My Fat Loss Journey – Part 2

  • Weight: 11st 10.5lbs
  • Size: 12-14
  • BMI: 30.09

I’m now over 6 weeks in to my fat loss effort and the figures are starting to look better!

I’ve been trying to get healthier and slimmer by eating healthier meals, smaller portions and doing a few minutes on the cross trainer now and then. 

I got off to a good start, losing a few pounds in the first couple of weeks. It helped that I was busy as it kept me out and active as well as meaning I had less time for big meals – although I’m surprised I managed to stick to healthy food on the go! 

After a busy few weeks I had a couple of days off the healthy eating and then started to slip back into old habits, but I managed to curb them and get back into a healthy routine a few days later. 

A few weeks in my weight loss plateaued for a while with my weight hovering around 12 stone, but at least I was managing to not gain weight again. Then in the last couple of weeks I’ve worked harder to lose some more and it’s been working well!

One thing that surprises some people is that I’m not cutting things out of my diet completely. I still occasionally have chips, crisps, sweets etc, just significantly less than before. I still have cake for family birthdays but just a thin slice. For me it’s all about moderation. You can have the odd treat and still have a calorie deficit if you balance your diet well. 

Despite my joint and pain problems I’ve been doing fairly well with exercising too. I built up my time on the cross trainer and can now comfortably do over 10 minutes in one go at a reasonable pace. I know it doesn’t sound much but for me it is! I’ve also been walking a lot more, and not just on good days; sometimes I’ll go for a slow walk using my stick – it’s better than sitting still!

All in all I’m happy with my progress. I’m feeling fitter, and it’s so good to see the numbers on the scales go down! I’m also wearing mostly size 12s again so am fitting back into a couple of items of clothing (yay!)

I’m now only a little into the ‘obese’ category on the BMI scale –  if I lose a couple more pounds I will simply be ‘overweight‘! This is my next goal and I hope to hit it very shortly. After that I’ll be striving for 11stone 7lbs at which point my total weight loss will be a stone

It feels so good to finally be making significant progress and to notice that progress in the mirror! I am definitely more motivated to keep this up!

My Fat Loss Journey – The Start

  • Weight: 12st 7lbs
  • Size: 14 (pushing 16 if I’m honest with myself)

Those statistics in themselves might not look that bad, but when you consider I don’t stand much over 5 feet tall it puts it a bit more in perspective. In fact my BMI is over 32 (anything above 30 is obese). Some people take BMI as a guideline rather than a rule as it doesn’t take into account muscle, which is heavier than fat. I totally agree with this approach however it does not let me off the hook as I have very little muscle right now. I’m the weakest I’ve ever been and not toned in the slightest, so my body fat percentage is shocking. 

So I’m obese, all my weight is fat and when I look in the mirror I see a very round, fat, wobbly person. How did I get like this?

Although I’ve always loved food, as a kid I’d eat 3 balanced meals a day with only occasional treats or snacks and I’d also be very active. By the time I was 16 I looked like this:


(How good was my figure 8 years ago?!!)

Size 8s would hang off me and physically I was very fit. 

Fast forward a few years and I became less active after leaving school/college with it’s lunchtime clubs and fitness room available on free periods. I also moved out from my parents’ house and my diet reflected this; I started eating more treats and junk food just because I could or it was convenient. However I had an active job and enjoyed going out dancing etc so I managed to maintain a fairly slim figure. 

Then my joints (back, knees, hips) were getting more and more painful and eventually I was diagnosed with Hypermobility Syndrome (joint problems) and Chronic Pain and this was the start of my downwards spiral. I had to stop all impact exercise (running, gymnastics etc) and cut down my dancing. The pain stopped me doing as much and the fatigue (a side effect of my conditions) meant I needed to rest a lot. My conditions only got worse. Soon I had to sacrifice activities for rest time so that I could make it through the working week. My days consisted of little more than working, eating and sleeping, and by this time I had a desk job so my lifestyle was very inactive. I struggled to adjust my diet and kept eating what I always had. When I eventually accepted I couldn’t work full time anymore the extra hours I wasn’t working simply gave me more time to eat. Over the last few years the pounds have simply piled on.  

Here’s a recent-ish photo (with my nephew):


Even there my clothes are pretty good at hiding quite how large I am. 

