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

Meet Carolyn…I Think Y’all Are Gonna Love Her!

Hey folks, today I want to share another You Tube channel with you; someone I think you’ll absolutely adore. I love finding other people who are on a similar mission to myself and Carolyn’s own journey mirrors my own a lot. We both began our switch over to eating low-carb at the same time, we’re both eating very similarly, we both wore the same clothing size when we began, we’ve lost around the same amount of weight as one another, and we’ve been seeing the same changes occurring in our bodies and clothing at the same time. I know we don’t have to be following the same plan or the same starting weight as another person for their own experiences to truly resonate with us, but when the little details do line up like that, it adds an extra layer of understanding and reassurance when they’re going through the same things that we are.

Not that any of that matters, because Carolyn is just a genuinely funny, very honest, slightly bonkers, adorable person whose videos I really look forward to watching. Some people are just naturally very engaging on camera and Carolyn is one of those people. She literally makes me laugh at loud at least once in every video! I only found her channel around Christmas time last year, when she’d already been losing weight and creating videos for the past 5 months. I immediately had to go back and binge-watch all of her entire back-catalogue of videos because I could tell straight away that this was someone whose content I was going to love. And I did. Ever since then I’ve been following her progress and it’s been so much fun. Not just because her journey mirrors my own so much, but because everything she talks about is eminently relatable and really entertaining.

I wanted to share her channel with y’all today because a/ I’d really love it if some of you would go check out her videos and maybe drop her a bit of support in the comments (she loves receiving comments and always responds to them) and also because b/ I just think that y’all will really enjoy her content. There are a lot of people out there with weight-loss oriented channels and some of them are more interesting and engaging than others. Carolyn just makes really good, fun and funny videos, so if you’re looking for a channel that you can subscribe to, that will make you feel like you’re getting to enjoy chatting with a friend and that’s relatable to your own experiences with having to lose a significant amount of weight, ‘Carolyn’s Weight Loss Journey’ is something you really should check out.

Like I said, she’s also following a low-carb WOE, so for those of us doing Atkins, LCHF or keto, her content is especially relevant because there are certain aspects of these plans which do differ to what the CICO folks do (not gonna lie, her video making easy, keto fudge had me salivating like a dog, lol!). But even if you’re not a low-carber, you’ll still find all the regular struggles around weight-loss and the subsequent issues like clothes no longer fitting (and not knowing your size, so not knowing what to buy online during these pandemic times) completely relatable and relevant. I know that just hearing someone echoing my own thoughts during a difficult week (“Shark Week” especially!) can really help to bolster my own spirits and know that I’m not the only one going through it.

I haven’t told her that I’m making her a featured channel on here yet, but it would be lovely if some of you did watch the above video, check out her content and drop her some words of support in the comments. That would absolutely make her day. And I just know you’ll want to subscribe and carry on following her progress. So yeah, enjoy the video, and if you do drop her a comment, tell her that Blue sent you!

Have a lovely weekend folks

Blue

Craven Thoughts

“Even through the darkest phase
Be it thick or thin
Always someone marches brave
Here beneath my skin”

For as long as I can remember, I have always been hungry. Or at least thought I was. I’ve spent the best part of the past 40 years, constantly riding the blood-sugar rollercoaster that had me feeling a real need to keep on consuming, despite my body being anything but actually hungry. But that all changed on 31st August 2020, when I switched over to a low-carb diet. No longer at the mercy of a lifetime spent trying to satiate an addiction to the chronic overconsumption of carbohydrates, I learned for the first time what real hunger felt like and have been able to drop a considerable amount of weight as a result. But even when keeping to a maximum of 20g of carbohydrates a day, I still get plagued by the occasional desire to eat something sugary. Something wickedly and deliciously decadent – chocolate!

I’ve mentioned before that I don’t think of myself as an emotional eater and for the most part I still believe that. But I’m beginning to come around to the idea that there is a slight aspect of emotion involved in my own relationship with food, even if it’s not what most of us associate with ’emotional eating’. I’ve never used food as a form of comfort, to cope when I’m sad or angry or scared. I’m not completely joking when I say that the size of arse is a testament to how happy I’ve been throughout most of my life; because when I am sad or upset, I lose my appetite. (Probably could’ve done with being a bit more miserable in my former years, considering how massively overweight I managed to get, lol.)

