“It just wasn’t like the old days anymore No, it wasn’t like those days, am I still ill? Oh Am I still ill? Oh”
Hey folks, how the hell are y’all? Things round these parts have been pretty grim for a few weeks. That most recent bout of fibro flare-up really knocked me for six and I’ve basically been curled up like the corpse of Voldemort at the end of The Deathly Hallows when Harry briefly dies and meets up with the dead wizard headmaster dude (can’t remember his name right now, because brain-fog, lol) and asks what that thing is that looks like a dead foetus lying under a bench? Yeah, that’s exactly what I’ve been looking like lately. Super hot! It just started out the way these flare-ups usually do, but this time it started to spread all down my spine and into my legs and I’ve just been completely wiped out. There have been tears and plenty of feeling sorry for myself, but I’ve been doing my best to listen to some Stoicism on audiobook to try and pull myself out of it. Which isn’t all that easy when you’re completely off your face on pain meds and sleeping a much as possible under a chemical cosh, but it is what it is.
And I’m still not great. Better than I was, but still struggling with getting out and about. I then had a bit of a shock death of a family member come out of nowhere, which was actually really upsetting, but I pulled myself together to make the funeral (having to take off my shoes and walk barefoot to the graveside to sprinkle in the earth was a minor comedy moment, as my leg was in spasm and if I’d tried to make it there and back in my shoes I probably would’ve done an ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ and toppled in onto the coffin – which in hindsight would have amused the deceased family member in question no end, because of my well-known klutziness, lol). The service was beautiful and the wake just a perfectly jubilant celebration of the life of our departed relative. She would definitely have approved!
My hands are still a bit of a mess though. My fingers are swollen and wretched. It’s hurting like hell to type this, but I really wanted to swing by and give y’all an update on Project Arse Shrink! I bet y’all thought my absence from this blog denoted some underlying shame at having wandered off-plan or given up the low-carb WOE? Well I have only one thing to say to that:
Y’all really don’t know your girl by now if that’s what you thought. I’ve been eating low-carb every single day since 31st August 2020 and there hasn’t been ANYTHING that made me deviate from that commitment. Lockdown? Big deal, I got Amazon to deliver me whatever I need to my door. Sick? No excuse. Either you’re too sick to eat or you’re well enough to eat properly. Family bereavement and subsequent wake of buffet foods? I just brought a protein bar along with me and nibbled that with a black coffee while everyone else dug in. I’m not saying that I’ve been eating the perfect, whole-food, super-clean keto way every day…because on more than a couple of days it was all I could do to dip a protein bar in some almond butter and eat some sliced ham straight outta the packet like a straight savage.
But this is just how I eat now. I said I was going to commit to a thing…and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. It really got me to thinking about all those people who come up with a multitude of excuses as to why they had to go off-plan for one reason or another. Because that’s all they are – excuses. Self-validating lies that people come up with so they can abandon their plan and not get any disapproving comments from all the people whose approval they crave. If you want to have an excuse to give you a free-pass to giving up, you’ll find one. But if you’re determined to stick to something, you’ll find a way to do that too. I’ve gone over a week without showering, been unable to walk or cook anything for myself and not been physically able to go out and do any grocery shopping. And I still managed to stay on-plan and keep on losing weight. If I was able to stick to it, anyone can. You just have to want to.
And so, as I bring today’s brief update to a close, I’ll let y’all know what my new weight is. I am 13 stone 12lb (194lb). That means in the past 4 weeks I have lost another 4lb, which is an average of 1lb a week – and that’s goddamn near perfect at this stage of the game. (Especially when “Aunt Flo” week saw me incur a 5lb “ghost-gain” literally overnight! Only to be gone a few day later when the “Crimson Tide” receded, lol!) So yeah, things are plodding along exactly as I wanted and expected them to – only now my weight is down into the 13 stone bracket, which sounds insane! I’m not far off having lost 6 stone in weight since I began this little mission…and it’s become really noticeable to all my family who I saw at the funeral recently. Obviously I now want to shock the shit out of them even more when I see them again at Christmas, so we’re just going to carry on “dropping like it’s hot” because your girl is still on a mission here!
So on that note I shall bid y’all adieu and take this moment to remind you that the only thing standing in the way of getting where you want, is you. If losing weight and improving your health is important to you, you’ll find a way to make it work…and if you don’t? Well that’s entirely on you dawg.
“I won’t fall down My soul is bound. This is agony.”
Urgh I feel like such a miserable broken record at this point. Again this is only going to be a quick update because it hurts so much to just sit and type right now. I mean it hurts regardless of what I’m doing (or not doing, as has been the case for the whole of last week) but every key-stroke sends electric-shock like pains up from my fingertips, through my nerves and up into my shoulders. I’m on the highest amount of pain mediation I can take and it still barely takes the edge off of this raw, seething agony. And to add insult to injury, it’s “Shark Week” too, so I’m basically just a weepy, pathetic, pain-ridden mess of person right now. FML.
It’s really annoying because I’ve had so many things I’ve wanted to share and talk about on here, but I just can’t sit and type long enough, so I’ve got a list of topics to cover (jotted down in one of my notebooks) once this flare-up recedes enough for me to sit at a computer and type for more than a few minutes. Today’s weigh-in showed a “ghost-gain” of a pound or two (probably one and a half, the way the number kept flickering) but that’s just the usual added bloat that “Aunt ‘Flo” brings along with her. Once that abates in the next few days I should be back at my proper weight of around 197lb. Food choices right now are very lazy and I’m basically just eating almond butter out of the tub, scarfing back protein bars with my meds and eating slices of ham and cheese straight from the packet. Nothing exciting, but you do what you gotta do when life renders you a useless cripple.
Hopefully things will be back to normal soon (please??) and I’ll be back to being my regular sarcastic harridan self in future posts. But rest assured that no matter what life throws at yours truly, I’ll be keeping on keeping on, sticking to the plan and refusing point blank to let any of these little obstacles tempt me from the path of good choices.
“Dancing through a dream underneath the stars Laughing ’til the morning comes Everyone that leaves has a heavy heart, oh, Wonderland I love. Welcome to Wonderland, I’ll be your guide Holding your hand under sapphire skies Let’s go exploring or we could just go for a walk. Welcome to Wonderland, where should we go There’s a tea party along down the road Make an appearance and maybe they’ll sing us a song”
So…yeah, the eagle-eyed among you may have noticed that I’ve been AWOL for over a week. I didn’t do a weigh-in last Monday and I’ve been pretty much absent from the comment sections of all my favourite YouTubers. And that was entirely intentional. Because a little something happened about 5 or 6 days ago that caused me to make a conscious decision to play truant for a wee while. And if that all sounds a bit dramatic, well it was just something that sort of made me want to proceed with a little caution; for fear of jinxing things.
Ladies and gentlemen…I have indeed arrived in “Onederland”!
As of today I weigh 14 stone and 2lb – which in total makes 198lbs.
I literally cannot even remember the exact time I last weighed this little. I know, it’s still a really heavy weight for a person of my elf-esque 5ft small stature, but this is a really big deal to me. I haven’t been able to describe my weigh in figures starting with ‘One hundred’ for decades. I initially saw the scales drop to a fluctuating reading between 199 and 200lb last week, so I knew I was on the cusp of breaking through the barrier into the 100’s. But I also knew how likely it was for the scale to go back up before dropping back down underneath 200lb, so I decided to just take a little break from updating, step away from the YT weigh-loss community and allow nature to take its course. Which it did and just as I expected I briefly went back up to 201lb for a day before dropping to 199lb yesterday and 198lb today.
So, that means…um…since I last weighed in, I have lost another 5lb.
And in total, I have lost 72lb…or in Old English money 5 stone 2lb.
I don’t mean to brag, but like…I AM FREAKING KILLING IT, Y’ALL! Your girl here has been at this for 246 DAYS! And I am showing zero signs of battle fatigue yet; in fact things are just starting to get interesting because I’m only 28lb (2 stone) from my initial goal of -100lb and when we smash through that little milestone, we’re gonna have to start setting some brand new goal-weights! I mean, I have absolutely no idea what my UGW is going to end up being; I’m just going to have to play it by ear, see what looks & feels good and take it all under doctor’s advisement obviously, but y’all…IT. IS. ON!
“I’m smokin’ while I’m runnin’ This town, and you better believe it, honey I’m laughin’ as I’m takin’ no prisoners And takin’ down names I’m cryin’ while I’m gunnin’ In the smoke, they can hear me comin’ If you were me, and I was you I’d get out of my way”
In My Feelings ~ Lana Del Rey
The only downside to all of this weight-loss, is trying to get used to the new sensations, I’m experiencing as certain parts of my body are now in a totally different position and feel completely out of alignment. I can no longer just flop into bed and assume the same old position I’ve been sleeping in for years. Now I have to actually try to figure out the right angle to position my head on the pillows, and then where my hands go – and it’s bizarre! I’m having to learn how to lie down and go to sleep, lol. I’m also now acutely aware of the way my knees feel lying atop one another when I’m on my side. I can’t ever remember noticing that sensation ever before! The bagginess of clothing is still funny but I’ve been getting creative with belts and safety-pins, lol. And once I’ve gotten closer to my UGW I’ll start thinking about actually buying some new clothes. But it’s feeling weird in my own skin, inside my own body, that’s going to take a long time to get used to.
I know I’ve lost weight – and quite a significant amount thus far; but some days I can’t see it or feel it at all. I still manage to smash my hips into doorframes, misjudge spaces that I think I can or cannot fit through, and I don’t really feel as though I’m genuinely occupying any less space. Objectively I know that I’ve lost over 5 stone. I can see the weight tracking downward on the scale and my clothing is hanging off me like something you’d see on a scarecrow. And I feel much healthier…I just can’t put my finger on what the disconnect really is. I guess I’m just going to have to get used to it because it’s only going to get crazier.
But that’s the only downside to all this really. I’m still kicking arse and powering on, ready to hit more targets and leave more milestones in the dust. Because we’re in ‘Onederland’ now guys, there’s no going back…because I’m just not that person anymore.
Here’s to becoming a better person than we all were yesterday, folks. Physically, mentally, socially, spiritually…whatever it is, just get on with being the best version of yourself that you can. Because accepting anything less really is just madness.
67 brother-clucking pounds! That’s 3lbs short of a nice round 70lbs which tots up to whole 5 stone (in UK old money, lol) and 4lbs away from getting into ‘Onederland’. And do you know what? It only feels like I decided to do this a few months ago...how did I get here so quickly? So easily? It doesn’t even feel like I’ve had to put all that much effort into it! Sure things felt a bit weird for the first week or so, but once I’d gotten my head around the idea that this is just how I eat now, it’s actually been a bit of a breeze.
I know, I know, I’m probably jinxing myself and speaking too soon, because I’m far from done and the weight-loss is only going to get slower the closer to goal I get, but aside from the annoying “Shark Week” shenanigans that annoy me every month, this really hasn’t been a big deal to me. In fact, if anything, it’s actually been quite fun; seeing my body shrink and change, eating tons of good food, and getting to experiment with a bunch of low-carb products available on Amazon and other places online.
Why didn’t I do this sooner?
I mean, I know that the real reason is that my health just wasn’t being negatively impacted by my weight and food choices, so I never had anything pushing me to do anything about it. But now that I’m at the point I’m at today, seeing all this progress and knowing that it took so little effort to get here, I just wish I’d had the presence of mind to make all these changes sooner, before the health issues started to compromise my quality of life. That’s just life I guess and these are the lessons we learn along the way, but I’m a bit annoyed at myself that it took an issue with health & mobility to spur me on to decide to lose the weight.
It’s not even that I hit a “rock bottom” but I definitely left it a lot later than I should have. That’s not to say that I’m not seeing and feeling the benefits – because yo, y’all, I’ve never felt better! – but I’m just more annoyed at myself for not doing something sooner. Like, I sort of feel stupid for having put it off for so long. If you’re reading this and you know that you need to lose weight, but keep on procrastinating – JUST DO IT!
If I can do it, anyone can. I’m middle-aged, past 40, have zero history of doing anything fitness related, I have fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis and I’m a stubborn old, stuck-in-my-ways harridan who hates change. Yet this whole weight-loss thing has been so much easier than I imagined. How easy? Well:
I eat chocolate almost every day.
I eat spoonfuls of peanut butter straight out of the tub.
I pile my plate high with lots of meat.
I eat loads of cruciferous vegetables or salad most days.
I eat cheese every day.
I drink loads of coffee.
I drink energy drinks every day.
I haven’t stopped drinking sugar-free soda.
