67 brother-clucking pounds! That’s 3lbs short of a nice round 70lbs which tots up to whole 5 stone (in UK old money, lol) and 4lbs away from getting into ‘Onederland’. And do you know what? It only feels like I decided to do this a few months ago...how did I get here so quickly? So easily? It doesn’t even feel like I’ve had to put all that much effort into it! Sure things felt a bit weird for the first week or so, but once I’d gotten my head around the idea that this is just how I eat now, it’s actually been a bit of a breeze.
I know, I know, I’m probably jinxing myself and speaking too soon, because I’m far from done and the weight-loss is only going to get slower the closer to goal I get, but aside from the annoying “Shark Week” shenanigans that annoy me every month, this really hasn’t been a big deal to me. In fact, if anything, it’s actually been quite fun; seeing my body shrink and change, eating tons of good food, and getting to experiment with a bunch of low-carb products available on Amazon and other places online.
Why didn’t I do this sooner?
I mean, I know that the real reason is that my health just wasn’t being negatively impacted by my weight and food choices, so I never had anything pushing me to do anything about it. But now that I’m at the point I’m at today, seeing all this progress and knowing that it took so little effort to get here, I just wish I’d had the presence of mind to make all these changes sooner, before the health issues started to compromise my quality of life. That’s just life I guess and these are the lessons we learn along the way, but I’m a bit annoyed at myself that it took an issue with health & mobility to spur me on to decide to lose the weight.
It’s not even that I hit a “rock bottom” but I definitely left it a lot later than I should have. That’s not to say that I’m not seeing and feeling the benefits – because yo, y’all, I’ve never felt better! – but I’m just more annoyed at myself for not doing something sooner. Like, I sort of feel stupid for having put it off for so long. If you’re reading this and you know that you need to lose weight, but keep on procrastinating – JUST DO IT!
If I can do it, anyone can. I’m middle-aged, past 40, have zero history of doing anything fitness related, I have fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis and I’m a stubborn old, stuck-in-my-ways harridan who hates change. Yet this whole weight-loss thing has been so much easier than I imagined. How easy? Well:
I eat chocolate almost every day.
I eat spoonfuls of peanut butter straight out of the tub.
I pile my plate high with lots of meat.
I eat loads of cruciferous vegetables or salad most days.
I eat cheese every day.
I drink loads of coffee.
I drink energy drinks every day.
I haven’t stopped drinking sugar-free soda.
I do barely any exercise (although that’s mostly due to the fibro & arthritis).
I don’t have a massive appetite anymore and can skip a meal easily without thinking about it.
My brain feels so much clearer again after years of brain-fog.
My flare-ups are fewer and shorter lasting.
Yes I know that there are going to be people who find some of those admissions to be a little dubious; energy drinks and diet sodas aren’t exactly the best, most healthful choices one can make, right? Well yeah, that’s very true, but I’m working on making gradual, cumulative changes to my habits over time that I can make work and that don’t fall by the wayside because of overwhelm. Will I always drink an energy drink every day? Maybe, maybe not. Will I cut back on my diet soda intake? Maybe, maybe not. Will I try to do more exercise as I lose more weight? Definitely. But that’s something I really need to go easy with and for now I’m happy just to get in a few 2-3 mile walks a few times a week.
The reason all this has been so easy for me so far, is precisely because I haven’t tried to do too much, too soon. I never went into this thinking I needed to “DO ALL THE THINGS” all at once; what was important for me was getting the basics down pat and steadily making improvements along the way. Now here I am 7 months later and I can’t believe how simple it’s all been. Sure there’s been the odd occasion where a product I’ve been consuming turned out not to be as suitable for me as I’d first thought, but none of that has really caused me any issues. The most annoying problems I see with all this is when “Aunt Flo” comes and wreaks havoc on my weight for a week or so – but I’ve had very heavy, painful periods for years now. If anything, this way of eating has actually made them less painful and not quite as heavy for the full 7-10 days.
