“It Ain’t What You Do It’s The Way That You Do It (That’s What Get’s Results)”

“It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it
And that’s what gets results”

Props to those of you who got the reference in this blog title, before seeing the video – y’all are obviously as old and haggard as I am, lol. Well, maybe older but still in the same ball-park. I was 8 years old when my aunt (who was young and cool and really into pop-music) gave me ‘Bananarama’s Greatest Hits Collection’ on cassette for Christmas. I was totally psyched and played that album to death, either on the radio-cassette-player I had in my bedroom, or the ‘Sony Walkman’ I had practically glued to my hip wherever I went. I remember my mum telling me that this track was actually a cover of a much older song from back when she was a kid, but I didn’t care because this was new and cool and nothing like the music she and my dad listened to. It’s only as you get older that you realise how sooner or later everything comes back into fashion and what we think of as new and exciting trends really just wind up being updated versions of things gone by. My musical tastes have definitely changed since those days, but whenever I hear this song I’m back standing in front of my mirror, hairbrush in hand, singing along with all the effortlessly cool demeanour that 8 year old me could muster.

Anyway, what are we here to talk about today folks? Well, it’s something that I’ve touched on a few times before, but seems to be absolutely everywhere I look right now (always the case once you notice something, right?) and it’s people who seem hell-bent on staying in that yo-yo dieting mentality…despite trying to convince anyone who will listen to them that they’re:

Totally about the lifestyle change – for realsies!”

Uh-huh?

Do people even bother to check that the shit coming out of their mouths is even remotely consistent with their previously spouted crap, anymore? Or are we all just hoping that in this internet era of stunted attention spans that no one’s gonna even remember anything a week or so down the line? Because there are SO MANY hypocrites, liars and self-contradicting BS-merchants out there right now, it’s a wonder any of us can keep track with reality at all.

First there are the “Flip-Floppers” who start off telling us how they could never give up sugar, then once they realise how much weight other people are able to lose by curbing the carbs make a sudden change to keto because it’s

“really so much healthier, once you realise how it all works”

…only to fail at it once they realise that it still takes quite a bit of dedication, before renouncing the entire low-carb ethos as something

“Completely unhealthy, actually!”

and declaring their return to CICO

“Because it’s the only thing that works scientifically, innit?”

Okay Karen, but excuse me if I don’t take any dietary advice from someone who changes their plan more often than they change their undercrackers. Call me old-fashioned but I like my advice to come from those with a little more experience than your average halfwit with a BTEC in ‘Home Ec’. If what you’re looking for is a “diet” then literally go pick any one of the myriad ones out there on the internet and if you follow it to the letter, it’ll work. They ALL “work” if what you’re looking for is a quick-fix; but if it’s life-long sustainable change that you’re after, then you’re gonna have to start looking to something you can actually implement for life. There are no short-cuts to sustainable weight-loss and life-long health – and flip-flopping certainly ain’t where it’s at bro.

Then there are the “All Or Nothing Over-Haulers”. These guys are always good for a laugh because you can see the inevitable car-crash coming from a mile off, but you still can’t help but stick around to witness the carnage. You know the type. Often seen making huge commitments around New Year (or after a milestone birthday or divorce) when they decide that they’re going to make the switch from being hugely overweight, eating nothing but junk-food, never exercising, drinking a bit too much booze, smoking, staying up late / not getting enough sleep, never taking their make-up off before bed, hoarding clutter, being glued to their phones for 6+ hours a day and always going overdrawn with their bank balance to…BEING ALL THE SUPER-HEALTHY, WHOLE-FOOD EATING, YOGA PRACTICING, REGULAR GYM ATTENDING, VEGAN, MEDITATING, NON-SMOKING, TEE-TOTAL, MARIE KONDO ORGANIZING, SKINCARE GURU FOLLOWING, 8-HOURS-OF-SLEEP GETTING THINGS!

Yeah, strap in baby ’cause these guys are going from 0-60 quicker than a Mitsubishi Evo with go-faster stripes. Day 1, they’re out of the starting blocks telling everyone how they’re so glad they made all these changes. Never again will junk-food pass their lips…in fact they’re never eating any animal products again and are gonna be plant based forever. Alcohol is just so bad for their skin – which they’re now looking after with a recently procured expensive and expansive range of balm cleansers, acids, serums and moisturisers (all totally vegan, naturally) – and they’re just sleeping so much better now that they knocked the evening glass of vino and all that screen-time on the head.

