Notebook & Aroma Therapy / Weigh-In Day

I am a stationery addict.

Unlike my sugar-addiction, this is one vice I have absolutely no desire to kick and my house has upwards of 50 unused notebooks & journals stashed away in drawers, cupboards and my filing cabinet. Much like the books I read, I don’t purchase a new notebook / journal when I’m necessarily ready to use it. I buy whatever catches my eye and then squirrel it away until the exact right day when it “calls me” to read it or write in it. It all depends on my mood, the season, or whatever new interest that I’m embarking upon, so there are close to 100 unread (physical) titles and half as many virgin notebooks and journals, just waiting for the moment when they’re eventually brought out and given their time to shine. And I have everything from hardbacked to softback, spiral to Smyth-sewn bound, in dot-grid, graphed and lined, and all in a multitude of my my favourite colours. So you’d probably think me frivolous and a tad ridiculous to have set my sights on another new journal recently, when I obviously have sufficient stores of the darned things to keep me going for another 30 years. But I have. And it’s beautiful.

It’s called ‘The Gentle Giant’ and it’s part of the ‘Tsuki’ range of Bullet Journals available from notebooktherapy.com, which is an adorable Japanese & Korean online stationery store. I’d been eyeing it up for the past couple of weeks, after seeing a review of it by Elizabeth Greer Turnbull on her ‘Plant Based Bride’ YouTube Channel. Now, Elizabeth and I would disagree on a number of things (I mean, she’s really into the whole woke, box-ticking, identity politics bullshit that just makes me want to vomit, lol) but when it comes to stationery reviews, I trust her judgement and her ability to remain impartial even when gifted items for PR or sponsorship. Her video totally sold me on wanting this beautiful new journal (after I recently decided that I absolutely hate the Ottergami one I bought and set up for 2021 and really wanted something with lighter, brighter paper and a cool, blue colour-scheme) but even a stationery-obsessive like yours truly here tries to show a little restraint from time to time. So I popped it on my wish-list, thinking I’d maybe consider getting it sometime in the new year.

But then, I started chatting to the other half about it and how I really hated my current bullet journal: the pages aren’t white enough, the binding isn’t properly completed with a cloth glued all the way along the spine and the makers had tried to fake the look of it by sticking some small end tabs on – one of which came off as soon as I lay the book open flat – and that just really pissed me off. That this brand was cutting corners on a really important part of the binding structure AND trying to con the customer by making it look as though it had been bound properly, just left a bit of an unpleasant taste in my mouth. The whole thing felt sullied. And that’s on top of how different the colour looked IRL to the picture online. I thought I was buying a journal in a soft, pastel shade of baby pink, but when it arrived, it was a horrible coral shade which I never would have knowingly purchased. Urgh!

Seeing how disappointed I was with the journal I was currently using and hearing how much I really loved the ‘Gentle Giant’ one (which had been reviewed by a YouTuber whose stationery videos I trust) my lovely other half said that he’d buy it for me as a part of the gift he was going to give me, to congratulate me on having hit a couple of important weight-loss milestones! What an absolute legend! And he also told me that he had bought me a new bottle of ‘Lost Cherry’ by Tom Ford, because it’s my absolute favourite fragrance in the world right now (and he knows I’m carefully trying to ration out the remainder of the bottle I currently have).

How awesome is that? I was really surprised because I hadn’t been expecting to get anything at all. We don’t do Christmas presents in our household because we’re against the notion of obligated gift-giving, preferring instead to just give each other surprise presents whenever we personally want to. Not because some societal expectation has been placed on us – that same reasoning is why we never celebrate Valentines Day either as we both think it’s jut a crass, commercial fake day when people are supposed to show love for one another; we’d much prefer to do so when the mood takes us as it’s much more genuine and never just expected of us.

So he ordered me the A5 sized version of the ‘Gentle Giant’ journal – along with a lovely little pack of stickers also on the Notebook Therapy site, which all show a selection of Japanese art prints and landscapes with a largely blue colour scheme – because blue is my favourite colour and he knows how much I love both stickers and Japanese art. They’re absolutely perfect for use in the ‘Gentle Giant’ notebook which I’m now planning on keeping to an entirely blue/blue-green colour scheme throughout!

