Why Didn’t I Do This Sooner?

“My mind flies
How did I get here”

I’ve lost 67lbs folks.

67 brother-clucking pounds! That’s 3lbs short of a nice round 70lbs which tots up to whole 5 stone (in UK old money, lol) and 4lbs away from getting into ‘Onederland’. And do you know what? It only feels like I decided to do this a few months ago...how did I get here so quickly? So easily? It doesn’t even feel like I’ve had to put all that much effort into it! Sure things felt a bit weird for the first week or so, but once I’d gotten my head around the idea that this is just how I eat now, it’s actually been a bit of a breeze.

I know, I know, I’m probably jinxing myself and speaking too soon, because I’m far from done and the weight-loss is only going to get slower the closer to goal I get, but aside from the annoying “Shark Week” shenanigans that annoy me every month, this really hasn’t been a big deal to me. In fact, if anything, it’s actually been quite fun; seeing my body shrink and change, eating tons of good food, and getting to experiment with a bunch of low-carb products available on Amazon and other places online.

Why didn’t I do this sooner?

I mean, I know that the real reason is that my health just wasn’t being negatively impacted by my weight and food choices, so I never had anything pushing me to do anything about it. But now that I’m at the point I’m at today, seeing all this progress and knowing that it took so little effort to get here, I just wish I’d had the presence of mind to make all these changes sooner, before the health issues started to compromise my quality of life. That’s just life I guess and these are the lessons we learn along the way, but I’m a bit annoyed at myself that it took an issue with health & mobility to spur me on to decide to lose the weight.

It’s not even that I hit a “rock bottom” but I definitely left it a lot later than I should have. That’s not to say that I’m not seeing and feeling the benefits – because yo, y’all, I’ve never felt better! – but I’m just more annoyed at myself for not doing something sooner. Like, I sort of feel stupid for having put it off for so long. If you’re reading this and you know that you need to lose weight, but keep on procrastinating – JUST DO IT!

If I can do it, anyone can. I’m middle-aged, past 40, have zero history of doing anything fitness related, I have fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis and I’m a stubborn old, stuck-in-my-ways harridan who hates change. Yet this whole weight-loss thing has been so much easier than I imagined. How easy? Well:

  • I eat chocolate almost every day.
  • I eat spoonfuls of peanut butter straight out of the tub.
  • I pile my plate high with lots of meat.
  • I eat loads of cruciferous vegetables or salad most days.
  • I eat cheese every day.
  • I drink loads of coffee.
  • I drink energy drinks every day.
  • I haven’t stopped drinking sugar-free soda.
  • I do barely any exercise (although that’s mostly due to the fibro & arthritis).
  • I don’t have a massive appetite anymore and can skip a meal easily without thinking about it.
  • My brain feels so much clearer again after years of brain-fog.
  • My flare-ups are fewer and shorter lasting.

Yes I know that there are going to be people who find some of those admissions to be a little dubious; energy drinks and diet sodas aren’t exactly the best, most healthful choices one can make, right? Well yeah, that’s very true, but I’m working on making gradual, cumulative changes to my habits over time that I can make work and that don’t fall by the wayside because of overwhelm. Will I always drink an energy drink every day? Maybe, maybe not. Will I cut back on my diet soda intake? Maybe, maybe not. Will I try to do more exercise as I lose more weight? Definitely. But that’s something I really need to go easy with and for now I’m happy just to get in a few 2-3 mile walks a few times a week.

The reason all this has been so easy for me so far, is precisely because I haven’t tried to do too much, too soon. I never went into this thinking I needed to “DO ALL THE THINGS” all at once; what was important for me was getting the basics down pat and steadily making improvements along the way. Now here I am 7 months later and I can’t believe how simple it’s all been. Sure there’s been the odd occasion where a product I’ve been consuming turned out not to be as suitable for me as I’d first thought, but none of that has really caused me any issues. The most annoying problems I see with all this is when “Aunt Flo” comes and wreaks havoc on my weight for a week or so – but I’ve had very heavy, painful periods for years now. If anything, this way of eating has actually made them less painful and not quite as heavy for the full 7-10 days.

There have been zero negative effects from my having switched to a low-carb WOE and a whole boat-load of positives. So if you’re a middle-aged, overweight harridan like me and you’re even considering changing up your diet to lose some fat and improve your health, DO IT! Give it 2 weeks and see how you feel. If you’re anything like me, you’ll be amazed at just how much better you feel for having tried it, the scale will reflect your efforts and you’ll want to carry on a little bit longer to see how well you really can do with it.

I’m not normally one for regrets. I’m always happy to take everything as a lesson I can learn from, but if I regret anything, it’s not starting this weight-loss mission sooner. Who knows how much better I’d be feeling already? I guess I’ll never know. But what I do know is that this has been one of the best decisions I ever decided to make and I’m so happy to be reaping all the benefits, from so little effort.

Here’s to another 7 months of eating well and feeling awesome folks!

Blue

Music & Movement

“Moving, keep on moving
Where I feel I’m home again
And when it’s over
I’ll see you again”

Well this was a turn up for the books!

This week, after the hell of “Shark Fortnight” my energy levels skyrocketed. I don’t know if it was a totally new lease on life, or if returning to normal after 2 weeks of nausea and exhaustion just made me feel like I was wired to the moon, but I started feeling kinda antsy. Like I really wanted to move my body more. And that’s a bit of a new thing for me, because I haven’t really felt that kind of desire to do anything movement related for years. Obviously I do have to get up and do stuff throughout the day like everyone else, but any kind of movement just for movement’s sake…nope. A lot of that has to do with the worsening of my fibro & arthritis, but I know that as the years have gone by and the weight has crept on, my inclination towards wanting to exert myself at all has definitely diminished.

So it was quite unusual when I felt the urge to just get up and go out for a walk yesterday. I know, I know: going for a walk isn’t life-altering for most people, but just feeling the desire to do so really surprised me. I’ve been doing quite a bit of research recently into safe, low-impact exercise that I can try to incorporate into my health improvement mission; but just knowing how much pain I find myself in after even the smallest amount of activity, I’ve been really scared to actually try anything. It’s probably really difficult for someone who doesn’t have the chronic conditions that I do, to really understand how much of my life is spent trying to mitigate anything that could potentially aggravate said conditions, in order to avoid an unnecessary spike in pain levels. Because as I’ve talked about before, the pain that I deal with can be excruciating; and it often lingers around for days (or weeks, or even months sometimes when a flare-up is particularly bad). It’s not that I’m just a massive wuss who can’t deal with a few aches and twinges – far from it. I’ve had kidney stones, broken bones in multiple parts of my body, and even pulled my own wisdom tooth out when pandemic nonsense made it impossible to get to see a dentist. I don’t have a particularly low threshold for pain; it’s just exhausting and demoralising to be plagued with pain that lasts for such a long time.

So yeah, exercise scares me because I know just how badly my body can react to overexertion. But I’ve been wanting to at least try to do something to move a little more for some time now. One thing I knew I didn’t want to do, was fall into the trap that so many people on weight-loss missions, seem to succumb to: overwhelm. I follow a lot of folk on various social media apps and the number of people who decide to just go from 0-100 by overhauling their eating, and embarking upon a huge new fitness regime (as well as all the other big new things) despite having not done any real exercise for years, is unreal. And more often than not, it totally overwhelms them and they end up either giving up, or resorting to some kind of binge eating to deal with the unnecessary pressure. Which is completely predictable and understandable when you think about it. If you don’t come from a fitness oriented background and suddenly decide to do a 5am workout every day, your body isn’t going to like it and your brain is going to be doing everything it can to thwart your determination. So why do so many people think that they’re going to be the exception to the rule and change ‘all the things’ all at once, rather than start off slowly and build upon smaller changes, until they become truly ingrained habits?

I think for many people it’s just impatience. They’ve decided to make big changes, so they want to see big changes. And they want to see them yesterday. Which is fine if you’re looking for a quick fix and you’re not that bothered about any permanent results. But if you’re trying to learn new, healthier habits that you can keep up with for the rest of your life, then that “one big push” ain’t gonna do it, bro #JustSaying. Obviously my own limitations mean that I was never going to go from couch-potato to iron-woman on day 1, but I still wanted to make sure that I had done a good bit of introspection and inner-work on my mindset first, before then getting a handle on my eating habits. Only once I’d taken care of all that, would I then think about the addition of any exercise into my life. And I’ve been eating this way consistently for half a year now, so I’m really comfortable with the food side of things – not to mention all the regular journaling I’ve been doing to help work on my mindset and focus. So it felt rather serendipitous to start feeling that urge to move, just as I was coming to a point where I was mentally comfortable to start working on a new habit.

I definitely think that having had these issues with movement and mobility that come from my chronic conditions, has made me appreciate those times when I am able to get up and move about. I took all that for granted for so many years, letting my weight creep up from eating so much crap, while doing very little exercise. Now I actually want to move more, but I know I have to be careful because if I overdo it, then I’m really going to suffer for it. But I knew I had to start somewhere and so when that urge hit me, I grabbed my trainers and headed out before I had time to change my mind.

So, without any plan in mind as to where I was actually going to go, I decided to start off by walking up the really steep hill I live on and see how I felt after that. And I was really pleasantly surprised to find that I was able to walk to the top without getting all out of breath. The last time I walked up that hill was way back before I began losing any weight and I remember my heart feeling like it was going to beat right out of my chest when I was only 3/4 of the way up. Huh? Well that was new and unexpected. Then I tried to figure out what would be the best route to take, while not going too far from home; because I didn’t want to find myself suddenly seizing up and having to still make my way home, hobbling like some bedraggled crone. So I decided to just kind of loop around some roads in my area that I could easily just abandon and take a short-cut back home from, should the muscle spasms start to kick in.

As you can see from the incredibly detailed map I have included here (MS Paint for the win!) I didn’t really “go” anywhere, but I figured by the end of it that I’d got about a mile in. And when I got home I didn’t feel immediately terrible. Of course, after I’d sat down for a bit and then went to get up again I could feel the seizing-up really start to kick in and today I’ve got horrible twitchy pains running down my spine and into my legs, but it’s nothing I’m not used to. I was expecting to feel a lot worse if I’m honest and I’m still waiting for the worst of it to kick in, but the main thing is, I went for a walk and I got home in one piece and it didn’t kill me, lol!

And this is a really big step for me. It isn’t going to sound like anything earth-shattering to most people, but to anyone with a chronic condition, it’s really positive. Because now I’ve done it once, I know I can do it again. Maybe not tomorrow, maybe not the day after, but soon…and hopefully for the rest of my life! It’s a very small change that I can not only take some comfort from, but also build upon. I just have to remember to take baby steps, not overdo it and always listen to my body so as not to overexert myself too much. I figured that a mile was a good start and I was pretty sure that I’d walked about a mile, but I wanted to know exactly how far I’d gone so I could track any progress going forward. So I found some website that allows you to plug in your journey and it calculates the distance for you. Cool. Because I don’t own a Fitbit or Apple Watch or any of those gadgets (and I have zero interest in purchasing one) but I like the idea of knowing exactly how much I’m doing.

So imagine my shock when the distance I actually walked turned out to be 2.65 miles. Like, really? Because it didn’t feel like I’d walked that far. But then I have absolutely no idea how to estimate distances. I don’t drive and I have a terrible sense of direction (the fact that I didn’t get lost is a miracle in itself) but I was also really just lost in my music. (Once those headphones go in, the rest of the world could burn to the ground around me and I’d barely register any of it.) I think it might also have been something to do with the way in which I sort of kept doubling back on myself so it didn’t feel like I’d ventured too far from home, but whatever it was, it really didn’t feel like I’d walked very far.

But yeah, 2.65 miles was the distance racked up on my first little walk out around where I live. So that’s my starting point and something that I can totally do again, with at least some regularity. The biggest take-away from doing this though was that sometimes I just need to get out of my own head, say “screw it” and make that initial leap out of my comfort zone. The fears I have around pain and triggering off a big bloody flare-up, are very real. They’re not irrational or made-up excuses that I’ve concocted to avoid doing normal stuff; they’re very much based in my life experience. But I still need to remember to push myself more and not allow fear to keep me from making the improvements I need to make to my life. I guess it’s about finding that sweet-spot; the balance between too much and not enough. But if having these conditions has taught me anything, it’s that life is short and I should never take any of it for granted. If I don’t use my body to move, I’ll lose that ability altogether…and what kind of life is that for a woman in her 40’s? I just wish someone could give me an precise prescription for the exact amount of exercise I should and could do, to get the most benefits, whilst incurring the least amount of painful side-effects.

And that’s all I’ve really got to share with y’all today folks. Just another day spent making better choices, leading to the incremental changes that add up to big benefits. Nothing crazy, desperate or unsustainable, cause we ain’t about that madness around these parts.

Keep things sustainable folks

Blue

Woman Down / Weigh-In Monday

“The man in black
He found a crack
Inside my mind”

Okay, so where did the past 7 days go? Seriously, it only feels like yesterday that I was last getting on the scale and reporting back to y’all, yet here we are again going through the motions once more. And it’s been a really weird week for me. First off there was “Aunt Flo” who totally overstayed her welcome, but then I decided to really overdo things midweek and caused myself a bunch of aches, pains and miseries. Because a/ no I will never learn and b/ I still got things to do, regardless of how crappy I know it’s going to make me feel the following day. But, on the plus side, after what feels like an eternity, “Aunt Flo” has finally fecked back off from whence she came; and boy was the change in my entire physicality so freaking different. Literally overnight I went from only being able to eat the driest, least interesting of protein bars and nearly vomiting at the smell of my other half’s dinner, to waking up starving hungry and really wanting to eat some real food.

