It took me at least a year of consideration and procrastination before I bit the bullet and contacted Tania. Now that I have, I just wish I had done it ages ago. I would be a year closer to my goals! Since I started to see Tania my whole life has changed. The most significant change is that I have learned the art of conscious, healthy eating. I no longer binge and I no longer play out my emotions through food. I have learned a great deal about the impact of different food types on my body and on my mind. Just through changing what I eat I have found that it is possible to feel much better and much more stable. I am no longer frightened that my children will inherit my bad eating habits and unhealthy lifestyle.
I have noticed improvements in many areas of my life including energy levels, attitude to work, sociability, friendships and relationships. I feel much more powerful than I did before and able to take on almost anything. Mentally I am in tip top condition, and my brain feels sharper than it has for years. I am much less anxious and sleep much better than I used to. Although my body is still a work in progress, I have lost over two stone and my opinion of my own body has changed completely. My body is now my friend, a fantastic tool in which I live and which I control, as opposed to what it was like before, an ineffective prison.
Tania has helped me to feel much more powerful in terms of my abilities through exercise.
If you had told me a year ago that I would go to the gym every day, and that I would want to go to the gym every day, I would never have believed you.
The UK's population weight problem is very well documented and reported on and everyone has an opinion on how to resolve it. It is unfortunately more complex than often understood and very difficult to rectify. Although many people might have an opinion on how to solve this problem and many can debate the effect of this on the schooling of children, attention spans, general health and the burden on the health system, it is only the people who are overweight that can really shed light on their daily struggles with being overweight and the stress it causes, not only in their family, but in themselves.
My aim is not to solve the obesity problem for the nation - it is to assist people from Bristol and the South West of England to overcome their unhealthy relationship with food, providing them with the tools to make better life choices utilising a variety of therapy tools such as Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT) amongst others.
There are very valid reasons why people are overweight. I will teach you why your body is reacting and making the food demands that it does. One of the problems stems from an unhealthy relationship with food. It is therefore my aim to teach people about food and its effect on your body (so you might realise why you reach out for yet another biscuit) but more importantly to deal with the reasons why food became such an important player in your life. My approach therefore involves counselling and Psychotherapy to address the psychology around your relationship with food, teaching about food and how your body requires it, providing you with tools to make better choices and, when required, the introduction of new activities into your life, but never before you are able, both physically or mentally.
My aim with all my clients is for them to develop into balanced, happy individuals, who feel empowered to make their own decisions. You will therefore not be given a diet to go on, you will not be weighed and you will not be asked to lose a certain amount of weight in a set time. You will feel empowered, you will feel the change in your life and those around you, your relationships will improve and you will lose weight.
To help provide you an insider view, some of my previous clients has written their personal journey for you - you might be able to identify yourself in one or two areas of these stories.
» Story One - Powerful Moments
» Story Two - Gastric Banding
» Story Three - Relationship with Exercise
Keeping a food diary was a revelation to me. I discovered a lot about what I ate and when. The biggest surprise was that I frequently went as long as 6 hours without food on work days. I thought I ate all the time. It told me a lot about my complex relationship with food. Discussing the diary contents with Tania made me consider where my ideas about food had come from. It was at least as much about emotions and insecurity as it was about food.
I still keep the diary from time to time. It is a useful tool for finding out what's happening with your life and how you are coping with food. Last time I realised that I was not eating as much protein as I should be.
Just being aware of what you are eating leads to changes. I think the links between my emotions and what I eat are less obvious, but not gone.
I clearly recall going to the supermarket on the way home after an early session with Tania, I saw it in a new light. Tania had questioned why it was ok to spend a couple of pound on chocolate or something which was not necessarily good for me, but it is not ok to spend a similar amount on real food such as fruit. My homework was to try new foods. The supermarket was suddenly Aladdin's Cave. This is something I still do sometimes and it is an idea I've shared with my friends.
I grew up in a sweet shop with a father who didn't know how to say "no" when it came to sweets. That was the beginning of my becoming a choc-o-holic. When I was angry, I ate Chocolate (swallowed my anger). When I was tired, I ate chocolate (never asked if it helped), when I was upset, I ate chocolate, (it didn't make me happier). When I was on a diet, I craved chocolate. Tania said I could have as much chocolate as I liked as long as I threw ½ of what I bought in the bin. The effect was immediate; I no longer bought a big bar because wasting food was against my instincts. I bought smaller bars of better quality chocolate. The better the quality of chocolate you buy the less you want. That was the start and gradually over a period of time, my connection with chocolate was broken.