Be gone, foul coral coloured inferior bullet journal!

Unfortunately, with the company being based on the other side of the world, it’s going to take a few weeks to get here; especially with all the backlog of Christmas post being shipped all around the globe. So I’ll probably still have to use the blasted Ottergami thing for the first month of 2021. Which, I mean…I suppose it’s not the end of the world, but I use my bullet journal for everything! I have a future log, monthly calendars that I draw up, a sleep tracker, a weight tracker, a habit tracker, pages of online orders I’m waiting on, a page for things I need to reorder regularly, a wish list, a reading tracker, a symptom tracker and daily spreads where I record everything I eat, how much water I drink and when I take my doses of medication & supplements. It has all the important medical information in the front (allergies, illnesses, meds I take regularly, my blood type, my donor card and my emergency contact details) and on top of that I create daily to-do lists, using the ‘rapid logging’ system devised by Ryder Carroll.

My bullet journal is literally my brain in a notebook. I’ve been using the Bullet Journal system to create my own planner/notebook thing for the past 5 years; ever since I learned about it. And whilst I’ve always been an obsessive planner, it was only once I’d been introduced to Ryder Carroll’s original system (along with the hundreds of different personal interpretations of it by other users who would upload images of their own BuJo’s to Pinterest or Instagram) that I finally found the perfect way to keep track of everything going on in my life, inside my head and within my own body.

It’s a system that just makes sense to my perpetually racing, somewhat chaotic brain, and using it every single day (multiple times a day) means that I really want it to be something that is sturdy, ergonomically functional and also aesthetically pleasing. If something about it just doesn’t sit right with me, it makes me less enthusiastic about utilising it. Which is also probably just another ridiculously bourgeois idiosyncrasy of mine that makes some folks’ eyes roll in disgust…but I really don’t care. I have a system that works for me and I’m not about to compromise its efficacy, just because some virtual-signalling wanker wants me to feel guilty for all the starving children in Africa who would love to eat my barely-filled notebooks…or something equally as bloody ridiculous.

So, I shall have to remain at the mercy of our seasonally-unpredictable postal service and struggle on with this inferior version for a little longer. I’ve already drawn up the trackers and calendars and a bunch of other spreads, so it’s basically ready to go, but I just know that when my new one arrives, I’m going to want to migrate everything across into it, and start using it straight-away. I just have no idea when that day will be.

Likewise, I’ve also ordered so much stuff off of Amazon recently that doesn’t look like it’s going to arrive before Christmas Day either. I’m literally waiting on: 2 boxes x 12 ‘Battle Bites’ protein bars, 2 boxes x 12 Protein Brownie cookies, 1 x box of 15 Fulfil Salt Caramel Protein bars, 2 packs x 5 ‘FattBar Keto Super Fats’ Almond & Butter Cookies and 3 x Perlege Sugar-Free bars of chocolate. All stuff that I’d hoped to have here by Christmas so I could have the option of a few days eating a little less rigidly during the festivities (without actually exceeding my daily 20g carb allowance) whilst then having a nice little stash of goodies on hand as we move into 2021. But alas, nothing has arrived. Not even my ‘Pip & Nut’ almond butter squeezies, my chia seeds or any of the 20+ washi tapes I’ve been really wanting to get to use.

And as for my perfume, well I’ve been told by himself that I don’t actually get it until I hit my 50lb weight-loss milestone, when I’ll officially have hit the halfway point. Last week I weighed in at 15 stone 12lb (222lb) so I was 2lb away from reaching that mini-goal. I’d predicted that this week would probably be another maintenance week where I don’t show any loss at all (based on the pattern that these weigh-ins seem to be taking) but as you may have noticed from the date, today is actually a Tuesday, not a Monday. And why is that? Well, believe it or not I actually forgot to weigh myself yesterday. I’d forgotten that another weigh-in day was upon us already! Not because I’ve lost interest or motivation in my mission, but because it’s just that time of year again: the week leading up to Christmas where every day is like Sunday.

So, I apologise for this weigh-in being a day late, but it really does seem rather fitting in the week where I haven’t received my congratulatory gifts from my other half and absolutely nothing I ordered from Amazon has arrived either. Tardiness it would appear, is very much the order of the day. But what of that errant weigh-in? What exactly do the scales say this week? Will they manage to deliver when nothing else did over the past 7 (I mean 8) days?