At various times I have tried to take action but lack of willpower with food often led to yo-yo dieting and attempts at joining the gym or swimming regularly caused flare ups of my conditions (I didn’t have the hang of pacing). These would require weeks of rest to recover from ending my spell of exercise. 

So what’s different now? 

  • I’m the largest I’ve ever been
  • My doctor has told me to lose weight
  • Carrying extra weight is now making my joint conditions worse
  • Most of my clothes don’t fit
  • I’m more determined than ever  

These and a few other things have added to my motivation to slim down again. 

I recently went to an awards ceremony  in a dress that didn’t really fit the occasion because it was the only dress I had that I could fit in. I realised at that point I couldn’t actually fit most of my wardrobe, including clothes I had only bought six months ago as ‘bigger’ clothes after going up yet another size. I did the same thing this weekend so I have more than two outfits that fit. 

Today as motivation, and to mark the start of my journey I cleared out my wardrobe and took out everything that is now too small for me. This was the pile:


I knew I’d got big but this still shocked me. If it wasn’t for the new clothes I just bought this would have been 95% of my wardrobe. I am not getting rid of any of this pile though, as my aim is still to be able to fit these clothes again. 

So what’s my plan?

I spoke to a friend recently about my habits and he described my eating as an addiction. This rang so true, and is why it is one of the first things I need to change. I have started cutting down meal portions, cutting out fast food and snacks, and generally eating healthier. 

I also need to be more active – this is more difficult but still possible. Luckily I have a very supportive family and, knowing I struggle with most types of exercise, they got me a cross trainer for Christmas so I have a non-impact workout option right in my living room which I shall be using more and more. I will also be walking more on my ‘good’ days. 

Why am I blogging this?

It’s great motivation – the more people who know my aim the more pressure there is to succeed yet also the more support there is to keep going. I’m hoping to track and share my journey regularly so I can’t make excuses and I can’t give up. 

In addition, if I do well it may be good motivation for someone else!

First step: get my weight down to 12 stone. 

Wish me luck!!

Invisible Illness Awareness Week

It’s Invisible Illness Awareness Week, and as you may know, I’ve got my share of issues (medical!).

I don’t hide my conditions, but I also try not to show them or talk about them too much – though this can be hard at times when all you want is someone to understand.

I have so many friends with their own invisible illnesses; there are so many different battles going on, and we all know that it is difficult to understand something you can’t see, or have never felt. Unfortunately lack of knowledge often leads to judgement, negative comments, and generally lack of help when needed.

As part of invisible illness awareness week, each day I’m going to share a different struggle I face to hopefully encourage a bit more understanding of the problems that come with these illnesses and conditions.

Day 1:

Today I’m struggling as I have a cold. This sounds normal but because of my conditions the symptoms of everyday illnesses like this can be so much worse:

– My immune system is lower so being ill completely knocks me. I feel so weak and drained

– My body already aches so this adds to the pain, and with chronic pain your nerves basically work overtime so create even more pain

– I’m already fatigued so while my body fights this as well simply being ‘tired’ is a distant memory

– Despite this, sleep is pretty much unachievable (there’s a reason I’m writing this at 2am). Sleep is usually difficult anyway with pain and medication side effects, but add coughing, sneezing etc and the only hope of a restful few hours is that the fatigue gets so bad your body gives in (a restful night simply does not exist)

– My body doesn’t have the energy (or rest) to fight illness like it used to so even the runny noses and sore throats are heightened

-Taking cold medication is complicated. I have to check what doesn’t clash with my regular meds, and with more to keep track of I am more likely to miss or be late with some of my tablets

-Feeling rubbish triggers a bad day for depression and anxiety!

I’ve now missed 2 days of work and a rehearsal for this cold…it sounds pathetic and I feel so bad  – but this is so much more than a cold!

Today has been a write-off. I’ve spent most of the day sat (or led) surrounded by tissues, trying to doze, either completely zoned out or fighting tears of pain and frustration, with the tv on as a distraction and only moving to get water or tablets. I couldn’t get dressed. I couldn’t go to the shops for milk (despite wanting a milkshake or hot chocolate so much!). I couldn’t even call someone to chat and cheer me up as I had very little voice.

The worst part is being unable to explain how bad it is to others, or trying but knowing they won’t understand. Feeling judged because you’re cancelling…because you have a cold.

Day 2
Today’s biggest struggle has been loneliness.

