The “D” Word

Five weeks ago I started the 5:2 ‘diet’. I say ‘diet’ because I hate that it is branded and labelled as a diet, fad or otherwise. I don’t want to tell people that I am dieting. I am not dieting. That would imply that I am aiming for a specific number and then the diet will end. I am changing my diet, not starting one. I won’t be signing up to Weight Watchers or similar any time soon. 

Firstly, they wouldn’t be able to weigh me. I’ve never heard of any local weight loss groups containing a wheelchair accessible set of scales. There are some dairy farms nearby though and I guess if they weigh their cattle I’d be in with a chance of wheeling myself onto their scales? It was the same story when I was pregnant. Pregnant women are routinely weighed to check their weight gain throughout the 9 months to ensure they aren’t gaining or even losing weight more than is expected. I was never weighed during either pregnancy, and I’ve yet to successfully weigh myself on anyone’s bathroom scales. It’s a bit like watching a cat trying to sit down with all four limbs on top of a fence post. Except less graceful. A lot less graceful. I think last time I attempted it was a few months ago in my mum’s bathroom and it was like a game where I sat on the scales and Tom had to position all my many floppy limbs (trying to pack away an awkward Travel cot springs to mind as an illustration) and then quickly let go in a rather rehearsed fashion where one of us tries to look at the numbers on the screen, but it’s too late as I’ve fallen into a laughing heap onto the bath mat. 

So how much do I actually weigh? Who knows. I think I weigh roughly 10.5-11stone and a UK size 12-14. The last time I was aware of my actual weight was age 15 at a hospital appointment where I was told to sit on a weighing chair. Ironically I could still stand up at this point and could’ve stood on regular hospital scales if necessary.

So pretty much from about that age, 14 years ago, I’ve battled with wanting to know how much my weight fluctuates. Like any normal woman, I want to be able to moan to my work colleagues that I’ve put on a pound or two over the weekend, or rejoice in knowing that my new way of eating is actually producing lower numbers on the scales. 

I’m not even sure where my obsession with wanting to know my exact weight comes from. I try to gauge how slim I must be by how my clothes fit and how well I feel,  which is ultimately what matters. But recently someone at work, a visitor, asked me when my baby was due. That’s not my way of announcing a third pregnancy don’t worry, I’m not actually with child right now. It’s the kind of thing you hear others saying happened to their neighbour’s cousin’s Gran’s hairdresser and everyone gasps with open-mouthed amazement. It’s not the most confidence-boosting question to be asked! The stupid thing is that even when I have been heavily pregnant people struggle to notice if they don’t know me. 

I suppose I don’t feel like I am particularly overweight, it’s the shape of my body that makes me feel and look bigger than I want to be. Complete muscle wasting in my lower limbs accentuates everything else, and my back curving in makes my belly stick out. Muffin tops are only the beginning of my issues! This is my frustration though. As a wheelchair user who has little use of their arms and hands, for exercises that other wheelchair users might be capable of (rowing, tennis, wheelchair racing etc) and no use of my legs, getting fit and maintaining fitness in order to sustain muscle tone is pretty difficult. On top of that (I’ll be done soon, don’t worry), not being able to burn off calories I’ve consumed as easily as the next show-off able-bodied person with all their working limbs, means I get an instantaneous guilt every time I eat anything that isn’t a lettuce leaf. 
So exercise and sports are things I’ve always been desperate to pursue and have some sort of skill in. I did gymnastics for 6 years as a child, to retain some level of strength and fitness. I gave up at 12, stupidly, and it bugs me that there was nothing after that. Secondary School didn’t encourage me, in fact they suggested i didn’t do P.E. with my peers! I’d really have cocked up their league table results now wouldn’t I! 

Those of you who are reading and whom don’t know me might be thinking ‘er, wheelchair basketball is quite popular at the Paralympics I hear. And there’s that swimmer with no limbs who manages not to sink, what’s your excuse?’ And you’d be quite right (if a little bit blunt) but I live in a fishing town in Devon. It’s not teaming with opportunities for alternative accessible sport to suit all abilities. And even if I lived somewhere closer to those opportunities, I get reminded then that my body is sadly lacking in useful muscle and nerve function to carry out such sporting endeavours.

So that brings me back to eating less. My my, this is a jolly upbeat blog post isn’t it! 

I see the 5:2, or intermittent fasting diet as the only realistic way of being able to still eat things that I enjoy and lose a bit of weight. Mainly that extra abdominal surface area that isn’t welcome unless it is carrying a small human! There’s minimal calorie counting to be done. And it’s easier and less stressful to stick to the same few foods on the fasting days so once you’ve worked out what you want to  eat on those two days, calorie counting is unnecessary. Win win. 

It seems to be working I think, I feel less rotund in areas, and don’t feel like I’m going to murder someone because I’m not allowed to order yummy takeaway food at the weekend. I can have tea and cake with my best friend and not feel guilty and that I’ve let myself down.

My next mission is to become the next Tanni Grey-Thompson. Okay… Maybe a bit ambitious! 

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