“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.
“Now I wanna be strong try to be there just like you I wanna be the mirror that you’re proud to look into I wanna be the one who always follows through…”
I’ve never really been one for trying to make people like me or have them be pleased by my actions. In fact this arrogant little madam has almost dickishly, gone through life often doing the very thing that will piss people off – purely because they didn’t want me to do it. Is that a bit moronic? Hell yeah; I got to about 30 years old before I even began to realise that this was just a cringey form of ongoing teenage rebellion…that really ought to have been put away like other childish things at least a decade earlier. But I still, to this day, hate being told what to do by anyone. If you ASK me to do something for you, chances are I’ll bend over backwards to try to accommodate you. But if you just EXPECT something from me? Ha ha…sorry bro, I think you got the wrong person here. And if you TELL me to do something? Well I’m just going to tell you to go fuck yourself. (Because yes, I’m the kind of person who can have both immaculate manners whilst swearing like a sailor, and an attitude that will make you wish we’d never met, should you provoke that side of me.)
The notion of wanting to make other people proud of me, is also something I’ve never much cared for. What’s always mattered the most, is whether I’m proud of myself for accomplishing something. I love and value my family, but I’ve never lived my life in order to please them. Which is probably something I get from my mother who has always encouraged me to do whatever I want. She has literally gone out of her way to tell me that it’s my life and my choices that I alone will have to live with. She’s never been the annoying kind of helicopter parent who tried to push me into doing anything I didn’t want. (Of course as a child she was instructive and instilled discipline during my younger years – as all good parents ought to – but as I got older and became independent, she let me make my own mistakes, choose my own path and never judged me for any of it.) There are many things she’ll tell you she’s proud of me for accomplishing, but I’ve never gone out of my way to impress her or try to earn her approval.
So what’s with the title of this blog post? Well, I’ve recently been doing my best to lose weight, improve my health and try to fight the progressive nature of my various physical ailments. And whilst I’m proud of myself for making the necessary changes to get as far as I have done, what really surprised me was how good it felt to hear my other half tell me that HE was proud of me for doing all this too. Now I have to reiterate the fact that he has never made me feel as though he wanted me to lose any weight. He met me when I was only a fraction less heavy than I was when I started out on this mission and we’ve been together for 12 years. He’s been nothing but loving, complimentary, affectionate and completely supportive of me for those 12 years and when I told him I was going to make a concerted effort to lose weight, he was just as supportive of that. Not because he’d been secretly wanting me to shrink down to a slimmer size for the past 12 years (he’s as outspoken and opinionated as me, so I always trust and take him at his word) but because it was important to me and when I explained the whole health reasons behind it, he obviously wanted me to be as happy and healthy as possible.
But when he first told me how proud he was of me for doing this (he’s since told me again on a couple of occasions) something inside me went a bit “gooey”, lol. Now I’m not the most sentimental person in the world (big surprise there, I know) but it really meant a lot to me. Not because I’ve ever tried to seek his approval, but because I could see that it came from an unprovoked, place of absolute, unmitigated sincerity; and I really appreciated that. I was so happy to have been able to do something that made him proud – and I’m not gonna lie, it really threw me for a loop there, for a moment.
Maybe I’m getting soft in my old age, but it made me feel like I WANTED to be able to make him proud. It’s not like it made me want to do anything different, or ramp up my efforts to get more recognition from him, but I wanted to at least continue to make him proud of me. And that’s a really big deal for me. Wanting to outsmart him and kick his ass in a general knowledge quiz is one thing (he’s the exact same BTW… we’re super-competitive when it comes to quizzes!) but wanting him to be proud of me is something entirely different. It’s a much more vulnerable place to come from. It means I know that this is something that I could fail at, but so far I’m actually succeeding and I feel good about that – which goes back to what I spoke about in a previous post: Fear.
This wanting him to be proud of me also acknowledges just how much he means to me and how much I value his opinion. He isn’t easily impressed, so my being able to impress him means I must be doing something really good. Of course I already know that he loves me, but I want him to see my ability to do whatever I set my mind to, and be pleased with that. Not because it involves my weighing less, getting smaller or looking differently, but because it allows him to see that his other half keeps to her word and can make shit happen.
So yeah, he’s feeling very proud of my success so far and that just spurs me on to want to keep succeeding. And he’s probably the only person in the universe who I’d want to keep making proud. But enough of that for today – time for the results of the weekly weigh-in! So where were we last week? Well after a particularly long, drawn-out and heinous “Shark Fortnight” (and a mid-week “ghost-gain” of 5lb – which disappeared again a couple of days later) the scale showed no overall loss when I weighed in last Monday. No big deal. I always seem to have a reading like that around that time of the month. I wasn’t worried, because looking back at the Fat Stats page, that’s exactly what I should have been expecting last week. But this week?
Well, food-wise I really haven’t been doing anything different – as always I’ve just stayed 100% ‘on-plan’ every day. The only new thing I’ve been trying to cultivate is a more relaxed, nonchalant approach to food in general as I wrote about last week. The idea being that having a healthy relationship with food means not allowing thoughts of what I’m going to eat for lunch or dinner or whatever, to preoccupy my mind. And whilst it’s only been a few days, I’ve definitely started to make some inroads into that new approach. Not every meal has to be some tantalisingly tasty morsel of gourmet standard. Just grabbing something nutritionally adequate is a perfectly reasonable way to regard the majority of our meals – and that way of thinking will probably stand me in good stead when it comes to having this WOE become a permanent way of life.
But onto the weigh-in results. Hopping on the scale this evening, I got a reading of 15 stone 1lb (211lbs), which means this week I’ve lost another 2lbs! Perfect! That’s exactly the amount I want to be losing each week (“Aunt Flo” and her “visitations”notwithstanding, lol). That means I’m 2lb away from getting under the 15 stone mark and 12 pounds away from getting into “onederland”. So I’m completely on track and ready to see what the upcoming week will bring. I’ve just ordered some new coffee mugs from Amazon, which will allow me to make a single cup of properly brewed fresh coffee without having to fire up the coffee machine. They’re really cool; I used to use them a few years ago in work when me and my buddy would try out various beans and blends for our mid-morning coffee-breaks.
Whilst I’m trying to take my focus off of the food I’m eating, I think that giving myself a nice cup of freshly brewed coffee to look forward to will provide a nice little psychological boost to me during the day. Dr Rob Cywes often talks about eating no more than twice a day and then using coffee as a “bridge” between meals. As a self-confessed “carb-addict” himself, he understands what it’s like to come from being a person who constantly responds to sugar-cravings by eating any time the brain demands it, so this “bridge” technique is his way of dealing with years of entrenched habits surrounding food. Coffee keeps him sane and allows him to feel as though he isn’t depriving himself in between his 2 meals. I tend not to fire up the coffee machine when it’s only myself having a cup and whilst my preferred brand of instant is better than most, I do really love a proper cup of coffee. So here’s hoping that these clever little mugs will allow me to not only enjoy a cup of freshly brewed java, but also reduce my focus on foods. I shall keep y’all posted.
Now though, it’s time for me to go make the other half some dinner and go catch up with my favourite YouTube channels.
And you want to call your mother and say “Mother, I can never come home again ‘Cause I seem to have left an important part of my brain somewhere Somewhere in a field in Hampshire.”
I have never been one of those people who can just “be”. I’ve never been able to meditate, or just empty my mind, and I cannot just sit and do nothing for extended periods of time. Sitting is fine, but unless I’m occupying my mind with something, I get incredibly bored, very easily. Now I don’t bore easily – yes that might sound like an immediate contradiction, but bear with me – because I always have something I can be doing, reading, watching, learning about…even if I can’t get up and about to go anywhere. I’m incredibly good at keeping myself occupied and even as a child I could often be found just sat reading as I devoured everything I could get my proto-bibliophile little hands on. So yeah, I never struggle to find things to occupy myself with, but I simply cannot just sit and do nothing.
