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Slimming World and Body Positivity

I joined Slimming World 12 weeks ago, this week I was asked how I could talk about a major diet industry whilst encouraging body positivity and I thought it was a really interesting point and it got me thinking.

So I haven’t always had the best relationship with my body, I was a size 8 before I had kids and never loved my body, I was always embarrassed by it and I never felt as though it belonged to me.  I was generally unhappy and so my body was another thing to worry about.  I started on a diet when I hit my late teens for no other reason than I thought it was what women did.

I had my first child at 19 and went from a size 8 to a size 16.  I had lots of stretch marks and my once flat stomach was now soft and squidgy and rolled over my trousers.  It was all a bit of a shock to be honest and it deepened my dislike of my body.

sam cleasby blogger

These feelings carried on for years and it was only after my first big surgery to remove my colon and form my ileostomy that I began to think about my feelings towards my body.  After the initial shock of surgery and having an ostomy, for the first time in my life, I felt proud of my body.  It had carried me through this stressful operation, had part of me removed yet I was still standing! I realised that my body was pretty fucking awesome!

I think that this time coincided with my children becoming teens was a big part in my change in thinking, I didn’t want my kids growing up hearing me hating my body.  I was trying to teach them to love and respect themselves and so I knew I had to lead by example.  I began to talk about my body in a positive and loving way.  I saw my stretch marks for the signs that I had carried my babies, my large breasts that no longer were pert were the things that fed those kids, my scars were the marks of my battles through operations and treatments and showed I was still here.

For the first time, my weight stopped being an issue.  I didn’t look at my size as a source of shame, I saw it as my body, and my body made me happy and strong.  My weight went up and down as I went in and out of surgeries, the steroids made me gain a lot of weight, the surgeries made me lose it.

My last op in September last year was to fix two large hernias, one of them ruptured and I was rushed into emergency surgery.  It was a big op lasting around 6 hours and they repaired the incisional hernia and the parastomal hernia with mesh and pig skin.  During recovery, I became terrified of having another hernia and so I stopped walking the dogs, stopped pretty much all exercise and in turn gained around a stone in weight.

woman with a stoma ostomy ileostomy colostomy

So my decision to lose weight was, for the first time in a long line of diets during my lifetime, not about hatred or shame.  It was about health, I knew that the more I weighed, the more pressure I was putting on those hernia fixes, I knew that the weight gain was making me feel sluggish and unfit.  Going into a diet not hating my body was a really new thing for me! I loved myself, I didn’t look in the mirror and dislike what I saw, I looked at myself with love and pride but with a knowledge that I wanted to make changes to benefit my health.

And so I decided on Slimming World, I wasn’t sure if it was going to be for me but I thought I would give it a try.  I went along to a local meeting and the leader weighed me and said this was the last time I would see that number on the scales.  I weighed 14 stone 5 lbs. The heaviest I have ever been.

It took quite a bit of getting used to, Slimming World gives you lots of ‘free’ foods that you can eat including meats, eggs, fish, veg and fruit and also rice and pasta, then two ‘healthy extras’ a day that are dairy and bread or cereals.  Anything else must be counted as ‘syns’ and I hate this word!! I hate that it makes those foods sounds like you are doing something wrong as I honestly believe you should eat what you like and not feel guilty about it.

It has made me really think about the food I put into my body and how many empty calories I was consuming through habit, boredom and just not thinking.  It is great for encouraging you to cook fresh food and ditch the processed crap.  Learning to look at the oils and fats I was cooking with has been a huge benefit and I have changed the diet for the family, our evening meals are Slimming World friendly and with a few little changes are much healthier and don’t taste any different.

I have ditched most sweet foods, cakes and biscuits etc as I realised I am just not that bothered, I was eating biscuits out of habit and now I don’t miss them at all.  If I really want something, then I have it and count it in my syns but I really am not that fussed.  I stopped having sugar in my tea and coffee and swapped to sugar free pop and squash.  I don’t eat much bread these days and it made me realise just how much of the stuff I was consuming and again I don’t really miss it.

