Tales from the Scales

Rachel's Previous Blogs

No 1. Introduction Sept 18th Sept 29th Oct 6th Oct 20th

Nov 7th Dec 10th New Year Feb 1st Feb22 Mar 30



Hello.I am a chronic dieter. I have always been a dieter and my aim is not to give up this practice but rather to accept it is a part of me, a part of my life, and try to be as positive as possible about it. Oh, and tell you all about it as I go.

Whenever I find a new dieting blog the first thing I want to know is how much do they actually weigh? I scan the posts, search the blogger’s profile, and scroll to the beginning, looking for any sign of numbers from the scale which I can then use to work out where they currently ‘are’. Next I want to know their height so I can form an idea of how fat or thin I imagine them to be. A touch obsessive? Voyeuristic? Perhaps, but I would bet I am not the only one who does this.

In searching for those numbers (which are rarely documented) we are looking for perspective. We are looking to see who is heavier or lighter than we are before deciding whether we feel sympathy, relief, or disbelief at a person whose numbers are less favourable than our own. In our personal opinion, of course.

While interesting for others, what is much more important than the actual numbers to me is how I feel at different weights. It doesn’t matter how many people seem to love me as I am, love me whatever my weight, think I look ‘fine’ or ‘okay’ (hardly superlative, I admit), what matters is how I feel. How I feel in my clothes, in my skin, in my head. So I will share with you my weight as I ‘feel’ it on a scale that you can use to detail your weight too.

My current weight is CURVY stones, 13 lbs. I am happiest when it reduces to the lower end of curvy, approaching SLIM stones. Any lower than this is purely aspirational. Recently I have tried to accept this weight as my ‘normal’, as if this is my body’s set weight, and aim only to maintain (only?!) but the truth is I am not comfortable at this weight. I am very short and every pound counts. You can quote me on this in the future, but for the record, I would feel fantastic if I reached curvy stones zero pounds and this is my ultimate mission in the medium or long term. Meanwhile I am concentrating on an initial target of curvy stones seven pounds which would be a huge achievement.
Moving the other way, when curvy stones 13lbs increases into DUMPY stones I feel less good about, everything really. Dumpy stones is a warning to change something halt further gains in this direction. By dumpy stones 5 lbs my roomiest clothes are tight and I struggle to find anything comfortable to wear to work and this zaps my confidence. I do not have anything to wear for a night out and this is one of the reasons I do not go out when I reach this weight. (The other being that I feel too fat and do not want to be seen.) No, when I’m dumpy I revert to baggy, stretchy, jogging bottoms bought ironically, from a range of clothing meant for fitness pursuits. I fear these forgiving waistbands do not help matters but by that point I cannot bear the thought of jeans or anything else with structure.

I’m not far from dumpy at present but I’m hoping that by blogging here I will be held accountable for my actions and motivated to stick with my eating plan of the moment. I never lose hope that the next thing I try will be the thing that works for me and who knows, this could be it!

See you next time.

Rachel x


Sept 18th

I was about to report that the scales had not budged this week until I stepped on them this morning. They had moved. In the wrong direction. I was disappointed by this but in reality, I knew it was precisely what I deserved: the new start I had envisaged was no great shakes. Pretty much nothing changed last week, except of course, my weight.

That brings me to Dumpy stones 1 lb. A rise of 2 lbs. It should be just that and signify nothing more than a rise of 2 lbs yet it is different. When the 2lbs trips the scale from curvy to dumpy, changing that first number, it seems much more significant. Behind the new numbers lies a psychological message that a new line has been crossed and things are moving in the wrong direction.

Today I am going to make a change though. I am going to change my response to that number on the scales. I feel many things when I reach ‘dumpy’ and one of them is panic. The feeling of being out of control leads me down one of two paths. Either I hate the world and everything in it and console myself with scones and biscuits. I know this compounds the problem but right now, I. Don’t. Care. Do I? My other reaction is only slightly more sensible. I feel the need to sort it out, sort out those numbers on the scale, preferably in the next two minutes.