But ever since I began this switch over to eating a low-carb diet for health and weight loss, I’ve had to confront moments when I’ve found myself wanting to eat, when upon further consideration I realise that I’m not actually hungry. Not physically anyway. It’s not me wanting to eat because I’m bored – largely because I’m just not the sort of person who gets bored. Even during this long, frustrating lockdown nonsense, my days are filled with things to do; in fact somehow, even with all this extra time on my hands, I’m still left feeling sometimes that there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done. So it’s not that.

And of course it’s not even real hunger, because I’ve definitely learned the difference between genuine hunger and something else. It’s really more of a craving. Not in the:

“Omigod I can’t stop thinking about Dairy Milk bars! If I don’t get to eat one then I’ll go mad!”

It’s more of a knowing what I’m “missing out” on and just wanting to experience that taste sensation again. Do you know what I mean? It’s not that I don’t enjoy the food I’m eating, because I love it. I’m not starving myself or letting myself go hungry, and I’m not allowing myself to become nutritionally deficient. I just sometimes really miss how certain sweet things taste. It’s kinda similar to how I feel about certain perfumes. I’m really scent-oriented and I’m never not wearing some kind of fragrance. Some scents really resonate with me, to the point where I bulk-buy them and store them in one of my refrigerators to preserve them as best I can, just in case they get discontinued. So many perfumes I’ve loved over the years have have been discontinued and I really miss them. I hunt down old stock, or people offering sample sized vials, just to try and keep them in my life for as long as I can, because sometimes I just really want to smell a particular fragrance.

And that’s the best way I can describe how I feel about wanting to experience certain tastes too. It’s like a kind of nostalgia, but it has nothing to do with wanting to recapture some lost happiness of times gone by; one of my favourite perfumes of all time is one I was wearing during a time when I was working a job I hated and just coming to the realisation that I wasn’t happy with the relationship I was in. If anything that fragrance evokes more negative memories than anything, but it just smells SO freaking good! I actually crave wanting to smell it and when I dab a couple of drops onto the inside of my wrist, I’ll sit there sniffing at it repeatedly, just losing myself in all the composite notes emanating from my skin.

I enjoy fragrances. I enjoy luxuriating in a halo of decadent sillage, just for the sake of it. It’s not because I’m sad and want to feel happy. It’s not because I’m bored. I just want to smell a certain scent, because I like doing it. And it’s a harmless enough thing to enjoy. I can afford to splurge on these little luxuries and it’s not as if I have any other vices these days. (It also makes me a really easy person to buy gifts for, lol. If you want to buy me anything and you settle on one of my favourite fragrances, it shows you know me. I could have 4 other bottles of the same stuff, already stashed away in the fridge, but if I open a gift to find another bottle of it inside, you’ll have made me a very happy woman!)

Taking my love of perfume as an example of how I sometimes just crave a certain stimulus to one of my senses, is probably the best way to describe to you how I feel about having the occasional craving for another one of my senses to be stimulated. But when we start talking about food cravings, suddenly things start to sound much less innocent, as we try to intuit the more sinister root of such a terrible, negative desire.

“You must be deficient in some nutrient!”

“It’s probably your body trying to tell you to eat more!”

“I bet you’ve been getting lazy and you’ve let sugar back into your diet!

“Maybe you’re stressed out – have you tried mindfulness techniques?”

“Are you bored? Perhaps you need to think about finding a new hobby!”

Urgh. Like, I get that y’all are trying to be helpful, but could you at least try to be original? Lol. Is there any chance that this might just be an entirely benign desire to just want to revisit and reexperience a familiar sensory experience? I know, I know, they’re the exact same things that I’d probably suggest myself if someone came to me and told me that they were experiencing cravings for something sweet. But I’ve already worked my way through those considerations on my own time and I’ve even tried eliminating certain foods here and there to see if anything was causing these sensory triggers. I haven’t spoken about it in here before, but I’ve tried cutting out the low-carb friendly protein bars for a fortnight and even went 10 days just eating a carnivore style diet. Not to try and lose any more weight quicker than I already am doing, but because I was curious to see if doing either things would stop me from having those occasional moments where I just fancied a taste of something sweet.