I do barely any exercise (although that’s mostly due to the fibro & arthritis).
I don’t have a massive appetite anymore and can skip a meal easily without thinking about it.
My brain feels so much clearer again after years of brain-fog.
My flare-ups are fewer and shorter lasting.
Yes I know that there are going to be people who find some of those admissions to be a little dubious; energy drinks and diet sodas aren’t exactly the best, most healthful choices one can make, right? Well yeah, that’s very true, but I’m working on making gradual, cumulative changes to my habits over time that I can make work and that don’t fall by the wayside because of overwhelm. Will I always drink an energy drink every day? Maybe, maybe not. Will I cut back on my diet soda intake? Maybe, maybe not. Will I try to do more exercise as I lose more weight? Definitely. But that’s something I really need to go easy with and for now I’m happy just to get in a few 2-3 mile walks a few times a week.
The reason all this has been so easy for me so far, is precisely because I haven’t tried to do too much, too soon. I never went into this thinking I needed to “DO ALL THE THINGS” all at once; what was important for me was getting the basics down pat and steadily making improvements along the way. Now here I am 7 months later and I can’t believe how simple it’s all been. Sure there’s been the odd occasion where a product I’ve been consuming turned out not to be as suitable for me as I’d first thought, but none of that has really caused me any issues. The most annoying problems I see with all this is when “Aunt Flo” comes and wreaks havoc on my weight for a week or so – but I’ve had very heavy, painful periods for years now. If anything, this way of eating has actually made them less painful and not quite as heavy for the full 7-10 days.
There have been zero negative effects from my having switched to a low-carb WOE and a whole boat-load of positives. So if you’re a middle-aged, overweight harridan like me and you’re even considering changing up your diet to lose some fat and improve your health, DO IT! Give it 2 weeks and see how you feel. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be amazed at just how much better you feel for having tried it, the scale will reflect your efforts and you’ll want to carry on a little bit longer to see how well you really can do with it.
I’m not normally one for regrets. I’m always happy to take everything as a lesson I can learn from, but if I regret anything, it’s not starting this weight-loss mission sooner. Who knows how much better I’d be feeling already? I guess I’ll never know. But what I do know is that this has been one of the best decisions I ever decided to make and I’m so happy to be reaping all the benefits, from so little effort.
Here’s to another 7 months of eating well and feeling awesome folks!
“Somethin’ that we’d die for it’s our curse Don’t cry about it, don’t cry about it This is what makes us girls”
(I love this song so much…it’s literally the anthem to my youth. Good times!)
Yes, it’s Wednesday, yes I’m 2 days late weighing in, but “Aunt Flo” has been wreaking her regular havoc with my weight this week, so I decided to give it a couple of days and get a more realistic figure. If you remember from my last post, I had gotten down to a new low weigh of 14 stone 6lb (202lb) but I didn’t update the ‘Fat Stats’ or make it an official weigh-in because it was mid-week and I was just starting into “Shark Week” I wanted to wait and see what would happen.
Well “Aunt Flo” really didn’t disappoint (and I mean that in the most sarcastic way, because nothing is more disappointing than watching the scale creep up for absolutely no reason – urgh!) because the very next day (yes…really) I weighed myself again and got a somewhat disheartening reading of 14 stone 10lb (206lb) which meant that mother nature had bestowed a whopping 4lb of “ghost-gain” upon me, literally overnight. FML.
Obviously, I knew this was just the usual hormonal bloat, but it’s still an absolute pain in the tits (tits that are already sore as frick right now – thanks nature!) to see the scale going in the wrong direction. On Monday “Aunt Flo” was still here and I was still showing that bullshit weight of 14 stone 10lb (206lb) so I decided to give it another couple of days and see how things panned out. Today however, I could definitely feel that the bloating had receded and “Aunt Flo” was looking like she might be almost ready to feck back off to wherever it is she spends the other 3 weeks out of every month…so I decided to do a proper weigh-in and update the ‘Fat Stats’.
So…what’s the damage? Well today I weighed in at 14 stone 7lb (203lb) which is an official loss of 2lb since my previous proper weigh-in. I’m more than happy with that! And it also means that I’m only 4lb away from slipping into ‘Onederland’ for the first time in decades! I’m so close I can almost taste it! I know I’m losing a lot more slowly than I was at the beginning of this mission and I probably could lose a bit more each week if I were to tighten up my food intake and tweak things a little bit; but to be honest, I’m really not inclined to want to unduly stringent at this stage of the game. I might bitch and moan about the times when “Aunt Flo” causes the scale to go haywire every month, but that’s just me being a girl, whining about what it means to be a girl, because girls are hormonally programmed to be whiny beeshes. I’m perfectly happy with the overall downward trend on the scale and see no reason to start implementing any unnecessary or unsustainable big pushes to lose all the weight super-fast.
I’m seeing a lot of people fall into that trap lately. It’s as if they’re unable to maintain the motivation they started out with, without upping the ante at the wrong time. I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve tried to tell people that they shouldn’t be trying to lose weight using means and methods they’re unwilling or unable to keep up in perpetuity, in order to maintain that weight loss, once they hit goal. People give a lot of lip-service to the notion of this being an actual life-long change in lifestyle, when in reality they’re still stupidly hung-up on making those massive losses week-on-week right now, somehow convincing themselves that they’ll keep this up forever…only to find it too difficult to hold fast to for more than a month or so. If you can’t keep to your stringent, strict and super-charged restriction right now, why do you think you’ll be able to keep it up in the long run? The cognitive dissonance is real y’all!
No, I’m just happily plodding along, doing my own thing, losing steadily and not doing anything I won’t be able to keep up in the long run. Of course as I get closer to my UGW (probably about 55-60lb from where I am now TBH) I’ll probably have to start looking at TDEE etc, but as things stand right now I don’t have a clue how many calories I ingest every day. I don’t know what my TDEE is as of yet and I’m not going to bother even looking into those numbers until the scale stops moving for a considerable amount of time and I need to pay a bit of attention to what I’m consuming. What I’m doing is still working just fine for me right now, so I’m happy to keep on keeping on. Keeping things as simple as possible, to make this all as sustainable as possible. Because anyone can go balls-to-the-wall restrictive for a time and shift a ton of weight all at once…but those same people are unlikely to maintain that loss once they hit goal. And that’s the real challenge for me: making permanent changes in habit and losing the weight in a way that I don’t have to fight to maintain.
“Here I go again Though I keep searching for an answer I never seem to find what I’m looking for Oh, Lord, I pray You give me strength to carry on”
Oh man, if that isn’t just an absolute banger of a track. Those really were the days: Whitesnake, Van Halen, Def Leppard, Bon Jovi, Cutting Crew…so many awesome groups making epic track after epic track. I’d give anything to go back in time and live then. I hate the way things are now, it’s like all innocence is lost and like David Foster Wallace said “Irony killed sincerity”. The only music like this that’s being made anymore is by groups who are deemed to be creating “ironic” tributes to the 80’s hair rock legends. Screw irony. These guys made music that was awesome because they freaking loved it and we were able to come along for the ride too. Stop the time-train folks, I wanna get off.
Anyway, today’s post is brought to you by 80’s nostalgia, Green & Blacks 85% Dark Chocolate and Nurofen Plus. Because yep, it’s that time again y’all. Yes already. No I have no idea where the last month went and yes I’m as surprised as you are to find that good old “Aunt Flo” is back in the building again, ready to kick my arse and probably do weird things to my weight that make absolutely zero sense. Yay me.
It’s weird though because when I woke up earlier I felt a little bloated. I haven’t really been taking much notice of the dates (because why would I when every single day is the same as the one before in lockdown limbo) so I didn’t actually make the connection at first. I wondered if maybe I’d eaten a bunch of sugar-alcohol the day before, but I’m not gonna lie, my brain ain’t the greatest at any time of the day, never mind when I first get up, so I didn’t really think too much on it. I did decide to get on the scale though, which I don’t normally do mid-week, just to see what the damage was, but when I looked at the screen it said I weighed 14 stone 6lb. WTF? That’s 2lb less than I did on Monday? That doesn’t even make sense??
And it made even less sense when a couple of hours later I felt that familiar “twang” deep inside my lower abdomen and realised that “Shark Week” was once again upon me. Because shouldn’t I have actually seen some “ghost-gain” on the scale then, when I weighed in earlier? I felt a bit bloated, but I hadn’t had the normal sore boobs or grouchiness that normally hits me shortly before “the communists start squatting in the neighbourhood and kick my arse from the inside out.” Why is the scale showing a loss of 2lb?
I have no idea. I haven’t been doing anything differently and like I said, at this particular time of the month I should be seeing “ghost-gain” not a loss, right? Yeah well your guess is as good an mine. Frick knows what’s going on, but I’m probably going to be seeing the scale go up at some point in the next 7 days, so I’m at least glad I got to see that 14 stone 6lb on the scale today – that’s an all-time low! Well, low since I was about 13 or 14 years old (many, many moons ago). Chances are it’ll be a while before we see that weight again what with the inevitable impending hormonal fluctuations and whatnot, but it was cool to see it, if only for one day. I’m not going to update the ‘Fat-Stats’ with that weight because it’s not an official weigh-in day, but I wanted to record it for posterity in a post at least.
Come next Monday (or knowing me I’ll forget and end up weighing in and updating on Tuesday because I’m a bit crap of keeping track of what day it is) I’ll undoubtedly be frustrated as all hell because the scale is showing a 6lb gain out of absolutely nowhere and I’m back on the hormonal merry-go-round again. Ain’t being female fun?
So yeah, that was just a brief mid-week update because nothing here makes any sense any more and I’ve given up trying to figure out what’s going on at any particular time of the month. Be sure to tune in for my next update where it’s absolutely anybody’s guess what’s going to happen. FML.
“So now you’ve made the big shrink Meanwhile we’ll keep acting big We well-bred beautiful people”
Happy Monday folks! Look at me all on-time and remembering what day it is like a normal, functioning person! Are you impressed? You should be, because I very nearly just slept through today which would have made for another late weigh-in. But something clicked in my mind earlier, reminding me that I had a weigh-in to do and a blog post to update y’all with…you’re welcome! Lol.
It’s been another of those weeks that meant absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things…days blurring into one big void with very little to distinguish any of them from one another. Except for Saturday, when I had one of those little “moments” that occur every now and then when we’re working on losing some weight. I was in town with the other half doing the shopping and because of this lockdown bullshit, only one of us could go into a particular store – because apparently two people from the same household would be oh-so-MUCH-more dangerous to the general public. (Who makes these rules up? Are they drunk?) So he went in to grab a few items while I waited outside for him.
And as I was standing next to this huge shop window, I turned around casually only to be met with my own reflection:
“OMIGOD! I’M SO MUCH SMALLER THAN I USED TO BE!!”
Catching this glance at myself in this window’s full-length glory, it was like I was actually seeing myself properly for the first time in ages. Of course I know I’m getting smaller. The number on the scale is decreasing and my clothes are becoming unwearable – even with belts now. But I still don’t really take much time to stop and assess my overall appearance beyond my face or head when I’m doing my hair and make-up. And there’s something about the way our reflections are so much more brutal and uncompromised, when seen out in public. It’s as if the very presence of other people around us forces us to see ourselves as we really are; there’s no pretending that the soft lighting and flattering angles we might have at home, are the truest version of ourselves. This is out there in the real world, brightly lit, and able to be seen by all and sundry.
So I knew right then and there that what I was seeing wasn’t just a trick of the light, or some cleverly convex, changing-room mirror designed to lull me into a false sense of security so I’d buy more stuff. I was seeing myself as I truly was…and it really shocked me. I felt unprepared to see myself properly – something again likely rooted in a fear of the unknown, the unpredictable, which has caused me to subconsciously avoid looking at myself in any full-length mirrors at home. To say I had mixed feelings about it, is a huge understatement. On the one hand I was happy because here was undeniable proof that all my efforts thus far had paid off; but there was also a sense of confusion because I didn’t recognise the woman reflected in that shop window. And there was also a creeping discomfort making me feel unsteady and unsure. I can barely remember the last time I was this small and in my mind I’m still the 270lb person I was back in August of last year when I decided to embark upon a weight-loss mission.
I know this cognitive-dissonance is common in those of us who have a significant amount of weight to lose, but it doesn’t make it any less weird and overwhelming when I experienced it for myself. Logically, I understand that I’ve lost a considerable amount of weight, but actually “seeing” it for myself at that moment still took me completely by surprise. When the other half came out of the store I asked him to stand next to me in front of the window, still unsure as to whether or not what I was seeing was completely accurate. But as I looked at the two of us reflected back, I could see that he looked exactly as he does in real life. HIS reflection was accurate; and that meant mine had to be too. I really was that much smaller woman staring back at me.