That is not to say that if I was left in a room with an open bag of chocolates, I would resist, but I would try to avoid that situation and I certainly would not buy them. I buy occasional bars of high cocoa content (85%) good quality chocolate and savour it. I share it happily and it can sit in my fridge for days at a time while I've forgotten about it.
I'm not sure if it was related to the chocolate exercise or to the fact that I would eat leftovers etc. But Tania asked whether it was better to put food in the bin or on my backside. Obvious answer! I don't know why it had never occurred to me.
On Tania's recommendation, I saw an image consultant which is still hard to believe. My evening with the image consultant was a wonderful experience; she showed me how to make the best of myself. We discussed clothes, colours, make up etc. She showed me a new way to be, to value myself and my image. Why buying red clothes just because they were on sale and fitted me was not necessarily the best way forward. Prior to seeing the image consultant those really were my priorities when buying clothes - price and fit. Now I consider whether I actually want something, whether it will go with other garments in my wardrobe, whether it will suit me and still of course whether it fits. I now allow myself to spend a bit more on selected items which I feel I need. I will arrange for my daughters to see her as I think the experience made me aware that our choices are important when choosing clothes etc. And it made me more confident.
Suddenly when I read one of the books Tania recommended to me, my world made sense, I was not alone. A very powerful pre-Tania is of a colleague saying "if people only ever ate when they were hungry, they would never get fat." I knew this was not true; I used to be starving all the time, actual hunger sensations in the stomach not just in the mind. I would wake up in the night hungry. I didn't eat in the night, but I was in no doubt that what I felt was hunger. On another occasion pre Tania I can remember being hungry on a journey and eating a bit of chocolate, a few minutes later whilst still on the journey, I could barely stay awake. The book made sense of all of this and why I was different to other people. I have now purchased 5 copies of this book and pass it on to people to whom I think it will be relevant, some of whom return it. I only have one copy in the house - it is very popular.
The circle of excellence has been useful:- on occasion I have transported myself to a different and much nicer place. I even shared the idea recently with my stepfather who is very ill and my mum who has been spending a lot of time at his bedside.
Two of Tania's mantras are "food is fuel" and "white refined and dangerous". This first is a good reminder; you wouldn't expect your car to perform well on poor quality fuel or on an empty tank. The second pops into your head when considering what options to choose, you know highly refined carbohydrates will upset the balance. This becomes increasingly apparent as you make progress towards a healthy lifestyle. I have always had issues with fizzy cola drinks. For years I thought sugar-free cola was a godsend because it was calorie free. I drank at least 2 litres a day for many years. Then I found out how bad Aspartame is and had a very trying time. Catch 22, I couldn't drink them because of the Aspartame and I couldn't drink "fat" fizzy cola drinks because of the calories. The world had ended! I now drink water (sometimes fizzy) on its own or with orange juice. My cola drinks mantra is not polite, I look at cola drinks and think "S*** and sugar". Otherwise cola drinks will be my Nemesis.
Visualisation is another powerful tool Tania has taught me to use. Picturing someone with spinach in her teeth whilst on another level holding a serious conversation with them is very empowering.
There are foods which I simply don't have in the hose e.g. crisp multi- packs; I don't feel obliged to have them "in" for the benefit of others. If it's food that might niggle at me if it were in the house I just don't buy it and ask others not to bring it unless it is for their own immediate consumption.
I feel like all the choices are with me, I have a choice! I have no sense of deprivation - none. After a lifetime of intermittent abstinence (feeling deprived was combined with a feeling of Virtue).
I don't miss it.
I realise now that over eating was a way of sabotaging my self. I'm not sure what I was afraid of, but as long as I ate I could avoid confronting my fears.
In retrospect I can see that I was quite depressed. A lifetime of yoyo dieting had left me 19 stone + and still climbing. The more extreme the weight loss, the more rapid and extreme the consequent weight gain. The last diet I had undertaken was _________ and I did indeed loose 3 stone in 3 months! When I came off the diet I was unwell with symptoms which included seizures. I put on 4 stone in 5 months which I hadn't even realised was possible. I really did not know where to turn. Then I saw an article about Tania Blom in the Bristol Evening Post. I cut it out and considered it for a while before contacting Tania - then my life changed.
I am a much, much happier, more creative and well balanced individual. I am more resourceful and my priorities in life generally have changed. I am able to say "What about me?" without feeling a need to justify myself. I am more centred and need time and space just as much as other people in my life. I am fitter than I have ever been in my adult life and my energy levels are more consistent than before. No more Boom and Bust.