Well…I just hopped on a few minutes ago and…I lost 1lb!

I did better than I thought (this weight loss shit is so hard to predict!) but that’s almost worse than not losing at all, because now I’m so tantalisingly close to the halfway point of having lost 50lb! And it means I don’t get my new perfume either yet, lol. I’m pretty sure that next week is ‘Shark Week’ (as much as I can be sure of anything day/date related right now) so that will probably mean a gain is on the cards. And that REALLY annoys me because I’m not going to be eating off-plan at all over Christmas. I really wanted to be able to just breeze through Christmas week not gaining anything and possibly even losing. But if the previous months are anything to go by, I can probably expect anywhere up to a 3lb of hormonal “ghost-gain” during the next 7 days. Urgh. So unfair!

But it is what it is. And this week, we’re another pound down – and another pound of fat loss is never something to be sniffed at. The scale is moving in the right direction and I am, as always, fully dedicated to my goals. I doubt I’ll post again before next week’s weigh-in, so I shall just take the opportunity now to wish you all a Merry Christmas and thank everyone who has been following along with my little weight-loss project this year. It’s been a ton of fun so far…bring on the next milestone!

Take care folks

Blue

Ends With Benefits

“Wonder how we got so far
Do you remember who you are?
Wanted just to make you proud”
~ ‘A Wonderful Surprise’, The Downtown Fiction

Things are starting to feel really, really…real! I don’t know how else to describe it, but it’s as if I’ve only just become truly aware of what all this effort to lose weight, actually means. For the first time since I switched over to the low-carb WOE, weight loss has become something tangible that I can not only notice, but notice the benefits of. And that’s frickin awesome!

I started out on this path with a very basic goal: to lose 100lb, improve my health, decrease the impact that fibromyalgia & arthritis had on my mobility and head off the possibility of becoming bed-bound at worst, or house-bound at best. I’m obviously not on par weight-wise with the people you see on ‘My 600lb Life’, but I began this change to my way of eating at double the weight I should be, for someone of my Oompa Loompa stature – 5ft – and I have 2 conditions which will get progressively worse, the older I get. So I had no choice but to face up to the fact that it was my own fault, for not doing something about my weight, if my massively fat arse ended up preventing me from living a full and happy, healthy life.

Challenge accepted!

And things have been plodding along exactly the way I’ve both wanted and expected them to, with me currently about 1/3 of the way along my goal to lose 100lb. I’m losing sensibly and sustainably, not too quickly (after the first month of rapid loss, it’s settled down into an average of 2lb a week, with some weeks only showing as me maintaining, which is just the body’s way of taking stock and giving itself time to recalibrate and readjust to the recent fat-loss.) I knew that if I simply stuck to the plan, the flab would shift and my health would improve, massively. But “knowing” that fact and really “understanding” what it means, are two different things altogether.

Rather than being some far-off goal that I have yet to see myself making any inroads into, I’m now getting to see and feel the results of my efforts thus far. That has catapulted the entire concept of ‘losing weight & feeling great‘ from the abstract, into the here & now – and it’s both brilliant and bewildering. Take today for instance. I’ve been waiting on a delivery from Amazon for about a week now and most days the other half goes and checks the post, which is down on the ground floor of our apartment building. We’re on the second floor, which means having to go down 2 long and 2 short flights of stairs, then back up again any time we have to check the post. Nothing major, but when you’re at least 100lbs overweight and have arthritic joints that often hurt just getting out of bed, it can be a real struggle to get up and down every day.

Today though, the other half was having a lie-in and I really wanted to see if my new journal had arrived, so I grabbed my hoodie, threw it over my nightie and dashed out of the apartment and down the stairs to see if I was in luck. Turned out I wasn’t (le sigh) so, not wanting to be caught out in the hallway, fresh out of bed, looking like some hobo harridan, I ran back up the stairs as fast as I could, desperate to avoid running into any of my neighbours.

Hang on. Roll that sentence back again would you? What did I just say I did?

“I ran back up the stairs as fast as I could…”

Come again?