It’s like, they’ve become a whole new person overnight. Only they haven’t. Because whilst they’re starting out with the best of intentions, all the changes they’ve made are really just superficial and they haven’t done any work on addressing why they had accumulated all those bad habits in the first place. So little by little, the enthusiasm starts to wane as the enormity of all these readjustments to their lifestyle really hits home. First they might admit to maybe letting one or two of these changes fall by the wayside because “just so busy with work and kids and life” and maybe they’ll get a little less frequent with the status updates about how “green tea really is tons better than a venti hazelnut latte” until eventually they just sort of drop off the radar. Their “life journey” channels suddenly go dead and their Instagram has been relegated to the odd photo of the kids, the dog or some re-blogged vague quote about how “you have to find inner peace before you can bring peace to the rest of the world”.

Yep, they crash. Crash and burn. And why? Because despite them having all the best intentions regarding a complete overhaul of their lifestyle, they jumped in the deep-end before they’d even figured out how to swim. Change is hard. Making changes that last a long time is even harder; it requires a lot of self-awareness, an understanding of why you need to change a thing and a realistic plan for how you intend to implement said change. Trying to do this for more than one area of your life at a time is even harder. It involves twice the amount of inner work, twice the amount of planning and twice the amount of commitment and accountability. Suddenly attempting to change MULTIPLE areas of your life and going from a fat, lazy, junk-food eating, messy, disorganised nightmare to a 100% zen, plant-based yogi, is virtually impossible. None of us got to being hugely overweight, replete with a multitude of bad habits, overnight; we picked them up and allowed them to get worse over time. So it’s going to take a lot of time to undo all those learned behaviours and fix all the areas of our life that we’re desperate to change.

I’m not saying you can’t overhaul your life completely and become a better, fitter, healthier version of yourself. But when you try to “do all the things” at once, you’re setting yourself up for failure. And that failure will not only weigh heavy on you – either making you feel desolate and unmotivated to try again, or doomed to return to that hamster-wheel of craziness, time and again, because you “ain’t no quitter” but you also never fricking learn. It’s dull and it’s unsexy and it’s not what anyone wants to hear, but you have to be willing to take the time to address each change you want to implement on its own, and get to a point where it becomes second-nature to you, before you move onto the next issue.

Thirdly, we have “The Ratcheters”. These specimens are also real impatient, but unlike the “All Or Nothing Overhaulers” they tend to take just the one aspect that they’re hoping to change and slowly but surely, they ramp up the intensity with which they approach it. They’ll tell you

“It’s absofrickinglutely a lifestyle change!”

but what starts out looking like a sensible, long-term plan soon morphs into some hyper-wargamed need to cross the finishing-line, FAST! Of course, they’ll be saying all the right things about how much they “love this new WOE!” and that they “really do want to” do this new thing for the rest of their lives. But if you pay enough attention to them you’ll notice a bit of ‘mission creep’ start to emerge. Maybe they’ll start off by upping the frequency or intensity of their exercise regimen. Of course this alone isn’t a bad thing – progressive overload is the most popular strategy for those who want to attain continued fitness goals – but unless this new uptick is a permanently implemented change that someone intends to stick with going forward, all they’re doing is making a big push for faster results; results that won’t necessarily be something that they can expect to last once they hit goal.

Or perhaps they’ll start to shave off extra calories or carbs from their intake, not because of any natural reduction in hunger, but because they know it will help them reach their goal quicker. Maybe they’ll suddenly declare that they’re going to go zero-carb / carnivore; but not for the actual lifelong health benefits – no they just want those faster results on the scale. Sure, eating less will probably lead to faster weight-loss, but at what cost? First there’s the problem with prolonged restriction and its propensity to lead to moments of weakness and subsequent bingeing. Newsflash! Your body doesn’t like being starved and if you try to do so, it’s gonna do everything in its power to thwart even the most strong-willed dieter. And even if you DO manage to stick to your heavily restricted plan, your body will respond by lowering your metabolism so it can get by on whatever meagre rations you allow it to consume. That metabolic change isn’t just a temporary glitch either; those maladapted biological responses can stick around long after you decide to ditch the diet, potentially leading to a permanent tendency to gain weight easily and a life-long struggle to lose weight. Talk about a literal prescription for a lifetime spent yo-yo dieting.