And eat I very much did! I had 4 quarter-pound steak burgers, a 200lb bag of broccoli (steamed), 10 brussels sprouts and grated cheddar cheese all over the lot! I was absolutely famished and needed all that protein and iron so badly after a miserably nauseated “Shark Fortnight”, that I devoured the lot in about 15 minutes. Oh and then I had a cup of coffee with cream afterwards and 18g of ‘Green & Black’s 85% Dark Chocolate’ too. It felt so freaking good to be eating a proper meal again (albeit a pretty damn huge one, but I’d been living on mostly protein bars & a bit of nut butter for nearly 2 weeks, so sue me, lol) and it might just have been psychosomatic, but I swear I could feel my strength returning to me almost immediately. Which is fantastic, because feeling like death (not even warmed up) for 2 weeks in a row really sucks balls y’know?

But I did my best throughout that period (pun totally intended) to keep referring back to Marcus Aurelius, for a bit of stoic motivational writing and at least try to see it all as a temporary thing that I would get through. Which of course I knew to be true because “Shark Week/Fortnight” seems to really floor me for a good amount of time, almost every month now. But I’m not gonna lie, there were moments when I just felt like my mood was plummeting to the ground and there was nothing I could do about it. Having fibro & arthritis is pretty miserable anyway. Getting a monthly visit from “Aunt Flo” is always pretty grim. But having a 2 week long “visitation” that in turn triggers off a worsening of the other stuff, really grinds a person down. I didn’t eat off-plan at all during that fortnight which is largely down to my having made the low-carb WOE a normal habit now, but feeling pukey for a lot of the time probably helped, lol. Although, I don’t know that eating nothing but protein bars is really all that good for anyone (it’s not something I plan on doing at any other time of the month) and the jury’s out as to whether we should be counting total carbs or net carbs; but I really didn’t care one way or the other. I needed stuff in my stomach to take my meds, but couldn’t eat much of anything or else I’d throw up. So protein bars it was. And they have a bunch of vitamins and other nutrients in them too, so I was getting some nutrition into me. But man was I ever ready for red meat once it was all over!

So yeah, thank frick that’s all over for this month! But, I hear y’all ask, what is the scale saying this week? Well, if you remember last week and the week before that, I was seeing freaking gains when I weighed in. Which was a bit annoying really because I wasn’t eating off-plan, so I knew it wasn’t a “fat-gain”, just what I like to refer to as a hormonal “ghost gain”. Thankfully the bloating has now gone-away and I’m happy that the number on the scale is a true representation of what I actually weigh now…which is 14 stone 10lbs (206lbs).

To put that all into perspective, 3 weeks ago on 15th February, I weighed 14 stone 12lbs (208lbs). The following week I was 14 stone 13lbs (209lbs) and last week I was 15 stone 1lb (211lbs) but both those weeks’ “gains” were down to the hormonal bloat of “Shark Fortnight”. Now I’ve dropped that 3lb of “ghost-gain” along with another 2lb of regular fat-loss, bringing me right back on track to where I should be. So that’s a relief. Although I’m just altogether more relieved to see the back of “Aunt Flo” and all her evil tricks – especially the sore boobs! – but that whole meshugas was really getting me down there for a bit. My mood today though, was already really good even before I stepped on the scale to see what I weighed this week; getting this reading today has only added to it.

And on that cheerful note folks, I’m going to leave you. Amazon is calling me and I have a bunch of new stationery that I really want to buy myself…maybe some more energy drinks too because I love the convenience of having a crate of them delivered straight to my door (even if the other half ends up pinching half of them – the absolute swine, lol!). I might not be able to buy myself any new clothes just yet, but I have plenty of other stuff on my wish-lists to go splurge on. Because why not?!

Have a lovely week y’all

Blue

Give Me Something For The Pain

“Give me something for the pain, Give me something for the blues 
Give me something for the pain when I feel I’ve been danglin’ from a hang-man’s noose
Give me something I can use
To get me through the night
Make me feel all right”

It’s about 3.30am where I am now and I’ve just gotten up from a 23hr sleep. Every part of my body is ringing with nerve pain and the diazepam and pain meds are just starting to take the edge off of it. I’m exhausted and all I really want to do is crawl back into my bed again. But I thought I’d log on for a bit and write about how I’m thinking and how I’m feeling during one of these “Long Dark Tea-Times Of The Soul“. Because this is the reality of living with a chronic condition; of living with chronic pain that flares up any time it feels like it – or in this instance, after I’ve spent a day over-exerting myself.

“So why do you over-exert yourself when you know what it does to you Blue? Sounds kinda dumb, even for you!”

Well, sure. I could just sit on my arse and do nothing every day, but I’d still have flare ups. And besides, I’m not dead yet. I still have a life that I need to get on with; things I need to do for myself; a partner who I need to be there for. I’m not about to just throw in the towel and give up any semblance of normality and independence that I can still muster, just to avoid the days like today when my entire body feels as though it’s pierced right through and enmeshed within a web of barbed wire. Life is all about trade-offs. It’s about the choices we make every moment of every day and the subsequent benefits or repercussions those choices bring about. As cold and unemotional as it sounds, we’re always rationalising our decisions, doing immediate ‘cost-benefit analyses’ – often without even realising it. But I’m always hyper-aware of the effects that my decisions will have on my body, and despite knowing how much something is going to end up hurting me, I have to weigh up the pros and cons and choose what is worth doing right now in the moment, fully understanding just how much I’m going to end up paying for that choice later on.

So sometimes I just have to choose to accept that more pain is going to come, if I’m to have any life at all. And I’m sort of okay with that. Obviously I hate that this is a trade-off that I have to accept: pain for life. And I really fucking hate the fact that I have these horrible conditions in the first place. But I’ve learned to live with it and also to really understand and appreciate just how beautiful and valuable life is. There’s a reassuring pleasure to be found in the mundanity of everyday life, that we rarely see any worth in until that everyday existence is threatened. As someone with a curious mind and need for constant stimulation, I struggle with the notion of just “being” – I’ve written before about how I will never be someone who can just sit and empty their mind or meditate – and I’ve spent my life always looking for ways to keep myself occupied. But suddenly finding yourself unable to pursue all the activities that one has previously taken for granted, really causes a person to stop and take stock of all the little things that make life worth living.

We often hear about people who upon receiving a terminal illness diagnosis, immediately find a real zest for life and become determined to make their last days on earth really count. It’s sad that it takes something as horrific and final as one’s impending death to make us really appreciate every day for the gift it truly is. But it’s also completely normal and understandable. Life is a chaotic blend of good and bad; of the exciting and the boring; of the sacred and the profane. And it’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day grind of working, providing for our families and caring for those we love. We choose our little battles and focus on our goals and with only so many hours in the day, it’s easy to forget about stopping to “smell the roses” from time to time. Nobody really likes to think about the inevitability of their own mortality, so we just keep on keeping on. Always moving forwards, rarely pausing to think about what it’s all for, all this effort of doing, striving and struggling to get…somewhere. Until that is, something happens like a terminal diagnosis – of ourselves or someone close to us – that forces us to get up close and personal with just how fragile, brief and valuable our time on this planet actually is.

Yeah, I know I sound like some hippy-dippy, new-age spiritualist right now, but bear with me okay? I don’t have a terminal illness, but I do have chronic conditions that will only get progressively worse as time goes by. I’m never not going to have arthritis and fibromyalgia, but that doesn’t mean I can’t do everything within my power to stop these conditions from worsening more than they would if I just accepted my fate and did nothing. Which is why I decided to lose weight and improve my health in the first place. In a way I’ve actually been luckier than a lot of people because the little push that caused me to re-evaluate my life choices wasn’t a terminal diagnosis with an immediate end in sight; it was something far less serious that gave me enough pause to start making better choices every day. And I’m weirdly grateful for that. Because who knows just how much more damage I could have done to my body before I found any real reason to do anything about it? It feels like I skated really close to the edge of somewhere really dangerous, only to be brought back from the brink by forces beyond my control or comprehension.

And on top of that, learning to live with a chronic illness has also made me really value life in all its crazy shades and hues, for the amazing gift it really is. Pain does things to a person. It jolts us to a level of awareness that just isn’t there during our more comfortable moments. When we’re experiencing pain, we’re very much living in the moment, as awful as it might be. It’s almost impossible to think beyond the agony and how to get through the next few minutes, but once that pain begins to relent (as mine is doing right now) it’s like we’ve been delivered from evil and born again into a place where everything is so much brighter.

I’m speaking purely from personal experience here, so don’t any of y’all come at with the ways in which I’ve gotten it all wrong because your experience differs wildly from that which I’ve written about here. Of course this is a personal, subjective reflection; none of us can ever actually know how another person experiences pain or the absolute levels of hell it visits upon each and every one of us. I’m not trying to write a definitive treatise on pain or even view it objectively. Far smarter men than I have written far more insightfully on the subject (that Jung quote above really resonates with me on a literal and metaphorical level – everyone should read a bit of Jung if they want to get a better understanding of themselves!) I’m just…heck, what am I doing? I’m writing about all this because I’m feeling like crap and I need an outlet and I guess this place is as good as any. When I write things down it helps me to clarify my own thoughts and whilst this post isn’t really anything to do with weight-loss, it’s as much a part of my life as anything else I discuss on this blog. If you’re looking a really brilliant and impactful book on the subject, I’d highly recommend “In The Land Of Pain – Alphonse Daudet”. Really more of a collection of notes and scribblings it chronicles the hellish descent into agonising madness by a man suffering with syphilis. It’s only a very short book (about 120 pages) and whist being immediately readable and relatable, the descriptive writing is both viscerally tragic and eerily beautiful.

But getting back to what I was trying to say about the positives that can be gleaned from experiencing a chronic illness, whilst I still do hate being beset with these frustrating conditions, having sat and thought on my own situation long and hard, there really is a silver lining to what initially looks like one great big mofo of a cloud. Yes it makes life difficult because I really have to plan out everything I do on the understanding that I will suffer later for anything that causes me to push myself a little further than my body is comfortable. And yes, it’s infuriating to know that there are some things that I simply cannot do. But I’ve also found a new appreciation of not just the moments when I’m enjoying getting to do the things which end up hurting me (I’m not a masochist, I swear, lol!) but of the times when the pain recedes and my joints aren’t as seized up and I can just “be” – in whatever banal, mundane moment that might be. And I’ve never had that before. I’m not saying y’all will ever find me sitting in the lotus position, surrounded by joss-sticks, chanting “Om!” (as if, lol) but those times when I’m wracked with pain, unable to do anything other than make it through the next few minutes, make all those other times when the pain relents and becomes the normal hum of background pain that I pretty much always have, so much sweeter.

In order to know happiness, we really need to know what it is not to be happy. It’s that contrast in experience which gives happiness so much value. I’ve been incredibly lucky to have lived a life mostly free from sadness. I’ve had injuries and illnesses like everyone and experienced the normal losses of family members and pets that we all go through. But I’ve largely been able to do whatever I wanted to, safe in the knowledge that anything I chose to really pursue would be utterly attainable. I’ve had mad experiences, worked like a demon, wasted a bunch of time on nonsense and gotten to my middle-age relatively unscathed. But it took developing a chronic condition to actually make me truly understand how much there is to love and appreciate about life. Would I take the magic pill and have my illnesses cured in an instant if such a thing were to exist? Well yeah, duh. I’m grateful, not stupid. Who wouldn’t want to be able to avoid the agony of a grotesquely gnarled body, all twisted up in contorted pain?

But I wouldn’t want to unlearn the lessons that all this has taught me. I’ve really begun to see value in the everyday and the mundane. I still want to find things to keep my mind occupied when I’m stuck in the house, but I’ve developed an appreciation for all those times when I’m not enduring a flare-up or suffering after a day of over-exerting myself. Being in pain has made me appreciate not being in pain – or just experiencing the low-level background of pain which I’ve pretty much gotten used to. And sitting here now as the first twitterings of birds waking up are coming in through the open window, I’m feeling a little better than I did when I started writing this meandering waffle of a post. My arms and torso are still throbbing (because in my sillier moments on Thursday I decided to do some push-ups in the hallway with my other half…yeah, I know, I’m an idiot, sue me) but the muscles in my leg have stopped spasming and the needling pain in my feet has mostly abated. It’s a cool Saturday morning and I’ve got books to read, YouTube videos to catch-up with and some laundry that needs to be done.

I’m obviously not going to be overdoing things today, but things are already looking brighter than they were a couple of hours ago (it’s now about 5am here in the UK). I’m looking forward to spending the day with my other half and seeing all the sparrows and crows and blackbirds as they come to feed on the smorgasbord of comestibles that I’m about to put out for them for breakfast. I’m going to be sore and stiff for the rest of the day, but today is going to be a good day, I know that much. So what was the point to this post? Well, it really just started out as a means of catharsis for me. I needed an outlet to distract me a little bit as my meds kicked in and figured I’d share the way I was feeling with you guys, because why not? But I guess the underlying take-away from everything I’ve talked about today is that whilst it’s important to set goals and strive to achieve them, never lose sight of what’s going on around you while you work hard at whatever it is that you want to succeed at. We only get one life, so enjoy as much of it while you can. Take the rough with the smooth and be truly grateful for every minute you get to live on this planet. And no matter how shitty and difficult things might get from time to time, appreciate what you have and every now and now again, maybe stop to smell the roses.

Stay grateful folks

Blue

Freaking The Frick Out

“I am one of those melodramatic fools
Neurotic to the bone, no doubt about it”

Every so often my mind likes to short-circuit itself a bit, just to remind me of who’s really in control. This week was obviously time for my regular mini-meltdown, because I’ve just been way too sane and chill for far too long. And it sorta came out of left-field because everything’s been going really well…a little too well, if you know what I mean? And my brain simply cannot be having that. I’ve already told y’all before that I’m a bit of a control freak and I’m actually really glad that I am. It means that I am responsible for always owning my shit and making things happen. But the downside to this trait (a hot-mess mixture of conscientiousness and neuroticism) means than back when my mental health went a bit awry, this amped up into an extreme form of hyper-vigilance. I never developed OCD, but I would often struggle with ambiguity and when presented with problems to which there were no clear solutions, I would spiral a little into an obsessive quest to know all the contributing factors and predict the most likely resolution.

