Only Women Bleed / Weigh-In

FYI: THIS POST IS ONE GREAT BIG TMI…Y’ALL HAVE BEEN WARNED!

Okay, so let me just start off this post by acknowledging the fact that the song featured here today doesn’t in fact have anything to do with “Shark Week” (or “Shark Fortnight” as it’s become round these parts) and I know it pisses Alice Cooper off that so many people make that incorrect connection between the song and the subject matter but a/ it’s a good song and b/ I’m too crabby to care about actual relevance right now.

I think it was Roy Chubby Brown who first joked about not trusting anyone who bleeds for 5 days and doesn’t die. Well, he’d probably be denouncing me as a witch or something right now, because this month’s little “visitation” is already more than double that. And the predictably depressing corollary of that is a further “gain” on the scale, despite me not only having remained 100% on plan, but also having eaten half as much as I normally would over the past 7 days. I probably jinxed myself in last Monday’s post by saying how grateful I was to only see 1lb of “ghost-gain” when I weighed in, because here I am 7 days later and that “ghost-gain” has increased by another 2 whole fricking pounds!

And that’s a better number than it was saying yesterday, lol. I don’t normally weigh myself on a daily basis, but whenever “Aunt Flo” is in town, I totally hop on the scale to see what damage she’s been wreaking on my poor body every morning, as soon as I get up. Some months are worse than others (previous months that have fallen in such a way as to make it look as though my period has had no effect on my weight, definitely made months like this one feel way more hideous, I know that much) but this month was particularly bad. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before but because of my having sporadically really heavy periods, I’m prescribed Mefenamic Acid by my GP. I’m supposed to take them as soon as I start cramping before a period starts, every day until it ends; but I react really badly to Mefenamic Acid and it makes me violently sick. To counter that I’m also prescribed Omeprazole.

Sounds fine right? Well no, not really. I’m also prescribed Co-Codamol and Diazepam for my arthritis and fibromyalgia (among a bunch of other things, lol) and Omeprazole is not only contraindicated with Diazepam (so I have to halve my dose of Diazepam while taking Omeprazole) but it can also cause constipation…which is then exacerbated by the Co-Codamol and the lowering of my Diazepam dose. Which is a really long-winded way of explaining to y’all that not only am I bloated from hormonal water-retention, but I also haven’t been able to take a shit in about 3 days.

Yeah, we’ve been here before and yes I know how to normally prevent or relieve constipation, but right now I’m so nauseated (something that happens every time I get my period) that I simply cannot countenance the idea of eating anything or drinking any more water than the bit I take with my medication. Which in itself is only contributing to the problem, I know, but I have to be careful not to throw up because then I don’t know whether or not any of my regular medications have been absorbed into my system – and I can’t just take another dose in case I end up double-dosing. This month I took the Mefenamic Acid as soon as I started to get those cramps, but I stopped taking it when it looked like this “visitation” was tapering off, because I figured everything was just about done for the month.

Yeah…no…didn’t quite work out like that. Because the very next day “Aunt Flo” came back with a vengeance and has now been FAR outstaying her welcome for the past few days. With that has come all the nausea again, so I just haven’t been eating much at all. I can really only manage a few bites of a really dry protein bar with my meds – which I know is exacerbating the constipation – and because I’m back taking the Omeprazole too, that’s also making that joyful little side effect even worse. My tits are back to feeling like giant throbbing rocks of agony to the point where I can’t even wear an underwired bra and my abdomen is so noticeably swollen, I’m starting to look pregnant. Oh and on top of all that, the fibro is also playing up too, because why the fuck not?

Seriously, the “ghost-gain” is literally the least of my concerns right now, because I know that it’s not real “fat-gain” (yesterday the scale said I was 15 stone 3lb which is 5lb heavier than I was before “The Communists Started Squatting In The Neighbourhood And Kicking My Arse From The Inside Out” and today it’s saying I’m 15 stone 1lb, which is better I guess, but still absolute bullshit, lol). I’m barely eating, I’m certainly not eating “off-plan” and yet “Mother Nature” has decided to just mock me with her hormonal tricks that have just about sucked the life out of me. I can’t take a laxative because they will interfere with the Mefenamic Acid and Omeprazole…and I really need to keep taking those in order to get this goddamn haemorrhaging to stop. And I’m trying to cut down on the amount of pain relief and Diazepam I’m taking in order to help with the constipation, but I’m in so much pain right now I simply can’t not take any of it.

So I’m completely stuck in this weird situation where all I can do is wait it out, because if I stop taking the Mefenamic Acid and Omeproazole, my period will just carry on indefinitely (which will mean perpetual bloat), I can’t eat a load of veg because I’m already backed up and permanently nauseated (I can’t let myself vomit because of all the other meds I take) and I can’t take a laxative because it will affect the absorption of said meds. I am literally and metaphorically stuck in a bind. It’s all I can do to try and laugh, by finding the humour in the whole ridiculous farce and revisit Uncle Marc on the daily, to try and stay sane throughout all this. Not that Aurelius wrote any meditations specifically on being constipated, but a little bit of stoicism does wonders for one’s mental fortitude!

So yeah, I still have my sense of humour folks, so don’t be feeling sorry for me. This is just life with a pre-menopausal woman whose body likes to remind her who’s in charge of this decrepit carcass from time to time. And the fact that I stay so completely “on-plan” 100% of the time means I never need worry that any of these “ghost-gains” on the scale are anything other than hormonal bloat (and being constipated, lol). It might be annoying but it isn’t anything new and I know it’s not the result of me choosing to eat a load of crappy carbs. And who knows what the scale is going to say tomorrow? For all I know it might show an even bigger number! It really wouldn’t surprise me because my engagement ring has become really tight just in the past few hours so I may well be retaining even more water than I was when I woke up and weighed myself. Meh!

I was initially going to wait until tomorrow to report on my weigh-in, because it didn’t feel like a real weight worth recording considering the circumstances. But then I realised that a/ tomorrow might well be worse, lol and b/ this whole hormonal cycle is just another part of the reality of having a body that I’m trying to change. There’s no shame in being held hostage by “Aunt Flo” because none of this is down to bad choices, it’s just the result of my having an annoying cycle and still needing to take a bunch of meds that don’t necessarily help matters. So I’m going to update the ‘Fat Stats’ page to reflect what the scale says today, but I’m not going to alter the figures in the side-bar because that just shows the number of pounds I’ve lost overall. Hopefully this time next week things will be back to normal (fingers crossed!) and until then I’m just going to try and be patient, maybe do some abdominal massage and let nature take its course.

In the mean-time, I hope that y’all are doing well wherever you are in the world and until next time, I shall bid you adieu.

Keep smiling folks

Blue

Give Me Something For The Pain

“Give me something for the pain, Give me something for the blues 
Give me something for the pain when I feel I’ve been danglin’ from a hang-man’s noose
Give me something I can use
To get me through the night
Make me feel all right”

It’s about 3.30am where I am now and I’ve just gotten up from a 23hr sleep. Every part of my body is ringing with nerve pain and the diazepam and pain meds are just starting to take the edge off of it. I’m exhausted and all I really want to do is crawl back into my bed again. But I thought I’d log on for a bit and write about how I’m thinking and how I’m feeling during one of these “Long Dark Tea-Times Of The Soul“. Because this is the reality of living with a chronic condition; of living with chronic pain that flares up any time it feels like it – or in this instance, after I’ve spent a day over-exerting myself.

“So why do you over-exert yourself when you know what it does to you Blue? Sounds kinda dumb, even for you!”

Well, sure. I could just sit on my arse and do nothing every day, but I’d still have flare ups. And besides, I’m not dead yet. I still have a life that I need to get on with; things I need to do for myself; a partner who I need to be there for. I’m not about to just throw in the towel and give up any semblance of normality and independence that I can still muster, just to avoid the days like today when my entire body feels as though it’s pierced right through and enmeshed within a web of barbed wire. Life is all about trade-offs. It’s about the choices we make every moment of every day and the subsequent benefits or repercussions those choices bring about. As cold and unemotional as it sounds, we’re always rationalising our decisions, doing immediate ‘cost-benefit analyses’ – often without even realising it. But I’m always hyper-aware of the effects that my decisions will have on my body, and despite knowing how much something is going to end up hurting me, I have to weigh up the pros and cons and choose what is worth doing right now in the moment, fully understanding just how much I’m going to end up paying for that choice later on.

So sometimes I just have to choose to accept that more pain is going to come, if I’m to have any life at all. And I’m sort of okay with that. Obviously I hate that this is a trade-off that I have to accept: pain for life. And I really fucking hate the fact that I have these horrible conditions in the first place. But I’ve learned to live with it and also to really understand and appreciate just how beautiful and valuable life is. There’s a reassuring pleasure to be found in the mundanity of everyday life, that we rarely see any worth in until that everyday existence is threatened. As someone with a curious mind and need for constant stimulation, I struggle with the notion of just “being” – I’ve written before about how I will never be someone who can just sit and empty their mind or meditate – and I’ve spent my life always looking for ways to keep myself occupied. But suddenly finding yourself unable to pursue all the activities that one has previously taken for granted, really causes a person to stop and take stock of all the little things that make life worth living.

We often hear about people who upon receiving a terminal illness diagnosis, immediately find a real zest for life and become determined to make their last days on earth really count. It’s sad that it takes something as horrific and final as one’s impending death to make us really appreciate every day for the gift it truly is. But it’s also completely normal and understandable. Life is a chaotic blend of good and bad; of the exciting and the boring; of the sacred and the profane. And it’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day grind of working, providing for our families and caring for those we love. We choose our little battles and focus on our goals and with only so many hours in the day, it’s easy to forget about stopping to “smell the roses” from time to time. Nobody really likes to think about the inevitability of their own mortality, so we just keep on keeping on. Always moving forwards, rarely pausing to think about what it’s all for, all this effort of doing, striving and struggling to get…somewhere. Until that is, something happens like a terminal diagnosis – of ourselves or someone close to us – that forces us to get up close and personal with just how fragile, brief and valuable our time on this planet actually is.

Yeah, I know I sound like some hippy-dippy, new-age spiritualist right now, but bear with me okay? I don’t have a terminal illness, but I do have chronic conditions that will only get progressively worse as time goes by. I’m never not going to have arthritis and fibromyalgia, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do everything within my power to stop these conditions from worsening more than they would if I just accepted my fate and did nothing. Which is why I decided to lose weight and improve my health in the first place. In a way I’ve actually been luckier than a lot of people because the little push that caused me to re-evaluate my life choices wasn’t a terminal diagnosis with an immediate end in sight; it was something far less serious that gave me enough pause to start making better choices every day. And I’m weirdly grateful for that. Because who knows just how much more damage I could have done to my body before I found any real reason to do anything about it? It feels like I skated really close to the edge of somewhere really dangerous, only to be brought back from the brink by forces beyond my control or comprehension.

And on top of that, learning to live with a chronic illness has also made me really value life in all its crazy shades and hues, for the amazing gift it really is. Pain does things to a person. It jolts us to a level of awareness that just isn’t there during our more comfortable moments. When we’re experiencing pain, we’re very much living in the moment, as awful as it might be. It’s almost impossible to think beyond the agony and how to get through the next few minutes, but once that pain begins to relent (as mine is doing right now) it’s like we’ve been delivered from evil and born again into a place where everything is so much brighter.

I’m speaking purely from personal experience here, so don’t any of y’all come at with the ways in which I’ve gotten it all wrong because your experience differs wildly from that which I’ve written about here. Of course this is a personal, subjective reflection; none of us can ever actually know how another person experiences pain or the absolute levels of hell it visits upon each and every one of us. I’m not trying to write a definitive treatise on pain or even view it objectively. Far smarter men than I have written far more insightfully on the subject (that Jung quote above really resonates with me on a literal and metaphorical level – everyone should read a bit of Jung if they want to get a better understanding of themselves!) I’m just…heck, what am I doing? I’m writing about all this because I’m feeling like crap and I need an outlet and I guess this place is as good as any. When I write things down it helps me to clarify my own thoughts and whilst this post isn’t really anything to do with weight-loss, it’s as much a part of my life as anything else I discuss on this blog. If you’re looking a really brilliant and impactful book on the subject, I’d highly recommend “In The Land Of Pain – Alphonse Daudet”. Really more of a collection of notes and scribblings it chronicles the hellish descent into agonising madness by a man suffering with syphilis. It’s only a very short book (about 120 pages) and whist being immediately readable and relatable, the descriptive writing is both viscerally tragic and eerily beautiful.

But getting back to what I was trying to say about the positives that can be gleaned from experiencing a chronic illness, whilst I still do hate being beset with these frustrating conditions, having sat and thought on my own situation long and hard, there really is a silver lining to what initially looks like one great big mofo of a cloud. Yes it makes life difficult because I really have to plan out everything I do on the understanding that I will suffer later for anything that causes me to push myself a little further than my body is comfortable. And yes, it’s infuriating to know that there are some things that I simply cannot do. But I’ve also found a new appreciation of not just the moments when I’m enjoying getting to do the things which end up hurting me (I’m not a masochist, I swear, lol!) but of the times when the pain recedes and my joints aren’t as seized up and I can just “be” – in whatever banal, mundane moment that might be. And I’ve never had that before. I’m not saying y’all will ever find me sitting in the lotus position, surrounded by joss-sticks, chanting “Om!” (as if, lol) but those times when I’m wracked with pain, unable to do anything other than make it through the next few minutes, make all those other times when the pain relents and becomes the normal hum of background pain that I pretty much always have, so much sweeter.

In order to know happiness, we really need to know what it is not to be happy. It’s that contrast in experience which gives happiness so much value. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have lived a life mostly free from sadness. I’ve had injuries and illnesses like everyone and experienced the normal losses of family members and pets that we all go through. But I’ve largely been able to do whatever I wanted to, safe in the knowledge that anything I chose to really pursue would be utterly attainable. I’ve had mad experiences, worked like a demon, wasted a bunch of time on nonsense and gotten to my middle-age relatively unscathed. But it took developing a chronic condition to actually make me truly understand how much their is to love and appreciate about life. Would I take the magic pill and have my illnesses cured in an instant if such a thing were to exist? Well yeah, duh. I’m grateful, not stupid. Who wouldn’t want to be able to avoid the agony of a grotesquely gnarled body, all twisted up in contorted pain?

But I wouldn’t want to unlearn the lessons that all this has taught me. I’ve really begun to see value in the everyday and the mundane. I still want to find things to keep my mind occupied when I’m stuck in the house, but I’ve developed an appreciation for all those times when I’m not enduring a flare-up or suffering after a day of over-exerting myself. Being in pain has made me appreciate not being in pain – or just experiencing the low-level background of pain which I’ve pretty much gotten used to. And sitting here now as the first twitterings of birds waking up are coming in through the open window, I’m feeling a little better than I did when I started writing this meandering waffle of a post. My arms and torso are still throbbing (because in my sillier moments on Thursday I decided to do some push-ups in the hallway with my other half…yeah, I know, I’m an idiot, sue me) but the muscles in my leg have stopped spasming and the needling pain in my feet has mostly abated. It’s a cool Saturday morning and I’ve got books to read, YouTube videos to catch-up with and some laundry that needs to be done.

I’m obviously not going to be overdoing things today, but things are already looking brighter than they were a couple of hours ago (it’s now about 5am here in the UK). I’m looking forward to spending the day with my other half and seeing all the sparrows and crows and blackbirds as they come to feed on the smorgasbord of comestibles that I’m about to put out for them for breakfast. I’m going to be sore and stiff for the rest of the day, but today is going to be a good day, I know that much. So what was the point to this post? Well, it really just started out as a means of catharsis for me. I needed an outlet to distract me a little bit as my meds kicked in and figured I’d share the way I was feeling with you guys, because why not? But I guess the underlying take-away from everything I’ve talked about today is that whilst it’s important to set goals and strive to achieve them, never lose sight of what’s going on around you while you work hard at whatever it is that you want to succeed at. We only get one life, so enjoy as much of it while you can. Take the rough with the smooth and be truly grateful for every minute you get to live on this planet. And no matter how shitty and difficult things might get from time to time, appreciate what you have and every now and now again, maybe stop to smell the roses.

Stay grateful folks

Blue

Baggy Trousers / Weekly Weigh-In

Other Half: “Babe, are you wearing joggers??!”

Me: “What? No. I don’t wear joggers babe.”

OH: “Those are joggers!”

Me: “BABE I DON’T EVEN OWN A PAIR OF JOGGERS RIGHT NOW!”

OH: *Points at my legs* “How are those NOT joggers?!”

Me: “Because….oh…yeah, ha ha…sorry.”

Don’t even pretend like y’all don’t find yourself having the same ridiculous discussions with your other half from time to time, because we all do, lol. And let me just start off by clearing up the fact that I was not, in fact, wearing joggers!

Do people outside of the UK even know what joggers are? I mean of course you do, you probably just call them something else. If I lived in the north of England I’d probably call them ‘trackies’ (short for tracksuit bottoms) but I don’t know what the rest of you call them. Sweat-pants? Just to help elucidate the matter, here is a picture of what I refer to as ‘joggers’:

Joggers, trackies, whatever you call them, I don’t currently own a pair of them. I am not “jogger-averse”, lol, I just tend to prefer wearing jeans or bootcut trousers when I go out and leggings when I’m lounging around the house. I will probably buy a couple of pairs when I start doing a bit more exercise, but right now I own no joggers. So what was the above conversation with my other half all about then? Well, him being the eagle-eyed fashion critic that he is, noticed me wearing some baggy black trousers and felt the need to comment on them because he hadn’t seen me wearing them before. Not because he particularly cares but because when you live with someone for a while, you kind of notice everything about them…and anything new about them. And because couples have as many banal conversations as they do deep ones on a daily basis, lol.

Like most people we’re both in the regular habit of sporting what I like to call “Lockdown Chic” right now: “that almost-but-not-quite-but-still-as-close-as-you-can-get-to-just-wearing-pajamas-whilst-still-attempting-to-make-even-the-teensiest-effort-at-appearing-properly-dressed-should-the-mailman-call” combo of whatever is comfy enough to wear around the house, but not what you’d wear to bed. You know what I mean. The other half refers to his preferred version of this outfit as his “lurking gear” – which always makes me laugh because it makes him sound like some kind of creepy old man. I call mine my “slothing gear”, which probably doesn’t sound any better, lol.

“But what about the joggers, Blue?”

I hear absolutely no one asking – because literally who cares, right? Well I do; because as I’ve already stated: I own no joggers! So what gives? Well, my “slothing gear” as it turns out. Because there’s definitely a lot of “give” in them right now. You see, what my other half had mistakenly thought to be joggers, were in fact leggings. Leggings that are now so big on me that they’re baggy enough to look like a pair of joggers! Yes, really. These leggings are a UK size 20 (US size 18, AUS size 22, EUR size 48) and they fit like regular old leggings when I bought them: stretchy but a perfect fit to the size my legs were a few months ago. I love these leggings. They only cost me about £5 a pair and I bought 5 pairs of them at the same time because I just wanted something cheap and comfy for wearing around the house. I think that was back in October or maybe September, I can’t remember exactly (because time has no meaning in these here plague times) but I know I was really pleasantly surprised at the quality of them for the price – no ‘LuLuLemon’ arse-flashing moments of embarrassment any time I bend over, that’s for sure!

And I’ve just been continuing to wear them throughout pandemic times, not really paying any attention to how well they fit me, because it’s not like I’ve got many people to impress with my fashion choices right now. The thing with losing weight is, you don’t really notice it in yourself when you look in mirror every day. The changes are gradual and it takes something like trying on an outfit that didn’t fit you before, or seeing some new photos of yourself next to old photos, for those changes to really resonate with you. Wearing these leggings every day is a lot like being in my own skin every day. I wasn’t noticing them getting progressively bigger on me because it was happening gradually, along with my weight loss. It took my other half seeing them on me and mistaking them for joggers, for me to really realise that they really don’t fit me anymore. If it wasn’t for them having a good elasticated waist, they’d have fallen off me long ago – and now that I’ve stopped to look at them properly, they’re already slackly, slipping down my much-smaller arse!

It’s just such a weird thing to experience when I’ve previously only ever thought to go UP a size anytime something started to get a bit too tight on me. This is a whole other thing to have to worry about, because not only am I shrinking, but I also have no idea what size I really am. And I can’t just go into a clothes shop and try on a bunch of sizes, because this stupid, bloody lockdown crap has all the clothes shop closed down because they’re deemed “non-essential”. Yeah, okay, but my shrinking (yet still fat) arse would like to beg to differ y’all. MY LEGGINGS LOOK LIKE JOGGERS AND I’M IN DANGER OF BEING ARRESTED FORPUBLIC INDECENCY! Lol.

So yeah…that’s been my little “WTF?” moment this week. How’ve the rest of you been? Losing steadily and making continued good choices I hope. This week’s weigh-in is brought to you by “Aunt Flo”, “Mother Nature” and “The Communists Who Are Currently Squatting In The Neighborhood And Kicking My Arse From The Inside Out”. Yes, it’s that time again folks. Yes, already. Yes it only feels like I was having to deal with all this bollocks only a week ago, but as I mentioned earlier, time has no meaning here anymore. Days are just a reason to reset my diurnal 20g carb allowance, and weeks are how we try to keep track of our regular grocery hauls. Reminds me of that poem ‘Burnt Norton’ by T.S. Eliot now I think about it:

Time present and time past
Are both perhaps present in time future,
And time future contained in time past.
If all time is eternally present
All time is unredeemable.
What might have been is an abstraction
Remaining a perpetual possibility
Only in a world of speculation.
What might have been and what has been
Point to one end, which is always present.
Footfalls echo in the memory
Down the passage which we did not take
Towards the door we never opened
Into the rose-garden…

But anyway, getting back to the weigh-in results this week, “What Are The Scores, George Dawes?” (Props to those of you who know what the heck I’m talking about!)

Okay so last week I had broken through the 15 stone milestone and weighed in a 14 stone 12lb (208lb). This week, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, the scale showed a small gain reading at 14 stone 13lb (209lb). So, “Shark Week” has bestowed me with a 1lb gain of bloat (or “ghost-gain” as I sometimes refer to it) which is really neither here nor there. I never worry at all about the temporary gains that happen during this time of the month because I know it’s not a fat-gain, merely the extra water I’m retaining while my body goes through this week (or sometimes fortnight) of hormonal nonsense. And considering how big and bloated I’m feeling right now, I’m surprised it’s only showing a 1lb gain this week. My boobs are absolutely killing me and my abdomen is so noticeably swollen, I’m really glad that those leggings have got a good bit of give in them, lol!

As always I’ve remained 100% on plan all week, so I know that I’m still completely on track to carry on losing as normal once “Aunt Flo” gets back on the train to wherever that witch hails from, and I actually have to give a shout out to my friend Stephanie aka ‘The Sorest Loser’ who pointed out something to me which I really should have noticed myself. If you look at my sidebar, it shows you how many days it’s been since I switched to the low-carb way of life. Currently it’s at 177 days and when I mentioned it to Steph, she said

“That’s half a year!”

And I swear, before she said that, I hadn’t actually made the connection. Yes, me, the girl who sits and crunches and the numbers around how far she has to go until she hits ‘x’, ‘y’ and ‘z’ milestones, somehow managed to overlook the big one showing how long I’ve really been at this now. And – don’t laugh – I obviously just had a real brain-fart or moment of number blindness with this – because when she said that, my first thought was:

“Nah, it’s only been about a third of year, hasn’t it?”

Because even I have those odd occasions where the math just doesn’t add up in my poor, addled brain. But in my defence (yes I have one, hear me out, lol) it really doesn’t feel like half a year. It still feels as though I’m brand new and just starting out on my little mission. It’s all still weirdly exciting and interesting and I’ve got motivation coming out the wazoo, y’all. I’ve never once thought that this is in any way unworkable, impossible or something I don’t want to keep on doing. Sure I have those moments of ‘Fear’ but as I’ve mentioned before, that’s always tied into my own issues around unknown variables and externalities that are beyond my control. This way of eating is straight-forward, easy to follow every day, and never feels like something I’ve having to force myself to do for some quick-fix or challenge. This is just how I eat now and (pandemic time distortion aside) that’s why half a year has passed by so quickly, without my noticing. I almost pity the crash-dieters and those making the brief temporary pushes to ‘make it all happen right now!’, because they’ll never truly understand how it feels to find a way to be at peace with their approach to eating, and their relationship with food. They’ll always just be chasing those temporary sprints and spurts of “success”, only to have them all fall by the wayside once they try to return to their “normal” way of eating again.

So a big shout out to to Stephanie for highlighting just how long this has been my new “normal”. “Shark Week” blips mean nothing to me in the grand scheme of things anyway, but when I stop and think about how I’ve now been healing my body for a whole straight 6 months / half a year, it just makes me realise how well I’ve really been doing. Life is good y’all. It’s more than good. It’s great. So I’m going to go take my baggy-trousered, slowly-shrinking arse, off into the kitchen to make me and the other half some nice juicy steak-burgers. I’ll make some additional fries for him, but I’ll be having mine with a maHOOsive pile of Caesar salad – my mouth’s watering just thinking about it, lol. So take care, wherever you are in the world and I’ll catch up with y’all in my next post.

We’re in this health business for the long-haul folks.

So stay sensible

Blue

Freaking The Frick Out

“I am one of those melodramatic fools
Neurotic to the bone, no doubt about it”

Every so often my mind likes to short-circuit itself a bit, just to remind me of who’s really in control. This week was obviously time for my regular mini-meltdown, because I’ve just been way too sane and chill for far too long. And it sorta came out of left-field because everything’s been going really well…a little too well, if you know what I mean? And my brain simply cannot be having that. I’ve already told y’all before that I’m a bit of a control freak and I’m actually really glad that I am. It means that I am responsible for always owning my shit and making things happen. But the downside to this trait (a hot-mess mixture of conscientiousness and neuroticism) means than back when my mental health went a bit awry, this amped up into an extreme form of hyper-vigilance. I never developed OCD, but I would often struggle with ambiguity and when presented with problems to which there were no clear solutions, I would spiral a little into an obsessive quest to know all the contributing factors and predict the most likely resolution.

If that all sounds a bit wild and “out-there” well that’s probably because it is, lol. But bear with me, because I promise it will all make sense soon (no self-respecting hyper-vigilant, control-freak would just leave you hanging like that, bro, lol). Last September when I was about 4 weeks into this new low-carb way of life, I wrote a post called ‘Fear’ in which I explained how I was suddenly feeling about the whole ‘not knowing’ if I was going to be successful in my attempt to lose weight / improve my overall health. And I think a lot of people resonated with the things I wrote about because it’s one of the most popular / liked posts I’ve written on this blog so far; fear and uncertainty surrounding our ability to succeed is obviously something many of us experience when we’re striving to achieve our goals. With me though, my own fear is much more rooted in the unknown. It’s not that I doubt my own ability to do something, more that I struggle with the potentially infinite external factors that I have no way of keeping track of, or even anticipating.