And then there’s the “challenges”. Oof, lol. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing inherently wrong with a little gentle, supportive motivation from fellow travellers. But I don’t think that taking your own personal decision to implement permanent life changes, and making it competitive is a particularly good idea. Whether it’s something you publicly declare that you’re going to undertake by yourself, or a group-centric approach to doing better than others, by changing the focus from internal to external, you’re altering the way you view your goal. Whether you realise it or not, this shift in focus can actually cause a fragmenting of any solid mental framework you had previously worked so hard at developing. It’s no longer about you making gradual changes towards a better, healthier self for the long-term. Now it’s about making sure that you show up and provide some results (good or bad) for your audience or fellow competitors.

Whether you’re immediately aware of it or not, this level of performative success inevitably takes its toll on you, bringing about anxiety, stress, fluctuation in moods and an often subconscious adjustment to one’s eating habits in order to be seen to be doing the thing that you said you would.

“But Blue, this is what keeps me accountable, duh!”

Okay I get that you think that, but the actual evidence based studies surrounding the act of publicly declaring our goal intentions really doesn’t bear that out. In fact the research at NYU, led by Peter Gollwitzer, shows the opposite. In a research articled titled ‘When intentions go public: Does social reality widen the intention-behavior gap?’ (Psychological Science, 20, 612-618) Gollwitzer surmised that the simple act of sharing your goal publicly can make you less likely to do the work to achieve it. I know most of y’all aren’t going to want to read an entire research paper so here’s the abstract:

“Based on Lewinian goal theory in general and self-completion theory in particular, four experiments examined the implications of other people taking notice of one’s identity-related behavioral intentions (e.g., the intention to read law periodicals regularly to reach the identity goal of becoming a lawyer). Identity-related behavioral intentions that had been noticed by other people were translated into action less intensively than those that had been ignored (Studies 1–3). This effect was evident in the field (persistent striving over 1 week’s time; Study 1)and in the laboratory (jumping on opportunities to act; Studies 2 and 3), and it held among participants with strong but not weak commitment to the identity goal (Study 3). Study 4 showed, in addition, that when other people take notice of an individual’s identity-related behavioral intention, this gives the individual a premature sense of possessing the aspired-to identity.”

 When intentions go public: Does social reality widen the intention-behavior gap? Psychological Science, 20, 612-618.

In the results of this study and subsequent studies performed on other students, the experimenters found that the participants whose intentions were known tended to act less on their intentions than those whose intentions were unknown. The researchers concluded that telling people what you want to achieve creates a premature sense of completeness. While you feel a sense of pride in letting people know what you intend to do, that pride doesn’t motivate you and can in fact hurt you later on.

When you write down or think about your intentions, there’s a gap between where you are and where you want to be. The compelling need to close this gap helps you to act on your intentions. But when you let others know about it, the gap closes because you (artificially) feel the same way you should after completing your intentions. And we see this borne out time and again by those around us who exclaim year upon year that THIS time, THIS year, they’re totally going to get on that diet and lose all the weight…only to falter a week, month or 6 months down the line. So whilst you might think that by embarking upon a little group-challenge, you’re going to give yourself that extra push to meet your goals, chances are you’re really only going to a/ load yourself up with extra anxiety, b/ develop a sort of co-dependent relationship with your fellow contenders as the guaranteed commiseration and geeing up from them floods in any time you choose to go off-plan / fail to see a downward movement on the scale, or c/ really not get the success you want because of reasons outlined above.

“Yeah but Blue, isn’t all this ‘Intention Declaration’ thing exactly what you’re dong with THIS blog?”