There have been zero negative effects from my having switched to a low-carb WOE and a whole boat-load of positives. So if you’re a middle-aged, overweight harridan like me and you’re even considering changing up your diet to lose some fat and improve your health, DO IT! Give it 2 weeks and see how you feel. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be amazed at just how much better you feel for having tried it, the scale will reflect your efforts and you’ll want to carry on a little bit longer to see how well you really can do with it.
I’m not normally one for regrets. I’m always happy to take everything as a lesson I can learn from, but if I regret anything, it’s not starting this weight-loss mission sooner. Who knows how much better I’d be feeling already? I guess I’ll never know. But what I do know is that this has been one of the best decisions I ever decided to make and I’m so happy to be reaping all the benefits, from so little effort.
Here’s to another 7 months of eating well and feeling awesome folks!
Hey folks, today I want to share another You Tube channel with you; someone I think you’ll absolutely adore. I love finding other people who are on a similar mission to myself and Carolyn’s own journey mirrors my own a lot. We both began our switch over to eating low-carb at the same time, we’re both eating very similarly, we both wore the same clothing size when we began, we’ve lost around the same amount of weight as one another, and we’ve been seeing the same changes occurring in our bodies and clothing at the same time. I know we don’t have to be following the same plan or the same starting weight as another person for their own experiences to truly resonate with us, but when the little details do line up like that, it adds an extra layer of understanding and reassurance when they’re going through the same things that we are.
Not that any of that matters, because Carolyn is just a genuinely funny, very honest, slightly bonkers, adorable person whose videos I really look forward to watching. Some people are just naturally very engaging on camera and Carolyn is one of those people. She literally makes me laugh at loud at least once in every video! I only found her channel around Christmas time last year, when she’d already been losing weight and creating videos for the past 5 months. I immediately had to go back and binge-watch all of her entire back-catalogue of videos because I could tell straight away that this was someone whose content I was going to love. And I did. Ever since then I’ve been following her progress and it’s been so much fun. Not just because her journey mirrors my own so much, but because everything she talks about is eminently relatable and really entertaining.
I wanted to share her channel with y’all today because a/ I’d really love it if some of you would go check out her videos and maybe drop her a bit of support in the comments (she loves receiving comments and always responds to them) and also because b/ I just think that y’all will really enjoy her content. There are a lot of people out there with weight-loss oriented channels and some of them are more interesting and engaging than others. Carolyn just makes really good, fun and funny videos, so if you’re looking for a channel that you can subscribe to, that will make you feel like you’re getting to enjoy chatting with a friend and that’s relatable to your own experiences with having to lose a significant amount of weight, ‘Carolyn’s Weight Loss Journey’ is something you really should check out.
Like I said, she’s also following a low-carb WOE, so for those of us doing Atkins, LCHF or keto, her content is especially relevant because there are certain aspects of these plans which do differ to what the CICO folks do (not gonna lie, her video making easy, keto fudge had me salivating like a dog, lol!). But even if you’re not a low-carber, you’ll still find all the regular struggles around weight-loss and the subsequent issues like clothes no longer fitting (and not knowing your size, so not knowing what to buy online during these pandemic times) completely relatable and relevant. I know that just hearing someone echoing my own thoughts during a difficult week (“Shark Week” especially!) can really help to bolster my own spirits and know that I’m not the only one going through it.
I haven’t told her that I’m making her a featured channel on here yet, but it would be lovely if some of you did watch the above video, check out her content and drop her some words of support in the comments. That would absolutely make her day. And I just know you’ll want to subscribe and carry on following her progress. So yeah, enjoy the video, and if you do drop her a comment, tell her that Blue sent you!
Other Half: “How long have you have you been doing your low-carb thing now babe?”
Me: “About 6 months.”
OH: “Are you not thinking about having a day off of it any time soon?”
Me: “No. This is just how I eat now.”
OH: “But don’t you miss any of the stuff you used to eat?”
Me: “Not really. I don’t even think about it much anymore.”
OH: “There must be something you still wish you could have. Something you can’t make a low-carb version of?”
Me: “The only thing I haven’t had that I’d like is a chocolate cake, but I can always make a keto version if I really feel the urge.”
OH: “So you’re never going to eat any of that stuff ever again?”