Tania has given me the opportunity and means to change what I choose to change.
One of the biggest and most unforeseen outcomes has been the changes brought about in my children. I have 3 adult daughters all of whom are similar to me in some respects with regard to food. As they have seen the changes in my life they have taken greater interest in the changes that I have made. They in turn have become aware of their relationship with food and made changes. My grandson has been born into the new regime and is under the impression that having a kiwifruit or a pear is a serious treat. He prefers home cooked soup to chips and had no interest whatever in white bread.
I've had to be open to new ideas; some things we have worked on have been counterintuitive.
My entire life I have felt like 2 different people living within one body. Although at points in my life I have been so overweight that I actually physically resembled two people in one body! I refer mostly here to the two separate women that have always seemed to battle within me...the shy, lonely fat girl on the exterior and the thin women on the inside who would never be quiet until she could get out and show the world how great she is.
I my search for the answers I have had to go right back to the beginning. I think my weight problems started even before I was born. As far back as I can remember I have always played the role of the fat girl, throughout my childhood I would grow in all directions whilst my brothers and friends just grew taller. I have been through countless diets that didn’t work and have gained and lost and lost and gained a total of approximately 25 stones since my first serious attempt at ‘dieting’ at the age of 14. The bottom line is that for the majority of my entire teenage and adult life I was lost and trapped in the lonely prison of an overweight body.
Eventually at age 28 after a gruelling year of the most punishing and traumatic weight loss programme that I had ever had the bad sense to put myself through, I finally reached the magic number on the scales (whatever that was) I was thin and for the first time in my adult life and acceptable to the outside world. For the first time since I was 15 I saw a glimpse in the mirror of that girl that I had been trying to get out. The fat girl was gone and I should have been happy......but I wasn’t and didn’t know why.
It was at this point in my life that I first met Tania Blom and as I look back now I can see that this was also the greatest turning point in my life. Tania is an outstanding and gifted therapist who has helped me more that I can ever put into words. I began my therapy with her 3 years ago now and I am grateful everyday that she was brought into my life as I always knew deep down I would need more help and support to conquer my demons than either I or my family and friends knew how to give. I felt very resistant at first to my therapy sessions and found it difficult to open up and allow myself to feel any emotion. I was such an expert at burying my feelings deep within and switching off to my pain that I think I was afraid that they might me too much for me to bear if I allowed myself to acknowledge them fully.
I knew for me I would have to something dramatic to shake myself awake and force myself to change. On September 13 2006, 8 months later, I had gastric band surgery. This was the first day of the rest of my life and a step which I wish I had taken long before but one that I know I was not fully ready for until that time.
When I decided to have weight loss surgery, I made a conscious and serious decision to change myself on the outside. But what I didn’t fully understand at the time was that I also had to change how I felt on the inside, to cope with the scars that no one else could see, but that I could feel deep down to my bones. The wounds that lurked deep inside of me, as if they had been waiting my whole life for me to loose weight so I could find them underneath that protective layer. The enormity of this task I have found at times overwhelming.
The band is a fantastic tool that has helped me to loose weight in a controlled and steady way but it is still me who has to put the work in, the band will not just loose weight on it’s own, I still have to take responsibility for eating healthily and exercising (which I struggle with at times but weirdly am starting to want to do more and more of!)
Without the emotional support that I have had through my therapy with Tania along side I have no doubt that my gastric band operation would not have been the success story that it is so far, I have learned that the most important transformation on my weight loss journey is that of my mind and not my body.
My physical transformation is now undeniably starting to take shape, I feel like I am being reborn yet six stones lighter and 3 years of therapy later and I am still peeling away my layers. The transformation from having the surgery is only 25 percent physical - 75 percent of it is emotional and that is the hardest part. For all the times in my life that I have thought "If I could just loose the weight, then my life will be perfect" I am now learning the true meaning of what it takes to transform myself into the thin girl that I know has always been inside of me.
I can no longer use my fat as a barrier to stop everyone else from seeing my pain, losing the weight means I have to get rid of my emotional issues too, to navigate the scary unfamiliar territory of the deepest darkest parts of my mind where lie the emotional hurts that I have carried for the last 30 years.
Along my journey I have hit many bumps in the road, and it has been the ones that I wasn’t expecting to come along that have hit me hardest. After loosing half my weight I have struggled with a real identity crisis, I was so fixated on reaching my goal weight and was feeling more confident than ever that I am going to get there but then suddenly I began sabotaging all my hard work without even recognising what I was doing.