So, I embark on a strict regime of meal replacement bars (that lasts about 18 hours) or a protein only diet (which I can tolerate for about 36 hours before I need, yes need, a biscuit) and both of these methods ‘cheat off’ a quick couple of pounds in their own way. Using meal replacements means there is less inside to contribute to weight in the short term. (Two big cereal bars weigh less than a melon or a plateful of broccoli after all.) The egg, cold meat and yoghurt diet (my version of high protein) causes water loss that I can actually feel and means then I think I look slimmer.

I don’t like being in the ‘dumpy’ bracket. In the mirror I decide I definitely look fatter than yesterday. My clothes suddenly all feel tight. Some of this must be in my mind but there is a difference in my tops. I’m of the belief that baggy clothes make me look bigger so I wear fitted (albeit stretchy) tops (I’ve avoided buttons for many years). As my weight goes up, so my tops start to rise too. It’s not noticeable standing still in front of the mirror but as soon as I move, my top rises up. It looks baggy above my bust, stretched over my stomach and ill fitting at the shoulders. It’s uncomfortable and irritating. I spend the day pulling it back down, encouraging it to contain me, and each time I do so I become annoyed. Annoyed at the top and annoyed that I’ve been reliant on the lycra to shield me from the truth: the top is too small.

Despite this, today I recognise weight management is a marathon rather than a sprint. I’m in it for the long haul and will not react with an unsustainable emergency measure, restricting in the extreme until the rebound kicks in. I’m going to keep my head and try to be sensible about it. I’ve put on 2 lbs. The roof has not caved in and no one has died. Today I will respond appropriately. I will eat a little less of the wrong things and make better choices at meal times. I might even try to move a little more and hope that next week I also have the result I deserve on the scales.


A Week of Two Halves Sept 29th

I realised about half way through the week I was not going to be able to make it to my meeting for the official weigh in. This was both a good and a bad thing. It made me relax, there was no pressure for results in the following three days, but it also meant I relaxed my eating (although that was by no means relaxing) culminating in a chocolate-fest I still struggle to understand.

It comes back to why do I (we?) eat? After my enjoyable dinner followed by a yoghurt I found myself alone downstairs for the foreseeable future. I made a big mug of tea and had with it a bar of dairy milk, a twix and a malteser bar all within 15 minutes. I wasn’t hungry. I wasn’t, surprisingly, emotionally needy at the time and afterwards I asked myself ‘What am I really hungry for?’

The answer was that I wasn’t hungry for anything. To paraphrase Stephen Fry recently when he spoke about his cocaine habit of the past, ‘I simply enjoy taking it’. I simply enjoy eating chocolate. Must there also be a reason? Eating something nice is a pleasurable passtime albeit one with side effects I can’t bear,  both in the short term and the longer term. I am definitely of the ‘live to eat’ mind frame as opposed to the enviable ‘eat to live’ group.

While being unable to change that fact, I acknowledged it and moved on to the second half of the week.

I gave myself a huge pat on the back as after months of saying I would go, I actually went to a gym class this week. Bodypump. I used to be a regular there and I believe that whatever size you are, it all looks a little better toned and shaped by using the weights in this class. I do anyway, and when I look a little better I feel a little better and sometimes this translates to me eating a little better. So it’s all good.

I went back to the class after a lapse of almost one year. I knew I would ache all over the next day (which I did, and the next and the day after that too) but I wasn’t quite prepared to face a mirror for an hour. Even standing near the back of the class I had a full 60 minutes in which to see how far I have slid in the last year. My sports bra was too tight, I had resorted to a T shirt which made me look even bigger and it was impossible not to compare myself to the regular faces who had continued to attend and remained trim.

I felt like the big moose at the back.

Again, I can’t change that either, but I can remember how dismayed I was seeing my reflection and really try to achieve a weight loss for next week. There is no time like the present so I went for a 90 minute walk at the weekend with a friend. This double helping of exercise and therapy as we chatted did me the world of good.

Onwards and downwards!



Oct 6th

I checked my emails and previous blogs just to confirm I had never, at any point, promised this would be a ‘weight loss’ blog. Indeed I had not but that is small consolation given my hope that accountability to the blogosphere would help me shed the pounds.