“Babe, I’m so much smaller than I was!”
He laughed in disbelief:
“Yeah…you are! I’ve been trying to tell you this for ages! You’ve done so well!”
And he has been telling me this. Quite a lot. But I always just brush it off and change the subject. It’s not that I think he’s being dishonest or trying to tell me something just to make me good; but it’s that cognitive dissonance thing I guess, where my brain just hasn’t been ready to accept the fact that this is really happening. Obviously he thinks I’m nuts, which I mean, he’s not wrong, lol. But he’s never had to even think about his weight like this. He’s never experienced a drastic change to his outward appearance that he needed to mentally adjust to. So while he’s always super-supportive and compliments me regularly about my progress, he still can’t even truly understand how or why I have such a massive disconnect between what’s in my head and what’s in front of my eyes.
“I’m not just blowing smoke up your arse when I tell you I can notice it babe!”
Which again, logically I know to be true; but it still doesn’t quite register with me when he says those things. Seeing the two of us, stood side by side in that window though…that was like getting a jolt of electricity behind the eyes, truly opening them for the first time and allowing me to see the reality of my weight-loss. Him tall, slender, over 6ft tall, towering over my 5ft small frame that now seemed so much more feminine and diminutive. I’m not trying to say that I’m some ‘Skinny Legend™’ here, because I’ve still got a huge way to go until I hit my ultimate goal. But it almost felt as though I’d never truly seen myself as being as big as I used to be (I guess that cognitive dissonance thing works both ways, lol) but now that I could see how much weight I’d actually lost, the difference was huge!
So yeah, that was my big “moment” this week where reality jumped up and hit me squarely between the eyes. I won’t pretend that I’m totally used to the knowledge that yes, I really do look that size, but I’m getting there. I think the fact that my body doesn’t just hold all my weight in one place and distributes it really evenly all over my frame, really helped me to carry my weight better when it was at its highest and is now allowing my to see a much smaller person overall, when I see my reflection. I look like a “normal” sized person now, lol. And it’s only going to be better and more impressive, with every pound I lose. I’m both excited and terrified by the prospect of what I’m going to look like once I get to my goal weight; such is the conflicting allure of the great unknown.
But speaking of losing pounds, I think that brings us to the perfect segue into this week’s weigh-in results. Last week I had just maintained my previous week’s weight, so I was 14 stone 12lb (208lb). Today when I stepped onto the scale it said I was 14 stone 9lb (205lb) which is a loss of 3lb! Yay me! And it just occurred to me that this weight brings me to being just 6lb away from getting into ‘onederland’ – eek! I can’t believe I’m almost out of the 200s and that the 100s are just within my grasp! That’s crazy! I think I was about 13 or 14 years old when I last weighed less than 200lb! I’m so ridiculously proud of myself right now and still fired up with the same level of motivation and enthusiasm that I had when I started off on this mission. Sure I get my ‘down’ days when my pain levels are excruciating and I can barely do anything other than mong out on the sofa, but that’s the fibro and the arthritis. I’m always going to have those conditions. But I just feel so much better for having made the effort to lose the weight I have so far…and I’m eager to get the rest of those excess pounds off through good eating and that unerring resolve of mine!
Hey folks, today I want to share another You Tube channel with you; someone I think you’ll absolutely adore. I love finding other people who are on a similar mission to myself and Carolyn’s own journey mirrors my own a lot. We both began our switch over to eating low-carb at the same time, we’re both eating very similarly, we both wore the same clothing size when we began, we’ve lost around the same amount of weight as one another, and we’ve been seeing the same changes occurring in our bodies and clothing at the same time. I know we don’t have to be following the same plan or the same starting weight as another person for their own experiences to truly resonate with us, but when the little details do line up like that, it adds an extra layer of understanding and reassurance when they’re going through the same things that we are.
Not that any of that matters, because Carolyn is just a genuinely funny, very honest, slightly bonkers, adorable person whose videos I really look forward to watching. Some people are just naturally very engaging on camera and Carolyn is one of those people. She literally makes me laugh at loud at least once in every video! I only found her channel around Christmas time last year, when she’d already been losing weight and creating videos for the past 5 months. I immediately had to go back and binge-watch all of her entire back-catalogue of videos because I could tell straight away that this was someone whose content I was going to love. And I did. Ever since then I’ve been following her progress and it’s been so much fun. Not just because her journey mirrors my own so much, but because everything she talks about is eminently relatable and really entertaining.
I wanted to share her channel with y’all today because a/ I’d really love it if some of you would go check out her videos and maybe drop her a bit of support in the comments (she loves receiving comments and always responds to them) and also because b/ I just think that y’all will really enjoy her content. There are a lot of people out there with weight-loss oriented channels and some of them are more interesting and engaging than others. Carolyn just makes really good, fun and funny videos, so if you’re looking for a channel that you can subscribe to, that will make you feel like you’re getting to enjoy chatting with a friend and that’s relatable to your own experiences with having to lose a significant amount of weight, ‘Carolyn’s Weight Loss Journey’ is something you really should check out.
Like I said, she’s also following a low-carb WOE, so for those of us doing Atkins, LCHF or keto, her content is especially relevant because there are certain aspects of these plans which do differ to what the CICO folks do (not gonna lie, her video making easy, keto fudge had me salivating like a dog, lol!). But even if you’re not a low-carber, you’ll still find all the regular struggles around weight-loss and the subsequent issues like clothes no longer fitting (and not knowing your size, so not knowing what to buy online during these pandemic times) completely relatable and relevant. I know that just hearing someone echoing my own thoughts during a difficult week (“Shark Week” especially!) can really help to bolster my own spirits and know that I’m not the only one going through it.
I haven’t told her that I’m making her a featured channel on here yet, but it would be lovely if some of you did watch the above video, check out her content and drop her some words of support in the comments. That would absolutely make her day. And I just know you’ll want to subscribe and carry on following her progress. So yeah, enjoy the video, and if you do drop her a comment, tell her that Blue sent you!
“Did she get tired or did she just get lazy? She’s so far gone she feels just like a fool. My, oh my, you sure know how to arrange things You set it up so well, so carefully Ain’t it funny how your new life didn’t change things You’re still the same old girl you used to be”
It’s Tuesday, not Monday. I’m a day late. Again. Bite me.
Easter weekend with those two bank-holidays kinda threw me though. Yesterday felt like a Sunday (They were showing Harry Potter on TV for feck’s sake…everyone knows that’s a Sunday afternoon thing!) And to be honest the fact that I was only a day out is a bit of a miracle really, all things considered. I mean, it’s April now apparently, but this morning I had to brush a load of snow off of my window-ledge so I could feed the birds. Yes, snow. And then the sun came out and I had to put sunscreen on in order to leave the house because I’ve been throwing enough acids at my face lately for it to be considered a hate crime. Snow and sun? This ain’t freaking Chamonix, universe. Get your shit together will ya?
Not that I’ve got my own shit even remotely together right now. This whole last week has been a bit of a miserable crap-fest for me. I’ve pretty much been relegated to the sofa for the past 7 days, with some really bloody annoying nerve pain and muscle spasms all down my left leg. Like, it was pretty funny at times when I got up to use the bathroom, my leg muscle would spaz out and I’d just collapse into whatever was next to me (the other half laughed quite a bit when I fell into a bookshelf and knocked all the books off and then headbutted the door – who wouldn’t find that funny?) but the Michael J. Fox routine soon got annoying so I basically just stayed put for the most part, doubled up on the diazepam and tried to sleep for as many hours as I could each day.
As for food, well I just couldn’t be bothered with it. I ate a couple of proper meals, but mostly I just decided to be super lazy and rely on snacky stuff. Handfuls of sliced ham, a bit of cheese, bags of pork puffs, nut butter and protein bars. Yes, I know this isn’t a normal healthy way to eat and no it isn’t my normal eating pattern, but I really had zero fricks to give this week and figured I was still eating ‘on-plan’ foods.
At least, I thought I was.
Yeah, well that didn’t turn out to be exactly right. You see, I’ve been including some protein brownies in my food intake ever since I pretty much started to eat low-carb. The label said that they contained 0.5g of sugar in them and I’d not had any problems with them over the past 7 months so I had no reason to think that they weren’t okay for me. But a few days ago I ate one with a cup of coffee a few hours after I’d gotten up and about 30 minutes afterwards, I started to feel a bit hungry. Knowing this was a bit odd my mind immediately dialled into that and started to get suspicious:
“That’s weird. I shouldn’t be hungry. I’ve eaten. I should be good for another few hours. Hmm…strange!”
At first I just put it down to my having upped some of my medications and grabbed some ham and cheese to stave off the starvo monster. But then later on, being the lazy bish that I was, I decided that instead of a real dinner I’d just have another brownie with coffee. (Yes, a shitty food choice, but you’re not my real dad, you can’t tell me what to do…or what to eat!) But again, not long after eating I felt the same hunger kicking in. And I knew that this wasn’t proper hunger, but those old sugar-craving pangs of old.
“This isn’t right! Have these things been reformulated on the sly? Have they increased the amount of maltitol in them or something?”
I don’t really have any problems with maltitol normally. At least I hadn’t up until now, but the packet didn’t stipulate the amount of sugar alcohols in each brownie, so I logged onto Amazon where I bought them and had a look for the nutritional breakdown on there. And what I actually found, sorta blew my mind:
“Less than 1g of sugar…blah blah blah…20g of protein…blah blah blah…3.3g of fibre…blah blah blah…and there’s only 24g of carbohydrates primarily from low GI oat flour.”
I’m sorry, there’s what in there now?
“24g of carbohydrates primarily from low GI oat flour.”
OAT FLOUR? BROTHERCLUCKING OAT FLOUR? SINCE WHEN HAS THAT SHIT BEEN THERE? I DON’T CARE HOW “LOW-GI” IT IS, I DIDN’T KNOW I WAS EATING 24G OF COCK-A-MAMIE CARBOHYDRATE FROM OAT FLOUR!
So I fished one out from the bottomless sack of protein bars that live under my living room table and looked a little more closely at the ingredients wrapper. Now, I don’t think I’ve told y’all this before, but I have pretty crappy eyesight that both struggles with tiny things up close, as well as not being able to make out most things in the distance. Don’t worry, I don’t drive a car or anything that could truly endanger others via my sensory deficiencies, but I am supposed to wear glasses to improve this little affliction. Only, I don’t. Because there isn’t a single pair of glasses out there that I don’t look a like a total penis in; so my vanity just precludes me from having better vision. It’s no big deal, if I can’t see something far away I either move closer to it (pro tip there folks – you’re welcome) or ask someone else to deal with it. Up close when reading I’m okay usually, but small print often just becomes that cliched blurb of ‘frick-knows-what’, that I’m either signing away the rights to my firstborn to (joke’s on them, because I’ve been sterilised) or overlooking the get-out-clauses that prevent me from suing a manufacturer once their product poisons me or makes all my hair fall out.
And upon closer inspection, I could see that it did indeed say that the product contained oat flour…an ingredient that I’d previously taken to say oat fibre which would have been fine. So yeah, it turns out that for the past 7 months I’ve been eating these things which contain within them “only 24g of carbohydrates primarily from low GI oat flour!” Fricking “only”. Get the frick out of here with your attempt to minimalize your bullshit, brownies. THAT’S MORE THAN MY DAILY CARB ALLOWANCE YOU TINY-PRINTED MISBEGOTTEN SNACKY-CAKE OF SATAN!! Urgh!
I mean sure, it wasn’t their fault that my macular shortcomings had caused me to misread an ingredient, but I’m a hormonally imbalanced harridan who can’t seem to do right, for going wrong, and this whole debacle has kind of brought out the inner Karen in me. Yes I’m to blame, but no, I’m not in the mood to be so magnanimous in my own defeat here. I’ve been eating that crap for months now. (Although I did read one comment about them having recently reformulated the recipe, rendering them no longer filing and satiating, so maybe this is a new thing and I’ve only just detected the extra carbs in my current batch? Possibly. It’d make sense I suppose, but they don’t taste any different to me since the first time I ate one, so I could just be clutching at straws.)
So there you go. That was my rather unsettling ‘moment of truth’ this week that pissed me off to no end. Because I now have to give those brownies up and they were one of my favourite (allegedly…but not really…grr…) low-carb snacks. They were seriously dense and filling, made for a convenient meal replacement when I literally couldn’t be bothered to move my fat arse and find something else to eat, and they tasted really good too. I’ve probably got about 30 of them in my stash because they were on a monthly reorder thing from Amazon, but I guess they’re going to have to go to the other half to consume now instead. FML.