It took a while for it to register but slowly I realised why I was slipping off the rails. Although the fat me is now becoming a distant memory and I can’t relate to her anymore I have found it just as difficult to relate to the thin person who is emerging from within me. I can no longer remember being a big as I once was but neither can I quite imagine what my life will be like once all the weight is gone. I don’t yet fully recognise the person I am becoming and I have discovered I feel even more vulnerable without all my fat to hide behind.
When it comes to weight loss I realised I just felt numb, I am so used to the disappointment of failing that I no longer have a fear of it because I never really thought I would succeed. But with my weight loss surgery I know that this time I am going to make it and it now seems that perhaps I have developed a fear of success. What if I loose what I’ve achieved? Do I deserve it? And how will I feel once I get there? These are some of the questions that Tania is helping me find the answers to.
After 30 years of wanting a thinner body the reality of actually seeing the transformation take place in the mirror is a very surreal experience, and it takes a lot of time and practice to learn to live in your new skin (or should I say my old saggy skin, but that’s a whole other story!)
The emotional wounds I have collected along my journey have affected me so deeply that I sometimes wonder if they will ever fully heal...I think some will not but I know that they will fade enough so that they will no longer hold me back from living my life. The fat girl I once was will always live somewhere inside my head but I cannot ever hate or regret her as she is to thank for making me the stronger more determined woman I am proud of becoming today. I just need to root the belief that I deserve to become the thin girl before I can actually be her...a concept which I think my brain finally seems to be grasping!
Each pound I loose gets me closer to the core of who I truly am and with Tania I am learning to really get to know that person. As a thinner person I still have most of the same problems I had before my surgery, I still have a childhood that wasn’t perfect, I still have body image issues, I still get sad, stressed and scared but I can’t use food as a cure for my pain anymore. I have to turn inward and really take a look at my life.
I am learning that if I want to be a happy, healthy thin person (which I fully intend to be) then I need to shed my emotional bad habits too and this I have found to be a far tougher task that getting rid of the pounds and one which is also far more difficult to measure. I chart my success so far by the smile on my face when I wake up in the morning, the amount of happy days I have compared to the sad and the reassuring feeling of optimism and positivity that I can feel growing inside me.
Weight loss is about mentally preparing yourself to let go far of more than just the weight. Much more importantly you need to let go of all the other emotional issues that block you off from life and learn to live in the present. Stripping away these layers along with the pounds has been the most difficult and scary part of my weight loss journey by far. I am only grateful that I have not had to do it alone. Tania has truly been my voice in the dark, she always seems to know what is coming before I do and catches me before I trip myself up.
The journey continues...
A consultant at the thyroid clinic at the hospital once said to me I would never lose weight unless I changed my muscle/fat ratio. She may have been right and well intentioned but she did not tell me how to do it. I had started swimming 3 times a week before seeing Tania. My husband who had been concerned about my welfare for some time had taken me on a tour of a gym and offered to pay my membership. The tour terrified me and confirmed my worst suspicions; gyms were full of size 8 women who did not mind the world seeing them naked. I declined the offer.
Tania introduced me to the gym in a much more cautious way. The first couple of times, she came and stayed with me, then she came and left before me. I had a nice young personal trainer who was very encouraging and patient. I remember clearly going on the treadmill for two minutes and having two minutes to rest and recover, this was built up over a period of weeks, but to me the gym was a chore and remained a necessary evil for some time despite the lovely showers. Then Tania introduced me to a new personal trainer and a new world opened up for me. He introduced variety, patterns of training, progress you could notice physically and not just by minutes endured on the treadmill. I think for me since I met him, he has been as important as Tania. He has been very positive, encouraging, aware of my limitations, but not afraid to push me. I joined the local gym which was a huge step for me, not only did I join, but I go! I now love going to the gym; I miss it when I can’t get there. I have joined his running club two summers running.
I still swim and go to the gym at least three times a week. Not because I have to, but because I want to. I also have joined a belly dancing class.
The most important thing seeing Tania has done for me is to let me see I have a choice. I have changed my behaviour. Where I had given up I have taken back control.
I think less about my weight than ever and more about looking after myself. Tania has given me an insight into why dieting hasn't worked for me (30 years of yo-yo dieting).
The healthy weight range widely used by doctors is based on a measurement known as the body mass index (BMI).