Once again I have not lost weight this week and now stand at Dumpy stones 1.5 lbs, just for the record. I’m disappointed at the admittedly small gain, but terrified of the developing trend. I’m also worried that I can gain weight when I have not had a particularly bad week. I’ve had no binges and no social events involving lots of food. A pretty normal week in fact. And while I haven’t strictly dieted per se, I have eaten to hunger most days and I am demoralised that my perception of ‘normal eating’ causes a weight gain. My ‘normal’ must be too much.

Looked for some extra support, I joined a closed forum online for members of my slimming club. It proved to be very helpful; a good helping of inspiration and realism.
It was nice to hear of others’ weight losses after a few weeks struggling and it was motivating to read the challenges that some successful members have to navigate and negotiate their way through each week too. What was most striking was what other people eat. Or in this case, don’t eat.

Many members use the forum to record what they eat on a daily basis. This gives them accountability and shares good food ideas between group members. I was so fascinated by it I thought I might post one day of my eating here, for you, but at present I’m too embarrassed to do so (and it may use up most of the word count). The members admitted to an item at breakfast: a bagel, a bowl of cereal, a yoghurt and fruit. Lunches were small with few items (I’m just realising that I like to have many items as I write this!) and some counted their ‘large scone with butter and jam’ at mid morning, as their lunch, by way of immediate compensation. There was general reporting of a healthy dinner: a protein portion, a small amount of carbs and a lot of vegetables. The snacks were few and far between. One bag of crisps, or one biscuit, or one hot chocolate. (Three different people, each having one snack per day.) Any additional snacks were fruit.

My own days compare unfavourably. Mine are typically littered with biscuits and cups of tea. My eating is careless, revolving around what I fancy from what is available, and what I can be bothered to prepare, all while trying to moderate the quantity. My proper meals are trimmed back further and further until they don’t exist, because I’ve had too many nibbles and snacks. I am the polar opposite of mindful when I eat. Mindless munching of additional biscuits while the kettle boils, extra bits here and there when making up packed lunches and just having a bowl of cereal instead of dinner (which is never a good move, is never ‘just’ a bowl of cereal. When I’ve tried to track my eating or count my calories I stop after lunchtime because by then I’ve used over three-quarters of my daily allowance, mostly on biscuits and snacks.

So it’s now plain to see. It’s not rocket science. I. eat. more. than. I. need.

Surely I cannot be the only one who eats too many snacks?

I go on holiday at the end of the week, so until then I promise myself I will write down everything I eat for the next few days, all day, until I go away. I don’t promise I’ll post them here.
I have a lot to think about while I’m away. Rx

Oct 20th Dumpy, Lumpy and Bumpy

First things first. As promised, I wrote down everything I ate for the three days leading up to my holiday. The most striking thing was that it proved beyond doubt the amount of calories I squander on biscuits and other ‘junk’ type of food. Having to write down phrases such as ‘1/2 a ginger nut while waiting for kettle to boil’, seeing it in black and white really hammers home how destructive it is.

I’m back from holiday now. I had a lovely week in the sun but I will spare you those details and stick to the weight side of things.

There was a full length mirror in our bedroom and the first time I hauled on my sturdy swimwear I was dismayed. It was plainly too small. It did not flatter me, or more honestly, I did not flatter it. It looked over-stretched with flab overflowing at every point. My legs looked vast and dimply, and being whiter than a milk bottle does not help. It is easy to stick your head in the sand about weight while wearing stretchy clothes which cover the flesh but there is no where to hide in swimwear. Wearing fewer clothes with more flesh on display is a constant reminder of unresolved weight issues. I vowed to remember this feeling (and that of squashed rolls of stomach making it painful to actually sit on the beach), and to do something about it on my return.

Surprisingly, holidays are not a huge over eating fest for me, which is strange because I was sure I had the full set of dieting demons.

We go to an apartment for a mixture of self catering and eating out. My OH is very much a three meals a day person with few snacks in between, so this is the pattern we default to on holiday. We have a DIY breakfast and eat out for either lunch or dinner. Possibly, just possibly, there could be an ice cream interlude in the afternoon and ‘something’ from the sweets and treats category to round off the evening. Because we don’t drink (well I don’t at all and OH only has the odd beer) that shouldn’t be too bad and I usually only gain one or two pounds on holiday, despite my share of the family chocolate and my daily Magnum-esque ice cream. (Admittedly I’ve not weighed in post this holiday as yet, doing a week of damage limitation first.)

