Best Laid Plans

“Tell me why all the best laid plans
Fall apart in your hands”

It’s already happening folks. The inevitable, annual dieting drop-off that happens every February, a few weeks after new year. So many people who swore up and down that THIS was going to be their year…who started a new “diet” (again), embarked upon a new fitness regime, vowed to drink a gallon of water every day and purchased a whole heap of supplements and new products that they were totally going to use every day without fail…yeah, a lot of them really aren’t doing so well. A lot of them have hit the wall and many have already given up. Of course, a lot of us knew this would be the case, because virtually every study tells us that around 80% of New Year’s resolutions will be abandoned by February. So why do so many people still carve out this arbitrary date on the calendar, as the day they’re going to make it all happen?

Well, a lot of it is just down to herd mentality and the desire to do the “good” thing on the “correct” date, like so many of our fellow friends, family and co-workers have elected to. It’s the “done thing” to commit oneself to a righteous sacrifice in the New Year, after a period of festive indulgence – and we don’t want to miss out on being a part of this mass declaration of pure intent, on what we see as a magically symbolic date. And it just feels so right to draw a line under the previous year doesn’t it, so we can start anew with a clean slate, free from who we were “last year”. New Year, New You. Amirite?

Yeah, I’ve never been one for making New Year’s Resolutions. It always seemed a bit odd to me that this one day – during the coldest, darkest time of the year – would be the exact date and time when everyone (regardless of their personal situations) went and overhauled their lives for the better. Any time I want to embark upon something new, I do a bit of research and then get on with doing it at the time most convenient to me. That could be tomorrow, next week, next month, or something I’m planning on doing a year from now, once I’ve got everything I need in place. But I sure as shit don’t pick a date that has no real bearing on my own life, just because everyone else is doing it. That just seems weird and doomed to fail.

And failing is what we’re seeing a lot of right now. We’re not even a whole month in and folk are dropping like flies, getting as creative as possible with the excuses as to why they’ve had to abandon their goals:

  • It’s too cold to go out for a run
  • I just need to eat some real, satisfying food when the weather’s like this
  • It’s so busy as work this time of year…I don’t have time to eat properly
  • I’m going to wait until the mornings start getting lighter so I can start going to the gym before work
  • I’ve still got so much Christmas food / snacks in the house. I don’t want to waste money throwing it out
  • My S.A.D. is really bad at this time of year so it’s really hard to get motivated
  • I think I might need to change plans and restart in a month or so

And that’s just a few of the reasons I’ve seen people give for quitting their diet / fitness plans for 2021. I’m not saying that those aren’t true or that they’re not valid reasons for feeling like throwing in the towel. But I think in a lot of cases there’s a much bigger underlying problem:

Overwhelm.

We humans are a curious breed. Blessed with these fabulously big, beautifully complex brains of ours, you’d think that we would have the act of goal-accomplishment down to a fine art. Yet more often than not, we over-complicate matters to the point where we no longer know how to get anything done. We like to draw up hugely complicated plans, taking solace in the notion that the more detailed and structured we make them, the less likely we are to fail. That way of thinking is often rooted in fear: we lack confidence in our own ability to do the thing we want to do, so we try to create a failsafe plan that we can have confidence in instead. And if that plan is based on something that we’ve seen other people doing, even better right?

Birds don’t stress out about all the things they need to do to build a nest. They just go out and get twig after twig, leaf after leaf, and build it bit by bit. But us? The super-intelligent, evolved species? We’re not happy unless we’ve wargamed the bejeezus out of EVERYTHING. And then, THEN we hang all of our hopes on us being able to maintain our focus and commitment to doing ALL THE THINGS…only to become demoralised and dejected when we fail to get it 100% right, 100% of the time. That’s when so many of us quit. If just one thing goes awry, that’s it. Fuck it. Might as well just jack the whole thing in and go sit in the mud and eat a cake or nine. It’s like we’re hardwired to never be able to see any of the good we have accomplished, whenever we make a single mistake.

Managed to overhaul your diet, cut out all the extra sugar and started drinking more water? Yeah but you only went to the gym twice last week, instead of three times, so you’re obviously just a big fat failure and might as well give up, right?

And y’all know I’m not even being remotely hyperbolic here. Because that mad shit is exactly the kind of bonkers garbage that goes through so many people’s heads whenever they hit a bump in the road. It’s that ‘All Or Nothing’ mentality, that again comes from having a lack of self-confidence. When we don’t have any faith in our own ability to succeed, we put all our faith in ‘The Plan’ instead. But if we can’t succeed at ‘The Plan’, then nothing is ever going to work, we were stupid for ever thinking it would, so we might as well just give up and never try to do anything else, ever ever again.

Or, there are the obstinately ridiculous ones doing the exact opposite.

Trying to cut carbs AND calories, starting a crazy new gym routine, drinking a gallon of water every day AND trying to go vegan / carnivore / whatever, all at the same time was way too much to attempt all at once and they failed…so…let’s try and do it all again starting on Feb 1st! Because THIS time, THIS month will magically and miraculously be different, right? Sigh. Some of y’all will never learn, will you? I swear some people are just so monumentally invested in the idea of “dieting” and being perpetually ON a diet, that they’re doomed to subconsciously self-sabotage any small successes they achieve, by staying in the diet / binge cycle:

I see it every day in the various weight-loss communities online and I just wish I could grab each and every one of these people, shake them and tell them to just chill the feck out. Pick one thing that you want to change. Just one to begin with – because most people are simply unable to work on changing multiple habits at the same time – and then sit down and make a realistic plan that will allow you to make small, cumulative improvements over time and then do it. I know people want all the results right now and hate the idea of having to make slow, steady progress towards a goal, but that’s the only way you’ll ever be able to make permanent, sustainable changes that will actually last. If fast-fixes and short-cuts to sustained weight-loss actually worked, we’d all be thin and never have to worry about our weight ever again.

One of the biggest hurdles that so many people face when trying to lose weight, get fit and be healthy, seems to be impatience. Never mind the fact that so many of us have been overweight, inactive and unhealthy for so long, for some reason we think that a lifetime of poor choices, ingrained habits and health problems can – and should – be fixed right now. I mean, we’ve made the decision to change, to improve, so that should be enough to make this shit happen, right? Wrong. Undoing a lifetime of shitty decisions doesn’t happen overnight. Even if you were a superhuman goal-getter who was able to implement all the right choices going forward, the effects are still going to take a long time to emerge. And most of us ain’t superhuman, y’all (not even me, lol!).

This post is getting kinda long and I was going to talk a little bit about how heuristics play a huge part in keeping us from being able to make long-term, sustained changes, but I think I’ll save that for another time, because I know it’ll take a bit of explaining for me to get my point across. But the main thing I wanted to convey today was that change is hard. It takes a lot of effort to focus our attention on improving just one aspect of our habits and behaviours, so trying to do all the things, all at once will inevitably doom you to failure, with all the added despondency and demotivation that brings along with it. So be honest with yourself when you’re trying to create change in your life. Be realistic with your goals and always remember that small, cumulative changes over time, WILL add up to greater improvements in the long run. There are no short-cuts, so stop looking for one.

Stay realistic folks.

Blue

Feeling Good

“It’s a new dawn
It’s a new day
It’s a new life…for me
And I’m feeling good”

Today (Thursday 28th January 2021) is 150 days since I switched over to the low-carb way of life.

150 days.