If that all sounds a bit wild and “out-there” well that’s probably because it is, lol. But bear with me, because I promise it will all make sense soon (no self-respecting hyper-vigilant, control-freak would just leave you hanging like that, bro, lol). Last September when I was about 4 weeks into this new low-carb way of life, I wrote a post called ‘Fear’ in which I explained how I was suddenly feeling about the whole ‘not knowing’ if I was going to be successful in my attempt to lose weight / improve my overall health. And I think a lot of people resonated with the things I wrote about because it’s one of the most popular / liked posts I’ve written on this blog so far; fear and uncertainty surrounding our ability to succeed is obviously something many of us experience when we’re striving to achieve our goals. With me though, my own fear is much more rooted in the unknown. It’s not that I doubt my own ability to do something, more that I struggle with the potentially infinite external factors that I have no way of keeping track of, or even anticipating.

So why am I going back over all of this today when I’ve been quite contentedly plodding along with my low-carb WOE and getting the exact results that I want? Well – now you have to promise not to laugh when I tell you this, because I know (objectively) that what I’m about to say is going to sound a bit silly – it’s all because of what I saw when I weighed myself on Monday. The scale said I’d lost 3lb.

“Um, isn’t that a good thing Blue, you absolute fruitcake?”

Kinda, but not really. You see, you have to look at that “result” from the POV of a lunatic control-freak like me, who hates surprises and just wants thing to go exactly the way I expect them to. It might not sound like a big deal, but I only want to be losing 1-2lb at most every week. I’ve been relaxing into a nice, predictable pace that I feel comfortable with, knowing that I’m doing this sensibly and sustainably. If I maintain on some weeks, I’m totally okay with that because I know that’s something to be expected when embarking upon a weight-loss mission; especially one like mine which is going to take a bit longer than most, because I’ve got more than 100lb to shift (probably closer to 150lb in total, but I’ll adjust my “goal weight” once I’ve hit that initial 100lb loss). I’d factored in ‘maintain’ weeks before even starting down this path. I also prepared myself for weeks where the scale goes back up a notch (even if I do get absolutely outraged at the utter audacity of the scale for telling me I’ve gained, lol). But once the initial bursts of bigger numbers were out of the way and I was settled into a comfortable pace of losing 1-2lb max a week, I didn’t really think about the potential for any weeks where I’d lose more than that again.

Losing 3lb last week really threw me for a loop.

Why is the scale suddenly showing a larger loss at this stage in the game? I’m not doing any weird challenges, or restricting my intake at all. Surely the rate at which I’m losing weight now should be slowing, not increasing? What happened to make me lose that extra pound last week? Yeah, it was around this point where I started to have another mini-meltdown, rooted in ‘Fear’.

  • “If I’m losing more than I’m expecting or hoping, does that mean something’s not right?”
  • “Oh frick, maybe I don’t have as much control over this whole process as I thought!”
  • “If I have no control over how much weight I’m losing each week, what’s to say I’ll even be able to make my goal?”
  • “What if this is the last big drop and after this I’m going to plateau for like, months?”
  • “Does this mean I’m not eating enough?”
  • “How much should I be eating then? I’m already eating to satiety and rarely hungry?”
  • “I thought I was gong to have to start reducing my portion sizes…but now…?”
  • “What if I DO get to goal weight and then I don’t know how to stop?”
  • “How am I going to figure out how to maintain my goal weight without regaining or losing even more?”
  • “Maybe I have cancer!” – Because of course, that’s always where the mind goes to when there’s any suggestion that something might not be right.

Yep, the hyper-vigilance spiral was in full force folks, lol. And before anyone says that I’m overreacting and that weight-loss is never linear blah, blah, blah….I know that. I’m well aware that I’m “overreacting” because that’s just what I do when presented with an anomaly and far too many contributing variables, for me to be able to know what caused it. (I might be a crazy person, but I’m not crazy enough to not know that I’m crazy, y’all!) Something that most people would just easily write off as the human body doing it’s own thing, triggered the part of my brain that deals badly with ambiguity. When I say I’m a control-freak, I don’t mean in the way that I dictate how others behave around me or demand a high degree of compliance from them. It’s entirely internal and I rarely let anyone else know just how much something like this 3lb weight-loss absolutely wrecks me. (The fact that I internalise all this probably played a big part in why I had such a lunatic breakdown – I’m well aware of that.) I can talk about it here though because none of y’all know who I am and it’s more like keeping a journal than actually exposing my weakness for all and sundry to see.

If you met me in real life, you’d think I was a lot more relaxed and easy-going than I really am. Because I know intrinsically that my tendencies are all about my own issues with disorder, unpredictability and the need to know / understand everything that’s going on around me. Obviously my other half knows my crazy ways – and him being genuinely ‘laid-back almost to the point of horizontalization’ is good for me, because it a/ helps me learn to accept a little more “chaos” in my life, and b/ it also means he rarely gets stressed out about anything; including my neuroticism, lol. I know that my dysgenic tendencies aren’t well received by other people, so I try to keep them in check as much as possible (knowing you’re a lunatic is half the battle, amirite?). I can even live with his untidiness, because that’s what I’ve come to expect from him. I’d actually be more freaked out if he suddenly started being more tidy. I only tell y’all all this, so you can get a better idea of who I am and why I flipped out a bit this week.

I know that I cannot have or even expect to have, any control over the actions of others or the way the world goes on around me. And I’ve made my peace with that as best I can. But I still expect to be able to control my own actions and by extension of that, how my body responds to my wanting to lose weight and improve my health. Is that an unreasonable expectation? Well yes and no. Yes because the human body is a sophisticated machine, literally and figuratively with a mind of its own. Forever growing, changing, reacting, processing and overseeing all the necessary logistics required just to keep us alive, there are far too many potential variables involved to ever truly be able to keep track of everything on a conscious level; let alone control the entire incredible thing. But it’s a no too, because we know that are some things we can do to change our bodies and affect our health. We all have to find the right balance between all that so that we can go through life relatively sane and only focusing our attention on the areas that we do have any control over. That’s why the ‘Serenity Prayer’ is such a powerful, effective part of Alcoholics Anonymous and other twelve-step programs.

I’m not a remotely religious person, but even I can see the eternal truth and wisdom in those words – even if I do struggle with the ‘acceptance of things I cannot change’ part! The ‘Serenity Prayer’ might have codified by Karl Reinhold Niebuhr in the 1930s, but the message and the wisdom it contains has been around forever. The Stoic ‘Dichotomy of Control’ is simultaneously the most intuitively simple aspect of Stoicism to understand and the most profoundly difficult to practice consistently. The stoic philosopher Epictetus explained the ‘Dichotomy of Control’ in ‘Enchiridion 1’. The intuitively simple part of the ‘Dichotomy of Control’ is the assertion that some things are “up to us” (within our power), and others are “not up to us” (not within our power).

“Make the best use of what is in your power, and take the rest as it happens. Some things are up to us and some things are not up to us. Our opinions are up to us, and our impulses, desires, aversions—in short, whatever is our own doing. Our bodies are not up to us, nor are our possessions, our reputations, or our public offices, or, that is, whatever is not our own doing.”

Enchiridion 1 – Epictetus, 108 AD

Trying to get a handle on the things we can and cannot change – whilst having the wisdom to know the difference – has been an eternal dilemma taxing wiser men than we, throughout the ages. And that’s actually quite comforting in a weird way. I’m not going to try and pretend that I’m a stoic (I’m pretty sure neuroticism is the antithesis of stoicism, lol) but when I was working on getting over my mental breakdown, I started reading a bit about stoicism to try and find a bit of rational, logical guidance that I could try to use any time I had an attack of the crazies. And whilst I’ve really only skimmed over Epictetus (probably not the best thinker to start off with if you’re interested in stoicism) I really enjoyed ‘Meditations’ by Marcus Aurelius. Seriously, don’t be put off by the couple of millennia time difference, Aurelius is eminently readable; ‘Meditations’ is completely accessible to the modern reader and is filled with utterly quotable musings that anyone will find relevant and easy to identify with.

I think the reason it’s so timelessly relatable, is because it was never supposed to be something considered for publication, education or mass distribution. These were the personal writings of a man trying to control his impulses and be the best man he could, at a time when he was Emperor of frickin Rome! His personal struggle with wanting to do what is right, while also understanding his own motivations and behaviours, is something everyone can relate to – even a couple of thousand years down the line. Which is why I’ve started re-reading it recently (annoying enough I can’t find my hard copy, but I’ve got it on my Kindle too thankfully – which is probably a blessing in disguise really, because it allows me to highlight various passages that I can find again later with a quick search.)

And I’m not saying that it’s the cure-all, self-help manual that single-handedly stopped me from spiralling further into the hole of hyper-vigilance (or that just one reading of it will fix your own intrusive thoughts) but it’s definitely helped me to mentally take a step back and just breathe deeply. It’s not a long book and is divided up into 12 chapters – which are referred to as ‘books’ in themselves – so you can dip into it here and there, stopping to sit and think or maybe even journal a bit about what you’ve just read. (And don’t be surprised if you find yourself wanting to underline or highlight every single sentence, because this baby is all-killer-no-filler!)

It’s not that I don’t already know the advice contained in ‘Meditations’, more that I need a little prompting every now and again, to remember what I do know and put it into practice.

“Every moment think steadily as a Roman and a man, to do what thou hast in hand with perfect and simple dignity, and feeling of affection, and freedom, and justice; and to give thyself relief from all other thoughts. And though wilt give thyself relief, if thou doest every act of thy life as if it were the last, laying aside all carelessness and passionate aversion from the commands and discontent with the portion which has been given to thee.”

Book 2: The Meditations Of Marcus Aurelius

It just feels like I’m being calmed down and spoken earnestly to by some avuncular gentleman, wiser in the ways of the world than I could ever aspire to be. Taking a little time out to sit and read ‘Meditations’ was exactly what I needed to help stop me from spiralling further into a haze of hyper-vigilance. Partially because the simple act of reading itself is a very calming way for me to interrupt my crazy thinking anyway, but largely because Uncle Mark (can I call him that? Do you think he’d mind me being so ‘familiar’ with him? Lol.) just helps me to find a way back to my saner, more rational self. Because whilst I’m a somewhat neurotic fruitcake who sometimes feels the need to know all the things, I’m also a very logical thinker and problem solver who values rationality and truth. (When I told y’all I was a ‘walking contradiction in terms’ I wasn’t lying folks!)

If you’ve read anything about the ‘Big Five’ personality traits in psychology, you’ll already know how each person is considered to have a high, medium or low tendency towards extraversion, openness to experience, agreeableness, conscientiousness and neuroticism. Each trait can have both positive and negative elements, depending on the situations we’re in and the people we’re dealing with, and are interconnected factors which make up our individual, personalities. According to the researchers at the Personality Project, personality is “the coherent pattern of affect, cognition, and desires (goals) as they lead to behaviour” (Revelle, 2013). Meanwhile, the American Psychological Association (APA) defines personality as “individual differences in characteristic patterns of thinking, feeling, and behaving” (2017). So of course, it’s entirely possible to rate highly on more than one trait – I guess I’m just a super “extra” kind of person with a really big, complicated personality.

And it’s not like my being conscientious isn’t compatible with a degree of underlying neuroticism. I’m a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to applying myself to tasks that I really care about and actually want to succeed at; being a bit neurotic about the things that are beyond my control might seem unreasonable at times, but it’s definitely understandable when you look at the bigger picture. I’m not naturally extravert, but I’m able to be gregarious and social when needs be; it just exhausts me whenever I have be around lots of people and afterwards need to retreat to the quiet calm and restorative peace of my own company at home. I’m not hugely open to new experiences either, but I will push myself to try things if I think there are some benefits to it. As for agreeableness…yeah, that totally depends on who I’m around. I can be the nicest, most polite and friendly person you’ve ever met, but if I don’t think you’re deserving of my time, pleasantries or good side, I won’t just play nice for nice’s sake. Woe betide the poor unfortunate miscreant who underestimates my feisty side and ends up getting into an argument with me, lol.

As you can probably gather from all that, I’m a mixture of various traits – like everyone – but I’m incredibly self-aware of the aspects of my personality which can sometimes get in the way of my being happy. I know my weaknesses and I’m forever looking for ways to improve on the areas which might not being helping me get where I want to be in life. That’s why I really like the underpinning ethos of stoicism and the writings of Marcus Aurelius. They speak to my rational, logical side and force me to reassess the neurotic side of me which causes me to feel as though things are beyond my control. And that’s what I’ve been trying to tap into this week after that 3lb loss made me feel like things weren’t going the way I wanted them to. Some people who had a weird extra loss might have looked to other weight-loss resources in order to feel better about how things were progressing. But I knew that it wasn’t the loss itself that was the problem – like I said before, I’m perfectly aware of how weight-loss isn’t a linear process and that logically, there will always be weeks when the scale shows something I’m not expecting. It’s all to do with me and the way I respond to the unexpected.

And that’s why I reached for some Marcus Aurelius, rather than the reassuring words of someone else going through a similar weight-loss experience. I know I don’t think the same way as other people, so their words regarding their own experiences aren’t necessarily going to resonate with me. No, what I needed was a good stern talking to from a 2000 year old Emperor of Rome (because, why the frick not?). And it definitely worked, because I now feel a lot less ‘freaked the frick out’ and better able to accept the unexpected number on the scale. Because it’s not about the weight; it’s about dealing with the unexpected, trying to let go of the reigns of control, and ultimately it’s about ‘Fear’.

So, what was the point to this entire ramble? What can you take away from everything I’ve said today? Well basically, it’s that knowing yourself and understanding why you do the things you do, is the most important factor in wanting to enact change. Yes this post was about weight-loss on the surface, but it’s actually about the way in which I deal with the unexpected. A 3lb loss instead of a 1lb or 2lb loss is really neither here nor there; in fact I’m probably going to end up seeing a gain on next Monday’s weigh-in because it’s “Shark-Week” and I’m bloated and I always gain in “Shark-Week” (or “Shark Fortnight” as it was last time!) That extra pound that I lost last week means absolutely nothing in the grand scheme of things. But it really brought to the forefront my own issues with control, surprises and how I deal with the unexpected; things I know I have to work on for myself.