Anyway, enough cathartic caterwauling for now, time to do this week’s weigh-in. Last week I was 14 stone 12lb (208lb) and this week the scale says…well it sort of keeps flashing between 14 stone 11lb and 14 stone 12lb; and if you’ve been around here long enough, you’ll know that we don’t deal in half-measures whatsoever here at Hydrangea Heights. That goes for weigh-ins too, so we’ll just round it up to the higher number and call this last week a flat maintain. Which, when you consider how many of those aforementioned protein brownies I ate over the last 7 days and how many carbs I must have been inadvertently consuming, is actually quite impressive, lol.
Going forward though, we’ll just have to be more careful when studying nutritional panels and not just read what we think sounds good, only for it to turn out to be another comestible nemesis-in-waiting. All jokes aside though, it is what it is and life goes on. I’m not going to be losing any sleep over this…but then I get prescribed plenty of hypnotics, narcotics and whatnot to out-snooze Rip van Winkle, any day, so lack of sleep is never really much of an issue with me. If I got any more ‘beauty sleep’ I’d be a freaking supermodel, and that just wouldn’t be fair to the rest of you. (Never let it be said that I’m anything else than a 24 karat gold humanitarian folks – once again: you’re welcome!)
But that pretty much wraps up this week’s weigh-in update I think. Now that I’ve realised that we’re actually on Tuesday, I’m going to have to go check out the meat and produce in the fridge because some of it might have gone beyond the ‘use-by’ date and will have to get flung out for the sea-gulls to feast upon. (I swear I have cultivated the most spoiled, bougie birdies in my locale; they actually turn their noses up at bread now, fully aware of the bountiful alternatives that lie just beyond my window. Bless!)
So wherever you are in the world, I hope that the gods of weight-loss are smiling down upon y’all, and you’re paying proper attention to your food labels. I’m here making these mistakes for y’all, so you don’t have to.
“Even through the darkest phase Be it thick or thin Always someone marches brave Here beneath my skin”
For as long as I can remember, I have always been hungry. Or at least thought I was. I’ve spent the best part of the past 40 years, constantly riding the blood-sugar rollercoaster that had me feeling a real need to keep on consuming, despite my body being anything but actually hungry. But that all changed on 31st August 2020, when I switched over to a low-carb diet. No longer at the mercy of a lifetime spent trying to satiate an addiction to the chronic overconsumption of carbohydrates, I learned for the first time what real hunger felt like and have been able to drop a considerable amount of weight as a result. But even when keeping to a maximum of 20g of carbohydrates a day, I still get plagued by the occasional desire to eat something sugary. Something wickedly and deliciously decadent – chocolate!
I’ve mentioned before that I don’t think of myself as an emotional eater and for the most part I still believe that. But I’m beginning to come around to the idea that there is a slight aspect of emotion involved in my own relationship with food, even if it’s not what most of us associate with ’emotional eating’. I’ve never used food as a form of comfort, to cope when I’m sad or angry or scared. I’m not completely joking when I say that the size of arse is a testament to how happy I’ve been throughout most of my life; because when I am sad or upset, I lose my appetite. (Probably could’ve done with being a bit more miserable in my former years, considering how massively overweight I managed to get, lol.)
But ever since I began this switch over to eating a low-carb diet for health and weight loss, I’ve had to confront moments when I’ve found myself wanting to eat, when upon further consideration I realise that I’m not actually hungry. Not physically anyway. It’s not me wanting to eat because I’m bored – largely because I’m just not the sort of person who gets bored. Even during this long, frustrating lockdown nonsense, my days are filled with things to do; in fact somehow, even with all this extra time on my hands, I’m still left feeling sometimes that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. So it’s not that.
And of course it’s not even real hunger, because I’ve definitely learned the difference between genuine hunger and something else. It’s really more of a craving. Not in the:
“Omigod I can’t stop thinking about Dairy Milk bars! If I don’t get to eat one then I’ll go mad!”
It’s more of a knowing what I’m “missing out” on and just wanting to experience that taste sensation again. Do you know what I mean? It’s not that I don’t enjoy the food I’m eating, because I love it. I’m not starving myself or letting myself go hungry, and I’m not allowing myself to become nutritionally deficient. I just sometimes really miss how certain sweet things taste. It’s kinda similar to how I feel about certain perfumes. I’m really scent-oriented and I’m never not wearing some kind of fragrance. Some scents really resonate with me, to the point where I bulk-buy them and store them in one of my refrigerators to preserve them as best I can, just in case they get discontinued. So many perfumes I’ve loved over the years have have been discontinued and I really miss them. I hunt down old stock, or people offering sample sized vials, just to try and keep them in my life for as long as I can, because sometimes I just really want to smell a particular fragrance.
And that’s the best way I can describe how I feel about wanting to experience certain tastes too. It’s like a kind of nostalgia, but it has nothing to do with wanting to recapture some lost happiness of times gone by; one of my favourite perfumes of all time is one I was wearing during a time when I was working a job I hated and just coming to the realisation that I wasn’t happy with the relationship I was in. If anything that fragrance evokes more negative memories than anything, but it just smells SO freaking good! I actually crave wanting to smell it and when I dab a couple of drops onto the inside of my wrist, I’ll sit there sniffing at it repeatedly, just losing myself in all the composite notes emanating from my skin.
I enjoy fragrances. I enjoy luxuriating in a halo of decadent sillage, just for the sake of it. It’s not because I’m sad and want to feel happy. It’s not because I’m bored. I just want to smell a certain scent, because I like doing it. And it’s a harmless enough thing to enjoy. I can afford to splurge on these little luxuries and it’s not as if I have any other vices these days. (It also makes me a really easy person to buy gifts for, lol. If you want to buy me anything and you settle on one of my favourite fragrances, it shows you know me. I could have 4 other bottles of the same stuff, already stashed away in the fridge, but if I open a gift to find another bottle of it inside, you’ll have made me a very happy woman!)
Taking my love of perfume as an example of how I sometimes just crave a certain stimulus to one of my senses, is probably the best way to describe to you how I feel about having the occasional craving for another one of my senses to be stimulated. But when we start talking about food cravings, suddenly things start to sound much less innocent, as we try to intuit the more sinister root of such a terrible, negative desire.
“You must be deficient in some nutrient!”
“It’s probably your body trying to tell you to eat more!”
“I bet you’ve been getting lazy and you’ve let sugar back into your diet!
“Maybe you’re stressed out – have you tried mindfulness techniques?”
“Are you bored? Perhaps you need to think about finding a new hobby!”
Urgh. Like, I get that y’all are trying to be helpful, but could you at least try to be original? Lol. Is there any chance that this might just be an entirely benign desire to just want to revisit and reexperience a familiar sensory experience? I know, I know, they’re the exact same things that I’d probably suggest myself if someone came to me and told me that they were experiencing cravings for something sweet. But I’ve already worked my way through those considerations on my own time and I’ve even tried eliminating certain foods here and there to see if anything was causing these sensory triggers. I haven’t spoken about it in here before, but I’ve tried cutting out the low-carb friendly protein bars for a fortnight and even went 10 days just eating a carnivore style diet. Not to try and lose any more weight quicker than I already am doing, but because I was curious to see if doing either things would stop me from having those occasional moments where I just fancied a taste of something sweet.
Spoiler alert: neither methods did the trick. And like I said before, these aren’t intense cravings that burn inside me like the faux-hunger of old; it’s just like the thing I have with certain fragrances: I simply want to experience the taste again. It makes me wonder though if this is to do with an underlying addiction to sugar that will take a lifetime of discipline to perpetually steel myself against. On the one hand I think it’s not because isn’t an issue whereby my every waking thought is consumed by the desire to “relapse”; but on the other hand I think back to conversations I’ve had with heroin addicts who got clean, but said they always had to remain vigilant against the little head-games the addicted part of their brains would play with them, making them think every now and then, that they’d really like to just experience that feeling of the gear rushing through their veins again. Just one more time. But they know that they can never have “just one more” hit, because they’d end up right back where they were all those months or years ago, spending their entire lives scurrying around trying to score and worrying how they’d be able to pay for it.
Is that what my cravings are? The mind of an addict trying every little trick in the book to get me to give it “just one more” hit of the sweet stuff? Or is it more like my perfume penchant, proclivity or predilection? Nothing more than an innocent fancy that crosses my mind from time to time? Obviously the 2 situations aren’t entirely similar – as far as I know, I’m not causing myself any lasting physical harm by indulging my love of fragrance, whereas I know that sugar is genuinely bad for my physical and mental health. But the way the brain processes the detection of scent (olfaction) and flavour (gustation) are closely linked. Just as hearing is the perception of sound and sight is the perception of light, smell and taste are our perceptions of tiny molecules in the air and in food. Taste and smell information appear to converge in several central brain regions (we’ve all noticed the relationship between taste and smell when a cold or flu stuffs up our noses and everything tastes bland) but there are also neurons in the inferior frontal lobe that respond selectively to specific taste and smell combinations.
So I could easily just write off these occasional niggles of gustatory desire, as being no different to the olfactory cravings that I’m always more than happy in indulge. But that doesn’t mean I can just give in to those urges and eat a boatload of sugar because I want to experience the taste again “just one more” time. Don’t get me wrong, this post isn’t my way of trying to rationalise the choice to eat off plan – far from it – I’m really just trying to understand the whys and wherefores behind these feelings that crop up from time to time. It’s weird because it’s not like I have cravings for all things carb-laden, it’s really just a couple of very specific items. I don’t think about pizza, or potatoes or pasta or most of the food I used to eat. It’s not even just chocolate as a whole.
Believe me when I tell you that I used to eat chocolate every single day, and I enjoyed every variety and brand out there. Nestle, Lindt, Green & Blacks, Thornton’s, Mars, Rowntree’s, Marks & Spencer’s…I even had a monthly subscription to the ‘Hotel Chocolat Tasting Club’ (which the other half and I used to enjoy working our way though while having one of our film nights on the sofa). And I loved them all. But the only one that seems to plague me now, is Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. Not Galaxy, not Yorkie, not Marks & Spencer’s Single Origin Dominican Republic 32% Cocoa Milk Chocolate With Salted Butterscotch & Maple Syrup (yeah, it tastes as epic as it sounds, lol)…but Cadbury’s Dairy Milk.
I’ve tried to think back over my childhood, to see if perhaps that was the particular treat of choice that I now associate with such pleasure. Or even if maybe it was a treat that was withheld for one reason or another. But there’s nothing that I can think of. I was an ‘equal-opportunities chocolate botherer’ all throughout my childhood, youth and into adulthood, yet it’s only that purple-packaged bar of chocolatey loveliness that seems to stir my senses. The other half was eating a Wispa bar the other day (which are basically just a bar of aerated Dairy Milk with some tiny bubbles in it – same taste, just a different texture) and I made him let me smell it, before he polished it off, lol. It smelled just like I remember and whilst for many, allowing their ultimate craving to get so close to their mouth might be a very dangerous game, it did feel good to inhale that familiar aroma. I think smelling it also might have helped to alleviate the craving somewhat; which kinda makes sense given what I mentioned earlier about the connection between gustation and olfaction.
But I didn’t eat any of it. To bastardise a famous idiom from the bible (Matthew 26:41) “My flesh may be strong, but my spirit is a little weak.” I may wish to indulge, but my resolve remains strong; craven thoughts be damned. I know some people reading this are probably thinking I should just eat the fricking chocolate and get over it, but I’m not in the right place to start introducing the odd sugary treat, just yet. Maybe one day I will, but for now I’m just going to keep on sticking to my plan and refrain from doing anything other than sniffing the other half’s Dairy Milk from time to time! I have to keep reminding myself that this isn’t just about weight loss, it’s also about overall health. And sugar is one of the most unhealthy things I could choose to consume with abandon.
I think it was Shakespeare who was first quoted as saying that: “Quod me alit, me extinguit.” I’d like to get that tattooed on myself somewhere one day; a permanent reminder of why I stay the path of continuing to follow a low-carb way of life. Then any time of one of these little cravings – however benign – starts to creep in at the edges of my consciousness, I could look at it and just wait for the feelings to pass. Right now though, I’ve got a serious urge to go eat some bacon, eggs and a fried mushroom…and I have no intention of ignoring that craving whatsoever. I know this whole post has just been a jumble of thoughts, but that’s what’s been going through my head these past couple of days (I don’t think the current glut of Easter Egg adverts are really helping the matter, lol) so I figured I’d share them here. I hope at least some of it will resonate with a few of you out there.