My mind races all the time, jumping from one project to another as soon as I’ve finished, constantly making notes about the next 100 things to research or the next 10 books I “have” to buy. I read 2-3 different books at any one time, watch university lectures from around the world in order to learn more about…well…everything, and I have to check out/aggregate numerous news sources every day, to find out what the “bullshit du jour” is. (I’ve had it suggested on multiple occasions that I might have undiagnosed ADHD or even Asperger’s, because of the way my brain is always looking to keep itself stimulated, in a very logical, fact-oriented way. I have no idea if that’s true and I’ve never been tested for it, because what we be the point? I’m hardly suffering as a result of it and I certainly don’t require any more medication to add to my already vast prescription.)
But I know that whatever it is that causes me to be perpetually in need of stimulation is probably something that ties into my issues with sugar addiction, or food in general. When I think about what it was that really made me overconsume so many carbs, I’m perfectly ready to admit that it was an addiction. However, I also think that one of the reasons I did eat so much, was because of the experience of having different flavours in my mouth. Being so cued into stimulation at every level, I believe that food was also a way of doing something that felt interesting at the time. I love really sour things, spicy things, herbs, regional cuisines, different textures, different temperatures and of course…all things sweet. Food it seems, has been as much about the fun way flavours hit my taste receptors as it was a response to craving another hit of sugar. Addiction being the multi-layered disorder that it is, can have more than one contributory factor. Maybe I’ve been addicted to the sensory experiences involved in eating, almost as much a I’ve been addicted to the actual sugars involved? I mean, they’re probably two sides of the same coin, but it makes perfect sense when I think about it.
The weird thing is, throughout my life I’ve tried just about everything a person can become addicted to. And I don’t just mean “tried it once, didn’t inhale (I did not have sexual relations with that woman)”, lol. No, I’ve imbibed, indulged and partaken in just about every substance out there on the streets…and have done so on many, many, occasions. During my 20’s I was a complete party animal. I believed that you should work hard and then reward yourself by partying equally as hard on your time off. And I really went for it. I could list the things I’ve done, but it’s quicker and easier to just list the stuff I’ve never done. I’ve never done crystal meth (c’mon we all have to have SOME standards!), I’ve never done PCP and I’ve never used that weird khat stuff that people from Africa like to chew (that shit makes your teeth really gross and TBH you get far more bang for your buck with regular speed). Oh and I’ve never injected anything. But other than that, if it could be snorted, swallowed, smoked or absorbed through a ‘tab’, I’ve done it. A lot of it.
And I’m not saying any of that to try and make myself sound wildly interesting (trust me, most people who are completely off their face on drugs aren’t even interesting to other people currently off their face on drugs) I’m just trying to reveal a pattern in my past behaviours that I believe still exist within me today, despite me being far too old to party anymore. (I don’t even drink alcohol!). The reason I took so many drugs was partly curiosity, but mostly just because I loved the way in which different substances stimulated my mind and body in so many different ways. Up, down, sideways (thanks, Ketamine!) or completely tripping my tits off…whatever it was that I wanted to feel, I knew I could get just by ordering up whatever substance I wanted at that specific moment in time.
And I LOVED taking drugs. I’m not ashamed of that fact…I had so much fun with them and got to experience so many different sensations and levels of excitement / euphoria / relaxation / fascination / introspection, every weekend. I mixed them up, experimented with combining acid & ecstasy, ketamine & ecstasy, ketamine & heroin…all kinds of mad combinations. And looking back, yeah, I probably was pushing my luck and sailing a little too close to the wind with some of my more extreme weekends. At one point I got the nickname “munch” because when it came to taking ecstasy tablets (and this was many years ago when ecstasy tablets actually had a decent amount of MDMA in them) I would start of with just 1, then double drop a couple an hour later, then triple drop later still and by the end of the session had probably forked out about £150 for 20 pills and subsequently “munched” my way through them (and I use the term “munched” there in inverted commas, because ain’t no one in their right mind gonna chance a whitey by chewing one of those bad boys up in their mouth….bleugh!)
But you know what? No matter how many drugs I took or how often, I never became addicted to any of them. Maybe it was because I only ever did them on weekends because of the weekday work ethic. Maybe it’s because I was doing so many different things all the time, that I never became actually addicted to any one recreational drug in particular. I don’t know. But it’s the same with alcohol. When I was younger (15+) I would drink enormous amounts on the weekend. Binge drinking. But it never became something that I got addicted to. I never felt the urge to drink on weekdays, or drink alone. It was something I was able to walk away from as easily as I did the drug-fuelled party life. I did it while it was fun and then when I’d had enough, I just stopped. Inevitably, my reasons for giving up those crazy days of drug-taking were just the usual mundane reasons: 1/ the comedowns get a lot harder to get over (like hangovers) the older you get and 2/ I ended up working a job that required me to work a lot of overtime on the weekends, so it just wasn’t feasible anymore.
Do I miss it? Kind of. But not enough to want to go back to it. I’m now content with getting my stimulation from a vast array of intellectual pursuits….along with getting to enjoy the company of my other half. But it was all the talk of sugar-addiction recently that just got me to thinking about addiction in general and whether or not I’ve got what you’d call an “addictive personality”. And I don’t think that I do. As I’ve just explained, I’ve put myself in the path of potential substance addiction, just by the sheer amount of things that I’ve taken over the years. Why does one person become a disease ridden crack-whore, when the next person merely dabbles and walks away completely unscathed? What makes person ‘A’ become an intravenous smack addict, when person ‘B’ just finds it something they can enjoy here and there and not become dependent upon?
And the only reason I can think of, as to why I might have never gotten addicted to any drugs I’ve ever used…yet still somehow became a sugar-addict, is because everyone knows about the dangers of drug addiction. I grew up bombarded with the “Just Say No” campaigns of the 80s/90s (not that they stopped this curious little miscreant from wanting to find out for herself what these drug things were all about, lol) and there was no shortage of films or television shows that charted the terrible demise of some wretched junkie. The potential dangers of drugs were embedded in our consciousness from a very early age. So even though I was having fun taking everything from A-Z, I think there still must have been some part of my subconscious keeping an eye on me and stopping me from stepping over the threshold from user to addict.
But sugar? It’s in pretty much every kind of processed food on the planet. And grain based carbohydrates have been touted as “good” and “healthful” for as long as I can remember. Sure, we were warned that if we didn’t clean our teeth properly then the sugar would give us cavities; but no one was going around thinking:
“I really ought to be careful dabbling in these Mars Bars and cans of Coca Cola…I don’t want to get addicted and have to go turn tricks on the streets of crime to pay for my dirty, candy habit.”
There just hasn’t been the intensive campaigning out there in schools, youth groups, churches an from within the police, telling us to “Just Say No… To Sugar”. It’s really only in the past 15 years that we’ve seen the notion of carbs being the problem with triggering metabolic disorders (Gary Taubes has really done wonders for getting this message out there to the general public, but Dr Atkins had been waxing lyrical about the low-carb diets for years, before he very sadly passed away. Taubes just really refocused energy and attention on a low-carb WOE, and continues to publish books on the subject to this day) but not many of us grew up in the knowledge that carrots & sweetcorn, or cornflakes and crusty bread could be more problems than they’re worth.