“I RAN!?”

Yep, I ran. As in ‘the past tense of run’. As in ‘moved my fat arse at a hitherto unseen pace, up 4 flights of stairs, without being pursued by a wolf’. I ran. I did it without thinking and wasn’t remotely sore or out of breath when I got back into my apartment. That might not sound like much to some, but this time 2 months ago, I would have had to walk slowly up the stairs, getting breathless by the 3rd flight and then had to deal with cramping calf muscles for the next hour or so at least. Today though? I leapt out the front door, raced down stairs and ran back up again, without so much as thinking about it. No breathlessness, no soreness, nothing.

Is that what it feels like to be normal? Because I’m not gonna lie, I’m pretty buzzed about it. But it got me to thinking: what other benefits of this weight-loss thing am I going to see and feel and experience, as the number on the scale goes down? What other things could I dare to hope to experience in time?

A common theme present in some of the books I’ve been reading recently, involves using a mixture of long AND short-term mini-goals in combination with your main goal, to help maintain your motivation through regular ‘hits’ of positive reinforcement. When you have a rather large goal to tackle and you know it’s going to take a long time to get there, it can be difficult to stay focused through willpower alone. So setting yourself a handful of other mini-goals – things you’d like to achieve or see happen as a result of striving for your main goal – can help keep you fired-up and dedicated, through the long, hard (sometimes boring) slog towards success.

Despite already knowing this, I still haven’t gotten around to coming up with my own list of mini-goals that I’d like to achieve along the way. I’ve just been so focused on shifting 100lb to feel better, that I’ve neglected to incorporate any other targets or non-scale victories into my approach. And I really ought to, because even my willpower is finite (and I’ve got hella impressive staying-power!) so creating a handful of motivation-boosting mini-goals to help keep me happy and dedicated, is something I’m going to have a think on.

Today’s wonderful little surprise after running up and down the stairs, really hit home the benefits of getting regular little hits of positive reinforcement on the way towards my main goal. So I’m setting myself some homework this week: I am going to come up with a list of at least 20 things I want to see, experience or achieve along the way to losing 100lb. They can be big or small, profound or silly, sacred or profane. But they need to be a/ something I genuinely want to achieve and b/ something I can realistically attain (so no getting to model for the Victoria’s Secret Spring Collection…not this year anyway, lol!)

Now I just need that cute new journal to arrive so I can start it afresh with my little list of mini-goals, ready to be checked off along the way.

Stay dedicated y’all

Blue

Fail To Plan, Plan To Fail…Right?

Today’s post was inspired by my blogger-buddy Mel’s recent post, in which she look into the recent practice of ‘Intuitive Eating’ and whether or not it really stacks up as an effective, useful tool for those looking to lose weight. I’ve linked to her post below, which y’all should definitely go check out because she does a way better job than I do, at properly examining the pro’s and cons of IE. And you should totally be following her blog ‘Lighter, Brighter Me‘ too, because she does a lot of posts like this, where she critiques various weigh-loss tools & techniques (and she also uses the word ‘arse’ too, which immediately gets bonus points from me, lol!). So yeah, go read what she has to say first, before checking out my own random waffling. Enjoy!

What Is Intuitive Eating?

We’ve all heard it, the old adage: “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” And I for one have always been much more of a planner than a seat-of-your-pants kinda gal; but for some reason, when it comes to one particular part of this weight-loss journey, I’ve actually stopped thinking too far ahead.

What part is that?

Meal planning. Or lack thereof, in this particular instance.

Now when I say I’m normally a planner, I mean I like to know what I’m going to be doing today, tomorrow, this week, next week and as far into the future as possible. Maybe I’m a bit of a control freak, but whereas my other half is super laid back and just lets life come at him any which way regardless (something that drives me absolutely nutso at times), I feel like I need to be prepared for whatever’s going to happen, in order to stay sane.