So why am I going back over all of this today when I’ve been quite contentedly plodding along with my low-carb WOE and getting the exact results that I want? Well – now you have to promise not to laugh when I tell you this, because I know (objectively) that what I’m about to say is going to sound a bit silly – it’s all because of what I saw when I weighed myself on Monday. The scale said I’d lost 3lb.

“Um, isn’t that a good thing Blue, you absolute fruitcake?”

Kinda, but not really. You see, you have to look at that “result” from the POV of a lunatic control-freak like me, who hates surprises and just wants thing to go exactly the way I expect them to. It might not sound like a big deal, but I only want to be losing 1-2lb at most every week. I’ve been relaxing into a nice, predictable pace that I feel comfortable with, knowing that I’m doing this sensibly and sustainably. If I maintain on some weeks, I’m totally okay with that because I know that’s something to be expected when embarking upon a weight-loss mission; especially one like mine which is going to take a bit longer than most, because I’ve got more than 100lb to shift (probably closer to 150lb in total, but I’ll adjust my “goal weight” once I’ve hit that initial 100lb loss). I’d factored in ‘maintain’ weeks before even starting down this path. I also prepared myself for weeks where the scale goes back up a notch (even if I do get absolutely outraged at the utter audacity of the scale for telling me I’ve gained, lol). But once the initial bursts of bigger numbers were out of the way and I was settled into a comfortable pace of losing 1-2lb max a week, I didn’t really think about the potential for any weeks where I’d lose more than that again.

Losing 3lb last week really threw me for a loop.

Why is the scale suddenly showing a larger loss at this stage in the game? I’m not doing any weird challenges, or restricting my intake at all. Surely the rate at which I’m losing weight now should be slowing, not increasing? What happened to make me lose that extra pound last week? Yeah, it was around this point where I started to have another mini-meltdown, rooted in ‘Fear’.

  • “If I’m losing more than I’m expecting or hoping, does that mean something’s not right?”
  • “Oh frick, maybe I don’t have as much control over this whole process as I thought!”
  • “If I have no control over how much weight I’m losing each week, what’s to say I’ll even be able to make my goal?”
  • “What if this is the last big drop and after this I’m going to plateau for like, months?”
  • “Does this mean I’m not eating enough?”
  • “How much should I be eating then? I’m already eating to satiety and rarely hungry?”
  • “I thought I was gong to have to start reducing my portion sizes…but now…?”
  • “What if I DO get to goal weight and then I don’t know how to stop?”
  • “How am I going to figure out how to maintain my goal weight without regaining or losing even more?”
  • “Maybe I have cancer!” – Because of course, that’s always where the mind goes to when there’s any suggestion that something might not be right.

Yep, the hyper-vigilance spiral was in full force folks, lol. And before anyone says that I’m overreacting and that weight-loss is never linear blah, blah, blah….I know that. I’m well aware that I’m “overreacting” because that’s just what I do when presented with an anomaly and far too many contributing variables, for me to be able to know what caused it. (I might be a crazy person, but I’m not crazy enough to not know that I’m crazy, y’all!) Something that most people would just easily write off as the human body doing it’s own thing, triggered the part of my brain that deals badly with ambiguity. When I say I’m a control-freak, I don’t mean in the way that I dictate how others behave around me or demand a high degree of compliance from them. It’s entirely internal and I rarely let anyone else know just how much something like this 3lb weight-loss absolutely wrecks me. (The fact that I internalise all this probably played a big part in why I had such a lunatic breakdown – I’m well aware of that.) I can talk about it here though because none of y’all know who I am and it’s more like keeping a journal than actually exposing my weakness for all and sundry to see.

If you met me in real life, you’d think I was a lot more relaxed and easy-going than I really am. Because I know intrinsically that my tendencies are all about my own issues with disorder, unpredictability and the need to know / understand everything that’s going on around me. Obviously my other half knows my crazy ways – and him being genuinely ‘laid-back almost to the point of horizontalization’ is good for me, because it a/ helps me learn to accept a little more “chaos” in my life, and b/ it also means he rarely gets stressed out about anything; including my neuroticism, lol. I know that my dysgenic tendencies aren’t well received by other people, so I try to keep them in check as much as possible (knowing you’re a lunatic is half the battle, amirite?). I can even live with his untidiness, because that’s what I’ve come to expect from him. I’d actually be more freaked out if he suddenly started being more tidy. I only tell y’all all this, so you can get a better idea of who I am and why I flipped out a bit this week.

I know that I cannot have or even expect to have, any control over the actions of others or the way the world goes on around me. And I’ve made my peace with that as best I can. But I still expect to be able to control my own actions and by extension of that, how my body responds to my wanting to lose weight and improve my health. Is that an unreasonable expectation? Well yes and no. Yes because the human body is a sophisticated machine, literally and figuratively with a mind of its own. Forever growing, changing, reacting, processing and overseeing all the necessary logistics required just to keep us alive, there are far too many potential variables involved to ever truly be able to keep track of everything on a conscious level; let alone control the entire incredible thing. But it’s a no too, because we know that are some things we can do to change our bodies and affect our health. We all have to find the right balance between all that so that we can go through life relatively sane and only focusing our attention on the areas that we do have any control over. That’s why the ‘Serenity Prayer’ is such a powerful, effective part of Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve-step programs.

I’m not a remotely religious person, but even I can see the eternal truth and wisdom in those words – even if I do struggle with the ‘acceptance of things I cannot change’ part! The ‘Serenity Prayer’ might have codified by Karl Reinhold Niebuhr in the 1930s, but the message and the wisdom it contains has been around forever. The Stoic ‘Dichotomy of Control’ is simultaneously the most intuitively simple aspect of Stoicism to understand and the most profoundly difficult to practice consistently. The stoic philosopher Epictetus explained the ‘Dichotomy of Control’ in ‘Enchiridion 1’. The intuitively simple part of the ‘Dichotomy of Control’ is the assertion that some things are “up to us” (within our power), and others are “not up to us” (not within our power).

“Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens. Some things are up to us and some things are not up to us. Our opinions are up to us, and our impulses, desires, aversions—in short, whatever is our own doing. Our bodies are not up to us, nor are our possessions, our reputations, or our public offices, or, that is, whatever is not our own doing.”

Enchiridion 1 – Epictetus, 108 AD

Trying to get a handle on the things we can and cannot change – whilst having the wisdom to know the difference – has been an eternal dilemma taxing wiser men than we, throughout the ages. And that’s actually quite comforting in a weird way. I’m not going to try and pretend that I’m a stoic (I’m pretty sure neuroticism is the antithesis of stoicism, lol) but when I was working on getting over my mental breakdown, I started reading a bit about stoicism to try and find a bit of rational, logical guidance that I could try to use any time I had an attack of the crazies. And whilst I’ve really only skimmed over Epictetus (probably not the best thinker to start off with if you’re interested in stoicism) I really enjoyed ‘Meditations’ by Marcus Aurelius. Seriously, don’t be put off by the couple of millennia time difference, Aurelius is eminently readable; ‘Meditations’ is completely accessible to the modern reader and is filled with utterly quotable musings that anyone will find relevant and easy to identify with.

I think the reason it’s so timelessly relatable, is because it was never supposed to be something considered for publication, education or mass distribution. These were the personal writings of a man trying to control his impulses and be the best man he could, at a time when he was Emperor of frickin Rome! His personal struggle with wanting to do what is right, while also understanding his own motivations and behaviours, is something everyone can relate to – even a couple of thousand years down the line. Which is why I’ve started re-reading it recently (annoying enough I can’t find my hard copy, but I’ve got it on my Kindle too thankfully – which is probably a blessing in disguise really, because it allows me to highlight various passages that I can find again later with a quick search.)

And I’m not saying that it’s the cure-all, self-help manual that single-handedly stopped me from spiralling further into the hole of hyper-vigilance (or that just one reading of it will fix your own intrusive thoughts) but it’s definitely helped me to mentally take a step back and just breathe deeply. It’s not a long book and is divided up into 12 chapters – which are referred to as ‘books’ in themselves – so you can dip into it here and there, stopping to sit and think or maybe even journal a bit about what you’ve just read. (And don’t be surprised if you find yourself wanting to underline or highlight every single sentence, because this baby is all-killer-no-filler!)

It’s not that I don’t already know the advice contained in ‘Meditations’, more that I need a little prompting every now and again, to remember what I do know and put it into practice.

“Every moment think steadily as a Roman and a man, to do what thou hast in hand with perfect and simple dignity, and feeling of affection, and freedom, and justice; and to give thyself relief from all other thoughts. And though wilt give thyself relief, if thou doest every act of thy life as if it were the last, laying aside all carelessness and passionate aversion from the commands and discontent with the portion which has been given to thee.”

Book 2: The Meditations Of Marcus Aurelius

It just feels like I’m being calmed down and spoken earnestly to by some avuncular gentleman, wiser in the ways of the world than I could ever aspire to be. Taking a little time out to sit and read ‘Meditations’ was exactly what I needed to help stop me from spiralling further into a haze of hyper-vigilance. Partially because the simple act of reading itself is a very calming way for me to interrupt my crazy thinking anyway, but largely because Uncle Mark (can I call him that? Do you think he’d mind me being so ‘familiar’ with him? Lol.) just helps me to find a way back to my saner, more rational self. Because whilst I’m a somewhat neurotic fruitcake who sometimes feels the need to know all the things, I’m also a very logical thinker and problem solver who values rationality and truth. (When I told y’all I was a ‘walking contradiction in terms’ I wasn’t lying folks!)

If you’ve read anything about the ‘Big Five’ personality traits in psychology, you’ll already know how each person is considered to have a high, medium or low tendency towards extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, conscientiousness and neuroticism. Each trait can have both positive and negative elements, depending on the situations we’re in and the people we’re dealing with, and are interconnected factors which make up our individual, personalities. According to the researchers at the Personality Project, personality is “the coherent pattern of affect, cognition, and desires (goals) as they lead to behaviour” (Revelle, 2013). Meanwhile, the American Psychological Association (APA) defines personality as “individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving” (2017). So of course, it’s entirely possible to rate highly on more than one trait – I guess I’m just a super “extra” kind of person with a really big, complicated personality.

And it’s not like my being conscientious isn’t compatible with a degree of underlying neuroticism. I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to applying myself to tasks that I really care about and actually want to succeed at; being a bit neurotic about the things that are beyond my control might seem unreasonable at times, but it’s definitely understandable when you look at the bigger picture. I’m not naturally extravert, but I’m able to be gregarious and social when needs be; it just exhausts me whenever I have be around lots of people and afterwards need to retreat to the quiet calm and restorative peace of my own company at home. I’m not hugely open to new experiences either, but I will push myself to try things if I think there are some benefits to it. As for agreeableness…yeah, that totally depends on who I’m around. I can be the nicest, most polite and friendly person you’ve ever met, but if I don’t think you’re deserving of my time, pleasantries or good side, I won’t just play nice for nice’s sake. Woe betide the poor unfortunate miscreant who underestimates my feisty side and ends up getting into an argument with me, lol.

As you can probably gather from all that, I’m a mixture of various traits – like everyone – but I’m incredibly self-aware of the aspects of my personality which can sometimes get in the way of my being happy. I know my weaknesses and I’m forever looking for ways to improve on the areas which might not being helping me get where I want to be in life. That’s why I really like the underpinning ethos of stoicism and the writings of Marcus Aurelius. They speak to my rational, logical side and force me to reassess the neurotic side of me which causes me to feel as though things are beyond my control. And that’s what I’ve been trying to tap into this week after that 3lb loss made me feel like things weren’t going the way I wanted them to. Some people who had a weird extra loss might have looked to other weight-loss resources in order to feel better about how things were progressing. But I knew that it wasn’t the loss itself that was the problem – like I said before, I’m perfectly aware of how weight-loss isn’t a linear process and that logically, there will always be weeks when the scale shows something I’m not expecting. It’s all to do with me and the way I respond to the unexpected.

And that’s why I reached for some Marcus Aurelius, rather than the reassuring words of someone else going through a similar weight-loss experience. I know I don’t think the same way as other people, so their words regarding their own experiences aren’t necessarily going to resonate with me. No, what I needed was a good stern talking to from a 2000 year old Emperor of Rome (because, why the frick not?). And it definitely worked, because I now feel a lot less ‘freaked the frick out’ and better able to accept the unexpected number on the scale. Because it’s not about the weight; it’s about dealing with the unexpected, trying to let go of the reigns of control, and ultimately it’s about ‘Fear’.

So, what was the point to this entire ramble? What can you take away from everything I’ve said today? Well basically, it’s that knowing yourself and understanding why you do the things you do, is the most important factor in wanting to enact change. Yes this post was about weight-loss on the surface, but it’s actually about the way in which I deal with the unexpected. A 3lb loss instead of a 1lb or 2lb loss is really neither here nor there; in fact I’m probably going to end up seeing a gain on next Monday’s weigh-in because it’s “Shark-Week” and I’m bloated and I always gain in “Shark-Week” (or “Shark Fortnight” as it was last time!) That extra pound that I lost last week means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things. But it really brought to the forefront my own issues with control, surprises and how I deal with the unexpected; things I know I have to work on for myself.

Whether you’re trying to lose weight for yourself, or if you’re attempting to change some other aspect of your life, it’s absolutely essential that you not only understand your motivations for doing so, but you really need to know yourself and how your own personality plays into your ability to succeed or the likelihood of failure. And when you truly understand what makes you think and act the way you do, you can then figure out the best tools to have in your arsenal whenever you find yourself getting in your own way. It’s really easy to look at something like weight-loss as a simple numbers game that revolves entirely around the food we eat and the amount of exercise we do. But it’s so much more than that and that’s why the answers to any issues that crop up around weight-loss, can’t simply be found in the areas we initially think to look for them. For me, I found answers and solutions in the writings of Marcus Aurelius and the ideas involved in stoicism; because that helped me to understand my motivations and guide me towards a calmer sense of acceptance of the things I don’t have complete control of.

Everyone is going to be different and what strikes a chord with me isn’t necessarily going to resonate with you. But when dealing with our emotions, thoughts, feelings and behaviours it’s the underlying motivations that we need to deal with, not just the superficial effects that initially seem to be the problem. For some people therapy is the best route to them being able to better get to know themselves, but I would never do well in a therapeutic setting. I don’t trust people to know or understand me better than I know myself and I don’t have the patience to have to faff around with trying different people, when I know that I have the capability of working through my own issues myself – using the writings, words and wisdom of individuals who speak to me in a way that makes sense. But you have to find out what works for you personally and you just gotta find out the best way of getting know and understand what makes you “you”.

Change is always difficult, but it will never hold unless you already have a firm foundation on which to build upon. Trying to fix all the external components that we dislike might work at first, but you have to know why you developed the negative thing you wanted to change in the first place, if you ever want to make those changes permanent. So go do all the things that make you happy, healthy, slim, pretty and successful – you owe it to yourself to be the best version of yourself that you can be. But know that none of the changes you make on the outside will ever really stick or truly make you happy, unless you also work on fixing who you are on the inside. So be honest with yourself, work on getting to understand yourself and remember that change comes from within.

Stay complicated folks!

Blue

Suppdate

“And so I wake in the morning and I step outside
And I take a deep breath and I get real high
And I scream from the top of my lungs
What’s going on?”

Okay so let me just preface today’s post with the obligatory disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a trained dietician or nutritionist. None of the following is intended to be any form of medical advice, it is merely an account of my own experience in using certain OTC supplements, based on my own research. This post is for informative purposes only and is in no way intended to diagnose or treat anybody’s medical conditions. If you are thinking about incorporating any kind of supplement regime into your diet, be sure to consult a medical professional before doing so.

Right. Now we’ve gotten that out of the way, you’ve probably already deduced from the blog title, that today’s post is about the particular nutritional supplements that I’ve been taking since switching over to my low-carb WOE. I’ve always taken a basic multivitamin for as long as I can remember, but in the past year I’ve added a few other items to my regime. I can’t really say one way or the other if they’re having any real impact or effect on my overall physical health and wellbeing, but at worst I’m just spending a chunk of money on a bunch of things that help make my urine just ever so slightly more costly – or as Dr Rob Cywes says “giving my wallet an autopsy”, lol.

Anyway on to the products. First off, there’s my multivitamin. I take ‘Vitabiotics Wellwoman Original’

I started taking these years ago, because they’re a really comprehensive basic multi-vitamin made by a reputable company. I like the statement that they provide on their website about how they approach nutritional supplements:

“Vitabiotics prides itself on the research and innovation of the UK’s leading, scientifically based nutrient products. Our core philosophy, which was instilled by our Chairman for 18 years, Professor Arnold Beckett OBE, is to strive for evidence based, balanced, moderate levels of nutrients in effective formulas.

Vitabiotics not only relies on published, peer reviewed data on its nutrient ingredients but also conducts trials on the product formulations themselves. We currently have a number of clinical trials already published, in progress, or awaiting publication, and are probably Britain’s first and only nutraceutical company to have engaged in such high quality clinical trials in this way.”

https://www.vitabiotics.com/pages/scientific-advisory-board

I can find them easily in Boots, Holland & Barrett, Lloyds Pharmacy or Sainsbury’s which is handy because there’s less chance of me running out and not being able to get hold of any more for a while. I also like that they contain Evening Primrose Oil & Starflower Oil which are allegedly supposed to beneficial during “Shark Week” and help with overall skin health. They also contain chromium which has been suggested to help with balancing blood sugar levels. Not having consumed more than 20g of carbs a day for the past 170 days, my blood sugars are probably more stable than most non-low-carb peeps, so again I can’t say whether or not it really does help me in any way, but it certainly isn’t doing me any harm. The capsules are easy enough for me to swallow and I always take them after a meal that contains fats so that the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K will be absorbed properly.

I’ve never had any issues with nausea or any other negative side effects from taking them and will probably continue taking them for the next 10 years (after which I’ll switch to the Vitabiotics Wellwoman 50+ version). A pack of 30 capsules costs around £8, which works out at about 27p per day, but they’re frequently on offer in all the places I mentioned above, often on a ‘Buy One Get One Half Price’ or similar promotion, so I tend to stock up on them whenever I can. If you prefer to order online, you can purchase Vitabiotics entire range from their own website which also runs frequent multibuy promotions and has a reward points scheme where customers can earn points from repeat purchases and redeem them against other purchases in future.

Vitabiotics also offer their Wellwoman brand in a ‘Plus’, a ‘Max’, a ‘Sport’, a ‘Vegan’ and a ’70+’ formulation which I guess you can opt for depending on your lifestyle requirements. And for the boys, there is a ‘Wellman’ range which also offers various formulations, just targeted for the other sex. They even offer their multivitamins in a ‘Gummies’ range too, for those of you who struggle with swallowing capsules. All in all, I just think it’s a good, basic multivitamin which makes no crazy claims about being able to cure everything that ails you, and comes from a well established brand at an affordable price.

Next, also from Vitabiotics, is their ‘Osteocare – Glucosamine & Chondroitin’ supplement which I’ve also been taking for a couple of years.

As I’ve mentioned before, I suffer with Fibromyalgia and Psoriatic Arthritis. Some research has suggested that Glucosamine and Chondroitin may help some people with joint pain and just contribute towards overall joint health, but whilst there isn’t any conclusive evidence for this, the Arthritis Foundation say they’re safe for individual to try for themselves. Again, I can’t say for sure whether this product actually does help me in any way, because the conditions I have are multifactorial, so there are various contributing factors regarding the severity of my symptoms and the way they present themselves in my particular situation. But having spoken with my doctor who said that these supplements may or may not help me (and that I’m fine to stack this product with the aforementioned multivitamin) he sees no reason why I shouldn’t take them, so I like to include them in my daily supplement regime. I’ll try anything that might help my underlying conditions and whilst I haven’t conducted any isolated “n=1” experiments to see if these supplements alone are providing any genuine benefits, I take them just in case they do help in any way.

I know that might sound a bit daft to some of you, my taking something when I have no idea whether or not it actually benefits me, but I’m not actually in any position to do any real conclusive “n=1” experiments to see if these supplements in isolation are providing any positive results. I’ve already eliminated sugar from my diet which is itself beneficial in reducing the severity of inflammation and autoimmune conditions. But I can’t simply start running my own little tests where I stop taking pain relief, diazepam, anti-inflammatory tablets and all my supplements, then reintroduce this particular supplement to see what effect they have. I live with chronic pain every day which flares up into really bad episodes every so often depending on the weather, the time of the month or any physical activity I embark upon. If I were to simply stop taking everything I’m prescribed, I’d be in even worse pain than I am already and it would be an impossibly torturous experience to even attempt to detect any underlying benefits from this particular supplement. I say all this because I am in no way making any claim that this supplement does or does not help with my particular conditions. But I’m happy to pay to take them every single day, in the hope that perhaps they may be doing some good, along with all the other things I do to try and make my life easier.

None of this is to decry this product in any way, I’m just being completely transparent about my reasons for using it and my own experience with it. I cannot say whether it works or not, just that it’s a reasonably priced product from a reputable company who I already trust to provide me with my basic multivitamin. If your situation is different and you suffer from a condition for which you’re not already taking any prescribed medication, then perhaps you might want to first see if something like this helps to alleviate your own symptoms. You’ll be in a much better position to tell if there are any noticeable benefits from incorporating this into your diet. So speak to your doctor, ask them what they think and if they’re happy for you to try them out then go for it. Obviously there are a lot of shady companies out there selling supplements which don’t even contain the active ingredient they claim, or in the amounts stipulated on the label; so always choose a reputable company and purchase either directly from them, or from a trustworthy outlet. Vitabiotics is probably the most trusted, reputable manufacturer of nutritional supplements in the UK, so I’m happy to purchase products from them.

By the way, if any of you do take Chondroitin and Glucosamine and you’ve had some positive experience from it, I’d love to hear about it. My approach is kind of a ‘throw everything you can at a situation and just hope that something helps’ so it’s really difficult to know what is or isn’t working. I’m still going to continue take this product though. It isn’t contraindicated with any of the other medications or supplements that I’m taking (be careful if you’re taking any blood thinners however like Warfarin as there have been some reports of interaction between the two products – as always consult your doctor first) and although there is a slight chance of it affecting blood sugar levels, I’m happy that my sugar-free diet takes care of most of that. Vitabiotics Osteocare is available in a regular version without any Glucosamine & Chondroitin, a ‘Plus’ version which includes Soy Isoflavones and Omega-3, a ‘Chewable’ version, a ‘Liquid’ version and a ‘Fizz’ effervescent version. The one I buy is about £9 for a pack of 30 capsules (larger boxes are available) and you’re supposed to take 2 capsules a day, which works out at around 60p a day.

I take mine at the same time as my multivitamin (postprandially) and have never experienced any nausea or any other negative side effects from this product. Again, I cannot say one way or the other whether this supplement really works, or just how much benefit I might be getting from it, but I’m happy to keep purchasing and taking it on the off chance it is benefitting my joints in some way.

Next on my list are the ‘Lloyds Pharmacy’s High Strength Omega 3 Fish Oil – 1000mg Capsules’

I’m not going to go into too much detail around the reasons for ensuring you have enough EFA’s in your diet, but if you’re interested in learning more, this article on WebMD outlines the benefits pretty well.

Findings show omega-3 fatty acids may help to:

  • Lower blood pressure.
  • Reduce triglycerides.
  • Slow the development of plaque in the arteries.
  • Reduce the chance of abnormal heart rhythm.
  • Reduce the likelihood of heart attack and stroke.
  • Lessen the chance of sudden cardiac death in people with heart disease.

Obviously it’s always best to try and get as many of your nutritional needs from your food, as you can. But this isn’t always possible for everyone and I personally just don’t like a lot of fish. I eat a couple of cans of tuna every week as well as a peppered mackerel fillet or a salmon fillet about once a fortnight. I’m just not a big fan of fish and I cannot abide the smell of it in my fridge, or from cooking it in my kitchen. So it just makes sense that i take a decent fish oil supplement. This one that I use is from Lloyds Pharmacy, so it comes from a reputable source and right now it’s on offer at £1 for a tub of 30 capsules – which is a total bargain, so I’ve obviously stocked up on a dozen tubs of the stuff. Each capsule contains 1000mg of Omega 3 fish oil, which breaks down as follows:

“This provides the daily intake of 250mg of EPA & DHA per capsule which contributes to the normal function of the heart. This product is high in Omega 3 fatty acids, which provide a source of Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).”

https://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/guide/omega-3-fish-oil-supplements-for-high-blood-pressure

So basically just your average ‘1-a-day’ 1000mg Omega-3 Fish Oil supplement. Have I noticed any immediate benefits from taking this supplement? No, can’t say I have. But then I don’t think it’s the sort of thing that one would normally expect to see any tangible effects from. It’s more of a ‘working in the background to make sure you’re getting enough DHA and EFA’ sort of thing. Again, I’d rather be erring on the side of caution when it comes to something like this, because I really find it hard to consume fish with any beneficial regularity, so I’m going to continue to purchase this brand from a reputable company and keep on taking it every day at the same time as my multivitamin and Osteocare supplement. I’ve never experienced any nausea, repeating, after-taste or any other negative effects from taking this product (some people can experience diarrhoea if they suddenly start to take a large dose of fish oil, so again consult your doctor and if you have a particularly sensitive digestive system, talk to them about starting off on a smaller dose first, before gradually increasing the amount).

Right now the price of £1 per tub of 30 ‘1-a-day’ capsules works out at just under 4p a day, so if that’s a very reasonably price to pay for any potential benefits. Like I said, I’ve bulk-bought a load of tubs so I’m set for the next 12 months, but even if the price goes up I’ll continue to purchase this product from this company. There are multiple Lloyds Pharmacy outlets in the little towns and villages in my area so it’s very easy to pick up a bottle when I eventually do run out. If you live in the UK and you’re after wanting to stock up on some fish oils, go check out your local Lloyds Pharmacy, or swing by their website and you can get these at a bargain price right now.

The final product on my supplement list today is a collagen supplement. The Diet Applements Marine Collagen Type 1&3 1000mg (with Hyaluronic Acid 200mg/serving; Vitamin C, Vitamin E, B2, and Iodine.)