I just say all this because I think our sugar-addictions crept us on us when we weren’t necessarily clued up about the effect carbs were having us. I’m not trying to pass the buck here…none of us got fat behind our own back; but it definitely helps to make sense of how I never became addicted to the various classes of “controlled substances” consumed over the years, but I definitely became addicted to sugar from an early age. And when it’s injected into everything from dressings, to freshly baked 100% chicken breasts in the supermarket, which have also been “fortified” with HFCS…well, what chance did we really stand? *GAH*!
I never wanted to admit that I was a ‘sugar addict’ (I mean, it sounds pretty fucking lame, right?) but going through those first 3 days of withdrawal taught me what it meant to feel infuriatingly dependent on a substance for pleasure, satiety and sanity. I’ve committed those 72hrs to memory, because I, in no way ever, want to have to go back to that place, admit to a relapse and put myself through the sugar withdrawal process again. That shit sucked.
But when I also think back to the withdrawal process and how amazing I felt afterwards, I was a little surprised to see how easy it was to just get on with my new low-carb WOE. Maybe I’m just lucky because I’m not a particularly addictive personality. Hence why I also never became a recreational drug addict, no matter how many substances I used. Do I have an especially good brain that doesn’t “catch” onto addictions all that easily? Am I just mentally stronger and better able to discipline myself, or is it a genetic predisposition to avoiding addiction?
Well, in full disclosure, I’ve actually been surrounded by addicts at various points in my life. My dad (now passed) was an alcoholic, my older half-brother was a heroin addict for over a decade, my step-brother was a heroin & crack addict, one ex-boyfriend was a paranoid schizophrenic heroin addict, another boyfriend was a gambling addict and a couple of friends ended up with one of them in jail and the other dying in the apartment downstairs after a heroin/cocaine speedball overdose. One would think me more likely to develop addictions myself with all those associations & relationships, but I think if anything those people all acted more as real-life examples of what not to end up like. I’ve had front row seats to the very real fuck-ups and failures of all those individuals. There was simply no way I was going to end up going to let myself end up like them.
But nobody was skulking around with a diagnosis of sugar-addiction, for me to use as an example of what not to do. Even if many of them were as addicted to the sweet stuff as me, it simply wasn’t a thing that anyone had really heard of or talked about, 25 years ago; at least it wasn’t in my social circle and I wasn’t clued into any nutritional concepts surrounding it online for a long time in the future. So yes, I WAS a sugar addict, but I wasn’t aware of it…ergo I wasn’t in a position to do much about it. Sure I was fat, but I’m really glad I never joined WW with all their low-fat/high-carb, sugary “points system” foods that would’ve merely been allowing me to stoke those inner fires with MORE unnecessary carbohydrates.
But today is a different story. I have that information, that knowledge, that power. And it has allowed me to re-evaluate my life choices, my diet, and all the behaviours I’ve needed to change in order to get a handle on it. My mind is focused, my goals are set in stone and I have multiple tools at my disposal to assist me in getting to where I really want to be. Some might think that it’s a lot harder to deal with a sugar addiction, when we live in a world that constantly surrounds us with sweet stuff, sugar fortified foods and no way of simply abstaining from all food, forever. We still need to eat and the temptations are all around us.
But I think it’s the opposite. Once you decide “oh I just don’t eat that stuff anymore” and don’t go down the slippery-slope of “just one cheat day won’t hurt!” then it’s a very simple WOE to follow. No complicated systems of sins/points/rewards, no wrecking one’s metabolism by massively restricting calories, no going hungry and no negotiating with oneself any time you’re presented with the opportunity to binge on something, telling yourself that you can make up for it with better behaviour, tomorrow. Just stick to the plan and work it – until it stops working for you. Then you can look at alterations, tinkering, eliminations, rethinking goal weight in relation to muscle mass etc…but don’t worry about any of that in the short term.
Sugar addiction is a real thing, but it also comes with a very simple solution. It just takes the individual to want to make the decision to “get clean” and stay that way. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy…some days will suck more than others. But it’s up to each of us, and us alone, whether we want to continue behaving like junkies, or get our shit together and work toward a happier, healthier future.
Because I’ve seen what that kind of addicted lifestyle has done to way too many people.
This song will always make me giggle. Well, not this latest version by Lana Del Rey, but the original song that featured in Disney’s ‘Sleeping Beauty’. Now I’ve never been a Disney kind of girl – when most little girls my age were envisioning themselves as princesses, I was watching ‘R’ rated horror movies and reading books on serial killers, lol.
Fast forward to about 10 years ago and I was playing Trivial Pursuit with the other half. We’d only been together a couple of years but he knew me well enough to know I didn’t go in for any of that saccharine fairy-tale stuff. I’d made it to the final question having collected all the different coloured cheeses and so himself got to draw a card and pick the question he thought I’d have the hardest time answering. ‘Science & Nature’ and ‘Literature’ were always my strongest categories and whilst I’m not a huge sport fan, the ‘Sport’ question on the card he’d drawn looked like one he thought I’d definitely know the answer to. So he opted for ‘Entertainment’ – admittedly one of my weaker areas of knowledge. So, assuming he’s got me beat, he smiles confidently and asks me the following question:
“In what animated movie is the song ‘Once Upon A Dream’ featured in?”
and without a second’s thought I blurted out, laughing:
“Ha! Sleeping Beauty! I Win!”
Now at this point the other half is just looking at me like he doesn’t know me at all. This was a few years before the live action film ‘Malificent’ starring Angelina Jolie had brought the ‘Sleeping Beauty’ story and soundtrack back into the public’s consciousness so it wasn’t the sort of thing that I would have been expected to know…in his mind anyway.
“How the hell do YOU know THAT??! You HATE that Disney shit!”
At which point I proceeded to sing the entire song, word for word, from memory. Cue him looking very confused.
“Don’t tell me you actually LIKE that crap?”
Which of course left me in a fit of giggles as the man I loved sat wondering whether he really knew the woman in his life at all. So I explained:
“No, I absolutely hate Disney. Always have done. But my little sister was a HUGE fan. She had all the videos and would watch them every single day when we were growing up. Thanks to her, I know all the words to every song in that goddamn film, along with the soundtrack to ‘Lady And The Tramp’, ‘Cinderella’, ‘The Little Mermaid’, Snow White and a bunch of other stupid animated crap.”
He looked real relieved there for a moment…until he realised I’d won the game – we take our general knowledge competitiveness REALLY seriously in our household, lol. We’re pretty evenly matched and constantly try to beat each other at every opportunity. We’ve since played Trivial pursuit many times and are currently tied at something like 8-8. We’ve both had some “totally-pulled-that-one-out-of-the-furthest-reaches-of-our-minds” winning answers, but I’ll never forget that look on his face when I sang the whole of ‘Once Upon A Dream’ to him, that one day ten years ago. When I say:
“Underestimate me…that’ll be fun!”
I really do mean it, lol. And that is the story of how I kicked my other half’s ass at Trivial Pursuit, thanks to my little sister’s obsession with Disney films!
That was just a little humorous aside that I remembered when looking for a song to include with this blog post. I thought I’d include it because it always brings a smile to my face, but it does also tie into the theme of what I want to talk about today. Namely, dreams. Or rather, the specific kinds of dreams I’ve been having lately.
Anyone who has tried to lose weight themselves, or who has had to eliminate a specific food from their diet – for whatever reason – will know exactly what it is I’m talking about here, because I know it’s incredibly common. They are of course, the dreams in which we find ourselves eating a food that’s not on our plan/we’re not supposed to eat for medical reasons and at some point, either in the dream itself, or immediately upon waking, start to freak out because we believe we’ve actually consumed that food for real.