Me: “I don’t know. I mean, never say never right? I just don’t want to go back to that way of eating.”
OH: Yeah but just having one day off isn’t going to hurt is it?”
Me: “Probably not. But I’m afraid that I might just go completely overboard and I don’t know that I want to risk ruining everything I’ve achieved so far.”
OH: “Yeah but you already know that you can do this.”
Me: “Yep. But the idea of losing control again really scares me.”
BOOM! There it is again folks. Our old friend ‘Fear’ and its trusty side-kick, ‘The Control Freak’. That little back-and-forth was part of a conversation I was having with the other half today about how long it’s been since I switched over to a low-carb way of eating. He’s been nothing but supportive of me ever since I decided to change my eating habits and whilst he never doubted my ability to stay committed to something I set my mind to, even he’s been surprised at my refusal to eat off-plan even once. We’ve been together for over a decade and up until August 31st last year, I was a total sugar-fiend. He knows how much I loved eating all the high-carb processed crap; how much I loved take-away food, cakes, biscuits, fudge, chocolate and sweets of every variety. So it’s only natural that he’d be wondering whether I missed any of it or if maybe I ever thought about taking a day off to indulge in some old favourites.
But I wasn’t lying when I said I don’t really think about it. I’m not one of those demanding harridans who simply cannot have junk food in the house, simply because I’m not eating it anymore. I made it absolutely clear from day 1 that he shouldn’t feel bad about eating however he chooses. My choices are on me, not him. The rest of the world should never have to bend to my will, just because I can’t eat that stuff any more – and anyone who expects that kind of kid-glove treatment needs to get a grip, because you’ll never be able to escape being surrounded by temptation in the outside world. Plus it’s just really selfish to expect other people in your home to alter their own diets, because you lack self-control. Don’t get me wrong, I love that he’s so supportive and it was really cute when he tried to stash his own snacks away out of sight when I first switched to eating low-carb, but over time I’ve made him realise that whilst I appreciate his concerns, I’m a big girl and I’m not about to go mad and inhale an entire packet of Wispa bars, just because they’re sat on the living room table.
I still make bread and cook potatoes, rice, pasta, chips and whatnot for him. I order him take-out pizza when he wants one and it doesn’t bother me at all to have it in the house. And I think that comes down to me having made a very clear decision in my own mind, that I simply do not eat those foods any more. There’s no grey area around any of it, I just don’t eat that way. You’ve probably heard others talk about the notion of being either a moderator or an abstainer. Moderators can eat a little bit of something and then leave it alone, but can’t imagine life without it altogether. Abstainers can cut something out entirely, but can’t just have a little bit, or it will remain present in the forefront of their minds, tormenting them with thoughts of always wanting more. I’m an abstainer. Some might call that “all or nothing thinking” but it’s no different to me, than an alcoholic swearing off of drink for the rest of their lives. It’s what I decided to do from day 1 and even stuck with that approach all through the festive season.
And I can’t think of any reason as to why I’d want to deviate from my low-carb WOE any time soon. It’s become almost second nature to me now. I eat food I like, there are plenty of options for keto-friendly versions of some items I want and I just feel so much healthier. I’m about 35lb away from hitting my initial 100lb goal and when I get there I’ll probably extend that even further by another 30lb. It’s all going really well, completely according to plan and even though I know I’m definitely due to hit a stall sometime soon (we all get one eventually), I’m totally prepared for it and happy to continue eating this way indefinitely.
So, what’s the problem?
Well, it occurred to me during that conversation at the beginning of this post, that one of my underlying reasons for not wanting to have a “cheat-day” or “day-off” was my fear of losing control of my eating again and spiralling back into some kind of inevitable inability to get back on track. Thinking on it some more, I had to admit that I’ve become somewhat of a “Carbophobic” of late, never wanting to use my full 20g daily max allowance, always trying to keep to 15g max every day instead. If I buy a premade salad and it contains grated carrot or tomato in it, I’ll spend a good 5 minutes fishing out every last bit of those ingredients, because I look at them as being too high in carbohydrates. I won’t eat any protein bars that contain more than 3g of carbohydrates. I avoid even the slightest dash of any sauce or condiment that contains sugar and if I’m being completely honest, the main reason I haven’t gotten my other half to help me make a keto-friendly cake yet, is because the one’s that look even remotely worth the effort have anywhere between 5 and 10 carbs for a slice – and ain’t nobody about to keep themselves to one tiny sliver of cake. I’m an abstainer, not a moderator remember?