Okay so collagen is one of those super-hyped “miracle” ingredients that everyone seems to be talking about right now. Some people claim that it’s good for arthritic joints, others that it helps to re-plump ageing skin. Is there a ton of evidence to back these claims up? Not really. When I first heard about using collagen for added joint & skin benefits, I went on an absolutely insane deep-dive down a rabbit hole of white papers, blogs, videos and testimonials. My conclusion after all that? Well whilst there have been some studies done that suggest certain types of collagen supplementation may help with arthritic joint pain, it’s not conclusive and tends to be focused on type II collagens. A 2017 review article published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that people taking collagen supplements do experience pain relief. Other studies have found no benefit. No studies have found that collagen hydrosylates grow or repair cartilage. (If you’re interested in a great little summary of various studies into this area, check out this blog post from arthritis.org.)

As for whether or not it does anything for your skin, well there are some studies that suggest taking a collagen supplement could be beneficial. Some studies show that taking collagen supplements for several months can improve skin elasticity, (i.e. wrinkles and roughness) as well as signs of aging.

“One 2014 study of 69 women ages 35 to 55 found that those who took 2.5 or 5 grams of collagen daily for 8 weeks showed a lot of improvement in skin elasticity, compared with those who didn’t take it.

Another found that women who took 1 gram per day of a chicken-derived collagen supplement for 12 weeks had 76% less dryness, 12% fewer visible wrinkles, better blood flow in the skin, and a 6% higher collagen content.

And a 2019 review of eight studies including 805 patients concluded that “preliminary results are promising for the short and long-term use of oral collagen supplements for wound healing and skin aging.”

https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/news/20191212/collagen-supplements-what-the-research-shows

But whilst the research into this product does seem promising, it’s important to bear in mind that many of the studies done so far on collagen are small and at least partially funded by industry. The science is truly in its infancy and there’s a lot of conflict of interest, and not enough quality control. So why do I take it? Same reason I take the Glucosamine and Chondroitin. Maybe it will help my joints. Maybe it won’t. Maybe it is helping to improve my skin – or maybe it’s just my really good diet and fastidious skincare regime that involves rotating multiple different acids, serums, masks, moisturisers and balm cleansers. Who knows? I’m just happy to throw another potentially beneficial product into the mix and hope it helps me in some way. Yes, I have good skin. But then I’ve always taken good care of it. Yes it does seem to have gotten better recently, but I’ve also cut sugar out of my diet and upped my retinol use. So I don’t know what to credit the improvement to. Maybe it’s a mixture of my doing all those things, but whatever it is, I’m very happy with how my skin looks right now. I have good genetics as far as aging is concerned (my mother looks at least 12 years younger than she really is!) and I’ve always spent a fortune on good quality skincare, so I have a good foundation to build on anyway. But I’m going to keep on taking the collagen, because it certainly isn’t doing me any harm.

I chose this brand because when I first went looking for a collagen supplement, it was insanely overwhelming. There are thousands of brands all getting in on this latest craze and after a few hours trying to find something that I felt would be a safe and reliable product, my eyes started to swim. I wanted the collagen to come from a sustainable source and the product to be as clean as possible. So I narrowed the search down and found the Diet Applements brand based here in the UK. They guarantee that their collagen hydrolysate is made from ethically-harvested wild fish from the Atlantic Ocean (no ageing fish fed with hormones & antibiotics) and supports local fishmonger businesses too. And upon further investigation their facility really has been awarded the AIB International Good Manufacturing Process Certificate, are a member of the UK Health Food Manufacturers and have been both inspected and approved by the FDA and Health Canada.

Why should any of that matter? Well aside from it being important to me to only consume/use ethically sourced animal products, I also appreciate that the manufacturer’s supply chain helps to support smaller businesses, whilst also being a home-grown British company in itself. And when it comes to taking a supplement, you really do need to be careful with what you buy and put into your body. Especially if you’re buying it from over the internet. So do your homework. Find out if the company you think you’re buying from really are who they say they are and check up on their accredited certifications etc. This company is actually very open and transparent and willing to respond to any queries or questions you might have – always a good sign to begin with – and they have a good online presence.

The product itself was around £13 for a tub of 60 capsules. Taking 2 capsules a day works out at about 44p a day and I take mine at the same time as the other supplements mentioned above. I’ve never had any nausea, sickness or any other negative experiences from taking this supplement and I’m halfway through my second bottle. Like I said earlier, I have no idea how much – if any – benefit these are providing my skin, but my skin is brighter, tighter and firmer than it was a few months ago. How much of that is down to my diet, my skincare regime or this collagen supplements however, is anyone’s guess, lol.

So, that concludes my current supplementation regime. As you can see I don’t go super-crazy with supps (I do also have a Go-Keto Collagen Protein Shake Mix that I take with my regular protein powder, but I haven’t been having as many shakes lately due to the cold weather. I’ll probably start having them again once the temperatures pick up again, but if you’re interested in reading about that product, you can find my review of it in this post here. My diet these days is really good. I eat red meat about 4 or 5 days a week, along with turkey, chicken, pork and roast gammon. I have a good amount of steamed cruciferous vegetables and salad every day, as well as good fats found in nut butters, avocado and moderate amounts of hard cheese. I also have a few different protein bars that I usually have for my first food of the day, protein shakes, the odd energy drink and lots of water. I supplement with a multivitamin and fish oil just to be on the safe side. It’s probably unnecessary, but I feel better (peace of mind wise) knowing I’ve taken them. I don’t take any supplements in order to avoid having to eat a good diet, it’s really just a ‘belt and braces’ approach to ensuring I’m doing okay.

The Osteocare Glucosamine & Chondroitin may or may not be helping me, but I’ll keep on taking them just in case. Same goes for the collagen supplement. I don’t know what else to tell y’all. I’ve never experienced any “wow” moments that I could attribute to any of the supplements I take, but then neither have I had any negative experiences. And that’s probably to be expected. Chances are that all this is just a pointless exercise in making my urine ever so slightly more expensive as these products just tap into my own insecurities around health and beauty. I fully understand that and approach taking these supplements with my eyes wide open to that fact; but I can afford to take these supplements and so long as they’re not doing me any harm, I’m happy.

You probably expected a much more exciting review of the “must have” supplements that “totally changed my life” but that ain’t me bro. Maybe other people have genuinely more dramatic experiences when taking supplements – or maybe they just think they do thanks to some wicked placebo effects that help to validate their reasons for spending a ton of money on some glorified piss-gentrifier, lol. I like to keep it real around here though and the real tea is…I have no idea if any of this stuff is doing ANYTHING for me. But there’s always going to be that little part of my mind that says:

“Yeah, but what if it DOES help you even a LITTLE bit?”

And that’s what keep me coming back time and again to repurchase all these supps. So if you think that by taking any of the above, you might see some sort of improvement to certain aspects of your health, like I said before, talk to your doctor about it (because you never know what effects a particular supplement my have on any underlying health issues you have, or what contraindications it might trigger off with whatever other medications you’re already taking). Make sure you know what you’re taking and always purchase from reputable stores. And be especially careful when taking more than one product with multiple ingredients together – hypervitaminosis is a real thing and you could be consuming a cumulatively toxic dose without realising it. Again, talk to a medical professional first! Try to look for clean-label supplements, choose ethically-sourced animal products and don’t expect miracles; because as with weight-loss, there are no short-cuts to perfect health and happiness.

As always, I am in no way affiliated with any of the products feature here and everything mentioned was purchased by me, for me. All reviews are my own, and I include them here merely as honest opinions of products I have consumed.

Stay healthy y’all

Blue

The Sorest Loser / Weigh-In Day

Hey everyone. Today’s video is a little bit different because it’s the channel trailer for one of my favourite YouTube weight-loss peeps. ‘The Sorest Loser’ aka Stephanie is on a mission to lose 150lb – half her body weight – and I’d love it if some of y’all would head over to her channel, check out her videos and give her some support. Stephanie lives in Sweden with her husband, three adorable kids and some fur-babies in a beautiful rural spot which she does an amazing job of filming using both regular cameras and drone footage. It’s really impressive and some of the sweeping aerial shots she gets of the forest and countryside (especially now with all the snow) are just stunning. But it’s been her weekly updates about her weight-loss journey that really made me love her channel.

She started off on her mission doing CICO but has switched to a keto/Swedish low-carb-high-fat plan and has been documenting all the highs and lows of both approaches in a lot of raw, honest detail. And that’s what I love about Steph. She isn’t someone who just filters all her content so it only shows the good parts, she’s brutally honest about the low-parts too and the various difficulties she faces as someone with binge-eating tendencies. I really admire people who keep it real and Steph is very, very real. She’s also very funny and doesn’t take herself at all seriously. (She also has incredibly nice hair which has nothing to do with her channel, but I’m always really envious of people with thick, luxurious tresses, lol.)

As she’s been progressing on her weight-loss mission, she’s been trying out a new fitness routine, testing keto recipes and letting us all have a look into her home life, her struggles, her successes and a whole other selection of things that she’s interested in. She’s also really great with using web graphics and overlays so her content looks incredibly professional, which isn’t essential but definitely adds an extra layer of impressive skill to her videos. Naturally there are the weekly weigh-ins and measurements, but she also vlogs from her incredibly beautiful corner of the world, shares her recipes & shopping hauls and intersperses it all with some ‘shorts’ that last no more than a couple of minutes. These are just really nice ways for the viewers to catch up with her throughout the week and I love how much effort she puts into her channel.

I’d love it if some of y’all would check her videos out and consider giving her a sub because I know she’d really appreciate the support. Weight loss can be a pretty weird experience, especially when you’re the only one in the household eating a certain way, so it’s nice to be able to tell someone that you get it. You know what they’re going through and you understand the ups and downs that they’re experiencing. Plus, it’s just a really great, fun, interesting channel that I think you’ll all love anyway. So if you like watching weight-loss channels and you like your content creators very real, very honest and ever so slightly bonkers (shower scene thumbnail…I’m talking about you!) then go check her out. You won’t be disappointed. (And if you do, drop her a comment and tell her that Blue sent you!)


Now onto my own weigh-in results for this week. The past 7 days have been really slow and sore for me. We had snow a few days ago, coupled with the extra-freezing wind-chill from some severely blustery weather. And I’ve really been feeling it. From my neck, down my back, through my hips and all along my legs into my feet, I’ve been in absolute agony. On a couple of days I’ve been literally counting down the minutes until I can take my next dose of pain-relief – never a good sign. I did go out into town on one day and then up to the doctor’s surgery the next, so that’s probably played a role in my feeling like one great big, gnarled goblin. But the weather is definitely contributing a lot to how I’m feeling too. The cold and damp really aggravates the arthritis and fibromyalgia, but I’m also really noticing the colder temperatures this year.

So aside from those 2 trips out to do all the necessary things, I’ve been largely curled up either in bed or on the sofa with my hot-water-bottle. Making food was impossible on some days, so a lot of what I was eating was just pre-made salads, a handful of cold meat, a cheese-stick and a pickle; or a protein bar and a coffee. I know on one day I literally only ate a protein bar when I got up, a second one for lunch and a third one for dinner. Which isn’t ideal, but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. I’m kinda pissed off though because some of my fresh meat and veg have gone past their ‘Best Before’ dates and I’m just not going to eat anything once those dates are exceeded. So a bunch of stuff is going to end up getting chucked out (I’ll probably feed it to the seagulls….the meat anyway, so it’s not a total waste) which always annoys me because I go out of my way to buy the best quality, ethically sourced products and not getting to benefit from any of it triggers the Scottish part of me, lol.

I had absolutely no idea what the scale would say today. On the one hand, yes I’ve been eating less food volume-wise, but in the past I’ve seen a gain or maintain whenever I’ve eaten nothing but protein bars all day long. I’m way past the point of being able to tell whether I’ve lost or gained before I get on the scale; now I always just feel as though nothing has changed and never really expect to see a loss when I weigh-in. It’s so weird, because for the most part (this week notwithstanding) I’m eating exactly what I should be eating whilst slowly trying to reduce certain parts of my meals to gradually shrink my portion sizes, but I still doubt that I’m going to see the scale go down whenever I hop onto it. I know it’s really common for people who are trying to lose weight to not be able to see the actual changes in their own bodies for themselves and I know that logically I’ve already lost quite a bit of weight, but it still doesn’t help bridge that disconnect between the person I am in my own head and the way I am in reality.

Anyway, enough waffling. How did I do? Well, last week I was 15 stone 1lb (211lbs); only a couple of pounds away from getting into the ’14 stone + change category’. Today, the reading on the scale said that I am 14 stone and 12 pounds (208lbs), meaning that I’ve actually lost 3lb in the past 7 days.

Which is fine and everything, but I’m not actually all that happy with having lost 3lb. It’s great to now be in the ’14 stone + change’ category, but I really would have rather it just have been a 2lb loss. Yeah, I know, it’s only another extra pound, but I don’t want to be losing hard and fast any more. I want the sensible, steady 1-2lb a week loss, because that’s more realistic and sustainable. I’m actually kind of infuriated at my body for dropping a whole extra pound on me, lol. Is that weird? Probably. And I know it’s probably all down to this week being a particularly difficult one with pain and whatnot, so it’s not like I’m on a regular downward trajectory at this perpetual rate, but it still irks me. (That’ll be the inner control-freak rising up and getting all snarky ’cause she didn’t get her own way I guess, lol.) I’m pretty sure that next week is going to see the arrival of the next “Shark Week” (or “Shark Fortnight” if last time was anything to go by), although I haven’t checked the calendar so I can’t be sure. But that’ll soon put paid to any extra losses I’ve racked up this week. Probably with another mid-week 5lb “ghost-gain” and a subsequent weigh-in that says I’ve merely maintained. Yay for hormones!

So, that’s this Monday’s weigh-in done and dusted. I wish I could be happier about the 3lb loss, but I really just want a slower, steadier decrease in weight as I get closer to my initial goal. I’m in no hurry. 2lb would have been better, but I’m just going to have to chalk it up to a crappy week and hope that the next 7 days show an evening out of my weight-loss. I’m feeling a bit more mobile today so I think I’ll try and rustle up some turkey burgers with cheese, broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts for my first proper meal. And I really need to remember to take my supplements too because that’s something else I’ve been slacking off with this past week. Maybe I’ll write a post about the supplements I take at some point, in case any of y’all are interested. I dunno. My fingers are still a bit frozen-up and I had to type this entire post out using just 2 fingers (instead of my regular touch-typing) which, as you can imagine, has been a complete pain in the tits!

So I shall leave y’all for now. I hope that wherever you are you’re having a good day and that the gods of weight-loss are smiling upon you.

Be good to yourselves folks

Blue

“It Ain’t What You Do It’s The Way That You Do It (That’s What Get’s Results)”

“It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it
And that’s what gets results”

Props to those of you who got the reference in this blog title, before seeing the video – y’all are obviously as old and haggard as I am, lol. Well, maybe older but still in the same ball-park. I was 8 years old when my aunt (who was young and cool and really into pop-music) gave me ‘Bananarama’s Greatest Hits Collection’ on cassette for Christmas. I was totally psyched and played that album to death, either on the radio-cassette-player I had in my bedroom, or the ‘Sony Walkman’ I had practically glued to my hip wherever I went. I remember my mum telling me that this track was actually a cover of a much older song from back when she was a kid, but I didn’t care because this was new and cool and nothing like the music she and my dad listened to. It’s only as you get older that you realise how sooner or later everything comes back into fashion and what we think of as new and exciting trends really just wind up being updated versions of things gone by. My musical tastes have definitely changed since those days, but whenever I hear this song I’m back standing in front of my mirror, hairbrush in hand, singing along with all the effortlessly cool demeanour that 8 year old me could muster.

Anyway, what are we here to talk about today folks? Well, it’s something that I’ve touched on a few times before, but seems to be absolutely everywhere I look right now (always the case once you notice something, right?) and it’s people who seem hell-bent on staying in that yo-yo dieting mentality…despite trying to convince anyone who will listen to them that they’re:

Totally about the lifestyle change – for realsies!”

Uh-huh?

Do people even bother to check that the shit coming out of their mouths is even remotely consistent with their previously spouted crap, anymore? Or are we all just hoping that in this internet era of stunted attention spans that no one’s gonna even remember anything a week or so down the line? Because there are SO MANY hypocrites, liars and self-contradicting BS-merchants out there right now, it’s a wonder any of us can keep track with reality at all.

First there are the “Flip-Floppers” who start off telling us how they could never give up sugar, then once they realise how much weight other people are able to lose by curbing the carbs make a sudden change to keto because it’s

“really so much healthier, once you realise how it all works”

…only to fail at it once they realise that it still takes quite a bit of dedication, before renouncing the entire low-carb ethos as something

“Completely unhealthy, actually!”

and declaring their return to CICO

“Because it’s the only thing that works scientifically, innit?”

Okay Karen, but excuse me if I don’t take any dietary advice from someone who changes their plan more often than they change their undercrackers. Call me old-fashioned but I like my advice to come from those with a little more experience than your average halfwit with a BTEC in ‘Home Ec’. If what you’re looking for is a “diet” then literally go pick any one of the myriad ones out there on the internet and if you follow it to the letter, it’ll work. They ALL “work” if what you’re looking for is a quick-fix; but if it’s life-long sustainable change that you’re after, then you’re gonna have to start looking to something you can actually implement for life. There are no short-cuts to sustainable weight-loss and life-long health – and flip-flopping certainly ain’t where it’s at bro.

Then there are the “All Or Nothing Over-Haulers”. These guys are always good for a laugh because you can see the inevitable car-crash coming from a mile off, but you still can’t help but stick around to witness the carnage. You know the type. Often seen making huge commitments around New Year (or after a milestone birthday or divorce) when they decide that they’re going to make the switch from being hugely overweight, eating nothing but junk-food, never exercising, drinking a bit too much booze, smoking, staying up late / not getting enough sleep, never taking their make-up off before bed, hoarding clutter, being glued to their phones for 6+ hours a day and always going overdrawn with their bank balance to…BEING ALL THE SUPER-HEALTHY, WHOLE-FOOD EATING, YOGA PRACTICING, REGULAR GYM ATTENDING, VEGAN, MEDITATING, NON-SMOKING, TEE-TOTAL, MARIE KONDO ORGANIZING, SKINCARE GURU FOLLOWING, 8-HOURS-OF-SLEEP GETTING THINGS!

Yeah, strap in baby ’cause these guys are going from 0-60 quicker than a Mitsubishi Evo with go-faster stripes. Day 1, they’re out of the starting blocks telling everyone how they’re so glad they made all these changes. Never again will junk-food pass their lips…in fact they’re never eating any animal products again and are gonna be plant based forever. Alcohol is just so bad for their skin – which they’re now looking after with a recently procured expensive and expansive range of balm cleansers, acids, serums and moisturisers (all totally vegan, naturally) – and they’re just sleeping so much better now that they knocked the evening glass of vino and all that screen-time on the head.

It’s like, they’ve become a whole new person overnight. Only they haven’t. Because whilst they’re starting out with the best of intentions, all the changes they’ve made are really just superficial and they haven’t done any work on addressing why they had accumulated all those bad habits in the first place. So little by little, the enthusiasm starts to wane as the enormity of all these readjustments to their lifestyle really hits home. First they might admit to maybe letting one or two of these changes fall by the wayside because “just so busy with work and kids and life” and maybe they’ll get a little less frequent with the status updates about how “green tea really is tons better than a venti hazelnut latte” until eventually they just sort of drop off the radar. Their “life journey” channels suddenly go dead and their Instagram has been relegated to the odd photo of the kids, the dog or some re-blogged vague quote about how “you have to find inner peace before you can bring peace to the rest of the world”.

Yep, they crash. Crash and burn. And why? Because despite them having all the best intentions regarding a complete overhaul of their lifestyle, they jumped in the deep-end before they’d even figured out how to swim. Change is hard. Making changes that last a long time is even harder; it requires a lot of self-awareness, an understanding of why you need to change a thing and a realistic plan for how you intend to implement said change. Trying to do this for more than one area of your life at a time is even harder. It involves twice the amount of inner work, twice the amount of planning and twice the amount of commitment and accountability. Suddenly attempting to change MULTIPLE areas of your life and going from a fat, lazy, junk-food eating, messy, disorganised nightmare to a 100% zen, plant-based yogi, is virtually impossible. None of us got to being hugely overweight, replete with a multitude of bad habits, overnight; we picked them up and allowed them to get worse over time. So it’s going to take a lot of time to undo all those learned behaviours and fix all the areas of our life that we’re desperate to change.

I’m not saying you can’t overhaul your life completely and become a better, fitter, healthier version of yourself. But when you try to “do all the things” at once, you’re setting yourself up for failure. And that failure will not only weigh heavy on you – either making you feel desolate and unmotivated to try again, or doomed to return to that hamster-wheel of craziness, time and again, because you “ain’t no quitter” but you also never fricking learn. It’s dull and it’s unsexy and it’s not what anyone wants to hear, but you have to be willing to take the time to address each change you want to implement on its own, and get to a point where it becomes second-nature to you, before you move onto the next issue.

Thirdly, we have “The Ratcheters”. These specimens are also real impatient, but unlike the “All Or Nothing Overhaulers” they tend to take just the one aspect that they’re hoping to change and slowly but surely, they ramp up the intensity with which they approach it. They’ll tell you

“It’s absofrickinglutely a lifestyle change!”

but what starts out looking like a sensible, long-term plan soon morphs into some hyper-wargamed need to cross the finishing-line, FAST! Of course, they’ll be saying all the right things about how much they “love this new WOE!” and that they “really do want to” do this new thing for the rest of their lives. But if you pay enough attention to them you’ll notice a bit of ‘mission creep’ start to emerge. Maybe they’ll start off by upping the frequency or intensity of their exercise regimen. Of course this alone isn’t a bad thing – progressive overload is the most popular strategy for those who want to attain continued fitness goals – but unless this new uptick is a permanently implemented change that someone intends to stick with going forward, all they’re doing is making a big push for faster results; results that won’t necessarily be something that they can expect to last once they hit goal.

Or perhaps they’ll start to shave off extra calories or carbs from their intake, not because of any natural reduction in hunger, but because they know it will help them reach their goal quicker. Maybe they’ll suddenly declare that they’re going to go zero-carb / carnivore; but not for the actual lifelong health benefits – no they just want those faster results on the scale. Sure, eating less will probably lead to faster weight-loss, but at what cost? First there’s the problem with prolonged restriction and its propensity to lead to moments of weakness and subsequent bingeing. Newsflash! Your body doesn’t like being starved and if you try to do so, it’s gonna do everything in its power to thwart even the most strong-willed dieter. And even if you DO manage to stick to your heavily restricted plan, your body will respond by lowering your metabolism so it can get by on whatever meagre rations you allow it to consume. That metabolic change isn’t just a temporary glitch either; those maladapted biological responses can stick around long after you decide to ditch the diet, potentially leading to a permanent tendency to gain weight easily and a life-long struggle to lose weight. Talk about a literal prescription for a lifetime spent yo-yo dieting.

And then there’s the “challenges”. Oof, lol. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing inherently wrong with a little gentle, supportive motivation from fellow travellers. But I don’t think that taking your own personal decision to implement permanent life changes, and making it competitive is a particularly good idea. Whether it’s something you publicly declare that you’re going to undertake by yourself, or a group-centric approach to doing better than others, by changing the focus from internal to external, you’re altering the way you view your goal. Whether you realise it or not, this shift in focus can actually cause a fragmenting of any solid mental framework you had previously worked so hard at developing. It’s no longer about you making gradual changes towards a better, healthier self for the long-term. Now it’s about making sure that you show up and provide some results (good or bad) for your audience or fellow competitors.

Whether you’re immediately aware of it or not, this level of performative success inevitably takes its toll on you, bringing about anxiety, stress, fluctuation in moods and an often subconscious adjustment to one’s eating habits in order to be seen to be doing the thing that you said you would.

“But Blue, this is what keeps me accountable, duh!”

Okay I get that you think that, but the actual evidence based studies surrounding the act of publicly declaring our goal intentions really doesn’t bear that out. In fact the research at NYU, led by Peter Gollwitzer, shows the opposite. In a research articled titled ‘When intentions go public: Does social reality widen the intention-behavior gap?’ (Psychological Science, 20, 612-618) Gollwitzer surmised that the simple act of sharing your goal publicly can make you less likely to do the work to achieve it. I know most of y’all aren’t going to want to read an entire research paper so here’s the abstract:

“Based on Lewinian goal theory in general and self-completion theory in particular, four experiments examined the implications of other people taking notice of one’s identity-related behavioral intentions (e.g., the intention to read law periodicals regularly to reach the identity goal of becoming a lawyer). Identity-related behavioral intentions that had been noticed by other people were translated into action less intensively than those that had been ignored (Studies 1–3). This effect was evident in the field (persistent striving over 1 week’s time; Study 1)and in the laboratory (jumping on opportunities to act; Studies 2 and 3), and it held among participants with strong but not weak commitment to the identity goal (Study 3). Study 4 showed, in addition, that when other people take notice of an individual’s identity-related behavioral intention, this gives the individual a premature sense of possessing the aspired-to identity.”

 When intentions go public: Does social reality widen the intention-behavior gap? Psychological Science, 20, 612-618.

In the results of this study and subsequent studies performed on other students, the experimenters found that the participants whose intentions were known tended to act less on their intentions than those whose intentions were unknown. The researchers concluded that telling people what you want to achieve creates a premature sense of completeness. While you feel a sense of pride in letting people know what you intend to do, that pride doesn’t motivate you and can in fact hurt you later on.

When you write down or think about your intentions, there’s a gap between where you are and where you want to be. The compelling need to close this gap helps you to act on your intentions. But when you let others know about it, the gap closes because you (artificially) feel the same way you should after completing your intentions. And we see this borne out time and again by those around us who exclaim year upon year that THIS time, THIS year, they’re totally going to get on that diet and lose all the weight…only to falter a week, month or 6 months down the line. So whilst you might think that by embarking upon a little group-challenge, you’re going to give yourself that extra push to meet your goals, chances are you’re really only going to a/ load yourself up with extra anxiety, b/ develop a sort of co-dependent relationship with your fellow contenders as the guaranteed commiseration and geeing up from them floods in any time you choose to go off-plan / fail to see a downward movement on the scale, or c/ really not get the success you want because of reasons outlined above.

“Yeah but Blue, isn’t all this ‘Intention Declaration’ thing exactly what you’re dong with THIS blog?”

Well I can see why you’d think that, but just take a minute to think over what exactly y’all know about me? Do you know my real name? Do you know what I look like? Do you know anything other than the carefully selected chosen fragments of information I’ve chosen to share with y’all on here? Yeah, there’s a reason for that. I’m actually a really private person. When I decided to lose some weight, the only 2 people I told were my doctor and my other half. Not even my family knew. Which is where the whole lockdown thing really played to my strengths, because when it comes to goal setting I’m very much a lone wolf. I set a target, figure out how to get there and then just do it. And I succeed at it. I’m not a team-player by any strength of the imagination, but if you want a task carried out to completion, then just give me a quiet corner I can sequester myself off in and I’ll do it. So being cooped up in the house and ‘socially distanced’ from everyone else was great. I could just get on with losing weight to the knowledge of virtually nobody. Which made it all the funnier come Christmas when I went to stay with my family for a few days and they were gobsmacked. The girl who had forever eschewed the idea of weight-loss suddenly turned up 40+ pounds lighter – and looking younger too, according to a couple of family members.