Well I can see why you’d think that, but just take a minute to think over what exactly y’all know about me? Do you know my real name? Do you know what I look like? Do you know anything other than the carefully selected chosen fragments of information I’ve chosen to share with y’all on here? Yeah, there’s a reason for that. I’m actually a really private person. When I decided to lose some weight, the only 2 people I told were my doctor and my other half. Not even my family knew. Which is where the whole lockdown thing really played to my strengths, because when it comes to goal setting I’m very much a lone wolf. I set a target, figure out how to get there and then just do it. And I succeed at it. I’m not a team-player by any strength of the imagination, but if you want a task carried out to completion, then just give me a quiet corner I can sequester myself off in and I’ll do it. So being cooped up in the house and ‘socially distanced’ from everyone else was great. I could just get on with losing weight to the knowledge of virtually nobody. Which made it all the funnier come Christmas when I went to stay with my family for a few days and they were gobsmacked. The girl who had forever eschewed the idea of weight-loss suddenly turned up 40+ pounds lighter – and looking younger too, according to a couple of family members.

But yeah, I keep myself to myself for the most part. This blog isn’t a big public tell-all. It’s anonymous. It’s not connected in any way to any of the rest of my life or any of my other online activity. And that was entirely intentional. This blog is for me. It’s my way of recording my efforts and progress as I work my way towards my goal. Yes it’s out there on the internet for anyone to read – and I’m real happy if any of you find it interesting or entertaining – but I’m not remotely beholden to it. Yes I’ve “met” some really lovely other people and enjoyed the interaction, but I could walk away from this blog tomorrow, never even visiting it again, and it wouldn’t have the slightest impact on my life or my weight-loss. This blog is and always will be, primarily a place for me to record my progress and let off some steam with the odd rant ‘n ramble about whatever is currently grinding my gears. It’s not a place for me to report to anyone on how I’m doing, or somewhere I can use to compete with anyone else’s efforts. The only competition I’m in, is with myself – which is exactly how it should be when you’re undertaking a personal goal.

What appear to be very public ‘Declarations Of Intent’ are really just anonymous writings that anyone can stumble upon, without ever knowing who wrote them – or even if any of it is even true (psyche!). I have made zero public declarations regarding my weight or health in my real life and I think (for me anyway) it makes the whole thing much easier. I don’t owe anyone any updates, I don’t have to care about what anyone thinks about the reading on the scale from one day to another…plus the idea of just turning up to meet a friend once lockdown is over and blowing their goddamn minds with my how much I’ve changed, really appeals to my mischievous side, lol. So…no, I don’t have any of the baggage attached to making a public declaration of intent. Whether I blog all the way to my goal (and succeeding at that is a ‘when’ not an ‘if’) or if I just decide that I’m bored with the whole idea, it will have zero impact on the rest of my life or the way in which I achieve my goals.

Anyway, I’ve gotten a bit side-tracked there and this post is getting pretty long, but I guess I just wanted to have a little rant about the ways in which so many people seem to be hell-bent on pretending that they’re making a lifestyle change, when the reality is they’re only looking for a quick-fix. Cause that shit annoys the bejeezus out of me. I hate fakery and BS merchants and people who think that they can pull the wool over everyone’s eyes, while they try to do the exact thing they claim not to be doing. And the 3 forms of BS merchants I talked about today (‘Flip-Floppers’, ‘All-Or-Nothing-Overhaulters’, and The ‘Ratcheters’) are the ones I’m seeing the most all over the various weight-loss community. They love trying to up the ante in a desperate attempt to get faster results, which is in direct contradiction to a fundamental principle of obesity management: you do not do things to lose weight that you are unlikely to continue doing to keep the weight off.

Too many people seem to think that if only they could lose some weight now, they will somehow be able maintain that lower body weight in the long-term with less effort. “If I could just get thin I could totally then be and stay thin forever!”

Sure, Jan. That’s why it’s worked so far for you up until now, right?

If you take anything away from this post let it be this: dishonesty is a pretty shitty way to interact with other people and will inevitably, eventually lead to people losing interest in what you’ve got to say or what you’re claiming to achieve. But the person you absolutely NEED to be truly honest with, is yourself. People see whatever you show them, but you can’t lie to yourself. Not if you want to have any chance of succeeding with ANY of your goals.

Keep it real folks

Blue

Newsflash! Weight-Loss Is Boring! And It Should Be!

Okay, let’s be real folks. Losing weight isn’t all that interesting. I mean, it’s exciting and new when you first begin out on a new regime, fuelled by all the promises of what the end result will be, and it’s cool to see the progress pics and update videos by other people trying to lose weight, but the everyday process itself? Yeah it’s pretty bloody dull. But you know what? That’s exactly what you should be aiming for. Probably not what you wanted to hear, but lemme explain.

