really rough workday. There were tears. My colleague and I retreated to the local bar to lick our wounds and also have one of these. Honestly? I don’t regret this. My need was great.

How I feel:

  1. The headaches have passed. The teethgrinding/jawclenching has amped up.
  2. The sleep has settled a bit. I’ve toned back some of the not-as-compulsory drugs and it’s allowing me to sleep better. I also feel better when I wake up.
  3. My temper is shorter. Or more accurately: I actually HAVE a temper now. Considering that anger is essentially sadness with energy, is this indicative of an improved energy level? Here’s hoping, but the kitchen cabinet I kicked is not sharing my enthusiasm.
  4. I’ve also been using the Calm app to do some short mindfulness+meditation exercises. It’s a really nice interface and pleasant to use and I do think it’s helped.
  5. The fact that my body has lost it’s ability to binge on chocolate is startling. I suppose that’s good? I feel an odd sense of loss. Unsure if I consented to this.

Because of the many dietary failures listed above, the weight loss continued but more slowly. In some ways that’s a relief, because it means it’s not as unforgiving as I’d assumed. It’s not great overall because the medication regime is essentially 6-weeks worth and shifting weight will be harder without chemical backup, but still…?

I’m going to start doing some yoga to ease myself back into exercising, and I’m finding the Yoga by Adriene channel very appealing. Has anyone used this one, or have a different yoga channel they’d recommend? The secondary challenge is finding enough floorspace to make this work.

So in total I’m just over 5 kgs down at this point. Or the total weight of one of my cats.

 

Diversion – fat people writing

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I had a PT a little while back who was a lovely dude, but seemed slightly insulted when I implied that he – who had never been anything but athletically muscular – wouldn’t really understand how exercise feels if you’re fat. In his defense he was a qualified physio among other things and he might have had a very developed sense of empathy, but even if his imagination were up to it, I daresay being a fat lady and being a fat dude are somewhat different.

(He was also somewhat right-wing. We got along fine as long as he didn’t discuss Muslims, so I’m not really betting on the empathy bit. Was it Dee who pointed out to me that most personal trainers are right-wing? The pattern is holding true).

The short version is: it’s god-awful. You’re out of breath very quickly, sweating very heavily, and also having to stop and periodically adjust clothing. In addition, if you’re in public, you WILL assume that someone is laughing at you. I’ve never had a cardio session where I didn’t feel like I was dying, and my anxiety issues play into this as well – if getting your heart rate up feels EXACTLY like a panic attack, then getting your heart rate up is extremely undesirable. I’m also low blood pressured so if I try to run I will faint. Interestingly my issues with exercise go all the way to primary school, and I only became fat in my early 20s, which is a very – very – minor consolation.

This is all an involved way of explaining that it can be really difficult to impress on someone how things change for you as a fat person if they have never been so. In my case, communicating this to my tiny, very petite mother has been the eternal struggle.

I wrote an article for Lip Magazine a few years back about the emotional cycle that considers obesity a shield from sexual attention, which is here. (I was at LEAST 20kgs lighter when I wrote this than I am now) It’s flippant, but my basic point remains. It was a big relief for me in my early twenties to have all unwanted attention suddenly switched off.

I’m very sure she didn’t get it from me, but this idea is a big part of Hunger by Roxane Gay. Hunger(Which I wholeheartedly recommend, by the way. It’s my first book of hers and I’m definitely going to read more). Gay’s obesity is directly linked to an incident of trauma in her young life, where mine was not, but on so many other fronts this book hit very close to home. I occasionally had to pause the audiobook and go pat my cats or something. Gay writes about the way she is treated as a WOC and a fat person, and it’s enlightening and heartbreaking. If you’ve ever struggled to understand a fat sibling or friend, might I suggest Roxane as a starting point?

Leading on from that, and a little closer to home – Rebecca Shaw (or @Brocklesnitch ) is an Australian writer who discusses the Freedman-Gay incident – and a WHOLE lot else – in this article here. (If you don’t know about the Freedman-Gay incident, consider yourself lucky – I will personally avoid all mamamia.com produce forever and ever. If you’re morbidly curious, the New York Times summarizes it fairly well.) Rebecca is, in many ways, what I want to grow up to be – hysterically funny, twitter-famous and a fantastic writer. I love her. If I could bear to bake a cake right now I would send one to her.

Image result for rebecca shawWhere might one secure this tshirt?

I do wonder where the fat male writers are sometimes. Perhaps it’s just not a similar social impediment for them, but considering general anti-fat vitriol that seems very unlikely. Will someone tell me if they know of some? I like to read around (great female ones are welcome too, obvs).

And don’t read the comments after Bec Shaw’s article. Or maybe do, for a pretty succinct image of aforementioned anti-fat vitriol.

IMPORTANT NOTE: I am not on a diet because I hate being fat and want to escape it. I am on a diet because I am too fat to effectively exercise, which is affecting my health.

Week One – Hold Me

Image result for fat cat

I am planning on doing some photos to monitor that side of things, but honestly I’m dreading it so much that I keep putting it off. It’ll happen. Promise.

This bit has been pretty miserable.