Whether you’re trying to lose weight for yourself, or if you’re attempting to change some other aspect of your life, it’s absolutely essential that you not only understand your motivations for doing so, but you really need to know yourself and how your own personality plays into your ability to succeed or the likelihood of failure. And when you truly understand what makes you think and act the way you do, you can then figure out the best tools to have in your arsenal whenever you find yourself getting in your own way. It’s really easy to look at something like weight-loss as a simple numbers game that revolves entirely around the food we eat and the amount of exercise we do. But it’s so much more than that and that’s why the answers to any issues that crop up around weight-loss, can’t simply be found in the areas we initially think to look for them. For me, I found answers and solutions in the writings of Marcus Aurelius and the ideas involved in stoicism; because that helped me to understand my motivations and guide me towards a calmer sense of acceptance of the things I don’t have complete control of.

Everyone is going to be different and what strikes a chord with me isn’t necessarily going to resonate with you. But when dealing with our emotions, thoughts, feelings and behaviours it’s the underlying motivations that we need to deal with, not just the superficial effects that initially seem to be the problem. For some people therapy is the best route to them being able to better get to know themselves, but I would never do well in a therapeutic setting. I don’t trust people to know or understand me better than I know myself and I don’t have the patience to have to faff around with trying different people, when I know that I have the capability of working through my own issues myself – using the writings, words and wisdom of individuals who speak to me in a way that makes sense. But you have to find out what works for you personally and you just gotta find out the best way of getting know and understand what makes you “you”.

Change is always difficult, but it will never hold unless you already have a firm foundation on which to build upon. Trying to fix all the external components that we dislike might work at first, but you have to know why you developed the negative thing you wanted to change in the first place, if you ever want to make those changes permanent. So go do all the things that make you happy, healthy, slim, pretty and successful – you owe it to yourself to be the best version of yourself that you can be. But know that none of the changes you make on the outside will ever really stick or truly make you happy, unless you also work on fixing who you are on the inside. So be honest with yourself, work on getting to understand yourself and remember that change comes from within.

Stay complicated folks!

Blue

Suppdate

“And so I wake in the morning and I step outside
And I take a deep breath and I get real high
And I scream from the top of my lungs
What’s going on?”

Okay so let me just preface today’s post with the obligatory disclaimer: I am not a doctor or a trained dietician or nutritionist. None of the following is intended to be any form of medical advice, it is merely an account of my own experience in using certain OTC supplements, based on my own research. This post is for informative purposes only and is in no way intended to diagnose or treat anybody’s medical conditions. If you are thinking about incorporating any kind of supplement regime into your diet, be sure to consult a medical professional before doing so.

Right. Now we’ve gotten that out of the way, you’ve probably already deduced from the blog title, that today’s post is about the particular nutritional supplements that I’ve been taking since switching over to my low-carb WOE. I’ve always taken a basic multivitamin for as long as I can remember, but in the past year I’ve added a few other items to my regime. I can’t really say one way or the other if they’re having any real impact or effect on my overall physical health and wellbeing, but at worst I’m just spending a chunk of money on a bunch of things that help make my urine just ever so slightly more costly – or as Dr Rob Cywes says “giving my wallet an autopsy”, lol.

Anyway on to the products. First off, there’s my multivitamin. I take ‘Vitabiotics Wellwoman Original’

I started taking these years ago, because they’re a really comprehensive basic multi-vitamin made by a reputable company. I like the statement that they provide on their website about how they approach nutritional supplements:

“Vitabiotics prides itself on the research and innovation of the UK’s leading, scientifically based nutrient products. Our core philosophy, which was instilled by our Chairman for 18 years, Professor Arnold Beckett OBE, is to strive for evidence based, balanced, moderate levels of nutrients in effective formulas.

Vitabiotics not only relies on published, peer reviewed data on its nutrient ingredients but also conducts trials on the product formulations themselves. We currently have a number of clinical trials already published, in progress, or awaiting publication, and are probably Britain’s first and only nutraceutical company to have engaged in such high quality clinical trials in this way.”

https://www.vitabiotics.com/pages/scientific-advisory-board

I can find them easily in Boots, Holland & Barrett, Lloyds Pharmacy or Sainsbury’s which is handy because there’s less chance of me running out and not being able to get hold of any more for a while. I also like that they contain Evening Primrose Oil & Starflower Oil which are allegedly supposed to beneficial during “Shark Week” and help with overall skin health. They also contain chromium which has been suggested to help with balancing blood sugar levels. Not having consumed more than 20g of carbs a day for the past 170 days, my blood sugars are probably more stable than most non-low-carb peeps, so again I can’t say whether or not it really does help me in any way, but it certainly isn’t doing me any harm. The capsules are easy enough for me to swallow and I always take them after a meal that contains fats so that the fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K will be absorbed properly.

I’ve never had any issues with nausea or any other negative side effects from taking them and will probably continue taking them for the next 10 years (after which I’ll switch to the Vitabiotics Wellwoman 50+ version). A pack of 30 capsules costs around £8, which works out at about 27p per day, but they’re frequently on offer in all the places I mentioned above, often on a ‘Buy One Get One Half Price’ or similar promotion, so I tend to stock up on them whenever I can. If you prefer to order online, you can purchase Vitabiotics entire range from their own website which also runs frequent multibuy promotions and has a reward points scheme where customers can earn points from repeat purchases and redeem them against other purchases in future.

Vitabiotics also offer their Wellwoman brand in a ‘Plus’, a ‘Max’, a ‘Sport’, a ‘Vegan’ and a ’70+’ formulation which I guess you can opt for depending on your lifestyle requirements. And for the boys, there is a ‘Wellman’ range which also offers various formulations, just targeted for the other sex. They even offer their multivitamins in a ‘Gummies’ range too, for those of you who struggle with swallowing capsules. All in all, I just think it’s a good, basic multivitamin which makes no crazy claims about being able to cure everything that ails you, and comes from a well established brand at an affordable price.

Next, also from Vitabiotics, is their ‘Osteocare – Glucosamine & Chondroitin’ supplement which I’ve also been taking for a couple of years.

As I’ve mentioned before, I suffer with Fibromyalgia and Psoriatic Arthritis. Some research has suggested that Glucosamine and Chondroitin may help some people with joint pain and just contribute towards overall joint health, but whilst there isn’t any conclusive evidence for this, the Arthritis Foundation say they’re safe for individual to try for themselves. Again, I can’t say for sure whether this product actually does help me in any way, because the conditions I have are multifactorial, so there are various contributing factors regarding the severity of my symptoms and the way they present themselves in my particular situation. But having spoken with my doctor who said that these supplements may or may not help me (and that I’m fine to stack this product with the aforementioned multivitamin) he sees no reason why I shouldn’t take them, so I like to include them in my daily supplement regime. I’ll try anything that might help my underlying conditions and whilst I haven’t conducted any isolated “n=1” experiments to see if these supplements alone are providing any genuine benefits, I take them just in case they do help in any way.

I know that might sound a bit daft to some of you, my taking something when I have no idea whether or not it actually benefits me, but I’m not actually in any position to do any real conclusive “n=1” experiments to see if these supplements in isolation are providing any positive results. I’ve already eliminated sugar from my diet which is itself beneficial in reducing the severity of inflammation and autoimmune conditions. But I can’t simply start running my own little tests where I stop taking pain relief, diazepam, anti-inflammatory tablets and all my supplements, then reintroduce this particular supplement to see what effect they have. I live with chronic pain every day which flares up into really bad episodes every so often depending on the weather, the time of the month or any physical activity I embark upon. If I were to simply stop taking everything I’m prescribed, I’d be in even worse pain than I am already and it would be an impossibly torturous experience to even attempt to detect any underlying benefits from this particular supplement. I say all this because I am in no way making any claim that this supplement does or does not help with my particular conditions. But I’m happy to pay to take them every single day, in the hope that perhaps they may be doing some good, along with all the other things I do to try and make my life easier.

None of this is to decry this product in any way, I’m just being completely transparent about my reasons for using it and my own experience with it. I cannot say whether it works or not, just that it’s a reasonably priced product from a reputable company who I already trust to provide me with my basic multivitamin. If your situation is different and you suffer from a condition for which you’re not already taking any prescribed medication, then perhaps you might want to first see if something like this helps to alleviate your own symptoms. You’ll be in a much better position to tell if there are any noticeable benefits from incorporating this into your diet. So speak to your doctor, ask them what they think and if they’re happy for you to try them out then go for it. Obviously there are a lot of shady companies out there selling supplements which don’t even contain the active ingredient they claim, or in the amounts stipulated on the label; so always choose a reputable company and purchase either directly from them, or from a trustworthy outlet. Vitabiotics is probably the most trusted, reputable manufacturer of nutritional supplements in the UK, so I’m happy to purchase products from them.

By the way, if any of you do take Chondroitin and Glucosamine and you’ve had some positive experience from it, I’d love to hear about it. My approach is kind of a ‘throw everything you can at a situation and just hope that something helps’ so it’s really difficult to know what is or isn’t working. I’m still going to continue take this product though. It isn’t contraindicated with any of the other medications or supplements that I’m taking (be careful if you’re taking any blood thinners however like Warfarin as there have been some reports of interaction between the two products – as always consult your doctor first) and although there is a slight chance of it affecting blood sugar levels, I’m happy that my sugar-free diet takes care of most of that. Vitabiotics Osteocare is available in a regular version without any Glucosamine & Chondroitin, a ‘Plus’ version which includes Soy Isoflavones and Omega-3, a ‘Chewable’ version, a ‘Liquid’ version and a ‘Fizz’ effervescent version. The one I buy is about £9 for a pack of 30 capsules (larger boxes are available) and you’re supposed to take 2 capsules a day, which works out at around 60p a day.

I take mine at the same time as my multivitamin (postprandially) and have never experienced any nausea or any other negative side effects from this product. Again, I cannot say one way or the other whether this supplement really works, or just how much benefit I might be getting from it, but I’m happy to keep purchasing and taking it on the off chance it is benefitting my joints in some way.

Next on my list are the ‘Lloyds Pharmacy’s High Strength Omega 3 Fish Oil – 1000mg Capsules’

I’m not going to go into too much detail around the reasons for ensuring you have enough EFA’s in your diet, but if you’re interested in learning more, this article on WebMD outlines the benefits pretty well.

Findings show omega-3 fatty acids may help to:

  • Lower blood pressure.
  • Reduce triglycerides.
  • Slow the development of plaque in the arteries.
  • Reduce the chance of abnormal heart rhythm.
  • Reduce the likelihood of heart attack and stroke.
  • Lessen the chance of sudden cardiac death in people with heart disease.

Obviously it’s always best to try and get as many of your nutritional needs from your food, as you can. But this isn’t always possible for everyone and I personally just don’t like a lot of fish. I eat a couple of cans of tuna every week as well as a peppered mackerel fillet or a salmon fillet about once a fortnight. I’m just not a big fan of fish and I cannot abide the smell of it in my fridge, or from cooking it in my kitchen. So it just makes sense that i take a decent fish oil supplement. This one that I use is from Lloyds Pharmacy, so it comes from a reputable source and right now it’s on offer at £1 for a tub of 30 capsules – which is a total bargain, so I’ve obviously stocked up on a dozen tubs of the stuff. Each capsule contains 1000mg of Omega 3 fish oil, which breaks down as follows:

“This provides the daily intake of 250mg of EPA & DHA per capsule which contributes to the normal function of the heart. This product is high in Omega 3 fatty acids, which provide a source of Eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA) and Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA).”

https://www.webmd.com/hypertension-high-blood-pressure/guide/omega-3-fish-oil-supplements-for-high-blood-pressure

So basically just your average ‘1-a-day’ 1000mg Omega-3 Fish Oil supplement. Have I noticed any immediate benefits from taking this supplement? No, can’t say I have. But then I don’t think it’s the sort of thing that one would normally expect to see any tangible effects from. It’s more of a ‘working in the background to make sure you’re getting enough DHA and EFA’ sort of thing. Again, I’d rather be erring on the side of caution when it comes to something like this, because I really find it hard to consume fish with any beneficial regularity, so I’m going to continue to purchase this brand from a reputable company and keep on taking it every day at the same time as my multivitamin and Osteocare supplement. I’ve never experienced any nausea, repeating, after-taste or any other negative effects from taking this product (some people can experience diarrhoea if they suddenly start to take a large dose of fish oil, so again consult your doctor and if you have a particularly sensitive digestive system, talk to them about starting off on a smaller dose first, before gradually increasing the amount).

Right now the price of £1 per tub of 30 ‘1-a-day’ capsules works out at just under 4p a day, so if that’s a very reasonably price to pay for any potential benefits. Like I said, I’ve bulk-bought a load of tubs so I’m set for the next 12 months, but even if the price goes up I’ll continue to purchase this product from this company. There are multiple Lloyds Pharmacy outlets in the little towns and villages in my area so it’s very easy to pick up a bottle when I eventually do run out. If you live in the UK and you’re after wanting to stock up on some fish oils, go check out your local Lloyds Pharmacy, or swing by their website and you can get these at a bargain price right now.

The final product on my supplement list today is a collagen supplement. The Diet Applements Marine Collagen Type 1&3 1000mg (with Hyaluronic Acid 200mg/serving; Vitamin C, Vitamin E, B2, and Iodine.)

Okay so collagen is one of those super-hyped “miracle” ingredients that everyone seems to be talking about right now. Some people claim that it’s good for arthritic joints, others that it helps to re-plump ageing skin. Is there a ton of evidence to back these claims up? Not really. When I first heard about using collagen for added joint & skin benefits, I went on an absolutely insane deep-dive down a rabbit hole of white papers, blogs, videos and testimonials. My conclusion after all that? Well whilst there have been some studies done that suggest certain types of collagen supplementation may help with arthritic joint pain, it’s not conclusive and tends to be focused on type II collagens. A 2017 review article published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine showed that people taking collagen supplements do experience pain relief. Other studies have found no benefit. No studies have found that collagen hydrosylates grow or repair cartilage. (If you’re interested in a great little summary of various studies into this area, check out this blog post from arthritis.org.)