Everyone starts out on their weigh-loss mission pretty psyched – and that’s completely normal. We prep ourselves by reading as much as we can about our chosen plan, immerse ourselves in weight-loss communities where we can share stories, pick up tips and get support, and it’s so cool because it’s new and different and exciting. We’ve gotten to a point where we’re able to accept that we have a problem and then realise that fixing that problem is completely within our grasp. We feel empowered with all this new knowledge and as we start making the necessary dietary changes, we feel amazing because we’re getting results. We’re fricking doing this, y’all!

And it’s great. As long as we’re sticking to our plan and doing all the things we’re supposed to, the weight continues to come off, albeit a little more slowly than it did in the first few weeks. But the scale is still moving down and everything’s working and yet…suddenly it doesn’t feel that exciting any more. We’re no longer feeling the newfound excitement we felt right at the beginning, and the end is still quite a way off. So it’s only natural when some of us start looking for other ways to get that feeling of excitement back. Maybe we’ll add in a fitness challenge – those always seem really popular – or maybe we’ll consider changing up our plan – eating challenges are also all over YouTube. What we’re looking for is a return to that high we felt way back when we first started out on our weight-loss regimes…but that’s not necessarily a good thing.

The phrase “This is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle” has become a bit of a cliché, with many people repeating it verbatim, without really living by it. But the reality is, that for weight loss to not only be successful but sustainable, this really does have to be a complete lifestyle adjustment – not just a quick fix to get us to our goal weight. And like it or not, for this to BE a lifestyle change and not just a fad, we’re really going to have to expect the whole thing to become a bit boring. Is cleaning your teeth every day a blog-worthy event? I doubt it. Do you get ripples of adrenaline coursing through your veins every time you wash the dishes? I hope not. (I mean, you do you boo, but if that’s what really gets you going every day, you might want to look into trying a new hobby…just saying.)

What I’m trying to say is that whilst eating can be a part of how we celebrate or socialise, it really shouldn’t be the focal point of our entire day. I’ve mentioned this before, but my other half is a tall, athletic guy who has never really had to worry about his weight (except for one time when a course of medication for an injury caused him to lose his appetite a drop a little too much weight – but that was soon remedied by reducing his meds). He turned to me earlier while we were watching ‘My 600lb Life’ and said:

“You know, I’ll never really understand what all this is about.”

And thinking that he meant the severely super-morbidly obese people on the show, I told him that I didn’t fully understand their mindset either; that their pathological relationship with food is far more dangerous and damaged than mine has ever been. But he shook his head:

“No…I mean, I’ll never understand ANY of this weight-loss stuff. I can’t imagine having to think about everything I eat, all the time, every day. It’s completely alien to me.”

And he truly meant it. Don’t get me wrong, he’s incredibly supportive and frequently reminds me that if there’s anything he can do to help me with this, then just say the word; but it’s a whole other country to him, this world of weight-loss, fitness and food-plans. Which is exactly how it should be for someone with a totally normal relationship with food. Sure, it pays to be at least somewhat informed with regards to nutrition and activity levels, but for those who have never experienced any weight issues or food allergies / intolerances, food really isn’t that big of a deal. They enjoy a nice meal out, or a special celebratory dinner, but for the most part, food is a fuel that they need to consume in order to not die. If it tastes nice, that’s great, but they don’t feel the need to make every morsel some hyper-palatable gourmet offering that Heston Blumenthal would be proud of. And that’s one of the huge differences between those of us who have good relationships with food, and those of us who don’t.

A lot has been said recently about the notion of ‘Intuitive Eating’ and the twisted way that the ‘Fat Acceptance’ have chosen to bastardise it for their own ends. But the ideas at the core of ‘Intuitive Eating’ do make sense…for those don’t have a screwed-up relationship with food. It’s exactly how my other half eats every day. Sometimes he wakes up wanting a fried breakfast; other days he gets up and doesn’t want anything to eat for a few hours. Some days he’s happy to have a few smaller snack-like meals throughout the day, and on others he prefers a big roast dinner with all the trimmings. Aside from my obsession with wanting him to up his protein intake a bit, he normally gets enough of a wide range of food in his diet to keep him strong, lean and healthy – and he doesn’t ever stop to second-guess any of the food choices he makes.