“I know nothing stays the same But if you’re willing to play the game It’s coming around again”
Here we are again. Monday, already. I have no idea where the last week went. I have absolutely nothing to show for it, except for a few books read on my Kindle and some videos watched on YouTube. Of course the dreaded “Shark Week” is upon me again, but I’m hoping (finger crossed) that this month isn’t going to turn into another “Shark Fortnight” as I’ve been taking my Mefenamic Acid every morning without fail. But the usual hormonal bloat is here as expected and I’ll just go ahead and get my weekly weigh-in out of the way, because it too is showing exactly what I expected: a few pounds of “ghost-gain”. Last week I maintained, after a previous week’s loss of 5lbs. Last week I was 14 stone 9lbs (205lbs) and today the scale says I’m at 14 stone 12lbs (208lbs which means I’ve “gained” 3lbs this week. Really?
Urgh. I know it’s just hormones and water weight or whatever, but I’m starting to think I might be in a sort of plateau phase right now. It’s hard to know, because when I look back over my ‘Fat Stats’ for the past few months, I’m still doing the same thing where I:
Gain weight during “Shark Week/Fortnight”
Gain weight again because yet again “Shark Week/Fortnight”
Which is totally normal for me, but I’m not sure if my cycle is the thing causing me to have so many problems, or if I’m genuinely in a plateau phase right now. If it is a plateau, then cool, whatever; I knew I was due to hit one sooner or later because I’ve been losing steadily and happily enough for the past 6 months. I just wish I didn’t have to deal with the annoyance of “Aunt Flo” creating havoc for me, for anything up to 2 weeks out of month, because I’m starting to feel like I’m going around in circles. Gain, lose, maintain, gain. Repeat every month, ad – literal – nauseum.
If this is a plateau phase (however cunningly obfuscated by hormonal interferences) then I’ve planned for it. I expected it to happen and would be happy to use the few techniques I have at the ready, should weight loss start to stall for an extended period of time. I’m still not counting any calories in any of the food I eat, so there’s that to consider should the need arise (I was going to start reducing my portion sizes, but things seemed to be going okay without me needing to pay much attention to it, although that might be worth looking at now). I’ve also been reading up on some ways in which I can start to incorporate ‘Intermittent Fasting’ into my diet – which will need a bit of jiggling around with medication and whatnot, but should be ultimately doable if I work it out properly.
Plateaus just happen – especially to those of us with a lot of weight to lose – so there’s no need to get stressed about it. Just stick to your plan and keep doing what you’ve been doing for a few weeks and see how things pan out. Obviously, as we lose more and more weight, the amount of food we actually need to consume also decreases, so if weight loss stalls for more than a few weeks, it’s probably time to take a look at the amount of food you’re eating and maybe try reducing it a bit. I know all this and am fully prepared to start making the necessary adjustments to my diet, should it be the time to do so.
But I’m not entirely sure if I am in a plateau phase or not, because of the weird way that my weight fluctuates so much every month, because of my cycle. And I don’t want to jump the gun and begin tinkering with my food intake too early, because that will only mean I have even less wiggle-room to play with once the real plateau phase kicks in. I swear, the menopause can’t come early enough for me…but if my mother is anything to go by, I’ve got another 20 years of this monthly crap to endure before “Aunt Flo” finally packs up her stuff and moves out for good. Yikes!
Maybe it’s a plateau, maybe it’s just my hormones, maybe it’s Maybelline…frick knows what’s behind it right now, but I’m guessing this whole lockdown bullshit isn’t helping things. I’m definitely sleeping more and moving even less than usual, which is probably playing into how much food I actually need to consume every day. And my joints have been hurting a lot more than usual which means I haven’t been making much of an effort to go out for a walk, but then I never used any additional exercise as a means to increase or aid my weight-loss, so I doubt that’ll be having any impact in and of itself. I guess I just feel pretty ‘meh’ right now. Lockdown blues, hormonal mood, fibromyalgia playing up…I’m probably just being a whiny bitch, lol.
All I can do right now, is just keep on sticking to the plan, try to ride out this latest “visitation” and see where it leaves me at the end of it. I’ll probably give it a couple more months just keeping on with how I’ve been eating and then see if I need to re-evaluate my intake. Sure it’s annoying and frustrating to feel like I’m going in circles, but I knew going into this new way of eating that weight loss is rarely linear and that patience was going to be key to success. One thing I won’t be doing is veering off plan or giving myself any pathetic excuses to eat any carby junk. Sure I’ll probably have the odd bitch and moan on here about “Aunt Flo” and her shenanigans, but even if the scale is going up and down and all over the place, I’m committed to this way of eating for health, for the rest of my life. There are no good reasons or excuses for going off-plan and I’m not about to start trying to invent any, just to acquiesce to the inner sugar-addict who will forever be a monkey on my back.
My kitchen is stocked with plenty of good, nutritious foods, and I have some protein bars, nut butters and shakes on hand for those moments when I can’t countenance the idea of eating anything too substantial, but still need to put something in my stomach to take my meds with. I’ve also got a 12-pack of ‘Nano A Protein Pancakes’ on order from Amazon (because yes, my hormonally addled brain was seriously craving something cake-like and that ‘buy-it-now’ button is literally the devil in disguise, lol) which are allegedly going to be delivered by Thursday 1st April (omigod, we’re almost in April, already!) but the way my Amazon deliveries have been going lately, frick knows when (or if) they’ll actually get here.
I know, I know, I could probably make these myself, but I fricking hate cooking anything and it would have taken just as long for a packet of protein pancake mix to get here, as it would these pre-made ones (no, I don’t have a bunch of baking ingredients on hand to just make stuff…the only thing I have in common with Martha Stewart is our inherent dislike of taxation) and I was feeling very sorry for myself as “The Communists Started Squatting In My Neighbourhood And Began Kicking My Arse From The Inside Out”. The ingredients aren’t what a lot of people would consider “clean” keto, but I’m not actually doing any official keto, just low-carb with a maximum of 20g carbs a day.
The nutritional panel says that each one contains 13.1g of carbohydrate with 2.8g of that being sugar. It’s tempting to just go with the amount of sugar in each one, but looking at the ingredients list, I think I’ll be better off counting the 13g total carbs when I eat these. I’m not planning on eating them every day (this month’s “Shark Week” will probably – hopefully! – be done with by the time my order even arrives) and I’ll try to keep most of them back until next month’s “visitation” when the hormonal need for something cake-like, rears its ugly head again.
But for now, I’m just going to settle for a protein-collagen-keto shake and a little squeezy sachet of ‘Pip & Nut Almond Butter’ to keep me going. I think I might even be up for a steak this evening – lord knows I could do with the iron boost! And I’ve got some ‘Green & Black’s 85% Dark Chocolate’ to have with a cup of coffee later in the evening or before I go to bed. The G&B bars are nicely portioned off into rows of 3 squares. 2 rows / 6 squares (18g) comes in at 4.2g of carbohydrate, with 2.6g of sugar. Being really dark and intense, those 2 little rows are just the right amount to give you a nice little hit of chocolatey loveliness, without any added polyols. Perfect for this time of the month.
Anyway, that’s all I have to share with ya’ll this weekly weigh-in. I really must get around to posting some mid-week stuff in here too…I just seem to keep blinking and before I know it, another 7 days have rolled around. Fecking lockdown bollocks! Right now, I’m off to lie down and listen to ‘Chemtrails Over The Country Club’ for a bit and try to get my arse to stop feeling like I’ve dislocated by left buttock. I’m so rock ‘n roll y’all, lol!
“I guess I’ll never know where your head is at… …I’ll be forgetting the blue.”
Yes, I know. It’s Tuesday, not Monday, but if I thought I was lost in some weird dreamlike state last week, this week has been even worse. I literally forgot what day it was because who cares anymore, when everyday is lockdown day and somehow we’re almost into April, when it was only just Christmas like, 5 minutes ago. I haven’t even gotten dressed in about 3 days now, and I’m not even remotely exaggerating when I tell y’all that I slept for over 28hrs between Sunday and today. Seriously, I only got up to use the bathroom, take meds and crawl back into bed for another of my epic sleep-a-thons. The only reason I ended up realising what day it was, was when I went to check the date on my phone to see if my turkey-burgers were still okay to eat.
And it turned out that I’d pretty much slept through Monday, forgot all about weighing in and basically just checked out of reality there for a while. Yikes. At this rate it’s going to be Christmas again and I’ll have zero idea where the entire year went. I’m so unbelievably sick of all this lockdown bollocks and just want the government to open everything back up, and let us all decide for ourselves how much we want to isolate or wear those pointless fricking masks (which, spoiler alert: don’t fucking work!) I’ve already had Covid once, I don’t care if I get it again because weirdly enough, I have this in-built thing called an immune system that’s been fighting off coronaviruses since the day I was born. People have been conditioned to think that this Covid-19 thing is a new thing and that it’s a special novel coronavirus that’s gonna kill us all. It’s not. Coronaviruses are nothing new. Most of us will contract this one and either be asymptomatic or have mild symptoms, just like we do whenever there’s a seasonal cold or flu going around. The people who are at risk, are always at risk from ALL the viruses (coronaviruses or otherwise) and can choose to protect themselves accordingly. But the majority of people will NOT die from this bullshit. I really wish more people would understand that and free themselves from this pathological fear of contracting something that isn’t going to kill them. Masks don’t prevent the spread of aerosolised virus particles from exhalation, so all we’re doing is engaging in a dumb collective performative act of compliance. And we’re letting governments eradicate our civil liberties whilst we do it. Just fucking enough already!
Grr…this shit makes me so angry. The average person just takes what they’re told at face value and allow themselves to be terrorised into weak, compliant, cowed responses because they aren’t even aware of what powers a government should really have over their personal freedoms. I’m an adult. If I want to expose myself to a multitude of risk factors, that’s on me. If you really believe that masks work, then you should be happy to wear one for yourself, fully content with the protection you believe that it’s giving you. That I do or do not choose to wear one shouldn’t matter to you. If they work, yours is working for you. If yours isn’t protecting you, then you really have to stop and think about why that is, and maybe consider why we’re all continuing to go along with this bullshit charade.
I’m just especially pissed off today because I woke up to find that I’d been sent a letter “inviting” me to get vaccinated, because my priority group were now being called. Yeah, no, not gonna happen bro. Don’t need one, not getting one. If y’all think you need one and you think it’s going to protect you (against a constantly mutating virus, despite having been created from a previous strain) then you do you. If it works, you’ll be golden, right? I’m just going to keep on relying upon the immune system I was born with and expose myself to as many germs as I always have, because that’s what’s kept me alive thus far. I don’t own a hand sanitizer; never have, never will. I only ever wash my hands if I’m preparing food or after I’ve been to the bathroom. Or if they get something icky on them. Drenching ourselves in sanitizer isn’t healthy. Understanding germ theory and implementing a basic level of sanitation is one thing; killing off everything so our immune systems stop working at all is fucking ridiculous. That letter about getting vaccinated went straight in the bin. Fuck that.
Anyway, rant over. I weighed myself earlier and this week I’ve just maintained. Which is pretty predictable if I look back over the past few months. I’ve also got really sore boobs, cramps and kinda want chocolate, which means it’s time for another visit from “Aunt Flo”.
“WTF? Already? Didn’t we just get over the last ‘visitation’?”
Yeah, that’ll be the ‘time-meaning-absolutely-freaking-nothing-anymore’ thing again. Plus, last time went on for about a fortnight, so with my cycle still being 28 days long (ish) there was only 2 weeks off before this month’s was due again. This time around though, I’ve started taking the Mefenamic Acid immediately after getting that first twinge. If I take it every day (and don’t make the mistake of stopping taking it too soon, like last month) then I might be lucky enough to get away with just the regular “Shark Week” instead of the “Shark Fortnight” I’ve been having of late. Either way, I’m still going to probably end up seeing a “ghost-gain” on the scale next week…so there’s that to look forward to. Yippee!
As you can see, I’m in a pretty crappy mood today. I’d like to just chalk it up to the impending hormonal shenanigans, but I’m just generally pissed off with all this lockdown crapola and want my freedom back. So I’m just going to end this post here before I go off on another rant. To cheer y’all up though, here’s a little meme that’ll make everyone laugh, no matter where they sit on the mask-wearing opinion spectrum. Enjoy:
Other Half: “How long have you have you been doing your low-carb thing now babe?”
Me: “About 6 months.”
OH: “Are you not thinking about having a day off of it any time soon?”