That’s pretty fricking cool, y’all. Not one single day off-plan, not a single cheat. Just 150 days of eating well, losing weight and feeling hella better for it. I can’t believe I didn’t think of doing this sooner. Time always passes, whether you decide to make changes or not. And now, I can’t believe I’m sat here and I’ve been doing this for 150 days! Where has the time gone? It only feels like a month or so ago I was deciding to change my diet and yet, it’s been (lemme just say it again, lol) ONE HUNDRED AND FIFTY DAYS!

Every day that passes with me eating lo-carb, just makes me want to keep on eating this way for ever. The better I do, the better I want to do. It’s a brilliantly self-reinforcing cycle of success and motivation. And I am SO here for it! I mean, I always knew that if I just set my mind to it, that I’d be able to shift some flab, but that doesn’t take away from the immense feelings of pride and satisfaction that I’m experiencing right now. I’m just past the halfway point and this way of eating has become so incredibly normal, it isn’t even an effort to stick to it. Surely losing weight isn’t supposed to be this easy?

I feel like I just want to take everyone who’s struggling with their weight, move them into my house and feed them everything I’ve been eating to show them just how effective a low-carb WOE can be. I want everyone to understand the science behind this WOE and then find health, happiness and success with it too! I know, I know, I’m ranting like the newly converted – a “ketoevangelist” if you will – but this approach really works and I just wish I could get more people to take the leap for themselves and feel the incredible benefits that I have!

Don’t get me wrong, eating this way hasn’t cured everything that ails me; I’m always going to have fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis and this past week has been a bit of a nightmare with my hands seizing up. But the way my body feels as a whole is just so much better than it was back in August last year. A lot of that will be due to my now carrying less weight on my frame, but my flare-ups are much less intense now. They don’t last as long as they used to and I know that’s down to getting rid of the sugar. My brain feels more focused, sharper and better able to process information. I’m finding it easier to read books again and remember what I’ve just taken in. I’m even going to speak to my doctor about reducing some of my medication, when I’m actually able to get an appointment. I’m feeling that good!

Sure, I know that I’ve still got a long way to go and things are definitely going to harder, the closer I get to my goal – never mind the real test, in maintaining my weight loss which will be a lifelong commitment – but right now I’m really happy with the way things are going. As I should be! I alone decided to make these changes and I alone am responsible for sticking to this WOE. So I have every right to feel good about myself. And if that sounds like I’m bragging, or being arrogant…well suck on it, lol. Anyone who commits to a plan to improve themselves and sticks to it, deserves to feel really bloody good about themselves. So to all my fellow fat-fighters out there, kicking arse and taking names, y’all better be feeling real proud of yourselves right now. Because you’re fucking awesome!

And while I’m on the topic of celebrating milestones (did I mention I’ve been successfully at this for 150 days now? I did? Oh, sorry, I didn’t realise, lol!) I thought I’d run through a few more little steps on my journey to success. This week I weighed in at 15 stone 3lbs (213lbs) which means:

  • I have lost 57lb – that’s 3lbs away from having lost 60lb.
  • Converting that 57lb into old money, I have passed the 4 stone loss mark – 4 stone and 1lb to be exact.
  • I am 4lb away from getting under the 15 stone mark and into the 14 stone range for the first time since I was in 9th grade.
  • I am 14lb (1 stone) away from being 199lb – that’s “onederland”, baby!
  • I am 43lb away from hitting my initial goal of losing 100lb.

I’m so unbelievably happy with my progress right now! I could jump for joy…if my arthritic knees weren’t so goddamn knackered, lol! And I haven’t had to start tinkering around with calorie amounts, intermittent fasting or even incorporating exercise yet – I still have all those tools at my disposal, when (or if) I feel I need to use them. For now though, I’m just going to keep on eating the same way I have been from Day 1, for as long as I keep on seeing the results I want. I seem to be losing around 1-2lb a week right now, which is absolutely perfect. If that slows to just 1lb a week I’ll still be happy, because that’s completely sustainable and feels totally doable.

I often see people getting down or discouraged because they “only” lost a single pound in a week, and that’s ridiculous. None of us got overweight overnight and we’re not going to lose it overnight either. This has to be something we can be successful at for life, not just one great week where we hit the elliptical like mad and manage to get a big loss in a 7 day period. I’m still hugely overweight and losing a larger amount by really restricting my intake one week would be pretty easy, if I were so inclined. But that’s not going to make this a realistic, lifelong achievement. That would just tell me that in order to maintain that big loss, I’m going to have to continue to push myself that hard forever, to keep it off. And I’m really not about that way of life. I want this to be something I can easily continue to follow and sustain in the long term, without having to commit to some crazy exercise regime that I’ve never followed before and won’t want to carry on with in perpetuity. Sure I want to get to being more active in time, but that’ll be because my body is in a position to want to enjoy being more active; not because I’m trying to make a quick gain – or loss, rather – in the short term.

So yeah, I don’t plan on being a yo-yoing “dieter” who just throws everything they have at their weight problem, slacking off once I hit goal, only to have to ramp up my efforts all over again, once the pounds start to creep back on. That way of existing just sounds miserable and I know it won’t do my underlying health problems any favours either. I’m going to turn 41 this year FFS. Time really isn’t on my side, when it comes to getting my health in order.

So if the weight loss starts slowing (which it will do) and the pounds no longer come off as quickly as they did to begin with, that’s fine with me. I’d rather a slower, steadier trip to the finish line than a sprint that I have to keep pushing myself to complete, every bloody year. And if any of you guys out there are feeling discouraged because your own weight loss is slowing down the closer you get to your goal – don’t feel bad about it. That’s how it’s supposed to happen. Obviously, if you’re still quite a way from your target weight and you know you’ve been getting a bit slack (either with your carb count or your calorie deficit) then by all means re-evaluate your food intake, making sure to accurately track everything you’re eating etc, but don’t go overboard and start imposing a load of unsustainable bollocks on yourself. You might have a good week or fortnight and feel elated at seeing the scale drop down really quickly; but if you aren’t prepared to continue to do what you had to do to make that big drop happen in the first place, the minute you back off on your efforts, you’ll start to see less favourable results on that scale.

Be realistic with your weight loss goals folks. As tempting as it is to try and get all the weight off ASAP, in the long run that just isn’t going to be sustainable. And that’s what we all want right? Long term success that we can maintain in the long run. So I’m going to keep on feeling great about the progress I’ve made so far and just keep on doing what I’ve been doing from Day 1, letting nature take its course. As trite, cheesy and hackneyed as the saying is, this really is about cultivating a lifestyle, not just going on a diet.

And I for one am more than happy to accept that.

Keep it real folks

Blue

Keeping Your Tank Topped Up

I had one of my buddies remark recently:

“How the hell you can keep being on fire without ever getting burned out?”

And I replied – almost without thinking – the truth about how I:

  • Surround myself with motivational quotes
  • Obtain and read motivational books
  • Immerse myself in nutrition related literature
  • Watch YouTube or TV shows that feed my motivation

All of which are really helpful and are things that almost anyone can benefit from. But there’s a bit more to the equation than just those simple suggestions. Because motivation isn’t something you can just absorb passively without putting in the effort to actually make it work for you. Nor is it something that you can just focus on one time, and then expect to retain infinitely without you working on keeping it going. The way I like to look at motivation, is by comparing it to a car. You are the car. Motivation is the fuel. Your car won’t go anywhere without petrol / gas, but you can’t just fill up the tank and expect it to move by itself. You need a ‘spark’ to ignite that fuel and get it power you along. And to further that car metaphor, you can’t just fill your tank up the once and expect it to run forever. You gotta keep on refilling that tank every time it starts to run dry, or your car isn’t going anywhere.