But yeah, I keep myself to myself for the most part. This blog isn’t a big public tell-all. It’s anonymous. It’s not connected in any way to any of the rest of my life or any of my other online activity. And that was entirely intentional. This blog is for me. It’s my way of recording my efforts and progress as I work my way towards my goal. Yes it’s out there on the internet for anyone to read – and I’m real happy if any of you find it interesting or entertaining – but I’m not remotely beholden to it. Yes I’ve “met” some really lovely other people and enjoyed the interaction, but I could walk away from this blog tomorrow, never even visiting it again, and it wouldn’t have the slightest impact on my life or my weight-loss. This blog is and always will be, primarily a place for me to record my progress and let off some steam with the odd rant ‘n ramble about whatever is currently grinding my gears. It’s not a place for me to report to anyone on how I’m doing, or somewhere I can use to compete with anyone else’s efforts. The only competition I’m in, is with myself – which is exactly how it should be when you’re undertaking a personal goal.

What appear to be very public ‘Declarations Of Intent’ are really just anonymous writings that anyone can stumble upon, without ever knowing who wrote them – or even if any of it is even true (psyche!). I have made zero public declarations regarding my weight or health in my real life and I think (for me anyway) it makes the whole thing much easier. I don’t owe anyone any updates, I don’t have to care about what anyone thinks about the reading on the scale from one day to another…plus the idea of just turning up to meet a friend once lockdown is over and blowing their goddamn minds with my how much I’ve changed, really appeals to my mischievous side, lol. So…no, I don’t have any of the baggage attached to making a public declaration of intent. Whether I blog all the way to my goal (and succeeding at that is a ‘when’ not an ‘if’) or if I just decide that I’m bored with the whole idea, it will have zero impact on the rest of my life or the way in which I achieve my goals.

Anyway, I’ve gotten a bit side-tracked there and this post is getting pretty long, but I guess I just wanted to have a little rant about the ways in which so many people seem to be hell-bent on pretending that they’re making a lifestyle change, when the reality is they’re only looking for a quick-fix. Cause that shit annoys the bejeezus out of me. I hate fakery and BS merchants and people who think that they can pull the wool over everyone’s eyes, while they try to do the exact thing they claim not to be doing. And the 3 forms of BS merchants I talked about today (‘Flip-Floppers’, ‘All-Or-Nothing-Overhaulters’, and The ‘Ratcheters’) are the ones I’m seeing the most all over the various weight-loss community. They love trying to up the ante in a desperate attempt to get faster results, which is in direct contradiction to a fundamental principle of obesity management: you do not do things to lose weight that you are unlikely to continue doing to keep the weight off.

Too many people seem to think that if only they could lose some weight now, they will somehow be able maintain that lower body weight in the long-term with less effort. “If I could just get thin I could totally then be and stay thin forever!”

Sure, Jan. That’s why it’s worked so far for you up until now, right?

If you take anything away from this post let it be this: dishonesty is a pretty shitty way to interact with other people and will inevitably, eventually lead to people losing interest in what you’ve got to say or what you’re claiming to achieve. But the person you absolutely NEED to be truly honest with, is yourself. People see whatever you show them, but you can’t lie to yourself. Not if you want to have any chance of succeeding with ANY of your goals.

Keep it real folks

Blue

Make You Proud / Weekly Weigh-In

“Now I wanna be strong try to be there just like you
I wanna be the mirror that you’re proud to look into
I wanna be the one who always follows through…”

I’ve never really been one for trying to make people like me or have them be pleased by my actions. In fact this arrogant little madam has almost dickishly, gone through life often doing the very thing that will piss people off – purely because they didn’t want me to do it. Is that a bit moronic? Hell yeah; I got to about 30 years old before I even began to realise that this was just a cringey form of ongoing teenage rebellion…that really ought to have been put away like other childish things at least a decade earlier. But I still, to this day, hate being told what to do by anyone. If you ASK me to do something for you, chances are I’ll bend over backwards to try to accommodate you. But if you just EXPECT something from me? Ha ha…sorry bro, I think you got the wrong person here. And if you TELL me to do something? Well I’m just going to tell you to go fuck yourself. (Because yes, I’m the kind of person who can have both immaculate manners whilst swearing like a sailor, and an attitude that will make you wish we’d never met, should you provoke that side of me.)

The notion of wanting to make other people proud of me, is also something I’ve never much cared for. What’s always mattered the most, is whether I’m proud of myself for accomplishing something. I love and value my family, but I’ve never lived my life in order to please them. Which is probably something I get from my mother who has always encouraged me to do whatever I want. She has literally gone out of her way to tell me that it’s my life and my choices that I alone will have to live with. She’s never been the annoying kind of helicopter parent who tried to push me into doing anything I didn’t want. (Of course as a child she was instructive and instilled discipline during my younger years – as all good parents ought to – but as I got older and became independent, she let me make my own mistakes, choose my own path and never judged me for any of it.) There are many things she’ll tell you she’s proud of me for accomplishing, but I’ve never gone out of my way to impress her or try to earn her approval.

So what’s with the title of this blog post? Well, I’ve recently been doing my best to lose weight, improve my health and try to fight the progressive nature of my various physical ailments. And whilst I’m proud of myself for making the necessary changes to get as far as I have done, what really surprised me was how good it felt to hear my other half tell me that HE was proud of me for doing all this too. Now I have to reiterate the fact that he has never made me feel as though he wanted me to lose any weight. He met me when I was only a fraction less heavy than I was when I started out on this mission and we’ve been together for 12 years. He’s been nothing but loving, complimentary, affectionate and completely supportive of me for those 12 years and when I told him I was going to make a concerted effort to lose weight, he was just as supportive of that. Not because he’d been secretly wanting me to shrink down to a slimmer size for the past 12 years (he’s as outspoken and opinionated as me, so I always trust and take him at his word) but because it was important to me and when I explained the whole health reasons behind it, he obviously wanted me to be as happy and healthy as possible.

But when he first told me how proud he was of me for doing this (he’s since told me again on a couple of occasions) something inside me went a bit “gooey”, lol. Now I’m not the most sentimental person in the world (big surprise there, I know) but it really meant a lot to me. Not because I’ve ever tried to seek his approval, but because I could see that it came from an unprovoked, place of absolute, unmitigated sincerity; and I really appreciated that. I was so happy to have been able to do something that made him proud – and I’m not gonna lie, it really threw me for a loop there, for a moment.

Maybe I’m getting soft in my old age, but it made me feel like I WANTED to be able to make him proud. It’s not like it made me want to do anything different, or ramp up my efforts to get more recognition from him, but I wanted to at least continue to make him proud of me. And that’s a really big deal for me. Wanting to outsmart him and kick his ass in a general knowledge quiz is one thing (he’s the exact same BTW… we’re super-competitive when it comes to quizzes!) but wanting him to be proud of me is something entirely different. It’s a much more vulnerable place to come from. It means I know that this is something that I could fail at, but so far I’m actually succeeding and I feel good about that – which goes back to what I spoke about in a previous post: Fear.

This wanting him to be proud of me also acknowledges just how much he means to me and how much I value his opinion. He isn’t easily impressed, so my being able to impress him means I must be doing something really good. Of course I already know that he loves me, but I want him to see my ability to do whatever I set my mind to, and be pleased with that. Not because it involves my weighing less, getting smaller or looking differently, but because it allows him to see that his other half keeps to her word and can make shit happen.

So yeah, he’s feeling very proud of my success so far and that just spurs me on to want to keep succeeding. And he’s probably the only person in the universe who I’d want to keep making proud. But enough of that for today – time for the results of the weekly weigh-in! So where were we last week? Well after a particularly long, drawn-out and heinous “Shark Fortnight” (and a mid-week “ghost-gain” of 5lb – which disappeared again a couple of days later) the scale showed no overall loss when I weighed in last Monday. No big deal. I always seem to have a reading like that around that time of the month. I wasn’t worried, because looking back at the Fat Stats page, that’s exactly what I should have been expecting last week. But this week?

Well, food-wise I really haven’t been doing anything different – as always I’ve just stayed 100% ‘on-plan’ every day. The only new thing I’ve been trying to cultivate is a more relaxed, nonchalant approach to food in general as I wrote about last week. The idea being that having a healthy relationship with food means not allowing thoughts of what I’m going to eat for lunch or dinner or whatever, to preoccupy my mind. And whilst it’s only been a few days, I’ve definitely started to make some inroads into that new approach. Not every meal has to be some tantalisingly tasty morsel of gourmet standard. Just grabbing something nutritionally adequate is a perfectly reasonable way to regard the majority of our meals – and that way of thinking will probably stand me in good stead when it comes to having this WOE become a permanent way of life.

But onto the weigh-in results. Hopping on the scale this evening, I got a reading of 15 stone 1lb (211lbs), which means this week I’ve lost another 2lbs! Perfect! That’s exactly the amount I want to be losing each week (“Aunt Flo” and her “visitations” notwithstanding, lol). That means I’m 2lb away from getting under the 15 stone mark and 12 pounds away from getting into “onederland”. So I’m completely on track and ready to see what the upcoming week will bring. I’ve just ordered some new coffee mugs from Amazon, which will allow me to make a single cup of properly brewed fresh coffee without having to fire up the coffee machine. They’re really cool; I used to use them a few years ago in work when me and my buddy would try out various beans and blends for our mid-morning coffee-breaks.

Whilst I’m trying to take my focus off of the food I’m eating, I think that giving myself a nice cup of freshly brewed coffee to look forward to will provide a nice little psychological boost to me during the day. Dr Rob Cywes often talks about eating no more than twice a day and then using coffee as a “bridge” between meals. As a self-confessed “carb-addict” himself, he understands what it’s like to come from being a person who constantly responds to sugar-cravings by eating any time the brain demands it, so this “bridge” technique is his way of dealing with years of entrenched habits surrounding food. Coffee keeps him sane and allows him to feel as though he isn’t depriving himself in between his 2 meals. I tend not to fire up the coffee machine when it’s only myself having a cup and whilst my preferred brand of instant is better than most, I do really love a proper cup of coffee. So here’s hoping that these clever little mugs will allow me to not only enjoy a cup of freshly brewed java, but also reduce my focus on foods. I shall keep y’all posted.

Now though, it’s time for me to go make the other half some dinner and go catch up with my favourite YouTube channels.

Have a great week folks!

Blue

Newsflash! Weight-Loss Is Boring! And It Should Be!

Okay, let’s be real folks. Losing weight isn’t all that interesting. I mean, it’s exciting and new when you first begin out on a new regime, fuelled by all the promises of what the end result will be, and it’s cool to see the progress pics and update videos by other people trying to lose weight, but the everyday process itself? Yeah it’s pretty bloody dull. But you know what? That’s exactly what you should be aiming for. Probably not what you wanted to hear, but lemme explain.

Everyone starts out on their weigh-loss mission pretty psyched – and that’s completely normal. We prep ourselves by reading as much as we can about our chosen plan, immerse ourselves in weight-loss communities where we can share stories, pick up tips and get support, and it’s so cool because it’s new and different and exciting. We’ve gotten to a point where we’re able to accept that we have a problem and then realise that fixing that problem is completely within our grasp. We feel empowered with all this new knowledge and as we start making the necessary dietary changes, we feel amazing because we’re getting results. We’re fricking doing this, y’all!

And it’s great. As long as we’re sticking to our plan and doing all the things we’re supposed to, the weight continues to come off, albeit a little more slowly than it did in the first few weeks. But the scale is still moving down and everything’s working and yet…suddenly it doesn’t feel that exciting any more. We’re no longer feeling the newfound excitement we felt right at the beginning, and the end is still quite a way off. So it’s only natural when some of us start looking for other ways to get that feeling of excitement back. Maybe we’ll add in a fitness challenge – those always seem really popular – or maybe we’ll consider changing up our plan – eating challenges are also all over YouTube. What we’re looking for is a return to that high we felt way back when we first started out on our weight-loss regimes…but that’s not necessarily a good thing.

The phrase “This is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle” has become a bit of a cliché, with many people repeating it verbatim, without really living by it. But the reality is, that for weight loss to not only be successful but sustainable, this really does have to be a complete lifestyle adjustment – not just a quick fix to get us to our goal weight. And like it or not, for this to BE a lifestyle change and not just a fad, we’re really going to have to expect the whole thing to become a bit boring. Is cleaning your teeth every day a blog-worthy event? I doubt it. Do you get ripples of adrenaline coursing through your veins every time you wash the dishes? I hope not. (I mean, you do you boo, but if that’s what really gets you going every day, you might want to look into trying a new hobby…just saying.)

What I’m trying to say is that whilst eating can be a part of how we celebrate or socialise, it really shouldn’t be the focal point of our entire day. I’ve mentioned this before, but my other half is a tall, athletic guy who has never really had to worry about his weight (except for one time when a course of medication for an injury caused him to lose his appetite a drop a little too much weight – but that was soon remedied by reducing his meds). He turned to me earlier while we were watching ‘My 600lb Life’ and said:

“You know, I’ll never really understand what all this is about.”

And thinking that he meant the severely super-morbidly obese people on the show, I told him that I didn’t fully understand their mindset either; that their pathological relationship with food is far more dangerous and damaged than mine has ever been. But he shook his head:

“No…I mean, I’ll never understand ANY of this weight-loss stuff. I can’t imagine having to think about everything I eat, all the time, every day. It’s completely alien to me.”

And he truly meant it. Don’t get me wrong, he’s incredibly supportive and frequently reminds me that if there’s anything he can do to help me with this, then just say the word; but it’s a whole other country to him, this world of weight-loss, fitness and food-plans. Which is exactly how it should be for someone with a totally normal relationship with food. Sure, it pays to be at least somewhat informed with regards to nutrition and activity levels, but for those who have never experienced any weight issues or food allergies / intolerances, food really isn’t that big of a deal. They enjoy a nice meal out, or a special celebratory dinner, but for the most part, food is a fuel that they need to consume in order to not die. If it tastes nice, that’s great, but they don’t feel the need to make every morsel some hyper-palatable gourmet offering that Heston Blumenthal would be proud of. And that’s one of the huge differences between those of us who have good relationships with food, and those of us who don’t.

A lot has been said recently about the notion of ‘Intuitive Eating’ and the twisted way that the ‘Fat Acceptance’ have chosen to bastardise it for their own ends. But the ideas at the core of ‘Intuitive Eating’ do make sense…for those don’t have a screwed-up relationship with food. It’s exactly how my other half eats every day. Sometimes he wakes up wanting a fried breakfast; other days he gets up and doesn’t want anything to eat for a few hours. Some days he’s happy to have a few smaller snack-like meals throughout the day, and on others he prefers a big roast dinner with all the trimmings. Aside from my obsession with wanting him to up his protein intake a bit, he normally gets enough of a wide range of food in his diet to keep him strong, lean and healthy – and he doesn’t ever stop to second-guess any of the food choices he makes.

(Yeah, I know…I really should hate the dude for that, but he’s pretty to look at and I can’t reach up to change the lightbulbs, so I like to keep him around, lol.) My point is that his relationship with food is the kind that we all should aspire to having ourselves. And part of that relationship will involve our having to find a way to stop food from having such an intense hold on us that we think about it from dawn ’til dusk. I hate to piss on everyone’s Cheerios, but not every meal needs to be interesting or exciting. What’s important is that we figure out how to get sufficient nutrition from our diet, find a plan that allows us to lose weight without feeling hungry or deprived, and then just go about the rest of our lives, like normal people do.

I’m not saying we can’t enjoy our food or that y’all should be suffering on some foul diet made up of foods you actually hate (because that shit ain’t sustainable for anyone in the long term) but if a lot of our food choices end up being pretty boring, that’s not the end of the world. That’s normal. Going out of your way to try and imbue every meal you consume on your weight-loss regime, with amazing flavours, textures, colours and fragrances, isn’t how most people eat. The very fact that we treat going out to dinner or having a celebratory birthday meal with such reverence, is precisely because they’re supposed to be special experiences that elevate the humble meal to an altogether different level. And I think we as a society have forgotten that.

“By the end of the 19th Century, fine dining restaurants had become part of the landscape for the wealthy aristocratic Europeans and upper-class Americans. These groups transformed eating out into an art form. Through the 20th century, restaurants continued to evolve through two world wars and the Great Depression. The 1950s saw the rapid growth of fast food, while the 1960s marked the beginning of casual family dining and chain restaurants. By 2000, more and more families were dining out on a weekly basis.”

History of American Restaurants in the 20th Century

Eating out regularly is still a relatively new concept for the working & middle classes as a whole. And it’s no coincidence that our ever-expanding waistlines have gotten bigger at exactly the same rate as the explosion in choices with regards eating out. It has become so much easier and cheaper for the average person to eat out, that dining culture is no longer the preserve of the upper classes. Everywhere we go there are myriad options to cater to our taste and wallets, offering intentionally hyper-palatable food combinations that we can choose to eat on the premises, take home or even have delivered to our doors. And we’ve gotten so that we almost feel as though we’re entitled to all this choice and convenience. We work hard, raise families, keep households, attend schools and at the end of the day we’re exhausted. So of course we feel like we deserve to ‘treat’ ourselves and our families to something quick, easy and tasty. But all we’ve really done is condition our taste-buds and our dopamine circuits to associate food with always being something that should taste epic and provide a massive bang for our buck.

So when we finally realise that we’re fat and out of shape, we naturally start to try and make our new food-plans really tasty and interesting and exciting, because we’re still trapped in the mindset of a person with a fucked up relationship with food. We look for recipes that will provide satisfying alternatives to the foods that we over-consumed to get fat in the first place, because we’re still obsessed with making food the focal point of our daily lives. And we really need to stop doing that.

Hey, I’m not claiming to be free of this way of thinking folks. I say all this as someone who realised a while ago that my own relationship with food was completely skewed, because of the type of ‘stimulant seeking’ mentality I have. I wrote a blog post about that very realisation which ya’ll can read here: Stimulus Chick. I know that I have a very active mind that loves to be stimulated and hates to be inactive (I have never been able to ’empty my mind’ and meditate and probably never will, lol) and that ‘stimulant seeking’ mentality plays out in the way I have approached food. Y’all, I’m as bad as everyone else with this, but it’s something I’m working on fixing because I don’t want food to be the controlling aspect of my day-to-day life; I’ve got way too many other things I could be focusing my attention on. And that’s why I’ve come to a second realisation about food, weight-loss and why it’s actually completely normal and healthy, for it to all be incredibly mundane.

When I look back at my previous posts on here I can see that I have yet to shed that obsession with having amazingly tasty food all the time. I’m not altering my behaviour, merely finding an alternative conduit through which I can continue to satisfy that ‘food-centric’ mentality. And I see it in so many other people who are trying to overhaul their diets and implement permanent “lifestyle” changes too. Letting go of the idea that all food has to be hyper-palatable and exciting is difficult. It’s scary and that fear is rooted in our aversion to the unknown, and filtered down through these comestible crutches we develop over time. It’s hard enough to cut out something like sugar from our diets; taking the next step towards a relaxed – almost nonchalant – form of ‘Intuitive Eating’, where food is no longer a perpetually intense, sensory experience is something else. But it’s what I truly believe is at the core of a successful lifestyle overhaul and a healthy relationship with food and eating.

Does that mean I’m suddenly going to become the most clean-eating, nutrition-focused, A+ example of how to eat? Um…no, I’m a work in progress folks; always have been, always will be. But I do want to try and take a mental step back from having an obsessive preoccupation with the food I eat. It’s going to be difficult, because I’ve a/ got a whole 40 years worth of habits to try and undo, and b/ also need to make sure that I’m sticking to my low-carb WOE by always having enough of the right food on hand to tide me over. But I’ve been eating this way for just over 5 months now. I know what I can and cannot eat and going forward, just grabbing something simple to eat because it meets my nutritional needs, is how I’d like to start regarding most of my food choices. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to be eating foods that I enjoy or not enjoying the food that I eat, because I will never get sick of eating steak! But not every meal has to be a sensory adventure. Food is and should be primarily, a source of fuel. And I need to remember that.

So, if you take anything away from this post, let it be this: weight loss is going to get boring over time AND THAT’S A GOOD THING! If you’ve been plodding along for a while and you’re no longer excited by your food choices, don’t immediately rush to try and inject a sense of excitement back into your life. At least not for the reasons I’ve been talking about today. Most of us got to where we are – being overweight, addicted to sugar and having a dysgenic relationship with food – largely in part through us abusing our pleasure / reward pathways with a constant stream of sensory overload from hyper-palatable food sources. Simply put, we’ve gotten addicted to the pleasure gained from eating. And it’s hard for us to let that go.

But if we’re ever to find our way back to having a normal relationship with food, we need to work on breaking that association between food and being constantly, pleasurably stimulated. It sounds trite, but finding other avenues from which to get our kicks, really is the best alternative. Cultivating interests outside of weight loss and food is a healthy route to living and eating like a “normal” person. I know it’s really tempting to want to ‘shake things up’ and find new, exciting ways to lose weight, but by always seeking that new injection of stimulation, we’re only feeding into that same cycle of ‘stimulant seeking’ behaviour. Deciding to do an egg fast for a week might get you some great results on the scale, but is that how you’re going to eat for the rest of your life? And how do you think your body is going to react once you return to how you were eating previously? By all means, consider things like intermittent fasting as a permanent way of eating that will become boringly second-nature over time; but if all you’re after is that initial ‘high’ you get from doing something new and different with your food, then you’re never going to find your way out of this ‘stimulant seeking’ behaviour around eating.

Like I said, right now I’m as guilty of this as the next person, but I’d like to think that by coming to this realisation, I will be better equipped to do something about it. Because I hate the idea of something as mundane as food having such a powerful hold over me. I want to eat to live, not live to eat.

Stay boring, y’all!

Bue

Manic Panic

I have never enjoyed ‘shopping’ in actual stores IRL. Be it trying to hunt down a book that I’m interested in (which will invariably not actually be stocked in our local bookshop because my interests are generally more esoteric than the latest bilge-fest of woke clap-trap that everyone is falling over themselves to be “seen” to be reading – I ain’t wasting my money on books that try to make me feel guilty about being white, or that try to push the new “stunning & brave” narratives about black, Muslim, gay, transgendered drag-queens, or feminist revisionism that wants us all to believe that women did all the things that won the second world war – bite me!) or navigating the supermarket aisles in Sainsburys to get the weekly shop. It’s always just an annoyingly necessary evil that leaves me wanting to hole up in my house and avoid the rest of the population forever.

Queuing is soul-destroying, waiting for sales-assistants to go pretend to look for an item they know they don’t have in stock is infuriating, and trying to push a trolley past the groups of women stood 3-4 deep in the middle of an aisle while they talk about the same shit they post on each other’s Facebook walls, ALL drives me completely nuts and makes me wish ‘tier 5’ lockdowns were a permanent fixture. I’ve never understood how some people actually consider shopping to be a fun, recreational pursuit; it’s literally just a means to an end. Sure, the things you purchase might be super-cool, useful or pretty to wear…but the act of going out to procure said items? It’s a boring, time-consuming task that sucks the absolute life out of me!

But online shopping? Man, that shit is the greatest improvement to my everyday life, since mp3-players made it possible to carry my entire music collection around in my pocket! Especially since I live in a very small, quiet area that doesn’t even have a pound-shop in it. I might not enjoy actual IRL shopping, but clicking a few buttons and getting whatever I want delivered to my door, has become something of an obsession with me. I just went over my list of online purchases in my bullet-journal, added up the cost of everything I’ve been buying lately, and it turns out that I’ve spent £966.54 (roughly $1321.59 USD) on Amazon and £298.21 (roughly $408 USD) on Ebay, since December 3rd! That doesn’t take into consideration any of the other online stores I regularly buy from or any of my regular IRL shopping. Oh, and none of that had anything to do with Christmas shopping, or clothes shopping or any bigger, considered purchases – it’s all just “stuff” that I decided I needed over the past 2 months. The only thing I really have to show for all that is a boat-load of protein bars that I’m accumulating way faster than I’m consuming them, a couple of bottles of perfume and a few notebooks/journals. I seriously don’t know how I managed to spend so much.

So of course, this past week I found myself back on Amazon, buying even more stuff, because why the frick not? I have this weird fear, front and centre in my mind (a fear that isn’t necessarily irrational, since the recent lockdowns created all the panic-buying madness that stripped supermarkets of pretty much everything) that something is going to happen to stop me from being able to buy everything I need, so I’m bulk-buying EVERYTHING from toilet-roll and deodorant, to frozen veg and ibuprofen, and stashing it away in case of emergency. And it’s not an altogether ridiculous notion really. Being prepared for all eventualities is actually a really good idea – as recent events have definitely shown us. But I think having changed to a low-carb WOE has really reinforced that idea for me, precisely because I don’t have as much access to the same range of stores as someone in a big town or city might have.

I know that at the most basic level, I can normally get by on fresh, locally sourced meat and produce. Great. But when this lockdown crap starts to ramp up, tier by tier, the local butchers end up shutting down temporarily and access to supermarkets becomes even more restricted (there are no 24hr stores open around here). After the first wave of lockdown madness, supermarkets and other stores responded by only allowing customers to purchase limited amounts of products – which is entirely understandable – and that was actually pretty inconvenient for me, because a lot of what I eat is the same thing on a daily basis. Letting me only buy two bags of broccoli just isn’t enough and the hassle of having to get taxis to-and-from the shops every time I went out just made everything a huge pain in the arse. I eat a LOT of meat and fresh veg and there have been some days where I literally couldn’t purchase as much as I needed to get me through the week.

Yeah, I know these are just the #FirstWorldProblems of someone with more specialised dietary requirements, but I’m not about to screw up all my hard work and efforts at improving my health…just because of some new restrictions put in place to “allegedly” keep me (and everyone else) healthy. Having fibro/arthritis also impacts the amount of times I can get out and actually go shopping too, so I have to try and be as creative with my time spent leaving the house, as possible. Whenever I go out I have to work out the best way to hit as many of the few shops as I can of the few shops in my locale. But as weeks rush by it just feels like my household stores are dwindling faster and faster, so online shopping has become a total life-saver.

