It’s Been A While / Weigh-In Day

“It just wasn’t like the old days anymore
No, it wasn’t like those days, am I still ill?
Oh
Am I still ill?
Oh”

Hey folks, how the hell are y’all? Things round these parts have been pretty grim for a few weeks. That most recent bout of fibro flare-up really knocked me for six and I’ve basically been curled up like the corpse of Voldemort at the end of The Deathly Hallows when Harry briefly dies and meets up with the dead wizard headmaster dude (can’t remember his name right now, because brain-fog, lol) and asks what that thing is that looks like a dead foetus lying under a bench? Yeah, that’s exactly what I’ve been looking like lately. Super hot! It just started out the way these flare-ups usually do, but this time it started to spread all down my spine and into my legs and I’ve just been completely wiped out. There have been tears and plenty of feeling sorry for myself, but I’ve been doing my best to listen to some Stoicism on audiobook to try and pull myself out of it. Which isn’t all that easy when you’re completely off your face on pain meds and sleeping a much as possible under a chemical cosh, but it is what it is.

And I’m still not great. Better than I was, but still struggling with getting out and about. I then had a bit of a shock death of a family member come out of nowhere, which was actually really upsetting, but I pulled myself together to make the funeral (having to take off my shoes and walk barefoot to the graveside to sprinkle in the earth was a minor comedy moment, as my leg was in spasm and if I’d tried to make it there and back in my shoes I probably would’ve done an ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ and toppled in onto the coffin – which in hindsight would have amused the deceased family member in question no end, because of my well-known klutziness, lol). The service was beautiful and the wake just a perfectly jubilant celebration of the life of our departed relative. She would definitely have approved!

My hands are still a bit of a mess though. My fingers are swollen and wretched. It’s hurting like hell to type this, but I really wanted to swing by and give y’all an update on Project Arse Shrink! I bet y’all thought my absence from this blog denoted some underlying shame at having wandered off-plan or given up the low-carb WOE? Well I have only one thing to say to that:

Y’all really don’t know your girl by now if that’s what you thought. I’ve been eating low-carb every single day since 31st August 2020 and there hasn’t been ANYTHING that made me deviate from that commitment. Lockdown? Big deal, I got Amazon to deliver me whatever I need to my door. Sick? No excuse. Either you’re too sick to eat or you’re well enough to eat properly. Family bereavement and subsequent wake of buffet foods? I just brought a protein bar along with me and nibbled that with a black coffee while everyone else dug in. I’m not saying that I’ve been eating the perfect, whole-food, super-clean keto way every day…because on more than a couple of days it was all I could do to dip a protein bar in some almond butter and eat some sliced ham straight outta the packet like a straight savage.

But this is just how I eat now. I said I was going to commit to a thing…and that’s exactly what I’ve been doing. It really got me to thinking about all those people who come up with a multitude of excuses as to why they had to go off-plan for one reason or another. Because that’s all they are – excuses. Self-validating lies that people come up with so they can abandon their plan and not get any disapproving comments from all the people whose approval they crave. If you want to have an excuse to give you a free-pass to giving up, you’ll find one. But if you’re determined to stick to something, you’ll find a way to do that too. I’ve gone over a week without showering, been unable to walk or cook anything for myself and not been physically able to go out and do any grocery shopping. And I still managed to stay on-plan and keep on losing weight. If I was able to stick to it, anyone can. You just have to want to.

And so, as I bring today’s brief update to a close, I’ll let y’all know what my new weight is. I am 13 stone 12lb (194lb). That means in the past 4 weeks I have lost another 4lb, which is an average of 1lb a week – and that’s goddamn near perfect at this stage of the game. (Especially when “Aunt Flo” week saw me incur a 5lb “ghost-gain” literally overnight! Only to be gone a few day later when the “Crimson Tide” receded, lol!) So yeah, things are plodding along exactly as I wanted and expected them to – only now my weight is down into the 13 stone bracket, which sounds insane! I’m not far off having lost 6 stone in weight since I began this little mission…and it’s become really noticeable to all my family who I saw at the funeral recently. Obviously I now want to shock the shit out of them even more when I see them again at Christmas, so we’re just going to carry on “dropping like it’s hot” because your girl is still on a mission here!

So on that note I shall bid y’all adieu and take this moment to remind you that the only thing standing in the way of getting where you want, is you. If losing weight and improving your health is important to you, you’ll find a way to make it work…and if you don’t? Well that’s entirely on you dawg.

Stay committed folks

Blue

Agony / Weigh-In Monday

“I won’t fall down
My soul is bound.
This is agony.”

Urgh I feel like such a miserable broken record at this point. Again this is only going to be a quick update because it hurts so much to just sit and type right now. I mean it hurts regardless of what I’m doing (or not doing, as has been the case for the whole of last week) but every key-stroke sends electric-shock like pains up from my fingertips, through my nerves and up into my shoulders. I’m on the highest amount of pain mediation I can take and it still barely takes the edge off of this raw, seething agony. And to add insult to injury, it’s “Shark Week” too, so I’m basically just a weepy, pathetic, pain-ridden mess of person right now. FML.

It’s really annoying because I’ve had so many things I’ve wanted to share and talk about on here, but I just can’t sit and type long enough, so I’ve got a list of topics to cover (jotted down in one of my notebooks) once this flare-up recedes enough for me to sit at a computer and type for more than a few minutes. Today’s weigh-in showed a “ghost-gain” of a pound or two (probably one and a half, the way the number kept flickering) but that’s just the usual added bloat that “Aunt ‘Flo” brings along with her. Once that abates in the next few days I should be back at my proper weight of around 197lb. Food choices right now are very lazy and I’m basically just eating almond butter out of the tub, scarfing back protein bars with my meds and eating slices of ham and cheese straight from the packet. Nothing exciting, but you do what you gotta do when life renders you a useless cripple.