So to look at that first scenario, what do I mean by you needing a ‘spark’? Well, we’re all familiar with the myriad motivational quotes, books and videos that are out there available in both internet-land and the meat-space. If you’re anything like me, you especially collect quotes, write them down in your journal or planner, stick them to your fridge and basically have them perpetually on hand, ready to help boost your resolve on those days when you’re feeling a little sluggish, unmotivated or uninspired. And that’s great. But simply collecting motivational materials and expecting them to be the magic miracle that will suddenly make you successful, isn’t going to cut it. You need to make these resources work for you and that involves effort. It involves effort, application and dedication.

“But that’s what I need them to help me achieve in the first place!”

Yeah, naw, sorry dawg. It really doesn’t work that way. That ‘spark’ I mentioned earlier? That has to come from you. You have to want to make these tools work for you and be willing to interact with them regularly, for them to do what you want. You can buy all the books you want, but if they’re just sat on your bedside table then you’re never going to benefit from the information they contain. And you can read all the books in Waterstones, but if you don’t then take that information and find a way to actually utilise it, then you might as well not have bothered reading them in the first place. You have to want to get something out of these resources and be willing to make them work for you, by figuring out how to take the advice they contain and incorporate it into your life.

It’s probably not want you want to hear, but there are no short cuts to being a motivated person. I know a lot of people just think that they can read a few cutesy sayings, post them onto their Instagram and then absorb all the sentiments in some easy kind of passive, pseudo-osmosis. Then when they don’t suddenly become the fully fired-up, ass-kicking, goal-smashing success story they want to be, they whine about how they just aren’t motivated enough. Well duh, of course you’re not. You haven’t gone out of your way to make these motivational resources work for you, so of course you’re not just becoming magically motivated by them. You need to create that ‘spark’ yourself.

So what constitutes a ‘spark’? Well, first you need to figure out what it is that you want to be more motivated to do in the first place. A lot of people like to utilize the S.M.A.R.T. goals method, which can help you to carefully delineate all the aspects involved in your goal as well as all the parameters within which you need to operate in order to succeed at it. The most simple way to approach any goal though, is to first figure out your “why”; or rather, what reasons lie at the heart of your decision to achieve this goal. If you don’t have any real, tangible reasons for doing this, then you’re going to find it less important – and ultimately less likely – for you to achieve. So sit down with a journal, notebook or a piece of paper and really think about what it is that you want to achieve. Think about all reasons this is important to you, the ways in which your life will improve, the added benefits that may also come along as a by-product of doing this, and really think about what achieving this goal will mean to you. If you’re having trouble coming up with any meaningful, tangible reasons for achieving this goal, then it may not be something you need to waste your time, money and effort going after. It has to matter to you – REALLY matter to you – if you’re going to stay the course and do what needs to be done.

Once you’ve figured out what’s really important to you and the reasons behind it, take that list and put it somewhere where you can easily regularly refer to it. This list is your “why” and whilst you’ll always know deep down what it is that you want to achieve, sometimes it can get a little hard to see the wood for the trees and you just need to go back to where you started and reinforce your “why” to help keep you on track. But to get the most out of this step, you should schedule some regular ‘check-ins’ with yourself, where you refer back to this list and go back through all the reasons you first came up with – maybe even adding to that list over time. That act of actually scheduling a regular ‘check-in’ (weekly at first, then fortnightly and then monthly as you make more progress is a good time-frame to operate from) is you putting in the effort to create that ‘spark’ I talked about. Your “why” list is a motivational resource in and of itself, but just writing it up and never referring back to it again, will never motivate you. YOU need to make the time to sit and go back over it, checking to see if it’s valid over time and letting those initial reasons reinforce your resolve and help strengthen your commitment.

That same process applies to a motivational quote. Read it; take the time to sit and think about what that quote means to you and why you feel it resonates with you. Again, journaling or just jotting down your thoughts is a really good way to process this because the very act of putting pen to paper alone, helps you to clarify your thoughts and reinforce the impact behind their message. By taking your thoughts out from inside of your head where they’re floating around with a bunch of other stuff (like remembering to call your mum, thinking about what to cook the kids for dinner, and wondering if you really like that particular shade of nail-polish you’re currently wearing) and committing them to paper, you allow yourself to view them in isolation and much more objectively. Of course, this isn’t something you have to do with every single quote you see, from now until the day you die; once you’ve gone through this process a few times, you’ll find yourself better able to get the same results and implement the core strategies you develop, without really thinking about them. But to begin with, interrogate the quote that you think is going to be useful to you. Look beyond what might just be a warm-fuzzy sentiment that sounds good and search for the kernel of truth within that’s really resonating with you. Ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why do I like this quote?
  • What does this quote mean to me? What is it actually saying?
  • How can the wisdom or sentiment contained within this quote be applied to my own goals? How is it relevant to me and my situation?

Again, this isn’t a process you’re going to have to manually complete with every quote you see for the rest of your life; but when you’re starting out it’s important to understand why and how a particular quote is going to be useful in keeping you motivated. By asking yourself these questions, you will be essentially finding out the ways in which a quote helps to tap into – and reinforce – your “why”. You want to be using this process to weed out the unhelpful (however pleasant sounding) quotes from those which actually help you to remember why you’re doing what you’re doing. You’re looking for something that will act like a quick short-cut back to your own personal “why”, without having to go back and reread the entire list every single day.

After having done this a few times, you’ll start to recognise what are the really useful, relevant quotes to keep around, and what are just what Dan Dennett would refer to as a “deepity” As with anything, the more you practice doing this, the better at it you become and you’ll no longer need to keep on writing out an intensive analysis of every quote you like, in order for it to become truly useful to you. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t use this process ever again going forward (remember what I said about how you can’t just fill up your tank, you have to constantly refill it?) because using a notebook or a journal to clarify your thoughts about anything, is an invaluable tool that can be applied to almost any problem. I still journal about various quotes I find from time to time, because I know how much more I’ll benefit from really interrogating the message behind them and figuring out how they apply to me. This repeated commitment to going back and not only re-evaluating my “why”, but also finding new resources to bolster my resolve, is the effort required to keep me motivated. That’s me regularly igniting that ‘spark’, any time I need to use that fuel resource to get me moving again.

Motivational quotes might seem trite, silly and completely pointless to some, but the very fact that we bother to clip them, pin them, post them or jot them down at all, shows just how much we as a society value a witty statement with an underlying message of wisdom. They’re not for everyone, but for those who can see the value in them they can be a really beneficial method of staying connected to your “why” and giving you that extra boost when you’re feeling a little ‘meh’. The real truth about these quotes however, isn’t that they’re telling you something you don’t know and providing you with new knowledge (that’s the job of ‘facts’ lol); no, they’re really just allowing you to tap into something you already know, by presenting it in a simple, succinct and memorable format. THAT’s the real beauty of a good quote!

I also mentioned reading books or watching video content – usually designed to help motivate you either to start something new or stop a habit that you wish to cease doing. Far longer than quotes, these require a longer attention span; but the way in which you interact with these resources is much the same. Don’t just read the book and toss it aside once finished. Don’t watch the video and then immediately after go right on to watching or doing something else. You need to actively be utilising the information they contain, for them to be of any real value to you. So as you’re going through the material presented to you, take notes. Take regular breaks at suitable intervals and be sure that you’ve gleaned the information you just read or heard. If you don’t understand something, take the time to go look it up – don’t just assume that you’ll be able to infer the meaning as you go along or that you’ll totally go read up on it at a later date – do it now. Make sure you know what it is the writer or speaker is trying to convey and when you’ve figured it out, move on to the next part.