Nobody knows how much longer this palaver with lockdowns is going to go on for – we seem to be getting different messages from the government on a day-to-day basis – and that’s really triggered the little panic-mode alarm to go off in the back of my head. I do NOT want to hear next week that we’re being escalated back up to a tier-7 level lockdown and are only allowed to visit the shops once or twice a week, only to find once I get there that my ability to purchase stuff is so severely restricted that I simply cannot make sufficient meals for the following 7 days. So…I’ve been bulk-ordering a bunch of stuff from Amazon and stashing it away in case things get more difficult. I’ve already mentioned in a previous post, what protein powders I use and I’ve stocked up on a good half a dozen of each of those recently, on top of those buckets of Manilife Deep Roast Peanut Butter (we’ve got them stashed in cupboards and on shelves all over the kitchen) and crates of sugar-free energy drinks.

Protein bars though…they’re my absolute obsession. I eat about 6 or 7 of them a week, but I’m buying boxes of them at least twice a week, leading to my acquiring quite the stash. I have a load in a huge oversized shopping bag in the front room, but they’re also squirreled away in my filing cabinet, in the spare room, and in the bottom drawer of the plastic storage drawers we keep in the bathroom (it’s mainly used to keep skincare stuff in it, but now the other half thinks I have some weird eating disorder that has me keeping protein-bars in there too. Dude, I’m not sat eating the damn things on the toilet like some freakish secret-eater…I’m literally just running out of places to store them, lol!)

But I feel a lot less stressed out just knowing that I’ve always got these suitable food-stuffs tucked away (all over the house, lol) should lockdown restrictions get even more insane and I start to feel as though I just don’t have enough food in to keep me going. It’s like my inner ‘Doomsday Prepper’ has begun to rear its ugly head and I want to be prepared for any and EVERY actuality. My other half has never had to worry about his weight (the guy took his very sculpted physique and actually sat for a bunch of life-modelling classes, completely naked, because he’s just THAT comfortable with his – incredibly nice – body!) but I’ve been trying to get him to swap out his regular Mars Bars and Snickers Bars, for their higher-protein/lower sugar alternatives. He thinks I’m nuts, but they don’t taste any different to the ones he usually eats, so he’s happy to oblige my nagging and go for the high-protein versions…even if it’s just to get me off his back, lol. So I’m also stashing boxes of those around the house for him too, in case lockdown life gets any harder. I’ve even been binge-watching Steve1989MRE’s channel and will probably be ordering some of the MRE food parcels he often reviews, just so I know that there’s always going to be plenty of food on-hand for himself, should the end-of-the-world happen.

Does all that sound mental? Probably. But I would much rather bulk-buy a tonne of stuff that I don’t necessarily need, than leave it all to the chance of my permitted trips to the supermarket, potentially leaving me short of enough food to get me through the days ahead. And I’m still 47lb away from meeting my 100lb goal, so I’ve got plenty of fat stores on my body to survive on. But I know how much harder it is to endure an enforced lack of food, than to go through an intentional fasting period of my own doing. Does that make sense? Because I’ve never been unlucky enough to not have access to food. The only times I’ve had to go without are on days when I’ve literally just been too lazy to do a food shop and found myself scratching around the kitchen trying to make a meal out of whatever weird dry-food crap is tucked away at the back of my cupboards. This lockdown thing is the first time I’ve ever had to worry about not having stuff in my kitchen to see me through the week. And I’m not gonna lie, it really does scare me. The virus doesn’t worry me (I had it last year and it was less intense than a regular flu or bad cold) but the idea of being stranded in my house, banned from going anywhere by the bloody government and not having enough low-carb foods on hand frightens me.

And I know that’s a lot to do with control. I’m a bit of a control freak and like to think that I’ve always got everything taken care of. This lockdown has taken away my ability to have the absolute control I need in order to feel comfortably able to stick to my health goals. It’s taken me out of my comfort zone and made me realise that I am also vulnerable to certain events upsetting not just my everyday routine, but my plans for losing weight. And I HATE that. Having to try and be all zen and accepting of the daily changes to how I live my life? I am so NOT about that, lol. Change isn’t something I fear…when it’s on my own terms. But this imposed set of changes that I have no control over? Nah, this shit drives me crazy. Hence the ‘panic-buying’ shenanigans. I know that fear is at the root of this behaviour and that I’m trying to assert a sense of control over my life by doing it…but I also know that logically, I’m being a bit insane and worrying a bit too much. I just refuse to let things get beyond my control, to a point where I end up having to resort to eating off-plan. Because there’s absolutely no reason for me to allow that to happen. Every meal is a choice and I’m choosing to make every meal count. Screw resorting to off-plan crap, just because the world is going cray-cray. I’ll be damned if I’m gonna let the goddamn ‘rona stop me from getting where I need to be!

We all just gotta do, whatever we need to do to get through these crazy times. And if turning my house into some low-carb bug-out shelter eases my stresses a little bit, then my other half is just going to have to get used to finding tubs of peanut butter and protein bars in the strangest of places. Because if the zombie apocalypse does end up hitting us, he’s gonna be coming to me for food supplies before the week is out!

Stay prepped y’all!

Blue

Standing Still

“Am I standing still, beneath the darkened sky?
Or am I standing still, with the scenery flying by?”

Bleugh. What a week. Up and down and all over the show. My body has been on a little adventure of its own over the past 7 days, just making things up as it goes. Last Monday I was surprised to have seen a 2lb loss on the scale because I was just into “Shark Week”. Today…um…well we’re still in “Shark Week” (although it’s looking more like “Shark Fortnight” now) on day 12 of this joyous visit from “Aunt Flo” (who really has long outstayed her fricking welcome this month). I won’t go into gross details or anything but it did feel like “Mother Nature” was messing with me, when after 7 days, it seemed as though this particular “visitation” was over…only for the “Communists To Move Back Into The Neighbourhood And Kick My Arse From The Inside Out” again, the following day. Sometimes it really does just be like that, y’all.

And I broke my rule of only weighing once a week again over the past 7 days because I could just tell that my weight was doing some real weird things with all the bloat and whatnot. At one point (I think it was Saturday, but I can’t remember for sure) I got on the scale and it was saying I’d gained 5lb since my previous Monday weigh-in, despite me having been a/ asleep for about 16hrs a day minimum and b/ not having eaten any proper meals on a handful of days that week, due to my feeling so nauseated. I knew it wasn’t a real gain, but it still shocked me to see a 5lb increase when I saw it on the scale.

Thankfully, as “Shark Fortnight” is now (hopefully) winding down, that weight has disappeared again, and when I got on the scale today to get my Monday weigh-in reading….it said I weighed exactly the same as I did last week, lol. No loss, no gain, just maintained. So I’m still 15 stone 3lb (213lb). No worries, it is what it is (and what it is, is the hormonal bullshit that comes from being a woman, lol) and at least that “ghost-gain” bloat of 5lb fecked back off to wherever the hell it came from before I weighed myself today! If I’m being 100% honest, as I stood on the scale it did keep flickering between 212 and 213lb, so I may well actually be half a pound down from last week, but I don’t measure in half-pound increments, so I’m just going to stick with the higher amount of 213lb and call this week a flat maintain.

So, nothing really worth reporting on today. Looking back over the “Fat Stats” page, you can definitely see a pattern where every 4 weeks or so I always seem to have a 0lb loss or random “ghost gain” whenever the “painters are in”, so I’m nothing if not predictable! These things just happen every month and will continue to do so for as long as I’m still getting these joyful little “visitations”. I know it’s nothing to do with my food intake (still going strong with my 100% commitment to the low-carb WOE) or anything else that I’ve done; it’s just nature being the cruel mistress that it is.

Right now it’s just after 2.15am where I am. I’ve been up and about for an hour or so now (yes, I keep strange hours), so I’ll probably start thinking about having something to eat real soon. Steak burgers and broccoli sounds pretty good – gotta get those iron levels up, right? So I shall leave you all to get on with your own days wherever you are and I’ll have a couple of other posts lined up for y’all later on in the week. Be good to yourselves and keep on, keeping on.

Stay cool folks

Blue

Best Laid Plans

“Tell me why all the best laid plans
Fall apart in your hands”

It’s already happening folks. The inevitable, annual dieting drop-off that happens every February, a few weeks after new year. So many people who swore up and down that THIS was going to be their year…who started a new “diet” (again), embarked upon a new fitness regime, vowed to drink a gallon of water every day and purchased a whole heap of supplements and new products that they were totally going to use every day without fail…yeah, a lot of them really aren’t doing so well. A lot of them have hit the wall and many have already given up. Of course, a lot of us knew this would be the case, because virtually every study tells us that around 80% of New Year’s resolutions will be abandoned by February. So why do so many people still carve out this arbitrary date on the calendar, as the day they’re going to make it all happen?

Well, a lot of it is just down to herd mentality and the desire to do the “good” thing on the “correct” date, like so many of our fellow friends, family and co-workers have elected to. It’s the “done thing” to commit oneself to a righteous sacrifice in the New Year, after a period of festive indulgence – and we don’t want to miss out on being a part of this mass declaration of pure intent, on what we see as a magically symbolic date. And it just feels so right to draw a line under the previous year doesn’t it, so we can start anew with a clean slate, free from who we were “last year”. New Year, New You. Amirite?

Yeah, I’ve never been one for making New Year’s Resolutions. It always seemed a bit odd to me that this one day – during the coldest, darkest time of the year – would be the exact date and time when everyone (regardless of their personal situations) went and overhauled their lives for the better. Any time I want to embark upon something new, I do a bit of research and then get on with doing it at the time most convenient to me. That could be tomorrow, next week, next month, or something I’m planning on doing a year from now, once I’ve got everything I need in place. But I sure as shit don’t pick a date that has no real bearing on my own life, just because everyone else is doing it. That just seems weird and doomed to fail.

And failing is what we’re seeing a lot of right now. We’re not even a whole month in and folk are dropping like flies, getting as creative as possible with the excuses as to why they’ve had to abandon their goals:

  • It’s too cold to go out for a run
  • I just need to eat some real, satisfying food when the weather’s like this
  • It’s so busy as work this time of year…I don’t have time to eat properly
  • I’m going to wait until the mornings start getting lighter so I can start going to the gym before work
  • I’ve still got so much Christmas food / snacks in the house. I don’t want to waste money throwing it out
  • My S.A.D. is really bad at this time of year so it’s really hard to get motivated
  • I think I might need to change plans and restart in a month or so

And that’s just a few of the reasons I’ve seen people give for quitting their diet / fitness plans for 2021. I’m not saying that those aren’t true or that they’re not valid reasons for feeling like throwing in the towel. But I think in a lot of cases there’s a much bigger underlying problem:

Overwhelm.

We humans are a curious breed. Blessed with these fabulously big, beautifully complex brains of ours, you’d think that we would have the act of goal-accomplishment down to a fine art. Yet more often than not, we over-complicate matters to the point where we no longer know how to get anything done. We like to draw up hugely complicated plans, taking solace in the notion that the more detailed and structured we make them, the less likely we are to fail. That way of thinking is often rooted in fear: we lack confidence in our own ability to do the thing we want to do, so we try to create a failsafe plan that we can have confidence in instead. And if that plan is based on something that we’ve seen other people doing, even better right?

Birds don’t stress out about all the things they need to do to build a nest. They just go out and get twig after twig, leaf after leaf, and build it bit by bit. But us? The super-intelligent, evolved species? We’re not happy unless we’ve wargamed the bejeezus out of EVERYTHING. And then, THEN we hang all of our hopes on us being able to maintain our focus and commitment to doing ALL THE THINGS…only to become demoralised and dejected when we fail to get it 100% right, 100% of the time. That’s when so many of us quit. If just one thing goes awry, that’s it. Fuck it. Might as well just jack the whole thing in and go sit in the mud and eat a cake or nine. It’s like we’re hardwired to never be able to see any of the good we have accomplished, whenever we make a single mistake.

Managed to overhaul your diet, cut out all the extra sugar and started drinking more water? Yeah but you only went to the gym twice last week, instead of three times, so you’re obviously just a big fat failure and might as well give up, right?

And y’all know I’m not even being remotely hyperbolic here. Because that mad shit is exactly the kind of bonkers garbage that goes through so many people’s heads whenever they hit a bump in the road. It’s that ‘All Or Nothing’ mentality, that again comes from having a lack of self-confidence. When we don’t have any faith in our own ability to succeed, we put all our faith in ‘The Plan’ instead. But if we can’t succeed at ‘The Plan’, then nothing is ever going to work, we were stupid for ever thinking it would, so we might as well just give up and never try to do anything else, ever ever again.

Or, there are the obstinately ridiculous ones doing the exact opposite.

Trying to cut carbs AND calories, starting a crazy new gym routine, drinking a gallon of water every day AND trying to go vegan / carnivore / whatever, all at the same time was way too much to attempt all at once and they failed…so…let’s try and do it all again starting on Feb 1st! Because THIS time, THIS month will magically and miraculously be different, right? Sigh. Some of y’all will never learn, will you? I swear some people are just so monumentally invested in the idea of “dieting” and being perpetually ON a diet, that they’re doomed to subconsciously self-sabotage any small successes they achieve, by staying in the diet / binge cycle:

I see it every day in the various weight-loss communities online and I just wish I could grab each and every one of these people, shake them and tell them to just chill the feck out. Pick one thing that you want to change. Just one to begin with – because most people are simply unable to work on changing multiple habits at the same time – and then sit down and make a realistic plan that will allow you to make small, cumulative improvements over time and then do it. I know people want all the results right now and hate the idea of having to make slow, steady progress towards a goal, but that’s the only way you’ll ever be able to make permanent, sustainable changes that will actually last. If fast-fixes and short-cuts to sustained weight-loss actually worked, we’d all be thin and never have to worry about our weight ever again.

One of the biggest hurdles that so many people face when trying to lose weight, get fit and be healthy, seems to be impatience. Never mind the fact that so many of us have been overweight, inactive and unhealthy for so long, for some reason we think that a lifetime of poor choices, ingrained habits and health problems can – and should – be fixed right now. I mean, we’ve made the decision to change, to improve, so that should be enough to make this shit happen, right? Wrong. Undoing a lifetime of shitty decisions doesn’t happen overnight. Even if you were a superhuman goal-getter who was able to implement all the right choices going forward, the effects are still going to take a long time to emerge. And most of us ain’t superhuman, y’all (not even me, lol!).

This post is getting kinda long and I was going to talk a little bit about how heuristics play a huge part in keeping us from being able to make long-term, sustained changes, but I think I’ll save that for another time, because I know it’ll take a bit of explaining for me to get my point across. But the main thing I wanted to convey today was that change is hard. It takes a lot of effort to focus our attention on improving just one aspect of our habits and behaviours, so trying to do all the things, all at once will inevitably doom you to failure, with all the added despondency and demotivation that brings along with it. So be honest with yourself when you’re trying to create change in your life. Be realistic with your goals and always remember that small, cumulative changes over time, WILL add up to greater improvements in the long run. There are no short-cuts, so stop looking for one.

Stay realistic folks.

Blue

Feeling Good

“It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life…for me
And I’m feeling good”

Today (Thursday 28th January 2021) is 150 days since I switched over to the low-carb way of life.

150 days.

That’s pretty fricking cool, y’all. Not one single day off-plan, not a single cheat. Just 150 days of eating well, losing weight and feeling hella better for it. I can’t believe I didn’t think of doing this sooner. Time always passes, whether you decide to make changes or not. And now, I can’t believe I’m sat here and I’ve been doing this for 150 days! Where has the time gone? It only feels like a month or so ago I was deciding to change my diet and yet, it’s been (lemme just say it again, lol) ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY DAYS!

Every day that passes with me eating lo-carb, just makes me want to keep on eating this way for ever. The better I do, the better I want to do. It’s a brilliantly self-reinforcing cycle of success and motivation. And I am SO here for it! I mean, I always knew that if I just set my mind to it, that I’d be able to shift some flab, but that doesn’t take away from the immense feelings of pride and satisfaction that I’m experiencing right now. I’m just past the halfway point and this way of eating has become so incredibly normal, it isn’t even an effort to stick to it. Surely losing weight isn’t supposed to be this easy?

I feel like I just want to take everyone who’s struggling with their weight, move them into my house and feed them everything I’ve been eating to show them just how effective a low-carb WOE can be. I want everyone to understand the science behind this WOE and then find health, happiness and success with it too! I know, I know, I’m ranting like the newly converted – a “ketoevangelist” if you will – but this approach really works and I just wish I could get more people to take the leap for themselves and feel the incredible benefits that I have!

Don’t get me wrong, eating this way hasn’t cured everything that ails me; I’m always going to have fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis and this past week has been a bit of a nightmare with my hands seizing up. But the way my body feels as a whole is just so much better than it was back in August last year. A lot of that will be due to my now carrying less weight on my frame, but my flare-ups are much less intense now. They don’t last as long as they used to and I know that’s down to getting rid of the sugar. My brain feels more focused, sharper and better able to process information. I’m finding it easier to read books again and remember what I’ve just taken in. I’m even going to speak to my doctor about reducing some of my medication, when I’m actually able to get an appointment. I’m feeling that good!

Sure, I know that I’ve still got a long way to go and things are definitely going to harder, the closer I get to my goal – never mind the real test, in maintaining my weight loss which will be a lifelong commitment – but right now I’m really happy with the way things are going. As I should be! I alone decided to make these changes and I alone am responsible for sticking to this WOE. So I have every right to feel good about myself. And if that sounds like I’m bragging, or being arrogant…well suck on it, lol. Anyone who commits to a plan to improve themselves and sticks to it, deserves to feel really bloody good about themselves. So to all my fellow fat-fighters out there, kicking arse and taking names, y’all better be feeling real proud of yourselves right now. Because you’re fucking awesome!

And while I’m on the topic of celebrating milestones (did I mention I’ve been successfully at this for 150 days now? I did? Oh, sorry, I didn’t realise, lol!) I thought I’d run through a few more little steps on my journey to success. This week I weighed in at 15 stone 3lbs (213lbs) which means:

  • I have lost 57lb – that’s 3lbs away from having lost 60lb.
  • Converting that 57lb into old money, I have passed the 4 stone loss mark – 4 stone and 1lb to be exact.
  • I am 4lb away from getting under the 15 stone mark and into the 14 stone range for the first time since I was in 9th grade.
  • I am 14lb (1 stone) away from being 199lb – that’s “onederland”, baby!
  • I am 43lb away from hitting my initial goal of losing 100lb.

I’m so unbelievably happy with my progress right now! I could jump for joy…if my arthritic knees weren’t so goddamn knackered, lol! And I haven’t had to start tinkering around with calorie amounts, intermittent fasting or even incorporating exercise yet – I still have all those tools at my disposal, when (or if) I feel I need to use them. For now though, I’m just going to keep on eating the same way I have been from Day 1, for as long as I keep on seeing the results I want. I seem to be losing around 1-2lb a week right now, which is absolutely perfect. If that slows to just 1lb a week I’ll still be happy, because that’s completely sustainable and feels totally doable.

I often see people getting down or discouraged because they “only” lost a single pound in a week, and that’s ridiculous. None of us got overweight overnight and we’re not going to lose it overnight either. This has to be something we can be successful at for life, not just one great week where we hit the elliptical like mad and manage to get a big loss in a 7 day period. I’m still hugely overweight and losing a larger amount by really restricting my intake one week would be pretty easy, if I were so inclined. But that’s not going to make this a realistic, lifelong achievement. That would just tell me that in order to maintain that big loss, I’m going to have to continue to push myself that hard forever, to keep it off. And I’m really not about that way of life. I want this to be something I can easily continue to follow and sustain in the long term, without having to commit to some crazy exercise regime that I’ve never followed before and won’t want to carry on with in perpetuity. Sure I want to get to being more active in time, but that’ll be because my body is in a position to want to enjoy being more active; not because I’m trying to make a quick gain – or loss, rather – in the short term.

So yeah, I don’t plan on being a yo-yoing “dieter” who just throws everything they have at their weight problem, slacking off once I hit goal, only to have to ramp up my efforts all over again, once the pounds start to creep back on. That way of existing just sounds miserable and I know it won’t do my underlying health problems any favours either. I’m going to turn 41 this year FFS. Time really isn’t on my side, when it comes to getting my health in order.

So if the weight loss starts slowing (which it will do) and the pounds no longer come off as quickly as they did to begin with, that’s fine with me. I’d rather a slower, steadier trip to the finish line than a sprint that I have to keep pushing myself to complete, every bloody year. And if any of you guys out there are feeling discouraged because your own weight loss is slowing down the closer you get to your goal – don’t feel bad about it. That’s how it’s supposed to happen. Obviously, if you’re still quite a way from your target weight and you know you’ve been getting a bit slack (either with your carb count or your calorie deficit) then by all means re-evaluate your food intake, making sure to accurately track everything you’re eating etc, but don’t go overboard and start imposing a load of unsustainable bollocks on yourself. You might have a good week or fortnight and feel elated at seeing the scale drop down really quickly; but if you aren’t prepared to continue to do what you had to do to make that big drop happen in the first place, the minute you back off on your efforts, you’ll start to see less favourable results on that scale.

Be realistic with your weight loss goals folks. As tempting as it is to try and get all the weight off ASAP, in the long run that just isn’t going to be sustainable. And that’s what we all want right? Long term success that we can maintain in the long run. So I’m going to keep on feeling great about the progress I’ve made so far and just keep on doing what I’ve been doing from Day 1, letting nature take its course. As trite, cheesy and hackneyed as the saying is, this really is about cultivating a lifestyle, not just going on a diet.

And I for one am more than happy to accept that.

Keep it real folks

Blue

Everybody Hurts / Weekly Weigh-In

“Don’t let yourself go
‘Cause everybody cries
And everybody hurts, sometimes”

Just having one of those days today. The arthritis is making my arms hurt like hell and my fingers are so stiff, swollen and gnarled I can barely type this post out. But, I couldn’t not do my weekly update, pain or not. So here I am for what will be a very short post today. I know…must be something REALLY wrong for me to not waffle on for a good 1000+ words, but it’s nothing new or exciting. Just the usual aches and pains flaring up the way they do from time to time – it’s probably got something to do with me currently being in “Shark Week”. But it is what it is and I just gotta keep on doing my thing: gonna stick to my plan as usual and mong out on the sofa till the pain subsides a bit.

This being “Shark Week” I wasn’t really expecting anything weight-loss wise. I hadn’t eaten off-plan at all, but you know how it is with the hormonal bloat making you feel like the back-end of a bus. Hopping on the scale first thing today though, the little screen said my current weight is 15 stone 3lb (213lb) which means that in the past 7 days I’ve dropped another 2lb! Good stuff! Still on track and plodding along at a decent pace. Can’t ask for more than that, can I?

So yeah, nothing particularly exciting to report back on. I haven’t been eating anything different or trying anything new, just sticking to what I know and letting the process continue to deliver progress. Sorry for not being able to share more with y’all today – just one of those days, meh. Hopefully I’ll feel more up to writing some more in a few days or so; I’ve got plenty of ideas for new posts in the pipeline, I just gotta wait until I feel a bit better.

Anyways, I hope you’re all doing well wherever you are and are keeping on, keeping on.

Stay dedicated y’all.

Blue

Keeping Your Tank Topped Up

I had one of my buddies remark recently:

“How the hell you can keep being on fire without ever getting burned out?”

And I replied – almost without thinking – the truth about how I:

  • Surround myself with motivational quotes
  • Obtain and read motivational books
  • Immerse myself in nutrition related literature
  • Watch YouTube or TV shows that feed my motivation

All of which are really helpful and are things that almost anyone can benefit from. But there’s a bit more to the equation than just those simple suggestions. Because motivation isn’t something you can just absorb passively without putting in the effort to actually make it work for you. Nor is it something that you can just focus on one time, and then expect to retain infinitely without you working on keeping it going. The way I like to look at motivation, is by comparing it to a car. You are the car. Motivation is the fuel. Your car won’t go anywhere without petrol / gas, but you can’t just fill up the tank and expect it to move by itself. You need a ‘spark’ to ignite that fuel and get it power you along. And to further that car metaphor, you can’t just fill your tank up the once and expect it to run forever. You gotta keep on refilling that tank every time it starts to run dry, or your car isn’t going anywhere.

So to look at that first scenario, what do I mean by you needing a ‘spark’? Well, we’re all familiar with the myriad motivational quotes, books and videos that are out there available in both internet-land and the meat-space. If you’re anything like me, you especially collect quotes, write them down in your journal or planner, stick them to your fridge and basically have them perpetually on hand, ready to help boost your resolve on those days when you’re feeling a little sluggish, unmotivated or uninspired. And that’s great. But simply collecting motivational materials and expecting them to be the magic miracle that will suddenly make you successful, isn’t going to cut it. You need to make these resources work for you and that involves effort. It involves effort, application and dedication.

“But that’s what I need them to help me achieve in the first place!”

Yeah, naw, sorry dawg. It really doesn’t work that way. That ‘spark’ I mentioned earlier? That has to come from you. You have to want to make these tools work for you and be willing to interact with them regularly, for them to do what you want. You can buy all the books you want, but if they’re just sat on your bedside table then you’re never going to benefit from the information they contain. And you can read all the books in Waterstones, but if you don’t then take that information and find a way to actually utilise it, then you might as well not have bothered reading them in the first place. You have to want to get something out of these resources and be willing to make them work for you, by figuring out how to take the advice they contain and incorporate it into your life.

It’s probably not want you want to hear, but there are no short cuts to being a motivated person. I know a lot of people just think that they can read a few cutesy sayings, post them onto their Instagram and then absorb all the sentiments in some easy kind of passive, pseudo-osmosis. Then when they don’t suddenly become the fully fired-up, ass-kicking, goal-smashing success story they want to be, they whine about how they just aren’t motivated enough. Well duh, of course you’re not. You haven’t gone out of your way to make these motivational resources work for you, so of course you’re not just becoming magically motivated by them. You need to create that ‘spark’ yourself.

So what constitutes a ‘spark’? Well, first you need to figure out what it is that you want to be more motivated to do in the first place. A lot of people like to utilize the S.M.A.R.T. goals method, which can help you to carefully delineate all the aspects involved in your goal as well as all the parameters within which you need to operate in order to succeed at it. The most simple way to approach any goal though, is to first figure out your “why”; or rather, what reasons lie at the heart of your decision to achieve this goal. If you don’t have any real, tangible reasons for doing this, then you’re going to find it less important – and ultimately less likely – for you to achieve. So sit down with a journal, notebook or a piece of paper and really think about what it is that you want to achieve. Think about all reasons this is important to you, the ways in which your life will improve, the added benefits that may also come along as a by-product of doing this, and really think about what achieving this goal will mean to you. If you’re having trouble coming up with any meaningful, tangible reasons for achieving this goal, then it may not be something you need to waste your time, money and effort going after. It has to matter to you – REALLY matter to you – if you’re going to stay the course and do what needs to be done.