Spoiler alert: neither methods did the trick. And like I said before, these aren’t intense cravings that burn inside me like the faux-hunger of old; it’s just like the thing I have with certain fragrances: I simply want to experience the taste again. It makes me wonder though if this is to do with an underlying addiction to sugar that will take a lifetime of discipline to perpetually steel myself against. On the one hand I think it’s not because isn’t an issue whereby my every waking thought is consumed by the desire to “relapse”; but on the other hand I think back to conversations I’ve had with heroin addicts who got clean, but said they always had to remain vigilant against the little head-games the addicted part of their brains would play with them, making them think every now and then, that they’d really like to just experience that feeling of the gear rushing through their veins again. Just one more time. But they know that they can never have “just one more” hit, because they’d end up right back where they were all those months or years ago, spending their entire lives scurrying around trying to score and worrying how they’d be able to pay for it.

Is that what my cravings are? The mind of an addict trying every little trick in the book to get me to give it “just one more” hit of the sweet stuff? Or is it more like my perfume penchant, proclivity or predilection? Nothing more than an innocent fancy that crosses my mind from time to time? Obviously the 2 situations aren’t entirely similar – as far as I know, I’m not causing myself any lasting physical harm by indulging my love of fragrance, whereas I know that sugar is genuinely bad for my physical and mental health. But the way the brain processes the detection of scent (olfaction) and flavour (gustation) are closely linked. Just as hearing is the perception of sound and sight is the perception of light, smell and taste are our perceptions of tiny molecules in the air and in food. Taste and smell information appear to converge in several central brain regions (we’ve all noticed the relationship between taste and smell when a cold or flu stuffs up our noses and everything tastes bland) but there are also neurons in the inferior frontal lobe that respond selectively to specific taste and smell combinations.

So I could easily just write off these occasional niggles of gustatory desire, as being no different to the olfactory cravings that I’m always more than happy in indulge. But that doesn’t mean I can just give in to those urges and eat a boatload of sugar because I want to experience the taste again “just one more” time. Don’t get me wrong, this post isn’t my way of trying to rationalise the choice to eat off plan – far from it – I’m really just trying to understand the whys and wherefores behind these feelings that crop up from time to time. It’s weird because it’s not like I have cravings for all things carb-laden, it’s really just a couple of very specific items. I don’t think about pizza, or potatoes or pasta or most of the food I used to eat. It’s not even just chocolate as a whole.

Believe me when I tell you that I used to eat chocolate every single day, and I enjoyed every variety and brand out there. Nestle, Lindt, Green & Blacks, Thornton’s, Mars, Rowntree’s, Marks & Spencer’s…I even had a monthly subscription to the ‘Hotel Chocolat Tasting Club’ (which the other half and I used to enjoy working our way though while having one of our film nights on the sofa). And I loved them all. But the only one that seems to plague me now, is Cadbury’s Dairy Milk. Not Galaxy, not Yorkie, not Marks & Spencer’s Single Origin Dominican Republic 32% Cocoa Milk Chocolate With Salted Butterscotch & Maple Syrup (yeah, it tastes as epic as it sounds, lol)…but Cadbury’s Dairy Milk.

I’ve tried to think back over my childhood, to see if perhaps that was the particular treat of choice that I now associate with such pleasure. Or even if maybe it was a treat that was withheld for one reason or another. But there’s nothing that I can think of. I was an ‘equal-opportunities chocolate botherer’ all throughout my childhood, youth and into adulthood, yet it’s only that purple-packaged bar of chocolatey loveliness that seems to stir my senses. The other half was eating a Wispa bar the other day (which are basically just a bar of aerated Dairy Milk with some tiny bubbles in it – same taste, just a different texture) and I made him let me smell it, before he polished it off, lol. It smelled just like I remember and whilst for many, allowing their ultimate craving to get so close to their mouth might be a very dangerous game, it did feel good to inhale that familiar aroma. I think smelling it also might have helped to alleviate the craving somewhat; which kinda makes sense given what I mentioned earlier about the connection between gustation and olfaction.