It’s easy to think this is linked to depression, but actually it’s an effect of all my conditions, and most people with invisible illnesses experience loneliness to some degree.

There’s a difference between simply being around people and having people around who understand and you can talk to. Have you ever been in a room surrounded by people but felt totally alone? That’s a regular occurance for me and others with invisible illnesses.

Having any type of illness or condition can affect your social life. There are times when you can’t go out or can’t join in, and times when you have to bail on your friends. It takes so much more effort to get up and get out, and even when you do, pain and symptoms can mean you don’t enjoy it. You find yourself spending more and more time at home on your own. This can take its toll on your friendships and people can grow distant. Friends who used to be close become those you see every few months at a special occasion. They’re still your friends, there’s no fall out, you just can’t confide in them or chat one to one like you used to.  It’s also easy to lose friends through misunderstanding of your condition, which is particularly the case with invisible illnesses. On the flip side, you learn to truly value those who stick with you during the difficult times.

On top of these social difficulties there’s the guilt of cancelling, the feeling of not wanting to be a burden and the self consciousness of being an annoyance, which can all cause you to withdraw. It’s all too easy to think others will have a better time without you – often not the case but still a thought that’s hard to fight when you’re feeling low. It’s a spiral of negativity.

Because of all these, even when you have good family and friends around you it’s easy to feel alone. I have friends with wonderful families who still feel alone in their struggles. It’s harder to find things in common with others, and even harder to find others who can relate to how you’re feeling.

Today I was home alone, unable to go to see anyone, no-one able to come to see me…(even if they were, you feel you can’t keep asking). Everyone has their own lives and so this is the norm most days.  No-one to talk to, just my own thoughts going round and round. Eventually some messages from friends gave me some virtual company for a while and lifted my mood (so thankful for phones and internet!).

The important thing to remember is we are not actually alone. There are so many people going through similar struggles. Even those friends who arent, who don’t always understand and can’t always help, can still care.

To all those friends and families, never underestimate the power of a visit, an invitation, a phone call or simply a message. It can mean the world to someone who feels alone.

Day 3:

One of my biggest daily struggles is pain. With my joint problems I get aches and sharp pains as standard. This can make moving and doing things difficult, and usually the more I do the more I hurt.

I also have chronic pain, which, in simple terms is when my body basically doesn’t process pain signals correctly. It creates more pain chemicals and my nerves work overtime sending more pain signals. This all means that I can get random aches, shooting and stabbing pains, tingling, and hypersensitivity in any area of my body. There are no visible signs to any of these pains, only I can tell how bad they are.

My pain levels vary throughout the day as well as day-to-day and can be affected by so many things such as activity level, weather, diet and amount of sleep and many more. Although there are known triggers, bad pain days and flares can also be unpredictable and therefore harder to manage.

One day I can be up and about doing all the housework and going for long walks without much problem, then other days I struggle to get out of bed and can’t stand for long because of the pain.

Pain is tiring and frustrating, even more so when it’s invisible and people can’t understand what you’re going through. The unpredictable nature of chronic pain makes it harder to explain how much it affects you as it varies so much.

It’s hard not to let it affect your mood, something I’m particularly bad at, because pain is just, well, such a pain!

Day 4:

Short but sweet, the struggle of other’s opinions:

So many people assume that when we talk about our conditions we want sympathy. This is not the case, all we actually want is some understanding and patience.

We dream of being able to postpone a plan because of our illness and not being judged for it.

We long to be able to take time for ourselves to recover and not be seen as lazy.

We can but imagine a time when we can talk about how difficult things are and not be accused of exaggerating because ‘we look fine’.

Yes at times we may run out of fight and have a self-pity party, but we don’t need others to join us. It’s just a breather. We appreciate someone who helps us back up, but all we need of everyone else is to be patient while we get there.

Saying ‘I understand’ and meaning it is about the nicest thing you an say to someone struggling with an invisible illness.

Day 5:

I often get very vivid dreams and nightmares.I’ve always had this to some extent, but it is worse with my illness.

It’s also a side effect of some of my medication – because they’re stimulants that can cause your brain to be more active. My dreams and nightmares are worse since being on the medication but it works so it’s worth the sacrifice. I have tried alternative meds but they were less effective and my conditions got worse.

It’s one of the common struggles of chronic illness, finding the right medication and balancing positives and negatives. It’s always a long journey and sometimes the best outcome isn’t that great. You just get used to the effects as part of your life and manage accordingly.