Hopefully things will be back to normal soon (please??) and I’ll be back to being my regular sarcastic harridan self in future posts. But rest assured that no matter what life throws at yours truly, I’ll be keeping on keeping on, sticking to the plan and refusing point blank to let any of these little obstacles tempt me from the path of good choices.

Keep making good choices y’all

Blue

Music & Movement

“Moving, keep on moving
Where I feel I’m home again
And when it’s over
I’ll see you again”

Well this was a turn up for the books!

This week, after the hell of “Shark Fortnight” my energy levels skyrocketed. I don’t know if it was a totally new lease on life, or if returning to normal after 2 weeks of nausea and exhaustion just made me feel like I was wired to the moon, but I started feeling kinda antsy. Like I really wanted to move my body more. And that’s a bit of a new thing for me, because I haven’t really felt that kind of desire to do anything movement related for years. Obviously I do have to get up and do stuff throughout the day like everyone else, but any kind of movement just for movement’s sake…nope. A lot of that has to do with the worsening of my fibro & arthritis, but I know that as the years have gone by and the weight has crept on, my inclination towards wanting to exert myself at all has definitely diminished.

So it was quite unusual when I felt the urge to just get up and go out for a walk yesterday. I know, I know: going for a walk isn’t life-altering for most people, but just feeling the desire to do so really surprised me. I’ve been doing quite a bit of research recently into safe, low-impact exercise that I can try to incorporate into my health improvement mission; but just knowing how much pain I find myself in after even the smallest amount of activity, I’ve been really scared to actually try anything. It’s probably really difficult for someone who doesn’t have the chronic conditions that I do, to really understand how much of my life is spent trying to mitigate anything that could potentially aggravate said conditions, in order to avoid an unnecessary spike in pain levels. Because as I’ve talked about before, the pain that I deal with can be excruciating; and it often lingers around for days (or weeks, or even months sometimes when a flare-up is particularly bad). It’s not that I’m just a massive wuss who can’t deal with a few aches and twinges – far from it. I’ve had kidney stones, broken bones in multiple parts of my body, and even pulled my own wisdom tooth out when pandemic nonsense made it impossible to get to see a dentist. I don’t have a particularly low threshold for pain; it’s just exhausting and demoralising to be plagued with pain that lasts for such a long time.

So yeah, exercise scares me because I know just how badly my body can react to overexertion. But I’ve been wanting to at least try to do something to move a little more for some time now. One thing I knew I didn’t want to do, was fall into the trap that so many people on weight-loss missions, seem to succumb to: overwhelm. I follow a lot of folk on various social media apps and the number of people who decide to just go from 0-100 by overhauling their eating, and embarking upon a huge new fitness regime (as well as all the other big new things) despite having not done any real exercise for years, is unreal. And more often than not, it totally overwhelms them and they end up either giving up, or resorting to some kind of binge eating to deal with the unnecessary pressure. Which is completely predictable and understandable when you think about it. If you don’t come from a fitness oriented background and suddenly decide to do a 5am workout every day, your body isn’t going to like it and your brain is going to be doing everything it can to thwart your determination. So why do so many people think that they’re going to be the exception to the rule and change ‘all the things’ all at once, rather than start off slowly and build upon smaller changes, until they become truly ingrained habits?

I think for many people it’s just impatience. They’ve decided to make big changes, so they want to see big changes. And they want to see them yesterday. Which is fine if you’re looking for a quick fix and you’re not that bothered about any permanent results. But if you’re trying to learn new, healthier habits that you can keep up with for the rest of your life, then that “one big push” ain’t gonna do it, bro #JustSaying. Obviously my own limitations mean that I was never going to go from couch-potato to iron-woman on day 1, but I still wanted to make sure that I had done a good bit of introspection and inner-work on my mindset first, before then getting a handle on my eating habits. Only once I’d taken care of all that, would I then think about the addition of any exercise into my life. And I’ve been eating this way consistently for half a year now, so I’m really comfortable with the food side of things – not to mention all the regular journaling I’ve been doing to help work on my mindset and focus. So it felt rather serendipitous to start feeling that urge to move, just as I was coming to a point where I was mentally comfortable to start working on a new habit.

I definitely think that having had these issues with movement and mobility that come from my chronic conditions, has made me appreciate those times when I am able to get up and move about. I took all that for granted for so many years, letting my weight creep up from eating so much crap, while doing very little exercise. Now I actually want to move more, but I know I have to be careful because if I overdo it, then I’m really going to suffer for it. But I knew I had to start somewhere and so when that urge hit me, I grabbed my trainers and headed out before I had time to change my mind.

So, without any plan in mind as to where I was actually going to go, I decided to start off by walking up the really steep hill I live on and see how I felt after that. And I was really pleasantly surprised to find that I was able to walk to the top without getting all out of breath. The last time I walked up that hill was way back before I began losing any weight and I remember my heart feeling like it was going to beat right out of my chest when I was only 3/4 of the way up. Huh? Well that was new and unexpected. Then I tried to figure out what would be the best route to take, while not going too far from home; because I didn’t want to find myself suddenly seizing up and having to still make my way home, hobbling like some bedraggled crone. So I decided to just kind of loop around some roads in my area that I could easily just abandon and take a short-cut back home from, should the muscle spasms start to kick in.

As you can see from the incredibly detailed map I have included here (MS Paint for the win!) I didn’t really “go” anywhere, but I figured by the end of it that I’d got about a mile in. And when I got home I didn’t feel immediately terrible. Of course, after I’d sat down for a bit and then went to get up again I could feel the seizing-up really start to kick in and today I’ve got horrible twitchy pains running down my spine and into my legs, but it’s nothing I’m not used to. I was expecting to feel a lot worse if I’m honest and I’m still waiting for the worst of it to kick in, but the main thing is, I went for a walk and I got home in one piece and it didn’t kill me, lol!