When you come to the end of the video or book in question, go make yourself a cup of tea (don’t read your emails or check your phone for texts) and allow what you’ve just learned about to coalesce in your mind. Sit for a few minutes, mull it over a bit and then return to your notes and see what you’ve jotted down. At first you might find it a bit maddingly overwhelming – especially if this is your first time trying this approach – but you’ll soon see nuggets of wisdom and useful tips that you can implement, jumping out at you from the paper. Either grab a highlighter or just circle the bits that are of value and when you’ve identified what’s useful, take another page or piece of paper and write them out clearly and concisely. You might want to put all the tips together in a list that you can use as a plan going forward, whilst keeping the motivational quotes and quips separate. Whatever works for you. But just be sure that you’re collating information, advice and instructions that are pertinent to your goal and how best to achieve it.

Then, once you’ve got your pared down useful content, decide on how you’re going to utilise the information it contains. Are you going to move forward with a plan? Well make sure you’ve got that plan set out in a way that you can realistically follow, always making sure that it ties back in to your “why”. Are you going to use the motivational quotes or quips it contains to keep spurring you on when times get a bit harder? Then as we just went through previously, interrogate those quotes to find out why they’re so relevant and why they resonate with you, then write them out on a piece of paper to stick on your fridge, keep on your desk or stick in your planner. The information is all there for you – you’ve just got to use your own initiative in order to make it work for you. And just as I talked about when figuring out / writing up your “why”, go back over your notes regularly to make sure that you’re implementing the advice they contain and reinforcing the underlying message.

If all this sounds like a lot of hard work, well…I don’t really know what to tell you. If you’re looking for an easy option that will somehow just magically make you perpetually motivated, there isn’t one. What I’ve just laid out for you in this post is admittedly just my own personal method of making motivational materials work for me; but no matter what the specific details are in formulating an approach to being and staying motivated, it’s always going to involve YOU making the effort to make your method work for you. Motivation isn’t the ‘spark’ which sets you off on your path to success – it’s the fuel that keeps you going. If you take anything away from this post it’s this:

  • Be involved
  • Be intentional
  • Be proactive
  • Be willing to put in the effort

And the best part about motivation is that as it brings you closer to achieving your goals, that sense of accomplishment feeds straight back into your fuel tank, helping to motivate you even more. It’s a self-reinforcing cycle. Even if you don’t get to experience the immediate completion of a goal, just seeing yourself successfully implementing positive changes, making good decisions and being intentional with your behaviours is – by itself – incredibly rewarding. You might choose to set mini-goals along the way (lots of people like to use Non-Scale Victories as indicators of their cumulative progress towards a weight-loss goal) and reaching those can also be incredibly motivating, if you take the time to sit down and allow yourself to really understand and appreciate what all your hard work has helped you to achieve already.

At the end of the day, I’m not just motivated because I happen to be born with the inherent ability to be that way. I’m not lucky or special or even all that insightful. I just know that in order to keep my motivation tank full, I need to be the one going out and refilling it. And I alone need to make the effort to constantly refill it, because that shit ain’t going to top itself up. It’s all on me. Always has been, always will be.

Stay intentional folks

Blue

Another Little NSV…And A Message To The Chattering Karens

“Gossip girls they always seem to
Talk the talk about you
Gossip girls they always seem to
Talk the talk but never say the truth…”

Last night me and the other half did something we hadn’t done few a few months – we went out and had dinner in a restaurant. It was actually a Christmas present from his mother because we’d mentioned wanting to try it out sometime and she remembered hearing us talk about it. (It was especially convenient because it’s on the road where we live, so it was a 5 minute walk there and back, max.) I’d been a little worried that there might not be much on the menu that I could have and remain on-plan, but a quick check online showed that they were doing a Christmas menu in which most of the meals were meat based with plenty of vegetables, and they included a note at the bottom of the page which said that anyone with any special dietary requirements should just ask a member of staff who will be more than happy to accommodate. Awesome.

I can’t remember what all the different items on the menu were, but I eventually settled on the “Roast Sirloin” with vegetables, but no potatoes or gravy. (I almost went with the “Venison Medallions”, but I’m pretty sure that they were finished in the pan with some mixture of wine & berries in a jus – and I haven’t started to include those things into my diet yet). For my starter I opted for the “Duck Confit Rillette” – but instead of having the “Toasted Sourdough & Orange, Juniper & Brandy Jam” accompaniments with it, I had mine on a bed of salad leaves. (The desserts all sounded great but I didn’t have any.)

And you know what? The food was lovely, the service was wonderfully helpful and choosing not to eat off-plan, wasn’t actually that big of a deal! (I actually feel kinda silly even referring to it as a NSV) When I told our server that I couldn’t eat anything with sugars / grains, she completely understood, went out of her way to make sure that on the ticket for the kitchen, it stipulated what I couldn’t have – very clearly – and the chef made sure to compensate for the items I wasn’t eating by adding extra meat to my plate (and the meat really was cooked exactly the way I like it too, so this was very much appreciated). Nobody made me feel like a pariah, I wasn’t given a measly, half-empty plate that had simply removed the unwanted items and left it at that; the food was lovely, we both had a nice evening and we left the server a big tip before we left, to thank her for being so attentive.

I’m not sure why, but I thought it was going to be a much more difficult situation than it turned out to be. I thought I might have to keep explaining myself to various members of staff; or that getting food the way I wanted it might be too complicated. I also wondered how I’d feel with everyone else around me eating all the potatoes, sauces, desserts etc, but none of it ended up bothering me whatsoever. Maybe it’s because I’ve still been preparing and making regular meals with carbohydrates in them for my other half, throughout my time eating low-carb; or maybe it’s because the food was just really lovely, well cooked and was able to shine on its own without any of the extras I had declined.

But either way, there really wasn’t much temptation for me to eat off-plan. I might have eyed the “Chocolate Yule Log” on the menu, with a hint of wistfulness, but even as the other half enjoyed his “Pear Belle Hélène” I simply sat back in my chair, sipped my black coffee and relaxed after my own 2 courses. To hear people say that it’s too difficult to stay on-plan when out at a restaurant, or that they shouldn’t be expected to “deny” themselves “treats” on special occasions, just makes me laugh. If people want to find an excuse to eat sugar then they will; their weakness is their business. But I decided a month or so ago that I wasn’t going to use the Christmas festivities as an excuse to go off-plan when I still have so far to go and so much to achieve. And last night showed me just how easy it was to keep to that decision, thus racking up another mini-NSV.

When I think about how I’d be feeling right now if I’d just decided to give into old habits and eaten ALL the carbs last night…well, I’d be a real bad tempered, headachy grump, whose sugar-cravings were back up to maximum levels of annoyance, as I tried desperately to assuage them by chowing down on fistfuls of ham, loads of cheese and a gallon of Pepsi Max to try and fool myself into believing that I’d consumed something sugary. I’d be bad company for the other half, I’d feel like shit and the symptoms of withdrawal would be overshadowing any of the positive experiences I’d had from eating out in the first place. Totally not worth it. But I didn’t and it feels pretty damn good.