Side effects are just one more thing to juggle with any illness. You just have to manage the best you can. I need to get longer sleeps to make up for poor sleep quality, fill my evening before bed with distractions (a personal Fave is Disney films!) and accept that some days I will wake up scared and anxious so allow time to get over that.

Also with side effects it’s good to remember it could be worse!

Day 6:

The struggle of saying no.

Saying no can be difficult for anyone in certain situations. When your reasons for saying no are not visible it is even harder. When people want and expect you to say yes, how do explain saying no? When people try to persuade you otherwise, you feel the need to justify it but nobody wants your life story in response to a simple question.

Some examples of when I may need to say no:

  • Want to join in? (something active)
  • Can’t you stay longer? (especially if it’s getting late)
  • Can you just help us move/lift this?

Often people make a judgement on what they see, and don’t understand why you are unable to do certain things. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve said ‘I can’t actually do that’ or ‘I need a bit of a rest/sit down’ and am met with the response ‘come on, you’re young and fit/healthy’. I hate responding to this; how do I explain that yes I may look it but I’m not? How much detail do you give to justify your response? Sometimes people argue because they can’t understand why you’re saying no, so you give more and more explanation.

The worst is when someone is counting on you to say yes, for example they need a certain number of people. Your ‘no’ can make the difference between something being able to happen or not. It can be so hard not to push yourself to say yes, and others may pressure you to, but sometimes you just can’t.

It’s also horrible when you want to say yes! Sometimes you are asked to do something you would really enjoy, or want to help with, but either your body (or mind) won’t let you, the pain will be too much, or you could physically do it but will suffer as a result. It’s so hard not to push yourself too far. Sometimes I do, and I know others do too – it’s human nature!

From favours to social events, cleaning to outdoor activities, I so often have to say no, and feel guilty for it. Unfortunately it’s necessary though. Pushing yourself too far, or not looking after yourself, can cause so many more problems, not just for you but others too. Sometimes saying no to one things enables you to say yes to others.

I know my limits and I just have to hope others understand.

Day 7

For the last day of Invisible Illness Awareness week I’d like to raise some awareness of the specific conditions I suffer with. Like many spoonies I juggle multiple illnesses, some are linked and some are separate. I won’t bore you with the science, but here are my conditions and their significant symptoms.

Joint Hypermobility Syndrome:

Unlike simple ‘hypermobility’ which is just a way to describe flexible joints and is often an advantage, Hypermobility Syndrome is when joints have a larger than normal range of movement, lack support and cause problems. They often don’t move in the correct way and are very susceptible to injury. The main symptoms are:

  • joint pain
  • stiffness
  • muscle aches and pain from compensating for the joints
  • weakness
  • fatigue

These are everyday symptoms, there are flare ups when things get significantly worse, and the joints are easily injured causing extra problems.

The hardest part of this condition is that it is degenerative; the condition of the joints will only worsen, activities become more limited and movement harder. Most sufferers also develop early onset arthritis.

Chronic Pain:

This does exactly what it says. Your body doesn’t process pain correctly and send more nerve signals. Symptoms include:

  • shooting and stabbing pains
  • tingling feeling
  • hypersensitivity
  • fatigue

Irritable Bowel Syndrome:

The bowel flares up causing any of the following symptoms:

  • bowel pain
  • bloatedness and wind
  • diarrhoea
  • constipation
  • bleeding

Depression:

More than being sad, the brain is actually lacking certain chemicals which causes a variety of symptoms, including:

  • feeling low
  • frequent crying OR inability to cry
  • lack of energy
  • tiredness/fatigue
  • feeling numb/empty
  • self-loathing
  • over-thinking and over-sensitivity

Anxiety:

It’s normal to worry to some extent, but anxiety is another level entirely. It has these symptoms:

  • over-worrying
  • thinking the worst
  • being scared of situations
  • difficulty sleeping and/or nightmares
  • difficulty controlling breathing
  • excessive sweating
  • panic attacks, sometimes with heart palpatations and numbness/tingling

There are so many more conditions out there. As Invisible Ilness Awareness Week comes to a close I urge anyone who doesn’t know what it’s like to live with an invisible illness to just have a little more patience with everyone as you don’t know how they may be suffering. If you do know someone is struggling, never underestimate the power of a friendly word, listening ear, kind message or social invitation.

Thank you for reading!

