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charlie, computer cat

April 2018



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me - b&w

Right. I weighed myself this morning and I am 15 stone. This is way significantly too much. The last 3 stone of that has been put on in the last 4 months pretty much (although I haven't been formally tracking so I could be remembering that wrong). I need to do something about this. I'm going to make an appointment with my GP at the beginning of next year and see if she's got anything to say or any suggestions but for now I'm looking for suggestions from you lot. This is my experience so far:

  • Slimming clubs per se don't help motivate me. If they've got a good program and my willpower is good then I'm happy to pay for them but the being weighed by someone else bit isn't a motivator for me and I generally find that most of the people at the meetings have completly different lifestyles to me so I don't get much from the discussion. That being said, if you know a good one with a good system, feel free to recommend it.
  • Previous experience shows that unless I actively enjoy an exercise I don't stick to it and also that there are very few exercises that I actively enjoy. I quite liked swimming but found that if you do that every day you end up smelling of chlorine all the time, which I really didn't like. I like riding horses but that requires a regular timing and somewhere to do it (none of the Oxfordshire stables I've tried have ever answered their phones or called me back!). Now that I've finally recovered from my cold I'm cycling to work again but any other suggestions for exercising are welcome
  • I've had a huge increase in my desire to snack during the second half of this year. I notice it particularly when I'm watching TV - if I'm settling in for an evening of Veronica Mars, I'll usually do it with a couple of glasses of wine and half a pack of (low fat) cream crackers. Any good tactics for distracting myself from my desire to snack? (n.b. I can't knit while watching TV :) ) Previously I haven't had much of a problem with this - I've snacked before but it's been much more under my control.

So, any ideas?


Slightly o/t, but please remind me to talk to you about your T-test. My mother mentioned a sort of T-test that was far more specific, as you can (apparently) have imbalance in the particular sort of T - T3, I think - which doesn't necessarily show up on the ordinary test.

And dammit, you beat me to the knitting thing. We'll get you yet...!
Snacking isn't automatically the problem part of the diet. One alternative is to moderate your main meals a little, and continue to snack but with something that will be filling.

'Low fat' snack foods are misleading, ditch them. They do little to keep total intake down, and since they are less filling will do little to reduce your snacking. Try switching to something else that will still be healthy but more 'satisfying'. Dried fruit, nuts, wholemeal toast, and so on.

Some people are more inclined to 'graze' via more often snacking, and smaller meals.

Snack foods

I was raised on carrots as the snack food for between meals. Sometimes I even remember this now I am old.
Hmmm. 3 stone = 42 pounds, over say 16 weeks, which is two and a half pounds a week. 1lb is roughly 3500 calories. Which would mean you'd been eating 1250 calories more per day than you needed. Given that the average daily calorie requirement for an adult woman living a sedentary lifestyle is about 2000 calories, either you've been eating/drinking almost twice as much as you should do (which I find hard to believe) or something odd is going on. When you had the thyroid test, did you explain all this or just ask for a thyroid test? The other thing that comes to mind is PCOS, which I gather is a bugger to diagnose and probably even more so on your kind of hormonal contraception.

Slimming clubs have never appealled to me, but I did pretty well with online calorie-counting. It appealled to my inner geek, I think. It still required willpower, though. Have you thought of trying a different approach - low-GI, maybe, rather than straightforward counting calories/points etc?

As far as the snacking goes, the best thing is just not to have stuff in the house in the first place! If you have to have something to keep your hands/mouth busy while watching TV (and you actually want to watch it - I have no trouble at all knitting or using the laptop, but I rarely if ever give the TV my full attention), can you substitute a glass of water and some carrot sticks/cherry tomatoes/apple slices for the wine and crackers?

The other thing that strikes me is that you eat out fairly regularly, don't you? I'm always amazed by the portion sizes in pubs and so on (and we don't exactly stint on portions at home, either!) - perhaps have a think about the size of portion you're eating? I'd recommend signing up to a calorie-tracking site and entering a few days' typical food (I used http://www.weightlossresources.co.uk, and thought they were very good, and they offer a free trial too). And if your weight gain seems disproportionate to your intake (being honest about portion sizes), you really should see your GP...
either you've been eating/drinking almost twice as much as you should do (which I find hard to believe) or something odd is going on.