Some people have remarked (in places that aren’t quite as private as they like to believe, lol) that I’m headed for an inevitable crash, as I keep on being so strict with myself. Conversations murmured in the allegedly sacred corners of DMs & PMs, genuinely believe that by not having “cheat days” or “days off”, I’m definitely setting myself up to fail, because that level of commitment is apparently completely unsustainable. Well, for those people I have a few things to say:

  1. That you “care” so much about me and what I do, is hilarious. I know I’m far more interesting than the majority of people you find discussing their weight-loss methods online, but let’s be honest: this says more about how you feel about yourself and your own inability to stay on-plan, than it does about me. I know you want me to fail, but again, that’s just so you can feel better about yourself too isn’t it? Yeah, schadenfreude is a terrible thing to have, Karen.
  2. Unlike many people, it was my health that ultimately spurred me on to do something about my weight, not vanity or how much I disliked how my body looked. Health problems can be very motivating (if you’re not a complete moron, who’d rather stick their head in the sand and just have another cake) and they motivate me to not just do well, but to do the best I can, every single day. And to those who say “but this is supposed to be a WOE for life…there HAS to be SOME allowance for days-off or else, what kind of a life is that?” I say, stop making excuses. Yes, this is supposed to be something I can do for the rest of my life and yes I will inevitably have days in the future when I do choose to eat a load of carbs. But I have no idea what could happen to me today, tomorrow or at any point in my life. What if I have an accident next week? A stroke? A heart attack? How would I be supposed to continue to put all my efforts into losing the extra weight, when I had other health issues to deal with too?

    Y’all love saying “life happens” or “life gets in the way” but I don’t think you really realise what that actually means. If you think that shit is always going to happen – so you might as well eat crap and fail to lose any weight – then whatever; you do you, boo. But don’t expect anyone else to truly care whenever you do your next annual “Back again” or “Ready to make a fresh start” post in the new year…because sooner or later people realise that you’re nothing more than the boy / girl who cried wolf.

    The reality is that yes, life DOES happen whilst you’re busy making plans. Things WILL come out of left-field and try to derail you, at various points in your life. But that is exactly why you SHOULD be making more of an effort RIGHT NOW, whilst you’re still able to do so, by using every good, healthy day you have to eat better, make the right choices and reduce that excess weight, whilst you’re still in a position to do so. None of us have any idea what will happen next week / fortnight / month. So why waste all these days right now (where you DO have control over what you eat) when god only knows what could happen in the future to take that decision and agency away from you? How are you doing to feel when 6 months down the line, you’ve still not bothered to make any real effort to lose the extra weight and then you end up breaking a leg and have to spend weeks in hospital, having surgery, recovering with physiotherapy and basically losing your independence? Are you suddenly going to be focusing all your efforts on losing weight THEN, when you weren’t able to do so back when you didn’t have any extra injuries or health problems to deal with?

    Like shite, you will. The time to take action is NOW. Stop making excuses about how “festive treats are just too tempting”, or how you shouldn’t be expected to stay on-plan when everyone else is eating your mum’s delicious Christmas spread. It’s just food, for fuck’s sake. It really shouldn’t be the focal point of your life – and if it is, then you really need to get yourself a hobby, because spending your life vacillating between gormandising without restraint, or pining for the foods you’ve decided you can’t eat, is a depressing way to live. Get a life. Seriously. And actually do your best to live it as healthily as possible, for as long as possible. By all means have Christmas off, have Thanksgiving off, have your birthday off – it’s your body, your life – but just remember that every day you choose to eat off-plan, is another 24hr opportunity to improve your health, utterly wasted.

    THAT is why I work so hard at staying on-plan and don’t allow myself to get caught up in the never-ending cycle of “cheat days”, “days off” and the resulting 3-5 day periods of adjustment as I have to work hard to get back into ketosis. It’s not because I’m trying to appear saint-like in my approach to losing weight & improving my health, it’s because I know just how quickly and easily “life happens” so I’m going to make the most of every day I have, and work hard while I’m still able to. Because if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we should all be prepared for the worst. Don’t be one of those people who suddenly find themselves in a crisis situation, wishing they’d made more of a prior effort to be in the best physical condition possible. Do it now, while you still can.

  3. And finally, don’t ever think that the things you say about me in “private”, won’t ever get back to me. You’d be amazed at just how many people are willing to spill the tea AND provide me with the receipts. So yeah, be careful what you share online and with whom you’re sharing it. You never know who’s at the end of that username! #WelcomeToTheInternet

But yeah, eating out was a total breeze, the food was lovely and nobody died. I made the choice to stay on-plan and it turned out not to be at all difficult. I enjoyed my evening with the other half (who very much enjoyed all his food too) and I woke up today without so much as shred of concern as to how I might otherwise have derailed my progress, and I’m still happily in ketosis. Tonight I’m going to have some steak (because ya girl really can’t get enough red meat) with asparagus & mushrooms, but right now I think I’ll make myself a coffee with some cream and check in with my favourite YT channels.

It’s only 6 days until Christmas Day, when me and the other half will be spending 2 days at my parents house and I’m super excited to be seeing my little brother again (for the first time in a year) as well as getting to meet his girlfriend for the first time too. I spoke to my mum a couple of days ago to let her know what my eating habits now comprise (so as not to leave it until last minute when she’s already laying a plate of food in front of me) and she completely understands my need to eat this way. There will be plenty of other people there on both Christmas and Boxing Day, who will all be more than happy to eat all the goodies she’ll have rustled up; so none of it will go to waste. And I’ll be more than happy to stuff myself with an assortment of meats, vegetables and cheeses and nuts throughout the days. Food might be a cultural staple which we use to gather around, but there really is no need to indulge in food that isn’t going to do you any favours health-wise, just so you can get together with friends and family.

Naturally, everyone will make their own choices about how they’re going to eat over the festive period and I’ve already made my choice. Just be sure that when you’re making your choices, you know what the corollary of those decisions will actually be. Don’t just make excuses for your choices. Own them and enjoy them.

And let me carry on being me.

Keep it real folks,

Blue

Non-Scale Victories

Today I decided to put together a list of a few of the other benefits I’ve gained from switching over to my low-carb WOE and losing a bunch of weight. Aside from getting to see those numbers go down week-by-week, this whole new way of life has brought about a tonne of other awesome changes that I wanted to share with y’all. So here goes:

  • I’m not plagued with sugar-cravings that would previously see me chow down 3 bars of chocolate, an entire packet of biscuits or a whole bag of dairy cream fudge in one sitting.
  • I no longer eat maHOOsive plates of junk from the take-away, piled high, scarfed down and then followed up with a second plateful. I now feel completely in control of what I’m eating to the point where it’s just not an issue anymore.
  • I’m LOVING what I’m eating, feeing truly nourished by home-cooked meals made from high-quality, locally sourced, fresh produce. And the thought of eating this way for life is great! I’ve truly found my foodie groove!
  • I have befriended my local butcher! I grew up eating very high quality food (especially the best cuts of meat and the freshest fish) but when I made my own way out into the adult world, I would just hit the supermarket for everything. And when the supermarket I frequent stopped stocking all-locally-sourced meats, I found myself becoming more and more disappointed with the meats on sale there; so I found myself consuming less and less meat over time. But when I went low-carb I knew I’d have to incorporate some good quality proteins and I wandered into butcher’s shop, not really knowing what I was doing. But thankfully, the butcher himself really took the time to find out what I was after, to the point where I told him about my dietary restrictions and he now always knows what things he can safely recommend to me (sausages and burger patties with no hidden carbs – yay!) and he also reserves anything I want (like my regular 4 porterhouse steaks!) to ensure I don’t have to go without; which is pretty important when meat plays such a large part in my diet. He’s just a really lovely, friendly, helpful guy who makes obtaining high quality, locally sourced, ethically raised/slaughtered meats so much easier. And I love that I’m actually getting to support a local small business.
  • I’ve found some really good protein bars & shakes that I can incorporate into my plan, without kicking me out of ketosis. Both are great for my diminished appetite and really help me out when I’m too tired or sore to cook anything substantial. I fully anticipate this being the way I eat for the rest of my life and knowing that I can have a choc-chip protein brownie cookie every day, as well as a shake that tastes like vanilla ice-cream…yeah that sounds MORE than okay with me! These products will help to keep my WOE sustainable and enjoyable.
  • My sleeping is still crazy (I can still pull a good 22hr sleep a couple of times a week) BUT my terrible snoring is no more! My other half is especially pleased with this as some of those snorting sounds would wake him up from time to time. I am now however, talking loads more in my sleep now, lol. It’s not bad enough to wake him up, but he’s heard me babbling a load of excitable nonsense when he’s in the bathroom or kitchen. (I keep meaning to record myself overnight so I can listen to myself, because I bet it’s really funny!)
  • I can walk up the flights of stairs to our apartment no problem now (unless the fibro is flaring up…THEN I hobble everywhere like some haggard old hunchbacked crone…but that’s just how fibro is and I’ve accepted that). But the stairs are no longer my enemy, lol.
  • I have more mental clarity too! (Again, this is during times when the fibro isn’t causing me ‘Fibro Brain Fog’ which is always annoying AF). Getting rid of sugar has made me feel more alert, improved my long-term memory recall and helped to make understanding my more heavy-going books, much quicker and easier. I feel much more “in the moment” and less dumb.
  • My skin looks brighter, clearer and as though it were glowing from within. I know I’ve always taken good care of my skin, but only so much an be achieved with expensive skin-care products. Getting rid of sugar has SO many benefits!
  • My engagement ring fits again! (This is a bit of a running joke between me & the other half, because I have never really been particularly into the idea of marriage (if we’re not having kids then the state has no business in “validating” our relationship, and I absolutely detest weddings!) but being “engaged” adds a level of seriousness to things, whilst getting around the weirdness of us having to call each other “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” when we’re in our 40’s!
  • I’ve dropped down from a UK size 26 to a UK size 20 and can fit into a really cute fur-trimmed, fitted, denim jacket that I last wore (literally once before it got too tight, small and restrictive) 18 years ago!
  • I can walk into town much more easily and whereas I would always have previously opted to take the bus, now I actually enjoy the walk (fibro flare days notwithstanding, naturally.) Just going out for a walk by myself has become a pleasant way to burn off some excess energy, get some fresh sea air and clear my head. I stick on my headphones and just take in the beautiful scenery. I even started to pay attention to some of the people out jogging with a voice in my head telling me “I could do that. Maybe not today, but soon.” I can’t believe that little old me is now looking at going for a run as something I a/ want to try out and b/ really think I’ll be able to do. I’m getting there, slowly but surely; but for now I’m just happy to be able to get in a good walk. UPHILL too, lol!
  • Shoes! My feet and my legs have shrunk a good bit already! The upshot of this is that I can once more fit into my New Rock Boots:

As well as my Iron Fist platform ‘n heels combo:

And I’ve also bought a new pair of DC Skate Shoes in a smaller size to celebrate:

(As you can see, my style is a hot-mess mixture of tough, scruff and slightly slutty, lol. #aesthetic )

So, I doubt that many of these are things that anyone else would find particularly exciting or interesting, but they’re nice little noticeable NSV’s that have brought a wee smile to MY face anyway.

I hope y’all are noticing a bunch of NSV’s of your own on your mission to shed some of those extra pounds. Got any good ones? Leave me a comment below and lets celebrate our little ‘wins’ together!

Stay victorious y’all,

Blue

Weigh-In Day / Down, Down, Down

It’s that time of the week again folks…WEIGH IN DAY! Technically it’s only been 6 days since the last one, but last week I weighed in a day late because I wanted to sync up the results with my 100 days milestone. I’m kinda wedded to the idea of Monday being the official weigh-in day each week on here though, so this week we’re just going to go with whatever I’ve lost in the last 6 days and get these weigh-in Monday’s back on track.

It’s been a good week for me overall. No fibro flare-ups, just a little bit of joint stiffness along with the usual pain levels (I’m always in pain…but some days / weeks / months are worse than others.) I’ve had 2 epic snooze-a-thons this week that both came in at just under 24hrs a piece, but that’s just the norm for me. I get real exhausted real easily and I probably got a little too cocky strolling around town listening to all the Christmas music.

I absolutely love the Christmas season because (tacky lights and music included) things feel a bit…magical! Not in the vile Disney way that seems to permeate a lot of sentiments, but just in the way that everyone is looking for things to bring joy to other people. Be it food, presents, office parties, arranging transport for Christmas Day, or just meeting up with a friend they rarely see for a quick cup of cocoa in a cute little café, there is a definite sense of Christmas spirit in the air as we all get closer to the 25th. Add to that the gorgeous frostiness in the air and I’m completely in my element. I just have to remind myself sometimes that the extra spring in my step will actually come at a price if I don’t reign it in a little bit, lol.

So anyway, the weigh-in. Well, I’m more than happy to announce that today’s scale reading showed me currently weighing in at 15 stone 12lbs (222lbs). Which is….*insert drum roll*… a 4lb loss! Whoop! I’m now in the 15 stone and some change bracket! That’s ANOTHER milestone! In my last weigh-in-day post which can be found here, I mentioned that I was 3lb away from getting under the 16 stone mark; a weight I hadn’t seen or even been anywhere near, since my early 20’s. Well, this week I’ve smashed through that milestone with a 4lb loss, which now also means that I am 2lb away from hitting the half-way point of 50lb (100lb loss being my first goal weight – subsequent further targets may be added at a later date; watch this space!)

I have to admit: as much as I have always had faith in my ability to do this, I’m still pleasantly surprised every time the scale moves down closer to my goal; every time I hit a milestone it makes me feel incredibly proud of myself. I’m really doing this. Of course, things are going to slow down a lot more, the closer I get to my goal, but I’m still hugely motivated. And I plan to keep on topping up those reserves of motivation, through dedication, focus, intent, self discipline and with the help of all the positive elements of good food, healthy snacks, motivational reading material and the kind of good feeling that only comes from continuous improvements to ones health.

(This quote was actually shared with me by my friend Jeff who has his own blog where he cooks up some amazing low-carb meals that are perfect to serve to everyone, regardless of whether or not they’re following a low-carb WOE. Check out ‘Dinner Time With Jeff’ get some awesome recipe ideas and leave him a comment if you try any of them out. I thought it was just the perfect motivational quote to include here today.)

Next week we’ll probably see me maintain again, which is fine by me. The 4lb loss of this week will even out to a 2lb loss each week for the fortnight, meaning I’m exactly here I should be at this point in time. The week after that is possibly “Shark Week” again? I’m not sure, I gotta go check the dates for that, but if it is then I won’t be at all surprised to see a brief “ghost-gain” as “Aunt Flo” does her worst. But that’s just the way the female body works. Success at weight loss is never linear, with pauses, fits, starts, ups and downs along the way. But as long as the trend tends to be downwards overall, I am a happy woman.

So have a wonderful week y’all.

May the scales be forever in your favour.