Tears on my pillow

Why is my pillow wet? I don’t really know

Tears rolling down my cheek with nowhere to go.

Why is my pillow wet with sadness, loss despair?

I didn’t know I felt these, but now I’m too aware.

Why is my pillow wet? It’s been so dry for weeks

The hurt that was behind my eyes is creeping down my cheeks.

Why is my pillow wet? It’s soaking up the pain

I’d worked so hard to bury it, but now it’s here again. 

Songs to get you through a tough time

Sometimes things in life don’t go as planned. We all go through difficult times and struggles, and we all have those moments when we feel more emotional.

Music is awesome at any time but during these it can be especially helpful. Songs can be comforting, uplifting, relatable or distracting among many other things.

From comfort at the low points to motivation to get back up, here are my favourite songs to listen to when I’m going through a tough time.

  1. L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N, Noah and the Whale
    In fact, the whole ‘Last Night On Earth’ album!
    Its important to allow yourself to feel low (but not permanently) and this song let’s you wallow and then gives you a helping hand back up. Things might not be great right now, but it’s not the end of the world!
  2. You’ll Be In My Heart, Phil Collins (Tarzan)
    Beautiful and comforting, especially if you’re missing someone. Just beware, if you’re feeling emotional this may cause crying.
  3. Pick Up Off The Floor, Mika
    Not the bounciest of songs, but good for when you’re feeling sorry for yourself. This is a gentle reminder that things are what they are, and encouragement to get back up when you’re down.
  4. Rolling In The Deep, Adele
    Although perfect for break up and such situations, this song is also great for generally venting frustration, having a cry to and/or belting out your feelings. Set Fire To The Rain is also good for this.
  5. All About Tonight, Pixie Lott
    Great distraction in a tough time. Forget all the bad that’s happening and focus on something else. Do something you enjoy and live in the moment.
  6. Shake It Off, Taylor Swift
    You can always count on Taylor Swift! Personally this is my fave pick-me-up song. Upbeat, catchy, and a great message.
  7. Bring On Tomorrow, Cast of Fame
    A beautiful song to make you feel warm and fuzzy about the future and what you can achieve.
  8. I Will Survive, Gloria Gaynor
    The title says it all!
  9. Proud, Heather Small
    Motivation and encouragement bundled into a powerful upbeat song.
  10. Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen
    Last, but not least, this one pretty much speaks for itself. It’s such an epic song that whether you need to sit hugging yourself in a corner and lose yourself in it or grab a group of friends and sing your hearts out to distract from all else, it does the job.

If only…

If only…

If only we could go back
and change the things we did,
If only we could know
what to us back then was hid,
If only we could find all
wrongs and mistakes, and rid…
Of all the sorrow, pain and hurt
and all that was misdid.

If only we could know how
to make all bad things good,
If only we could read minds
and do just what we should,
If only we could know the future,
if only we could…
For if we knew what we should do
then rest assured we would.

If only…if only…if only.

But we cannot know the future
we cannot change the past,
We must live in the present,
if only it would last,
We do not know the outcomes
and we cannot get there fast
We can only think and wonder,
it cannot be forecast.

So why waste time with worry?
let’s just do what we can,
There’s no point dwelling on regret,
when we did wrong, or ran,
Let’s be hopeful, let’s be happy,
let’s come up with a plan,
To forgive, forget, be positive,
and be the best we can.

10 effects of getting older :/

Aging happens, as much as we may not want it to. Things change, but it’s not all bad!
Here are ten effects of getting older from my personal experience:

  1. Nights in become a more attractive prospect than a night out.
  2. Daytime naps turn from a hassle into a luxury, and then from a luxury into a necessity!
  3. It gets harder and harder to believe you were like the kids/teens/young adults that irritate you nowadays
  4. You begin to find you relate more to older generations than younger ones.
  5. Comfort becomes a higher priority than fashion!
  6. There is so much to think about and remember that lists and reminders become key. Maybe even tables, rotas, and charts too….
  7. You have less time and energy for other people’s drama.
  8. You begin to feel at war with yourself; your body wants to age, your skin wants to crease, your joints want to ache, your muscles want a break, but you want to stay as active and youthful as ever!
  9. Priorities change – you learn who and what matters and spend your time accordingly.
  10. You discover what really makes you happy, and what doesn’t. With age comes wisdom, and with wisdom comes happiness.