Slimblog

Adventures in Weight Loss!

Archive for November, 2013

Keep warm, keep burning!

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

Report:

S – 990 kcal consumed, 2 miles walked, 0 kcal exercised:  20 pts

S – 1000 kcal consumed, 0 miles walked, 200 kcal exercised: 20 pts

M – 970 kcal consumed, 2 miles walked, 100 kcal exercised: 30 pts

T – 980 kcal consumed, 2 miles walked, 100 kcal exercised: 30 pts

W – 990 kcal consumed, 2 miles walked, 0 kcal exercised: 20 pts

T – 1200 kcal consumed, 2 miles walked, 100 kcal exercised: 0 pts

Last week’s weight: 102.9 kg

This week’s weight: 101.7 kg

Weight difference: -1.2 kg (25 pts)

Total ponts: 145

Keep warm, keep burning!

It’s rapidly approaching wintertime here in the northern hemisphere, which naturally means chilly weather . It’s a natural instinct for us to consume more when we feel colder – anecdotally, I’ve heard that people living and working in the Arctic and Antarctic must consume an increased number of calories in order to maintain their body temperature.

While Manchester in winter is certainly not as extreme in its temperature as at the poles (hyperbole notwithstanding), it certainly introduces a similar, observable effect. When the temperature drops, we crave more food to keep us going. It’s not just a physical thing, of course, but also has a significant psychological component too; during the colder months, when food and resources were traditionally scarce, a full belly helped us to feel more secure and assure us of our mastery of nature in the face of its fearful and frosty wrath.

As they say in Scottish Game of Thrones: "Aye, that's the cauld weather comin' the noo."

As they say in Scottish Game of Thrones: “Aye, that’s the cauld weather comin’ the noo.”

Well, okay, that might be a little over-dramatic. But it still stands that there is temptation both ways: Firstly, temptation to overeat. Secondly, a temptation to use the increase in calorie requirements to achieve greater amounts of weight loss. Of course, the first is probably easier to address – No matter what the weather is, if you’re aiming to lose weight one must maintain discipline and exert command over one’s cravings to stick to the diet. The second one is somewhat fraught with danger – Yes, your aim is to reduce the amount of calories you consume and drop your weight. However, you want to do this slowly, in order to minimise the amount of stress your body has to endure. Remember that when you’re losing weight, what you’re actually doing is burning up the body’s emergency supply because you’re not actually consuming sufficient energy. When winter comes, your body will need that little bit extra to keep itself topped up properly. It’s got not so much to do with eating over your target calorie intake so much as it is making sure that your target is reasonable enough to permit that extra burn. If you’re consuming too little, you run into problems, fatigue and risk of shock being among them.

I think my chief message here is this: If you’re doing the diet thing like me, you absolutely have to be careful about your health. Don’t over-exert yourself; the damage you can do to yourself may be irreparable, and even in the short term stretching oneself too thinly might result in sabotaging your own efforts as you consume more to make up for the lack of energy you’ll feel.

Take care of yourselves, out there!

M.

Resisting temptation in the dessert.

Saturday, November 23rd, 2013

Report:

S – 980 kcal consumed, 0 miles walked, 200 kcal exercised:  20 pts

S – 960 kcal consumed, 0 miles walked, 0 kcal exercised: 0 pts

M – 975 kcal consumed, 2 miles walked, 100 kcal exercised: 30 pts

T – 990 kcal consumed, 2 miles walked, 100 kcal exercised: 30 pts

W – 1200 kcal consumed, 2 miles walked, 0 kcal exercised: 0 pts

T – 1100 kcal consumed, 2 miles walked, 0 kcal exercised: 10 pts

Last week’s weight: 103.3 kg

This week’s weight: 102.9 kg

Weight difference: -0.4 kg (25 pts)

Total ponts: 115

Resisting temptation in the dessert.

Temptation. If you’re on a diet, and you’re talking to other people about said diet, you will probably hear this word a lot. “How are you dealing with the temptation?” “I could never get over the temptation.” “Can’t I tempt you with this massively tasty donut?”