Before I get into logistics I’m going to stress again – this diet would NOT be possible/healthy if there weren’t pharmaceutical help. 500 Calories a day is a terrible idea 99% of the time. The majority of the compounded medicine I’m taking is hyper-powerful vitamin cocktails + appetite suppressants.

I’m a deeply average cook, so most of my meal prep for this has been chopping, putting stuff in a pan, switching off the fire alarm and throwing in a handful of whichever spice catches my eye. At the absolute worst, it’s bland and a bit burnt. (As an unexpected bonus, it’s done wonders for teaching me not to look forward to food).

There are a WHOLE lot of rules around this, but I’m going to try and not confuse things. Basically there is a list of proteins that you are allowed, a list of vegetables you are allowed and a list of fruit you are allowed. For lunch and dinner you choose one of each of these categories. So my staple lunch this week has been a chicken breast (about 120g worth) 2 cups of cabbage, wombok, field mushrooms or roma tomatoes, followed by either an apple, orange, half a grapefruit or a handful of strawberries.

(This seems like a good point to include some actual professional info on this, so here)

Also – no breakfast, but pharmacy guy (let’s call him Jerry) suggested I have a coffee or tea at that point so I don’t claw out my own eyes.

There’s quite a few anomalies in this regime at this point: you can have milk, but only a tablespoon. It’s advised that you don’t mix your food i.e. eat your chicken and then eat your pile of leaves. If you are absolutely suffering, you can have two Grissini breadsticks (I recommend Always Fresh rosemary and sea salt). You can have as much tea, coffee and water as you wish. You WILL dehydrate epically, so anything to up your water intake is advised. Spices of most types are allowed (mind your salt, unless you are low blood pressured, in which case get salty). Then there’s the weird stuff – with the exception of certain chemist-grade skin products like sorbolene, most skin products are a no-go. My QV deodorant was deemed acceptable, but I’ve been forgoing moisturisers or skin treatments of most types. I am as dry as the desert. Apparently if your body is panicking (like mine is…) then it will do things like more aggressively draw oil from your skin’s surface. I’ve been warned off as much makeup as possible, which is fine, since my sahara-face cannot deal with makeup without the addition of face moisturiser.

The food distribution is heavily protein based. There is more protein than anything, which in this case means meat (apparently you can do the HCG diet as a vegetarian, but it looks profoundly un-fun). Using MyFitnessPal as an input engine, I clearly overreach my recommended protein intake every day (also it keeps sending me hand-wringing notifications telling me I’m not eating enough. Thanks MFP, I am very aware). I’m also getting zero carbs – excepting occasional breadsticks – which is a bit of a shock.

What went wrong:

  1. I misread some bulk chicken packets and managed to eat 4 meals where my chicken portion was closer to 340g than 120g. Sigh…
  2. In a fit of chicken overdose I bought some garlic prawns and had those instead. Almost certainly not ideal in terms of oil.
  3. I showed a middle finger to The Man and had pears as my fruit. TWICE.
  4. A standard takeaway flat white probably has too much milk – I’ve still been having one a day. In all fairness, I’ve gone from a large skinny latte with two sugars to a medium skinny flat white, so progress is progress.
  5. I’m not supposed to be using any type of cooking oil. I have not succeeded in this – my accession is that it’s a low fat olive oil spray that I use sparingly.
  6. I had a honey crackle today. This is my first instance of willfully cheating and I have no regrets.
  7. I forgot to bring my lunch to work once – and it was a shemozzle. I bought some roma tomatoes and peppered them and had a pear, but my attempt to do tuna instead of chicken was hideously bad. (Tuna is terrible, how do people manage?) It’s also how I learnt that I really can’t play too fast and loose with the protein+vegetable+fruit thing – having a lunch that was only tomatoes and a pear triggered nausea at about mid-afternoon, and by 5pm I was seeing floating lights. Not cool. Will not make this mistake again.

How I feel:

  1. I’m not as lethargic as I assumed I would be, but I’m definitely not brave enough to tax myself. I should – theoretically – be exercising normally, but I’m nervous about this. Will go for a walk or something this weekend and see how I fare.
  2. It has been sobering to realise how fixated I am on food. I am STILL coming home from work and having a nap so I don’t have to sit around and think about things I can’t have.
  3. I’m not sleeping great. Some of the supplements are designed to improve your energy levels and I think they’re operating a little too well on this front. Even my CPAP (know what this is? It’s my robot elephant machine) is not helping. And yes, I’m aware that the napping probably isn’t helping, but it’s not presented an issue before…yeah, fine, I’ll try to stop napping.
  4. I have never wanted coke so badly in my life.
  5. I’m having headaches fairly frequently, though none of them severe. I’m also clenching my jaw and grinding my teeth, which likely isn’t helping.
  6. I was warned about this, but your period gets a little confused in this process. I’ve been spotting to some degree from the point where the hormone spray began. Nothing problematic, but enough for me to avoid pale underwear.
  7. I’ve struggled to keep optimistic. It’s hard to keep pushing forward when you know the goal you are pushing towards is so insanely far away, and knowing you can’t just go out to dinner with friends or have a glass of wine or something to help pull you out. All of my emotional crutches have been taken off me.