But I didn’t eat any of it. To bastardise a famous idiom from the bible (Matthew 26:41) “My flesh may be strong, but my spirit is a little weak.” I may wish to indulge, but my resolve remains strong; craven thoughts be damned. I know some people reading this are probably thinking I should just eat the fricking chocolate and get over it, but I’m not in the right place to start introducing the odd sugary treat, just yet. Maybe one day I will, but for now I’m just going to keep on sticking to my plan and refrain from doing anything other than sniffing the other half’s Dairy Milk from time to time! I have to keep reminding myself that this isn’t just about weight loss, it’s also about overall health. And sugar is one of the most unhealthy things I could choose to consume with abandon.

I think it was Shakespeare who was first quoted as saying that: “Quod me alit, me extinguit.” I’d like to get that tattooed on myself somewhere one day; a permanent reminder of why I stay the path of continuing to follow a low-carb way of life. Then any time of one of these little cravings – however benign – starts to creep in at the edges of my consciousness, I could look at it and just wait for the feelings to pass. Right now though, I’ve got a serious urge to go eat some bacon, eggs and a fried mushroom…and I have no intention of ignoring that craving whatsoever. I know this whole post has just been a jumble of thoughts, but that’s what’s been going through my head these past couple of days (I don’t think the current glut of Easter Egg adverts are really helping the matter, lol) so I figured I’d share them here. I hope at least some of it will resonate with a few of you out there.

Have a lovely Easter folks

Blue

Going In Circles / Weigh-In Monday

“I know nothing stays the same
But if you’re willing to play the game
It’s coming around again”

Here we are again. Monday, already. I have no idea where the last week went. I have absolutely nothing to show for it, except for a few books read on my Kindle and some videos watched on YouTube. Of course the dreaded “Shark Week” is upon me again, but I’m hoping (finger crossed) that this month isn’t going to turn into another “Shark Fortnight” as I’ve been taking my Mefenamic Acid every morning without fail. But the usual hormonal bloat is here as expected and I’ll just go ahead and get my weekly weigh-in out of the way, because it too is showing exactly what I expected: a few pounds of “ghost-gain”. Last week I maintained, after a previous week’s loss of 5lbs. Last week I was 14 stone 9lbs (205lbs) and today the scale says I’m at 14 stone 12lbs (208lbs which means I’ve “gained” 3lbs this week. Really?

Urgh. I know it’s just hormones and water weight or whatever, but I’m starting to think I might be in a sort of plateau phase right now. It’s hard to know, because when I look back over my ‘Fat Stats’ for the past few months, I’m still doing the same thing where I:

  • Gain weight during “Shark Week/Fortnight”
  • Lose Weight
  • Maintain
  • Gain weight again because yet again “Shark Week/Fortnight”

Which is totally normal for me, but I’m not sure if my cycle is the thing causing me to have so many problems, or if I’m genuinely in a plateau phase right now. If it is a plateau, then cool, whatever; I knew I was due to hit one sooner or later because I’ve been losing steadily and happily enough for the past 6 months. I just wish I didn’t have to deal with the annoyance of “Aunt Flo” creating havoc for me, for anything up to 2 weeks out of month, because I’m starting to feel like I’m going around in circles. Gain, lose, maintain, gain. Repeat every month, ad – literal – nauseum.

If this is a plateau phase (however cunningly obfuscated by hormonal interferences) then I’ve planned for it. I expected it to happen and would be happy to use the few techniques I have at the ready, should weight loss start to stall for an extended period of time. I’m still not counting any calories in any of the food I eat, so there’s that to consider should the need arise (I was going to start reducing my portion sizes, but things seemed to be going okay without me needing to pay much attention to it, although that might be worth looking at now). I’ve also been reading up on some ways in which I can start to incorporate ‘Intermittent Fasting’ into my diet – which will need a bit of jiggling around with medication and whatnot, but should be ultimately doable if I work it out properly.

Plateaus just happen – especially to those of us with a lot of weight to lose – so there’s no need to get stressed about it. Just stick to your plan and keep doing what you’ve been doing for a few weeks and see how things pan out. Obviously, as we lose more and more weight, the amount of food we actually need to consume also decreases, so if weight loss stalls for more than a few weeks, it’s probably time to take a look at the amount of food you’re eating and maybe try reducing it a bit. I know all this and am fully prepared to start making the necessary adjustments to my diet, should it be the time to do so.

