Self Talk

They think that I’m crazy
They say I’m strange
‘Cause my attitude
Has taken a change

I’m not the kind of person who responds well to fluffy, gentle, soppy comments or words of encouragement – even if they come from a place of genuine care and concern. I hate being patronised and even if it isn’t meant that way, someone coming at me with a bunch of purple-prosed love-bombing, immediately makes me want to kind of vomit. I don’t want to be patted on the head for doing something good, nor do I need anyone to sympathise with me if I fuck up. It feels condescending and – newsflash – I’m actually a big girl who doesn’t need to be molly-coddled by anyone. No, I like “real talk”. Give it to me straight or GTFO.

And that way of thinking is just as direct when it comes to how I talk to myself. I mean, not talk “to” myself like some crazy lady on the bus who no one wants to sit next to (okay, so I do sometimes do that too, but that’s not what I’m getting at here), rather the tone in which I engage in “self-talk”. I talk to myself in ways which some therapists would probably find a bit severe and likely would try to psychoanalyse as being the by-product of some deep-rooted self-hatred. But trust me boo, I know me better than anyone else and trust me when I tell you that this bitch don’t respond well to anything less than a firm hand and the occasional kick up the arse.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I’m negative or down on myself. I mean, let’s be real, I’m pretty fucking awesome and even on my worst days I know I’m infinitely superior to all other beings in the known universe (note: I said “known” universe there…even I’M not arrogant enough to think I’m better than ALL potential sentient beings…gotta have at least a bit of humility, right?) so I’m not in the habit of being hyper-critical. But anytime I find myself veering off towards making a bad decision or going against what I know to be stupid, you can bet your life that my inner voice pipes up with an internal:

“What the fuck are you doing?”

or

“Why would you even think that’s a good idea??”

or

“Are you frickin mental? Sort your shit out Blue. Enough of this bullshit!”

And it’s usually enough to get me to take a step back and reassess whatever stupid shit it is that I’m about to embark upon. That doesn’t mean I don’t DO stupid shit – far from it. In fact some of my best memories come from doing the stupidest shit possible; often at the most inappropriate of times. But I’ve done all that stuff with the full presence of mind that it was probably an incredibly dumb thing to do…I just ended up deciding in the moment that the plusses outweighed the negatives and “to hell with the consequences”.

Which is probably why I ended up letting myself get to the size I was back in August of this year. It’s not that I was just naively plodding along, getting fat behind my own back – I KNEW that I was eating badly and making myself unhealthier with every sugar-saturated snack I scarfed down – but I was actively choosing to make those bad choices because there really didn’t seem to be any immediate, short-term consequences affecting me. I was telling myself “to hell with the consequences” on a daily basis. And it wasn’t until the fibromyalgia & arthritis kicked it, that I really started to feel the physical effects of all those bad decisions. When that shit started to go south, it was time to sit down and have some serious conversations with myself about what I was going to do about it.

“Ya gotta sort this crap out, Blue. Stop messing around and playing fast & loose with your health. You’re way too fat and it’s time you did something about it.”

Now I’d messed around with the idea of losing weight before, but the motivation was never really there. It was always just a vague, nebulous notion of being a bit thinner, but my life was too good for there to be anything truly impactful to give me the impetus to make any changes for good. So I’d maybe make a slight effort for a while, lose a bit, then when I got bored I’d just abandon the idea entirely. And why not? It’s not like there were any tangible ramifications to my actions that were spurring me on to stay the course. So my “self-talk” at the time was more like:

“Fuck it. It’s not like your life is going to be any different if you lose a bunch of weight. Why bother? Life’s too short!”

or

“You’re just a big girl Blue. Always have been, always will be.”

and

“You have a gorgeous boyfriend, a great job, loads of friends – what difference would being thinner make? Nah, you CAN have your cake and eat it!”

And eat the cake I did. I ate ALL of the cakes. And they were bloody good cakes too (life’s too short for “sad” cakes – that much I still stand by). But the time came when the love of cake got in the way of my being able to live the rest of my life properly. And so I decided to make some changes to my eating habits.

I already knew a lot about the low-carb WOE, T2DA, hyperinsulinaemia and the problems that a carb-heavy ‘Standard American Diet’ caused. For the past 20 years I’d been keeping up with all the studies and new information available about Atkins, The South Beach Diet, paleo, keto and carnivore – maybe deep down I knew that I was going to put all that research to good use one day – so I was already intellectually prepared for the change over to a low-carb WOE; but in order to succeed on this new way of life, I still needed to make the necessary changes to my mindset.

