How did I lose two stone without realising it?
Last month a good friend said to me “you’ve lost too much weight.” You have to understand that this is a friend who I talk to about everything and there is a trust and understanding that goes beyond any other friendship.
So if she says something to me then I know it’s meant with the best intentions. Whether I like it or not.
What struck me by this statement was that while I knew I’d lost weight, not intentionally, I didn’t think it was that much or to the severity that it was so norticeable to others.
I run, I cycle and I eat relatively healthy. I’m always aware of what’s in my food in terms of fats and other ingredients. I don’t really eat chocolate, sweets or crisps and I haven’t drank a carbonated, sugar filled drink for quite a few years — other than drinks during a cyclo sportive.
I have to point out that I am not a person who diets or worries about my weight. I keep tabs on it if I’m in the gym, using the scales to update my fitness or Garmin apps.
It was when I saw a a photograph from last Christmas of me holding my godson when I thought, yep, there’s some middle-age spread appearing there.
I was up to 14 stone. Possibly the heaviest I have been at any time in my 43 years of life. But with a bit more running and exercise I knew that would soon go.
I’d noticed my belts were no longer tight on the last hole and my t-shirts and shirts felt more baggy and were not as tight on my upper arms as they used to be; my trousers didn’t seem to hang as well as they used to.
The ghost diet
Let me take you back to earlier this year. I went through a sudden life changing period in my life. Thirteen years in a long term relationship had ended, not by my choice. It had been a shock and I’d never been in this sort of place before.
My focus was on my work even more. I suspect a lot of my clients realised that they were receiving a lot of free extra time as I just ploughed into giving them as much attention as possible to take my mind off everything else.
My running increased from three times a week to most days; I began getting back into the mid to long distance cycling again. My head was clearing and the exercise was — is — doing me good.
My diet improved even more. Again, not intentionally. When you’re on your own you tend to buy less food and for me I don’t really want the fuss of creating a dish that takes too long or too creative. Also, exercise and fitness creates cravings for fruit and healthy food.
So pasta, chicken, rice, salads and fruit became my daily staple. Oh, and porridge each morning. You have to understand that coffee tends to be my main source of breakfast intake. I can only operate once I’ve had three coffees in the morning.
This was when it all started.
I didn’t see it at first. Okay, I realised I was losing weight, but I took this as a positive and the exercise and food intake was the obvious source of benefit for this this.
April passed to May, May passed to June, June passed to July. “You’ve lost too much weight. I’m worried about you.” That was the statement that struck home.
Did I look ill?
A few other people I hadn’t seen for a number of months (you find friends, even those you think are good ones, seem to lose contact when you go through a break-up) started looking twice and commenting.
Although in the main most people said “you’re looking good.”
But the comment from my good friend still made me think and question what or where I was. I eventually weighed myself. You see I really don’t worry about weight if I think I’m okay. I’m not worried about seeing a number on the electronic scales, it’s just I really don’t worry about these things.
Twelve stone exactly.
I checked my apps and I had been at just under 14 stone in April.
Where had that two stone gone?
Despite looking in the mirror or viewing photographs of myself taking part in cyclo sportives or at the rare social events I attended during this period, having hidden myself away in my pit, I couldn’t see the difference.
My conversations with my friend continued. Each time I went around, her and her husband (another good friend but who’s a man’s man and doesn’t talk about weight and things like that) started subtly cooking me tea and plying me with food.
I’m not the sort of person to expect such things. I’m uneasy in the situations (even with very good friends or family) where people do things for me. I like to be the one doing things for people.
It got to the stage where she said you’re not eating properly. But I explained what I was eating and it was just that my portions were smaller and the type of food I was eating was different.
I’d cut out most chocolate and crisps, fruit was what I craved and not what I thought I had to eat and yes, I wasn’t necessarily eating as much as I used to or as regularly during the day, but I was eating.
The reason for this post is that I started to question whether this was the start of some sort of food or weight complex I was getting. We read about and watch and listen to programmes about people with food and weight issues and who take these to their extremes — often with friends and family unable to do anything.
But I’m not that sort of person. Am I?
Okay, let me get straight to the point. I most definetly don’t have a food or weight issue.
But what I have realised is that sometimes situations can, unintentionally, drive you down a route that you’re completely unaware of. The loss of two stone in a couple of months is not bad — for me at least. It was a good thing, even if it was unintentional. But it certainly wouldn’t be part of a planned diet.
What my friend said wasn’t a bad thing either. It was honesty and meant with the best intentions.
It was a call to action, for me to look at myself and consider what I was eating and doing and how this was affecting my health and physical appearance.
Yes, it is all good. I’m not conscious that I’m overweight or underweight. In fact I am at my perfect BMI. Possibly for the first time in 20 years.
So that’s good.
My friend is used to seeing me a certain way physically. Others, new friends or colleagues I make or meet, see me as I am now. If I was to put weight on they’d most likely say “you’ve put too much weight on, I’m worried about you.”
The reason, I guess, that I’ve sat down and rambled on about this is that the whole situation made me realise how weight and physical appearance can make you paranoid and conscious of something in your life that you don’t necessarily have to be so aware of.
In fairness, it could have been the start of an illness or something else that had seen my weight loss. My friend could have been making me aware of something about my health that could have been more severe or life threatening.
But I’m happy with where I am physically and with increased fitness and exercise I aim to stay where I am. It will be the “norm” for me.
Then I’ll worry when my friend does say “you’ve put too much weight on, I’m worried about you.”