I had two of those dreams this week. One a couple of days ago where I was eating strawberry jam directly out of those little plastic tubs you get in a hotel breakfast (I mean, personally I’d normally have opted for raspberry or cherry, not strawberry, but, okay…whatever ‘dream-me’; you do you, lol) and the second one just before I woke up today, in which I was presented with an entire dessert cart whilst working nights in a hotel, and got seriously wired into some maHOOsive slices of chocolate cake! I was still in the dream when it occurred to me that I’m not supposed to be eating this stuff!
“Oh god no! What am I doing?!”
I remember looking down at the remnants of cake in my hands and just feeling so incredibly guilty. I felt ashamed. Like a failure who had just been too weak to stop myself from caving into my raging cravings.
“Why did I just do that? What the fuck is wrong with me?”
It felt so incredibly real right there standing in this dream scenario, in a location I’d actually worked at over 15 years ago, the taste of chocolate madly apparent in my mouth. And then I woke up. It wasn’t exactly a ‘woke up in a cold sweat’ moment, but it was pretty close. It took me a good couple of minutes to realise that I wasn’t in a hotel, I was at home in my own bed. There was no dessert trolley. I hadn’t just eaten a ton of carbohydrates. The cake was a lie!
But those feelings of guilt are still lingering, weirdly, on the periphery of my consciousness as I sit and type this post out now. Let me just reiterate that I have not eaten a single thing that isn’t on my plan, ever since I switched over to a low-carb WOE. I’ve had the odd craving for chocolate cake (the one thing that I really seem to still be missing now and again) but I haven’t touched a single bite. I’ve got those recipes to try out for a Keto-friendly version, but I’ve been trying to stay away from even those as I work at retraining my thought processes and eating habits. I might have to dig one out and give it go sometime in the future though – if only to keep me sane during my dreams!
It just goes to show though, how powerful an addiction to sugar can be. My brain obviously has a lot of memories of my having produced a lot of dopamine and serotonin via my habit of consuming vast amounts of sugar with abandon. Even now 11 weeks into having completely eliminated it from my diet, its hold on me is still there. I’m incredibly diligent when it comes to sticking to my plan. I rarely even eat an entire protein bar in one sitting. I’ve mostly relegated those to a couple of bites when taking medication and they now sit around the house without me being tempted to eat them all at once. I’m quite proud of my ability to not give into any temptation around me, so it’s almost hilarious that I find myself freaking out in my dreams over some imagined pig-out session!
Is it my brain’s way of trying to tell me that it still really wants some sugary, cakey carbs? Or is it something else? As always, I had a good sit and think on this before I opened up my lap-top. Why are these dreams presenting themselves right now? Is it just about the sugar-addiction, which will never truly leave me? I’m not entirely convinced. Whilst I’m sure that might have a small part to play in my brain doing anything it can to remind me of just how good a chocolate gateau tastes, the fact that I already started to feel guilty in the dream itself, makes me think that it’s more to do with something else I’ve blogged about before:
Yes, it’s our old friend, the frikers. I’m still experiencing some self-doubt when it comes to my ability to do this, aren’t I? I still, for all my willpower and concerted efforts to do my best, worry – possibly at some subconscious level – that I might fuck up at some point and give in at a moment of weakness. And that really pisses me off. I don’t like not having 100% faith in my ability to do something. It’s so…not…me!
But maybe, just maybe, these dreams are my brain’s way of trying to tell myself that I just need to be careful; be aware of my lingering addiction to sugar and never forget that I am just one slip up away from going off plan and falling out of ketosis. Perhaps this is my in-built defence system doing everything it can to stop me from getting too comfortable; too complacent. These dreams could actually be doing me a really big favour. Because I’m only human. I might feel very happy and comfortable with my lo-carb WOE – and right now I have no desire to veer off-plan into some ‘carbage’ – but I have no idea what tomorrow may bring, or how I’m going to feel this time next week, next month or the month after.
Getting too comfortable can lead to us getting complacent; which is when things like ‘carb-creep‘ and the ‘one bite won’t hurt’ rationalisations start to affect our progress. I can’t allow myself to slip into any bad habits that will undermine my efforts thus far – I got a lot riding on this! I need to be able to get myself to a healthy weight, maintain it and then work on making myself stronger and more flexible, if I’m to have a better quality of life going forward. If I don’t then I’ll likely end up a prisoner in my own home and my body.
The price of freedom is eternal vigilance, so if having the odd dream helps to keep my mind focused on the task at hand, then I’m happy to have them rock up and put the ‘frikers’ on me from time to time. Better that the cake be a lie than an actual cheat, right?
Before I begin, can we all just take a moment out to appreciate what an absolute banger of a tune this is? I know I post a lot of songs on here (tunes with some relevance to the topic at hand) and I doubt anyone clicks on them most of the time. But this classic from the 60’s is only 2.30 minutes long and you should totally just take a little time out to pop in your headphones and get down to some good old vintage pop music.
Okay, so what is the title of this post (and the related music link) really about today? Well, it has to do with a comment I received in a message from someone – who shall remain nameless – wherein they accused me of being “overzealous with success”, in regards to my having adopted a low-carb WOE. Which really surprised me; not in the least because the individual in question purported to have read this entire blog. Yes, this chaotic record of all the ups and downs that I’ve encountered over the past couple of months, lol.
Success? I’ve literally only just gotten started? Where are they getting THAT from? Am I presenting myself as a success? Or are other people just perceiving me as such? I’m pretty sure it’s not the former, because I’m incredibly honest about every issue, obstacle and set-back I experience along the way. So that suggests it’s the latter and that comes down to how others allow themselves to perceive my journey, through whatever lenses they happen to view the world. Which is pretty disappointing really; I’m not gonna lie.
So I thought maybe I would take the time out today to chat a little bit about exactly how I do think, when it comes to my low-carb WOE and weight-loss progress…because I’d hate for people to misinterpret my position or misrepresent my opinions.
First of all, I am – and always will be – a work in progress. Anyone who thinks otherwise of themselves, is either naïve, arrogant or just unwilling to engage in some healthy introspection. I only started down this new path of eating low-carb at the end of August. But I did spend a good few months before that, researching both the low-carb WOE and the psychology behind weight-loss and behavioural changes in general. Forewarned is forearmed after all; and I’ve always been one of life’s planners & researchers.
One of the things that really stuck out when I was looking into how to best go about pursuing a sustainable weight-loss plan, was the fact that people who were successful in the long run, treated their approach more holistically; meaning that they looked into changing their way of thinking and overhauled many of their behaviours to help give them the best chance at achieving their goals. Those who just tried to lose ‘X’ amount of weight without thinking about it in terms of an overall lifestyle adjustment, seemed much more likely to give up when things started to go awry. They hadn’t put anything else in place to bolster their efforts and attempts, so they had nothing to stop them from just throwing in the towel.
I did not want that to happen to me. In fact, scratch that: I REFUSE to let that happen to me. I will NOT be the architect of my own downfall. So I made sure – way before I even stepped onto the scale to find out my starting weight – to spend a little bit of time working out the best strategy for success, based on the choices, habits and behaviours of those who had succeeded themselves. Because why wouldn’t I? Why would anyone embark upon a serious journey to improve themselves, without first understanding a/ why they really want to achieve said goal, b/ what could thwart their attempts at success, and c/ what they could do to give themselves the best chance at negotiating all the inevitable hurdles that they will encounter along the way and be successful in pursuit of their personal goal?