(Yeah, I know…I really should hate the dude for that, but he’s pretty to look at and I can’t reach up to change the lightbulbs, so I like to keep him around, lol.) My point is that his relationship with food is the kind that we all should aspire to having ourselves. And part of that relationship will involve our having to find a way to stop food from having such an intense hold on us that we think about it from dawn ’til dusk. I hate to piss on everyone’s Cheerios, but not every meal needs to be interesting or exciting. What’s important is that we figure out how to get sufficient nutrition from our diet, find a plan that allows us to lose weight without feeling hungry or deprived, and then just go about the rest of our lives, like normal people do.

I’m not saying we can’t enjoy our food or that y’all should be suffering on some foul diet made up of foods you actually hate (because that shit ain’t sustainable for anyone in the long term) but if a lot of our food choices end up being pretty boring, that’s not the end of the world. That’s normal. Going out of your way to try and imbue every meal you consume on your weight-loss regime, with amazing flavours, textures, colours and fragrances, isn’t how most people eat. The very fact that we treat going out to dinner or having a celebratory birthday meal with such reverence, is precisely because they’re supposed to be special experiences that elevate the humble meal to an altogether different level. And I think we as a society have forgotten that.

“By the end of the 19th Century, fine dining restaurants had become part of the landscape for the wealthy aristocratic Europeans and upper-class Americans. These groups transformed eating out into an art form. Through the 20th century, restaurants continued to evolve through two world wars and the Great Depression. The 1950s saw the rapid growth of fast food, while the 1960s marked the beginning of casual family dining and chain restaurants. By 2000, more and more families were dining out on a weekly basis.”

History of American Restaurants in the 20th Century

Eating out regularly is still a relatively new concept for the working & middle classes as a whole. And it’s no coincidence that our ever-expanding waistlines have gotten bigger at exactly the same rate as the explosion in choices with regards eating out. It has become so much easier and cheaper for the average person to eat out, that dining culture is no longer the preserve of the upper classes. Everywhere we go there are myriad options to cater to our taste and wallets, offering intentionally hyper-palatable food combinations that we can choose to eat on the premises, take home or even have delivered to our doors. And we’ve gotten so that we almost feel as though we’re entitled to all this choice and convenience. We work hard, raise families, keep households, attend schools and at the end of the day we’re exhausted. So of course we feel like we deserve to ‘treat’ ourselves and our families to something quick, easy and tasty. But all we’ve really done is condition our taste-buds and our dopamine circuits to associate food with always being something that should taste epic and provide a massive bang for our buck.

So when we finally realise that we’re fat and out of shape, we naturally start to try and make our new food-plans really tasty and interesting and exciting, because we’re still trapped in the mindset of a person with a fucked up relationship with food. We look for recipes that will provide satisfying alternatives to the foods that we over-consumed to get fat in the first place, because we’re still obsessed with making food the focal point of our daily lives. And we really need to stop doing that.

Hey, I’m not claiming to be free of this way of thinking folks. I say all this as someone who realised a while ago that my own relationship with food was completely skewed, because of the type of ‘stimulant seeking’ mentality I have. I wrote a blog post about that very realisation which ya’ll can read here: Stimulus Chick. I know that I have a very active mind that loves to be stimulated and hates to be inactive (I have never been able to ’empty my mind’ and meditate and probably never will, lol) and that ‘stimulant seeking’ mentality plays out in the way I have approached food. Y’all, I’m as bad as everyone else with this, but it’s something I’m working on fixing because I don’t want food to be the controlling aspect of my day-to-day life; I’ve got way too many other things I could be focusing my attention on. And that’s why I’ve come to a second realisation about food, weight-loss and why it’s actually completely normal and healthy, for it to all be incredibly mundane.

When I look back at my previous posts on here I can see that I have yet to shed that obsession with having amazingly tasty food all the time. I’m not altering my behaviour, merely finding an alternative conduit through which I can continue to satisfy that ‘food-centric’ mentality. And I see it in so many other people who are trying to overhaul their diets and implement permanent “lifestyle” changes too. Letting go of the idea that all food has to be hyper-palatable and exciting is difficult. It’s scary and that fear is rooted in our aversion to the unknown, and filtered down through these comestible crutches we develop over time. It’s hard enough to cut out something like sugar from our diets; taking the next step towards a relaxed – almost nonchalant – form of ‘Intuitive Eating’, where food is no longer a perpetually intense, sensory experience is something else. But it’s what I truly believe is at the core of a successful lifestyle overhaul and a healthy relationship with food and eating.