Yikes! It never occured to me to do the maths before. I certainly don't think my intake has gone up that much.

When you had the thyroid test, did you explain all this or just ask for a thyroid test?

Well, I did explain that I'd put on a lot of weight but I don't think I gave figures.

Have you thought of trying a different approach - low-GI, maybe, rather than straightforward counting calories/points etc

I've wondered about it but I'm not really sure what to try. I suspect that I'd end up having the same trouble of sticking within the limits whatever I tried though.

As far as the snacking goes, the best thing is just not to have stuff in the house in the first place!

Ah, but then I just snack on something that is in the house. This is usually pitta breads, toasted in the toaster. Or a cup full of cornflakes (you can eat them like crisps, you know!). Or get into a filthy temper. Or, in the worst case, make a mini pasta dish for self. Yes I really did do that one evening!

There's not many raw veg that I relish straight out of the fridge, but maybe steamed stuff would work, possibly? Tomatoes would be too juicy for what I generally want but steamed carrots might work, possibly. I'm generally drinking for the taste rather than thirst so water wouldn't really work. That does tend to be a tricky one - teas take time to make and cool, juices are generally too sweet and things like tonic water are fridge temperature. I've yet to come up with a low fat wine equivalent. If pushed off it I'd generally go to the teas side though.

The other thing that strikes me is that you eat out fairly regularly, don't you?

True. And I am terrible at choosing sensible things from menus as well. And I find it hard not to finish my dinner - legacy of childhood. At home, I generally weigh everything - a legacy of my weighwatchers days - so I know my portion sizes are not crazy when I'm cooking for myself but when I'm out it's a different matter.
I actually thought about the maths after the last girly - I mean, I went from 8 stone to 12.5, but that was 8 stone in 1994 to 12.5 in 2002/3 - more or less half a stone a year. And the fact that it sounds as though you're hitting the carbs all the time does chime in with what I've read about PCOS...

I agree with brixtonbrood about the wine/willpower thing. My suggestion for a drink would be cold fruit tea - I tend to find they don't taste of much hot, but if you make up a jugful in advance and leave the teabags in by the time it's cold it tastes quite nice.

If you're snacking that much I also wonder whether you should think about bulking out your meals more? I normally eat smallish meals with lots of veg/salad; if I eat half a raw/lightly cooked cabbage it's hours before I want to eat again, whereas if I just had the pasta and sauce or whatever I suspect I might well feel hungry again much sooner.

I got kind of bored with salad but I can see myself adding more veg. Brocolli maybe, with a bit of salt on. That would be a nice snack.

I quite like the room temp fruit tea idea - maybe I could make up a jug when I get in from work which would be ready to help myself once I got to the later evening and started getting the urge...
Good luck.
This is a really boring thing to say, but I think the wine is probably doing a lot of the damage, both on its intrinsic calories, which are significant, and its reduction in your will power - even one large glass has a disastrous effect on most people's ability to resist a snack. Cutting back to, say, 4 small units a week, would be very very effective. Fruit/herbal teas are a viable substitute as an evening drink - having 74 flavours to choose from makes them feel less of a deprivation and the ritual and the heat gives them a more substantial feel than most alternatives.
Other than that, try fiddling with the timing and content of your evening meal, and perhaps bulk it out with enormous quantities of green veg.
I've found there's not a lot of fruit teas I like really as most of them don't taste as much. There's also faffing around time before you get to drink it but still, not a bad idea - I could get back into cinammon tea perhaps.
I suggest hot vimto.
There's a nice green tea with cinnamon I like, I also find black teas with flower additions (bergamot, jasmine, rose petals) are very treat-like, even when drunk black with no sugar.
Hmmm. I seem to remember having that once or twice at your place actually. I haven't yet found any black teas I can drink black but I'm open to experimentation :)
Switch to high-moisture-content foods, such as tomatoes, "wet" cheeses (feta, mozarella, plain yoghurts), fresh veg & fruit. This dietary switch has helped me drop several kilos. Modest, insufficient, but a start.