I mean, it just seems like basic common sense to me, right? But if my 40 years of experience in dealing with other people has taught me anything, it’s that common sense really isn’t as common as we’d like to think it is. Do I think I’m special for thinking the way I do and being so naturally inquisitive when it comes to trying to make changes to my eating and health? Well, I’d like to say no because it doesn’t feel like a particularly special way of thinking or behaving…but after looking at the never-ending tales of woe by those who DON’T approach their goals this way and inevitably end up failing…well…maybe I do fall into that category of people who conduct themselves in a “special” kind of way. And that’s not something that necessarily comes naturally to me or anyone else; it involves making a conscious effort to really want to have the odds of success go in our favour.
So of course, I’m by no means a success when it comes to having met or maintained my goal. I really am still just coming out of the starting blocks as I progress along the path to a much lighter body and better health. But I WILL give myself credit when it comes to having successfully put the effort into researching and planning the route to my goal, as well as the amount of time I’ve spent working on trying to make sure that I have the best chance of succeeding at it. I’ve really worked hard at getting to understand my strengths, weaknesses, triggers, motivations and all the potential psychological barriers to making this low-carb WOE a successful, permanent lifestyle change. So, I’ll happily take the credit for having put the effort in, before I even began my Atkins induction. Fuck false modesty; I have no problem with feeling good about having put in the hard work.
But all that planning, self-reflection and research doesn’t amount to “success”. It just means I’ve made an effort to prepare in an attempt to give myself the best chance at succeeding. You only have to read back over all my blog posts to see how many ups and downs I’ve encountered so far – AND I’VE ONLY BEEN AT THIS FOR 2 MONTHS, Y’ALL! Lol! 2 months is nothing. The first couple of months are supposed to be the easiest; the time when the weight comes off the quickest and our resolve is at its highest. So if things have been so chaotic, week-upon-week, during the time when things are at their easiest, then heaven only knows how crazy and calamitous the next 12 months are going to be!
Because things ARE going to get harder, that much is a given! I KNOW that there are going to be weeks when the scale isn’t moving and my clothes aren’t loosening any more and my fibromyalgia is making me feel as though my limbs are made of lead. That’s just how it goes when we try to lose weight. Having problems and hitting obstacles isn’t unusual or special, but how we choose to deal with those problems will make ALL the difference to whether or not we stay the path or veer off into the nearest chocolate gateau. So whilst I won’t be any different to anyone else who is attempting to lose weight, in that I too will find myself hitting plateaus, getting frustrated and wishing I could just click my fingers and get to goal…I WILL have the benefit of having spent time anticipating these moments and given myself various coping strategies, in order to help me stay the course.
Positive mental attitude, motivational quotes and recommitting to my goal every single day upon waking, are just some of the tools I use to remain dedicated and keep my willpower fully charged. I don’t care if some people find any of that cheesy or cliché; clichés are just overused statements that have at their core, a kernel of truth that many people relate to; something that resonates with them. If you’re too cool for all that, well you do you, boo. I’m 40 years old, folks. I gave up giving a shit about what it meant to be cool about 25 years ago. (Yeah, I was anti-cool, waaaay before it was cool to be anti-cool, so…like…get rekt, lol!) If hearing about personal responsibility, mental focus and staying motivated isn’t for you then this probably isn’t the blog for you; so quit reading it, stupid! I mean, I get it, I’m awesome and you simply cannot stay away, but don’t expect me to change the way I conduct myself, just because y’all don’t like it.
I’ve said it before, but I HAVE to make this work for me. My health and quality of life depends on it. I can’t just decide that losing weight is too hard, that I’m not seeing results fast enough or that I can just live my life out in some sad form of denial, pretending like obesity related illness and immobility are totally acceptable and not at all dysgenic or disabling. If I don’t lose weight and improve my health, I will likely end up completely housebound, if not bedbound. I’m by no means the heaviest person out there and I’m a far cry from the ridiculous creatures on ‘My 600lb Life’. But I have physiological issues that have already, and will continue to, effect my mobility, dexterity and basic motor skills. These health issues will get progressively worse if I don’t make the necessary changes to lose weight. So when I tell you that I AM going to succeed at this, I’m not being big-headed or arrogant. I’m making a factual statement about what needs to happen and how I intend to make that happen.
So by all means feel free to look down upon me as just another newbie to the low-carb WOE, who naively believes that everything is going to be sunshine and fucking rainbows. That ain’t me, bro. I am NOT your average first-timer or habitual dieter. I am not the kind of person who looks upon failure as an option, regardless of whatever the goal in question is. But when it comes down to my health and my quality of life, you can be damn sure that failure is even less of an option. Some people jump into weight-loss without having anything approaching a real plan as to how they’re going to go about reaching their goals. They have insubstantial, vain or vague goals of “looking hot” or “getting into THAT dress again” and whilst y’all should do whatever works for you, chances are you won’t have fully engaged in any of the psychological work needed to truly figure out your “why, what, when, where & how”…never mind any contingency plans for when the shit inevitably starts to hit the fan. Anyone with half a brain can lose weight. But staying motivated until you hit your goal weight, then maintaining that weight loss in the long term (despite all of life’s little struggles that WILL be sent to test you) takes more than just eating within your calorie count, carb allowance, or whatever other macro you focus on, under your plan of choice.
THAT level of success comes down to mental fortitude, consistent effort, making good choices and creating a mindset that is not only prepared to experience hardship, but that knows how to navigate through the really difficult moments. You will never be permanently inspired. Not naturally. so you need to work on finding out those things that DO inspire you and motivate you, so you have them ready to fall back on, when things get tough and you’re starting to get battle-fatigued. Have you even considered what other possibilities you should have on the back-burner, when what you’re currently doing, just isn’t working for you anymore? Have you even given any thought to the fact that you ARE going to hit obstacles along the way; that your weight-loss journey isn’t just going to be a simple step from A – B?
And the truth of the matter is that all too many people who claim to want to meet a weight-loss goal, simply haven’t given any of that stuff the slightest bit of thought. They find themselves “suddenly” just caving in to festive treats and then feel guilty afterwards…which is entirely unsurprising when they never took the time to sit down before they began to change their WOE and actually think about how they would approach these situations going forward. They will find excuse after excuse as to why they are eating whatever candies are on sale during every festive period, rather than work on trying to understand why they feel so compelled to periodically indulge in all that crap and find a better way to deal with it. And let’s face it: every single holiday celebration now has a selection of “treats” available for us all to indulge in, all year round. If you’re going to go off-plan every time there’s another holiday food you believe you have the right to indulge in, then you’re obviously still stuck in the mindset that has you believing that food is more important to you than your goals. And hey, you totally DO have that right to eat whatever you want, whenever you want to; it’s your body and you can do whatever the hell you want with it. But you really don’t have the right to sit and feel sorry for yourself, expecting others to sympathise with you when it was YOU who made the conscious decision to eat off plan.
I simply refuse for that to be MY story. I don’t consider myself a success at all right now…but you can take it as read, that I WILL be successful in losing the weight, improving my health and altering my behaviours and habits going forward, to ensure I don’t wind up backsliding. I don’t care if I have to tinker with every single macro, every type of food and every added ingredient. If I have to try out IF, OMAD, EF, keto, paleo, carnivore or whatever other WOE out there involves not filling one’s body with a huge number of carbohydrates…I WILL find a way to get myself to where I want to be. And I don’t think that’s arrogant or over-zealous. That’s confidence. Self-belief. Determination. Commitment.
So to anyone who reads this blog and misunderstands my focus and my passion, I ask you to think again and maybe go reread this post a couple of times, so you really get to understand what motivates me at a core level. Because the only person I have to impress in all this, is me. The only person I am in competition with, is the person I was yesterday. The main reason I write all these posts and fire up my motivation, is so that I have somewhere I can go to air my thoughts, clear my mind, let off steam, tell the truth and have a permanent record of everything I’ve done, in my attempt to get healthy. If someone else enjoys the anecdotes or is able to see the value in a lot of the things I say, then that is an added bonus. But I’m not doing any of this for anyone else. This is all about me and it’s for me.