And this is a really big step for me. It isn’t going to sound like anything earth-shattering to most people, but to anyone with a chronic condition, it’s really positive. Because now I’ve done it once, I know I can do it again. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not the day after, but soon…and hopefully for the rest of my life! It’s a very small change that I can not only take some comfort from, but also build upon. I just have to remember to take baby steps, not overdo it and always listen to my body so as not to overexert myself too much. I figured that a mile was a good start and I was pretty sure that I’d walked about a mile, but I wanted to know exactly how far I’d gone so I could track any progress going forward. So I found some website that allows you to plug in your journey and it calculates the distance for you. Cool. Because I don’t own a Fitbit or Apple Watch or any of those gadgets (and I have zero interest in purchasing one) but I like the idea of knowing exactly how much I’m doing.

So imagine my shock when the distance I actually walked turned out to be 2.65 miles. Like, really? Because it didn’t feel like I’d walked that far. But then I have absolutely no idea how to estimate distances. I don’t drive and I have a terrible sense of direction (the fact that I didn’t get lost is a miracle in itself) but I was also really just lost in my music. (Once those headphones go in, the rest of the world could burn to the ground around me and I’d barely register any of it.) I think it might also have been something to do with the way in which I sort of kept doubling back on myself so it didn’t feel like I’d ventured too far from home, but whatever it was, it really didn’t feel like I’d walked very far.

But yeah, 2.65 miles was the distance racked up on my first little walk out around where I live. So that’s my starting point and something that I can totally do again, with at least some regularity. The biggest take-away from doing this though was that sometimes I just need to get out of my own head, say “screw it” and make that initial leap out of my comfort zone. The fears I have around pain and triggering off a big bloody flare-up, are very real. They’re not irrational or made-up excuses that I’ve concocted to avoid doing normal stuff; they’re very much based in my life experience. But I still need to remember to push myself more and not allow fear to keep me from making the improvements I need to make to my life. I guess it’s about finding that sweet-spot; the balance between too much and not enough. But if having these conditions has taught me anything, it’s that life is short and I should never take any of it for granted. If I don’t use my body to move, I’ll lose that ability altogether…and what kind of life is that for a woman in her 40’s? I just wish someone could give me an precise prescription for the exact amount of exercise I should and could do, to get the most benefits, whilst incurring the least amount of painful side-effects.

And that’s all I’ve really got to share with y’all today folks. Just another day spent making better choices, leading to the incremental changes that add up to big benefits. Nothing crazy, desperate or unsustainable, cause we ain’t about that madness around these parts.

Keep things sustainable folks

Blue

Give Me Something For The Pain

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay grateful folks

Blue

Suppdate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Findings show omega-3 fatty acids may help to:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stay healthy y’all

Blue

Everybody Hurts / Weekly Weigh-In

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

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

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

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

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

Stay dedicated y’all.

Blue

Mind Over Matter / Monday Weigh In

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

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

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

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

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

“How very dare you, brain!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“It’s not fair!”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Be invincible folks!

Blue

Revenge Of The Chia Seeds / Weigh-In Day

I feel like Mr Blobby so much right now. Bloated, swollen and unsteady on my feet (not that my being clumsy is anything new, but it certainly adds to my current miserable state). Before I go any further, I just want to warn y’all that today is going to be another great big, fat TMI filled post where I talk about going to the bathroom. Not in an unnecessarily graphic way or anything like that, but I figured I’d just give y’all a heads-up so you can at least say you had fair warning.

Okay, so let’s begin this little recap with some details about the kind of medication I take on a regular basis. For years now, I’ve been prescribed Venlafaxine, Sertraline, Diazepam, Propranolol, and Zopiclone which I take on a daily basis. None of these cause me any problems, but I’m also prescribed soluble co-codamol (Solpadol: 30/500) to help with the chronic pain associated with fibromyalgia and arthritis (I also take ibuprofen regularly too, but I just buy those myself OTC). The co-codamol is to be taken a maximum of 4 times a day – which comprises 2 of those soluble tablets per dose – but for the most part I try not to take the maximum daily dose unless I really need it.

This past month however has been an absolute nightmare for the arthritis. Despite my having lost 50lb over the past 4 months, the colder weather has been causing my knees to swell and seize up, worse than usual, making it really difficult to get out of the house, up & down the stairs or into town. They hurt when I wake up, they hurt when I go to bed and they have me shuffling around like The Tin Man from The Wizard Of Oz all day long. So, I’ve been taking the maximum dose every day for the past week or so…which has had a rather unpleasant side-effect: namely constipation.

I wanted to try and counter this side-effect without having to resort to more medication, so I looked into finding a more natural source of relief and discovered a wealth of online information touting chia seeds as the perfect solution. Almost entirely made up of dietary fibre, they’re deemed fine for people on a low-carb or keto diet, so I bought myself a big old bag of the little blighters and went ham adding them to every salad and shake I consumed. The texture they added to my protein shake didn’t bother me and when sprinkled (liberally) on my salads, they added a nice bit of texture and a taste similar to that of poppy seeds. Great, I thought. Let nature take its course.

Only it didn’t. In fact things only got worse as I ended up going 3 whole days without pooping – something that never really happens to me, what with my always having a diet rich in lots of vegetables. By day 4 I was hideously uncomfortable and starting to have really awful premonition about my having to go see a doctor and end up being given some horrendous suppositories, so the day after New Year I shuffled into town (still walking like The Tin Man with my arthritic knees) to buy some ‘Max Strength Senakot’ laxatives. Part of me thought however that they might not be strong enough to do the trick, so drawing on previous experience with sugar-alcohol filled candies, I also picked up a bag of sugar-free gummy bears, sweetened with maltitol – just in case. (For anyone unfamiliar with the powerful side-effects associated with this kind of product, please check out the hilarious product reviews left on Amazon, by some rather surprised customers, lol.)

When I got home, I took one of the Senakot tablets with a pint of water and tried to wait it out. But 3 hours later, nothing was happening. I was so full and bloated and uncomfortable with no relief in site, so I just thought:

“Fuck it, time for plan B!”

