Self Talk

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

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

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

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

“What the fuck are you doing?”

or

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

or

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

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

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

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

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

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

or

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

and

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I just don’t eat that stuff.”

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

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

“Do you really need to eat something sugary?”

“Is this what you really want?”

“How are you going to feel afterwards?”

“Is it really worth it?”

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

“It tasted really nice!”

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

“You don’t need that shit, Blue.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You’re fucking ABOVE that shit!”

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

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

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

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

Course I do. I’m fucking invincible.

Make good choices folks.

Be invincible.

Blue

Mind Games

“We all been playing those mind games forever
Some kinda druid dude lifting the veil
Doing the mind guerrilla
Some call it magic – the search for the grail.”

I love playing ‘mind games’ with myself. I know that probably sounds a bit messed up, but it’s something I’ve done for as long as I can remember and I credit it with playing a large part in my being able to both think critically and develop a strong sense of self. I think everyone probably does it to some extent; but in many cases it probably starts to get quite uncomfortable for some, as the testing, questions and self-reflection start to reveal certain truths that not everyone is ready to learn about themselves.

Do you ever try to figure out the true motivation that lies behind your actions? Do you question your behaviour or responses to certain stimuli, then try to find a way to get the better of your own brain and change the way you react in the moment? That’s part of what I mean when I talk about playing ‘mind games’ with myself. It’s interrogating myself on a conscious level and reprogramming my brain to then respond automatically on a subconscious level at a later date. It also involves using linguistic cues to trick the brain into thinking about something in a different way. It’s hard to explain in the abstract, so I’ll give you an example of how I’ve recently been playing these little ‘mind games’ with myself, in order to help me stop smoking.

Giving something up – something that you’re addicted to – is difficult because it often has both a physiological AND psychological hold on you at the same time. Nicotine leaves your system after about 72 hours (and cotinine – something your body makes after nicotine enters it – takes 1-10 days) so the physiological cravings will be with your for about 3 days after quitting smoking. Once you’ve gone about 4 or 5 days without smoking a cigarette, you’re technically out of physiological withdrawal / dependence. What’s left is a psychologically addicted brain that needs to retrain itself to no longer continue with the smoking habit (it takes at least 3 months for the brain chemistry to return to normal after last using nicotine) but getting yourself through those first 72 hours is generally the hardest part. Your body is going through the physiological withdrawal as well as experiencing the psychological stress of knowing that you cannot have another cigarette – ever!

Ever? I mean, that sounds like a helluva long time, right? And if you’ve ever tried to tell yourself that you cannot have something, you’ll know that your brain immediately decides that it really, REALLY wants said thing and starts to spend every waking moment trying to get you to give it that thing. So the minute you tell yourself:

“that’s it, no more smoking, this is it, never again…”

your brain goes into overdrive trying to get you to give it ‘just one more’ damn cigarette. You start to get antsy, you become hyper-aware of even the slightest, little annoyances and your temper starts to fray. All things that you know will be relieved by a hit of nicotine…but you’re not allowed any.

And so many people simply cave in at this point, you can hardly even class them as having made a genuine attempt. So how do you actually manage to get yourself through those first 3 days, without giving in to your cravings? Well, the way that I decided to go about it was…by not actually giving up. Yes you read that correctly, I managed to give up smoking, by not actually giving up. Bear with me, it does actually make sense, just let me explain.

When I was first thinking about quitting smoking, I tried to think of what was going to make it really hard (aside from the physiological withdrawal) and I immediately realised that it was the very act of being told I couldn’t do something, that would make me really want to do it (yeah, I’m a real dick like that sometimes, lol). So I had a little think about what it felt like to normally go a little longer between cigarettes and tried to use that as a template for future thought processes. Normally, I wouldn’t smoke for a couple of hours after getting up and then I might have a cigarette every hour or so. If I couldn’t smoke because I was busy doing something else, it’s not like I would suddenly become overwhelmed by thoughts of cigarettes and how best to get my next fix. Because by knowing that I could have another cigarette once I’d finished doing whatever it was I was doing, there was no panic. No desperate longing for a never-ever.

So it made sense to try and replicate that psychological process when trying to give up smoking for good. Rather than finish the last packet of smokes and leave myself without any at the moment the cravings kicked in, I decided to put a single cigarette in the ashtray and leave it where I could see it at all times. It needed to be on the periphery of my vision, so that I was always sending a message to my brain that there was a cigarette within my arm’s reach, any time I wanted it. Then I just proceeded to go about reading, writing, watching YouTube or whatever, all the time knowing I could smoke that cigarette at any time. Whenever the urge to smoke would start to rise up, I’d briefly interrogate that urge, ask myself if I really, REALLY needed to smoke the cigarette at that exact moment, or if I could just give it 5-10 minutes and see if I still really wanted it. And me being the weirdo that I am, I actually liked the idea of taking myself on with these ‘mini-challenges’ to se if I could go another 10 minutes without smoking…because it wasn’t like I was never going to be able to have another cigarette ever, right?

So I just kept on putting off having that cigarette and it’s still sitting in that ashtray, ready for when I decide that I really want it. It’s been 15 days now and I still haven’t smoked it. Not because I quit and not because I’m not allowed it (because remember, I can smoke that cigarette whenever I really feel the need to) but because I’ve just been repeatedly putting off smoking it, any time the urge has struck me. Of course, some of those decisions to delay smoking that cigarette have been a bit harder than others, but whenever the cravings have gotten particularly gnarly, I’ve just had a little chat with myself, emphasized how I only needed to wait out another 10 minutes and I could have it, and then allowed myself to feel particularly smug and proud for having made it through the 10 minutes in question.

And so far, it’s been working a charm! I won’t say I’ve quit smoking altogether…rather I’ve just put off having that cigarette for 15 days. The part of me which loves to get super competitive is really excited to see just how many days I can successfully “put off” having that cigarette (because that’s just another element of the little ‘mind-game’ I’m playing with myself) but the most important thing to remember in all this, in order to make this strategy work, is that there is absolutely nothing stopping me from smoking that cigarette at any point in all this. It’s right there, whenever I want it, ready to spark up.

But right now I don’t want it. I have some books to transfer onto my Kindle, a load of washing that needs to be done and a face-mask I really want to apply. So I’m just going to put off smoking it for now and see how I feel in another 10 minutes or so.

Because it’s not like I’m never gonna have a cigarette ever again.

Right?

Motivation Station

Today I thought I’d just put together a little motivation board made up of some of the quotes I’ve found whilst browsing Pinterest. I’m not a “softly-softly” kind of person who responds well to the “Care Bear Hugz” type of motivation or support. I like my motivation the way I like my men: tough, take-charge and free from bullshit. I already have a man just like that and now I have the corresponding motivation board to match:

People making excuses for a situation they got themselves into, annoy the bejeezus out of me; but people who continue to make excuses for not getting the results they wanted when they didn’t put in any of the work, really boil my piss. Too many people live a life full of those excuses and it’s pathetic. Everyone has life stresses, but the good, decent, hard-working ones among us, actually put in the effort to try to make the changes needed to meet our goals. I salute those people. They inspire me to succeed every day.

The rest of them…well…they’re the ones who’ll have to live with their weak-willed, lazy, piss-poor choices for the rest of their lives. Not me.

Stay motivated y’all

Blue