Because I am the centre of the universe.
And so are you.
So act like it, while you still have time to do something about it.
Today’s post was inspired by my blogger-buddy Mel’s recent post, in which she look into the recent practice of ‘Intuitive Eating’ and whether or not it really stacks up as an effective, useful tool for those looking to lose weight. I’ve linked to her post below, which y’all should definitely go check out because she does a way better job than I do, at properly examining the pro’s and cons of IE. And you should totally be following her blog ‘Lighter, Brighter Me‘ too, because she does a lot of posts like this, where she critiques various weigh-loss tools & techniques (and she also uses the word ‘arse’ too, which immediately gets bonus points from me, lol!). So yeah, go read what she has to say first, before checking out my own random waffling. Enjoy!
We’ve all heard it, the old adage: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” And I for one have always been much more of a planner than a seat-of-your-pants kinda gal; but for some reason, when it comes to one particular part of this weight-loss journey, I’ve actually stopped thinking too far ahead.
What part is that?
Meal planning. Or lack thereof, in this particular instance.
Now when I say I’m normally a planner, I mean I like to know what I’m going to be doing today, tomorrow, this week, next week and as far into the future as possible. Maybe I’m a bit of a control freak, but whereas my other half is super laid back and just lets life come at him any which way regardless (something that drives me absolutely nutso at times), I feel like I need to be prepared for whatever’s going to happen, in order to stay sane.
I have a planner that I normally put together myself, which has a future log for the coming year in it, a calendar for every month and then weekly lay-outs that list everything I need to do on a particular day (as well as a separate part for recording my meals, my water intake and the time I take all my meds in a 24hr period). I also keep notebooks for separate things that need to be tackled – project based notebooks – which themselves are divided up into ideas / brainstorming / plans / timetables, and I schedule certain tasks to happen on certain days each month, well in advance too. And it’s just as well that I do, because if we left everything to the other half’s “c’est la vie” way of thinking (complete with Gallic shrug) we’d never get our prescriptions renewed, we’d forget to pay our bills and we’d probably never know when anything important needed to be dealt with. He’s an amazing man my other half, but if he has one particular peccadillo that can really piss me off, it’s his total nonchalance when it comes to planning ahead. (Babe, I love you, but omigod would it kill you to make a note of when you have a doctor’s appointment coming up?? GAH!)
But I digress…this is supposed to be about me (It’s ALL about me, duh). So yeah, like I said, I’m a natural planner and normally apply that mentality to every aspect of my life. You’d probably expect therefore, that as I’m doing my best to lose weight by switching to a low-carb WOE, I’d take that approach and plan the absolute shit out of my meal-times, snacks and overall consumption. Right?
Well you’d be wrong. And no one is more surprised at that than yours truly here. Because I went into this on day one, with a firm plan of what I was going to eat, for every meal, of every day on that first induction fortnight. I spent hours in the supermarket meticulously scrutinising every label on everything I purchased to make sure there were no hidden carbs/sugar in anything (I mean when you find out that a single serving pack of precooked chicken breast has had HFCS added to it, you learn pretty quickly not to trust ANYTHING on the face of it.)
But then reality kicked in. And by reality, I mean appetite. Which for the first 72hrs was RAMPANT! The minute I told myself I wasn’t going to be eating sugar…yeah…I wanted sugar. My brain went into the addict’s frenzied headspace – which is really just your psyche going through the 5 stages of grief with added hunger pains for good measure:
Denial (I’m not really a carb addict, I’m just hungry – FEED ME SUGAR!)
Anger (Why the hell can’t I just eat carbs like everyone else – FEED ME SUGAR!)
Bargaining (Well, maybe I could just reduce my carbs gradually…one bar of chocolate on my first day can’t hurt – FEED ME SUGAR!)
Depression (This is shit; I miss chocolate already – FEED ME SUGAR!)
Acceptance (Okay, I guess is just my life now – FEED ME WHATEVER!)
And the only way I was able to get through those first 3 days, was by constantly shovelling down any low-carb foodstuffs I could get my grubby little hands on. Those carefully planned out meals I’d spent all that time thinking out in advance? Yeah…no…they went right out the window as I did everything I could to stave off the raging hunger (which was really just cravings) consuming my every waking thought. I was stuffing fistfuls of ham and slices of cheese into my mouth whilst I was cooking a chicken and steaming some broccoli and cauliflower; I was chugging back a whey & MCT oil shake while gammon steaks were under the grill; and I was chomping down a protein bar whilst waiting for my other half to make me an omelette.
Thankfully I was able to coast through a good amount of time over those first 3 days by sleeping my way to the promised land of ketosis. But it was still pretty hairy during waking hours. No amount of Pepsi Max managed to convince this addict going through withdrawal that the sweet taste it was supplying was enough to satisfy my jonesing for sugar. But I got through it. Headaches and cravings eventually gave way to that weird moment when my body switched over to fat burning mode and all cravings went right out the window. Hallelujah!
And with the arrival of ketosis, there was of course the disappearance of my appetite. Great. Now I can just eat the meals I planned to eat in the first place, right? Well, um…no. Not really. Because now I had the exact opposite problem to the insatiable hunger of those first 72hrs. Now I didn’t want to eat ANYTHING. That roast meat & veg I had pencilled in for dinner today? No thanks. I really don’t feel like eating a big meal right now. The chicken salad I planned to have for lunch the following day? Urgh…please! I really can’t face that at the moment. And with that ALL my plans for eating certain meals at certain times and on certain days went out the window. In fact, at the end of the first week I had to throw out a bunch of fresh produce, because I simply hadn’t eaten them within their use-by date. I don’t know how much money I wasted trying to buy enough food to cater for an appetite I no longer had, but it really pissed me off to have to toss so much of it in the trash. Oy vey!
Shopping then became an arduously boring task, where I had to look for things to eat which would keep for longer (whilst still being suitable for Atkins Induction) and also figure out just how much fresh meat & veg I could realistically expect to eat in the next 7 days. I have to limit my shopping to just once a week, because my annoying health issues cause me to hurt and seize up after every trip out. I can’t just ‘nip to the shop’ multiple times a week to keep buying things I run out of, so a degree of planning is still pretty important. But actual meal planning? Fuhgeddaboudit.
I can sit and draw up all the pretty plans I want at the beginning of the week, detailing every meal and beverage and snack I intend to eat for the coming seven days. But when I get up on any given day, you can damn well guarantee it, that I am NOT going to want whatever it is I’ve got scheduled in for consumption. Some days all I want is a protein shake for lunch and a chicken salad for dinner. Other days I wake up and the only things that sounds appetising are burgers and sausages and eggs with mushrooms. And there’s no way to know before time, what it is my impaired appetite will see fit to allow me to consume. And when I think about it, maybe that’s okay. Maybe the human body is smart enough to know when it needs more of one type of thing than another. Maybe, just maybe, even my obliterated metabolism is still able to intuit what’s suitable and right for a certain time or day. And maybe I should try to learn to listen to it.
