Thursday, 19 June 2014

Weighty issues

This is not about those important decisions in life but actually about trying to lose weight and succeed. I have always struggle with my weight and for much of my life, been obese. That is my body mass index (BMI) has been above 30. I was always a portly fellow as a man and although I lost some weight a few years ago after coming out, I have still been a plump lass.

Since before I left school, I have had this problem. It has been a twofold issue, lack of activity and a love of food, and the wrong foods too. I did little about this until sometime back in the late nineties. I remember standing on the scales and the dial went to 20 and a half stones (130 KG!)! There was no further for the dial to go and I decided then that this was time to deal with this. I embarked on a strict calorie controlled diet and actually slimmed down to 13 stone and 3 pounds (83KG). Christmas came by and that was the stop of that.

I managed for quite some time to keep the weight off and through the 2000's I kept it to around the 14 stone (89KG) mark. Slowly though it went back on and it was only in 2010, when coming out and dealing with my gender issues, I went back and started to lose weight again. I got back to that 13 stone target again and although I was going to go further, I became very ill whilst on holiday and lost a serious amount of weight in a short space of time. I became more ill because of this and was ordered to gain weight. I also became anemic (low blood iron) and this compounded the problem because anemia makes you very lethargic.

That was nearly four years ago and again, over the years the weight has slowly increased. Last year was the worst, because losing my job also lost my routine and I was using any excuse to eat, and always the wrong foods. I have always been a chocolate and crisp junkie (crisps being my biggest weakness!) and this was my downfall. I was also comfort eating and any bad event of disappointment would be rewarded with a bar of chocolate and a big bag of crisps. I think the only reason I did not get back to the 20+ stone mark was the fact that over the last 4 years, I have been a keen runner. This has kept a great deal of the weight at bay but was never going to be enough on it's own/

I started this year on 17 stone (108 KG) and decided that I would have another go at slimming down. It was slow going and I was still prone to moments of weakness. I did manage to lose a whole stone by April but then there was my birthday, Easter and a friend visiting for a week. It was a marathon of eating!

In May this year my GRS (gender reassignment surgery) started to become more of a reality and whilst thinking about that, it occurred to me that there was a possibility that the surgeon might refuse to operate on me if my weight was too high. I worked this one out for myself, with my medical knowledge from the past and then confirmed it when talking to others.

The thought of another delay in my surgery spurred me on to start taking this seriously. There was absolutely no way that I was going to get to Brighton and be told to go away and lose x-amount of kilograms. After discussion with Mandy, my partner who also needed to lose weight for her own health issues, we looked very closely at what we were eating and what we could change.

There was a large element of calorie counting. There is no fad diet here, it's a simple energy consumed versus energy expended. We closely examined every meal and I looked at what we could remove here and there to reduce our intake. After looking at everything we were surprised at what we needed to change. 

Bread is one of the staples we have significantly reduced. The calorific value of bread is phenomenal and because we make our own, I could calculate exactly what was in it. Every day we would have toast in the morning and a sandwich at lunchtime. This equated to four slices of bread each a day and was nearly 40% of our intake! This doesn't even factor in the jam on top of the toast or the filling for the sandwich. We soon changed to muesli or porridge for breakfast and had to rethink our lunch. A couple of days a week we still have our sandwich but for the rest we will have soup with a small amount of bread or beans/spaghetti on very thin toast. This has the added bonus of a hot meal in the middle of the day.

Our evening meals also needed a good look at. Potatoes were removed very soon in as they are almost as bad as bread for calories. Instead we cook a lot of rice and pasta meals in our slow cooker. The amount of rice and pasta is also reduced and bulked up instead with lots of vegetables  - onion, tinned carrots and leftover vegetables from other meals. Baked beans also make a good lower calorie filler with pasta. The addition of the extra vegetables adds to our intake of at least 5 portions of fruit and vegetables. Portion sizes were also rethought and I now weigh in everything into the slow cooker so that we end up with exactly what we require at the end with an extra 200 grams of water for evaporation. We also eat liver a couple of times a week because it is cheap, low in calories and very high in iron. This is coupled with large amounts of steamed vegetables which make for a hearty meal without the sting of the calories.

We have also started taking a multivitamin and mineral every day. I am not too keen on popping pills for nutrition, but given that I have had anemia in the past, it seemed sensible. We also looked at our protein intake and supplement this with a small amount of nuts with our breakfast. We are also eating a great deal of fruit but this can be expensive. Tinned fruit has similar nutrition to fresh so we try to have some of each.

Mandy has lost a stone this year and I have lost over 3. Mandy has to lose it much more gently and because of her disabilities, she is unable to exercise. This is why my loss has been much greater. Every morning I get our of bed first thing and go for a long run. I run up the river Tone up the Creech St. Michael and then back down the canal to home. It's a total of eight miles! That's pretty extreme but bizarrely I find it incredibly enjoyable. I have some good music on the MP3 and I lose myself in my thoughts for just over an hour and a quarter. In short I have got my BMI down to 27.6 which is well within the target for surgery. With all the delays I am having with getting my referral letters written, there is a good chance I might now get to my ideal weight just prior to surgery.

I am staggered in how this weight loss has changed my appearance. My face shape has changed even more now than before hormones and suddenly I am not even recognising in the mirror. This has blown away every trace of masculinity in my appearance. My posture is much improved and I can see myself in shop windows walking, and it looks much better. Even with pushing the wheelchair (which makes for terrible posture) I look really presentable. If there was one thing I would advise any trans woman to do to improve their presentation, it would be weight loss.

This all takes some incredible motivation and mine was my GRS. That's a pretty massive thing and not everyone has this in their life and it's trying to find something that can help you get to the goal of an ideal weight.              


  1. Lucy,

    Having seen the results of all this with my own eyes, I can vouch for the dramatic effect it's had on your appearance. Of course none of this has come easy and many of us will know just how difficult it is to maintain serious diet management. So it has to be congratulations for what you and Mandy have achieved so far.

  2. There are those who eat to live,and others who live to eat. I'm firmly in the second group, so know how hard it is to maintain a healthy weight. As you know, I too have been on a diet, but nothing like as drastic as yours. Losing 3 stone is a mammoth achievement and I warmly congratulate you.

    Just think of all that excess weight that you're no longer taking to Creech St Michael and back!