Breakfast is probably the meal I find the hardest as cereal means using both my healthy extras of cereal and milk and I would rather save my milk for teas and coffees through the day.  I would usually eat toast, butter and jam before but now I very rarely have these things.  I now have porridge oats with yoghurt and fruit or scrambled eggs with spinach and tomatoes or grilled bacon and beans.

Lunch was usually a sandwich, these days it is usually a salad, jacket potato, or omelette.  Sushi is my go to lunch if I am out and about.

Dinners are the easiest as I find I can cook pretty much all my favourite meals syn free by cutting out the oil and using lean cuts of meat and plenty of veg.  I think you might struggle if you don’t like cooking as most processed foods are a no no.  I am not one for pre packaged diet meals so though they are available, I haven’t tried them yet.

And so today has been my weigh in for week 12 and I am 12 stone 12 1/2 lbs.  I have lost  10% of my body weight and I feel so much better for it!

slimming world diet weight loss

So how do I marry the ideas of body positivity with dieting? Well, I think we are taught to hate our bodies, especially women, we are shown unachievable, photoshopped images of women all day, everywhere we look we are bombarded by photos of women that are part of such a narrow, Western ideal of what beauty is.  We are taught to much so much emphasis on our looks and so it is unsurprising that so many women will openly say they hate their bodies.

My weight loss is not about what my body looks like, I love my body when it is larger or smaller and I am just grateful to still be alive! This weight loss is about me taking back control of myself and my health after nearly 4 years of surgeries and treatment that took over everything.  I have felt so weak and vulnerable during this time and now is the time where I want to feel in control and strong and I know that dropping a few pounds and getting myself into a healthy BMI is going to do that for me.

I don’t think that everyone should be the same size, I think that we should strive to look after our bodies and to be the way that makes us happy.  I have been on diets for years and they always came from a place of unhappiness, this time it comes from a place of self love and self care.  I want to do this for me, not for any other person.

I am really looking inwards at the moment, I am seeing a counsellor for my mental and emotional health, I am doing things for myself that make me happy, I am going to the cinema regularly on my own because I love it, I am (don’t mock me!!) doing jigsaws, crochet and reading more, I am spending more time in my allotment, and I am changing my food intake to give myself what my body needs not what my habits push.

I was nearly 14 and a half stone and a size 18 three months ago.  And you know what? I was banging hot! I felt sexy and beautiful and awesome.  I am under 13 stone now and I’m in a size 14 for the first time in years and I feel great.  Not because I weigh less, but because I feel I am looking after me.

It is so important to look after yourself, to work on self love and self care.  We so often put ourselves to the bottom of the list of priorities and that needs to stop.  Take a moment to think about what will make you happy and fulfilled and make the effort to do something that makes you love yourself a little more.

 

Sam xx

Week 2 – Operation No Operations

So it is week 2 of Operation No Operations…

This week has been harder due to a combination of things, eating out a couple of times which I find really difficult to make healthy choices, wine and struggling to exercise.

The whole point of my weight loss attempt is to improve my chances of holding off hernia surgery.  Since my last operation to create my permanent ostomy I have developed 2 hernias but I just can’t deal with the thought of more operations right now and so I thought losing a bit of chunk and getting fitter would help.

So this week I lost a grand total of 0 pounds.  Honestly, I am a little gutted, but I know why this is.  I have eaten out at an Italian and been to a wedding this week.  When I am in the house, I am finding it easy to eat well and healthily, but out and about I really struggle!

I think the main issue this week is that I only managed my 10,000 steps on three out of the seven days.  I have struggled because my hernias are achy and sore, I am wearing support underwear and an ostomy hernia belt but it has been difficult.  I have also felt very tired this week, I am not sleeping very well, I wake 3-6 times a night to empty my bag and so I wake in the morning feeling exhausted.  This makes it hard to have the will power to get out walking.