Also, cutting out all alchohol will rapidly reduce weight - though I can't tell anyone to do something I've been unwilling to do myself. ;-)
I'm still on the haemmorrhaging out my life-blood diet, so may be in no position to comment, however these are my dietary tips -- some are mine, some belong to friends:

1. Take a walk outside, in the cold, at lunch time. Eat on the move if you can. It's a bit bleak up where you work as I understand it, but you could turn it into a daily task, e.g. walk to x and back again.

2. Switch to using the toilets furthest from your desk. Extra credit if they're on a different floor. Drink black tea, no sugar. Go to the farthest away kitchen to make it.

3. Get out of the house in the evening. Films and plays are gigs are good, keep you distracted, but make sure the booze is white wine or neat vodka (no mixers, sorry!).

4. One big meal a day. Big lunch, small supper, and vice versa.

5. Keep a fairly empty kitchen -- Adrian's personal tip was "nothing in the fridge except pickle and milk", but you don't have to be that extreme to get results.

6. Shag like a mink. Especially when you're feeling hungry.

7. Make those cats work! Grab one and stoke it while you're watching telly.

8. Develop a food sensitivity. The process: exclude foods you eat a lot of for a week, to see if going without any one particular one makes you feel more energetic and healthy. It's win-win, because either way you end up eating less.

9. Supplements, nutrients. Wanting to eat all the time can be a result of missing key things in your diet. Take a vitamin and mineral supplement and research a bit to see if you're avoiding anything crucial.

10. Junk the diet and low-fat foods. They're full of additives designed to make them harder to digest, which makes you want to eat more.
Is white wine better than red then? I didn't know that.

5 is something I'm bad at because I like to go for fewest trips to the shops possible these days. I used to be quite good when I was living in Union street and could just pop to Tesco if I needed something but now I have it delivered I try to get it mostly in one fell swoop.

I might have a play around with 8 and 9 see if I can come up with any good combos though.


Typically red wine has both more sugar and alcohol, although a fat sweet strong chardonnay won't be much better. Bone dry pale whites with a low alcohol content are ideal -- the house dry white is usually a good bet. I find I drink white slower, too -- also a bonus.

If you want to calorie cout your booze intake, there's a cute Bridget Jones type widget here


(You have to register, but they're not doing anything with the data as far as I can see.)
Cuddling my cats usually does a pretty good job of stopping me scoffing whilst watching tele. Also, a good tactic at work is to keep a bowl of fruit on your desks. Bananas get sugar into you faster than chocolate and are better for you! :-)

But cycling come rain or shine is definitely the way to go! I just wish I lived close enough to work to manage it... :-\

Just out of interest, if you ever hear of anyone hiring for a Web Designer type of person...? Any nice companies out on the science park? ;-)
On the chlorine thing. The pool in Temple Cowley uses ozone and "a bit" of chlorine. You might find the smell less objectionable than other pools.
this is Lorna not Duncan, firstly :-) He leaves his account logged in and I'm too lazy to log him out... I realise someone with an eating disorder is not a great person to offer advice, but for wot it's worth here's mine:

why don't you try having snacks like crunchy carrots / veggies around, which may not be so satisfying, but are at least something to be chewing on when watching TV...

or... drinking diet coke instead of snacking? Fills you up... Needn't be diet coke, any drink would do. Low calorie ribena is better for you, I guess...

It's an obvious and depressing one, but there's always the option of not having snack food in the house at all?

Hope either of these might be helpful.

Diet Coke is good in the summer but I don't tend to find it so tempting in the winter when I'm less inclined towards cold drinks. Although I suppose I could always just not keep it in the fridge :)
I agree with the people here who said that weight gain in that short a time is hard to do... normally.
My tenpence worth (inflation) is keep a food and activity diary that you can show to your GP when you see her next year. Write down and measure **everything** (if you're eating out, take a ruler, a camera, and a couple of plastic drinks glasses and goblets (that you know the size of) in your bag - take a picture of the food and decant the liquid into "your" glass)).