And all together? It’s been a week since I started, and I’ve lost just over 4 kilos. It’s a substantial bonus that there are numerical results so fast, because this would be hellish if I was only expecting to lose a kilo or so in that stretch of time.

So now – two weeks of this left. I’ve got a measurement check-in with my pharmacist tomorrow to make sure nothing detrimental is happening to my muscle mass, and I assume I’m going to be told that I probably shouldn’t be using peri-peri sauce on everything. FIGHT ME JERRY.

 

Is this thing on?

So here we are – 33 years old, 5’6, and 130kg (286lbs). I don’t do stairs well and I would feel really bad about riding a horse. I also have sleep apnea, arthritis and psoriasis and an anxiety disorder. I’m aware not all these things can be fixed by losing weight, but a good portion of them would at least be helped.

I’m doing this blog because
A – Writing in order to process things is very helpful for me.
B – Writing in general is very helpful for me.
C – I am absolutely piled under information and having to explain it helps me learn it.
D – I’m far more likely to make a difference if I make myself accountable. In this case, by announcing this project far and wide.
E – to commemorate the work I’ve already done in an effort to not regress.

For the last four days, I have been undergoing the HCG Diet. Saying it this way makes it sound like chemo, which I apologise for.

HCG is a pregnancy hormone released in the early stages of pregnancy. The basic thesis of the diet is tricking your body into thinking that it is supporting a baby – but also eating very little – thus tricking your body into feeding on your stored fat in order to nourish your (food)baby. This is a highly flippant and casual summation, but that it essentially what it’s doing.

There’s a lot of info around about this – so I’m not going to go into the various controversies. It is NOT something I would undertake without medical supervision. In Australia – here – you do not have access to the HCG program without a prescription and steady monitoring by the administering pharmacy.

ME: Look, I know I’m fat. But I’d like a realistic indicator of HOW fat. How much should I be losing to be at a comfortable weight? My BMI isn’t helpful.
DOCTOR: It’s not helpful for most people. (squints at my chart, then at me) You should probably be in the 80s. Definitely below 90. Look – I’d say you should lose about 40 kgs. Then we can reevaluate.

It should be noted that the doctor in question was ultra-casual about this. Forty kilos? Sure thing, why not. He talked to me anecdotally about a girl he’d just sent through to surgery to get skinflaps cleaned up after a successful HCG treatment, and I left the office wondering if there was a more revolting word than “skinflaps” anywhere in the English language. I visited my pharmacy to get some of my standard anxiety medication, and ended up talking to a pharmacist about the HCG program. Long story short, I asked my doctor for a prescription, and $800 later, left the pharmacy with about 6 different pharmaceutical products and a bunch of helpful extras (baby shampoo? oil-free medical cleanser?). And NO I did not realise how expensive it would be. I mightn’t have done it if I’d realised. Medibank, helpfully, did refund me $40, which I suppose is better than a shovel to the face.

So the onus is on me to make this an expensive venture as opposed to an expensive failure.

Stage One

Gorging. I wish I could say this was just fun and games, but it’s sorta difficult. You know when you go out for lunch and you come home and comfortably decide that you don’t need to have dinner? It was like that – but every meal was a big one, and missing meals was unhelpful. The idea is to pre-load a bunch of things that you won’t be getting for the next three weeks – good oils, dairy, carbs, cereals. I ate a lot of peanut butter, scrambled eggs, bacon and drank a lot of coke (my epic, central vice). This stage was only a weekend long, but I managed to pile on a kilo, so it can’t have been massively unsuccessful.

Meds:  Hormone spray (sprayed under tongue) commences, Probiotic commenced.

Stage Two

This hurts. It’s basically an exclusion diet, capped at 500 calories a day. There are no carbs and a BIG frontloading of protein. You may choose a protein, a vegetable and a fruit for lunch and the same for dinner (no breakfast, except tea or coffee). All these things have to be selected from a chart – there’s a whole lot of stuff that qualifies as a protein that I’m not allowed. So lunch today was 120g of cooked chicken, 2 cups of raw cabbage, and an orange.

I could not cope with this at all without help. The hormone, probiotic and vitamin cocktail is made to repress the appetite and fill in some of the things you don’t want to go without for too long (iron, calcium, etc). I have to do this for three weeks. THREE WEEKS. I’m on day two and I could shiv an old lady for a slice of cheese.

Meds: Hormone Spray 2x, Probiotic 2x, L-Carnitine2 x 3, Ortho Bioenhanced Methyl-B x2, Pharma Mag Forte 2x.

Stage Three

I’ll talk more about this one as it approaches, but this one is more nebulous. It involves slowly phasing in some foods to see how my body reacts to them.

So yeah. This is what I’m undertaking. I’m fully aware that it’s going to be bullshit and I’m going to hate it and also likely everyone around me, but you know what? I’ve been fat for a long time. I need a better canvas to put tattoos on.

Let me know if you have questions about the process. Or else moral support, which would also be nice, considering I looked at a glass of orange juice today and legit teared up.