I have a planner that I normally put together myself, which has a future log for the coming year in it, a calendar for every month and then weekly lay-outs that list everything I need to do on a particular day (as well as a separate part for recording my meals, my water intake and the time I take all my meds in a 24hr period). I also keep notebooks for separate things that need to be tackled – project based notebooks – which themselves are divided up into ideas / brainstorming / plans / timetables, and I schedule certain tasks to happen on certain days each month, well in advance too. And it’s just as well that I do, because if we left everything to the other half’s “c’est la vie” way of thinking (complete with Gallic shrug) we’d never get our prescriptions renewed, we’d forget to pay our bills and we’d probably never know when anything important needed to be dealt with. He’s an amazing man my other half, but if he has one particular peccadillo that can really piss me off, it’s his total nonchalance when it comes to planning ahead. (Babe, I love you, but omigod would it kill you to make a note of when you have a doctor’s appointment coming up?? GAH!)

But I digress…this is supposed to be about me (It’s ALL about me, duh). So yeah, like I said, I’m a natural planner and normally apply that mentality to every aspect of my life. You’d probably expect therefore, that as I’m doing my best to lose weight by switching to a low-carb WOE, I’d take that approach and plan the absolute shit out of my meal-times, snacks and overall consumption. Right?

Well you’d be wrong. And no one is more surprised at that than yours truly here. Because I went into this on day one, with a firm plan of what I was going to eat, for every meal, of every day on that first induction fortnight. I spent hours in the supermarket meticulously scrutinising every label on everything I purchased to make sure there were no hidden carbs/sugar in anything (I mean when you find out that a single serving pack of precooked chicken breast has had HFCS added to it, you learn pretty quickly not to trust ANYTHING on the face of it.)

But then reality kicked in. And by reality, I mean appetite. Which for the first 72hrs was RAMPANT! The minute I told myself I wasn’t going to be eating sugar…yeah…I wanted sugar. My brain went into the addict’s frenzied headspace – which is really just your psyche going through the 5 stages of grief with added hunger pains for good measure:

  • Denial (I’m not really a carb addict, I’m just hungry – FEED ME SUGAR!)
  • Anger (Why the hell can’t I just eat carbs like everyone else – FEED ME SUGAR!)
  • Bargaining (Well, maybe I could just reduce my carbs gradually…one bar of chocolate on my first day can’t hurt – FEED ME SUGAR!)
  • Depression (This is shit; I miss chocolate already – FEED ME SUGAR!)
  • Acceptance (Okay, I guess is just my life now – FEED ME WHATEVER!)

And the only way I was able to get through those first 3 days, was by constantly shovelling down any low-carb foodstuffs I could get my grubby little hands on. Those carefully planned out meals I’d spent all that time thinking out in advance? Yeah…no…they went right out the window as I did everything I could to stave off the raging hunger (which was really just cravings) consuming my every waking thought. I was stuffing fistfuls of ham and slices of cheese into my mouth whilst I was cooking a chicken and steaming some broccoli and cauliflower; I was chugging back a whey & MCT oil shake while gammon steaks were under the grill; and I was chomping down a protein bar whilst waiting for my other half to make me an omelette.

Thankfully I was able to coast through a good amount of time over those first 3 days by sleeping my way to the promised land of ketosis. But it was still pretty hairy during waking hours. No amount of Pepsi Max managed to convince this addict going through withdrawal that the sweet taste it was supplying was enough to satisfy my jonesing for sugar. But I got through it. Headaches and cravings eventually gave way to that weird moment when my body switched over to fat burning mode and all cravings went right out the window. Hallelujah!

And with the arrival of ketosis, there was of course the disappearance of my appetite. Great. Now I can just eat the meals I planned to eat in the first place, right? Well, um…no. Not really. Because now I had the exact opposite problem to the insatiable hunger of those first 72hrs. Now I didn’t want to eat ANYTHING. That roast meat & veg I had pencilled in for dinner today? No thanks. I really don’t feel like eating a big meal right now. The chicken salad I planned to have for lunch the following day? Urgh…please! I really can’t face that at the moment. And with that ALL my plans for eating certain meals at certain times and on certain days went out the window. In fact, at the end of the first week I had to throw out a bunch of fresh produce, because I simply hadn’t eaten them within their use-by date. I don’t know how much money I wasted trying to buy enough food to cater for an appetite I no longer had, but it really pissed me off to have to toss so much of it in the trash. Oy vey!