I couldn’t really call myself a serial failed dieter…because in order to fail, I would first have needed to actually try. And if I’m being at all honest with myself, I really didn’t make any effort to try during those prior proto-forays into the world of weight-loss. I didn’t care about the outcome, so I never sat down and thought about the process of goal-setting, with a view to losing a certain, desirable amount of weight. This time was different though. I had a very real desire to set and achieve a definitive goal, with some very real reasoning to motivate me to want to do it. Cue my newly focused “self-talk”.

Some people say that it’s a really bad idea to have an “all-or-nothing” approach to eating habits when trying to lose weight. You’ll hear talk of the “80/20” rule where you eat on plan for 80% of the time and then get to eat off-plan for 20% of the time. Which probably sounds fairly sensible if you’re just doing CICO. But eating low-carb is different. If you eat off-plan, you take yourself out of ketosis, make your body change over to glycolysis, your pancreas has to suddenly start kicking out huge amounts of insulin again, your inflammation levels ramp up and then you have to go back through the keto-flu misery when you finally decide to get back on-plan and have to force your body back into ketosis again. Never mind how horrible it probably feels to have to endure the sugar-hangover and subsequent keto-flu; that really can’t be a very healthy process to regularly put your body through. Sure our bodies evolved to be primarily ketogenic with the ability to eat berries and some vegetation when animal food sources weren’t readily available; but our bodies were never designed to deal with insanely high amounts of processed sugars that most of us eat on a daily basis.

I don’t want to come across as some kind of newly converted keto-evangelist, because lord knows I’ve put my own poor body through the wringer over the past 40 years. But it just seems really counter-intuitive to go to all the effort of ridding one’s system of all that sugar and become keto-adapted, if you’re going to keep regularly returning to that previous way of eating, under the premise of being “sensible” and following an 80/20 rule. If you’re willingly regressing back into old eating habits on a regular basis, then you’re not doing this for health or for the long-term benefits to your body; you’re really only concerned about the weight-loss aspect of it. And that’s not what I’m trying to achieve with this new way of eating.

I need this to work, because I need to fix my health problems. Sugar is a problem for me. It’s not only something that I believe I became addicted to, it exacerbates my fibromyalgia and my psoriatic arthritis. It triggers inflammation in my body, causes lethargy, plays havoc with my skin and contributes to brain fog. Having eradicated it from my diet has shown me just how much better I can – and do – feel, now that I no longer consume it. So why would I want to add it back into my diet again – even if only for a day or so – when I know how badly it effects my health? It doesn’t make sense to me.

Which is where my specific mindset or approach to all this comes in. When I first started out on this new low-carb WOE, I just sort of assumed that like many others, I would have “cheat days” where I actively made the decision to eat lots of “carbage” again. Because that’s what everyone else does, right? But I also wanted to make sure that I took at least a couple of months to really get myself properly settled into eating low-carb before I allowed myself a day off.

“Give it 2 months, then when you know what you’re doing and you’ve lost a bit of weight, you can have a day off – but not before then.”

So I went about eating this way, started seeing some results and also began feeling a lot better. The craving for sweet-stuff largely abated and it stopped feeling as though I was depriving myself of anything important. I still cooked pasta, potatoes, rice and bread for the other half, and whilst I won’t deny how great some of that stuff smelled (freshy basked bread especially!) there never came a moment when I thought I wanted to actually eat any of it. Not even when I ordered a take-away pizza for the man himself! I’d simply told myself:

“I just don’t eat that stuff.”

Much in the same way I tell people that I just don’t drink alcohol, any time they offer me a boozy beverage. It’s not that I’ve never drunk alcohol, I simply choose not to any more; because it makes me feel like shit the next day (and the hangovers have gotten so much worse with every passing birthday). So when the first couple of months of eating low-carb were under my belt, I had a little chat with myself about possibly wanting to have a “cheat day”.

“So, are you going to have a blow-out then?”

“Do you really need to eat something sugary?”

“Is this what you really want?”

“How are you going to feel afterwards?”

“Is it really worth it?”