And proceeded to eat the entire bag of sugar-free gummy bears. I mean, that had to work, right? Trust me, I was desperate. I just needed something, ANYTHING to work, so despite knowing how powerful these innocent looking jelly sweets could be, I just chowed down on every single last one. And I waited.

And waited.

And while I waited, I decided to do a bit more Googling on those chia seed things. This time I entered:

“Can chia seeds cause constipation?”

into my browser and, lo and behold it turns out that while chia seeds can indeed be consumed as a source of dietary fibre in order to prevent or alleviate constipation…they can also have the opposite effect in someone who is a/ not used to consuming them b/ intolerant to them, or c/ taking too many of them at once, or in their dry format. Okay but, WHERE WAS ALL THIS INFORMATION BACK WHEN I WAS LOOKING INTO THEM ORIGINALLY?? MIGHT HAVE BEEN A REAL HELP BACK THEN, INTERNET!

So yeah, these chia seed demons, have a specific property that causes them to swell up and create a gel-like blob around them (mucilage), when they’re soaked in a liquid for over 20 mins. Lot of people use them to make chia-pudding, which creates a kind of tapioca-esque consistency when added to coconut, cashew or almond milk. But that little property they have also means that if you consume them dry, you’re sending these little moisture-absorbing bastards into your digestive system, where they will proceed to draw water out of any available source as they make their way through your intestinal tract. And what subsequent effect does that dehydration have on one’s body? Yup, constipation. So I was basically trying to alleviate the constipation I already had…by adding another ingredient that was only going to make the situation worse.

Yay me!

I swear sometimes, if I didn’t have bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. It’s nothing new for me to make a situation worse, by trying to make it better. I shouldn’t even be left in possession of a human body without adult supervision FFS. But that thing with the chia seeds really is something that everyone should really be aware of, if they’re ever considering adding them to their diet. They absolutely can be added to salads the way I was doing, but I think you really need to ease yourself in to the amount you consume, as well as making sure that you drink plenty of water at the same time. I tend not to drink water with my meal because I don’t like to get a fake sense of satiety by filling up on liquids that will only wear off quickly after – making me feel hungrier again, sooner. That was definitely where I went wrong with my own approach.

But anyway, back to the sofa on the day after New Year. I’d taken the Senokot which hadn’t provided any results and then scarfed down an entire bag of sugar-free gummy bears to try and get things moving again. About a half hour an our after eating the gummy bears, things were definitely starting to “happen” in my gut. Gurgling, bubbling noises and an increased sense of bloating had me feeling like I was actually going to explode. It was all going on in my stomach and what felt like the very top part of my duodenum; nothing further down. But it was fizzing and growling and really starting to freak me out. Had anyone ever died because they blew out their intestines with sugar-free candies? Oh god, was I going to be the first one? Visions of my name forever being associated with it, any time anyone ever googled it, filled me with pre-emptive embarrassment.

“You always knew you’d end up famous for something terrible, Blue!”

Seriously, I was really starting to freak out. I couldn’t remember when I’d last cleaned the bathroom. If I was going to be found dead in there with an exploded colon, I at least wanted to know that no one was going to find fault with my housekeeping standards.

“Why is nothing happening??!”

Always being a stickler for priorities, my brain then started to think about when I’d last shaved my legs.

“Oh frick…if this shit doesn’t kill you, you cannot be seen in the ER with fuzzy legs Blue. Screw it, tell the other half not to call for an ambulance until you’ve given them a once over with a razor!”

It’s amazing the kind of thing that go through your mind when you think something really bad is going to happen to you. I could just imagine people talking about me after I’d died:

“Exploded her colon apparently…first time it’s ever happened a a result of eating too many gummy bears.”

“Uh-huh, they named the condition after her. Blue’s disorder.”

“Yeah, but did you hear what else they found when they did her post-mortem?”

“What?”

“Scruffy mare hadn’t shaved her legs in over 4 days!”

“Really? Mind you, the paramedic did say they’d found 2 empty toilet roll tubes on her bathroom floor, so…”

I was halfway through imagining all the awful things that would written about my little gastrointestinal incident in my obituary, when the sugar-alcohols REALLY kicked in.

Yikes. I won’t go into any unnecessarily gross detail here, but you know that scene from ‘Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory’ where Augustus Gloop falls into the choco-river, gets sucked up into a pipe and stuck…only to get shot out of it again like a bullet, once sufficient pressure had built up behind him?

Yeah. That’s all that really needs to be said about that. But suffice it to say, I was in and out of my bathroom almost a dozen times over the course of the evening/night, as the gummy bears worked their magic on 4 days worth of “backlog” (juvenile pun, totally freaking intended).

Of course, me being me, I obviously wasn’t happy with the amount of physiological torment I had already wrought upon my poor, bedraggled carcass; so deciding that green tea would be potentially calming and soothing on my stomach, I made and drank a cup of matcha…and proceeded to then throw it all back up again immediately after. Because, why the fuck not? I swear, every single muscle from my alimentary canal to my arse was in agony. When I finally thought it safe to go to bed, I couldn’t even bear to let the other half drape his arm around my waist – the way he always does when we go to sleep. And when I woke up I felt like I’d been in a fight. It was all I could do sip warm water and slump on the sofa the whole day and even now, it still hurts like hell. I didn’t eat for nearly 2 whole days to give my body a chance to recover because it felt like I’d pulled internal muscles and they probably needed a bit of a rest after their little ordeal.

So why…oh WHY when I got on the scale today, did it have the absolute audacity to tell me that I have apparently GAINED A FREAKING POUND in weight, since last week? Are you kidding me? I haven’t consumed enough food for that to even be POSSIBLE! Gah! But, my abdomen is still bloated and sore and whilst the initial “problem” has been taken care of, the subsequent stress on my body has obviously left me inflamed and swollen. Hence the alleged 1lb gain.

I can’t even.