I did manage this twice, but I want to be walking every day… I filmed one of my walks early in the week…

 

So this week, my aims are to walk every day and get to 10,000 steps.  It is my birthday this week, so I have the feeling I may go over calories a couple of times.

I am not stressing too much about it, I know I am making positive and healthy changes to my diet and exercise, if I lose weight then that is a bonus, but mainly I want to be fitter and have a stronger core to help with these flipping hernias.

 

Total weight loss = 5lbs

 

Sam x

Weight Loss – Operation No Operations – Week 1

So after my news last week that I now have two hernias, I decided to try and lose some weight.  I am adamant that I do not want surgery until it is absolutely necessary and so I spoke to my doctor about the benefits of me losing weight and we agreed that it would really help with the hernias.  Thus begins Operation No Operations!

I looked at groups such as Slimming World and Weight Watchers and though I know that they are great for some people, I thought they weren’t for me for a couple of reasons.  One is that I don’t want to go to classes and two is that my medical history scares the bejesus out of most people and I wasn’t sure as to whether they would understand.  On a side note, if you are interested in Slimming World, take a look at the very lovely Wit Wit Woo and her 5 month weight loss journey.

I bought myself a fitbit that tracks my steps, heart rate, sleep and through the app, I can log my food and track my calories.  I aim for 1400 calories a day, but I don’t freak out if I go over and I am doing 10,000 steps a day.  I am finding that the fitbit and app are keeping me on track, on days where I am well under on my steps, I am forcing myself to get out and get my steps up.  It is a huge boost to my will power to have a watch that is gently reminding me to get moving.  I even filmed one of my dog walks when I had to force myself to get out even though it was raining!

I haven’t been hungry this week at all, I am making sure I eat three meals a day and just avoiding snacks, though last night the desire for a Feast ice cream was just too strong and so I had one and enjoyed every bite! I have been really shocked at how many calories are in things, it has made me realise why I am overweight.  170 calories in a gin and tonic, yo!!!

I am also looking at my portion sizes and weighing out my food, I realised that my average bowl of cereal is twice the recommended portion size! I am finding that I appreciate my food a lot more and I am enjoying eating.  I have always had a thing about clearing my plate and so often would carry on eating even after I felt full just because there was food still on my plate.  Smaller portions mean I eat well and then if I am still hungry, I can always go back for a little more.

The thing that is important to me is not denying myself anything that I really want.  I was so limited with what i could eat when I had my jpouch that now I hate to be told I can’t eat something.  I am very lucky with my current ileostomy that there is nothing so far that I can’t eat.  I just chew everything well and drink plenty.  Even though I am limiting calories, I have found it quite simple to still eat filling and delicious food.

So how has it gone? Well here’s the numbers.

Starting weight – 16th May 2016 – 13 stone 13 lb

Week one – 23rd May 2016 – 13 stone 8 lb

fitbit weight loss blog

I lost 5 lb this week!!! I can’t believe it! I have eaten well and never once felt hungry, an example of my diet this week…

Breakfast – Granola with 0% fat natural yoghurt and sliced mango, strawberry and pineapple

Lunch – Salami, parma ham, mozzarella, feta, humous and fresh bread

Dinner – Baked potato and sausage casserole

Snack – satsuma

I am drinking plenty, either water or no added sugar squash, tea and coffee.  I do like fizzy pop and I am trying to reduce the amount I am drinking, but it is sugar free. (I know, I know, it’s still bad!!)