As for whether or not it does anything for your skin, well there are some studies that suggest taking a collagen supplement could be beneficial. Some studies show that taking collagen supplements for several months can improve skin elasticity, (i.e. wrinkles and roughness) as well as signs of aging.

“One 2014 study of 69 women ages 35 to 55 found that those who took 2.5 or 5 grams of collagen daily for 8 weeks showed a lot of improvement in skin elasticity, compared with those who didn’t take it.

Another found that women who took 1 gram per day of a chicken-derived collagen supplement for 12 weeks had 76% less dryness, 12% fewer visible wrinkles, better blood flow in the skin, and a 6% higher collagen content.

And a 2019 review of eight studies including 805 patients concluded that “preliminary results are promising for the short and long-term use of oral collagen supplements for wound healing and skin aging.”

https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/news/20191212/collagen-supplements-what-the-research-shows

But whilst the research into this product does seem promising, it’s important to bear in mind that many of the studies done so far on collagen are small and at least partially funded by industry. The science is truly in its infancy and there’s a lot of conflict of interest, and not enough quality control. So why do I take it? Same reason I take the Glucosamine and Chondroitin. Maybe it will help my joints. Maybe it won’t. Maybe it is helping to improve my skin – or maybe it’s just my really good diet and fastidious skincare regime that involves rotating multiple different acids, serums, masks, moisturisers and balm cleansers. Who knows? I’m just happy to throw another potentially beneficial product into the mix and hope it helps me in some way. Yes, I have good skin. But then I’ve always taken good care of it. Yes it does seem to have gotten better recently, but I’ve also cut sugar out of my diet and upped my retinol use. So I don’t know what to credit the improvement to. Maybe it’s a mixture of my doing all those things, but whatever it is, I’m very happy with how my skin looks right now. I have good genetics as far as aging is concerned (my mother looks at least 12 years younger than she really is!) and I’ve always spent a fortune on good quality skincare, so I have a good foundation to build on anyway. But I’m going to keep on taking the collagen, because it certainly isn’t doing me any harm.

I chose this brand because when I first went looking for a collagen supplement, it was insanely overwhelming. There are thousands of brands all getting in on this latest craze and after a few hours trying to find something that I felt would be a safe and reliable product, my eyes started to swim. I wanted the collagen to come from a sustainable source and the product to be as clean as possible. So I narrowed the search down and found the Diet Applements brand based here in the UK. They guarantee that their collagen hydrolysate is made from ethically-harvested wild fish from the Atlantic Ocean (no ageing fish fed with hormones & antibiotics) and supports local fishmonger businesses too. And upon further investigation their facility really has been awarded the AIB International Good Manufacturing Process Certificate, are a member of the UK Health Food Manufacturers and have been both inspected and approved by the FDA and Health Canada.

Why should any of that matter? Well aside from it being important to me to only consume/use ethically sourced animal products, I also appreciate that the manufacturer’s supply chain helps to support smaller businesses, whilst also being a home-grown British company in itself. And when it comes to taking a supplement, you really do need to be careful with what you buy and put into your body. Especially if you’re buying it from over the internet. So do your homework. Find out if the company you think you’re buying from really are who they say they are and check up on their accredited certifications etc. This company is actually very open and transparent and willing to respond to any queries or questions you might have – always a good sign to begin with – and they have a good online presence.

The product itself was around £13 for a tub of 60 capsules. Taking 2 capsules a day works out at about 44p a day and I take mine at the same time as the other supplements mentioned above. I’ve never had any nausea, sickness or any other negative experiences from taking this supplement and I’m halfway through my second bottle. Like I said earlier, I have no idea how much – if any – benefit these are providing my skin, but my skin is brighter, tighter and firmer than it was a few months ago. How much of that is down to my diet, my skincare regime or this collagen supplements however, is anyone’s guess, lol.

So, that concludes my current supplementation regime. As you can see I don’t go super-crazy with supps (I do also have a Go-Keto Collagen Protein Shake Mix that I take with my regular protein powder, but I haven’t been having as many shakes lately due to the cold weather. I’ll probably start having them again once the temperatures pick up again, but if you’re interested in reading about that product, you can find my review of it in this post here. My diet these days is really good. I eat red meat about 4 or 5 days a week, along with turkey, chicken, pork and roast gammon. I have a good amount of steamed cruciferous vegetables and salad every day, as well as good fats found in nut butters, avocado and moderate amounts of hard cheese. I also have a few different protein bars that I usually have for my first food of the day, protein shakes, the odd energy drink and lots of water. I supplement with a multivitamin and fish oil just to be on the safe side. It’s probably unnecessary, but I feel better (peace of mind wise) knowing I’ve taken them. I don’t take any supplements in order to avoid having to eat a good diet, it’s really just a ‘belt and braces’ approach to ensuring I’m doing okay.

The Osteocare Glucosamine & Chondroitin may or may not be helping me, but I’ll keep on taking them just in case. Same goes for the collagen supplement. I don’t know what else to tell y’all. I’ve never experienced any “wow” moments that I could attribute to any of the supplements I take, but then neither have I had any negative experiences. And that’s probably to be expected. Chances are that all this is just a pointless exercise in making my urine ever so slightly more expensive as these products just tap into my own insecurities around health and beauty. I fully understand that and approach taking these supplements with my eyes wide open to that fact; but I can afford to take these supplements and so long as they’re not doing me any harm, I’m happy.

You probably expected a much more exciting review of the “must have” supplements that “totally changed my life” but that ain’t me bro. Maybe other people have genuinely more dramatic experiences when taking supplements – or maybe they just think they do thanks to some wicked placebo effects that help to validate their reasons for spending a ton of money on some glorified piss-gentrifier, lol. I like to keep it real around here though and the real tea is…I have no idea if any of this stuff is doing ANYTHING for me. But there’s always going to be that little part of my mind that says:

“Yeah, but what if it DOES help you even a LITTLE bit?”

And that’s what keep me coming back time and again to repurchase all these supps. So if you think that by taking any of the above, you might see some sort of improvement to certain aspects of your health, like I said before, talk to your doctor about it (because you never know what effects a particular supplement my have on any underlying health issues you have, or what contraindications it might trigger off with whatever other medications you’re already taking). Make sure you know what you’re taking and always purchase from reputable stores. And be especially careful when taking more than one product with multiple ingredients together – hypervitaminosis is a real thing and you could be consuming a cumulatively toxic dose without realising it. Again, talk to a medical professional first! Try to look for clean-label supplements, choose ethically-sourced animal products and don’t expect miracles; because as with weight-loss, there are no short-cuts to perfect health and happiness.

As always, I am in no way affiliated with any of the products feature here and everything mentioned was purchased by me, for me. All reviews are my own, and I include them here merely as honest opinions of products I have consumed.

Stay healthy y’all

Blue

The Sorest Loser / Weigh-In Day

Hey everyone. Today’s video is a little bit different because it’s the channel trailer for one of my favourite YouTube weight-loss peeps. ‘The Sorest Loser’ aka Stephanie is on a mission to lose 150lb – half her body weight – and I’d love it if some of y’all would head over to her channel, check out her videos and give her some support. Stephanie lives in Sweden with her husband, three adorable kids and some fur-babies in a beautiful rural spot which she does an amazing job of filming using both regular cameras and drone footage. It’s really impressive and some of the sweeping aerial shots she gets of the forest and countryside (especially now with all the snow) are just stunning. But it’s been her weekly updates about her weight-loss journey that really made me love her channel.

She started off on her mission doing CICO but has switched to a keto/Swedish low-carb-high-fat plan and has been documenting all the highs and lows of both approaches in a lot of raw, honest detail. And that’s what I love about Steph. She isn’t someone who just filters all her content so it only shows the good parts, she’s brutally honest about the low-parts too and the various difficulties she faces as someone with binge-eating tendencies. I really admire people who keep it real and Steph is very, very real. She’s also very funny and doesn’t take herself at all seriously. (She also has incredibly nice hair which has nothing to do with her channel, but I’m always really envious of people with thick, luxurious tresses, lol.)

As she’s been progressing on her weight-loss mission, she’s been trying out a new fitness routine, testing keto recipes and letting us all have a look into her home life, her struggles, her successes and a whole other selection of things that she’s interested in. She’s also really great with using web graphics and overlays so her content looks incredibly professional, which isn’t essential but definitely adds an extra layer of impressive skill to her videos. Naturally there are the weekly weigh-ins and measurements, but she also vlogs from her incredibly beautiful corner of the world, shares her recipes & shopping hauls and intersperses it all with some ‘shorts’ that last no more than a couple of minutes. These are just really nice ways for the viewers to catch up with her throughout the week and I love how much effort she puts into her channel.

I’d love it if some of y’all would check her videos out and consider giving her a sub because I know she’d really appreciate the support. Weight loss can be a pretty weird experience, especially when you’re the only one in the household eating a certain way, so it’s nice to be able to tell someone that you get it. You know what they’re going through and you understand the ups and downs that they’re experiencing. Plus, it’s just a really great, fun, interesting channel that I think you’ll all love anyway. So if you like watching weight-loss channels and you like your content creators very real, very honest and ever so slightly bonkers (shower scene thumbnail…I’m talking about you!) then go check her out. You won’t be disappointed. (And if you do, drop her a comment and tell her that Blue sent you!)


Now onto my own weigh-in results for this week. The past 7 days have been really slow and sore for me. We had snow a few days ago, coupled with the extra-freezing wind-chill from some severely blustery weather. And I’ve really been feeling it. From my neck, down my back, through my hips and all along my legs into my feet, I’ve been in absolute agony. On a couple of days I’ve been literally counting down the minutes until I can take my next dose of pain-relief – never a good sign. I did go out into town on one day and then up to the doctor’s surgery the next, so that’s probably played a role in my feeling like one great big, gnarled goblin. But the weather is definitely contributing a lot to how I’m feeling too. The cold and damp really aggravates the arthritis and fibromyalgia, but I’m also really noticing the colder temperatures this year.

So aside from those 2 trips out to do all the necessary things, I’ve been largely curled up either in bed or on the sofa with my hot-water-bottle. Making food was impossible on some days, so a lot of what I was eating was just pre-made salads, a handful of cold meat, a cheese-stick and a pickle; or a protein bar and a coffee. I know on one day I literally only ate a protein bar when I got up, a second one for lunch and a third one for dinner. Which isn’t ideal, but sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do. I’m kinda pissed off though because some of my fresh meat and veg have gone past their ‘Best Before’ dates and I’m just not going to eat anything once those dates are exceeded. So a bunch of stuff is going to end up getting chucked out (I’ll probably feed it to the seagulls….the meat anyway, so it’s not a total waste) which always annoys me because I go out of my way to buy the best quality, ethically sourced products and not getting to benefit from any of it triggers the Scottish part of me, lol.

I had absolutely no idea what the scale would say today. On the one hand, yes I’ve been eating less food volume-wise, but in the past I’ve seen a gain or maintain whenever I’ve eaten nothing but protein bars all day long. I’m way past the point of being able to tell whether I’ve lost or gained before I get on the scale; now I always just feel as though nothing has changed and never really expect to see a loss when I weigh-in. It’s so weird, because for the most part (this week notwithstanding) I’m eating exactly what I should be eating whilst slowly trying to reduce certain parts of my meals to gradually shrink my portion sizes, but I still doubt that I’m going to see the scale go down whenever I hop onto it. I know it’s really common for people who are trying to lose weight to not be able to see the actual changes in their own bodies for themselves and I know that logically I’ve already lost quite a bit of weight, but it still doesn’t help bridge that disconnect between the person I am in my own head and the way I am in reality.

Anyway, enough waffling. How did I do? Well, last week I was 15 stone 1lb (211lbs); only a couple of pounds away from getting into the ’14 stone + change category’. Today, the reading on the scale said that I am 14 stone and 12 pounds (208lbs), meaning that I’ve actually lost 3lb in the past 7 days.

Which is fine and everything, but I’m not actually all that happy with having lost 3lb. It’s great to now be in the ’14 stone + change’ category, but I really would have rather it just have been a 2lb loss. Yeah, I know, it’s only another extra pound, but I don’t want to be losing hard and fast any more. I want the sensible, steady 1-2lb a week loss, because that’s more realistic and sustainable. I’m actually kind of infuriated at my body for dropping a whole extra pound on me, lol. Is that weird? Probably. And I know it’s probably all down to this week being a particularly difficult one with pain and whatnot, so it’s not like I’m on a regular downward trajectory at this perpetual rate, but it still irks me. (That’ll be the inner control-freak rising up and getting all snarky ’cause she didn’t get her own way I guess, lol.) I’m pretty sure that next week is going to see the arrival of the next “Shark Week” (or “Shark Fortnight” if last time was anything to go by), although I haven’t checked the calendar so I can’t be sure. But that’ll soon put paid to any extra losses I’ve racked up this week. Probably with another mid-week 5lb “ghost-gain” and a subsequent weigh-in that says I’ve merely maintained. Yay for hormones!

So, that’s this Monday’s weigh-in done and dusted. I wish I could be happier about the 3lb loss, but I really just want a slower, steadier decrease in weight as I get closer to my initial goal. I’m in no hurry. 2lb would have been better, but I’m just going to have to chalk it up to a crappy week and hope that the next 7 days show an evening out of my weight-loss. I’m feeling a bit more mobile today so I think I’ll try and rustle up some turkey burgers with cheese, broccoli, cauliflower and brussels sprouts for my first proper meal. And I really need to remember to take my supplements too because that’s something else I’ve been slacking off with this past week. Maybe I’ll write a post about the supplements I take at some point, in case any of y’all are interested. I dunno. My fingers are still a bit frozen-up and I had to type this entire post out using just 2 fingers (instead of my regular touch-typing) which, as you can imagine, has been a complete pain in the tits!

So I shall leave y’all for now. I hope that wherever you are you’re having a good day and that the gods of weight-loss are smiling upon you.