But yeah, that’s what’s been happening here at “Maison Bleue” this week. Just another example of how sometimes I really can’t do right, for doing wrong. As usual, when I was eating it was all 100% on-plan and despite both that and those 2 days of not eating at all, I still managed to wreak enough havoc on my body to make it show a 1lb gain when I weighed myself today. Meh. But it is what is folks. I’m not really that bothered by what the scale says right now because I know it’s not a real number I need be too concerned about. I’m just going to carry on as normal, eating the way I’m supposed to and let things get back to normal in good time.

So I hope I’ve at least managed to make some of y’all giggle at my latest dietary escapades, but if nothing else please consider this a cautionary tale as to the potential bad side of chia seeds. Consume them appropriately, ya hear?

Stay hydrated folks

Blue

Just Another Weigh In Monday

How is it Monday again? I mean, it’s actually nearly Tuesday now, but even so…where the frick did the past week go? I have done absolutely NOTHING all week. Zilch. Nada. Sweet FA. I woke up a couple of hours ago and for a moment there, I wasn’t even sure what day of the week it was. Outside my bedroom window the rain was beating a crazy tattoo on the canopy of trees up above, everywhere was pitch dark and all I could think of was how badly I really needed to take some painkillers, get some coffee and make myself a hot-water bottle.

Then I remembered!

It’s Monday. That’s weigh in day! Time to find out how the past 7 days efforts have affected the number on the scale. So I did what I always do on Mondays: I went to the bathroom and dragged the scale out from its little hidey-hole under the table (I will never be one of those people who just leaves a scale out all the time, willing me to hop on it at any moment) stepped on it and…

Er…I don’t know. I couldn’t actually remember what I weighed last week, so I didn’t know what the number in front of me today really meant. Had I lost? Had I gained? Or was it just another one of those pesky maintenance weeks? Wasn’t that what had happened last week? Oh frick, I had no idea. I’m never particularly great upon first wakening, but I had these sort of sciatic pains running up and down my left leg, from my coccyx to my toes, which was making the whole ‘standing in place to get a reading’ thing difficult enough. But today, I could tell that the ‘Fibro Fog’ had descended upon me.

In case you don’t already know, ‘Fibro Fog’ (or ‘Brain Fog’) is just another one of the wonderful symptoms associated with fibromyalgia. It’s basically a cognitive impairment that causes the sufferer to lose track of time, forget what we’re talking about mid-sentence, get words mixed up, makes us disoriented, decreases spatial awareness, plays havoc with our short term memory and just generally makes us feel as though we’re losing our frickin’ mind. Yeah, super fun stuff. It’s especially frustrating when you’re an otherwise pretty intelligent person who has always prided themselves on having a quick thinking mind and the ability to learn anything you put your mind to. Eating low-carb does help to alleviate it, but some days, especially when fatigued, it rears its ugly head and leaves me feeling really stupid; and that’s not something I’m used to feeling. Like today. It’s taken me nearly 2 hours just to write this much of a post…and I haven’t even told y’all what the weigh-in result is.

Anyway. I just had to go check back on the blog home page to see what last week’s weight was. It says 233lbs, which is is 16 stone and 9lbs. Today, the scale read 16 stone and 5lbs / 229lbs, so that’s a loss of 4lbs this week! Pretty good even if I do say so myself.

I’m very happy with that. I’ve also since taken my painkillers, some diazepam and had my coffee, so I’m slowing beginning to feel more human, which is great because it’s ‘steak-night’ again and I’m looking forward to having the other half rustle me up my usual: 2 porterhouse steaks, some asparagus tips and some Portobello mushrooms. Monday nights have officially become ‘steak-night’ in our household, which is awesome because if I’ve had a good weigh-in I get to celebrate with a really tasty meal, and if I’ve had a less than ideal weigh-in, I get to commiserate with a really tasty meal. Win-win!

So I’m going to just take it easy for the rest of the day (night?) enjoy my meal and maybe zone out to some Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. Here’s hoping that y’all are having a good evening wherever you are and I’ll catch up with you guys again in a couple of days.

Blue

We All Fall Down / Weigh-In Day

“Let the bodies hit the floor, let the bodies hit the floor…”

Well this a been an absolute fecker of a week.

Before I go any further, I’ll just go ahead and give the weigh-in update… insofar as there isn’t one, other than I just maintained. Which is fine, because I was actually expecting a stall to hit me around this time. To be honest, the way this week has played out, I’m actually surprised the scale didn’t show a gain. Not because I’ve eaten anything off-plan (I’ve stayed 100% true to the low-carb WOE ever since switching to it) but because I’ve been so swollen and puffed up, I was sure I’d at least be registering some water-weight. So getting on the scale today and seeing I had maintained was actually a pleasant surprise.

Okay, what was so bad about this past week? Well the clue is in the title. Fibromyalgia really is the “gift that keeps on giving” folks. You can be happily just pottering about the place one minute and the next “BAM” one of its curious little symptoms will just come out of nowhere and have you wondering what you did to deserve this latest assault. This week’s fresh hell didn’t quite come out of nowhere, but I sure as shite didn’t expect to end up spending the past 5 days slumped like a jellyfish, clutching at my chest and crying whenever I had to cough, sneeze or take a deep breath. Yeah, it’s been a real joy.

What happened is one of just many incidents that have occurred in my life, as a result of my being an absolute, grade-A klutz. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it in here before, but I have the worst sense of balance. I regularly veer off into a wall when trying to walk through a door, drop things for absolutely no reason and fall down more often than your average catatonia sufferer. My spatial awareness is also pitiful meaning that I’m frequently banging into tables, chairs and anything else I think I can just walk past without incident. Over the years this has led to me having to visit the ER so often, I’m surprised my mother didn’t end up getting investigated for potential child abuse. I’ve broken bones in almost every part of my body – something which no doubt really plays into the various arthritic pains that plague me today.