I don’t feel strong enough to exercise yet, my hernias scare me and so I am walking a lot, I am aiming for at least 10,000 steps a day and also doing some work in the allotment.  I am trying to be active every hour, which is something the fitbit encourages.  I am wearing support garments from Vanilla Blush or just a pair of strong support ‘fat’ pants, you know, that underwear that is supposed to suck you in?

sam cleasby blogger allotment operation no operations

So there we go, that was week one of weight loss.  I wasn’t sure whether to blog about this, I am not an advocate of dieting and think women are pushed into weight loss all the time.  I am a size 16-18 and classed as overweight, my BMI was 28.7 which is on the verge of obese (which I find ridiculous as I do not think I am obese!)  Despite what society tells me, I love my body, I don’t mind that I am bigger than some, I genuinely feel happy in my own skin.

But this weight loss is for my health and so I feel I must go ahead with it.  I am so terrified at the thought of more surgery that I really want to do everything I possibly can to have positive affects on my health.  I don’t think we all need to be the same size and shape but I do think we all need to be responsible for our own health and for me, right now, this means dropping a few pounds and putting less strain on my stomach and hernias.

 

For anyone thinking of losing weight, especially those of us with IBD or other medical needs, do speak to a health professional first and make sure the changes you make are healthy and positive.

 

Sam xx

 

Weight loss for surgery

At my surgical appointment this week it was suggested that I should lose some weight to increase my chances of my pouch surgery going well.

Since the birth of my kids I gained a lot of weight and then have yo yo-ed since then. I’ll lose weight during flares then gain it back. Last year I had months of steroids which caused me to gain a lot and surgery where I lost weight. Then during my recovery where I couldn’t do much physical exercise and being unable to eat much fruit or veg but encouraged to eat white bread, pasta and rice I then gained more!

I have been looking at my weight since January and I have lost 10 lbs, but I know I’m still probably two and a half stone overweight.  My BMI is currently 28 which puts me near the top end of overweight.  Ill be honest, it doesn’t bother me massively, I like the way I look, I know Im not stick thin but I think I look fucking good! (and Im SO modest!) But I do want to be fitter, healthier and stronger.

stoma ileostomy photo shoot woman beauty

The doc was really nice about it and was simply telling me how to increase my chances of a better outcome.  I know a lot of crohnies really struggle with being underweight but for me it’s the other way.

So I need to get on it, it feels very much like when I stopped smoking.  I liked smoking, I know that sounds bad and isn’t the right thing to say these days, but I did like it.  I knew it was bad for me and I knew that Timm and the kids hated me smoking but I never really wanted to stop.  Then my consultant told me that I was five times more likely to have a flare up of ulcerative colitis if I was a smoker.  I quit that day.

Id been a smoker for 15 year and I just stopped. I felt that if I continued smoking after Id been told this and then had a flare up, that it would be my own fault.  Every time I put a cigarette to my lips I thought about how sick I was during a flare up, I thought about being on medication and having to stay in hospital and funnily enough, it made me not want to have that smoke!

I feel the same now, I know that by my BMI I am overweight, I know that my health could be better and I could be fitter if I lost some weight.  I have dieted over the years and never really got on top of it.  Ill lose a stone or two and then slowly gain it back.  Also whilst I was ill, my weight just didn’t seem like a priority. But now I feel that if I don’t lose weight and something goes wrong with the surgery or my recovery, that it will be my own fault.  I feel that I have to do this now to give myself the best chances of an easy recovery.

I know it isn’t as simple as that and that complications can arise whatever your weight, but now I have heard it, I feel its something I must do.  It feels easier to say no to that slice of cake or takeaway because the fear of surgery going wrong is far higher than my desire to eat fatty foods or chocolate and sweets. I have six months to lose the weight, so Im just getting back on the healthy eating, going to the gym and getting more exercise.  Wish me luck! getting fit after surgery

I think a lot of this has to do with control too, I have little control over what happens with my body at the moment, the surgery isn’t what I planned for my life but I need to have it and so it is out of my hands.  I can’t control the disease or treatment, but I can control how I treat my body, what fuel it gets and how I exercise and so that is what Ill do.

I need to know I am going into the surgery match fit and so if that means cutting out the cake and hitting the gym hard, that is what Im going to do.

Sam xx