Be good to yourselves 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

Mind Over Matter / Monday Weigh In

It’s just a trip not a way to ease your pain
Self help, tell another shrink the same damn thing
Until you decide to drop again

Today’s comes from one of my favourite bands ever: Blue October. They’re not all that well known over here in the UK (“Hate Me” did pretty well back in the mid 2000’s, but other than that I rarely see them mentioned much on radio stations or anything like that) but they do have a quietly solid, devoted following and rightfully so. The lead singer Justin Furstenfeld writes intensely personal, passionate lyrics that detail every hell and horror his life has thrown up, from drug addiction and being sectioned, to his continued battle with his mental health and sobriety while his wife basically spent all the money he saved from being on tour, and tried to stop him from getting to see his daughter. Whilst that might sound like a pretty miserable lot to want to listen to, the raw honesty portrayed through Justin’s expressive vocals – combined with searingly beautiful music that blends aspects of rock, pop, folk, country, blues, punk, R&B and so many other genres – creates a vast back catalogue of music that really moves the listenter and has a little something different for whatever mood you happen to be in that day.

This song has absolutely nothing to do with losing weight – I just wanted an excuse to include it in a post because it really resonated with me back during a time when I had a psychotic break of my own. I didn’t get sectioned, but I was heavily medicated for some time and suffered from frequent mild hallucinations. The medication came with its own side-effects though and that meant having to decide between seeing stuff that wasn’t there or being utterly obliterated by anti-psychotics and sedatives. Despite being pretty whackadoodle for a while there, I was lucky enough to still also know that what I was experiencing wasn’t real. I mean sure I was a bit crazy, but I knew I was crazy, so that kinda meant that I wasn’t all that crazy in the grand scheme of things, lol. Many people have far worse experiences with mental illness, but thanks to a brilliantly attentive GP who spent months tinkering with various combinations of medication at different doses, I was able to find a way to manage the chemical imbalance in my brain and get back to a state of normalcy after a couple of years.

Unlike a lot of people who go through similar experiences, I never once sought out any talk-therapy from a psychologist, psychotherapist or counsellor. Not because I don’t think that those aren’t helpful or valid – for many people they’re invaluable. But I knew that for me, the way back to being normal was going to largely be a case of finding the right medication and working on myself instead. Again, I was lucky to enough to know something wasn’t right and despite a couple of weeks where I have little to no memory of what took place (I actually got taken by my boss to the doctor’s clinic for an emergency assessment after I totally lost the plot in a meeting, lol) I never felt as though I lost any sense of what it was to be me. I regarded it as an illness that I needed to get well from and once the right medication started to kick in and something “clicked” in my brain, I began the process of self-reflection and interrogated all the weird little subsequent fears like agoraphobia that I’d picked up along the way.

I read up about CBT and used techniques like gradually exposing myself to greater distances away from my front door; constantly asking myself to logically assess the actual risk in any given situation. I wrote a lot in my journal, pushing, questioning and testing myself constantly – because that’s just the way I am. I hate the idea of anything or anyone getting the better of me, which probably motivates me to find ways to problem-solve more than anything else does. It pissed me off that my brain had glitched out on me and thrown my entire life into a tail-spin:

“How very dare you, brain!”

Because I’ve always gone through life feeling invincible. Tackling everything head-on, often bullishly, mostly logically and always defiantly. But when the problem isn’t something external…when the problem is inside your own head…yeah, that shit can be pretty intense. Seeing stuff that I knew wasn’t really there was a bit scary at first, but over time it became more annoyingly frustrating.

“Like, um…I know that ain’t reality dude, so why the feck are you still there?”

It must be so incredibly terrifying for those who suffer from hallucinations and don’t know that they’re not real; I can’t imagine the kind of hell that creates for the sufferer. And I know I had it a lot easier. But I got so mad at myself, not being able to control the fact that I was having these mild hallucinations, knowing they weren’t real, but not knowing how to make them go away. I felt like I was being mentally weak for “allowing” this crap to keep presenting itself and not having the mental fortitude to banish it from my mind entirely. I know that’s a pretty dumb way to think about it, but I really felt like I was failing myself. Of course, the hallucinations didn’t just go away overnight once I was given a prescription, but it helped a lot. What really got them to stop was me taking the time to pick apart every little aspect of the fears I was feeling, searching inside myself for the root causes and eventually getting to a point where I was able to let go of said fears and begin to view every situation in a more neutral and realistic fashion.

Getting myself back to what I felt was “normal” was both exhilarating and a massive relief. It’s exhausting being at war with your own mind. But I got there and I have that amazing doctor and wonderfully supportive other half to thank for that. Without them I’d probably still be zonked out under a ‘chemical cosh’ and seeing really weird black voids where the faces of strangers ought to be. I will never take my mental health for granted ever again and I feel as though I understand the experiences of other sufferers much better as a result. I’m still on a bunch of different meds to keep me on an even keel, and having suffered one breakdown I’m statistically more likely to have another one in future than someone who hasn’t. But I feel confident that should I have any further problems, I’ll hopefully recognise the warning signs earlier on and will seek out medical help sooner than later, instead of just chalking it up to my “working too hard” or being “overtired”.

The real kicker in all of this though, was that just as I was getting myself back on track mentally, my physical health started to decline, as what I thought to be simple aches and pains got worse; with joints seizing up, digits swelling and limbs aching as though I’d been run over by a truck. Being told that I had fibromyalgia and then learning about the arthritis felt like I’d been dealt a really shit hand. Yeah, I know, plenty of other people have it worse, and this IS NOT a cry for sympathy (so don’t you dare feel sorry for me – any of you!) but it’s really demoralizing to go from having felt elated at having fixed one set of issues, only to be told that I now have a couple more to deal with – and these conditions aren’t going away anytime soon. In fact the psychological issues I’d suffered may well actually be a part of the fibromyalgia syndrome itself. Great!

Time passed and I felt pretty miserable. Walking got harder and any trip out the house would leave me almost bedridden the following morning. Was this it? Life now destined to get smaller and smaller as pain and immobility gradually rendered me housebound?

“It’s not fair!”

I’ve lost count of the number of times I said that, usually during a particularly bad flare-up, or when I went to do something and my body refused to comply. Yes it’s childish and yes it solves nothing, but in that moment the words flew out of my mouth in a mixture of anger, fear and frustration and sadness. Anger at my body for betraying me. Fear of becoming a prisoner in that body. Frustration at myself for not being able to get a handle on this thing. And sadness at the realisation that things are never going to be the same again.

But if you’ve followed this blog for a while, you’ll already know what happened next. It’s the reason this blog exists in the first place. I decided to do whatever I could to improve my health, reduce the impact of these conditions and slow the progressive decline of my mobility. I vowed to lose a bunch of weight. Because whilst I had to spend a little time feeling sorry for myself, that part of me that refuses to back-down, give up or be told what to do, kicked in with freaking bells on!

“What’s that? You got a problem? Well then you got some problem solving to do then, don’t you Blue? You gotta stop wallowing, go do your research and come up with a plan of attack!”

Which is exactly what I did do. I already knew about the benefits of a low-carb WOE and I spent days reading and watching YouTube videos, to prepare myself the fight ahead. I started by cutting out sugary drinks, weighed myself (almost had a heart attack, lol) set up a food diary in my bullet journal and got to stocking my fridge with all the good food I’d need to begin my new low-carb way of life. I set up this blog so I could share my experiences with others and have a record of my progress for posterity and…the rest, as they say, is history.

I decided to share all this today, to give y’all a better insight into they way I think and the reason I do what I do. In all honesty, I don’t know how to be any other way. I’ve been told that I’m a ‘Type A’ Personality and consistently get scored as an INTJ on Myers-Briggs tests. I’m practical, proactive, logical and direct. I like challenges, enjoy problem solving and get legitimately excited at the prospect of succeeding at whatever I set my mind to. I approached my mental health issues in much the same way as I’m now approaching my mission to lose weight and improve my physiological health. And failure just isn’t an option. Not just because I need this to vastly improve my health, but because I really don’t think I could live with myself, if I let myself fail. Yeah…I never did give up on the idea of my being invincible, lol.

But enough of that for now – time to get down down to the order of the day: the weekly weigh-in! I haven’t done much different this week, food-wise; mostly just the same tasty meals and protein bars and lots of plain old water. But I did decide to try adding in a few raspberries to my whey protein & collagen shake mix to see if it would affect my weight-loss at all. Smooshing up 6 berries in a 300ml vanilla shake makes it taste like raspberry-ripple ice-cream (my former favourite flavour) and definitely elevates the taste considerably. This was the first time I’ve tried adding any fruit into my diet and I know raspberries are low-carb, but I wasn’t sure if they’d impact my weight-loss at all. Jumping on the scale today, I think we can safely assume that I’m fine to continue including them in my protein shakes going forward, because with a reading of 15 stone 5lbs (215lbs) that means I’ve lost another 2lbs this week!

So that’s another decent, sensible amount of flab off my frame this week. I’m incredibly happy with that result and as always that just spurs me on to want to continue to do well. Still haven’t eaten ‘off-plan’ (having been on the Atkins induction level of carbs for 4 months now, I’m fine to try and incorporate the odd few berries here and there – but I’m still staying within my 20g max daily allowance) and definitely have no plans to do so anytime soon. Dinner tonight is steak-burgers with mushrooms, and sprouts done with parmesan for me (I’m doing baked potatoes for the other half to have with some curry) but right now I’m going to go drench myself in Tom Ford and make myself a cup of coffee with my ‘Coffee-Mate Caramel Vanilla Sugar-Free Creamer’. It’s become one of my favourite little things to enjoy of an afternoon and I’ve since ordered the ‘French Vanilla’ version too – can’t wait to try that one out!

So wherever you are this January afternoon, I hope you’re doing well and that you’re all smashing your own goals to absolute smithereens!

Be invincible folks!

Blue

Something A Little Different

Okay, so for those of y’all who have been living under a rock for the past 6 months, the young lady in the video clip above is of Laura Lynn, who has created a You Tube channel where she is documenting her progress along the way to losing 200lb. I adore her content and she’s one of a handful of You Tube creators who I follow religiously (I’m probably going to do a post featuring all my fave guys & girls in the near future in case any of you are looking for some extra inspiration and motivation during your own weight loss escapades!) because she’s just one of the realest, most honest, straight-talking, sweet, funny, intelligent, insightful chicks making content in the online ‘Weight Loss Community’.

And she’s really been through the ringer lately as various underlying health problems have conspired against her, throwing every possible spanner into the works. But she’s worked her way through them all, maturely and honestly using the skill sets she developed in her career as a mental health therapist, to help navigate her way through the really difficult and low times. I have a huge amount of respect for her; not just because of her unwavering self-awareness, but because she puts it all out there – warts and all – to share with others who may (or may not) be going through some similar issues. She’s immensely likeable and tuning in to one of her videos is like settling down for a chat with an old friend. Her determination really inspires me and her smile is utterly infectious. So if you haven’t watched any of her content before now, y’all really need to go check her out because she isn’t just entertaining, she really helps to get her viewers to approach their own weight-loss goals from a mental-health perspective too, by sharing the tools she uses both at work and in her own life; as well as her recent little series of ‘journal prompts, quotes and challenges’ to help get us all thinking about the deep-rooted reasons behind why we a/ got too overweight and b/ decided to do something about it.

And today I thought I’d respond to the prompts, quotes and challenges from this week’s video, here in a blog post for y’all to read for yourselves. I do keep my own personal, handwritten journal, but I thought it might be fun to put some more of my own thoughts and responses out there and maybe try to convince some of you to check out her channel and perhaps get involved in doing some of this introspective home-work for yourselves. So without further ado, let me start by addressing the quote of the day. (You should probably watch the video first so you can get a better idea of what it’s all about – the video is only about 7 minutes log, so I’m sure y’all can manage that, right?) Anyway today’s quote is:

“It’s time to create a body I enjoy living in.” So what does that mean to me? Well, as I’ve shared on here multiple times before, I have two conditions – fibromyalgia and psoriatic arthritis – which have gotten progressively worse over time, affecting my flexibility, my mobility and overall health. I’m only 40 years old and my weight had never caused any noticeable health problems for me before last year. I went from being ‘Little Miss Always On-The-Go’, to a stiff, slow, shuffling crone, wracked with daily pain throughout my body. That was not okay. I could feel how much harder it was getting to just move my limbs about with all the extra weight they were having to deal with, so I decided right then and there to do something about it. Being fat had never stopped me from enjoying living in my body up until then, so I’d never been bothered about losing any weight. But as soon as I realised that I was no longer enjoying living in my body, I knew I had a choice: do nothing and carry on letting my mobility decrease and my quality of life along with it, or, get my fat ass into gear and make the necessary changes in order to mitigate what will be permanent health problems that I will always have to work to deal with.

Yeah, that wasn’t a difficult decision. I know I’ll always have these conditions and they will always flare up for one reason or another, but there is no reason whatsoever for me to just allow the extra weight to continue to exacerbate my symptoms and further incapacitate my already exhausted body. With any luck (especially if my family’s longevity is anything to go by) I’ve got another half a century left on this mortal coil, so I’ll be damned if I’m going to spend it miserable and feeling like a prisoner in my own body. Thankfully, I think I implemented the necessary changes just in time, allowing me to make great inroads into the goals I need to achieve, in order to get to live that happy life.

Creating a body that I can begin to enjoy living in again, starts and ends with food. Yes, there will be exercise and fitness goals to work into my life somewhere down the line (right now I’m still just about coping with a few bursts of walking a week, which always leaves me incredibly sore and stiff the next day) but – most importantly – I have to eat in a way that not only allows me to lose weight, but also reduces the effects of insulin resistance and the subsequent inflammation, on both my arthritis and fibromyalgia. A low-carb / ketogenic WOE is the most therapeutic nutritional approach to dealing with my particular health problems, which is one of the reasons why this is “not just a diet” to me, but a lifelong approach to food & nutrition. Knowing that every time I eat, I’m making choices that are cumulatively contributing to that healthier, happier body is incredibly empowering. I get a real kick out of feeling so completely in control of what I put into my body, while also enjoying the food that I’m eating. This whole experience feels exciting. I make a decision to do the things, follow through with it and then see the results of my efforts. It’s a self-reinforcing cycle of determination —> achievement —> motivation —> further achievement. I freaking love it!