Once you’ve figured out what’s really important to you and the reasons behind it, take that list and put it somewhere where you can easily regularly refer to it. This list is your “why” and whilst you’ll always know deep down what it is that you want to achieve, sometimes it can get a little hard to see the wood for the trees and you just need to go back to where you started and reinforce your “why” to help keep you on track. But to get the most out of this step, you should schedule some regular ‘check-ins’ with yourself, where you refer back to this list and go back through all the reasons you first came up with – maybe even adding to that list over time. That act of actually scheduling a regular ‘check-in’ (weekly at first, then fortnightly and then monthly as you make more progress is a good time-frame to operate from) is you putting in the effort to create that ‘spark’ I talked about. Your “why” list is a motivational resource in and of itself, but just writing it up and never referring back to it again, will never motivate you. YOU need to make the time to sit and go back over it, checking to see if it’s valid over time and letting those initial reasons reinforce your resolve and help strengthen your commitment.

That same process applies to a motivational quote. Read it; take the time to sit and think about what that quote means to you and why you feel it resonates with you. Again, journaling or just jotting down your thoughts is a really good way to process this because the very act of putting pen to paper alone, helps you to clarify your thoughts and reinforce the impact behind their message. By taking your thoughts out from inside of your head where they’re floating around with a bunch of other stuff (like remembering to call your mum, thinking about what to cook the kids for dinner, and wondering if you really like that particular shade of nail-polish you’re currently wearing) and committing them to paper, you allow yourself to view them in isolation and much more objectively. Of course, this isn’t something you have to do with every single quote you see, from now until the day you die; once you’ve gone through this process a few times, you’ll find yourself better able to get the same results and implement the core strategies you develop, without really thinking about them. But to begin with, interrogate the quote that you think is going to be useful to you. Look beyond what might just be a warm-fuzzy sentiment that sounds good and search for the kernel of truth within that’s really resonating with you. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why do I like this quote?
  • What does this quote mean to me? What is it actually saying?
  • How can the wisdom or sentiment contained within this quote be applied to my own goals? How is it relevant to me and my situation?

Again, this isn’t a process you’re going to have to manually complete with every quote you see for the rest of your life; but when you’re starting out it’s important to understand why and how a particular quote is going to be useful in keeping you motivated. By asking yourself these questions, you will be essentially finding out the ways in which a quote helps to tap into – and reinforce – your “why”. You want to be using this process to weed out the unhelpful (however pleasant sounding) quotes from those which actually help you to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. You’re looking for something that will act like a quick short-cut back to your own personal “why”, without having to go back and reread the entire list every single day.

After having done this a few times, you’ll start to recognise what are the really useful, relevant quotes to keep around, and what are just what Dan Dennett would refer to as a “deepity” As with anything, the more you practice doing this, the better at it you become and you’ll no longer need to keep on writing out an intensive analysis of every quote you like, in order for it to become truly useful to you. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t use this process ever again going forward (remember what I said about how you can’t just fill up your tank, you have to constantly refill it?) because using a notebook or a journal to clarify your thoughts about anything, is an invaluable tool that can be applied to almost any problem. I still journal about various quotes I find from time to time, because I know how much more I’ll benefit from really interrogating the message behind them and figuring out how they apply to me. This repeated commitment to going back and not only re-evaluating my “why”, but also finding new resources to bolster my resolve, is the effort required to keep me motivated. That’s me regularly igniting that ‘spark’, any time I need to use that fuel resource to get me moving again.

Motivational quotes might seem trite, silly and completely pointless to some, but the very fact that we bother to clip them, pin them, post them or jot them down at all, shows just how much we as a society value a witty statement with an underlying message of wisdom. They’re not for everyone, but for those who can see the value in them they can be a really beneficial method of staying connected to your “why” and giving you that extra boost when you’re feeling a little ‘meh’. The real truth about these quotes however, isn’t that they’re telling you something you don’t know and providing you with new knowledge (that’s the job of ‘facts’ lol); no, they’re really just allowing you to tap into something you already know, by presenting it in a simple, succinct and memorable format. THAT’s the real beauty of a good quote!

I also mentioned reading books or watching video content – usually designed to help motivate you either to start something new or stop a habit that you wish to cease doing. Far longer than quotes, these require a longer attention span; but the way in which you interact with these resources is much the same. Don’t just read the book and toss it aside once finished. Don’t watch the video and then immediately after go right on to watching or doing something else. You need to actively be utilising the information they contain, for them to be of any real value to you. So as you’re going through the material presented to you, take notes. Take regular breaks at suitable intervals and be sure that you’ve gleaned the information you just read or heard. If you don’t understand something, take the time to go look it up – don’t just assume that you’ll be able to infer the meaning as you go along or that you’ll totally go read up on it at a later date – do it now. Make sure you know what it is the writer or speaker is trying to convey and when you’ve figured it out, move on to the next part.

When you come to the end of the video or book in question, go make yourself a cup of tea (don’t read your emails or check your phone for texts) and allow what you’ve just learned about to coalesce in your mind. Sit for a few minutes, mull it over a bit and then return to your notes and see what you’ve jotted down. At first you might find it a bit maddingly overwhelming – especially if this is your first time trying this approach – but you’ll soon see nuggets of wisdom and useful tips that you can implement, jumping out at you from the paper. Either grab a highlighter or just circle the bits that are of value and when you’ve identified what’s useful, take another page or piece of paper and write them out clearly and concisely. You might want to put all the tips together in a list that you can use as a plan going forward, whilst keeping the motivational quotes and quips separate. Whatever works for you. But just be sure that you’re collating information, advice and instructions that are pertinent to your goal and how best to achieve it.

Then, once you’ve got your pared down useful content, decide on how you’re going to utilise the information it contains. Are you going to move forward with a plan? Well make sure you’ve got that plan set out in a way that you can realistically follow, always making sure that it ties back in to your “why”. Are you going to use the motivational quotes or quips it contains to keep spurring you on when times get a bit harder? Then as we just went through previously, interrogate those quotes to find out why they’re so relevant and why they resonate with you, then write them out on a piece of paper to stick on your fridge, keep on your desk or stick in your planner. The information is all there for you – you’ve just got to use your own initiative in order to make it work for you. And just as I talked about when figuring out / writing up your “why”, go back over your notes regularly to make sure that you’re implementing the advice they contain and reinforcing the underlying message.

If all this sounds like a lot of hard work, well…I don’t really know what to tell you. If you’re looking for an easy option that will somehow just magically make you perpetually motivated, there isn’t one. What I’ve just laid out for you in this post is admittedly just my own personal method of making motivational materials work for me; but no matter what the specific details are in formulating an approach to being and staying motivated, it’s always going to involve YOU making the effort to make your method work for you. Motivation isn’t the ‘spark’ which sets you off on your path to success – it’s the fuel that keeps you going. If you take anything away from this post it’s this:

  • Be involved
  • Be intentional
  • Be proactive
  • Be willing to put in the effort

And the best part about motivation is that as it brings you closer to achieving your goals, that sense of accomplishment feeds straight back into your fuel tank, helping to motivate you even more. It’s a self-reinforcing cycle. Even if you don’t get to experience the immediate completion of a goal, just seeing yourself successfully implementing positive changes, making good decisions and being intentional with your behaviours is – by itself – incredibly rewarding. You might choose to set mini-goals along the way (lots of people like to use Non-Scale Victories as indicators of their cumulative progress towards a weight-loss goal) and reaching those can also be incredibly motivating, if you take the time to sit down and allow yourself to really understand and appreciate what all your hard work has helped you to achieve already.

At the end of the day, I’m not just motivated because I happen to be born with the inherent ability to be that way. I’m not lucky or special or even all that insightful. I just know that in order to keep my motivation tank full, I need to be the one going out and refilling it. And I alone need to make the effort to constantly refill it, because that shit ain’t going to top itself up. It’s all on me. Always has been, always will be.

Stay intentional folks

Blue

Mind Over Matter / Monday Weigh In

It’s just a trip not a way to ease your pain
Self help, tell another shrink the same damn thing
Until you decide to drop again

Today’s comes from one of my favourite bands ever: Blue October. They’re not all that well known over here in the UK (“Hate Me” did pretty well back in the mid 2000’s, but other than that I rarely see them mentioned much on radio stations or anything like that) but they do have a quietly solid, devoted following and rightfully so. The lead singer Justin Furstenfeld writes intensely personal, passionate lyrics that detail every hell and horror his life has thrown up, from drug addiction and being sectioned, to his continued battle with his mental health and sobriety while his wife basically spent all the money he saved from being on tour, and tried to stop him from getting to see his daughter. Whilst that might sound like a pretty miserable lot to want to listen to, the raw honesty portrayed through Justin’s expressive vocals – combined with searingly beautiful music that blends aspects of rock, pop, folk, country, blues, punk, R&B and so many other genres – creates a vast back catalogue of music that really moves the listenter and has a little something different for whatever mood you happen to be in that day.

This song has absolutely nothing to do with losing weight – I just wanted an excuse to include it in a post because it really resonated with me back during a time when I had a psychotic break of my own. I didn’t get sectioned, but I was heavily medicated for some time and suffered from frequent mild hallucinations. The medication came with its own side-effects though and that meant having to decide between seeing stuff that wasn’t there or being utterly obliterated by anti-psychotics and sedatives. Despite being pretty whackadoodle for a while there, I was lucky enough to still also know that what I was experiencing wasn’t real. I mean sure I was a bit crazy, but I knew I was crazy, so that kinda meant that I wasn’t all that crazy in the grand scheme of things, lol. Many people have far worse experiences with mental illness, but thanks to a brilliantly attentive GP who spent months tinkering with various combinations of medication at different doses, I was able to find a way to manage the chemical imbalance in my brain and get back to a state of normalcy after a couple of years.

Unlike a lot of people who go through similar experiences, I never once sought out any talk-therapy from a psychologist, psychotherapist or counsellor. Not because I don’t think that those aren’t helpful or valid – for many people they’re invaluable. But I knew that for me, the way back to being normal was going to largely be a case of finding the right medication and working on myself instead. Again, I was lucky to enough to know something wasn’t right and despite a couple of weeks where I have little to no memory of what took place (I actually got taken by my boss to the doctor’s clinic for an emergency assessment after I totally lost the plot in a meeting, lol) I never felt as though I lost any sense of what it was to be me. I regarded it as an illness that I needed to get well from and once the right medication started to kick in and something “clicked” in my brain, I began the process of self-reflection and interrogated all the weird little subsequent fears like agoraphobia that I’d picked up along the way.

I read up about CBT and used techniques like gradually exposing myself to greater distances away from my front door; constantly asking myself to logically assess the actual risk in any given situation. I wrote a lot in my journal, pushing, questioning and testing myself constantly – because that’s just the way I am. I hate the idea of anything or anyone getting the better of me, which probably motivates me to find ways to problem-solve more than anything else does. It pissed me off that my brain had glitched out on me and thrown my entire life into a tail-spin:

“How very dare you, brain!”

Because I’ve always gone through life feeling invincible. Tackling everything head-on, often bullishly, mostly logically and always defiantly. But when the problem isn’t something external…when the problem is inside your own head…yeah, that shit can be pretty intense. Seeing stuff that I knew wasn’t really there was a bit scary at first, but over time it became more annoyingly frustrating.

“Like, um…I know that ain’t reality dude, so why the feck are you still there?”

It must be so incredibly terrifying for those who suffer from hallucinations and don’t know that they’re not real; I can’t imagine the kind of hell that creates for the sufferer. And I know I had it a lot easier. But I got so mad at myself, not being able to control the fact that I was having these mild hallucinations, knowing they weren’t real, but not knowing how to make them go away. I felt like I was being mentally weak for “allowing” this crap to keep presenting itself and not having the mental fortitude to banish it from my mind entirely. I know that’s a pretty dumb way to think about it, but I really felt like I was failing myself. Of course, the hallucinations didn’t just go away overnight once I was given a prescription, but it helped a lot. What really got them to stop was me taking the time to pick apart every little aspect of the fears I was feeling, searching inside myself for the root causes and eventually getting to a point where I was able to let go of said fears and begin to view every situation in a more neutral and realistic fashion.

Getting myself back to what I felt was “normal” was both exhilarating and a massive relief. It’s exhausting being at war with your own mind. But I got there and I have that amazing doctor and wonderfully supportive other half to thank for that. Without them I’d probably still be zonked out under a ‘chemical cosh’ and seeing really weird black voids where the faces of strangers ought to be. I will never take my mental health for granted ever again and I feel as though I understand the experiences of other sufferers much better as a result. I’m still on a bunch of different meds to keep me on an even keel, and having suffered one breakdown I’m statistically more likely to have another one in future than someone who hasn’t. But I feel confident that should I have any further problems, I’ll hopefully recognise the warning signs earlier on and will seek out medical help sooner than later, instead of just chalking it up to my “working too hard” or being “overtired”.

The real kicker in all of this though, was that just as I was getting myself back on track mentally, my physical health started to decline, as what I thought to be simple aches and pains got worse; with joints seizing up, digits swelling and limbs aching as though I’d been run over by a truck. Being told that I had fibromyalgia and then learning about the arthritis felt like I’d been dealt a really shit hand. Yeah, I know, plenty of other people have it worse, and this IS NOT a cry for sympathy (so don’t you dare feel sorry for me – any of you!) but it’s really demoralizing to go from having felt elated at having fixed one set of issues, only to be told that I now have a couple more to deal with – and these conditions aren’t going away anytime soon. In fact the psychological issues I’d suffered may well actually be a part of the fibromyalgia syndrome itself. Great!

Time passed and I felt pretty miserable. Walking got harder and any trip out the house would leave me almost bedridden the following morning. Was this it? Life now destined to get smaller and smaller as pain and immobility gradually rendered me housebound?

“It’s not fair!”

I’ve lost count of the number of times I said that, usually during a particularly bad flare-up, or when I went to do something and my body refused to comply. Yes it’s childish and yes it solves nothing, but in that moment the words flew out of my mouth in a mixture of anger, fear and frustration and sadness. Anger at my body for betraying me. Fear of becoming a prisoner in that body. Frustration at myself for not being able to get a handle on this thing. And sadness at the realisation that things are never going to be the same again.

But if you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ll already know what happened next. It’s the reason this blog exists in the first place. I decided to do whatever I could to improve my health, reduce the impact of these conditions and slow the progressive decline of my mobility. I vowed to lose a bunch of weight. Because whilst I had to spend a little time feeling sorry for myself, that part of me that refuses to back-down, give up or be told what to do, kicked in with freaking bells on!

“What’s that? You got a problem? Well then you got some problem solving to do then, don’t you Blue? You gotta stop wallowing, go do your research and come up with a plan of attack!”

Which is exactly what I did do. I already knew about the benefits of a low-carb WOE and I spent days reading and watching YouTube videos, to prepare myself the fight ahead. I started by cutting out sugary drinks, weighed myself (almost had a heart attack, lol) set up a food diary in my bullet journal and got to stocking my fridge with all the good food I’d need to begin my new low-carb way of life. I set up this blog so I could share my experiences with others and have a record of my progress for posterity and…the rest, as they say, is history.

I decided to share all this today, to give y’all a better insight into they way I think and the reason I do what I do. In all honesty, I don’t know how to be any other way. I’ve been told that I’m a ‘Type A’ Personality and consistently get scored as an INTJ on Myers-Briggs tests. I’m practical, proactive, logical and direct. I like challenges, enjoy problem solving and get legitimately excited at the prospect of succeeding at whatever I set my mind to. I approached my mental health issues in much the same way as I’m now approaching my mission to lose weight and improve my physiological health. And failure just isn’t an option. Not just because I need this to vastly improve my health, but because I really don’t think I could live with myself, if I let myself fail. Yeah…I never did give up on the idea of my being invincible, lol.

But enough of that for now – time to get down down to the order of the day: the weekly weigh-in! I haven’t done much different this week, food-wise; mostly just the same tasty meals and protein bars and lots of plain old water. But I did decide to try adding in a few raspberries to my whey protein & collagen shake mix to see if it would affect my weight-loss at all. Smooshing up 6 berries in a 300ml vanilla shake makes it taste like raspberry-ripple ice-cream (my former favourite flavour) and definitely elevates the taste considerably. This was the first time I’ve tried adding any fruit into my diet and I know raspberries are low-carb, but I wasn’t sure if they’d impact my weight-loss at all. Jumping on the scale today, I think we can safely assume that I’m fine to continue including them in my protein shakes going forward, because with a reading of 15 stone 5lbs (215lbs) that means I’ve lost another 2lbs this week!

So that’s another decent, sensible amount of flab off my frame this week. I’m incredibly happy with that result and as always that just spurs me on to want to continue to do well. Still haven’t eaten ‘off-plan’ (having been on the Atkins induction level of carbs for 4 months now, I’m fine to try and incorporate the odd few berries here and there – but I’m still staying within my 20g max daily allowance) and definitely have no plans to do so anytime soon. Dinner tonight is steak-burgers with mushrooms, and sprouts done with parmesan for me (I’m doing baked potatoes for the other half to have with some curry) but right now I’m going to go drench myself in Tom Ford and make myself a cup of coffee with my ‘Coffee-Mate Caramel Vanilla Sugar-Free Creamer’. It’s become one of my favourite little things to enjoy of an afternoon and I’ve since ordered the ‘French Vanilla’ version too – can’t wait to try that one out!

So wherever you are this January afternoon, I hope you’re doing well and that you’re all smashing your own goals to absolute smithereens!

Be invincible folks!

Blue

Something A Little Different

Okay, so for those of y’all who have been living under a rock for the past 6 months, the young lady in the video clip above is of Laura Lynn, who has created a You Tube channel where she is documenting her progress along the way to losing 200lb. I adore her content and she’s one of a handful of You Tube creators who I follow religiously (I’m probably going to do a post featuring all my fave guys & girls in the near future in case any of you are looking for some extra inspiration and motivation during your own weight loss escapades!) because she’s just one of the realest, most honest, straight-talking, sweet, funny, intelligent, insightful chicks making content in the online ‘Weight Loss Community’.

And she’s really been through the ringer lately as various underlying health problems have conspired against her, throwing every possible spanner into the works. But she’s worked her way through them all, maturely and honestly using the skill sets she developed in her career as a mental health therapist, to help navigate her way through the really difficult and low times. I have a huge amount of respect for her; not just because of her unwavering self-awareness, but because she puts it all out there – warts and all – to share with others who may (or may not) be going through some similar issues. She’s immensely likeable and tuning in to one of her videos is like settling down for a chat with an old friend. Her determination really inspires me and her smile is utterly infectious. So if you haven’t watched any of her content before now, y’all really need to go check her out because she isn’t just entertaining, she really helps to get her viewers to approach their own weight-loss goals from a mental-health perspective too, by sharing the tools she uses both at work and in her own life; as well as her recent little series of ‘journal prompts, quotes and challenges’ to help get us all thinking about the deep-rooted reasons behind why we a/ got too overweight and b/ decided to do something about it.

And today I thought I’d respond to the prompts, quotes and challenges from this week’s video, here in a blog post for y’all to read for yourselves. I do keep my own personal, handwritten journal, but I thought it might be fun to put some more of my own thoughts and responses out there and maybe try to convince some of you to check out her channel and perhaps get involved in doing some of this introspective home-work for yourselves. So without further ado, let me start by addressing the quote of the day. (You should probably watch the video first so you can get a better idea of what it’s all about – the video is only about 7 minutes log, so I’m sure y’all can manage that, right?) Anyway today’s quote is:

“It’s time to create a body I enjoy living in.” So what does that mean to me? Well, as I’ve shared on here multiple times before, I have two conditions – fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis – which have gotten progressively worse over time, affecting my flexibility, my mobility and overall health. I’m only 40 years old and my weight had never caused any noticeable health problems for me before last year. I went from being ‘Little Miss Always On-The-Go’, to a stiff, slow, shuffling crone, wracked with daily pain throughout my body. That was not okay. I could feel how much harder it was getting to just move my limbs about with all the extra weight they were having to deal with, so I decided right then and there to do something about it. Being fat had never stopped me from enjoying living in my body up until then, so I’d never been bothered about losing any weight. But as soon as I realised that I was no longer enjoying living in my body, I knew I had a choice: do nothing and carry on letting my mobility decrease and my quality of life along with it, or, get my fat ass into gear and make the necessary changes in order to mitigate what will be permanent health problems that I will always have to work to deal with.

Yeah, that wasn’t a difficult decision. I know I’ll always have these conditions and they will always flare up for one reason or another, but there is no reason whatsoever for me to just allow the extra weight to continue to exacerbate my symptoms and further incapacitate my already exhausted body. With any luck (especially if my family’s longevity is anything to go by) I’ve got another half a century left on this mortal coil, so I’ll be damned if I’m going to spend it miserable and feeling like a prisoner in my own body. Thankfully, I think I implemented the necessary changes just in time, allowing me to make great inroads into the goals I need to achieve, in order to get to live that happy life.

Creating a body that I can begin to enjoy living in again, starts and ends with food. Yes, there will be exercise and fitness goals to work into my life somewhere down the line (right now I’m still just about coping with a few bursts of walking a week, which always leaves me incredibly sore and stiff the next day) but – most importantly – I have to eat in a way that not only allows me to lose weight, but also reduces the effects of insulin resistance and the subsequent inflammation, on both my arthritis and fibromyalgia. A low-carb / ketogenic WOE is the most therapeutic nutritional approach to dealing with my particular health problems, which is one of the reasons why this is “not just a diet” to me, but a lifelong approach to food & nutrition. Knowing that every time I eat, I’m making choices that are cumulatively contributing to that healthier, happier body is incredibly empowering. I get a real kick out of feeling so completely in control of what I put into my body, while also enjoying the food that I’m eating. This whole experience feels exciting. I make a decision to do the things, follow through with it and then see the results of my efforts. It’s a self-reinforcing cycle of determination —> achievement —> motivation —> further achievement. I freaking love it!

Of course I’m currently only 53lbs into my initial goal of losing 100lb, so I know I’ve still got a long way to go. My health problems haven’t magically evaporated overnight, but the improvements are already oh-so-very noticeable. I’m lighter on my feet; I have fewer pains in certain parts of my body and my knees are definitely feeling a lot better. And it’s only going to get better as I continue to move down the scale and free myself up more and more. To know that I’m the one making this happen – all through my own good choices and efforts – is awesome. Understanding that I get to own my own shit, take responsibility and create that body that I will feel happier and healthier in for many years to come? That shit just inspires me to want to do more, lose more and do better. I’ve become my own fricking role model, y’all! THAT is what it means to know that I’m creating a body that I will get to enjoy living in again.

“How Will My Life Be Different Or Change For The Better When I’ve Lost Weight? – Be Specific!” Well, I probably already covered that for the most part in my previous answer, but I’ve sat and had a think about what else I have to look forward to, aside from the improvements to my mobility. It’s a bit of a strange one really, because I have no idea what life will really be like as a much smaller person. I’ve always been overweight and the flab just kept piling on incrementally over time, without me really noticing it. I mean, obviously I knew I was getting bigger because I had to keep buying larger clothes. But when I had youth on my side (oof, that really made me feel like a wizened old harridan, lol) it didn’t impact my life at all. I worked a lot of very demanding jobs, both physically and mentally, and partied just as hard on my downtime. I did all the things I wanted to do, whenever I wanted to, and never once found it difficult to navigate the world of dating and relationships. I know I say time and again that “nobody gets fat behind their own back” but when there are no tangible negative side-effects to getting progressively larger, it’s very easy not to think or worry about it at all. I’ve had a bunch of illnesses and injuries and whatnot over the years, like any other person does; but I’ve pretty much been able to just take my health for granted up until now. And that’s something that really had to change once the fibro & arthritis started to impact on my ability to live normally.

So of course, losing all the weight I need to will also mean being more intentional with my own body. I now have to take responsibility and realise that I’m the captain of my ship – not a passenger. And so on top of the continued commitment to a low-carb WOE, I want to also work on building on my strength and flexibility with regular exercise. I want to be as active as my body will allow me, with the help of some supervised instruction from someone who knows how to help a person with my underlying health problems. I’d love to take a boxing class if at all possible. I have no idea if that will be something suitable for my body and I’ll have to start from the bottom and work my way up through the basics of strength training and some aerobic activity; but if it IS something I can do, then yeah, I wanna take up some boxing classes. Because there’s something incredibly primal and exciting about the idea getting into a (completely legal, lol) fight and using a mixture of skill, discipline & tenacity, be able to not only defend myself, but kick the other person’s arse! I used to be able to handle myself in a scrap, but these days I don’t even win the fights I get into with my damned duvet cover! I want to feel strong and capable again. And maybe, just maybe, that’s something I can achieve somewhere down the line.

But it’s just so hard to imagine myself at 170lb, 160lb or even less. I don’t know what that even looks like on my body. I saw my own reflection in a shop window recently and was really taken aback by how much smaller I look. It’s so weird. I can feel myself getting lighter and see the clothes as they get so big they fall off me, but I never truly see it when I look in the mirror. I know a lot of people have this mental block too when they’re losing weight and it will just take time for my brain to catch up with my body. But for some reason, when I was out in public, I could see my reflection for what it actually was. And I was very pleasantly surprised. This never began as a vanity project for me – not that there’s anything wrong with anyone wanting to lose weight to look good; y’all do what you gotta do, for whatever reasons you want. But there is an aspect of vanity starting to creep in to my consciousness as I move further down the scales. My cheekbones are even more defined. My face is thinning down to it’s natural heart-shape and my eyes look even bigger and prettier than they already did. I’m actually kinda cute, lol!

So again I have to ask myself, how will the weight loss affect how I feel about the way I look, once I get to my goal? And I just don’t know. I have no frame of reference to work from that can give me an idea of exactly how I’ll look at 170lb. For all I know, I could end up being one of those people who look hella ugly once they shift the flab! Maybe my “cuteness” is entirely attributable to being an absolute chunkster and with every pound I lose, I get increasingly less attractive! (That would actually be weirdly funny, in a horrible kind of way, lol!) Will I dress differently? Well, I like the style I already have, so I don’t think I’m going to suddenly go from ’emo-scene-girl’ to ‘prom queen’ or ‘sporty-spice’…and I’m never going to go the route of ‘crass-cougar hag-beast-about-the-town’. But who knows what’ll look good on a much smaller frame 6-12 months down the line. Not me; not yet.