Anyway, I was in the kitchen, doing the dishes. Not many because there are only 2 of us in our household and I was happily humming along to some music playing from my phone. I was actually in a really good mood (never a good sign, lol) because the other half had bought me a bottle of ‘Black Opium’ perfume for having been so good at sticking to the low-carb WOE. Not because he was surprised at me sticking to it (he knows how stubborn I am, lol) but because he was especially proud of me for doing so, whilst still making him things like chips, baked potatoes and freshly baked bread. So yeah, I was happily drenched in fragrance, finishing up with the dishes and about to head back into the living room so we could watch some YouTube videos together on the big TV.

I turned off the tap and in my sock-clad feet, spun around on the linoleum and…hit the deck like a ton of shit! Oof! Obviously I’d hit a patch of water that had splashed onto the floor while doing the dishes and in my socks had just gone absolutely flying. Okay. So I fell down. Nothing new there – right? Well yes…but also…I don’t know exactly what set off the chain reaction of other stuff in my body, but it was definitely fibromyalgia related and possibly also connected to the psoriatic arthritis. I started to get up off the floor, feeling okay at first, but then I noticed that my fingers were both stinging and throbbing where I’d put my hands out to break my fall. I knew they weren’t broken (because I’ve done that a couple of times before, lol) but I knew they didn’t feel right.

And then the really bad pain kicked in. Right in my chest. Tight and stabby-sharp, but deep and throbbing all at the same time. Immediately I started yelping and staggering through to the living room where my other half was already shouting:

“Babe? What was that? Are you okay?”

Now he’s used to me banging into stuff and falling over. It took a few years of us being together, but he’s now just sort of used to it happening. At first he used to freak out and worry about me, but I always ended up just waving off his concerns, telling him everything was fine and asking him not to fuss. So he no longer immediately freaks out when he hears a bang and the subsequent:

“Ow!”

or

“Fuck!”

coming from another room. He knows I hate fuss or sympathy and just expects to be presented with my latest impressive bruise, cut or scratch once I’ve picked myself up and dusted myself down. But this time I staggered into the living room clutching my chest and he thought I was having a heart attack. Cue him going into stress-mode, blurting out loads of questions and talking about calling an ambulance. (A guy can only be asked to ignore so much I guess, lol.)

But it wasn’t a heart attack. I knew immediately what it was, because I’ve had it before. Some people say it feels like a heart attack, but having never experienced one, I don’t really have anything to compare it to; although the first time this happened to me I did think I might have been going full myocardial infarction at the tender age of 35. So what was it that was choosing to bless me with its presence this week? A joyful little thing called costochondritis. I won’t go into the full blown description of it because Nikki – aka – ‘The Brainless Blogger’ does a much better job of it —> here. As Nikki says:

“It is swelling in the cartilage between the ribs and the sternum and the pain can radiate through the chest often feeling like a heart attack. It varies from mind to severe. It can be stabbing, aching, burning and it can be in one location specifically or just all over. It can come and go.”

Such fun!

But yeah, I knew what it was immediately and after convincing my other half that I wasn’t having a heart attack, didn’t need an ambulance and that it was just that ‘stupid chest thing’ that I’ve had a few times before, he calmed down, brought me some pain meds and I tried to get as comfortable as possible on the sofa. Which wasn’t all that comfortable really. It hurt badly to sit up really straight, but it also hurt a lot to lie down on my back (probably something to do with having my rather impressive – and therefore weighty – boobage pressing down on my ribcage.)

So I slumped.

And for the rest of the week I couldn’t shower, I barely slept, I couldn’t write with a pen & paper, couldn’t cook and basically just slouched in a semi-contorted position with a hot-water bottle on my chest, for a few days. You know it must have been bad, because I couldn’t even use my laptop properly. I tried logging on a few times, but just couldn’t get into a comfortable enough position to do anything…and there was the added thing with my fingers to deal with too – yay!

One of the lovely symptoms of psoriatic arthritis, is the tendency for one’s fingers to swell up like sausages. This happens to me from time to time (usually when the weather is switching up the barometric pressure, or during my TOM) but can also be ‘triggered’ by physical stresses or trauma. When I fell in the kitchen, I automatically put my hands out to break my fall. The ensuing impact caused my fingers to swell up and also sent enough shock waves up my arms into my chest to set off the costochondritis in my rib cartilage. And all because my stupid, unthinking, klutzy ass decided to spin around on a linoleum floor in socks. *Le sigh*

So it’s been a pretty shitty few days, as you can probably imagine. Do NOT however feel sorry for me, or offer me any sympathies – I hate that crap. As annoying and miserable these things can be, I’m very much used to them. And let’s be honest here, many more people have things far wore than I do. I don’t share these little experiences to elicit sympathy from y’all; I just like to keep shit as real as possible. If what I chat about is something you experience yourself, then I’m sure you’ll find yourself nodding in agreement with me from time to time. And if you don’t have fibromyalgia or any form of arthritis, well I hope you at least find my tales of wombling woe amusing.

Because if the idea of this chunky chick trying to pirouette in her socks and then hitting the kitchen floor like a ton of shit doesn’t make you chuckle, then you really have no sense of humour!

Have a hilarious week, y’all.

Blue

Down With The Sickness

“Ooh…ah ah ah ah!”

I swear if I didn’t have bad luck I’d have no luck at all. Yeah, yeah, other people have it worse and all that, but how in the name of all that is holy, is my scale showing a GAIN of 3lb, when I haven’t eaten enough food all week to warrant such a fricking liberty.

“HOW VERY DARE YOU, SCALE!”

Urgh…the past few days have been crappy as all hell. There I was, getting all excited because Autumn was on the way, the temperature was dropping and everything was going swell with the low-carbing…and then out of nowhere a really miserable flare-up hit me like a metric fuck-tonne of shit (yes I’m swearing a lot today, I’m allowed to, I’m miserable, sue me) leaving me unable to get out of bed for a whole day, obliterated by a massive bastard-behind-the-eyes headache the next and cursed with barely serviceable mong-paw hands for 3 whole days.