Of course I’m currently only 53lbs into my initial goal of losing 100lb, so I know I’ve still got a long way to go. My health problems haven’t magically evaporated overnight, but the improvements are already oh-so-very noticeable. I’m lighter on my feet; I have fewer pains in certain parts of my body and my knees are definitely feeling a lot better. And it’s only going to get better as I continue to move down the scale and free myself up more and more. To know that I’m the one making this happen – all through my own good choices and efforts – is awesome. Understanding that I get to own my own shit, take responsibility and create that body that I will feel happier and healthier in for many years to come? That shit just inspires me to want to do more, lose more and do better. I’ve become my own fricking role model, y’all! THAT is what it means to know that I’m creating a body that I will get to enjoy living in again.

“How Will My Life Be Different Or Change For The Better When I’ve Lost Weight? – Be Specific!” Well, I probably already covered that for the most part in my previous answer, but I’ve sat and had a think about what else I have to look forward to, aside from the improvements to my mobility. It’s a bit of a strange one really, because I have no idea what life will really be like as a much smaller person. I’ve always been overweight and the flab just kept piling on incrementally over time, without me really noticing it. I mean, obviously I knew I was getting bigger because I had to keep buying larger clothes. But when I had youth on my side (oof, that really made me feel like a wizened old harridan, lol) it didn’t impact my life at all. I worked a lot of very demanding jobs, both physically and mentally, and partied just as hard on my downtime. I did all the things I wanted to do, whenever I wanted to, and never once found it difficult to navigate the world of dating and relationships. I know I say time and again that “nobody gets fat behind their own back” but when there are no tangible negative side-effects to getting progressively larger, it’s very easy not to think or worry about it at all. I’ve had a bunch of illnesses and injuries and whatnot over the years, like any other person does; but I’ve pretty much been able to just take my health for granted up until now. And that’s something that really had to change once the fibro & arthritis started to impact on my ability to live normally.

So of course, losing all the weight I need to will also mean being more intentional with my own body. I now have to take responsibility and realise that I’m the captain of my ship – not a passenger. And so on top of the continued commitment to a low-carb WOE, I want to also work on building on my strength and flexibility with regular exercise. I want to be as active as my body will allow me, with the help of some supervised instruction from someone who knows how to help a person with my underlying health problems. I’d love to take a boxing class if at all possible. I have no idea if that will be something suitable for my body and I’ll have to start from the bottom and work my way up through the basics of strength training and some aerobic activity; but if it IS something I can do, then yeah, I wanna take up some boxing classes. Because there’s something incredibly primal and exciting about the idea getting into a (completely legal, lol) fight and using a mixture of skill, discipline & tenacity, be able to not only defend myself, but kick the other person’s arse! I used to be able to handle myself in a scrap, but these days I don’t even win the fights I get into with my damned duvet cover! I want to feel strong and capable again. And maybe, just maybe, that’s something I can achieve somewhere down the line.

But it’s just so hard to imagine myself at 170lb, 160lb or even less. I don’t know what that even looks like on my body. I saw my own reflection in a shop window recently and was really taken aback by how much smaller I look. It’s so weird. I can feel myself getting lighter and see the clothes as they get so big they fall off me, but I never truly see it when I look in the mirror. I know a lot of people have this mental block too when they’re losing weight and it will just take time for my brain to catch up with my body. But for some reason, when I was out in public, I could see my reflection for what it actually was. And I was very pleasantly surprised. This never began as a vanity project for me – not that there’s anything wrong with anyone wanting to lose weight to look good; y’all do what you gotta do, for whatever reasons you want. But there is an aspect of vanity starting to creep in to my consciousness as I move further down the scales. My cheekbones are even more defined. My face is thinning down to it’s natural heart-shape and my eyes look even bigger and prettier than they already did. I’m actually kinda cute, lol!

So again I have to ask myself, how will the weight loss affect how I feel about the way I look, once I get to my goal? And I just don’t know. I have no frame of reference to work from that can give me an idea of exactly how I’ll look at 170lb. For all I know, I could end up being one of those people who look hella ugly once they shift the flab! Maybe my “cuteness” is entirely attributable to being an absolute chunkster and with every pound I lose, I get increasingly less attractive! (That would actually be weirdly funny, in a horrible kind of way, lol!) Will I dress differently? Well, I like the style I already have, so I don’t think I’m going to suddenly go from ’emo-scene-girl’ to ‘prom queen’ or ‘sporty-spice’…and I’m never going to go the route of ‘crass-cougar hag-beast-about-the-town’. But who knows what’ll look good on a much smaller frame 6-12 months down the line. Not me; not yet.

There aren’t many things I think will change as I lose this weight. Like I said earlier, I’m already half-way there and Victoria’s Secret have yet to send out a scout to see if I’m going to be runway-ready for the 2021 Summer Swimwear Collection. I’m so focused on the health benefits from all this that I don’t really have much else to consider. Improvements in health, will mean retaining my independence, having a huge improvement in mobility and hopefully adopting a more active lifestyle that I can pursue going forward. It won’t affect my career choices which are investment related and involve sitting down for 8 hours a day. Nor will it affect my relationship with my other half, because I’m not one of those super-morbidly-obese folk on ‘My 600lb Life’ who literally become an entirely different person to the one their partners married. I never even hit 300lb. My level of fatness was a much more socially acceptable, normal level of obesity that never really raised any eyebrows or garnered me much in way of negative attention. Plus I carried my weight well, inasmuch as it was quite equally distributed all over my body, still allowing me to have a decent waist / hip / boob ratio! I wasn’t unusual enough for anyone to pay any attention to me – unless, of course I wanted them to, but that’s another story altogether, lol.

Aside from feeling healthier with every passing week and getting more fit and active as I get closer to my goal, there are no other things I actually anticipate being particularly different at 170 or 160lb. The increase in mobility will hopefully see me get to attend some more live music gigs (if we finally get let out of this lockdown bullshit and any of the bands I like are still even touring by then – ‘Iron Maiden’ I’m banking on y’all to still be selling out stadiums where I can get to the front row, after hours of standing and queueing to get in, while Bruce defies all logic and runs about the stage set like a man half his age, belting out classics and just being an absolute legend. That’d be fun.) I do miss live music shows. I’ll also be able to get out to watch some live motorcycle racing too, which always involves a lot of walking to find a good spot, then trying to get comfortable on a grotty embankment for a few hours. Haven’t been able to do that for a few years now. But aside from that? I have no plans to take up any adrenaline sports or do the utterly cliché thing of jumping out of a plane with a parachute on, like every other unimaginative ex-whopper seems to feel compelled to do, the minute they hit goal-weight.

I’ve always been confident in my abilities and assertive in all social settings, so that’s not something I have to consider. Nor do I have any desire to become more social once I hit goal; because both the other half and I became intentionally reclusive home-bodies, long before the fibro & arthritis started to slow me down. We’re pretty simple folk with our wants and needs. We don’t like banal, beach holidays where all you do is drink, swim and sunbathe – that kind of crap bores us. But we have a few little holiday breaks we’d like to take once things get back to normal: a week-long canal-boat break, with just the 2 of us stopping off at towns and villages with interesting museums / galleries, is something we’ve been looking into since before the whole palaver with the pandemic kicked off. And none of that is dependent on my being thin, merely my being more mobile, fit and healthy.

So…no, I can’t really see my life changing all that much at all when I eventually hit goal. I’ll just be in a better place health-wise and in the perfect position to ensure that I use all the knowledge and experience gained along the way, to keep on making better choices and take good care of both myself and my other half. Not the most exciting of life “transformations”, but then I haven’t had as much weigh to lose as many other people do, so the resulting impact is bound to be quite minimal. Which is exactly what I wanted and expected from this whole experience in the first place. Nothing earth-shattering, just some pretty mundane improvements to my health that will improve my life and longevity.

Is that a pretty dull answer? Probably. I’m a pretty dull, set in my ways kinda person. My ambitions have largely been intellectual pursuits and my ability to achieve them is not dependent on my being 270lb or 170lb, or any weight for that matter. But I will at the very least, hopefully be able do all the things I want to, with a slightly more sprightly spring in my step. Both physically and metaphorically. And “Woah…I’m (already over) halfway there to that (wo-oah, living on a prayer!” I’ll make it. I SWEAR! Lol

“Write A Letter To Yourself To Read On A Day You Feel Unmotivated Or Like Giving Up – Include Non-Scale Goals You Are Most Dedicated To!”

Dear Blue,

Do you remember when you wrote this? Is it all coming back to you now? Because if you thought for one minute that this was going to be some cheesy, load of old crap designed to try and make you feel good about yourself right now…well honey, you’re one damned delusional fuckwit, you know? I mean, you’re the one who wrote this freaking thing in the first place, so you know exactly what you got coming to you, boo. And it ain’t any of that ridiculous ‘rainbows & unicorns’, pat-you-on-the-hand-and-tell-you-that-you’ve-been-a-good-girl, bullshit, that’s for sure.

So why are you here, huh? Things starting to get a little more difficult for ya and you thought you deserved some magical intervention of reassurance from “Past You” because your current ass is too lazy and pathetic to figure out a way to get yourself out of that funk you’re in? HA! That is NOT the way we do things around here Blue – as well you know! And the shitty or miserable way you’re feeling right now, is nothing more than a mixture of laziness and fear; 2 things you aren’t prone to letting get the better of you. So why now? Why today?

Because if you’re just going through one of those moments of self-doubt, then bitch you better pick your chin up and shake yourself out of that funk RIGHT FREAKING NOW, ’cause there ain’t NOBODY coming to make this better for you. Only you can save yourself – and you have all the tools you need to do so. So quit acting like some poor, put-upon little victim, get your motherducking head back in the game and lets start smashing some more goals. Resting on your laurels is just wasting time – time you really don’t have. I get it though, every so often even you can fall prone to the occasional moment of self-doubt (I mean you’re only human…I think) but you’ve had your little moment of self-indulgent wallowing, okay? So quit acting like any of this is outside of your control, pick yourself up and get back to the task in hand.

Have you hit a “stall”…well, so what? You either caused that yourself with some carb-creep (and it better hadn’t be carb-creep you absolute moron, because there really is NO excuse for that kind of carelessness) or you’re at an actual plateau and just like everyone else, you’re going to have to go back over your food diary, make sure you aren’t eating ‘off-plan’ and if you still can’t see where you might have been going wrong, then it’s time to accept that plateaus happen to the best of us. All you can do is try to wait it out for a bit, allow your body some time to recalibrate itself and have a little patience. Yes I know that isn’t your strongest suit, but tough shit. This is just what happens to someone when they try to lose a significant amount of weight. Yes, even you Blue.

Just chill the frick out will you? I know you’re not used to not getting your own way, but you need to remember that you’re not superwoman (I mean you almost are, but even you have your off-days), you can’t control everything and sometimes you just gotta go with the flow. Let nature take its course for a while. But don’t think that that absolves you of any responsibility ok? You can’t just throw caution to the wind and start eating a bunch of junk, getting slack and sloth-like, just because your body is taking a break from losing fat for a while. You DO NOT get to take days off from taking good care of yourself Blue! Do you hear me? The days of taking your health for granted are long gone. Every single day counts, so you damn-well better make them count, by continuing to make good decisions, eating healthily and keeping your head in the freaking game.

You know that if you choose to veer ‘off-plan’ and start to disregard your health again, you will regret it for the rest of your life, right? You’ve hit 40, girl. Your younger days are in the rear-view mirror now. There are no second-chances or re-runs. You have to get your shit together RIGHT NOW and stop pissing your life away in a self-absorbed, cry-baby moment of weakness. Because that is NOT how we do things around here Blue. We don’t DO wallowing. You’re fucking better than that. You’re fucking indomitable, ya hear? Giving up might be an option for some people, but you ain’t “some people” Blue. You’re a cut above. When you decide to put your mind to something, you damn well follow through with it. No matter how difficult, frustrating or exhausting it gets, you keep on pushing through, because that’s how you were raised, Blue. You don’t come from a family of quitters and you sure as shit don’t come from a family of failures. You come from strong stock and if anyone is going to succeed at a challenge, then it’s gonna be you. So get that stubborn head of yours back on again and pull your fricking finger out.

Okay. Pep-talk over. You know what you got to do, so go do it. It’s how you act when times are their most difficult which test and reveal your true character. So embrace your inner INTJ, make a plan for how you’re going to move forward and then get your freaking shit together.

You’ve got this. Always have, always will.

Yours candidly,

Blue.


Okay, so I’m guessing my ‘letter to myself’ probably looks a lot different to how yours or anyone else’s might do, but then I really don’t benefit from anything other than a stern talking to. Commiseration ain’t my style and I’m never going to go easy on myself when I know I can and should do better. Of course life can throw up all manner of curve-balls and it’s real easy to use those occasions as an excuse to slack off. But that’s really not me. And unless something really serious rears its ugly head, literally preventing me from continuing to stick to my plan, then I’m going to continue to use all the tools I already have at my disposal to keep on keeping on. That’s kind of the point of these tools and strategies. They’re consistently applied methods that over time become habits, so that during the inevitable struggles that we’re bound to encounter at various points throughout our lives, we can continue to rely upon them without having to think twice about them. Because when life gets tricky, the last thing I want to be having to think about is how or what I’m going to eat. Having that stuff already taken care of frees up my mind to be able to focus on whatever else it is that I need to worry about. So I’m glad I have that part of my life nailed down and good to go.

Anyway, that little exercise posed by Laura was pretty fun. It’s nice to have someone else provide a prompt or question for me to have to think about and I’ll definitely give it another go in the future. I already checked with Laura to see if it was okay to include this exercise here on the blog and she graciously gave me the go-ahead; so again, if you’re not familiar with her channel, please go check it out because she’s a brilliant creator and she’s consistently putting out great content. You won’t be disappointed.