There aren’t many things I think will change as I lose this weight. Like I said earlier, I’m already half-way there and Victoria’s Secret have yet to send out a scout to see if I’m going to be runway-ready for the 2021 Summer Swimwear Collection. I’m so focused on the health benefits from all this that I don’t really have much else to consider. Improvements in health, will mean retaining my independence, having a huge improvement in mobility and hopefully adopting a more active lifestyle that I can pursue going forward. It won’t affect my career choices which are investment related and involve sitting down for 8 hours a day. Nor will it affect my relationship with my other half, because I’m not one of those super-morbidly-obese folk on ‘My 600lb Life’ who literally become an entirely different person to the one their partners married. I never even hit 300lb. My level of fatness was a much more socially acceptable, normal level of obesity that never really raised any eyebrows or garnered me much in way of negative attention. Plus I carried my weight well, inasmuch as it was quite equally distributed all over my body, still allowing me to have a decent waist / hip / boob ratio! I wasn’t unusual enough for anyone to pay any attention to me – unless, of course I wanted them to, but that’s another story altogether, lol.

Aside from feeling healthier with every passing week and getting more fit and active as I get closer to my goal, there are no other things I actually anticipate being particularly different at 170 or 160lb. The increase in mobility will hopefully see me get to attend some more live music gigs (if we finally get let out of this lockdown bullshit and any of the bands I like are still even touring by then – ‘Iron Maiden’ I’m banking on y’all to still be selling out stadiums where I can get to the front row, after hours of standing and queueing to get in, while Bruce defies all logic and runs about the stage set like a man half his age, belting out classics and just being an absolute legend. That’d be fun.) I do miss live music shows. I’ll also be able to get out to watch some live motorcycle racing too, which always involves a lot of walking to find a good spot, then trying to get comfortable on a grotty embankment for a few hours. Haven’t been able to do that for a few years now. But aside from that? I have no plans to take up any adrenaline sports or do the utterly cliché thing of jumping out of a plane with a parachute on, like every other unimaginative ex-whopper seems to feel compelled to do, the minute they hit goal-weight.

I’ve always been confident in my abilities and assertive in all social settings, so that’s not something I have to consider. Nor do I have any desire to become more social once I hit goal; because both the other half and I became intentionally reclusive home-bodies, long before the fibro & arthritis started to slow me down. We’re pretty simple folk with our wants and needs. We don’t like banal, beach holidays where all you do is drink, swim and sunbathe – that kind of crap bores us. But we have a few little holiday breaks we’d like to take once things get back to normal: a week-long canal-boat break, with just the 2 of us stopping off at towns and villages with interesting museums / galleries, is something we’ve been looking into since before the whole palaver with the pandemic kicked off. And none of that is dependent on my being thin, merely my being more mobile, fit and healthy.

So…no, I can’t really see my life changing all that much at all when I eventually hit goal. I’ll just be in a better place health-wise and in the perfect position to ensure that I use all the knowledge and experience gained along the way, to keep on making better choices and take good care of both myself and my other half. Not the most exciting of life “transformations”, but then I haven’t had as much weigh to lose as many other people do, so the resulting impact is bound to be quite minimal. Which is exactly what I wanted and expected from this whole experience in the first place. Nothing earth-shattering, just some pretty mundane improvements to my health that will improve my life and longevity.

Is that a pretty dull answer? Probably. I’m a pretty dull, set in my ways kinda person. My ambitions have largely been intellectual pursuits and my ability to achieve them is not dependent on my being 270lb or 170lb, or any weight for that matter. But I will at the very least, hopefully be able do all the things I want to, with a slightly more sprightly spring in my step. Both physically and metaphorically. And “Woah…I’m (already over) halfway there to that (wo-oah, living on a prayer!” I’ll make it. I SWEAR! Lol

“Write A Letter To Yourself To Read On A Day You Feel Unmotivated Or Like Giving Up – Include Non-Scale Goals You Are Most Dedicated To!”

Dear Blue,

Do you remember when you wrote this? Is it all coming back to you now? Because if you thought for one minute that this was going to be some cheesy, load of old crap designed to try and make you feel good about yourself right now…well honey, you’re one damned delusional fuckwit, you know? I mean, you’re the one who wrote this freaking thing in the first place, so you know exactly what you got coming to you, boo. And it ain’t any of that ridiculous ‘rainbows & unicorns’, pat-you-on-the-hand-and-tell-you-that-you’ve-been-a-good-girl, bullshit, that’s for sure.

So why are you here, huh? Things starting to get a little more difficult for ya and you thought you deserved some magical intervention of reassurance from “Past You” because your current ass is too lazy and pathetic to figure out a way to get yourself out of that funk you’re in? HA! That is NOT the way we do things around here Blue – as well you know! And the shitty or miserable way you’re feeling right now, is nothing more than a mixture of laziness and fear; 2 things you aren’t prone to letting get the better of you. So why now? Why today?

Because if you’re just going through one of those moments of self-doubt, then bitch you better pick your chin up and shake yourself out of that funk RIGHT FREAKING NOW, ’cause there ain’t NOBODY coming to make this better for you. Only you can save yourself – and you have all the tools you need to do so. So quit acting like some poor, put-upon little victim, get your motherducking head back in the game and lets start smashing some more goals. Resting on your laurels is just wasting time – time you really don’t have. I get it though, every so often even you can fall prone to the occasional moment of self-doubt (I mean you’re only human…I think) but you’ve had your little moment of self-indulgent wallowing, okay? So quit acting like any of this is outside of your control, pick yourself up and get back to the task in hand.

Have you hit a “stall”…well, so what? You either caused that yourself with some carb-creep (and it better hadn’t be carb-creep you absolute moron, because there really is NO excuse for that kind of carelessness) or you’re at an actual plateau and just like everyone else, you’re going to have to go back over your food diary, make sure you aren’t eating ‘off-plan’ and if you still can’t see where you might have been going wrong, then it’s time to accept that plateaus happen to the best of us. All you can do is try to wait it out for a bit, allow your body some time to recalibrate itself and have a little patience. Yes I know that isn’t your strongest suit, but tough shit. This is just what happens to someone when they try to lose a significant amount of weight. Yes, even you Blue.

Just chill the frick out will you? I know you’re not used to not getting your own way, but you need to remember that you’re not superwoman (I mean you almost are, but even you have your off-days), you can’t control everything and sometimes you just gotta go with the flow. Let nature take its course for a while. But don’t think that that absolves you of any responsibility ok? You can’t just throw caution to the wind and start eating a bunch of junk, getting slack and sloth-like, just because your body is taking a break from losing fat for a while. You DO NOT get to take days off from taking good care of yourself Blue! Do you hear me? The days of taking your health for granted are long gone. Every single day counts, so you damn-well better make them count, by continuing to make good decisions, eating healthily and keeping your head in the freaking game.

You know that if you choose to veer ‘off-plan’ and start to disregard your health again, you will regret it for the rest of your life, right? You’ve hit 40, girl. Your younger days are in the rear-view mirror now. There are no second-chances or re-runs. You have to get your shit together RIGHT NOW and stop pissing your life away in a self-absorbed, cry-baby moment of weakness. Because that is NOT how we do things around here Blue. We don’t DO wallowing. You’re fucking better than that. You’re fucking indomitable, ya hear? Giving up might be an option for some people, but you ain’t “some people” Blue. You’re a cut above. When you decide to put your mind to something, you damn well follow through with it. No matter how difficult, frustrating or exhausting it gets, you keep on pushing through, because that’s how you were raised, Blue. You don’t come from a family of quitters and you sure as shit don’t come from a family of failures. You come from strong stock and if anyone is going to succeed at a challenge, then it’s gonna be you. So get that stubborn head of yours back on again and pull your fricking finger out.

Okay. Pep-talk over. You know what you got to do, so go do it. It’s how you act when times are their most difficult which test and reveal your true character. So embrace your inner INTJ, make a plan for how you’re going to move forward and then get your freaking shit together.

You’ve got this. Always have, always will.

Yours candidly,

Blue.


Okay, so I’m guessing my ‘letter to myself’ probably looks a lot different to how yours or anyone else’s might do, but then I really don’t benefit from anything other than a stern talking to. Commiseration ain’t my style and I’m never going to go easy on myself when I know I can and should do better. Of course life can throw up all manner of curve-balls and it’s real easy to use those occasions as an excuse to slack off. But that’s really not me. And unless something really serious rears its ugly head, literally preventing me from continuing to stick to my plan, then I’m going to continue to use all the tools I already have at my disposal to keep on keeping on. That’s kind of the point of these tools and strategies. They’re consistently applied methods that over time become habits, so that during the inevitable struggles that we’re bound to encounter at various points throughout our lives, we can continue to rely upon them without having to think twice about them. Because when life gets tricky, the last thing I want to be having to think about is how or what I’m going to eat. Having that stuff already taken care of frees up my mind to be able to focus on whatever else it is that I need to worry about. So I’m glad I have that part of my life nailed down and good to go.

Anyway, that little exercise posed by Laura was pretty fun. It’s nice to have someone else provide a prompt or question for me to have to think about and I’ll definitely give it another go in the future. I already checked with Laura to see if it was okay to include this exercise here on the blog and she graciously gave me the go-ahead; so again, if you’re not familiar with her channel, please go check it out because she’s a brilliant creator and she’s consistently putting out great content. You won’t be disappointed.

And on that note, I shall bid y’all adieu. Tomorrow is weigh-in day, so I’ll see you back here for an update, real soon.

Stay fierce y’all!

Blue

Things That Make Me Go “Mmm…”

Hi folks. Today as promised is focusing on some of the newer products I’ve been incorporating into my diet lately. Amazon is both a fantastic way to source pretty much everything you want, AND a dangerous site that will have you discovering more and more things you never realised you wanted before today…but totally NEED now that you’ve seen them, lol. Seriously, my ‘Wish Lists’ are categorised into every different type of product, yet still have over 100 items in each of them. The ones for stationery, books, perfume and foodstuffs are the biggest, as y’all can probably imagine; but I’ve definitely been working my way through the new items on the foodstuffs list a lot faster. What can I say? Your girl loves her a good protein bar, y’all!

Anyway, for those of you who are at all interested in the kind of stuff that gets me through the day, here are a few of my new favourite items – all available from Amazon at time of posting. And strap yourself in, because this is gonna be a long one folks!

Pip & Nut Almond Butter Squeeze – Box of 20 x 30g

I love these little squeezy sachets! Nut butters are something that I’ve been starting to consume more and more of lately, because they’re just such a tasty and simple way to get some protein and fat into my diet. I’ve been trying a bunch of them out recently, but this brand definitely emerged as a strong favourite for a number of reasons:

  • It. Tastes. Great.
  • It contains only 2 ingredients: almonds and a touch of sea-salt. No added sugar or palm oil. Awesome.
  • It’s a small British company set up by the founder Pip in her own kitchen as she was initially making her own nut butters for consuming after running the marathon. It went from being something she did for herself, to a small hobby that saw her selling them at London’s Maltby Street Market every weekend, and then with the help of an entrepreneur’s grant, became the successful business it is today.
  • Being pre-portioned it’s very easy to know just how many calories, carbs & protein I’m getting every time.
  • They’re conveniently portable. Nut butters are notoriously sticky and messy, so I’ve never felt inclined to carry a jar of the stuff around in my handbag with a spoon, for on-the-go consumption. But these little sachets can be taken and eaten anywhere; any time you find yourself stuck having to work late or unable to eat the convenience foods provided for everyone else, one of these will help fight off the hunger pangs and provide just enough sustenance to spur you on through the remainder of your workload.
  • Great for kids. Again they’re convenient so you can always have one in your bag or glovebox, plus they’re free from artificial additives so you know what you’re putting into your children’s bodies too. A healthy snack, the packaging also has enough bright colours on it to entice the eyes of the most discerning little one, having a hangry strop.

Almond butter is pretty new to me (until recently I’d only ever eaten peanut butter) but seeing the lower amount of carbs it contains, I was keen to try it out. Initially, I bought a box of 20 sachets thinking that if I didn’t like the taste I could easily give the rest of them away to someone else, without having contaminated the remaining ones. But that totally wasn’t the case; in fact it was love at first slurp! Being all-natural the oils can sometimes separate from the solids while stored, so you do have to give them a good squeeze to mix it up before consumption and there’s a handy reminder to do so printed just above the serrated opening area, in case you forget; but the sachets hold up perfectly to a little manual manipulation. Overall the packaging just feels incredibly well thought out and definitely contributes to my desire to repurchase.

Like I said, this was the first almond butter I’d ever tried, so I don’t have anything to compare it to taste-wise. But I’m pretty hooked on this stuff for all the reasons already mentioned. I bought my box for £18.99 on Amazon, but you can also buy them directly from the company’s own website, for £20 – with free p&p for orders over £30. (Their sachets are also available in their ‘Peanut Butter Squeeze’ and ‘Coconut Almond Butter Squeeze’ varieties – both of which can also be purchased either from Amazon or Pip & Nut’s online store. NB: The ‘Coconut Almond Butter’ version isn’t strictly low-carb as it contains agave syrup.)

I know some people have mentioned that these sachets are a bit costly, for what is essentially just 600g of almond butter; but you’re really just paying extra for the convenience factor and I for one am more than happy to fork out a little more for something I can a/ take with me anywhere and b/ know exactly what the pre-portioned sachets are providing me macro-wise. If the convenience of portability isn’t important to you however, you can just buy a regular jar or big old tub of the stuff instead. A 1kg tub is £15.51 from Amazon, or £15.80 directly from Pip & Nut – and for those of you who develop a real taste for this stuff (which is highly likely if you’re anything like me, lol) there are ‘Subscribe & Save’ options on both sites, as well as discounted bundles to help save you a few pounds each month.

ManiLife Deep Roast Crunchy Peanut Butter – 1kg tub

Yes, its another nut butter, but WHAT a nut butter! Seriously, this stuff is the best tasting peanut butter I’ve ever tried! It combines a deep dark flavour, with a thick and creamy texture and BIG crunchy pieces. Nom! To explain how this comestible work of art came about, let me quote directly from the ManiLife website:

“The deep roast crunchy was born out of a miraculous mistake in the Mani-kitchen. We thought we’d burnt the nuts. Then we tasted it… A deep, delicious flavour that our fans tell us is a life-changing experience!”

Talk about a fortuitous mistake! I am so glad that they decided to go ahead and market this unintentional creation, because it really does take peanut butter to a whole other level. Here are some of the reasons I really like both the product and the company:

  • It. Tastes. Great.
  • It contains only 2 ingredients: almonds and a touch of sea-salt. No added sugar or palm oil. Awesome.
  • It’s a small British company who thanks to their consistently great product have grown to become one of, if not the only majorly distributed peanut butter brand in the UK that produces in small batches.
  • They source all their peanuts from one farm in Córdoba, Argentina, thus guaranteeing the same level of quality every single time.
  • The peanuts they use are not only naturally sweeter but as they’re hi-oleic, they’re better for you too. They only use whole peanuts – high grade 38/42s – and never use splits (these are like the off cuts that a lot of brands use – they’re cheaper and less consistent).
  • The deep roast along with the hi-oleic peanuts actually brings down the amount of carbs per serving. Regular peanut butters would be around 12g carbs per 100g; this stuff is 10g per 100g and still packs a rich amazing flavour.
  • As the original creator of the deep roast they were the first peanut butter brand on earth to start thinking about roasting peanuts the same way master roasters think about coffee. ManiLife prides itself on creating flavour through craft rather than ingredients, which is something I really dig.
  • The 1kg tub comes with a little handle which makes it look like a little bucket. Who doesn’t want a bucket of yummy peanut butter, lol?

Before I switched over to a low-carb WOE, I used to eat a lot of peanut butter on toast with Marmite. Some people still eat Marmite on a keto diet, but at just over 3g of carbs per 20g (about 4 teaspoons) I’ve been holding off reintroducing it until a later date. But, the deep roast flavour of this particular peanut butter actually reminds me a lot of that PB&M combo I used to eat so much of. It’s not exactly the same (and if you hate Marmite, please don’t think you should avoid trying this product, because it is not the same thing) but it definitely evokes a rich umami taste like Marmite does. Being so intense in flavour, a little goes a long way when it comes to satisfaction. (Although, it does take a bit of self-restraint to not just nip back into the kitchen for another yummy spoonful!)

I was completely unaware of this company or of the existence of deep roast peanut butters at all, until Amazon suggested it in my ‘Recommended For You’ section. Of course that means I have no other deep roast peanut butter to compare it to, but I absolutely love it. And seeing that other companies have since started to include their own version of this product in their ranges, I’m guessing it’s become very popular with the nut butter loving masses as a whole. It’s even won an award, being the only Peanut Butter on Earth ever to win the highest level of 3* at the Great Taste Awards – high praise indeed! – as well as having been rated 10/10 by The Sun, The Metro and The Daily Mail.

This 1kg tub cost me £9.99 from Amazon, but you can also purchase it directly from ManiLife’s own website for £10.95. They don’t just make this deep roast crunchy version though, they also make it smooth and also offer regular roast in both the smooth and crunchy variety as well. I haven’t tried any of those yet myself, but if this one is anything to go by, I’m sure they’ll all taste great. They all come in smaller jars too and can be purchased in various bundles (on both Amazon and their own site), but one option that is only available from ManiLife directly, is their Mini Taster Pack. This looks like such a brilliant little idea, because it gives you the option to try all 4 versions of their nut butters, without committing to any larger jars or tubs that you might end up not liking. The taster pack contains 4 little 15g pots and costs just £2. Perfect. So if you’re curious about the ManiLife brand and fancy trying them out, why not head over to their site and get yourself a wee Taster Pack to see what all the fuss is about.

Coffee-Mate Sugar-Free Creamer – Vanilla Caramel

Holy moly folks; this stuff is THE BOMB DOT COM! Yes really. I’ve been a big-time coffee drinker ever since I was 10 years old and wanted to know what the deal was with the funny gurgling machine on the kitchen counter and the great smelling pot of liquid it produced each morning. Over the years I’ve experimented with various beans and blends from all around the globe, finding firm favourites in some lovely Ethiopian varieties such as the darker Yirgacheffe Kochere and subtler Sidamo beans. But it’s not always practical to fire up the coffee machine when it’s only me at home and I’m not going to be drinking more than a single cup. So, of course I also have a tub of instant on hand for those time when I’m slumming it, lol. The one I usually buy is the ‘Nescafé Gold Blend Barista Instant Coffee – 180g Tin’ which sounds a bit more expensive at around £8.50 a go, but the 180g tin is almost twice the size of a regular 100g jar of coffee and it really does taste remarkably good for a peasant brew, lol.

But enough about the coffee, this is about the creamer right? I take my coffee both black or with milk/cream – it just depends on my mood. But the almond milk I use for my protein shakes doesn’t taste particularly nice in coffee and whilst full fat heavy cream is perfectly acceptable in moderation on my personal WOE, I always end up throwing most of it away. It only keeps for a couple of days before it starts to go off and even if I buy the smallest pot in the shop, I never get more than 2-3 cups of coffee out of it before I have to tip the rest down the toilet. That kind of waste really irks me, but I never have more than one creamy coffee a day and the other half doesn’t like putting it in his own coffee. So up until now I’ve been using no more than a third of a pot before having to dispose of the rest. But this product here has changed all that for the better! Now I just have to add a couple of teaspoons of this creamer to my coffee and I get a lovely, rich, indulgent tasting hot beverage. But what’s so good about it?

  • It contains 0g of carbohydrate per teaspoon. Knowing how companies can round any carb amount under 0.5g per serving, down to 0g on their nutritional panels, to err on the side of caution I can consider each teaspoon to contain a maximum of 0.5g of carbs, bringing the total potential amount for 2 teaspoons up to a very manageable 1g of carbohydrate. (Do check the label though as older formulations show a different nutritional composition.)
  • It’s already sweetened with sucralose and erythritol which means I don’t need to add any subsequent sweetener to my coffee. (Normally I use 1 Splenda pressed mini-tablet in a fairly large cup of coffee.)
  • Because of that added sweetener, it’s also a nice thing to have on hand for those moments (cough*TOM*cough) when the odd sweet craving starts to rear its ugly head.
  • Now this might sound a bit weird, but it also makes the whole thing taste ever so slightly like an Irish coffee! This may or may not be to your liking, but I very much enjoy it. It makes my coffee taste very decadent – especially on a cold, wet, winter afternoon.
  • It’s just stored in the cupboard and unlike cream, won’t go off in a couple of days. This reduces waste and means I never have to worry about making sure I nip to the shop before it closes if I’m going to have anything other than black coffee the following morning. (No 24hr stores round these parts folks!)

I can’t remember where I first heard about this stuff, but when I found it on Amazon I just HAD to buy it. (The sugar-free version also comes in ‘French Vanilla’, ‘Chocolate’ and ‘Hazelnut’ flavours – all of which I fully intend to try – but the ‘Vanilla Caramel’ had the best Amazon reviews so I figured I’d start off with that one.) If I’m honest, I really wasn’t expecting much from it. I figured it might end up being a weirdly mix-resistant powder that left a grainy layer of silt in the bottom of my mug; rather similar to the disappointing result I got from adding a collagen powder to my coffee a few months ago. But I still had to try it out for myself and man, was I ever glad I did! This is one of those products that has been a real game-changer for me after I switched over to the low-carb WOE. It might sound like something trivial to some people, but a good cup of coffee can really help get you through the day. Whether it’s a strong cup to get you going in the morning, a milder one to help you to relax of an evening, or a mid-afternoon “hug-in-a-mug” that helps to tide you over until dinnertime, good coffee is one of life’s essential luxuries. And this sugar-free creamer just makes it much easier for me to enjoy my coffee at any time of day.

Pricewise, it cost me £7.30 from Amazon, for a 289.1g tub. The other half though that sounded a bit much for some Coffee-Mate, because he uses the regular one which costs around £1.50 for a 180g tub. This one contains 100g more than his does, but aside from being a completely different product (as opposed to the same stuff just with sweetener instead of sugar) it’s also an American import. I don’t know if they’re available for sale in the UK (the closest thing I could find online is ‘Coffee-Mate Light’ for sale in Asda and that’s a reduced-fat product that has glucose syrup at the very top of its ingredients list) but they’re sold by various small businesses / Amazon 3rd Party Sellers who deal in US grocery imports. I don’t know why this isn’t sold in regular UK supermarkets – especially now that keto has become so popular, normal and accepted by the general public. It’s certainly not weird to find a non-diabetic customer looking for a sugar-free version of various products. But alas, I was only able to procure mine from a US Grocery 3rd Party Amazon Seller and shall continue to do so for as long as I’m able. This stuff really adds a special something to my regular cup of joe. And if you consider the cost of a fancy-schmancy cup of flavoured sugar-water from the likes of Starbucks (about £2-£4 depending on your preferred concoction), it’s worth its weight in gold. Or a decent cup of coffee at the very least.

Caramel Pretzel Battle Bites Protein Bars – 12 x 62g

I couldn’t do a product review without including at least one protein bar, could I? Whilst the rest of the weight-loss community online all seem to be singing the praises of the new ‘Built Bars’ (I’ve yet to try them out myself because they contain sugar and seem to average about 4g of carbs / sugars per bar – but their flavour range does looks pretty impressive) I’ve been enjoying the odd ‘Caramel Pretzel Battle Bites Protein Bar’. And they really are quite scrumptious. Here’s what’s so good about them:

  • They. Taste. Good.
  • Despite being described as “A” bar (singular) each packet actually contains 2 smaller bars. I especially like this because I regularly eat only half a regular protein bar in one sitting (just enough to put something in my stomach before I take my meds, or a sufficient little sweet-hit at the end of a meal) thus causing me to leave half-eaten bars lying all around the house. Sometimes a bar can be sticky or crumbly, which means mess; but having a 64g bar already divided up into 2 separate half-bars prevents that. I also think it might be helpful to those wanting to limit their own intake, because it’s probably a lot easier to put an entirely separate bar away for later, than it is to stop yourself from continuing to eat the whole bar you’re already holding in your hand.
  • They are made by a small family run bakery in the UK.
  • The texture is a lot different to most other protein bars. A lot of the time bars are made with extruded protein, but ‘Battle Bites’ are baked for a much softer, fluffier, cake-like texture.
  • I haven’t tried any of their ‘Battle Oats Flapjacks’ as they don’t fit in with my very low-carb eating plan (although the ‘Cherry Bakewell’ flavour sounds pretty freaking awesome to this very-cherry-bomb chick!) but the ‘Battle Bites’ bars currently come in 11 different flavour options – all of which sound very yummy!
  • Two of the flavours (‘Chocolate Caramel’ and ‘White Chocolate Toasted Marshmallow’) also come in boxes of what they call ‘Minis’ which comprise just a single piece from the regular 2-piece bars. Again these are great for those of us who like to eat just a half at a time; that they are individually wrapped may also help some people avoid the temptation to eat both pieces in one sitting.
  • They just taste like a nice candy bar. My other half isn’t a huge fan of protein bars in general because he doesn’t like the way a lot of them taste. But he will happily eat one of these as a snack, so if he’s having one of his epic gaming marathons and refuses to stop for dinner, I can at least get him to scarf down one of these to tide him over until he finally logs off and realises he needs to have a proper meal. (Yes, he’s one of those infuriating people who can consume all the junk, maintain a great physique and regularly “forgets” to eat – weirdo!)

So, I first tried this brand back when I first switched to the low-carb WOE. I went with the ‘White Chocolate Toasted Marshmallow’ version which tasted great, but having so many other brands out there to road-test, I almost forgot about these guys and took another 4 months before I came back to try another of their flavours. Again, they turned up in my Amazon ‘Recommended For You’ section and as soon as I saw what the flavour was I immediately hit that ‘Buy Now’ button! Yeah, I’m kind of a fiend for all things caramel and love that I can still have the odd sugar-free option in a variety of products. I also want to try their ‘Carrot Cake’, ‘Red Velvet’ and ‘Winter Wonderland Irish Cream’ flavours too – the WWIC one might make a really nice accompaniment to my coffee with Coffee-Mate Vanilla Caramel creamer…whaddaya think?

This ‘Caramel Pretzel’ one though has a taste reminiscent of ‘Caramac Bars’ or ‘McVitie’s Gold Biscuit Bars‘, so if you like either of those and you’re interested in a low-carb alternative, you’ll probably really like these ‘Caramel Pretzel’ bars too. If you’re looking for a low-sugar (2g) high-protein (20g) snack that won’t put a huge dent in your calorie allowance (220 calories per 62g bar), and you want it to actually taste good, definitely give them a try. I bought my box of 12 x 62g bars from Amazon for £18.95. But you can also buy them directly from their ‘Battle Bites’ website for £20 a box. Right now they’re currently running their own promotion where you can buy 2 boxes of ‘Battle Bites’ for £35, or 3 boxes for £48, so if you’re already a fan and fancy stocking up, now is definitely the time. There are also ‘Subscribe & Save’ options available on both Amazon and the ‘Battle Bites’ company website, if you’re likely to want to purchase these on the regular and save yourself a few pounds each month.