Me: “No. This is just how I eat now.”
OH: “But don’t you miss any of the stuff you used to eat?”
Me: “Not really. I don’t even think about it much anymore.”
OH: “There must be something you still wish you could have. Something you can’t make a low-carb version of?”
Me: “The only thing I haven’t had that I’d like is a chocolate cake, but I can always make a keto version if I really feel the urge.”
OH: “So you’re never going to eat any of that stuff ever again?”
Me: “I don’t know. I mean, never say never right? I just don’t want to go back to that way of eating.”
OH: Yeah but just having one day off isn’t going to hurt is it?”
Me: “Probably not. But I’m afraid that I might just go completely overboard and I don’t know that I want to risk ruining everything I’ve achieved so far.”
OH: “Yeah but you already know that you can do this.”
Me: “Yep. But the idea of losing control again really scares me.”
BOOM! There it is again folks. Our old friend ‘Fear’ and its trusty side-kick, ‘The Control Freak’. That little back-and-forth was part of a conversation I was having with the other half today about how long it’s been since I switched over to a low-carb way of eating. He’s been nothing but supportive of me ever since I decided to change my eating habits and whilst he never doubted my ability to stay committed to something I set my mind to, even he’s been surprised at my refusal to eat off-plan even once. We’ve been together for over a decade and up until August 31st last year, I was a total sugar-fiend. He knows how much I loved eating all the high-carb processed crap; how much I loved take-away food, cakes, biscuits, fudge, chocolate and sweets of every variety. So it’s only natural that he’d be wondering whether I missed any of it or if maybe I ever thought about taking a day off to indulge in some old favourites.
But I wasn’t lying when I said I don’t really think about it. I’m not one of those demanding harridans who simply cannot have junk food in the house, simply because I’m not eating it anymore. I made it absolutely clear from day 1 that he shouldn’t feel bad about eating however he chooses. My choices are on me, not him. The rest of the world should never have to bend to my will, just because I can’t eat that stuff any more – and anyone who expects that kind of kid-glove treatment needs to get a grip, because you’ll never be able to escape being surrounded by temptation in the outside world. Plus it’s just really selfish to expect other people in your home to alter their own diets, because you lack self-control. Don’t get me wrong, I love that he’s so supportive and it was really cute when he tried to stash his own snacks away out of sight when I first switched to eating low-carb, but over time I’ve made him realise that whilst I appreciate his concerns, I’m a big girl and I’m not about to go mad and inhale an entire packet of Wispa bars, just because they’re sat on the living room table.
I still make bread and cook potatoes, rice, pasta, chips and whatnot for him. I order him take-out pizza when he wants one and it doesn’t bother me at all to have it in the house. And I think that comes down to me having made a very clear decision in my own mind, that I simply do not eat those foods any more. There’s no grey area around any of it, I just don’t eat that way. You’ve probably heard others talk about the notion of being either a moderator or an abstainer. Moderators can eat a little bit of something and then leave it alone, but can’t imagine life without it altogether. Abstainers can cut something out entirely, but can’t just have a little bit, or it will remain present in the forefront of their minds, tormenting them with thoughts of always wanting more. I’m an abstainer. Some might call that “all or nothing thinking” but it’s no different to me, than an alcoholic swearing off of drink for the rest of their lives. It’s what I decided to do from day 1 and even stuck with that approach all through the festive season.
And I can’t think of any reason as to why I’d want to deviate from my low-carb WOE any time soon. It’s become almost second nature to me now. I eat food I like, there are plenty of options for keto-friendly versions of some items I want and I just feel so much healthier. I’m about 35lb away from hitting my initial 100lb goal and when I get there I’ll probably extend that even further by another 30lb. It’s all going really well, completely according to plan and even though I know I’m definitely due to hit a stall sometime soon (we all get one eventually), I’m totally prepared for it and happy to continue eating this way indefinitely.
So, what’s the problem?
Well, it occurred to me during that conversation at the beginning of this post, that one of my underlying reasons for not wanting to have a “cheat-day” or “day-off” was my fear of losing control of my eating again and spiralling back into some kind of inevitable inability to get back on track. Thinking on it some more, I had to admit that I’ve become somewhat of a “Carbophobic” of late, never wanting to use my full 20g daily max allowance, always trying to keep to 15g max every day instead. If I buy a premade salad and it contains grated carrot or tomato in it, I’ll spend a good 5 minutes fishing out every last bit of those ingredients, because I look at them as being too high in carbohydrates. I won’t eat any protein bars that contain more than 3g of carbohydrates. I avoid even the slightest dash of any sauce or condiment that contains sugar and if I’m being completely honest, the main reason I haven’t gotten my other half to help me make a keto-friendly cake yet, is because the one’s that look even remotely worth the effort have anywhere between 5 and 10 carbs for a slice – and ain’t nobody about to keep themselves to one tiny sliver of cake. I’m an abstainer, not a moderator remember?
And I’m a little bit worried that I might be developing a bit of an intense and unhealthy fear of carbs. Which is weird, because I know that the human body doesn’t need to consume carbs for any reason – post infancy that is, when we’re supposed to get it from breast milk, but I digress – and there’s no reason for me to ever have to consume them again (I mean, except maybe if there was some huge disaster and the only food I had any access to was a bunch of processed crap once my fat stores ran out, but I’m talking regular life here.) I have every reason to fear sugar and the damage it does to the human body. It’s an unnecessary substance that provides no nutritional value, whilst causing a whole heap of medical issues from Type II Diabetes and obesity, to dementia and inflammation all throughout the body. Shouldn’t more people be afraid of this stuff? Surely I’m right to want to give it a wide berth?
But maybe I’m not just reasonably concerned about consuming sugar. Maybe I’m becoming obsessively afraid of it, to the point of it being unhealthy in and of itself. I know I’m a natural control freak and when I had a stress related nervous breakdown, that part of me mutated into intense hypervigilance that crept into all aspects of my thinking. I’m completely over that breakdown now, but I always worry that I might be prone to another episode if enough stress factors all come together in the same kind of perfect storm that triggered the last one. So I like to always check in on myself from time to time, just to make sure that I’m doing okay. I know what to look out for and any time I feel as though things are starting to get a little too hectic, I know exactly who to speak to in order to get the help I need.
And I’m not saying I’m back lingering on the outskirts of Crazytown, about to lose my shit again anytime soon (yes, I’m allowed to use those terms, I’m a fully-fledged member of the Crazy Crew which gives me a crazy-pass to refer to mental health in the most politically incorrect terms I see fit, lol). But the thought of something getting the better of me never sits well with the control-freak part of my brain, and the added concerns surrounding a fear of certain foods, just sort of niggle at me in a way I’m not comfortable with. It’s not that I want to eat sugar. It’s that I want to carry on not eating it, by choice, not out of an unhealthy fear that’s rooted in a bad relationship with food. Does that make sense? If I can use the alcohol analogy again, I choose not to drink alcohol. Not because I fear what it will do to me; I’ve never had any problems with alcohol. I just choose not to consume it because it makes me feel like shit the next day. My house has loads of alcohol in it, but it never occurs to me to drink any, because I just don’t choose to drink alcohol. Which is how I want to feel about sugar and carb-laden junk food. I’m fine having it in the house, I can eat meals around others who are eating it and not be bothered by that. But it just feels like I’ve become unreasonably scared about sugar and carbs…and I don’t like having that fear.
If I fear something, I’m allowing it to have more power over me than it deserves. I’m attributing powers to something, that in this case, is an inanimate foodstuff. I don’t want to allow it to have that hold over me, because while it still does, I’m not wholly healed of my sugar-addiction and I don’t have the completely neutral, proper relationship with food that I’m working on achieving for myself. This concern actually first occurred to me a few days ago when I was watching a video by Thomas DeLauer. In it he said that whilst he mostly follows a keto WOE combined with a fasting regimen, sometimes he goes off of it for a day or so. I think he was trying to make a point about how he’s able to be pretty relaxed about his own eating at this point in his life and it’s normal for others to do so too, but I remember having an almost physiological reaction to hearing him say that.
“WTF? No way. I can’t do that. I don’t want to do that. I’m not gonna do that!”
The thought of “just taking the weekend off” horrified me.
“I’d gain weight immediately! How do I know I would be able to stop again? I do not want to have to go through the 3 days of hell, to get back into ketosis again!”
And I know the beginnings of concern about my having that knee-jerk response did start to creep into my mind at that point, but I just reminded myself that I’m still in the early stages of getting my health to where I want it to be.
“I need to make more improvements, lose more weight and become more settled into this way of eating, before I should even think about that kind of thing. Tom’s in a near perfect state of physical health and he’s been doing the keto and fasting thing for over a decade. He’s in the right place physically and mentally to start being able to relax a little with his diet. But I’m nowhere near where he is. No, now is not the time for me to flirting with such a dietary disaster.”
I mean, you can’t fault my logic there right? I can’t expect to cure myself of a lifetime of poor food choices in just 6 months and think I’m home free, can I? Trust me, I can make an argument for anything I think or believe – and that might just be part of the problem. Arguing happens to be one of my stronger suits. My parents encouraged heated debate in the family home, always putting the emphasis on using logical, rational propositions or defences and always keeping one’s cool. As a result of that I have always been able to stand up for myself, challenge those I disagree with…and rationalise my way into making all manner of less than intelligent decisions, lol. Part of the reason why I switched to low-carb in the first place, was because the evidence for it made complete, logical sense. I didn’t just choose to follow it because I wanted to lose weight and it was the trendy new diet on the scene. When I followed up on the books I read and the videos I watched, there was no compelling reason for me to keep on eating sugar.
And there still isn’t really. Except maybe I need to do it, just to prove to myself that I can do it and then go back to my normal low-carb WOE the next day. Urgh! Just typing that sentence out, like I’m seriously considering doing it, is already making my anxiety start prickling. I don’t want to put that stuff in my mouth or into my body. I don’t want to feel the way I used to feel when my brain’s reward centres were getting hyper-stimulated by all the crappy food I used to eat. I don’t want to like it. I don’t want to have those tastes back in my mouth, and then back in my memory, reminding me of just what I’ve been missing out on. I’m scared of eating like that again. Which again makes me feel like that’s the exact reason I should do it.
Do you see what I mean? I can provide numerous reasons as to why I shouldn’t have a day off of eating low-carb; the main one being that I just don’t want to. I have only one reason to make myself do it, and that’s to prove to myself that this stuff doesn’t have any power over me. That I can pick it up and then put it down again once I’ve proved my point. But what point would I be proving? That my control-freak nature can adhere to any rules I decide to impose upon it? Because that sort of experiment would still be me maintaining a firm grip on the reigns of my eating habits; it wouldn’t be me being “relaxed” about carbs, in any sense of the word. All it would really achieve is me proving to myself, yet again, that I can stay in control. And isn’t that really part of the problem to begin with?
I don’t know. All I’m certain of right now is that I have no immediate plans to deviate from this way of eating. I’m on a mission to lose all this extra weight, get healthy and have a better quality of life. I don’t want to do anything to ruin any of the progress I’ve already made, or scupper my chances of progressing any further. There is no need for me to consume sugar from a nutritional point of view, nor any social obligation or personal desire to do so. I’m not self-imposing this WOE for any moral reasons, I just don’t want to put that shit in my body. Not right now anyway. So I guess all I’ve done here is talk myself back to maintaining my original position, regardless of any concerns I might have about my increasing “Saccharophobia”. But it’s something I know I need to keep an eye on going forward.
And after talking some more with the other half, I made a deal with him: I’m going to stay completely on plan for as long as I see fit. But…on the 1 year anniversary of my switching over to low-carb (August 31st) I will go out to dinner with him to our favourite Indian restaurant and eat my favourite dish. So, I’ve got 6 months to work up the courage to have an ‘off-day’! 166 days and counting folks – GULP!
I don’t know if it’s the whole pandemic thing, or what, but the past few days have passed by in a complete blur, as if I’ve not been entirely present for them or something. I almost feel as though I’ve been absent from my own life. I only realised that today was Monday again and time for another weigh-in, because I had to log my meds in my bullet-journal and it suddenly hit me that here were are, at the beginning of another new week. And as I glanced back over the previous week’s entries I realised that I’d been negligent in my tracking of pretty much everything over the past 7 days. Maybe this is what it feels like to have been abducted by aliens, lol. Seriously though, I know I’ve been listening to a lot of classical music (Dvořák, Debussy, Ravel, Chopin, Sigur Rós and anything “fugue-esque” lol) which probably hasn’t done much to keep me present and tethered to the world around me – and I know my sleep-patterns play into my being even more withdrawn from the rest of society – but I do these things all the time; this past week just feels different somehow. I don’t remember what I was doing 2 days ago. I can’t even remember what I’ve been eating.