What saves me from myself is that the food is all ‘family’ food. Food-wise we shop for much less than we do at home and tend to choose options that everyone likes. We do not each have our own biscuit cupboard on holiday and therefore we have many fewer biscuits in the house. The fewer there are makes any unauthorised in-roads into them all the more obvious and I cannot bear my OH’s look of bewilderment as he asks why I didn’t leave them for the kids. My days away are not littered with biscuits the way they are at home. Drinking less tea in a hotter climate reduces use of the ‘tea and biscuit’ rule that states you cannot have one without the other.

The other big change is that everything seems to get kept in the fridge on holiday (I think it reduces the tendency to ants). Being in the fridge it is highly visible to all  and the kids have a close eye on the tally of treats. Should a proportion go AWOL from my over-indulgence, it would not go unnoticed. It would be too embarrassing to admit, explain, justify, what fate they had suffered, because my eating pattern is inexplicable and unjustifiable to their rational minds who, thankfully, eat sensibly like their father.  So I don’t do it.

Tomorrow I will go to the supermarket with the intention of not re-stocking ‘my’ cupboard of snacks; surely if they are not there (and I don’t ‘steal’ from any other cupboard) I cannot eat them? Sounds simple enough, doesn’t it?

Nov 7th

Well I’ve avoided the scales for as long as possible but today have woken up and smelt the coffee. I am Dumpy stones 5 lbs. This is a stone heavier than this time last year. I hit a new low yesterday when my largest, most generous black work trousers were difficult to do up in the morning, incredibly tight and uncomfortable all day and made me worry they would split at the seams every moment I spent sitting down in them.

I do not want to buy yet bigger clothes. I must find a way that works to deal with it. WHat can I eat that will lend me control and the ability to moderate?

It almost amuses me to see residual evidence of a catalogue of diets in my cupboards. There is oat bran (from Dukan days), gluten free stuff (from gluten free diet), slimfast bars (from SF diet obviously), surplus eggs, cold meat and yoghurt (low carb), green tea (6 weeks to Oh My God), miso soup (not sure which diet that was for but it was vile). There are sugar free jelly sachets, tinned fruit and snak a jacks from calorie counting plans and frozen weight watcher meals from the last assault on that.

It is a design fault with diets that immediately, they make us pay so much attention to food and eating which is really the one thing we want to avoid. I see the appeal of very low calorie liquid replacement diets that remove food options from the equation altogether.

Today I loaded my basket with low calorie options: melon, tomatoes, carrot sticks, soups, ryvita, tortilla wraps (to make "pizza") and some pre packed, portion controlled snacks. I lugged it all home pleased that I had so many diet friendly options.

In fact having so many in stock makes it easy to forget 1. not to eat them all at once 2. no food is ‘free‘ and  3. eating more will not make me less!!

I’m going to try and be sensible and rational about it. I will really try to get back into my old faithful black trousers again. Until next time.

Rachel x

Dec 2104 Desperate times. Desperate measures.

The scales continue to move in the wrong direction. Ironically it seems the harder I try the more I gain weight. What is going on there I have no idea but I know for sure that now my big clothes are small and even my underwear does not fit well. I feel stressed by the approach of Christmas and a time of eating and drinking a-plenty and even more inevitable weight gain.

So, I started SlimFast today. (I have no sponsorship deals.) I know the folly of this and that I could eat nice food for the amount of calories in the bars BUT with food it doesn't stop there with me. Almost as I did with wine, I gave myself lots and lots of  opportunity to control and moderate it, threatening myself by saying if I couldn't restrict it I would have to go tee total. Guess what? I finally acknowledged I couldn't restrict so I did in fact, give up completely. I am doing the same with food, having said if I couldn't lose a few pounds sensibly then I would resort to slimfast. So that's where I am.

Food replacements such as this draw a heavier, darker line at the point in time. There is no halfway, no portion elasticity, no option of another little biscuit or another slice of bread. It is 2 bars during the day (4 eating events!) and a 400 calorie meal at night. The End. 
I have treated myself and bought Marks and Spencer (still no advertising deals) calorie counted meals to minimise the effort and thoughts of food as I prepare and plan what to eat for dinner.