Lots of people are currently talking about ‘Intuitive Eating’ as another fad or hype beast from the ‘eating for health & wellness’ community. Numerous books are being written by a variety of authors (some of whom have actual credentials, but many others who are really just trying to capitalise on the current trends for some lovely shekels) instructing us to simply tune into our bodies’ internal sense of moderation and regulation, in order to lose weight. Moderation? Regulation? Does this 235lb lump of lard look like it knows how to moderate its own food intake? If I could regulate the amount of carbs and other macros I consumed myself, I WOULDN’T BE IN THIS STATE IN THE FIRST PLACE! Grr…
But I get what they’re trying to say when they tell you to listen to what your body is telling you it wants/needs. Not because I would ever have previously been able to hear anything other than
“I need more chocolate, STAT!”
coming from my own carb-addicted carcass; but because now I’ve lowered my carb intake to fewer than 20g a day, I’ve freed up my mind to be able to think more about what it actually needs, as opposed to what my hyperinsulinaemic system thinks it wants. (Which was always, invariably…sugar.) And as I’ve been reading more about zero-carbers and carnivores, who base what they eat on any given day on how their bodies feel when they wake up in the morning, it does make sense on a very primitive level. When I was eating however many hundreds of carbs a day (I really have no idea how many and I’m kind of terrified to go work it out), what I thought was hunger was probably mostly just sugar cravings. (I mean, you can’t get to 270lb and be truly hungry for more ‘fuel’ can you?) All I’d feel is a coercive prompt from my stomach saying “FEED ME!” and I’d give it whatever I fancied. Which more often than not was small in regards to it’s portion size, but massive with regards to the carbs and calories it contained. (Box of buttery, dairy cream fudge anyone?)
But now I don’t have the carb-addict’s constant craving for sugar. I don’t even have what I can call a real appetite anymore. I can easily go 24hrs without eating and then when I do decide it’s time to consume something, I just sort of tap into what my body is telling me it wants and go with that. Today that just so happens to be sausages and salad. Would I have had that planned out on my little menu scheduler? Probably not. But then the entire concept of what actually makes a meal these days has been completely up-ended. Gone are the days of meat, potatoes and veg with gravy…in are the new-fangled combinations of chocolate protein shake and pork rinds! Or the mindblowingly dull 3 burgers and nothing else. Yep, things are a whole lot different around here now come feeding time.
And so it is with a heavy heart, that I must put away my plannerish-things (as far as food is concerned that is) because for once I have to admit that I actually don’t have complete control over what it is I’m going to eat every day. I mean obviously I’ve banished carbs (not including my 20g max daily allowance) but once that’s just accepted, there’s no craving for them and then all that’s left is what my body decides it wants on a particular day. It’s very freeing, but it’s also very strange and something I’m still getting used to. But maybe it’s good for me to not have every single moment of my life planned out to the finest detail. Perhaps it’ll do me good to let go of the reins and try living somewhat in the moment.
And right now, this moment is all about those sausages I’ve got under the grill. So on that note, I’ll bid y’all adieu.
Things I thought I would really miss when switching to a low-carb WOE:
Fish & Chips
McDonald’s Sausage McMuffins / Big Mac, Fries & Thick Shake
Thick buttered toast with jam / peanut butter & Marmite
Macaroni Cheese with cayenne chilli pepper
Dairy cream fudge
Boiled new potatoes
Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate bars
Southern fried chicken tortilla wraps
Chinese take-away Singapore style chow mein
The reality however, has been very different. In those first few days before slipping into ketosis, I was of course craving every single kind of carb-heavy, sugary food I could think of (withdrawal is a powerful thing) but once my system had used up all of its reserves of glucose and glycogen, all my cravings fell away.
Okay, so if I’m being entirely honest, that lust for chocolate cake has still hung around at the periphery of my consciousness, leaping into the forefront of my minds eye any time I overdid it on the protein bars, or when my TOM hormones were up the wazoo. But I haven’t been tempted into actually buying or eating any of it – even when I’ve been face to face with the stuff in a coffee shop, or in the supermarket. My resolve has remained strong and those little cravings soon dissipate when I turn my attention to something else or eat some protein instead. And I’ve researched a few keto recipes for chocolate cake, which would only put a 3g/4g dent in my daily allowance…but I’m trying to hold off on making one until I really, really want one and know that nothing else will do. (The main point behind going low-carb was so that I could embrace a healthier way of eating for the long term – not some dumb crash diet so I could “lose 30lb by X-date and get into some size 4 clothes and look super hot to all the boys!” So I don’t want to get into the habit of indulging in keto-cake on a regular basis. I know that’s a slippery slope and I refuse to allow myself to undo all my hard work, just so I can keep my sweet-tooth hooked on “healthier” alternatives.)
But yeah, aside from that occasional longing for a big old hunk of squishy, chocolatey, frosted goodness badness, the things I thought I’d really miss, really haven’t actually bothered me. For the most part of course, I’ve simply not had much of an appetite to speak of. I can go a long time without eating…although the moment I begin to eat, the hunger does start to fire up again, reminding me that I’m supposed to still be eating something at least once a day. But a lot of the flavours I thought I’d miss can be satisfied in a variety of low-carb ways. Mostly by just losing the bread and the side of potatoes or chips (proper chips – British chips…the kind that come with battered fish, not the bloody snacky, crappy things that we call crisps!)
No, the thing I’ve sort of begun to feel as though I’m missing, isn’t a particular food, or flavour or take-away joint. It’s a feeling. The feeling of being stuffed!
Now please, before anyone decides to chime in with:
“If you’re still hungry, you’re obviously not eating enough! There’s no need to go hungry on Atkins!”
Yes, I’m well aware of that. And I’m not restricting my intake of food to the point of making myself hungry, before you ask. As I’ve already mentioned both in this post and throughout this blog before, my actual appetite is incredibly diminished. When I do eat, I eat to the point when I feel as close to satiety as I think I am and stop. I consume plenty of protein and fat, along with a bit of salad or some steamed broccoli & cauliflower. And when I’m finished I’m not hungry and I feel like I’ve consumed enough.
But that’s not how I used to roll, before I switched to low-carb.
I didn’t eat until I was pleasantly full or satisfied; I would eat until I was fit to bursting. My plate would be piled high and I wouldn’t stop until I cleared it. It felt completely normal to eat enough food for 2 men (men who were doing a physical job consisting of hard, manual labour) and then keep on eating until everything had been demolished. My eating habits were so messed up, that I would go all day without eating, then come the evening put away at least 3000cals in a single sitting. (I dread to think how many carbs I was putting away every day!) And despite that hugely bloated feeling that would hit me as my engorged stomach caused me to feel incredibly uncomfortable, there was something disgustingly satisfying about feeling just so incredibly…full!
I don’t know why this became such a norm for me. It’s not like I was ever starved as a child, or had food withheld from me for any reason. I’ve always been able to afford to buy and eat whatever I wanted, in whatever quantity I desired. I’ve never been or felt unloved at any point in my life, so it isn’t a substitute for nurture or affection. And I don’t eat to quell my emotions either. If I’m sad, I lose my appetite – the size of my arse alone is a testament to just how happy I’ve been throughout my life! So I really don’t know why I felt so content eating myself to the point of barely being able to move after dinner. I know that my desire to always clear my plate hearkens back to my childhood when my parents would insist upon me finishing everything I was given; but that doesn’t explain the weird, grotesque pleasure I seemed to gain from always wanting to eat and eat until I was close to doing a Mr Creosote.
But eat I did and stuffed I was. Happily, disgustingly, despicably full.
And I simply do not eat that way any more. I take what I need, eat what I feel my body requires and stop when I’m satisfied. Only I’m not always really, truly “satisfied” – hence the added air-quotes – because I’m just not eating to that point of sheer gluttony anymore. Most days I’m fine with that, but some days I really feel as though I’m missing out on that ridiculously full feeling. Which is bizarre on the face on things, because it wasn’t a remotely comfortable feeling. It felt awful: that creeping heat rising up my neck, the waistband of my trousers straining against my swollen belly, and the almost laboured breathing thanks to my distended stomach battling with my lungs for extra space to spread out into. Not nice.