Shopping then became an arduously boring task, where I had to look for things to eat which would keep for longer (whilst still being suitable for Atkins Induction) and also figure out just how much fresh meat & veg I could realistically expect to eat in the next 7 days. I have to limit my shopping to just once a week, because my annoying health issues cause me to hurt and seize up after every trip out. I can’t just ‘nip to the shop’ multiple times a week to keep buying things I run out of, so a degree of planning is still pretty important. But actual meal planning? Fuhgeddaboudit.

I can sit and draw up all the pretty plans I want at the beginning of the week, detailing every meal and beverage and snack I intend to eat for the coming seven days. But when I get up on any given day, you can damn well guarantee it, that I am NOT going to want whatever it is I’ve got scheduled in for consumption. Some days all I want is a protein shake for lunch and a chicken salad for dinner. Other days I wake up and the only things that sounds appetising are burgers and sausages and eggs with mushrooms. And there’s no way to know before time, what it is my impaired appetite will see fit to allow me to consume. And when I think about it, maybe that’s okay. Maybe the human body is smart enough to know when it needs more of one type of thing than another. Maybe, just maybe, even my obliterated metabolism is still able to intuit what’s suitable and right for a certain time or day. And maybe I should try to learn to listen to it.

Lots of people are currently talking about ‘Intuitive Eating’ as another fad or hype beast from the ‘eating for health & wellness’ community. Numerous books are being written by a variety of authors (some of whom have actual credentials, but many others who are really just trying to capitalise on the current trends for some lovely shekels) instructing us to simply tune into our bodies’ internal sense of moderation and regulation, in order to lose weight. Moderation? Regulation? Does this 235lb lump of lard look like it knows how to moderate its own food intake? If I could regulate the amount of carbs and other macros I consumed myself, I WOULDN’T BE IN THIS STATE IN THE FIRST PLACE! Grr…

But I get what they’re trying to say when they tell you to listen to what your body is telling you it wants/needs. Not because I would ever have previously been able to hear anything other than

“I need more chocolate, STAT!”

coming from my own carb-addicted carcass; but because now I’ve lowered my carb intake to fewer than 20g a day, I’ve freed up my mind to be able to think more about what it actually needs, as opposed to what my hyperinsulinaemic system thinks it wants. (Which was always, invariably…sugar.) And as I’ve been reading more about zero-carbers and carnivores, who base what they eat on any given day on how their bodies feel when they wake up in the morning, it does make sense on a very primitive level. When I was eating however many hundreds of carbs a day (I really have no idea how many and I’m kind of terrified to go work it out), what I thought was hunger was probably mostly just sugar cravings. (I mean, you can’t get to 270lb and be truly hungry for more ‘fuel’ can you?) All I’d feel is a coercive prompt from my stomach saying “FEED ME!” and I’d give it whatever I fancied. Which more often than not was small in regards to it’s portion size, but massive with regards to the carbs and calories it contained. (Box of buttery, dairy cream fudge anyone?)

But now I don’t have the carb-addict’s constant craving for sugar. I don’t even have what I can call a real appetite anymore. I can easily go 24hrs without eating and then when I do decide it’s time to consume something, I just sort of tap into what my body is telling me it wants and go with that. Today that just so happens to be sausages and salad. Would I have had that planned out on my little menu scheduler? Probably not. But then the entire concept of what actually makes a meal these days has been completely up-ended. Gone are the days of meat, potatoes and veg with gravy…in are the new-fangled combinations of chocolate protein shake and pork rinds! Or the mindblowingly dull 3 burgers and nothing else. Yep, things are a whole lot different around here now come feeding time.

And so it is with a heavy heart, that I must put away my plannerish-things (as far as food is concerned that is) because for once I have to admit that I actually don’t have complete control over what it is I’m going to eat every day. I mean obviously I’ve banished carbs (not including my 20g max daily allowance) but once that’s just accepted, there’s no craving for them and then all that’s left is what my body decides it wants on a particular day. It’s very freeing, but it’s also very strange and something I’m still getting used to. But maybe it’s good for me to not have every single moment of my life planned out to the finest detail. Perhaps it’ll do me good to let go of the reins and try living somewhat in the moment.

And right now, this moment is all about those sausages I’ve got under the grill. So on that note, I’ll bid y’all adieu.

Until next time folks

Blue