If you want to (frankly that's more than enough for most people) you can then shovel the numbers into a nutritional database + exercise database and come out with the difference.

It *is* possible to eat an additional 1000+ calories a day
- Mars Bar, 230
- half a bottle of wine, 245
- 7 cream crackers 245
- 1/3 pot hummus 220
- starbucks caffe latte 200
- 4 ginger biccies 180
... that on top of three square meals is possible.

When you feel a wish to snack, get off the sofa and take a quick walk around the block, or blocks. OK, so you miss a bit of television: what of it? You know you aren't really going to miss anything your brain can't fill in for you.

Keep a bottle of iced non-caffeinated tea in the fridge and drink that.

Get up 15 minutes earlier, have a brisk walk around the block before your shower, maybe once a week for a start.

Azuki beans and brown wholegrain toast - yes, with butter and/or cream cheese - will fuel you up for a good part of the morning, releases complex carbs AND B vitamins slowly, and is generally a good thing. Sometimes I make a simple daikon or turnip pickle - grate the stuff into sweet-and-sour vinegar, keep overnight - and eat that with it. Good winter breakfast food.

Sitting around drinking wine and snacking on carbs in the evening is absolutely the way to put on weight - the wine is the equivalent of just eating starch out of the box with a spoon. Only nicer, of course. But probably is screwing around your sleep and your metabolism as well.

Toxins are generally medicines, but overdosed. A fruit juice glass of red in the evening won't hurt you, 1/3 of a bottle a night will.

Getting a grip on the booze has to be good - not from a moral, finger-wagging perspective but strictly from the POV of health and willpower. It's a good servant, wine, but a bad master...
Wine is a pleasure, not a master. What I want is to find a way of losing weight without having to spend all the time working hard at that instead of enjoying some of my life.
You have so much to enjoy, including evenings in or out with friends, with or without some wine. I'm not saying wine *is* your master, but looking objectively at what you write about your evenings, it's clearly not your servant, exactly, either. The impression I have, which may be wrong, is that you have at least one if not two large glasses of wine almost every night and you find it hard to not do that. If that impression is wrong I apologise. If that impression is actually, possibly, even partly accurate then seeing it for what it is will help you lose some weight without losing the pleasure you have from a glass of wine now and again.

I guess it boils down to what we consider "normal" and "pleasurable" in life. Hard calculation.

Yes it is something that I do regularly but it's not something that I find it particularly hard not to do if I choose - I had hardly any when I had my cold because the taste wasn't the same.

It's very difficult to judge with a substance which is known to be addictive but that you take a great deal of pleasure from where you stand with it. I tend to be very analytical of whether my desire for wine is based on pleasure in taste or in other urgings but it seems so far that it it genuinely the taste that I crave.
Alcohol is a bit of an emotive subject (along with, boomb boomb, eating and obesity). So it's harder to talk about than (say) residual pesticides or whatever.
About six-seven years ago I got into the habit of having a couple of home poured G&Ts every night and put on more than three stone in a year. I stopped as part of a weight-loss program. But then I became aware of the links between alcohol and breast cancer and didn't start again. I'm not TT but I have, what, a drink every few weeks maybe. The links between obesity and cancer are also facts you may find help to motivate you to find a lifestyle which comes with a lower BMI - they certainly helped me !


The stables in Marston never answer the phone - we always had to visit to arrange riding for Ellie.

When Jo gave up smoking we had an arrangement. Whenever she wanted a cigarette she'd phone me to ask if it was alright, and every time I'd say, "No, you can't have one." Possibly something similar could help with snacking.


There's a guy called Paul Duncan who wrote a book on purely based on motivation and willpower about weight loss,He reckons the biggest step isn't the food you eat or how you exercise,it's getting the mind right.I can't remember where i read about it but just google the name and see if anything turns up. Good Luck