Now before you start thinking that I went ‘off-plan’ or ate a bunch of junk that I wasn’t supposed to, stop right there! c’mon folks, y’all know your girl here doesn’t do ‘off-plan’ days. When I say I sort of forgot about what I was eating, I’m referring to how my brain was so busy being either completely vacant or just so preoccupied with other stuff that it just wasn’t spending as much time thinking about something as mundane as food. And it’s not that I wasn’t eating, I just carried on eating ‘on-plan’, completely on autopilot, as if that’s the way I’ve always eaten. Which is actually great because that’s exactly how I want my relationship with food to become over time. But I can’t really remember all the times I ate throughout the week, because I just wasn’t noting it down in my bullet-journal. I know I was definitely eating food regularly because the refrigerator is almost empty, but I just haven’t had much time or energy to dedicate to thinking about, planning and recording every morsel I consumed. (Which is totally not like me, because I’ve been tracking every single thing I’ve been eating in my bullet-journal, from Day 1.)
To be fair, on top of the above mentioned fugue-states I’ve also been madly absorbed in a few new projects that I’m just in the beginning stages of gathering research together for, as well as enjoying getting to spend some time hanging out with the other half (who is right now a very happy bunny because we were able to get him the last Xbox Series X in the store recently and his buddies are a wee bit envious, lol). I get like this quite often whenever an idea pops into my head. I’ll stay awake for days drawing up plans, working out budgets and timetables and whatnot, stopping only when my body crashes and I go from being up, awake & slightly manic for 2-3 days, to zoning out like a zombie and then falling into a 22hr coma to recover. And once I’m in that ‘zone’ I can really get lost in whatever it is that I’m currently brainstorming, so I’m really not entirely surprised that my food intake just sort of went unnoticed. I mean, I know I’ve mindlessly eaten crap in the past, it just seems like some subconscious programming has taken root recently, making my mindless eating more of an automatic reliance on an established habit – does that make sense?
But if that’s how things are gonna play out going forward, then I’m totally down with that! (Although I might have to re-evaluate the frequency with which I need to reorder those ‘Pip & Nut Almond Butter Squeeze’ sachets, because the box is looking hella empty right now, lol!) Obviously I’ve still been somewhat present and thinking about the topic of weight-loss, because I’ve checked in with some of my favourite YouTube creators throughout the week, but it definitely feels as though I’ve been focusing on the subject a lot less over the past 7 days – even my brain can only handle dealing with so many different topics at any given time! Which is both exciting in its own way (because that’s a much healthier way to approach one’s relationship with food) and also a bit scary in a “look ma, no hands!” kind of way. And I must have internalised that slight concern last night, because I can remember dreaming about being out in some unfamiliar town, looking down at my hands and seeing that I’d been eating a bag of chips (British chips…proper chips…the kind you get with fish, not crisps or Doritos or whatever you American weirdos call ‘chips’) without even realising it. It wasn’t a dream about enjoying carbs (I never have that kind of dream) or missing them in any way, it was a fever-dream rooted in my fear and paranoia about accidentally ingesting the wrong kind of food because I wasn’t paying attention.
Even when I find myself completely relaxing into this way of eating and just naturally eating my normal low-carb foods without much thought, I still end up reverting to my hyper-vigilant type and worrying about the potential accidental ingestion of crap in my dreams, the minute I actually stop to think about it! But at least that was one dream that I could easily discern from reality once I woke up. It took a few moments of my semi-consciously being annoyed at myself for eating something like that, before I realised I was in bed and no chips had passed my lips, but I do at least know that it was a dream. The rest of of the week on the other hand, I’m not so sure. The line between wakefulness and dreaming just feels like it’s become incredibly blurred and I’m perpetually floating between both worlds, never quite sure of where I really am. I guess this is what happens to a person when the government steals away their liberties under the guise of “protecting” us all from the super-cooties. Sooner or later we all go mad.
Anyway, I know I’m waffling. I’m still sort of caught in a reverie, unsure as to whether I even ought to be up and about and awake or not. Maybe I’ll go back to bed for a while after I’ve uploaded this post. Maybe I have unfinished business in the dream-world that I need to take care of, lol. But I’ll just get to this week’s fat-stats and let y’all know where I am weight-wise this week. Last week I was…um…I really don’t remember. Oh frick. Hang on, I’ve got it written down somewhere in my bullet-journal, so I don’t have to leave this post mid-edit….Just gimme a minute to go check it out. Here…listen to this while you’re waiting for me to get back. It’s beautiful, awesome, haunting and will probably convey the landscape of the inside of my mind to y’all, better than I ever could:
Okay, found it. Last week I had what looks like a pretty good loss. I’d dropped 5lbs and was showing a weight of 14 stone 10lb (206lb) and this week I’m 14 stone 9lb (205lb), which means that I’ve lost another 1lb! Good stuff! And I managed that without really even paying much attention to what I was eating, lol. That’s really more of the achievement I guess, because I don’t want to be so utterly obsessed with weight-loss that it occupies my every waking thought. The whole point of working on establishing one habit at a time, is so that it truly takes root and becomes something I do automatically, before moving on to establishing another one. And I think I’ve definitely done that, as far as eating low-carb goes. It’s just how I eat now. I eat that way without thinking about it. And that’s exactly how I hoped it would be.
So good news all round this week. Still losing gradually and sustainably and doing it without even having to think about it. Which is just as well, because I have no idea where my brain has been this past week. Yay for habits becoming something we can just do on autopilot! I don’t know what the rest of the week has in store for me yet, but I’m keeping up with doing some gentle walking every couple of days to try and get the body used to movement. Nothing crazy, but then that’s really not my style. I completely live by the phrase:
“Do not do something in order to lose weight, that you aren’t willing to keep doing in order to maintain that loss.”
Because even in my fugue-states I know that it really is the only way to achieve any truly sustainable results. That I’ve already mastered the art of eating the way I need to, completely without thinking about it, gives me great hope for my continued progress and and permanent results. So I’m happy to just keep on doing what I’m doing while I’m still getting the results I want. That’s all I could ever ask for…all I ever could have dreamed of, lol.
“Moving, keep on moving Where I feel I’m home again And when it’s over I’ll see you again”
Well this was a turn up for the books!
This week, after the hell of “Shark Fortnight” my energy levels skyrocketed. I don’t know if it was a totally new lease on life, or if returning to normal after 2 weeks of nausea and exhaustion just made me feel like I was wired to the moon, but I started feeling kinda antsy. Like I really wanted to move my body more. And that’s a bit of a new thing for me, because I haven’t really felt that kind of desire to do anything movement related for years. Obviously I do have to get up and do stuff throughout the day like everyone else, but any kind of movement just for movement’s sake…nope. A lot of that has to do with the worsening of my fibro & arthritis, but I know that as the years have gone by and the weight has crept on, my inclination towards wanting to exert myself at all has definitely diminished.
So it was quite unusual when I felt the urge to just get up and go out for a walk yesterday. I know, I know: going for a walk isn’t life-altering for most people, but just feeling the desire to do so really surprised me. I’ve been doing quite a bit of research recently into safe, low-impact exercise that I can try to incorporate into my health improvement mission; but just knowing how much pain I find myself in after even the smallest amount of activity, I’ve been really scared to actually try anything. It’s probably really difficult for someone who doesn’t have the chronic conditions that I do, to really understand how much of my life is spent trying to mitigate anything that could potentially aggravate said conditions, in order to avoid an unnecessary spike in pain levels. Because as I’ve talked about before, the pain that I deal with can be excruciating; and it often lingers around for days (or weeks, or even months sometimes when a flare-up is particularly bad). It’s not that I’m just a massive wuss who can’t deal with a few aches and twinges – far from it. I’ve had kidney stones, broken bones in multiple parts of my body, and even pulled my own wisdom tooth out when pandemic nonsense made it impossible to get to see a dentist. I don’t have a particularly low threshold for pain; it’s just exhausting and demoralising to be plagued with pain that lasts for such a long time.
So yeah, exercise scares me because I know just how badly my body can react to overexertion. But I’ve been wanting to at least try to do something to move a little more for some time now. One thing I knew I didn’t want to do, was fall into the trap that so many people on weight-loss missions, seem to succumb to: overwhelm. I follow a lot of folk on various social media apps and the number of people who decide to just go from 0-100 by overhauling their eating, and embarking upon a huge new fitness regime (as well as all the other big new things) despite having not done any real exercise for years, is unreal. And more often than not, it totally overwhelms them and they end up either giving up, or resorting to some kind of binge eating to deal with the unnecessary pressure. Which is completely predictable and understandable when you think about it. If you don’t come from a fitness oriented background and suddenly decide to do a 5am workout every day, your body isn’t going to like it and your brain is going to be doing everything it can to thwart your determination. So why do so many people think that they’re going to be the exception to the rule and change ‘all the things’ all at once, rather than start off slowly and build upon smaller changes, until they become truly ingrained habits?
I think for many people it’s just impatience. They’ve decided to make big changes, so they want to see big changes. And they want to see them yesterday. Which is fine if you’re looking for a quick fix and you’re not that bothered about any permanent results. But if you’re trying to learn new, healthier habits that you can keep up with for the rest of your life, then that “one big push” ain’t gonna do it, bro #JustSaying. Obviously my own limitations mean that I was never going to go from couch-potato to iron-woman on day 1, but I still wanted to make sure that I had done a good bit of introspection and inner-work on my mindset first, before then getting a handle on my eating habits. Only once I’d taken care of all that, would I then think about the addition of any exercise into my life. And I’ve been eating this way consistently for half a year now, so I’m really comfortable with the food side of things – not to mention all the regular journaling I’ve been doing to help work on my mindset and focus. So it felt rather serendipitous to start feeling that urge to move, just as I was coming to a point where I was mentally comfortable to start working on a new habit.
I definitely think that having had these issues with movement and mobility that come from my chronic conditions, has made me appreciate those times when I am able to get up and move about. I took all that for granted for so many years, letting my weight creep up from eating so much crap, while doing very little exercise. Now I actually want to move more, but I know I have to be careful because if I overdo it, then I’m really going to suffer for it. But I knew I had to start somewhere and so when that urge hit me, I grabbed my trainers and headed out before I had time to change my mind.
So, without any plan in mind as to where I was actually going to go, I decided to start off by walking up the really steep hill I live on and see how I felt after that. And I was really pleasantly surprised to find that I was able to walk to the top without getting all out of breath. The last time I walked up that hill was way back before I began losing any weight and I remember my heart feeling like it was going to beat right out of my chest when I was only 3/4 of the way up. Huh? Well that was new and unexpected. Then I tried to figure out what would be the best route to take, while not going too far from home; because I didn’t want to find myself suddenly seizing up and having to still make my way home, hobbling like some bedraggled crone. So I decided to just kind of loop around some roads in my area that I could easily just abandon and take a short-cut back home from, should the muscle spasms start to kick in.
As you can see from the incredibly detailed map I have included here (MS Paint for the win!) I didn’t really “go” anywhere, but I figured by the end of it that I’d got about a mile in. And when I got home I didn’t feel immediately terrible. Of course, after I’d sat down for a bit and then went to get up again I could feel the seizing-up really start to kick in and today I’ve got horrible twitchy pains running down my spine and into my legs, but it’s nothing I’m not used to. I was expecting to feel a lot worse if I’m honest and I’m still waiting for the worst of it to kick in, but the main thing is, I went for a walk and I got home in one piece and it didn’t kill me, lol!
And this is a really big step for me. It isn’t going to sound like anything earth-shattering to most people, but to anyone with a chronic condition, it’s really positive. Because now I’ve done it once, I know I can do it again. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not the day after, but soon…and hopefully for the rest of my life! It’s a very small change that I can not only take some comfort from, but also build upon. I just have to remember to take baby steps, not overdo it and always listen to my body so as not to overexert myself too much. I figured that a mile was a good start and I was pretty sure that I’d walked about a mile, but I wanted to know exactly how far I’d gone so I could track any progress going forward. So I found some website that allows you to plug in your journey and it calculates the distance for you. Cool. Because I don’t own a Fitbit or Apple Watch or any of those gadgets (and I have zero interest in purchasing one) but I like the idea of knowing exactly how much I’m doing.