Now I know y’all are expecting me to relay some tragic tale of woebegotten snack-scoffing, but that ain’t me mister. Almost the exact opposite in fact. I’ve never been someone who turned to food when depressed – I actually lose my appetite when I’m sad – and I’ve definitely been down in the dumps these past few days. Couldn’t walk anywhere, couldn’t shower, couldn’t cook, couldn’t use the computer properly, couldn’t do ANYTHING, except chug back the meds and hope for the best.

Foodwise, I went one whole day without eating anything. Not intentionally, I just slept for a good 15+ hours and when I woke up food was the furthest thing from my mind. The next day I was still thoroughly uninterested in eating, but my soluble pain-killers were ominously swirling around in my stomach, making me worry that I was going to throw them back up (along with my other meds) and not know how much I still had in my system, in order to top back up.

So I did a kind of a stupid thing. I got through that day by eating three protein bars. Not something that sounds altogether extreme by anyone else’s standards, but having since gone back to review the ingredients list (yasss…I know…I should’ve been more careful when I first read them…but I didn’t get to the size I am today by making wise decisions, m’kay?) I found that whilst they were showing as having 3g net carbs, they contained sugar. I mean, it’s not gonna be a lot if they only have 3g carbs in them, but I KNOW that crap was in there in large enough doses, because by the next day they’d pulled me right back out of ketosis. FRICK, FRICKETY, FRICK!

The day after that my appetite reared its ugly head again, but I’m theorising that once I was out of ketosis my body might have decided that I was being a stingy bitch and just thrown itself into starvation mode. Because on that day I had 3 pieces of ham, a piece of cheese and a cherry tomato for breakfast, 2 pieces of ham in the afternoon and some sausages (0.5g carb each) with broccoli for dinner…and then today I wake up to find that I’ve GAINED 3 BROTHERCLUCKING POUNDS??

There is no god.

I’m not due on my period, so I can’t blame it on that. I haven’t been consuming more salt, so it ain’t that. I’ve been drinking plenty of water and taking my supplements properly. I just haven’t been eating that much…and what I have eaten was full of the nasties. It HAS to be the protein bars. My meds are the same ones I’ve been taking every day for years now and my caffeine intake has been pretty low. I mean, everything’s been pretty low intake wise, but when you’re not feeling well, it’s really hard to think about food at all – never mind entirely sensibly. If I’d known I was going to gain 3lb I would’ve at least tried to do it in style. Y’know…cram in a few McDonald’s Quarterpounders, fries and thick shake or something! Actually, that’s a total lie. The smell of a cheeseburger might just have been the final straw that sent me running to the bathroom to throw up, if I’m being honest.

So today is Saturday. I wasn’t planning on weighing myself until Monday as usual, but I just knew that I’d gained when I got up earlier. Weird that I could sense that, but whatever. I got the scale out and whaddaya know, I was right! (Yay me!) I have no idea how this is going to be come Monday on my regular weigh-in day – I won’t be updating my stats until then – but it’s a pretty disappointing kick in the teeth, this early on in my low-carb endeavours. I’m not going to let it get me down too much though and I’m sticking to the plan as normal today, but I just know that I’m going to have a lot of these set-backs along the way, thanks to my health issues that just up and rear their ugly head, any old time they freaking feel like it. Those protein bars will have to be relegated to the back of the cupboard for the foreseeable future and I’m going to have to find myself some other ones that definitely DON’T have sugar in them. Because their are going to be days when I simply cannot face the thought of real food, but need to have something in my system because of my meds.

I also have this shake to use as a meal replacement going forward, on those days when I simply cannot face proper food, but need to put something in my stomach:

No ingredients in there to be worried about, sucralose as a sweetener and it includes a bunch of extra vitamins and MCT powder (which may or not be helpful, depending on who you believe). I had it today for lunch. “Breakfast” was a can of tuna, slice of cheese & cherry tomato at 1am; that tided me over until I had that shake for “lunch” at 10am. Dinner this evening was 2 grilled burger patties and some broccoli at 7pm. I don’t think my appetite has dropped back down yet, so it felt a lot easier to consume 3 meals today, than it did a few days ago. The shake definitely worked as a meal replacement. I only made a small one with 1 scoop of powder/35ml of water/1 tablespoon of coconut oil/teaspoon of caramel flavoured sugar-free syrup. The taste of the shake is pretty gross on its own – very sweet – but when I added a bit of caramel syrup and a good bit of salt, it became far more palatable.

That should be enough food for today. If I really feel the need for anything else to snack on I’ve got some slices of ham and plenty of cheese in the fridge. Just 2 more sleeps until the next official weigh-in. Will I still be registering a 3lb gain? Will I have lost any of it back? Will I still be clinging onto sanity by my fingernails or will I have completely lost the plot? Who knows. You’ll just have to stick around for the next episode of “My Big Fat Stupid Carb Addicted Body And The Befuddled Brain That Operates It.”

I love a catchy title.

Blue

Slow Down There Kid…

What day is it?

It’s Saturday 5th September 2020. The temperature is definitely dropping and the nights are starting to draw in. Autumn is on the way and I can smell it coming in on the back of a breeze: the cool, crisp air cutting through summer’s claustrophobically fetid fug. And I for one can’t wait. I’ll finally be able to relax comfortably without feeling myself sticking to the furniture. I’m already able to sleep under the duvet again – sleeping with no covers over oneself is the weirdest, miserable experience. You need to sleep without the covers over you, because it’s so unbelievably hot & muggy that even the thinnest sheet becomes draped in moisture and clings to you like some insomniac form of Japanese water torture. But just lying there without any cover, you can feel how vulnerable and exposed you are to world. It’s a very sad feeling to go bed with no covers, even if the temperature demands it of you. So yes, Autumn, Fall, whatever y’all call it, it’s a-coming up here in the Northern Hemisphere and my inner ‘pumpkin-spice-infused-basic-bitch-white-chick’, couldn’t be happier.