And I’m a little bit worried that I might be developing a bit of an intense and unhealthy fear of carbs. Which is weird, because I know that the human body doesn’t need to consume carbs for any reason – post infancy that is, when we’re supposed to get it from breast milk, but I digress – and there’s no reason for me to ever have to consume them again (I mean, except maybe if there was some huge disaster and the only food I had any access to was a bunch of processed crap once my fat stores ran out, but I’m talking regular life here.) I have every reason to fear sugar and the damage it does to the human body. It’s an unnecessary substance that provides no nutritional value, whilst causing a whole heap of medical issues from Type II Diabetes and obesity, to dementia and inflammation all throughout the body. Shouldn’t more people be afraid of this stuff? Surely I’m right to want to give it a wide berth?
But maybe I’m not just reasonably concerned about consuming sugar. Maybe I’m becoming obsessively afraid of it, to the point of it being unhealthy in and of itself. I know I’m a natural control freak and when I had a stress related nervous breakdown, that part of me mutated into intense hypervigilance that crept into all aspects of my thinking. I’m completely over that breakdown now, but I always worry that I might be prone to another episode if enough stress factors all come together in the same kind of perfect storm that triggered the last one. So I like to always check in on myself from time to time, just to make sure that I’m doing okay. I know what to look out for and any time I feel as though things are starting to get a little too hectic, I know exactly who to speak to in order to get the help I need.
And I’m not saying I’m back lingering on the outskirts of Crazytown, about to lose my shit again anytime soon (yes, I’m allowed to use those terms, I’m a fully-fledged member of the Crazy Crew which gives me a crazy-pass to refer to mental health in the most politically incorrect terms I see fit, lol). But the thought of something getting the better of me never sits well with the control-freak part of my brain, and the added concerns surrounding a fear of certain foods, just sort of niggle at me in a way I’m not comfortable with. It’s not that I want to eat sugar. It’s that I want to carry on not eating it, by choice, not out of an unhealthy fear that’s rooted in a bad relationship with food. Does that make sense? If I can use the alcohol analogy again, I choose not to drink alcohol. Not because I fear what it will do to me; I’ve never had any problems with alcohol. I just choose not to consume it because it makes me feel like shit the next day. My house has loads of alcohol in it, but it never occurs to me to drink any, because I just don’t choose to drink alcohol. Which is how I want to feel about sugar and carb-laden junk food. I’m fine having it in the house, I can eat meals around others who are eating it and not be bothered by that. But it just feels like I’ve become unreasonably scared about sugar and carbs…and I don’t like having that fear.
If I fear something, I’m allowing it to have more power over me than it deserves. I’m attributing powers to something, that in this case, is an inanimate foodstuff. I don’t want to allow it to have that hold over me, because while it still does, I’m not wholly healed of my sugar-addiction and I don’t have the completely neutral, proper relationship with food that I’m working on achieving for myself. This concern actually first occurred to me a few days ago when I was watching a video by Thomas DeLauer. In it he said that whilst he mostly follows a keto WOE combined with a fasting regimen, sometimes he goes off of it for a day or so. I think he was trying to make a point about how he’s able to be pretty relaxed about his own eating at this point in his life and it’s normal for others to do so too, but I remember having an almost physiological reaction to hearing him say that.
“WTF? No way. I can’t do that. I don’t want to do that. I’m not gonna do that!”
The thought of “just taking the weekend off” horrified me.
“I’d gain weight immediately! How do I know I would be able to stop again? I do not want to have to go through the 3 days of hell, to get back into ketosis again!”
And I know the beginnings of concern about my having that knee-jerk response did start to creep into my mind at that point, but I just reminded myself that I’m still in the early stages of getting my health to where I want it to be.