People seem to be obsessed by temptation and its relation to dieting. While the concept does grate, after a while, there is an undeniable skin of it throttling the core of good intentions in every diet. Temptation can come to us in a number of guises; the form that most people refer to is the innate craving for flavour and filling that probably led the dietee into trouble in the first place; this is perfectly natural, and is fairly easy to overcome through discipline. Some people even try to test themselves, by buying food that they like and forcing themselves not to consume it; this has less to do with the diet and more to do with testing one’s resolve, which is an unnecessary complication in the effort to lose weight.

The form of temptation that I usually succumb to (and, if you look at the figures above, you’ll see that I have done so courtesy of one particularly irksome email and aided by a delicious loaf of bread) is comfort-eating due to depression and anxiety. The problem with comfort eating is that it’s a learned response, often impressed on the person by themselves through years of experience. The cycle is simple, but powerful, and can often feed itself (haha! puns): The person is affected by an outside source that saps their self-esteem, which makes them feel low. They withdraw into their shells and look to cheering themselves up; often, they will suspend their diet with the rationalisation that their happiness is more important than their diet – a true statement, of course, but one that must be attended to with a view to balancing the two. The person feels good for a while, but doubt and guilt begins to creep into their mind again as they feel that they have failed in their diet, and so they look for something to cheer themselves up…

As with any destructive behaviour, the key is to change the way in which you think. For many years, I myself would fall prey to extremely low moods, self-harm, and massive amounts of comfort-eating (I swear, it’s not as bad as it sounds, but the prettier you phrase it the less truthful you make it). That changed when I went into therapy, and learned a bit about Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. The lessons I learned from those sessions in modifying the way I thought about things have proven incredibly useful in my efforts to lose weight. Case in point, the blog itself and sublimating the feeling of reward I get to be attached to the benefits of losing weight, is one way of changing the way I feel about dieting. Because I view the effort as being beneficial not just to me, but also entertaining and encouraging to others, any hassle, discomfort or annoyance I pick up as a result of the diet can be mitigated by the enthusiasm I have for the greater benefits and social/literary implications.

So, although I still suffer from little slips after a hard day, there are a number of things that are different for me that I’ve found really help:

-          It’s not the end of the world! Because I have the option to do more exercise to compensate, or even just the fact that although it didn’t hit my target but still allows weight loss to occur, I don’t feel as guilty for not QUITE making it. Therefore, it doesn’t spiral downward and instead becomes a blip to keep an eye on.

-          Rather than feel discouraged when I fail to meet a target, by changing my attitude towards dieting I now feel excited when I do, which gives me motivation to work towards my targets and goals, instead of trying desperately to escape ineffectively the negative repercussions.

-          Because I have an audience to deliver results to, I generally think twice before eating anything. Similar to the external influence that pushes down on the depressive person and makes them nervous, this influence really helps to provide external expectations of quality and achievement – perfect for somebody who frequently lowers their own expectations as their own self-confidence plummets.

Anyway, I hope that this article gets you thinking about your own approach to weight loss! What about your own experiences with keeping up the faith while sticking to a diet? I’d love to hear about it!

M.

Sublime Sublimation

Saturday, November 16th, 2013

Report:

S – 970 kcal consumed, 0 miles walked, 200 kcal exercised:  20 pts

S – 900 kcal consumed, 0 miles walked, 100 kcal exercised: 10 pts

M – 1100 kcal consumed, 1 mile walked, 0 kcal exercised: 0 pts

T – 960 kcal consumed, 2 miles walked, 0 kcal exercised: 20 pts

W – 990 kcal consumed, 2 miles walked, 100 kcal exercised: 30 pts

T – 980 kcal consumed, 2 miles walked, 0 kcal exercised: 20 pts

Last week’s weight: 105.2 kg

This week’s weight: 103.3 kg

Weight difference: -1.9 kg (25 pts)

Total ponts: 125

Sublime Sublimation

First of all, I’d like to say a great big thank you to everyone reading this, for the phenomenal support and encouragement I’ve gotten since starting this blog! Friends, familyand  readers have all voiced their support and interest in this little project, for which I’m very grateful! Special props go out to Messrs Cabral and Greenan, who have loaned me a dieting book that I’m going to have a good look through!

