Archive for the ‘ diet ’ Category

Diet Post 4: In Which I Discover The Obvious

I’ve hardly done anything over the last couple of months. That includes things as simple as keeping up with folks on Twitter and writing for this blog. I’ve spent some time of late navel gazing trying to work out what’s wrong. Is it campaigner burnout? Have I got a bug? Has my condition changed? Am I messing up my pacing? Is it a mental health flare up? Yet none of the above seemed to cover it. Then it hit me; the malaise started at about the same as this new highly restrictive dietary regime.

Every human body needs calories to survive. Even if you were just to lie in bed all day you use calories to power your organs and everything else that keeps them going. It varies from person to person depending on height and weight but there is a minimum amount of calories the body requires just to do the basics (often between 1600 and 2200). The value is called your Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR). Therefore, even if you sleep all day if you don’t meet the requirements for your BMR you will feel; tired, weak, your appetite vanishes and apparently your metabolism slows down. Most dieters work out how much their BMR is + the average amount they burn through exercise then subtract 500 from it. 
My BMR is pretty high because I am a giant of a human and this diet is leaving me about 1000 calories down on that figure everyday. It was leaving me 1200 calories down on it but I kept falling asleep in the middle of conversations so they gave me an extra 200 to play with. I’m still exhausted by everything and I feel like my limbs are made of overcooked spaghetti. I’m also starting to have some extra issues with my joints. 
Is it worth it? At the moment I tell you it doesn’t feel like it is. I went out the other weekend and ate food and felt so full of energy and life it was like I had been spiked with hardcore stimulants. Seriously. I was alert, attentive, happy and better able to manage my conditions.
I have a appointment tomorrow and I plan to chat to the dietician about it. If they want me to loose weight to see if that magically fixes me/improves my quality of life then that’s cool for them, but I can’t keep doing it like this.

Third "Diet" Update Post

Post’s 1 & 2 are here & here respectively. TW’s for diet & weight loss.

I’ve been back to the dieticians today to talk about how over the last week I’ve been sleeping an extra 4-6 hours a day and falling asleep mid conversation. When I’m not sleeping then I’m so fatigued all I can think about is going back to bed. I went swimming and could only manage 300m before I was so tired I started loosing my stroke and then promptly popped my shoulder out of it’s socket. I’m also blacking out when I stand/sit up more.

She says I should try adding an extra 200 calories in daily to see if it helps & to come back in a week. Understandably I’ve lost quite a bit of weight and that’s been lauded to me as a reason to keep on enduring all this rubbish. I’m not feeling the “woo! lighter!” thing currently. I’m just feeling sleepy and a bit resentful that I need to try to stay out of my bed for as long as possible during the day time. It’s funny how when you don’t hate the way you look (most of the time) suddenly all the tactics that would normally be used to re-enforce the “aiming for the societal ideal of a body should be your primary goal” idea just don’t work. What’s proving a little harder is trying to stay positive about your appearance people around you are telling you that it needs to change/looks better changed. That’s the message that gets sent every time I hear “Just think how good you’ll look” or “You’re looking better already”. I kind of want to grump at them all and tell them to either tell me straight they think I’m ugly as I am or to just STFU on the subject.

I might feel a bit better when  I might be after I’ve had my extra calories. Say, isn’t a bag of malteasers only 187? One of those a day would make me feel better… *grins*

Second "Diet" Update Post

TW: talk of diet & weight loss

I wrote last week about having caved under pressure from my doctors and agreed to go on a special NHS diet.

So, how’s it going?

It’s crappy. The first few days were hard because I craved carbohydrates pretty much constantly. Some one cooked a Rustlers microwave burger (one of the most grim and soul destroying food stuffs ever invented) and I actually started salivating. As that anecdote hopefully clarifies, last week was a very dark period in my life.

This week I’ve gotten over the worst of the cravings which is a relief. I was getting scared I’d sleepwalk into the 24 hour Tesco and start working my way through the Krispy Kreme doughnut display, cardboard and all. I’m not sure if my stomach is shrinking or if I’m a bit lactose intolerant and all the milk is just filling my voids with gas but regardless, I’m not missing food that much. Every now and then I’ll think that I want some mashed potato or a bowl of pasta then I drink something and I’m ok. I am however absolutely shattered. I can’t remember feeling this fatigued before. I am sleeping for over 10 hours (on nights when I’m not woken by my body) & waking up knackered. I’ve fainted twice so far, and started loosing vision at least twice a day because my blood pressure issues seem to have been kicked into overdrive by this. I fell asleep whilst moving my wheelchair along the street two days ago. I don’t have the energy to exercise, I hardly have the energy for prolonged thinking. Today I went swimming I could only manage half the distance I’d normally do. In part that’s because I partially dislocated my shoulder but I was so exhausted at that point I was thinking about asking them to get the hoist ready anyway.