“I need to make more improvements, lose more weight and become more settled into this way of eating, before I should even think about that kind of thing. Tom’s in a near perfect state of physical health and he’s been doing the keto and fasting thing for over a decade. He’s in the right place physically and mentally to start being able to relax a little with his diet. But I’m nowhere near where he is. No, now is not the time for me to flirting with such a dietary disaster.”
I mean, you can’t fault my logic there right? I can’t expect to cure myself of a lifetime of poor food choices in just 6 months and think I’m home free, can I? Trust me, I can make an argument for anything I think or believe – and that might just be part of the problem. Arguing happens to be one of my stronger suits. My parents encouraged heated debate in the family home, always putting the emphasis on using logical, rational propositions or defences and always keeping one’s cool. As a result of that I have always been able to stand up for myself, challenge those I disagree with…and rationalise my way into making all manner of less than intelligent decisions, lol. Part of the reason why I switched to low-carb in the first place, was because the evidence for it made complete, logical sense. I didn’t just choose to follow it because I wanted to lose weight and it was the trendy new diet on the scene. When I followed up on the books I read and the videos I watched, there was no compelling reason for me to keep on eating sugar.
And there still isn’t really. Except maybe I need to do it, just to prove to myself that I can do it and then go back to my normal low-carb WOE the next day. Urgh! Just typing that sentence out, like I’m seriously considering doing it, is already making my anxiety start prickling. I don’t want to put that stuff in my mouth or into my body. I don’t want to feel the way I used to feel when my brain’s reward centres were getting hyper-stimulated by all the crappy food I used to eat. I don’t want to like it. I don’t want to have those tastes back in my mouth, and then back in my memory, reminding me of just what I’ve been missing out on. I’m scared of eating like that again. Which again makes me feel like that’s the exact reason I should do it.
Do you see what I mean? I can provide numerous reasons as to why I shouldn’t have a day off of eating low-carb; the main one being that I just don’t want to. I have only one reason to make myself do it, and that’s to prove to myself that this stuff doesn’t have any power over me. That I can pick it up and then put it down again once I’ve proved my point. But what point would I be proving? That my control-freak nature can adhere to any rules I decide to impose upon it? Because that sort of experiment would still be me maintaining a firm grip on the reigns of my eating habits; it wouldn’t be me being “relaxed” about carbs, in any sense of the word. All it would really achieve is me proving to myself, yet again, that I can stay in control. And isn’t that really part of the problem to begin with?
I don’t know. All I’m certain of right now is that I have no immediate plans to deviate from this way of eating. I’m on a mission to lose all this extra weight, get healthy and have a better quality of life. I don’t want to do anything to ruin any of the progress I’ve already made, or scupper my chances of progressing any further. There is no need for me to consume sugar from a nutritional point of view, nor any social obligation or personal desire to do so. I’m not self-imposing this WOE for any moral reasons, I just don’t want to put that shit in my body. Not right now anyway. So I guess all I’ve done here is talk myself back to maintaining my original position, regardless of any concerns I might have about my increasing “Saccharophobia”. But it’s something I know I need to keep an eye on going forward.
And after talking some more with the other half, I made a deal with him: I’m going to stay completely on plan for as long as I see fit. But…on the 1 year anniversary of my switching over to low-carb (August 31st) I will go out to dinner with him to our favourite Indian restaurant and eat my favourite dish. So, I’ve got 6 months to work up the courage to have an ‘off-day’! 166 days and counting folks – GULP!
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.”
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.
I just gotta reblog not just this page, but all the pages on this blog here by my buddy Jeff. He also follows a low-carb diet and is one of those people who loves to get creative in the kitchen, mixing it up with his meals throughout the week. I totally envy his enthusiasm. But if you check out his blog you’ll realise that he’s not making insanely complicated stuff that us novices couldn’t dream of following; he makes real food, in a normal everyday kitchen that even I can follow; this pork salsa verde is definitely on my list of things to try out. So check out his blog, give him a follow and I guarantee you’ll find something you like….as well as a totally top bloke making them. Enjoy!
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!)