And on that note, I shall bid y’all adieu. Tomorrow is weigh-in day, so I’ll see you back here for an update, real soon.

Stay fierce y’all!

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

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

We All Fall Down / Weigh-In Day

“Let the bodies hit the floor, let the bodies hit the floor…”

Well this a been an absolute fecker of a week.

Before I go any further, I’ll just go ahead and give the weigh-in update… insofar as there isn’t one, other than I just maintained. Which is fine, because I was actually expecting a stall to hit me around this time. To be honest, the way this week has played out, I’m actually surprised the scale didn’t show a gain. Not because I’ve eaten anything off-plan (I’ve stayed 100% true to the low-carb WOE ever since switching to it) but because I’ve been so swollen and puffed up, I was sure I’d at least be registering some water-weight. So getting on the scale today and seeing I had maintained was actually a pleasant surprise.

Okay, what was so bad about this past week? Well the clue is in the title. Fibromyalgia really is the “gift that keeps on giving” folks. You can be happily just pottering about the place one minute and the next “BAM” one of its curious little symptoms will just come out of nowhere and have you wondering what you did to deserve this latest assault. This week’s fresh hell didn’t quite come out of nowhere, but I sure as shite didn’t expect to end up spending the past 5 days slumped like a jellyfish, clutching at my chest and crying whenever I had to cough, sneeze or take a deep breath. Yeah, it’s been a real joy.

What happened is one of just many incidents that have occurred in my life, as a result of my being an absolute, grade-A klutz. I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it in here before, but I have the worst sense of balance. I regularly veer off into a wall when trying to walk through a door, drop things for absolutely no reason and fall down more often than your average catatonia sufferer. My spatial awareness is also pitiful meaning that I’m frequently banging into tables, chairs and anything else I think I can just walk past without incident. Over the years this has led to me having to visit the ER so often, I’m surprised my mother didn’t end up getting investigated for potential child abuse. I’ve broken bones in almost every part of my body – something which no doubt really plays into the various arthritic pains that plague me today.

Anyway, I was in the kitchen, doing the dishes. Not many because there are only 2 of us in our household and I was happily humming along to some music playing from my phone. I was actually in a really good mood (never a good sign, lol) because the other half had bought me a bottle of ‘Black Opium’ perfume for having been so good at sticking to the low-carb WOE. Not because he was surprised at me sticking to it (he knows how stubborn I am, lol) but because he was especially proud of me for doing so, whilst still making him things like chips, baked potatoes and freshly baked bread. So yeah, I was happily drenched in fragrance, finishing up with the dishes and about to head back into the living room so we could watch some YouTube videos together on the big TV.

I turned off the tap and in my sock-clad feet, spun around on the linoleum and…hit the deck like a ton of shit! Oof! Obviously I’d hit a patch of water that had splashed onto the floor while doing the dishes and in my socks had just gone absolutely flying. Okay. So I fell down. Nothing new there – right? Well yes…but also…I don’t know exactly what set off the chain reaction of other stuff in my body, but it was definitely fibromyalgia related and possibly also connected to the psoriatic arthritis. I started to get up off the floor, feeling okay at first, but then I noticed that my fingers were both stinging and throbbing where I’d put my hands out to break my fall. I knew they weren’t broken (because I’ve done that a couple of times before, lol) but I knew they didn’t feel right.

And then the really bad pain kicked in. Right in my chest. Tight and stabby-sharp, but deep and throbbing all at the same time. Immediately I started yelping and staggering through to the living room where my other half was already shouting:

“Babe? What was that? Are you okay?”

Now he’s used to me banging into stuff and falling over. It took a few years of us being together, but he’s now just sort of used to it happening. At first he used to freak out and worry about me, but I always ended up just waving off his concerns, telling him everything was fine and asking him not to fuss. So he no longer immediately freaks out when he hears a bang and the subsequent:

“Ow!”

or

“Fuck!”

coming from another room. He knows I hate fuss or sympathy and just expects to be presented with my latest impressive bruise, cut or scratch once I’ve picked myself up and dusted myself down. But this time I staggered into the living room clutching my chest and he thought I was having a heart attack. Cue him going into stress-mode, blurting out loads of questions and talking about calling an ambulance. (A guy can only be asked to ignore so much I guess, lol.)

But it wasn’t a heart attack. I knew immediately what it was, because I’ve had it before. Some people say it feels like a heart attack, but having never experienced one, I don’t really have anything to compare it to; although the first time this happened to me I did think I might have been going full myocardial infarction at the tender age of 35. So what was it that was choosing to bless me with its presence this week? A joyful little thing called costochondritis. I won’t go into the full blown description of it because Nikki – aka – ‘The Brainless Blogger’ does a much better job of it —> here. As Nikki says:

“It is swelling in the cartilage between the ribs and the sternum and the pain can radiate through the chest often feeling like a heart attack. It varies from mind to severe. It can be stabbing, aching, burning and it can be in one location specifically or just all over. It can come and go.”

Such fun!

But yeah, I knew what it was immediately and after convincing my other half that I wasn’t having a heart attack, didn’t need an ambulance and that it was just that ‘stupid chest thing’ that I’ve had a few times before, he calmed down, brought me some pain meds and I tried to get as comfortable as possible on the sofa. Which wasn’t all that comfortable really. It hurt badly to sit up really straight, but it also hurt a lot to lie down on my back (probably something to do with having my rather impressive – and therefore weighty – boobage pressing down on my ribcage.)

So I slumped.

And for the rest of the week I couldn’t shower, I barely slept, I couldn’t write with a pen & paper, couldn’t cook and basically just slouched in a semi-contorted position with a hot-water bottle on my chest, for a few days. You know it must have been bad, because I couldn’t even use my laptop properly. I tried logging on a few times, but just couldn’t get into a comfortable enough position to do anything…and there was the added thing with my fingers to deal with too – yay!

One of the lovely symptoms of psoriatic arthritis, is the tendency for one’s fingers to swell up like sausages. This happens to me from time to time (usually when the weather is switching up the barometric pressure, or during my TOM) but can also be ‘triggered’ by physical stresses or trauma. When I fell in the kitchen, I automatically put my hands out to break my fall. The ensuing impact caused my fingers to swell up and also sent enough shock waves up my arms into my chest to set off the costochondritis in my rib cartilage. And all because my stupid, unthinking, klutzy ass decided to spin around on a linoleum floor in socks. *Le sigh*

So it’s been a pretty shitty few days, as you can probably imagine. Do NOT however feel sorry for me, or offer me any sympathies – I hate that crap. As annoying and miserable these things can be, I’m very much used to them. And let’s be honest here, many more people have things far wore than I do. I don’t share these little experiences to elicit sympathy from y’all; I just like to keep shit as real as possible. If what I chat about is something you experience yourself, then I’m sure you’ll find yourself nodding in agreement with me from time to time. And if you don’t have fibromyalgia or any form of arthritis, well I hope you at least find my tales of wombling woe amusing.

Because if the idea of this chunky chick trying to pirouette in her socks and then hitting the kitchen floor like a ton of shit doesn’t make you chuckle, then you really have no sense of humour!

Have a hilarious week, y’all.

Blue

Slow Down There Kid…

What day is it?

It’s Saturday 5th September 2020. The temperature is definitely dropping and the nights are starting to draw in. Autumn is on the way and I can smell it coming in on the back of a breeze: the cool, crisp air cutting through summer’s claustrophobically fetid fug. And I for one can’t wait. I’ll finally be able to relax comfortably without feeling myself sticking to the furniture. I’m already able to sleep under the duvet again – sleeping with no covers over oneself is the weirdest, miserable experience. You need to sleep without the covers over you, because it’s so unbelievably hot & muggy that even the thinnest sheet becomes draped in moisture and clings to you like some insomniac form of Japanese water torture. But just lying there without any cover, you can feel how vulnerable and exposed you are to world. It’s a very sad feeling to go bed with no covers, even if the temperature demands it of you. So yes, Autumn, Fall, whatever y’all call it, it’s a-coming up here in the Northern Hemisphere and my inner ‘pumpkin-spice-infused-basic-bitch-white-chick’, couldn’t be happier.

I’m into Day 6. of induction and it’s been a weird-old couple of days (what I can remember of it/them anyway). On Thursday I was happily into that initial burst of energy you feel when you get into ketosis. Appetite was gone. Cravings were gone. Felt really positive. Felt like I was invincible even. So me and the other half were getting ready to go into town and I even found myself looking forward to the walk along the promenade. We gathered up all our bags, headed out and as soon as we started walking I felt amazing. The breeze was cool, the crows were all out in force on the beach, picking through the seaweed, everything was going to be great. [Spoiler: HA!]

Getting into town was fine; we were in the game store, the mini-mart, the chemist and even made it down to the bus station, with me still having a real spring in my step. We had about 10 minutes to wait for our bus, so we took the opportunity to sit down for a bit; tried to rearrange and consolidate our shopping bags a bit (give me fewer of them to accidentally leave behind).

And then it hit me. Like an actual physical force or weight from above me. I let out a loud, distorted “Owwwwwwwoooo!” and immediately began to regret all my overenthusiastic, faster pace and nonchalance upon leaving the house. It was all very well getting a genuine burst of physical energy as my body was burning its fat up, but that newfound energy didn’t suddenly make all my physical problems disappear. It just sort of overwhelmed my senses long enough for me to do myself more harm than good. Sitting there on that bench, pains started to shoot up and down my spine, managing to feel like both a hammer to my lumbar region and barbed-wire across my neck and shoulders, all at once. On top of that, the muscle in my left calf had gone into spasm, visually trembling underneath my trouser leg.

I can be such a moron sometimes: when I say I forget my age, middle name and house-number frequently, I’m not even being remotely hyperbolic. But you think I wouldn’t forget about a progressively worsening physiological problem that has been affecting me for the past 8 years, right? I mean, that’s the sort of thing that’s basically right there in the forefront of your mind, every single day, from the moment you wake up to the time you go to sleep. You don’t just let that shit slip.

Except maybe if you’re me and even the slightest extra pep in my step seems to be just enough to provoke some pretty poor decision making with regards to your body and what it’s capable of. I didn’t even remember to take my pain-killers before I left the house. THAT’S how sneakily powerful, the ketosis-energy burst thing is. It really did make me feel a bit immortal. I guess that’s another little thing to make a note of as I move through this new way of eating. A couple of days ago I was having a bit of existential introspection over the way ketosis had left me utterly apathetic towards all food. On Thursday I learned that I’m going to have all this extra energy on some days, so I’d need to try and find a better, less-crippling way of expending it. Because that brief trip into town absolutely obliterated me.

When we got home, I changed into my nightie, chugged back some pain killers and made myself a protein shake to have for dinner. Once I sat down, I was hit by a mixture of relief in the achy, overworked joints and a dull throbbing in the various parts of my body which play up during a fibro flare-up. What was I even thinking of? Storming off into town like I had a normal body…WTF?? I paid for it though. Hunched over like some Brothers’ Grimm hag-witch monstrosity (my hair helping to flesh out the likeness even more – thanks humidity!) I thought I might have actually done myself some real physical damage – although, that fear seems to plague me almost every time the fibro plays up. Something to do with the way the messages from my nerves to my brain’s pain receptors, not working correctly so I either don’t feel pain in the right place or I feel pain for no physiological reason. The arthritis is real enough, but the fibro is a cunning beast: mixing things up a little with a combination of both real manifestations of pain and subsequent sensations that originate in my brain for no good reason. Not that it matters what the cause is; both hurt like hell and it’s almost impossible to tell the difference.

But yeah. I can’t really recall much of the last day. I know I ate well. Even swallowed back a couple of tablespoons of coconut oil here and there. Tastes a bit weird and it does require the mastery of one’s gag-reflex, the first time you attempt to swallow it. But I got there in the end and it’s helping me to up my fat intake, because I’ve been consuming a lot of protein, salads and veggies but I really have to make the effort eat more fats if I’m going to remain in ketosis. At some point today I’m going to have to float on into the kitchen and put together something edible for me and the other half. Not looking forward to how hectic that’s gonna be. Trying to think of something that requires almost zero effort. Probably grill some burgers and Portabello mushrooms…do him some oven chips. Surely even I can’t balls that up, right?

Famous last words.

Anyway, there I was curled up on the sofa, willing my pain killers to kick in and do their job (not that they make the pain completely go away, but at least they dull it somewhat and make it more manageable) when the other half goes and scores some weed. The absolute legend. One of the best pain-relieving muscle relaxers out there. It’s simply the most effective thing for giving me relief and allowing my body to soften and relax. So we’ve been pretty wasted ever since then and I’m so relieved. I haven’t been this comfortable in ages. It has thrown up another curious sensation though as instead of having the munchies, stoned me in ketosis simply gets a craving for sweetness. Which is a bit of a relief really. Imagine having the proper munchies, with that growling stomach that demands the immediate consumption of a vast array of snacks, only to be doing low-carb at the time. That could’ve been a bit of a mare. Wanting to inhale cakes, biscuits, ice-cream and chocolate and trying to convince oneself that a piece of cheese and some ham are in any way going to cut it. Lol. Thankfully I was able to assuage my little sweet-craving with a caramel syrup coffee and I have a protein bar at the ready in case we go full ‘Code Blue’ and comestible reinforcements are required.

It’s all good.

Apart from that one little mission I’ll need to embark upon, in order to make dinner, I’m going to be spending the rest of the day on the sofa, in blissful oblivion, pain free and comfortable. We learned some lessons though over the past couple of days. One that I need to be more careful when hit by a ketosis energy burst. My brain might feel invincible in that moment, but my body isn’t (nor has ever been) the young, lithe, athlete my mind thinks it is in that moment. Gotta look out for that. Also we learned that the munchies aren’t the same when ketosis is in action. Nothing a sugar free syrup in the coffee can’t sort out. So yeah, lessons learned y’all.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Blue