I last did this diet two years ago before my big Christmas party. I continued it for 9 days as the carrot dangled distinctively in the distance.

I know the gains (read losses) will be short term but I'm hoping the short sharp shock will remove me from this panic zone and take me back down to the weight I never wanted to go up to.

Anyone had great success on Slimfast? I'd love some support here! Rx

ps: If an alcohol problem is eclipsing your weight issues then check out my blog www.soberisthenewrachelblack.blogspot.co.uk 

New Year 2015.

Right then. New Year. New beginnings and a clean slate. Acknowledgement that we cannot change the past but have control over the future. This year I am hoping to change things but in a measured, sensible and hopefully sustainable way.

I am still dumpy stones 5 pounds (but I am grateful not to be even more given that I LOVE Christmas cake). This represents 11 pounds more than at the same time last year. Almost a stone. Certainly a dress size. I cannot allow this to continue and must reverse the tide.

For the first time ever I’ve been away on holiday for New Year which has helped. Warmer climates and fewer clothes leave little room for hiding. Nor can I feign ignorance of my true weight; the visuals are apparent, true and unforgiving. On the plus side (I see the pun too), being physically removed from Christmas cake, mince pies, yule logs, and large tubs of chocolates has prevented me over eating for an extra week and further being tempted to hoover it all up (need to get rid of it before starting afresh...) to ‘prevent waste’. But not waist. I have also been able to walk more as I avoided the driving rain and plummeting temperatures of the UK. This is good for several reasons.

Firstly I received a FitBit for Christmas. This is a super duper pedometer that you wear as a wrist band and is not fooled into counting non stepping movements. It’s apparently very accurate and I’ve set it to a goal of 10,000 steps per day. When this is achieved, all the lights flash and it does a buzzy, vibrating thing on my wrist which is very satisfying.

Secondly, I began writing more and more about 18 months ago and since then I have allocated my free time to developing this by blogging and marketing my book , Cake O 'Clock

Being occupied with proper ‘work’ rather than merely faffing around on the computer has justified taking up all my exercise time. I’ve not been to my regular classes and I’ve not been walking nearly so much. That is going to change and this year. I will re-jig my priorities and re-instate some regular exercise. Hopefully 11 pounds worth.

Finally, exercise, especially in the fresh air does indeed cause release of some happy hormones. Even if I don’t return happy per se, I definitely feel more positive and in control. Bring it on.

Weight-wise I am not going to make great declarations of anticipated weekly weight losses, (which I then multiply by X number of weeks to arrive at the huge possible extrapolated weight loss- is it only me who does that?). I always do this but never meet my targets and become quickly demoralised. Instead, I am planning to address my emotional and comfort related urges to over-eat. These are the root cause of nearly all of my diet woes.

I am beginning by reading about cognitive behavioural therapy techniques which work by identifying the thoughts and feelings which lead to over eating, and then enabling you to modify the action you take. I guess it means getting out of the kitchen to delay eating or phoning a friend to replace the eating thoughts with others. Personally I like painting my nails (I get mad if they smudge before being fully dry) as a physical barrier to eating. Admittedly though, it does not remove the desire. I will keep an open mind and see what I learn.
So, I begin 2015 thinking more about the mind than the food and clocking up my 10,000 steps per day. That should keep me busy and out of the biscuit tin!

Please share with us some of your plans for the new year diet attack. Until next time. Rx

Feb 1st 2015

The end of January is here so time to update you on my steps, walking and fitbit.
It really is a very accurate pedometer and doesn't add on 20 steps each time you bend over! You tell it that it is on the non dominant wrist and it knows not to count movements of that sort. How clever. It still massively overestimates calories burned off though, IMO.
The data are revealing.
On an average day at work, not a sitting at desk job, I get up to around 5000 steps per day which I'm quite surprised by. I didn't think it would be so many. However, I had a day at home, did not go out at all and spent all my time computing and moving very little. I struggled to get above 2500 that day which is very poor, yet very easy to do.
I've been aiming for the 10000 steps per day which supposedly gives max health benefits and weight loss. 10000 steps takes me around 90 minutes of walking and leaves me really quite tired! That is quite a lot of time to find even breaking it down.

