What are your weight-control goals?
*To improve my health and self esteem,
*To maintain and improve my mobility as much as I possibly can - I have been wheelchair dependent
for approximately ten to twelve years,
*To ensure that I safeguard my independence as much as I possibly can,
*Just to be able to say "I won!"
What is your motivation for losing weight?
My main motivation was to improve my health. I knew I was at risk of early death because of my excess weight. Although, the ultimate motivation for me, the thing that was worse than the thought of an early death, was the thought of surviving but being totally dependent! Now my motivation to continue to succeed is the hope of increasing independence.
I hoped that if I could lose enough weight, I might be able to get a prosthetic leg. Back in May this year, I got a new prosthesis. Because of my MS, the prosthesis will always be more for exercise than day-to-day mobility but getting the prosthesis has been a significant milestone!
What is your weight-loss method?
In the past, I had tried calorie counting and keeping a food diary. So after I was over the MS relapse, I went to see the dietitian again and we went over the diary and my activity level. The dietitian said that because of my extremely sedentary lifestyle, due to being in a wheelchair, I would have to drop to a calorie target of 800 calories per day (with multivitamin supplementation and regular medical back up from my family doctor). This is when my weight loss journey really started in earnest!
*I used an online diet journal to keep track of my food intake (not CK as I had not discovered the site then) and set small goals of 5kg at a time.
*I needed to lose 110kg to get to my ideal weight. I set a timeline based on an average loss of 1kg per week. I realised that initially I may lose slightly more some weeks but that rapid weight loss was not healthy in the long term.
*I committed to three meals per day, with perhaps one snack per day, if needed. I also limited my intake of high glycemic index carbohydrates, as I was also a Type 2 diabetic.
*Every day I eat 80-90grams of lean protein such as minced turkey or chicken breast. I buy lean breast fillet and mince it at home so that I know it is lean. Sometimes I have beans or fish for protein, to mix it up a little. Every day I'll also have some fruit and low GI vegetables to fill up with and small amounts of rice, potatoes etc.
*With the guidance of physiotherapists, I have devised an activity plan. I now include as much incidental activity in my day as I can, for example, using my manual wheelchair more than my electric one. I also use resistance bands for strength exercises - I started with a few repetitions at a time, during the tv ad breaks!
*In addition, I started using a walker to stand in one spot to strengthen my leg. I got a special walker that allowed me to kneel on my amputated leg and put full weight through that side, it's the stronger leg now. This allowed me to walk a few steps at a time. I started doing laps of my lounge - just 3 metres across but since I had not walked for over a decade I was proud of my achievements!
Making these changes has resulted in me losing 55kg to date!
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What obstacles have you encountered while losing weight?
I have a number of significant health issues and disabilities which both contributed to my weight gain and became worse due to my weight gain. A vicious cycle!
My problems started after I had an accident in which my right foot was injured. This left me in severe pain, which eventually caused me to give up work. Over time, I gained a lot of weight. Also, the pain became so bad that I had my right foot amputated. For various reasons, including my size and weight, I had substantial difficulty getting an artificial leg and still had significant pain - now in the other leg from all the extra strain that I had put it under over the preceding 10 or so years.
I had a few other health issues over the years and was eventually diagnosed with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (MS). By late 2006, I weighed 175kg. Around this time, I suffered a relapse of MS. I felt at risk of losing my independence. This was the kick in the tail that I really needed to do something about my lifestyle!
What tips do you have for others who are trying to lose weight?
*Set yourself up for success as best you can by not having problem foods available in the house - I love ice cream and buy the occasional children's serve as a treat but will not have ice cream in the home freezer to tempt me!
*Weigh and measure all your food and keep track of calorie intake etc using something like the CK site. Keep track of exercise too.
*Don't get obsessed with daily weigh-ins. Weekly is enough, even in the early stages. Daily fluctuations can be the cause of too much frustration.
*As well as weighing in, track body measurements. I have found that in the times my weight stays steady I often drop in size. It can be hard to see your own progress at times, particularly when you have so much to lose but it is easier if you take a starting photo and then take new ones each month.
*The concept of having to lose over 50% of your weight (more than some adults weigh) can seem not just daunting but terrifying! Break your weight loss goals down into smaller amounts of 5kg at a time.
*Track non-scale victories as well, eg. for me it has been being able to walk a few steps, to get into a pair of jeans with a real waist instead of an elasticated pull on, to be able to sit in a normal chair without being worried about getting stuck etc - some are amusing, some are emotional and some very personal but get used to measuring success and failure in other ways than just the numbers.
*Finally, get support! Both from family/friends and others with similar challenges to yourself. I made contact with some others who had over 50% of their weight to lose and it has been invaluable. If necessary, get support from a counsellor to help with the emotional side of the problem. It took me a long time to realise how much emotional eating I did but it needs to be recognised and addressed.
How do you feel now that you're achieving success?
Finally, I feel more in control now than I have for many years! I look at situations differently - instead of seeing problems and barriers, I see challenges that can be met and overcome. I feel proud of what I have achieved! I have a long way to go but I really feel that it is possible now. My health is better overall, despite the MS, and my blood sugar levels are back in the normal range. Whilst I still have chronic pain syndrome, it's under control now.
I am back at work part-time and also study part-time. After years of being on antidepressant medication, I was able to stop taking it a few months back. I have learnt to have confidence in my own ability to succeed again and that is such a great feeling!
How have the products or services offered by CalorieKing.com.au helped you to lose weight?
I have only recently found the site but have used a similar American site. I have used The Calorie King Calorie, Fat and Carbohydrate Counter handbook produced by Allan Borushek for many years.
I am glad to find a website that has an Australian database and support forums and look forward to it being a major part of the second half of my journey!