It was hideously unpleasant and weirdly pleasurable all at the same time – and I’m not some screwy BDSM type who gets off of my own pain. The only thing I can possibly chalk it up to, is the fact that so much of my food was taken up with carbs/sugar. Being a carb-addict I probably (like all sad, pathetic addicts) needed to keep pushing the envelope whenever I got my “fix”; so the junkie-high feedback loop in my brain made me want to consume more and more every time, to try and get back to that big “high” it remembers having had in the past. And because the only time it remembers being given that immense sugar-high was during a time when I was stuffing myself to the gills, does it now equate that “rush” with the bloatedness?? Could that be reason for my desire to feel so completely “full”?
I’m not your average fad-diet, flip-flopping air-head. I think long and hard about everything I do…and everything more besides. When I bump up against a problem or a niggle, I like to find out what’s behind it – often in a bullish, determined way…but also at other times in a much more careful, deliberate manner. Either way I don’t like not knowing – especially if it feels as though my own behaviours are manifesting some subconscious shenanigans, that are creeping in on the sly when they think I’m not paying attention.
Because the human brain is a crafty bastard. If it wants something, it’s gonna do EVERYTHING in its power to try and make sure it gets it. Which is why beating an addiction is about 30% to do with getting over the physiological dependency and 70% is you getting over the psychological dependency…something that doesn’t just go away overnight or disappear as soon as you’ve gone through physical withdrawal. That’s why addicts so often relapse. Even when they’ve been through rehab and detox; unless the underlying psychological reasons for that addiction have been worked through, the habitual behaviours, triggers and social interactions stop the addict from being able to make a complete break from their dependency.
I am a carb-addict. I will always be a carb-addict. Eating low-carb for 5 weeks and moving my body over into fat-adapted ketosis might have cured me of my immediate physiological dependency on sugar…but it sure as shite hasn’t undone years of maladaptive behaviour or erased any of the negative or positive associations my brain and body have made with regards to sugar consumption. I’ve made a good start by changing my eating habits and trying to retrain my brain when it comes to things like eating, satisfaction, satiety, appetite, hunger, cravings or a thousand other issues surrounding food. Yes, I’m on the right path, but I’m not remotely cured. I’m not sure if I ever really will be. This is something I’m going to have work on every day for the rest of my life. Some days will be harder and others will be easier, and I understand that. What I’m doing now is trying to mentally prepare myself for whatever sneaky little ways my brain will employ to try to get me to give it “just one more” fix. It’s going to throw up all these reminders of days gone by, when eating to excess felt so damn good. It’s going to put me through the wringer, confronting me with emotions I didn’t even know were connected to food and even concoct a bunch of lies, to get me to go off plan. My own brain WILL be working against me.
I’ve always known that for someone to be successful in changing their eating habits in the long term, it has to be as much to do with a shift in their mindset as it does a movement on the scale. And yet despite understanding that on an abstract or theoretical level, I’m only now beginning to truly know what that means as I find myself plagued by the various games of subterfuge and self-sabotage that my own mind is trying to play with me. I know that I can have incredible willpower when I need to summon it. And that will undoubtedly help take me a long way in this battle to get myself to a healthier weight and overall physiology. But I’m not invincible (no matter how many times I try to tell myself that I am) and eventually there will be cracks that appear in my psychological armour. Little niggles or strange, unidentifiable behaviours that have a much deeper root cause. If I don’t continuously keep on striving to address and work on those idiosyncratic issues, then I will at some moment be caught off guard, at a weaker moment and who knows where that worrying path might take me.
Today my brain was telling me that it wasn’t happy, or satisfied by simply eating enough to satiate my hunger and fuel me as a very overweight human being. It told me it wanted to feel full again. Not just full, but stuffed. Why? Not because it was hungry. But because it wanted something that it associated with those times of intense gluttony. It sought the reassuring sensation that went along with my reprehensibly replete, postprandial corpulence. It remembered that along with that gormandising came a super-mega hit of the sweet-stuff and all the serotonin kick-backs it elicited. So I think it tried to make me remember how much I enjoyed feeling full, in the hope that I might go ahead with all the other dysgenic behaviours and choices that had previously culminated in me getting some of the white-stuff get inside me.
But as much as I feel as though I’d really love to experience that gluttonous glee “just one more time”, I simply cannot let it happen. I could at any point in time choose to “cheat” or give myself a day off, but what would that really achieve? One brief passing moment of intense exhilaration…followed by a boat load of guilt, annoyance and huge disappointment in myself for having given in to my basest of urges. Sure, I could tell myself that “I’ve earned it” or that “everyone needs to treat themselves with something naughty every now and then”, but the reality is I DON’T need to refill my brain and body with it’s drug of choice. I haven’t “earned” a full 4 days away from this way of eating, only to have to go back through sugar withdrawal AND also have to start right back at the beginning again of my psychological journey to mental wellness.
I’ve said it before, but this is not a vanity project for me. This is about my health and my quality of living, going forward into the second half of my life. I made it to 40 despite being massively overweight, without being diagnosed with diabetes or any other metabolic disorders. My blood pressure, fasting glucose etc has always been fine. But I wasn’t going to continue to be so lucky forever. The illnesses I do have affect my joints, my muscles, my connective tissues, my brain, my skin and so much more. And the one issue lying at the centre of all these problems – the single most contributing factor to how all those other health issues were slowly losing my my quality of life – was my weight. My ridiculously heavy weight, putting pressure on all my joints and threatening to exacerbate my fibromyalgia & psoriatic arthritis. Type II Diabetes was only around the corner surely.
Any time I take off to “cheat” isn’t a “reward” to me…it’s me letting the addiction crawl back in, take control for a while and do even more damage while I eat carbs/sugars with abandon. Why would I do that to myself? Surely I deserve more than to just derail all the progress I’ve made so far and play havoc with my “recovery”. It’s weird: if I was an alcoholic drying out or a heroin addict coming off the smack, no normal person who cared a jot about my wellbeing would tell me that it’s okay to have “just one more” drink or injection, because I “deserved it”. Everyone knows that those addicts need to abstain from the very substance upon which they had become addicted to. But when those of us who are addicted to carbs/sugar start to make excuses as to why we think we should be able to have “just one cheat day” or “just one day off”, there are no shortage of people queueing up to tell us that it’s okay.
“Everyone needs a day off every now and then.”
“Enjoy your break and just get back on the wagon again tomorrow.”
Really? Is that what you’d be saying if I was planning to go off and have myself little “break” from recovery, with a few hypodermic needles full of heroin? I very much doubt it. And if you would say that then you’re not a friend or a supporter – you’re my enemy and you want to see me fail. So why don’t we view those who encourage food addicts to slip the same way? I’m inclined to believe that at least some of the people who rush to tell the sugar-addict that it’s okay for them to have a day long binge back on the white stuff, are in fact the very people you do NOT want to have around you. They’re not just enablers, but they want you to fail. Maybe so that they can a/ smugly do better than you or b/ set up a nice background of “understanding” in order for them to have their own relapse. Someone who cares about you, wouldn’t want you to backslide into an addiction you’ve been working so hard to rid yourself of.
I don’t want that to happen to me. I don’t want to slip or backslide. Doing so isn’t just a “mistake” or “falling” off the wagon. Cheating or going off plan would be me making a choice. A bad choice. And I’m not about to sit here and make pathetic excuses for making bad choices when no matter how badly my brain is trying to make me eat some sugar, it would be solely and completely my fault. My bad decision making. Being carb-addicted may well be a hard habit to break, but that’s something I’ve chosen to do and I plan on sticking to it.