So imagine my shock when the distance I actually walked turned out to be 2.65 miles. Like, really? Because it didn’t feel like I’d walked that far. But then I have absolutely no idea how to estimate distances. I don’t drive and I have a terrible sense of direction (the fact that I didn’t get lost is a miracle in itself) but I was also really just lost in my music. (Once those headphones go in, the rest of the world could burn to the ground around me and I’d barely register any of it.) I think it might also have been something to do with the way in which I sort of kept doubling back on myself so it didn’t feel like I’d ventured too far from home, but whatever it was, it really didn’t feel like I’d walked very far.
But yeah, 2.65 miles was the distance racked up on my first little walk out around where I live. So that’s my starting point and something that I can totally do again, with at least some regularity. The biggest take-away from doing this though was that sometimes I just need to get out of my own head, say “screw it” and make that initial leap out of my comfort zone. The fears I have around pain and triggering off a big bloody flare-up, are very real. They’re not irrational or made-up excuses that I’ve concocted to avoid doing normal stuff; they’re very much based in my life experience. But I still need to remember to push myself more and not allow fear to keep me from making the improvements I need to make to my life. I guess it’s about finding that sweet-spot; the balance between too much and not enough. But if having these conditions has taught me anything, it’s that life is short and I should never take any of it for granted. If I don’t use my body to move, I’ll lose that ability altogether…and what kind of life is that for a woman in her 40’s? I just wish someone could give me an precise prescription for the exact amount of exercise I should and could do, to get the most benefits, whilst incurring the least amount of painful side-effects.
And that’s all I’ve really got to share with y’all today folks. Just another day spent making better choices, leading to the incremental changes that add up to big benefits. Nothing crazy, desperate or unsustainable, cause we ain’t about that madness around these parts.
“The man in black He found a crack Inside my mind”
Okay, so where did the past 7 days go? Seriously, it only feels like yesterday that I was last getting on the scale and reporting back to y’all, yet here we are again going through the motions once more. And it’s been a really weird week for me. First off there was “Aunt Flo” who totally overstayed her welcome, but then I decided to really overdo things midweek and caused myself a bunch of aches, pains and miseries. Because a/ no I will never learn and b/ I still got things to do, regardless of how crappy I know it’s going to make me feel the following day. But, on the plus side, after what feels like an eternity, “Aunt Flo” has finally fecked back off from whence she came; and boy was the change in my entire physicality so freaking different. Literally overnight I went from only being able to eat the driest, least interesting of protein bars and nearly vomiting at the smell of my other half’s dinner, to waking up starving hungry and really wanting to eat some real food.
And eat I very much did! I had 4 quarter-pound steak burgers, a 200lb bag of broccoli (steamed), 10 brussels sprouts and grated cheddar cheese all over the lot! I was absolutely famished and needed all that protein and iron so badly after a miserably nauseated “Shark Fortnight”, that I devoured the lot in about 15 minutes. Oh and then I had a cup of coffee with cream afterwards and 18g of ‘Green & Black’s 85% Dark Chocolate’ too. It felt so freaking good to be eating a proper meal again (albeit a pretty damn huge one, but I’d been living on mostly protein bars & a bit of nut butter for nearly 2 weeks, so sue me, lol) and it might just have been psychosomatic, but I swear I could feel my strength returning to me almost immediately. Which is fantastic, because feeling like death (not even warmed up) for 2 weeks in a row really sucks balls y’know?
But I did my best throughout that period (pun totally intended) to keep referring back to Marcus Aurelius, for a bit of stoic motivational writing and at least try to see it all as a temporary thing that I would get through. Which of course I knew to be true because “Shark Week/Fortnight” seems to really floor me for a good amount of time, almost every month now. But I’m not gonna lie, there were moments when I just felt like my mood was plummeting to the ground and there was nothing I could do about it. Having fibro & arthritis is pretty miserable anyway. Getting a monthly visit from “Aunt Flo” is always pretty grim. But having a 2 week long “visitation” that in turn triggers off a worsening of the other stuff, really grinds a person down. I didn’t eat off-plan at all during that fortnight which is largely down to my having made the low-carb WOE a normal habit now, but feeling pukey for a lot of the time probably helped, lol. Although, I don’t know that eating nothing but protein bars is really all that good for anyone (it’s not something I plan on doing at any other time of the month) and the jury’s out as to whether we should be counting total carbs or net carbs; but I really didn’t care one way or the other. I needed stuff in my stomach to take my meds, but couldn’t eat much of anything or else I’d throw up. So protein bars it was. And they have a bunch of vitamins and other nutrients in them too, so I was getting some nutrition into me. But man was I ever ready for red meat once it was all over!
So yeah, thank frick that’s all over for this month! But, I hear y’all ask, what is the scale saying this week? Well, if you remember last week and the week before that, I was seeing freaking gains when I weighed in. Which was a bit annoying really because I wasn’t eating off-plan, so I knew it wasn’t a “fat-gain”, just what I like to refer to as a hormonal “ghost gain”. Thankfully the bloating has now gone-away and I’m happy that the number on the scale is a true representation of what I actually weigh now…which is 14 stone 10lbs(206lbs).
To put that all into perspective, 3 weeks ago on 15th February, I weighed 14 stone 12lbs (208lbs). The following week I was 14 stone 13lbs (209lbs) and last week I was 15 stone 1lb (211lbs) but both those weeks’ “gains” were down to the hormonal bloat of “Shark Fortnight”. Now I’ve dropped that 3lb of “ghost-gain” along with another 2lb of regular fat-loss, bringing me right back on track to where I should be. So that’s a relief. Although I’m just altogether more relieved to see the back of “Aunt Flo” and all her evil tricks – especially the sore boobs! – but that whole meshugas was really getting me down there for a bit. My mood today though, was already really good even before I stepped on the scale to see what I weighed this week; getting this reading today has only added to it.
And on that cheerful note folks, I’m going to leave you. Amazon is calling me and I have a bunch of new stationery that I really want to buy myself…maybe some more energy drinks too because I love the convenience of having a crate of them delivered straight to my door (even if the other half ends up pinching half of them – the absolute swine, lol!). I might not be able to buy myself any new clothes just yet, but I have plenty of other stuff on my wish-lists to go splurge on. Because why not?!
FYI: THIS POST IS ONE GREAT BIG TMI…Y’ALL HAVE BEEN WARNED!
Okay, so let me just start off this post by acknowledging the fact that the song featured here today doesn’t in fact have anything to do with “Shark Week” (or “Shark Fortnight” as it’s become round these parts) and I know it pisses Alice Cooper off that so many people make that incorrect connection between the song and the subject matter but a/ it’s a good song and b/ I’m too crabby to care about actual relevance right now.
I think it was Roy Chubby Brown who first joked about not trusting anyone who bleeds for 5 days and doesn’t die. Well, he’d probably be denouncing me as a witch or something right now, because this month’s little “visitation” is already more than double that. And the predictably depressing corollary of that is a further “gain” on the scale, despite me not only having remained 100% on plan, but also having eaten half as much as I normally would over the past 7 days. I probably jinxed myself in last Monday’s post by saying how grateful I was to only see 1lb of “ghost-gain” when I weighed in, because here I am 7 days later and that “ghost-gain” has increased by another 2 whole fricking pounds!
And that’s a better number than it was saying yesterday, lol. I don’t normally weigh myself on a daily basis, but whenever “Aunt Flo” is in town, I totally hop on the scale to see what damage she’s been wreaking on my poor body every morning, as soon as I get up. Some months are worse than others (previous months that have fallen in such a way as to make it look as though my period has had no effect on my weight, definitely made months like this one feel way more hideous, I know that much) but this month was particularly bad. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it before but because of my having sporadically really heavy periods, I’m prescribed Mefenamic Acid by my GP. I’m supposed to take them as soon as I start cramping before a period starts, every day until it ends; but I react really badly to Mefenamic Acid and it makes me violently sick. To counter that I’m also prescribed Omeprazole.
Sounds fine right? Well no, not really. I’m also prescribed Co-Codamol and Diazepam for my arthritis and fibromyalgia (among a bunch of other things, lol) and Omeprazole is not only contraindicated with Diazepam (so I have to halve my dose of Diazepam while taking Omeprazole) but it can also cause constipation…which is then exacerbated by the Co-Codamol and the lowering of my Diazepam dose. Which is a really long-winded way of explaining to y’all that not only am I bloated from hormonal water-retention, but I also haven’t been able to take a shit in about 3 days.
Yeah, we’ve been here before and yes I know how to normally prevent or relieve constipation, but right now I’m so nauseated (something that happens every time I get my period) that I simply cannot countenance the idea of eating anything or drinking any more water than the bit I take with my medication. Which in itself is only contributing to the problem, I know, but I have to be careful not to throw up because then I don’t know whether or not any of my regular medications have been absorbed into my system – and I can’t just take another dose in case I end up double-dosing. This month I took the Mefenamic Acid as soon as I started to get those cramps, but I stopped taking it when it looked like this “visitation” was tapering off, because I figured everything was just about done for the month.
Yeah…no…didn’t quite work out like that. Because the very next day “Aunt Flo” came back with a vengeance and has now been FAR outstaying her welcome for the past few days. With that has come all the nausea again, so I just haven’t been eating much at all. I can really only manage a few bites of a really dry protein bar with my meds – which I know is exacerbating the constipation – and because I’m back taking the Omeprazole too, that’s also making that joyful little side effect even worse. My tits are back to feeling like giant throbbing rocks of agony to the point where I can’t even wear an underwired bra and my abdomen is so noticeably swollen, I’m starting to look pregnant. Oh and on top of all that, the fibro is also playing up too, because why the fuck not?
Seriously, the “ghost-gain” is literally the least of my concerns right now, because I know that it’s not real “fat-gain” (yesterday the scale said I was 15 stone 3lb which is 5lb heavier than I was before “The Communists Started Squatting In The Neighbourhood And Kicking My Arse From The Inside Out” and today it’s saying I’m 15 stone 1lb, which is better I guess, but still absolute bullshit, lol). I’m barely eating, I’m certainly not eating “off-plan” and yet “Mother Nature” has decided to just mock me with her hormonal tricks that have just about sucked the life out of me. I can’t take a laxative because they will interfere with the Mefenamic Acid and Omeprazole…and I really need to keep taking those in order to get this goddamn haemorrhaging to stop. And I’m trying to cut down on the amount of pain relief and Diazepam I’m taking in order to help with the constipation, but I’m in so much pain right now I simply can’t not take any of it.
So I’m completely stuck in this weird situation where all I can do is wait it out, because if I stop taking the Mefenamic Acid and Omeproazole, my period will just carry on indefinitely (which will mean perpetual bloat), I can’t eat a load of veg because I’m already backed up and permanently nauseated (I can’t let myself vomit because of all the other meds I take) and I can’t take a laxative because it will affect the absorption of said meds. I am literally and metaphorically stuck in a bind. It’s all I can do to try and laugh, by finding the humour in the whole ridiculous farce and revisit Uncle Marc on the daily, to try and stay sane throughout all this. Not that Aurelius wrote any meditations specifically on being constipated, but a little bit of stoicism does wonders for one’s mental fortitude!
So yeah, I still have my sense of humour folks, so don’t be feeling sorry for me. This is just life with a pre-menopausal woman whose body likes to remind her who’s in charge of this decrepit carcass from time to time. And the fact that I stay so completely “on-plan” 100% of the time means I never need worry that any of these “ghost-gains” on the scale are anything other than hormonal bloat (and being constipated, lol). It might be annoying but it isn’t anything new and I know it’s not the result of me choosing to eat a load of crappy carbs. And who knows what the scale is going to say tomorrow? For all I know it might show an even bigger number! It really wouldn’t surprise me because my engagement ring has become really tight just in the past few hours so I may well be retaining even more water than I was when I woke up and weighed myself. Meh!
I was initially going to wait until tomorrow to report on my weigh-in, because it didn’t feel like a real weight worth recording considering the circumstances. But then I realised that a/ tomorrow might well be worse, lol and b/ this whole hormonal cycle is just another part of the reality of having a body that I’m trying to change. There’s no shame in being held hostage by “Aunt Flo” because none of this is down to bad choices, it’s just the result of my having an annoying cycle and still needing to take a bunch of meds that don’t necessarily help matters. So I’m going to update the ‘Fat Stats’ page to reflect what the scale says today, but I’m not going to alter the figures in the side-bar because that just shows the number of pounds I’ve lost overall. Hopefully this time next week things will be back to normal (fingers crossed!) and until then I’m just going to try and be patient, maybe do some abdominal massage and let nature take its course.
In the mean-time, I hope that y’all are doing well wherever you are in the world and until next time, I shall bid you adieu.
“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.
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.
“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.