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 there 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