I’m into Day 6. of induction and it’s been a weird-old couple of days (what I can remember of it/them anyway). On Thursday I was happily into that initial burst of energy you feel when you get into ketosis. Appetite was gone. Cravings were gone. Felt really positive. Felt like I was invincible even. So me and the other half were getting ready to go into town and I even found myself looking forward to the walk along the promenade. We gathered up all our bags, headed out and as soon as we started walking I felt amazing. The breeze was cool, the crows were all out in force on the beach, picking through the seaweed, everything was going to be great. [Spoiler: HA!]

Getting into town was fine; we were in the game store, the mini-mart, the chemist and even made it down to the bus station, with me still having a real spring in my step. We had about 10 minutes to wait for our bus, so we took the opportunity to sit down for a bit; tried to rearrange and consolidate our shopping bags a bit (give me fewer of them to accidentally leave behind).

And then it hit me. Like an actual physical force or weight from above me. I let out a loud, distorted “Owwwwwwwoooo!” and immediately began to regret all my overenthusiastic, faster pace and nonchalance upon leaving the house. It was all very well getting a genuine burst of physical energy as my body was burning its fat up, but that newfound energy didn’t suddenly make all my physical problems disappear. It just sort of overwhelmed my senses long enough for me to do myself more harm than good. Sitting there on that bench, pains started to shoot up and down my spine, managing to feel like both a hammer to my lumbar region and barbed-wire across my neck and shoulders, all at once. On top of that, the muscle in my left calf had gone into spasm, visually trembling underneath my trouser leg.

I can be such a moron sometimes: when I say I forget my age, middle name and house-number frequently, I’m not even being remotely hyperbolic. But you think I wouldn’t forget about a progressively worsening physiological problem that has been affecting me for the past 8 years, right? I mean, that’s the sort of thing that’s basically right there in the forefront of your mind, every single day, from the moment you wake up to the time you go to sleep. You don’t just let that shit slip.

Except maybe if you’re me and even the slightest extra pep in my step seems to be just enough to provoke some pretty poor decision making with regards to your body and what it’s capable of. I didn’t even remember to take my pain-killers before I left the house. THAT’S how sneakily powerful, the ketosis-energy burst thing is. It really did make me feel a bit immortal. I guess that’s another little thing to make a note of as I move through this new way of eating. A couple of days ago I was having a bit of existential introspection over the way ketosis had left me utterly apathetic towards all food. On Thursday I learned that I’m going to have all this extra energy on some days, so I’d need to try and find a better, less-crippling way of expending it. Because that brief trip into town absolutely obliterated me.

When we got home, I changed into my nightie, chugged back some pain killers and made myself a protein shake to have for dinner. Once I sat down, I was hit by a mixture of relief in the achy, overworked joints and a dull throbbing in the various parts of my body which play up during a fibro flare-up. What was I even thinking of? Storming off into town like I had a normal body…WTF?? I paid for it though. Hunched over like some Brothers’ Grimm hag-witch monstrosity (my hair helping to flesh out the likeness even more – thanks humidity!) I thought I might have actually done myself some real physical damage – although, that fear seems to plague me almost every time the fibro plays up. Something to do with the way the messages from my nerves to my brain’s pain receptors, not working correctly so I either don’t feel pain in the right place or I feel pain for no physiological reason. The arthritis is real enough, but the fibro is a cunning beast: mixing things up a little with a combination of both real manifestations of pain and subsequent sensations that originate in my brain for no good reason. Not that it matters what the cause is; both hurt like hell and it’s almost impossible to tell the difference.

But yeah. I can’t really recall much of the last day. I know I ate well. Even swallowed back a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil here and there. Tastes a bit weird and it does require the mastery of one’s gag-reflex, the first time you attempt to swallow it. But I got there in the end and it’s helping me to up my fat intake, because I’ve been consuming a lot of protein, salads and veggies but I really have to make the effort eat more fats if I’m going to remain in ketosis. At some point today I’m going to have to float on into the kitchen and put together something edible for me and the other half. Not looking forward to how hectic that’s gonna be. Trying to think of something that requires almost zero effort. Probably grill some burgers and Portabello mushrooms…do him some oven chips. Surely even I can’t balls that up, right?

Famous last words.

Anyway, there I was curled up on the sofa, willing my pain killers to kick in and do their job (not that they make the pain completely go away, but at least they dull it somewhat and make it more manageable) when the other half goes and scores some weed. The absolute legend. One of the best pain-relieving muscle relaxers out there. It’s simply the most effective thing for giving me relief and allowing my body to soften and relax. So we’ve been pretty wasted ever since then and I’m so relieved. I haven’t been this comfortable in ages. It has thrown up another curious sensation though as instead of having the munchies, stoned me in ketosis simply gets a craving for sweetness. Which is a bit of a relief really. Imagine having the proper munchies, with that growling stomach that demands the immediate consumption of a vast array of snacks, only to be doing low-carb at the time. That could’ve been a bit of a mare. Wanting to inhale cakes, biscuits, ice-cream and chocolate and trying to convince oneself that a piece of cheese and some ham are in any way going to cut it. Lol. Thankfully I was able to assuage my little sweet-craving with a caramel syrup coffee and I have a protein bar at the ready in case we go full ‘Code Blue’ and comestible reinforcements are required.

It’s all good.

Apart from that one little mission I’ll need to embark upon, in order to make dinner, I’m going to be spending the rest of the day on the sofa, in blissful oblivion, pain free and comfortable. We learned some lessons though over the past couple of days. One that I need to be more careful when hit by a ketosis energy burst. My brain might feel invincible in that moment, but my body isn’t (nor has ever been) the young, lithe, athlete my mind thinks it is in that moment. Gotta look out for that. Also we learned that the munchies aren’t the same when ketosis is in action. Nothing a sugar free syrup in the coffee can’t sort out. So yeah, lessons learned y’all.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Blue