Right now all I can think is “If this is what health feels like then it can fuck off”.

On top of this I’ve noticed well meaning friends have taken to telling me I look thinner and better already. I am not thinner, my clothes attest to that. I also do not look healthier, I look like a spotty zombie this week. This leads me to believe that they are trying to be supportive & encouraging.

The thing is this encouragement serves to push the idea that loosing weight or as I think of it, changing your body to better fit societies ideals, is a positive thing. I personally am struggling to see anything positive about what I’m doing right now. It’s also a bit sucky hearing all those (mostly female) people who said “You’re beautiful as you are!” saying how much better I look only a week and a half into this diet. I start asking myself questions like “were they lying?” and “what were they saying about me behind my back?”

Actually, it’s just another sign of how we are all socialised, women especially, to judge peoples value on how well they match up with an idealised body shape. It’s also a sign of how we, inadvertently at times, work to keep up the idea of an ideal body shape. When we cheer peoples diets on and applaud how much better they look when they are closer to the “ideal” we create an environment that makes pressurising people to conform ok.

Well, I don’t think that’s ok so in the future I plan to check myself before I (out of politeness) cheer on a dieter or praise weight loss. We all hear enough of that message from everyone else. It’s time to do my part to try to improve the dialogue around weight.

Chronic Illness, Diet & Food

TW: Talk of diets, potential weight loss and eating habbits

My BMI is over 30 for a couple of reasons;

  1. I am insulin resistant as a result of PCOS, it makes gaining weight really easy
  2. Because of issues with my digestive system I will frequently go a fortnight where I really struggle to keep any food down which puts my body into starvation mode and slows my metabolism  Then when I can eat again, even if it’s just a little, I put on loads of weight (usually more than I have lost) as a direct result. 
  3. I’m not naturally skinny, never have been and that’s fine by me
  4. I would rather be happy and “overweight” than subject myself to the misery making cycle of diets & self-loathing society keeps directing me towards
I’m pretty happy with my body and my weight. Possibly more so than a lot of people raised in our slender-obsessed society. Unfortunately practically every time I visit a health care professional I have to be weighed and then lectured about my BMI. Regardless of how good my waist to hip ratio is or any other indicators of health. It wasn’t so bad before I became disabled, I didn’t see doctors often enough to care. Now I do see doctors a lot. I think it’s safe to say I’ve had more NHS appointments in the last 4 years than in the first 25 years of my life. 
I’ve hit a point where I’m too tired to fight it any more. The crushing pressure has become too much and given my other health issues it’s just too much extra for me to keep battling on against. I have grudgingly agreed to see the local “Weight Management Services”. Not because I want to loose weight but because I don’t want to spend over half of every appointment I attend talking about my size. I’m sick of it now and I really don’t have the energy to keep fighting them. So as of today I begin a very restrictive 1000 calorie per day diet. Now at 6’2″ I’m told that I should need over 2000 calories just sitting still so I imagine this will have the desired effect. I needed to have a blood test first to check it was suitable for me so I wouldn’t try doing the same unless it’s prescribed. I’m really upset with myself for agreeing to do it. I just keep reminding myself that this is why feminism & fat acceptance are so badly needed.
To try and turn this negative in to a positive I’m going to try and think about body image, weight, normalised health & beauty standards, feminism, disablism and the intersections between them. I’m also going to try to look critically at how people react to the news that I’m starting a “diet” because I suspect that there will be a lot of societal re-enforcing with regards to the “virtues” of weight loss and I’m interested in seeing first hand what it’s like. I also want to see if it effects how doctors, other professionals and strangers view my disability.
I will not talk about how much (if any) weight I loose. I will not extol the virtues of weight loss in my writing, I thoroughly believe in the Health At Every Size approach. I will try to place warnings at the top of posts so that people that want to avoid this stuff can.
I’m talking about this because as we have known for years, Fat is a feminist issue and needs to stay a feminist issue. I think it’s time to talk about how this issue intersects with disability. Many of us have bodies that often already don’t fit the societal “gold standard” of normalised health & beauty, our limbs may look different, we may not be as symmetrical as society would like us to be, we may have higher or lower BMI’s than society says we should have, some of our bodies aren’t as “under-control” as others, we may just simply not look as “healthy” as many non-disabled people. As a result we frequently are made too feel unattractive,  undesirable, morally lax and sometimes just plain grotesque, you can read a bit more here and here. We are also a group of people who often engage heavily with health services which higher exposure to government initiatives to police/concern troll body size & choice on top of it all. There is a lot more to be said on this topic but I’m not able to do it today. I’d appreciate reading your thoughts in the comments or on twitter before I write another post on this subject.
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