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

Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood

“I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood”

Before I begin, can we all just take a moment out to appreciate what an absolute banger of a tune this is? I know I post a lot of songs on here (tunes with some relevance to the topic at hand) and I doubt anyone clicks on them most of the time. But this classic from the 60’s is only 2.30 minutes long and you should totally just take a little time out to pop in your headphones and get down to some good old vintage pop music.

Okay, so what is the title of this post (and the related music link) really about today? Well, it has to do with a comment I received in a message from someone – who shall remain nameless – wherein they accused me of being “overzealous with success”, in regards to my having adopted a low-carb WOE. Which really surprised me; not in the least because the individual in question purported to have read this entire blog. Yes, this chaotic record of all the ups and downs that I’ve encountered over the past couple of months, lol.

Success? I’ve literally only just gotten started? Where are they getting THAT from? Am I presenting myself as a success? Or are other people just perceiving me as such? I’m pretty sure it’s not the former, because I’m incredibly honest about every issue, obstacle and set-back I experience along the way. So that suggests it’s the latter and that comes down to how others allow themselves to perceive my journey, through whatever lenses they happen to view the world. Which is pretty disappointing really; I’m not gonna lie.

So I thought maybe I would take the time out today to chat a little bit about exactly how I do think, when it comes to my low-carb WOE and weight-loss progress…because I’d hate for people to misinterpret my position or misrepresent my opinions.

First of all, I am – and always will be – a work in progress. Anyone who thinks otherwise of themselves, is either naïve, arrogant or just unwilling to engage in some healthy introspection. I only started down this new path of eating low-carb at the end of August. But I did spend a good few months before that, researching both the low-carb WOE and the psychology behind weight-loss and behavioural changes in general. Forewarned is forearmed after all; and I’ve always been one of life’s planners & researchers.

One of the things that really stuck out when I was looking into how to best go about pursuing a sustainable weight-loss plan, was the fact that people who were successful in the long run, treated their approach more holistically; meaning that they looked into changing their way of thinking and overhauled many of their behaviours to help give them the best chance at achieving their goals. Those who just tried to lose ‘X’ amount of weight without thinking about it in terms of an overall lifestyle adjustment, seemed much more likely to give up when things started to go awry. They hadn’t put anything else in place to bolster their efforts and attempts, so they had nothing to stop them from just throwing in the towel.

I did not want that to happen to me. In fact, scratch that: I REFUSE to let that happen to me. I will NOT be the architect of my own downfall. So I made sure – way before I even stepped onto the scale to find out my starting weight – to spend a little bit of time working out the best strategy for success, based on the choices, habits and behaviours of those who had succeeded themselves. Because why wouldn’t I? Why would anyone embark upon a serious journey to improve themselves, without first understanding a/ why they really want to achieve said goal, b/ what could thwart their attempts at success, and c/ what they could do to give themselves the best chance at negotiating all the inevitable hurdles that they will encounter along the way and be successful in pursuit of their personal goal?

I mean, it just seems like basic common sense to me, right? But if my 40 years of experience in dealing with other people has taught me anything, it’s that common sense really isn’t as common as we’d like to think it is. Do I think I’m special for thinking the way I do and being so naturally inquisitive when it comes to trying to make changes to my eating and health? Well, I’d like to say no because it doesn’t feel like a particularly special way of thinking or behaving…but after looking at the never-ending tales of woe by those who DON’T approach their goals this way and inevitably end up failing…well…maybe I do fall into that category of people who conduct themselves in a “special” kind of way. And that’s not something that necessarily comes naturally to me or anyone else; it involves making a conscious effort to really want to have the odds of success go in our favour.

So of course, I’m by no means a success when it comes to having met or maintained my goal. I really am still just coming out of the starting blocks as I progress along the path to a much lighter body and better health. But I WILL give myself credit when it comes to having successfully put the effort into researching and planning the route to my goal, as well as the amount of time I’ve spent working on trying to make sure that I have the best chance of succeeding at it. I’ve really worked hard at getting to understand my strengths, weaknesses, triggers, motivations and all the potential psychological barriers to making this low-carb WOE a successful, permanent lifestyle change. So, I’ll happily take the credit for having put the effort in, before I even began my Atkins induction. Fuck false modesty; I have no problem with feeling good about having put in the hard work.

But all that planning, self-reflection and research doesn’t amount to “success”. It just means I’ve made an effort to prepare in an attempt to give myself the best chance at succeeding. You only have to read back over all my blog posts to see how many ups and downs I’ve encountered so far – AND I’VE ONLY BEEN AT THIS FOR 2 MONTHS, Y’ALL! Lol! 2 months is nothing. The first couple of months are supposed to be the easiest; the time when the weight comes off the quickest and our resolve is at its highest. So if things have been so chaotic, week-upon-week, during the time when things are at their easiest, then heaven only knows how crazy and calamitous the next 12 months are going to be!

Because things ARE going to get harder, that much is a given! I KNOW that there are going to be weeks when the scale isn’t moving and my clothes aren’t loosening any more and my fibromyalgia is making me feel as though my limbs are made of lead. That’s just how it goes when we try to lose weight. Having problems and hitting obstacles isn’t unusual or special, but how we choose to deal with those problems will make ALL the difference to whether or not we stay the path or veer off into the nearest chocolate gateau. So whilst I won’t be any different to anyone else who is attempting to lose weight, in that I too will find myself hitting plateaus, getting frustrated and wishing I could just click my fingers and get to goal…I WILL have the benefit of having spent time anticipating these moments and given myself various coping strategies, in order to help me stay the course.

Positive mental attitude, motivational quotes and recommitting to my goal every single day upon waking, are just some of the tools I use to remain dedicated and keep my willpower fully charged. I don’t care if some people find any of that cheesy or cliché; clichés are just overused statements that have at their core, a kernel of truth that many people relate to; something that resonates with them. If you’re too cool for all that, well you do you, boo. I’m 40 years old, folks. I gave up giving a shit about what it meant to be cool about 25 years ago. (Yeah, I was anti-cool, waaaay before it was cool to be anti-cool, so…like…get rekt, lol!) If hearing about personal responsibility, mental focus and staying motivated isn’t for you then this probably isn’t the blog for you; so quit reading it, stupid! I mean, I get it, I’m awesome and you simply cannot stay away, but don’t expect me to change the way I conduct myself, just because y’all don’t like it.

I’ve said it before, but I HAVE to make this work for me. My health and quality of life depends on it. I can’t just decide that losing weight is too hard, that I’m not seeing results fast enough or that I can just live my life out in some sad form of denial, pretending like obesity related illness and immobility are totally acceptable and not at all dysgenic or disabling. If I don’t lose weight and improve my health, I will likely end up completely housebound, if not bedbound. I’m by no means the heaviest person out there and I’m a far cry from the ridiculous creatures on ‘My 600lb Life’. But I have physiological issues that have already, and will continue to, effect my mobility, dexterity and basic motor skills. These health issues will get progressively worse if I don’t make the necessary changes to lose weight. So when I tell you that I AM going to succeed at this, I’m not being big-headed or arrogant. I’m making a factual statement about what needs to happen and how I intend to make that happen.

So by all means feel free to look down upon me as just another newbie to the low-carb WOE, who naively believes that everything is going to be sunshine and fucking rainbows. That ain’t me, bro. I am NOT your average first-timer or habitual dieter. I am not the kind of person who looks upon failure as an option, regardless of whatever the goal in question is. But when it comes down to my health and my quality of life, you can be damn sure that failure is even less of an option. Some people jump into weight-loss without having anything approaching a real plan as to how they’re going to go about reaching their goals. They have insubstantial, vain or vague goals of “looking hot” or “getting into THAT dress again” and whilst y’all should do whatever works for you, chances are you won’t have fully engaged in any of the psychological work needed to truly figure out your “why, what, when, where & how”…never mind any contingency plans for when the shit inevitably starts to hit the fan. Anyone with half a brain can lose weight. But staying motivated until you hit your goal weight, then maintaining that weight loss in the long term (despite all of life’s little struggles that WILL be sent to test you) takes more than just eating within your calorie count, carb allowance, or whatever other macro you focus on, under your plan of choice.