Now, to sublimation. I’m probably not using the term in its strictest, most correct psychological sense, but it certainly feels appropriate. I’m talking about taking emotions or desires and transforming them into something else. In most cases of sublimation that one might come across, it is catharsis that is occurring; think of how many people use their unspent anger, depression, or sexual energy to fuel their art, their competitiveness or their drive to better themselves. Insofar as I have experienced it, sublimation works because it allows the person to experience feelings of success that they can attribute, whether consciously or subconsciously, to the emotion that they cannot or will not otherwise fulfil. It’s substitution of a kind, rerouting and relating the good feeling from one area to make up for a lack of apparent or obvious progress in another area.

This is how the current diet is working for me. I have long had the desire to lose weight and slim down to a healthier figure. However, because I have a tendency to comfort-eat, these endeavours would almost certainly be doomed to failure. Previously, I would fall into a funk after a hard day, grab something tasty and easy to make,  and slump in front of the computer for a bit to draw or play games. In my mind, I figure my mental problems took precedent over the diet, and nobody was going to tell me otherwise.

What I’ve done with this blog is essentially turned my weight-loss attempts into two things: Entertainment, and a puzzle challenge. The ‘entertainment’ part was what drew me in, at first. I’ve been writing, drawing and publishing webcomics for over four years now, and have built up a fantastic community of readers in that time. I hate to disappoint them, so I take great pains to avoid dropping items off the schedule, and I strive to do the best I can in terms of writing and artwork. That’s what’s driving my discipline through this – Because I have to write up this report every week, I make myself accountable to you, and so I’m more motivated to stick to my plans because I get a bit of a buzz when I know that people are reading what I write. By virtue of the way in which I’m losing weight, i.e. calorie-counting and scoring points, I’ve also turned the whole weight-loss experience into a bit of a game. As boring as it sounds, I’m actually quite enjoying mixing and matching my lunches and dinners to fit something tasty in while respecting my calorie limits. Let me tell you, soup is a LIFEsaver in this situation. It’s also forcing me to be a lot more inventive in what I cook for myself, which is always good fun. I’ve always maintained that you are at your most creative when you’re restricted in your options, and so I’ve been investigating all sorts of alternatives for fattier foods, or adapting recipes using lower-fat ingredients!

So far, this approach seems to be working, if the scales are to be believed! I’m very pleased to see some numbers coming down, which helps to reaffirm my confidence in my ability to carry on this mission. So, if you’re planning on losing weight yourself, I have the following tips to recommend:

-          It’s all about the discipline. If you are like me and are quite weak-willed when it comes to eating food, it would do you well to consider modifying your approach so that you’re accountable to someone. It could even be as simple as having a chart up on the wall, upon which you keep a weekly record of your weight. It definitely works best if you have someone to keep you in check, though, so maybe recruit a friend to help you out or join a local Weight-Watchers group!

-           If you’re looking to change the way you behave, you need to find some way of measuring your progress and rewarding yourself when you’re on-track. You could even have your own points system; I use mine to feed into these articles, which people read, and that’s what I enjoy. If you wanted to be a bit more structured, you might construct a ‘bounty board’ of sorts, where you have ‘treats’ (say, going to the cinema, buying new albums, that sort of thing) that can be ‘unlocked’ by having enough points. Again, it helps if someone else is helping you with the discipline of this.

-          Make sure that you’re measuring your progress and rewarding yourself in a way that’s meaningful to YOU. Remember, you’re losing weight for yourself, nobody else, and unless you get feedback from your efforts in a way that’s meaningful to you, you’re more than likely going to ignore it. Make sure you pick measures that are going to make you happy and encourage you. Overall weight, calories burned per day, waist size… Which one would you be pleased to keep track of?

Happy slimming!

M.

It’s time to get serious about slimming!