Does that mean I’m suddenly going to become the most clean-eating, nutrition-focused, A+ example of how to eat? Um…no, I’m a work in progress folks; always have been, always will be. But I do want to try and take a mental step back from having an obsessive preoccupation with the food I eat. It’s going to be difficult, because I’ve a/ got a whole 40 years worth of habits to try and undo, and b/ also need to make sure that I’m sticking to my low-carb WOE by always having enough of the right food on hand to tide me over. But I’ve been eating this way for just over 5 months now. I know what I can and cannot eat and going forward, just grabbing something simple to eat because it meets my nutritional needs, is how I’d like to start regarding most of my food choices. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to be eating foods that I enjoy or not enjoying the food that I eat, because I will never get sick of eating steak! But not every meal has to be a sensory adventure. Food is and should be primarily, a source of fuel. And I need to remember that.

So, if you take anything away from this post, let it be this: weight loss is going to get boring over time AND THAT’S A GOOD THING! If you’ve been plodding along for a while and you’re no longer excited by your food choices, don’t immediately rush to try and inject a sense of excitement back into your life. At least not for the reasons I’ve been talking about today. Most of us got to where we are – being overweight, addicted to sugar and having a dysgenic relationship with food – largely in part through us abusing our pleasure / reward pathways with a constant stream of sensory overload from hyper-palatable food sources. Simply put, we’ve gotten addicted to the pleasure gained from eating. And it’s hard for us to let that go.

But if we’re ever to find our way back to having a normal relationship with food, we need to work on breaking that association between food and being constantly, pleasurably stimulated. It sounds trite, but finding other avenues from which to get our kicks, really is the best alternative. Cultivating interests outside of weight loss and food is a healthy route to living and eating like a “normal” person. I know it’s really tempting to want to ‘shake things up’ and find new, exciting ways to lose weight, but by always seeking that new injection of stimulation, we’re only feeding into that same cycle of ‘stimulant seeking’ behaviour. Deciding to do an egg fast for a week might get you some great results on the scale, but is that how you’re going to eat for the rest of your life? And how do you think your body is going to react once you return to how you were eating previously? By all means, consider things like intermittent fasting as a permanent way of eating that will become boringly second-nature over time; but if all you’re after is that initial ‘high’ you get from doing something new and different with your food, then you’re never going to find your way out of this ‘stimulant seeking’ behaviour around eating.

Like I said, right now I’m as guilty of this as the next person, but I’d like to think that by coming to this realisation, I will be better equipped to do something about it. Because I hate the idea of something as mundane as food having such a powerful hold over me. I want to eat to live, not live to eat.

Stay boring, y’all!

Bue

All I Want For Christmas

It’s coming folks. Whether you celebrate it or not, Christmas Day is just around the corner and I’ve been thinking about what that’s going to mean to me, now that I no longer eat sugar/carbohydrate heavy foods. Every year I go down to my parents’ house on Christmas day, stay overnight and come home at the end of Boxing Day after spending the 2 days with various family members who drop in to celebrate with us. My mum is an amazing cook. I know, I know, everyone thinks that their mother is the best cook ever, but my mum is the real deal!

I grew up eating almost exclusively home cooked meals, and over the years my mum has expanded her already fantastic repertoire of recipes by travelling all over the world, getting inspired by various local cuisines and bringing home a multitude of ideas and experiences to incorporate in her home cooking. And at Christmas, she always likes to include a little something from one of her many trips away, in the vast cornucopia of foods she serves up on Christmas and Boxing Day.

On top of that, my parents also have a fruit & vegetable garden, in which they grow fresh produce along with a bunch of stuff that my mum then turns into chutneys, jams, pickles and liqueurs. As part of our Christmas gifts, she always presents us with a little bundle of these amazingly flavourful little jars, containing whatever items she decides to make the most of this year. (Her blackcurrant jam, cassis, rhubarb vodka and chilli salsa are particularly excellent.)