THAT level of success comes down to mental fortitude, consistent effort, making good choices and creating a mindset that is not only prepared to experience hardship, but that knows how to navigate through the really difficult moments. You will never be permanently inspired. Not naturally. so you need to work on finding out those things that DO inspire you and motivate you, so you have them ready to fall back on, when things get tough and you’re starting to get battle-fatigued. Have you even considered what other possibilities you should have on the back-burner, when what you’re currently doing, just isn’t working for you anymore? Have you even given any thought to the fact that you ARE going to hit obstacles along the way; that your weight-loss journey isn’t just going to be a simple step from A – B?

And the truth of the matter is that all too many people who claim to want to meet a weight-loss goal, simply haven’t given any of that stuff the slightest bit of thought. They find themselves “suddenly” just caving in to festive treats and then feel guilty afterwards…which is entirely unsurprising when they never took the time to sit down before they began to change their WOE and actually think about how they would approach these situations going forward. They will find excuse after excuse as to why they are eating whatever candies are on sale during every festive period, rather than work on trying to understand why they feel so compelled to periodically indulge in all that crap and find a better way to deal with it. And let’s face it: every single holiday celebration now has a selection of “treats” available for us all to indulge in, all year round. If you’re going to go off-plan every time there’s another holiday food you believe you have the right to indulge in, then you’re obviously still stuck in the mindset that has you believing that food is more important to you than your goals. And hey, you totally DO have that right to eat whatever you want, whenever you want to; it’s your body and you can do whatever the hell you want with it. But you really don’t have the right to sit and feel sorry for yourself, expecting others to sympathise with you when it was YOU who made the conscious decision to eat off plan.

I simply refuse for that to be MY story. I don’t consider myself a success at all right now…but you can take it as read, that I WILL be successful in losing the weight, improving my health and altering my behaviours and habits going forward, to ensure I don’t wind up backsliding. I don’t care if I have to tinker with every single macro, every type of food and every added ingredient. If I have to try out IF, OMAD, EF, keto, paleo, carnivore or whatever other WOE out there involves not filling one’s body with a huge number of carbohydrates…I WILL find a way to get myself to where I want to be. And I don’t think that’s arrogant or over-zealous. That’s confidence. Self-belief. Determination. Commitment.

So to anyone who reads this blog and misunderstands my focus and my passion, I ask you to think again and maybe go reread this post a couple of times, so you really get to understand what motivates me at a core level. Because the only person I have to impress in all this, is me. The only person I am in competition with, is the person I was yesterday. The main reason I write all these posts and fire up my motivation, is so that I have somewhere I can go to air my thoughts, clear my mind, let off steam, tell the truth and have a permanent record of everything I’ve done, in my attempt to get healthy. If someone else enjoys the anecdotes or is able to see the value in a lot of the things I say, then that is an added bonus. But I’m not doing any of this for anyone else. This is all about me and it’s for me.

Because I am the centre of the universe.

And so are you.

So act like it, while you still have time to do something about it.

Stay focused y’all,

Blue

Going The Distance

“Because he’s racing and pacing and plotting the course
He’s fighting and biting and riding on his horse
He’s going the distance”

This post today is dedicated to my buddy lowjax over on the lowcarber.org forums, whose consistent dedication to his own weight-loss goals inspire me to keep motivated with my own. The guy has been hit with random health-problems that came out of left-field and thwarted his attempts by forcing him to change up his eating habits again, after he’d been doing so well with keto. Many people would have just given up right there and then and relegated all of their hopes and dreams to the scrap heap. But not this guy. He’s gotten back on the horse, re-evaluated his WOE and gotten back on the horse, ready to attack his goals again.

And I LOVE that! That’s a person who isn’t taking shit lying down. He isn’t making excuses for himself, or playing the victim…he’s just getting down to the task at hand and getting the results…and that is SO motivating for someone like me to see. I know he hasn’t had it easy and even he knows that this isn’t going to be a quick-fix or an easy ride, but that’s why he’s such a positive influence on me (and why other people should also see him as such, take heed and follow his lead!)

Success is contagious. Successful people push other people to also be successful, which is why I really appreciate having people like that around. Failure is also contagious – especially the kind of failure that comes from those who won’t take responsibility for themselves and see the downfall of others as a way to offset their own guilt and apathy at not putting in any effort themselves. There is no place in my world for enablers and emotional vampires. They are beneath me. But give me a hard-working, goal-oriented role-model to look up to and I’m right there ready to let their success spur me on too.

Both lowjax and I are around the same weight and age. We’ve both had health problems that will be improved massively by our losing a fair bit of weight. I know men and women lose at different rates – and of course, no two people’s bodies are the same – but we have somewhat similar journeys ahead of us. So when he succeeds and starts to see results, that’s like a positive affirmation that I too can succeed and get results too. I’ve said it before, but I’m not the kind of person who really benefits from being patted on the head or having my hand-held through challenges. I like no-nonsense, direct action that delivers. So seeing someone else really get their head in the game and start to talk about the “hard conversations we need to have with ourselves”, is exactly the sort of motivating talk that resonates with me.

Because all of us need to be having those “hard conversations” with ourselves if we want to conquer our inner demons and work through our psychological barriers to success. We can have as many high ideas about implementing change, adopting better eating habits and achieving our goals as we wish, but unless our heads are properly in the game, we’ll never stay committed and those goals will forever remain unattainable pipe-dreams. I know I probably sound like a bit of a broken record when it comes to focus, motivation and goal oriented thinking. But that’s just how my brain functions: if I want to continue to be motivated, I need to continually make the effort to keep myself motivated. And yes, that sounds like some circular reasoning right there, but I’m aware that at some point the onus is entirely on me to make the magic happen. The buck starts and stops with me.

I’ve just started reading a book called: “Changing To Thrive: Using the Stages of Change to Overcome the Top Threats to Your Health and Happiness – James O. Prochaska & Janice M. Prochaska” It’s a recently revised version of a book the authors wrote over 20 years ago and based on something called ‘The Transtheoretical Model Of Health Behaviour Change’ which Prochaska devised along with C.C.Di Clemente. I won’t go into the full details right now (I mean, I haven’t even finished it yet) because I want to write a future blog post that better sums it up; but it involves figuring out what stage of change an individual is at, then using behavioural psychology to find ways of helping to propel the individual along the way until they reach a point where they are no longer a high risk for relapse.

It goes into the relationship between thought and action and I’m enjoying the way it tries to take hitherto unsuccessful individuals and find them a route to permanent change, through a reinforced alteration of behaviour and attitude. And attitude, as you all know, I have in spades! Lol. Today just seemed to be one of those days when the universe was sending out some kind of synergistic message to me, by having lowjax post about his recent moment of revelation regarding his own need to change, at the exact time that I was reading about that mental process in the aforementioned book. I’m not really a supernatural, spiritual person or one who goes in for the woo, but it certainly felt that the universe was trying to tell me something today, lol.

I’m just going to guess that it means our success is written in the stars!

And I’ll take that.

Blue