And when I sat and thought about it, I came to the conclusion that I didn’t really want any of it. It really wasn’t worth it. I went through a weird little process where I tried to remember how I felt eating various food items in the past, and then I interrogated those memories to try and figure out how important it was for me to taste those foods again. It was actually quite difficult to conjure up any other associations with with sugar, other than:

“It tasted really nice!”

Which wasn’t really all that good of a reason to start putting the stuff back into my body again. So I decided not to. And I then decided that I wasn’t going to go off-plan at all over the Christmas period too; because what’s the point? A few moments of brief enjoyment, followed by potential feelings of guilt for having let myself down and then the inevitable carb-hangover? It just didn’t seem worth all the hassle.

“You don’t need that shit, Blue.”

“Why poison your body all over again, when you’ve gone to all this effort to get it out of your system?”

“Why would you want to go and make yourself feel like crap again?”

“Only a total fucking dick would go and start eating sugar again. Don’t. Be. A. Dick!”

And with that I just kind of decided that I didn’t want to feel like shit anymore. I wanted to feel good. I wanted to feel healthy again. And I wanted that way more than I wanted ANY slice of cake. It felt like I’d flipped a switch over in my brain as I just kind of let go of the notion that I needed or wanted to eat that way again.

“You’re so much better than that that, Blue. You don’t need any of that crap.”

“Bollocks to cheat days – they’re for the weak!”

“You’re fucking ABOVE that shit!”

(Did I mention that my inner-self also cusses like a sailor? Because that bitch has got a real mouth on her – probably should’ve warned y’all about her earlier, hmm? Yeah…my bad.)

I know that some people will be reading this thinking that I’m full of hubris and setting myself up for a major fall. And maybe they’re right. But maybe they’re just judging my ability to stay committed to this way of eating/way of life, based on their own ability – or inability – to do so themselves. Maybe I’ll stay committed to this choice, because I have so much at stake health-wise. Or maybe I just want it more.

All I know is, eating this way makes me feel good. And deep down inside myself I actually believe that I can stay committed to eating this way for the long haul. Because despite all my jokes and wise-cracks about cake, I really don’t feel as though I’m actually missing out on anything by not eating sugar. Yes that might change and yes I don’t know for sure how I’m going to think or feel 3 months, 6 months or a year or so down the line. But I know how stubborn I am and I know that when I’m determined to do something, I just fucking do it. And I know that the little voice that speaks to me inside my head believes I can do this too.

“You got this, Blue. And you damn well know it.”

Course I do. I’m fucking invincible.

Make good choices folks.

Be invincible.

Blue

Once Upon A Dream

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.

Food dreams!

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:

FEAR.

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?

Stay vigilant folks

Blue

Dinner-Time With Jeff’s Pork Kebabs with Salsa Verde

I just gotta reblog not just this page, but all the pages on this blog here by my buddy Jeff. He also follows a low-carb diet and is one of those people who loves to get creative in the kitchen, mixing it up with his meals throughout the week. I totally envy his enthusiasm. But if you check out his blog you’ll realise that he’s not making insanely complicated stuff that us novices couldn’t dream of following; he makes real food, in a normal everyday kitchen that even I can follow; this pork salsa verde is definitely on my list of things to try out. So check out his blog, give him a follow and I guarantee you’ll find something you like….as well as a totally top bloke making them. Enjoy!

Dinner Time with Jeff

A very quick, easy dinner that takes about 10 minutes to prep and 15 minutes to cook. Goes great with sour cream!

Pork Kebab, Sour Cream, and Green Beans

Ingredients:

  • 2 Pork Tenderloins (approx. 3 lbs total)
  • 2 Cups Fresh Cilantro Leaves, lightly packed
  • 1 Cup Fresh Flat-Leaf Parsley
  • 1/4 Cup Onion, chopped
  • 2 Cloves Garlic,
  • 1/3 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 2 Tbsp White Wine Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp Water
  • 1 Tbsp Course Salt

Directions:

  1. Put cilantro, parsley, onion, and garlic in a food processor and process until finely chopped.
  2. Add the olive oil, vinegar, and water and process until it is a thick paste.
  3. Cut the pork tenderloins into 1″ chunks.
  4. Sprinkle the salt on the tenderloin while still on the cutting board to season well.
  5. Mix the tenderloin with 2/3 of the salsa so the pieces are covered.
  6. Put the tenderloin on skewers and grill about 12-15 minutes…

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A Hard Habit To Break

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
  • Chocolate cake

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.

Chocolate cake cravings be damned.

Blue