So as you can see, food plays a really big part in the way the family show love and celebrate this time of the year when we’re all together in one place. Over the years I have been incredibly lucky to be able to experience the fruits of my parents’ labours; both literally and metaphorically. So, it is with a heavy heart, that I finally made the decision I’m here to talk about today: to indulge in carbohydrate heavy foods, or not?

And I’ve decided that this year, I’m not going to be taking any “time off” from my low-carb WOE. There will be no “cheat days”, no “just one bite” capitulations and no excuses. I just don’t see any real point in going back to the way of eating that made me so overweight and unhealthy in the first place, just for a couple of days, only to have to work hard to get myself back on track and into ketosis after Boxing Day. Those first 3 days on Atkins induction were HARD. Withdrawal from sugar was NOT pleasant and I really don’t want to have to put myself through that again. Not without good reason – and my mother’s home cooking, as amazing as it it, just isn’t a good enough reason.

I know she’ll be cooking at least 3 different types of meat for Christmas day, along with 4 or 5 types of vegetable, so it’s not like I’m going to go hungry. There will be plenty of on-plan foods I can still eat and I already weird my family out (my mum is Scottish) by not drinking any alcohol – I’m pretty much entirely teetotal these days. Booze just ends up making me feel like crap the next day, so I don’t bother with it anymore. I’m sure that if they managed to get over me refusing the finest Champagne, wine and home-made liqueurs, they should also get over me not wanting to indulge in most of the sugary, carb-laden foods they serve up.

And besides, this is my heath we’re talking about here. My parents are incredibly intelligent, reasonable people; I know they’ll understand me wanting to do something that will improve my health and quality of life in the long run, because like all good parents, they only ever want what’s best for me. So I’m not worried about telling them that I won’t be indulging in everything they be serving up. But I do feel a little sad that I won’t be partaking in all the goodies on offer. Not because I want to eat foods that aren’t good for me, but because I know how much time and effort goes into their Christmas meal preparation…and it’ll be the first time ever that I won’t just be consuming as much as I can fit into me, with gratuitous abandon.

But I made a decision to take my health into my own hands when I switched over to the low-carb WOE. I decided that losing weight and feeling better, were far more important to me in the long run, than whatever fleeting enjoyment I may experience from eating sugary foods. And I remain committed to that decision. I hear from a lot of people about how if this is something they are going to stick with permanently, then they need to be able to give themselves the occasional “free pass” to “fall off the wagon” every so often. But it’s not “falling off the wagon” as far as I’m concerned: it’s making a conscious decision to disembark and wander off on the detour or set-back of their choice.

Everything we do comes down to us making choices, be they good or bad, at every step throughout our lives. I’ve already lived a lifetime making bad choices and I’m reaping the consequences of those bad choices today. I don’t want to keep making bad choices and then making excuses for them. I want to be healthy. I want to live long and live well and I can’t do that if I continue to make bad choices when it comes to food. Every time a person on a low-carb eating plan goes back to high-carb, sugar consumption, it doesn’t just cause us to gain weight, it puts our endocrine system and entire metabolism under strain as it struggles to deal with the huge amounts of sugar suddenly flooding our bodies again.

Then of course is the struggle to get back on plan. I read so many stories by people who veer off plan (for whatever reason they tell themselves) only to find what they intended to be a brief break, has turned into an extended binge and they’re struggling to get back into the low-carb WOE. All too many seem to end up falling by the wayside for weeks, months or even years…turning up back on the forum some time later with introductory posts titled something like “Back Again”, “Here I Go Again” or “Been Down This Road Before”.

And I’m not into that way of existing. I don’t want to live with myself knowing that I made a conscious decision to fuck up. I enjoy the feeling I get from being good to myself and staying the course. I want that feeling to continue. And it will do, as long as I keep making good choices. So my good choice this coming Yuletide season, is to put my health first. Tasty foods be damned; because I’ve got a much bigger reward in the forefront of my mind.

Yule is the Celtic/Pagan festival around the winter solstice. It is a time for coming together with our loved ones during the darkest months, looking back upon the past year and reflecting upon our blessings before the days start growing longer in the spring. That is what I will be focusing on this Christmas: the good people I have in my life, the love that I receive on a daily basis, and all of the blessings that surround me. THAT is what makes my life worth living.

Not a bloody mince pie. (Yes, even my mother’s mince pies!)

Make good choices y’all,

Blue