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

Report:

M – 980 kcal consumed, 2 miles walked, 100 kcal exercised:  30 pts

T – 990 kcal consumed, 2 miles walked, 100 kcal exercised: 30 pts

W – 990 kcal consumed, 1 mile walked: 10 pts

T – 970 kcal consumed, 2 miles walked, 100 kcal exercised: 30 pts

Last week’s weight: N/A

This week’s weight: 105.2 kg

Weight difference – N/A: 0 pts

Total points: 100 pts

Let's make this the 'Before' picture.

Let’s make this the ‘Before’ picture.

It’s time to get serious about slimming!

Welcome to the very first article on Slimblog! For those of you who don’t know me, my name is Chris, and I’m the creator of the webcomic at www.elfblood.com, in addition to my daily duties at a major engineering firm.  Slimblog will chronicle my efforts to drop weight; every Saturday, I’ll be providing you with updates on my progress, and an article discussing the trials, tribulations, effectiveness, tips, tricks, and other interesting tidbits along the way!

So, let me tell you a little about me, my weight, and why I’ve decided to start up a blog dedicated to my own weight loss. The prime reason I’m overweight is simple; I love to eat! I don’t eat a lot of junk food. Rather, I like to cook and experiment with recipes, so I generally eat the requisite meat, veg, fruit, starch etc. I just tend to eat too much of it. Factor in my depressive/anxious personality and the comfort-eating it triggers with a generally sedentary lifestyle, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for piling on the pounds.

I have, of course, made efforts in the past to shed some weight. These bouts have never really stuck, however – I tend to get bored of them quite quickly, and since the only person I have to disappoint is myself, the diet goes down the drain and I go back to my old ways. Then it hit me a few weeks ago. I might be absolutely atrocious at dieting and exercise, but what I’ve proven over the last four years is that I can stick to a schedule when I’m entertaining people. Why not turn that discipline round to bear on my weight problem?

And so, Slimblog was born! A weekly discussion where I hold myself accountable to my audience (that’s you guys!) both in terms of slimming down, and in writing something entertaining. Or, at the very least, grammatically correct. You may have noticed the report up there at the top. Let me explain it a bit for you:

  • My intention is to limit my calorie intake to 1000 kcal per day. The UK recommended daily allowance is 2000 kcal, so by limiting it to that amount I should be able to achieve an effective burn of 1000 kcal from the fat in my body.
  • In order to give myself a nice numerical way of tracking my progress, I’ve come up with a scoring system. I get points as follows:
  • 10 points for every 100 calories (complete) less than 1000 kcal per day I consume; -10 points for every 100 calories or portion thereof over 1000 kcal per day consumed.
  • 10 points for every 100 calories’ worth of exercise I do, tracked by my exercise bike’s instruments (probably not all that accurate, but it’s surely not a bad thing to encourage exercising!)
  • 25 points if my Friday-morning weight is lower than the previous week’s. -25 points if it’s higher.
  • I won’t monitor Friday’s intake, because frankly by that point in the work week I really need my usual large latte and sausage barm without feeling guilty just to keep me on the right side of sane. Interestingly, after having been on the diet for a few days, yesterday I found that my appetite and boredom eating has actually decreased. Long may it continue!

The main milestone I’m aiming for just now is to get my weight back down to 100 kg, which is what it was earlier this year, and then take it from there with the lessons that I’ll learn. With the points and the Friday morning weigh-ins, I’ll be able to monitor my approach and tweak it to achieve the results I want.

So, hopefully that’s explained this crazy experiment a bit, and that you’ll join me next week to see how I’m doing! Your support in this endeavour is massively appreciated, so feel free to leave me comments along the way!

Now, let’s go have some adventures in weight loss!

M.

Welcome!

Friday, November 8th, 2013

Hello all, whether you found your way here from Elf Blood, from Facebook, or other more esoteric means, I’d like to give you a warm welcome to Slimblog!

The first real article will be posted up tomorrow morning, so please do bookmark this page and check up every Saturday for more adventures in weight loss!

The site’s look will also be tweaked and refined over time, so don’t be too worried if it looks different every time you visit!

Hope to see you tomorrow for the inaugural report!

M.