Day 6 A bit more about me and where I've come from
It seems like I've been overweight my entire life, though I'm sure that's not true. When I look at photos of myself as a child, I didn't look that much bigger than other kids my age, at least not until puberty! I gradually put on weight, increasing in dress size every two years or so. At age 12 I was a size 12, at age 16 I was size 16, at age 20 I was size 20, at age 24 I was size 24 and weighed about 120kg (240lbs). As most of the larger size clothing stores I shopped at only went to a size 24, I knew if I didn't sort out this steady weight gain I would have to resort to making all my own clothes (ok, not such a bad thing but who has the time these days:D)!
Around the time I realized this, I learnt to scuba dive. I was immediately hooked, and wanted to become a dive instructor. Scuba gear is heavy, and having so much excess body fat meant I needed to carry lots of lead weight to help me sink - when I started my weight belt had 20kg of lead, a full scuba cylinder weighs about 15-20kg, plus the rather thick wetsuit (water temperature in winter 8-10ºC, 46-50ºF) and other gear - it meant walking up and down sandy beaches or climbing stairs carrying alot of extra weight (lifting heavy things - check)!! During the actual dive, things are a bit easier as you are virtually weightless underwater. Slow movement wins the day - otherwise you don't get to enjoy the wildlife :). Through diving every weekend and starting to swim before work most days (the instructor exam included a swim test - so I was in training!) I lost about 10kg/20lbs. After a blessing in the disguise of a car accident that meant my car was written off and I was too scared to drive again (I was unharmed in the accident), I used the insurance money to pay off some debt and purchase my very first brand new bicycle. I started cycling to the train station each day and back again and started walking lots more (including carrying a weeks worth of groceries 1.5km home). With all this exercise I figured if I just sorted out my eating I'd lose weight pretty quickly. So off I went and joined Weight Watchers. Over the next 12 months or so, I lost about 35kg/70lbs and was wearing a size 12 again. I was fitter than I'd ever been and enjoyed physical activity like never before. I completed a 1/2 marathon, jogging about 3/4 of the way and walking the rest (time was about 3hrs 20mins). I completed (and enjoyed) a few mini triathlons.
But things changed, slowly so I barely noticed. I moved house a couple of times, meaning I was getting less exercise on my way to work each day. I started diving less frequently as I began studying for a Masters degree part-time. I took a relationship breakup pretty hard and started eating more junky comfort food. I moved overseas away from my diving buddies, friends and family and became more lonely and exercised even less, ate worse and worse. Public transport was not great in my new city so I bought a car and over time, drove more, walked less, until I wasn't doing any physical activity (my job involves sitting at a computer all day). Through this time, I watched myself get bigger and bigger, continued to try to lose weight in fits and starts and generally became more and more depressed, ate more comfort food, felt worse about myself, ate more, felt worse.....rinse and repeat endlessly....
Over the next five years I put on all the weight I'd lost. I lost all my fitness. I was too ashamed of myself to go diving, work out in a gym or do anything really except sit on the couch and eat. I knew I needed help. I tried going to a counselor, joined weight watchers about three more times, tried body trim (low carb diet) and Michelle Bridges 12 week body transformation (Michelle is one of the biggest loser Australia trainers), and tried counting calories. I even went to my GP for advice and joined the medical clinics weight loss programs. The thing is, I knew I could lose weight - I had some success on these programs, usually for 2-6 weeks, losing 2-7kgs. But, eventually, I would get stressed, tired, hungry and give in to all the easy access fast food and other junk. I'd give up on myself, berating myself the whole time for being such a failure.
In September 2011 (age 32) I had some blood tests as I'd been feeling particularly lethargic and had high insulin but normal fasting blood sugar. My cholesterol was high, liver functions tests and ultrasound showed I had fatty liver. My mum had had a small heart attack and had recently been diagnosed with type II diabetes. I knew that I was well and truly on the path that led to heart disease and diabetes too.
I was getting more and more anxious about losing weight, but needed to find something that would last long term. I didn't want to count calories or points or carbs or anything for the rest of my life. I remember my weight loss journey being easy. I didn't have to really try hard to curb my eating. I counted my points and got plenty of exercise. I felt I needed to fix the reason I gained the weight back before I could be confident in losing weight again. I'm an epidemiologist, had done some undergraduate biochemistry and am quite used to reading medical journals. I started reading the literature on fatty liver, heart disease, type II diabetes, low carb diets, long term weight loss, maintaining large weight loss etc etc etc. Pretty much anything I could find to help me understand my situation. Somehow, I came across paleo diets, then found MDA and the primal blueprint. And here I am.
Me in 2005 and then after losing about 45kg/90lbs Feb 2007, then me now, March 2013
NOTE: in Feb 2007 I was still at least 10kg overweight for my height according to BMI.
It remains to be seen if this is just another of the doomed to fail weight loss attempts or if this really is a lifestyle change I can make permanent. So far,I'm feeling better than I have in a long time, more positive and I have more energy. I got through the last few days of feeling really tired and hungry (I'll leave my strategy for another post) and have made it through almost 7 weeks and have lost 7kgs so far (I know I said I wasn't going to weigh myself for a month, but I couldn't wait :D). Things are looking up!
I've written this post as a reminder for myself about where I have come from, how I got here. Telling my story helps me to understand myself. I share it in the hope it might help someone else understand themselves too.