I think these are really good value for money. A box of 12 x 64g bars will set you back anything from £18 – £20 (prices seem to fluctuate a fair bit on Amazon, depending on demand) and that works out at around £1.50 – £1.67 per bar. That’s quite a bit cheaper than a lot of other protein bars out there, yet their taste and texture beats a lot of the opposition, hands down. They’re not the most serious protein bar out there, but they have great macros, are suitable for those of us with keto / low-carb lifestyles, and with a whole host of fun flavours available, they’re the perfect little treat to have on-hand any time you start to feel hungry, need an energy boost or just want all the taste of a truly decadent candy bar without any of the sugary, high-carb guilt. And what’s life without having the occasional hit of caramel to bring a wee smile to your face?

Perlege: No Added Sugar Milk Chocolate with Stevia 3 x 42g Bars

I know I’ve mentioned these briefly before, but they’ve really become a firm favourite of mine ever since I discovered them. I last spoke about them in my ‘Post Christmas Weigh-In’ post, where I talked about how they were one of the products that helped me to stay 100% ‘on-plan’ and continue to lose weight over the Christmas period. Not that I’ve ever eaten at all ‘off-plan’ since the switch to a low-carb way of life – or really even felt tempted to – but I knew that there would be a lot of desserts and chocolate about over Christmas and I wanted to go prepared to my parents’ house with my own sugar-free alternatives. And to be honest, I didn’t eat a lot of this Perlege chocolate during those days, but it was nice to have it with me as a small, readily available, ‘on-plan’ treat.

Now onto the things I really like about this stuff:

  • It. Tastes. Great.
  • On their website they state that the brand was born out of desire to “innovate on the chocolate market, with an exceptional recipe that would make people with diabetes or other sugar related disorders, forget that they cannot consume regular chocolate.” And they’ve definitely achieved that. This stuff tastes like regular, rich, decadent Belgian chocolate.
  • Their website also details how their recipes evolved over time to include a mixture of Stevia and fewer sugar alcohols, which makes the chocolate less likely to provoke gastrointestinal problems. I can absolutely attest to this. I’ve never sat and munched my way through multiple bars of this product in one sitting – I tend to have no more than 3 chunks (half a 42g bar) at a time with a good cup of coffee – but I’ve never experienced any negative side-effects from it.
  • This chocolate contains a really nice amount of cocoa, which makes each little chunk very flavourful and satisfying: their dark chocolate contains 85% cocoa and their milk chocolate contains 57% cocoa. I have yet to try the dark chocolate version, but in my opinion their milk chocolate strikes the perfect balance between deep chocolatey richness, sweetness and creaminess. (Perlege also offer a whole range of other bars that contain different flavours and ingredients – Pear, Mango, Orange, Blueberry, Hazelnut, Wafer – and even nice little boxes of pralines that would make a lovely gift option. Those of y’all who want to peruse and even download their product range can access the catalogue here. Not gonna lie, the dark chocolate with mango ganache sounds pretty fricking epic, lol!)
  • Perlege’s chocolate also comes in different sized bars and tablet slabs. I especially like these smaller 42g bars though because despite being dinky, the attention to detail is still immaculate, with the gold foil offsetting the paper wrapper in a way that makes the product look luxurious rather than tacky. It’s maybe only a small thing, but when you’re looking to treat yourself with something nice, the presentation definitely adds to the overall experience. Picking up, holding and then opening one of these bars feels a lot more special than just cracking open any regular candy bar. It’s more deluxe looking and that helps make eating this chocolate feel like a moment to be savoured, rather than a quick, mindless snack.
  • Being individually portioned into a smaller 42g bar also removes the temptation to eat more than you ought to. I mean, each 42g bar still contains 10g of carbohydrate, so they’re not something you can just munch on with abandon. It’s much easier to moderate my own consumption with these smaller bars because if I eat half of one a/ that’s not dissimilar to the way in which I regularly only consume half a protein bar and b/ the three pieces that make up half a bar are decently chunky; so when I pop a piece into my mouth the shape and size alone feels more substantive and satisfying than a piece of a flatter tablet of chocolate. I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone else, but since changing up my eating habits I’ve started to look at the different ways in which certain foods are not only nutritionally made up, but the ways in which they are also presented, structured and divided up. A lot of this is mind-games; a way of not necessarily fooling myself (’cause mama didn’t raise no fool, y’all!) but tapping into the different aspects of sensory perception that can mean the difference between feeling deprived and feeling satisfied. Yeah I probably sound like a crazy lady right now, but maybe I’ll try to go into it a little more and explain myself better in a separate post.

I purchased these bars in a pack of 3 for £6.99, from a 3rd Party Seller on Amazon, which works out at £2.33 per bar. That might sound like a lot for something quite a bit smaller than many regular candy bars on the market. But sugar-free products are always more expensive – the demand for them is far smaller to begin with. But the price-point also seems to reinforce the idea that this isn’t something to be scarfed back without thinking. We’re not talking bank-breakingly expensive here, just something that should perhaps be regarded as a slightly more considered purchase, treat-wise. By choosing Perlege over Hershey’s or Cadbury’s chocolate bars, you’re acknowledging that whilst you feel you deserve to have something decadent and tasty, you also deserve to spend a little more money on a healthier alternative to the aforementioned sugary bars. You’re choosing to prioritise better quality products consumed less frequently, over poorer quality ones consumed regularly.

So, obviously this chocolate is not something I eat every day; or every week even. However, since discovering the brand, it’s definitely become a “Shark Week” staple and I’ve always got a few bars tucked away in my ‘snack stash’. But as I mentioned above, it still contains 10g of carbohydrate per 42g bar. And I don’t doubt for one minute that the Keto Police would have a lot to say about how it’s not “clean keto”. To them I shall of course give the standard response of:

“Screw you; you’re not my real dad. You can’t tell me what to do!”

But more importantly, I’m in this for the long haul. I’m not “doing a diet” for some short-term gains and as I continue to lose weight, I’m also working on creating a more balanced, sensible and sustainable approach to eating that will hopefully last a lifetime. I’ve mentioned in a previous post how I used to eat chocolate every day with capricious abandon; caring not about the calories, carbohydrates or nutrition it was providing me. But that’s one of the habits I need to change in order to not only lose weight, but improve and maintain my health in the long term. Working on seeing something like this chocolate, not as an item for everyday, casual consumption, but as an occasional treat to be savoured every so often, is just one method I’m employing in order to become somewhat more intentional with my eating. Maybe I could be more stringent and strict with my food intake – and maybe I’ll look into taking that approach at some point in the future – but maybe, just maybe I should focus on trying to employ a little more moderation than total abstinence with regards to ‘treats’ – all whilst continuing to stick to my 20g max of carbohydrate per day.

Who knows. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe having the odd bit of sugar-free chocolate, a few protein bars and some diet sodas will be my undoing and I’ll have to look into omitting them from my diet sometime in the future. If that’s the case then sure, I’ll hold my hands up and admit that these products just aren’t suitable for me after all and I’ll adjust my consumption accordingly. But for now I’m going to keep on doing what I’m doing while it’s still working for me; taking care to ensure that it also remains workable as a long term strategy.

And that ladies and gentlemen, brings us to the end of our little product review today. As with the previous one, let me just reiterate that I am in no way affiliated with any of the brands featured. All products were consumed with my own money and I have received no reimbursement for these reviews. The only way a company can persuade me to give their product a glowing review, is by creating and selling something I will feel naturally inclined to want to purchase and heap subsequent praise upon. Not that any company could care less what this tiny blog has to say about anything, but it’s important for y’all to know that everything you read on here is completely genuine.

I hope you enjoyed reading about these 5 “must have” items; let me know if you’ve tried any of them yourselves, and whether or not you share my unbridled enthusiasm for them.

Make tasty choices folks!

Blue

The Keto Police / Weigh-In Day

Is it just me or is anyone else also finding that despite being back in lockdown, there still don’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done? It feels like a kind of inverse take on Parkinson’s Law. For those not familiar with the term, Parkinson’s Law is the old adage that:

“Work expands to fill the time allotted.”

Put simply, the amount of work required adjusts to the time available for its completion, which means the time it would take someone to complete a task seems to increase when that person has a longer amount of time in which to do so. It’s a humorous commentary on the ever expanding, banal world of bureaucracy and if you’ve ever worked in an large office or in government, you’ll totally recognise the truth in this “law”. But I’m having the opposite problem right now: the more free time I have, the busier I find myself getting as my never-ending to-do list just keeps expanding to fill all that extra time.

One thing that’s actually helping to save time however, is buying a lot of the products I use online and having them delivered directly to my door. I absolutely hate shopping (which seems to be quite unusual for a woman) and not just because I now get really sore and easily tired. I’ve always hated it. So the increasing availability of online shopping over the years has been an absolute boon to me and my other half. Especially when I live in such a small, bucolic area which simply doesn’t have the variety of huge, sprawling shops that the larger towns and cities have. (Which, by the way, I absolutely would never trade; I’ll take the unspoilt, safe, little oasis of calm, over the crime-ridden, dirty, noisy, illegal-migrant-infested shitholes, ANY day!)

I purchase all my fresh groceries from local suppliers, because it’s just so much nicer than mass-produced supermarket crap. I buy ethically farmed, grass-fed beef from a local butcher, dairy products from our small local creamery and chicken & eggs from small farms who only raise free-range / free-to-roam birds and don’t use a bunch of hormones or inject water into them to create artificially huge breast meat. Almost all of my vegetables are grown locally, which just makes it so much easier to ensure freshness – although I do buy bags of frozen Brussel sprouts from Marks & Spencer, because they only take 4 mins to cook and sometimes I just get a mad urge to eat a bowl of buttered sprouts, which makes them a super-quick snack food!

But finding more specialist products that help me to follow my low-carb way of eating, requires access to online suppliers. There are some items available in the health food shop, but ours is very small and simply cannot stock everything I want or need. Outside of lockdown, it’s okay for grabbing the odd protein bar or vitamin / mineral supplement if I run out, but again, I dislike having to faff around in actual shops and they rarely stock exactly what I’m after. So, like most people, I rely on Amazon for the majority of products I need, because you really can buy almost anything, either directly from Amazon themselves or from hundreds of thousands of third-party sellers all over the world. And when you’re following a more specialist WOE that level of choice can really make all the difference.

I know that the low-carb / keto police will say that if you’re doing “clean” keto, you don’t need anything other than the fresh produce I mentioned earlier, but screw those guys, lol. Everyone has their own way of making their particular WOE not only doable right now, but permanently sustainable in the long term; so if what you’re doing works for you and is something you can envision doing for the rest of your life, then you do you, boo. Losing weight and improving your health isn’t supposed to be some competition where y’all need to see who can be the most “perfect”the only person you are ever in competition with is the person you were yesterday. So if you’re getting good results and making gradual changes to your habits, which will give you long-term benefits that you can sustain over time, then keep it up. Read everything you can, get informed and equip yourself with sufficient knowledge to help you to make the choices you need to make your WOE work for you. But find the “sweet spot” of balance between absolute rigidity and capricious abandon, and you’ll find it so much easier to do what you need, to get the results you want.

Obviously I don’t mean that you can adulterate your own plan so much that it contradicts the basic underlying principles as laid out by its creators / proponents (I mean, you can’t call your WOE low-carb if you’re eating 400g of carbs a day!) but if making this a lifestyle that you can adhere to forever means you eat the odd protein bar, drink sugar-free soda or make the occasional keto-friendly dessert, then just freaking do it. It’s entirely possible to overhaul your old bad habits, change your WOE and be successful in your weight-loss attempts, without living a monk-like existence of pious asceticism. I mean, hey, if that’s what you enjoy and that rigidity works for you then cool. Go for it. But if you think that everyone needs to comply with your monastic standards – and the corollary of that means that you become an authoritative douchebag about it – then seriously bro: get over yourself; get another hobby.

Sorry, I didn’t mean to go off on a rant there, but I saw some insane comments on a site recently which had me rolling my eyes so far back in my head, I could see my own amygdala. A guy who had gone from over 300lb to 170lb over the course of 2 years, who had gone from being morbidly obese, to a little overweight, who had cured his pre-diabetes, stopped taking tablets for blood pressure, had gone from zero exercise to running 5K and going to the gym 4 times a week and just generally improved all of his health markers…he was lambasted for having eaten protein bars (can’t remember the brand) and having made his own keto fat-bombs every weekend, because:

“That’s not doing it properly. It’s not clean keto!”

So fucking what? The dude just spent 2 years getting his body from a sedentary, pre-diabetic blob, to being a healthy, fit example of someone who made consistently better choices, and this sanctimonious prick was trying to discredit the dude’s efforts AND results, because he didn’t follow whatever stringent ideals that said prick had decided were somehow set in stone? Get bent. That dude probably saved his own life, or at least extended it by a good 40 years. He set his mind to making himself fit & healthy, succeeded, and then got told that it doesn’t matter because he didn’t do it the “perfect” way?? Man, the keto police really can be intolerable fuckwits sometimes! Thankfully, there were plenty of other posters who came to this dude’s defence and told the sanctimonious prick to shut the hell up, but I really felt for the guy being dismissed like that.

If someone is posting that they’re not getting the results the want and upon further inquiry it turns out that they’re just making so many incorrect, uninformed choices that there’s no way it’s ever going to work for them, then by all means try to help point them in the right direction. If you’re more experienced and knowledgeable about the plan / WOE that the individual in question is purporting to follow, and they’re distressed because they aren’t getting results, then sure, the decent thing is to offer some advice and share your expertise to help that person get on track and start to see the results they desperately want. But when someone is actually being successful in their efforts and is just sharing their results with who they think will be a group of like-minded folk, don’t be a dick and try to poke holes in their methods just because they didn’t get there using your own preferred methods of absolute rigidity. You aren’t doing it to be helpful; you’re being a pious cockwomble.

Anyway. Enough of that for now. I just had that comment fresh in my mind today and really wanted to vent about it. I was going to share some more of the products I’ve been using myself recently, but I’ll save that for a separate post later on in the week. Now, it’s time to update y’all on my own progress over the past 7 days – although it’s really only the past 6 days, not 7, as I’m trying to get my weigh-in days back to being on a Monday now that the kerfuffle of Christmas festivities has passed. So, where were we last week? Well, if you remember my post Revenge Of The Chia Seeds from last Tuesday, I’d had a bit of a “situation” (lol) which led me to getting very swollen and sore. As a result the scale showed a 1lb gain (which was probably slightly lighter than I would have been a couple of days prior to weighing in) but whatever, shit happens. Or sometimes doesn’t…which was actually kinda the problem, lol.

Today though, I hopped on the scale not long after I woke up and the little screen said that my current weight is: 15 stone 7lb / 217lbs. So that means, that in the past 6 days I’ve lost 2lb! Yay! We are inching closer and closer to “onederland” folks; just 18lbs more and I’m out of the 200’s – hopefully forever! But right now I’m just happy to be losing steadily – save for the odd week when I manage to sabotage my progress by bunging up my digestive tract with bloody chia seeds, lol. I’m really expecting to see my weight-loss slow down a bit in the coming weeks, because I’ve already lost over half my initial target of 100lb. I know I still have a long way to go, but the human body loves to fight against our attempts to shift the flab, so it’s perfectly normal to start seeing smaller incremental losses as time goes by; as well as the inevitable dreaded plateaus that everyone should expect when they’re trying to lose weight.

Today though, I’m another 2lbs down and that’s awesome! Dinner tonight is going to be a massive salad with tuna fish, jalapeno cheese, crumbled pork rinds, a few pecan nuts and a pickled onion. I’ve already eaten a protein brownie cookie today (half with my meds when I got up and the other half with a cup of coffee and cream an hour or so ago) as well as a ‘Rockstar Hardcore Apple’ sugar-free energy drink and a tablespoon of ‘Manilife Deep Roast Crunchy Peanut Butter’ when I took my vitamins and supplements. I’ve got my water bottle next to me as I type this and I’m aiming to get through a couple of those today – more so if I feel the need for it.

And on that note I shall call it a day for now guys. My digestive system seems to be back to normal now (thankfully) and it’s great to see the scale continue to move in a largely downward trend. Have a lovely week, wherever you are and may the gods of weight loss shine down upon you, as you work towards achieving your own goals.

Stay determined folks

Blue

Lightbulb Moment – I Was Wrong!

The video clip here is a trailer for a British TV show about the vast number of people employed to work around the clock, attending to the everyday needs, health concerns and emergency situations that face the morbidly obese. There are quite a few shows about hugely fat people on TV now, but most of them are focused on the individuals themselves – with many programmes covering subjects like extreme weight-loss surgery and skin removal. But this show is a little different, in that the focus is on the people who have to be brought in to deal with this growing number of morbidly & super-morbidly obese in Britain today – aka -The Big Body Squad.

And even though I only caught the second half of the programme, I watched enough to be thoroughly shocked by what I saw. Not by the massively fat bodies (it’s a sad indictment of our time that seeing super-morbidly obese bodies on TV or in the real world, is no longer anything new or shocking) but by the amount of time, effort and money being forked out by the NHS to cater for these hugely fat people: £5000 hoists being installed into the (already adapted for the supersized) home of a 40 stone (560lb) man; 70 foot amputations being performed every week at a cost of £6000 a procedure, on overweight patients with Type II Diabetes; specialist shoes being made to fit the massive, deformed feet of obese people costing anywhere from £200-£600 per pair.

And that’s all on top of the extra costs incurred for the 800 specially constructed ambulances designed to carry the super-morbidly obese, the supersized hospital beds / medical equipment and extra staff all needed to transport and treat these huge patients. Just listening to all the costs racking up for people who have essentially chosen to eat themselves to the point of invalidity shocked and appalled me. In a country with socialised healthcare, these services are all taxpayer funded. Obesity isn’t something that just happens to a person, it’s something that some of us choose to allow to develop through bad habits. In Britain you can choose to eat yourself almost to the point of death, safe in the knowledge that the taxpayer will always be there to foot the bill for any and all treatment you require. And realising that actually disgusted me.

Because I am one of those selfish fat people who up until recently, was on a clear-cut path to requiring medical intervention for a problem that was almost entirely of my own making. And I’m ashamed of that. I’ve been an accident prone klutz all my life and have broken bones in every part of my body. I’ve had casts, crutches, sutures, x-rays and so many trips to the ER that it’s a wonder my parents were never flagged up as potential child abusers, lol. As an adult I’ve had kidney stones, a sterilisation procedure and been treated for a mental health breakdown – all thanks to the NHS. Of course, I’ve been paying into the system ever since I was 18 years old and first went out to work, so it’s not as though I’ve simply been taking but not contributing to the pot. But 4 months ago I weighed 270lb (19 stone 4lb) and was in danger of seriously impeding my own mobility due to a mixture of fibromyalgia, arthritis and the vast amount of weight I’d allowed myself to put on over the years. If I had allowed that to happen, I would’ve been completely housebound and continually taking from the pot of socialised healthcare, without ever paying into it again.

But it gets worse. On that television show they showed a fire department in Essex as they carried out an emergency evacuation drill on a simulated plane crash. One of the people they were practicing the treatment and evacuation of, was a 25 stone (350lb) man who needed to be taken out on a stretcher. Because of his size, he not only required more firemen to get him out, but they also had to take into consideration the escape route available. His size meant that they would have needed to use axes and hammers to make the exit larger in order to get him out on the stretcher. They also had to evacuate all the other passengers first to make way for his extra bulk, so he was in extra danger himself the whole time. When I watched that drill all I could think about was:

“That could have been me.”

Think about it. Let’s pretend that I’m still 270lbs and my house catches fire. Smoke inhalation renders me unconscious, but still alive. Firemen then have to rescue me from the burning building, but I’m not your average-weighted woman. I’m 270lbs! I know those guys are strong, but in a burning building where they’re already weighed down by their heavy protective clothing and breathing apparatus, to then have to pick up and carry my disgustingly vast frame out to safety would probably take at least 2 of them. That’s 2 or more men when there would also be other people in need of rescuing, but my fat arse is taking extra resources away from saving other lives. How utterly fucking selfish of me!

Throughout my life I’ve always made sure to know exactly how I’d get out of a building should it catch fire. I’m hyper-vigilant with regards to knowing where the fire-exits are in places I go to like hotels, bars, restaurants and music venues and I’ve always had escape routes fully planned out in every place I’ve ever lived. But I’ve never previously taken the time to consider how I would get out if I were injured or rendered unconscious. We all just tend to assume that the emergency services will be able to get us out in those instances. But what about those of us who weigh a lot more than the average citizen? How easy would it be for firemen and ambulance crews to rescue us, when we’re morbidly or super-morbidly obese?

Just thinking about these scenarios made me realise what an inconsiderate fat bitch I’ve been all my life. I’ve never once given a thought to all the extra effort, time and money that I would require, just because I was too greedy, fat and lazy to get my own weight under control. And this isn’t me pushing for some extra government intervention to force fat people to lose weight – I’m actually very much against the ever-growing bureaucratic tyranny in the west – but if we’re going to live under a system of socialised healthcare then there really needs to be some kind of cut-off point where we simply refuse to help those who refuse to help themselves. Because the amount of tax-payer money being spent to enable super-morbidly obese people to continue to wallow in their bad decisions is insane. Socialised healthcare and the welfare state are supposed to be social safety nets designed to enable those who simply cannot – through no fault of their own – provide for their own food, lodgings and medical treatment. Yet the abuse of these systems is so rife now, I’m surprised that anyone wants to actually go to work and pay any damned taxes.

Yes, I know that it’s not just the mega-fat people placing an extra, unnecessary burden on public resources, but it’s a (literally) vastly expanding demographic made up of those who actually have the power to change their own lives and become less of a drain on the system. And I say that as someone who is personally disgusted with myself for having chosen to get to a weight of 270lb with no regard for how that might actually impact both the lives of others and the amount of public spending required to keep me alive. There are so many people with illnesses and conditions that are not the result of poor choices, who need the everyday services of the NHS and special attention in emergency situations. What right do I have to take from a public purse, just because I chose to eat myself to the point of immobility? It’s disgraceful and I’m really ashamed of myself for ever having gotten to that point.

It’s just one more reason to never allow myself to get so fat and out of shape ever again. I will NOT be that morbidly obese woman who requires a team of paramedics to evacuate me from my home because I’m just too fat for a 2 man team to deal with. I will NOT eat myself to the point of immobility and cost the NHS thousands of pounds just to have me fed, cleaned and kept alive with CPAP machines and the like. It is incumbent upon me as a member of society to employ a sufficient amount of personal responsibility, so as not to be an unnecessary burden on my fellow citizens, due to my own bad choices. Because to live any other way is selfish, greedy and indicative of nothing more than a childish level of expectation that someone else will always be there to save my pathetic arse. I just wish I’d had this moment of realisation sooner.

Because I am by no means out of the water just yet. I’m only 50% of the way towards my initial goal and I still weigh about 220lb (15 stone 9), which is far more than I ought to be for a woman of my height (5ft) and build. I am still going to be more difficult to evacuate and treat than a normal sized woman, should an emergency situation arise and I am still putting myself at a further risk of cancer or heart disease – things that would be another unnecessary drain on the NHS – and I’m just not okay with that. Watching this show really was a “lightbulb moment” for me, making me realise for the first time in my life, just how selfishly irresponsible I’d been behaving. I do not want to be that selfish person anymore. I want to be personally responsible for my health and wellbeing, and own my shit!

It’s funny, because we’re currently in lockdown over this global pandemic, which has led to a lot of militancy regarding mask-wearing; because we’re supposed to be doing our bit to protect other people and reduce the strain on the healthcare system. In Britain for example, the government have created and disseminated slogans like:

“Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives!”

as non-essential businesses such as bars, pubs, restaurants, cinemas, nightclubs, theatres, gyms and leisure centres as well as places of worship were instructed to shut. I’m not about to get into the realities of the efficacy regarding mask wearing (or the various arguments regarding civil liberties) right now, but it’s amazing to see just how many people are out there parroting these slogans and demanding that we all wear our masks to “Save The NHS!” whilst continuing to engage in habits and behaviours that over time will impact their own health and therefore put an avoidable extra strain on the NHS. (I’m looking at you, “fat acceptance” morons!) Funny how that expected level of civic duty only seems to extend to the kind of action that involves absolutely no effort whatsoever, huh?

And this isn’t something that only affects the UK because of our socialised healthcare system. In the States, there is no NHS. If someone gets ill, it’s likely they will have to pay for their treatment themselves. The US government does fund two kinds of health plans though: Medicare and Medicaid. They are especially designed for the elderly, disabled, poor, and young. However, many Americans have their healthcare paid for by their employer. It’s often included as a fringe benefit in job packages. If a person is in receipt of Medicare or Medicaid, they are still going to be taking more from that ‘pot’, if they are creating more health problems for themselves via unhealthy habits and behaviours. Those who pay insurance premiums aren’t really off the hook either though, because an increase in morbid and super-morbid obesity only leads to insurance companies increasing the cost of those premiums to deal with an ever expanding population of fat, unhealthy citizens. Plus, the other emergency services like the police and fire department receive funding from a variety of revenue streams, including local public funds, federal grants, fines and fees, forfeitures, and private donations. So any time a massively fat person requires extra rescuers, a larger stretcher or other supersized rescue equipment, that’s still coming out of a central ‘pot’.

Like it or not, massively obese people are an unnecessarily selfish drain of resources that could be better apportioned to those who haven’t gotten disgustingly immobile because they just really like eating doughnuts. And I know that there will be people reading this who think I’m being a total hypocrite for calling out other fat people when I’m still hugely overweight myself. But I’m willing to stand up and say that I HAVE been a disgustingly selfish, potential extra drain on resources over the years and I fully own that. I was wrong to let myself get this fat, thinking it was fine because there was no immediate noticeable effect on my quality of life – and I need to keep on working hard to make that right.

Personal responsibility isn’t a particularly sexy or popular idea these days, but we as a society really need to change that and have individuals start making it a priority. Systems put in place to help the most desperately unfortunate have now given way to becoming an easy resource for people to take advantage of, and all this does is beget a population who through laziness and expectation allow the tyranny of bureaucracy to creep further into every aspect of our lives. The more we come to rely and depend on the assistance of others, the less self-reliant and independent we become as a result. And that in turn makes us apathetic, easily controlled sheep, ripe for control and domination.

Screw that. I don’t want to be lazy, fat sheep. I’m going to do everything I can to take care of myself, continue to lose weight, improve my fitness and embrace my inner cat: sleek, smart and unpredictable, with the ability to take other people or leave them, depending on my mood. I want to be as self-reliant and responsible as possible – for as many years as possible. Because the upcoming Chinese zodiac sign might be an Ox, but for me 2021 is going to be ‘The Year Of The Cat’.

Meow y’all

(Russian) Blue