Such exercise alone will  not shift the pounds though and last Sunday I hit a high of Dumpy stones 8. I was at a loss, eating whatever I fancied and making pretty careless choices. When I asked myself what I really wanted in life, my answer was to be slim. I want this more than any amount of money! So I am going to do it! Simple eh?

Taking inspiration from the various 'fat' programmes on TV this month ( no offence to anyone, that's only what I call them) I have enlisted the true support of my husband. He has given me the incentive of a new computer if I lose the 14 pounds I want to ( in the first instance).

I am also having the challenge over 100 days. I like the idea of a new page and a new number on the countdown each morning so I have a pad of post it notes by my bed and remove one each morning. Today I am at 96.
The real motivator is weighing and reporting to my husband last thing every Sunday night. I hated saying I was dumpy 8 and he looked a little shocked too.
But it has turned my mindset around, I have bucked up my ideas and I will not be this weight for long!

Feb 22nd 2015

It's been over 3 weeks since I began my 100 day mission; tomorrow will see 71 on my notepad. Progress is, well, a matter of perspective.

I set off all guns blazing as usual and after an exemplary first week had lost 3 lbs. However, there it ended and I have lost no more since then. I have found too many irregularities in my life has prevented me staying in the zone: the half term break, a weekend at work, a book club night with pizza and cake...
Being on a long term challenge does help keep it sensible. It has made each diet deviance finite and each day feels like a new opportunity with a clean slate. Previously, going off piste would have led to several 'sod it' days before I faced reality again but this way I feel I am keeping my eye on the prize, albeit vaguely at times.
The content of my diet is poor though. I am eating increasing amounts of biscuits and cakes at the expense of higher quality food. This is not sustainable and I can see it unravelling out of control.
I've tried cutting out refined sugar before in the hope of reaching a state of no longer wanting or craving it. I have never got past the 36 hour mark: giving in to the extreme lethargy, depression and headache. I'm considering trying it again, apparently stability and calm does evolve after a few days and I do aspire to clean living.
So tomorrow is yet another renewed effort (which allows tonight to take on features of a 'last night') when I will try my best for the next 70 days.

March 30th 2015

I am now at 47 days to go in my 100 day husband sponsored computer weight loss challenge and can report a seismic shift in tactics.

By only 66 days to go I had lost no weight, was not dieting, was miles from the zone and feeling pretty despairing of ever finding it again. A chance remark about some colleagues doing the Cambridge diet (or weight plan as it is now known) led me to investigate the details of that.
I’ve never done a meal replacement diet but I liked the idea of removing food from the equation. Restricting my intake of food and calories leaves me continually thinking, planning, counting, and compensating for what I’ve eaten, what I should not have eaten and what I really want to eat. It leaves my head full of food and a sense of deprivation and sadness that I cannot be both slim and indulgent of my favourite things. A total break sounded as if it may have potential. Drastic times, drastic measures.

So I began the Cambridge diet. Luckily, being neither a huge fan of soup or milkshakes, I could have three of their lemon yoghurt bars per day with cups of tea (using my milk allowance). If I break these in half I can have 6 ‘biscuit bars’ and tea sittings throughout the day. Perfect, the biscuit diet! I am also allowed a small protein meal each day. Actually it is a lot of protein but no carbs other than a very small portion of a small selection of low GI vegetables.
I spent fours days feeling starving hungry, empty, bored, but managed to keep the faith and lost 4 pounds in my first week.
The hunger disappeared as the ketotic high emerged and suddenly I could do more and more on less and less.
I lost 2 pounds the next week.
The week after finished at the weekend and it was the dreaded Stay The Same (STS) despite all the effort and only a few inadvertent cheats. (who knew sugar free squash was not allowed due to the fruit’s natural sugars or that mangetout wasnot on the strict list of vegetables?). I don’t think I got fat on sugar free squash and never binged on veg but there you go.
I’m believing in the plan and not throwing my toys out of the pram (yet) and have everything crossed for a weight loss this week.
I honestly, would rather have a weight loss than an Easter egg!




Rachel is an independant blogger, the views and opinions expressed in blogs are soley those of the original authors and other contributors.
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