But I’m not entirely sure if I am in a plateau phase or not, because of the weird way that my weight fluctuates so much every month, because of my cycle. And I don’t want to jump the gun and begin tinkering with my food intake too early, because that will only mean I have even less wiggle-room to play with once the real plateau phase kicks in. I swear, the menopause can’t come early enough for me…but if my mother is anything to go by, I’ve got another 20 years of this monthly crap to endure before “Aunt Flo” finally packs up her stuff and moves out for good. Yikes!

Maybe it’s a plateau, maybe it’s just my hormones, maybe it’s Maybelline…frick knows what’s behind it right now, but I’m guessing this whole lockdown bullshit isn’t helping things. I’m definitely sleeping more and moving even less than usual, which is probably playing into how much food I actually need to consume every day. And my joints have been hurting a lot more than usual which means I haven’t been making much of an effort to go out for a walk, but then I never used any additional exercise as a means to increase or aid my weight-loss, so I doubt that’ll be having any impact in and of itself. I guess I just feel pretty ‘meh’ right now. Lockdown blues, hormonal mood, fibromyalgia playing up…I’m probably just being a whiny bitch, lol.

All I can do right now, is just keep on sticking to the plan, try to ride out this latest “visitation” and see where it leaves me at the end of it. I’ll probably give it a couple more months just keeping on with how I’ve been eating and then see if I need to re-evaluate my intake. Sure it’s annoying and frustrating to feel like I’m going in circles, but I knew going into this new way of eating that weight loss is rarely linear and that patience was going to be key to success. One thing I won’t be doing is veering off plan or giving myself any pathetic excuses to eat any carby junk. Sure I’ll probably have the odd bitch and moan on here about “Aunt Flo” and her shenanigans, but even if the scale is going up and down and all over the place, I’m committed to this way of eating for health, for the rest of my life. There are no good reasons or excuses for going off-plan and I’m not about to start trying to invent any, just to acquiesce to the inner sugar-addict who will forever be a monkey on my back.

My kitchen is stocked with plenty of good, nutritious foods, and I have some protein bars, nut butters and shakes on hand for those moments when I can’t countenance the idea of eating anything too substantial, but still need to put something in my stomach to take my meds with. I’ve also got a 12-pack of ‘Nano A Protein Pancakes’ on order from Amazon (because yes, my hormonally addled brain was seriously craving something cake-like and that ‘buy-it-now’ button is literally the devil in disguise, lol) which are allegedly going to be delivered by Thursday 1st April (omigod, we’re almost in April, already!) but the way my Amazon deliveries have been going lately, frick knows when (or if) they’ll actually get here.

I know, I know, I could probably make these myself, but I fricking hate cooking anything and it would have taken just as long for a packet of protein pancake mix to get here, as it would these pre-made ones (no, I don’t have a bunch of baking ingredients on hand to just make stuff…the only thing I have in common with Martha Stewart is our inherent dislike of taxation) and I was feeling very sorry for myself as “The Communists Started Squatting In My Neighbourhood And Began Kicking My Arse From The Inside Out”. The ingredients aren’t what a lot of people would consider “clean” keto, but I’m not actually doing any official keto, just low-carb with a maximum of 20g carbs a day.

Ingredients
Pancake: water, whey protein (milk) (VOLAC Volactive Ultra Whey 80 Instant), egg yolk, humectant (glycerine), wholemeal flour, sunflower oil, fillers (disodium diphosphate, sodium carbonate, calcium carbonate), maize starch, sweetener (sucralose), salt, preservative (potassium sorbate, sodium acetate).

Filling: water, sweetener, flavouring, modified starch, refined vegetable fat, low-fat cocoa powder, thickener (carboxymethylcellulose), flavouring, salt, preservative (potassium sorbate), emulsifier (polysorbate 60).

The nutritional panel says that each one contains 13.1g of carbohydrate with 2.8g of that being sugar. It’s tempting to just go with the amount of sugar in each one, but looking at the ingredients list, I think I’ll be better off counting the 13g total carbs when I eat these. I’m not planning on eating them every day (this month’s “Shark Week” will probably – hopefully! – be done with by the time my order even arrives) and I’ll try to keep most of them back until next month’s “visitation” when the hormonal need for something cake-like, rears its ugly head again.

But for now, I’m just going to settle for a protein-collagen-keto shake and a little squeezy sachet of ‘Pip & Nut Almond Butter’ to keep me going. I think I might even be up for a steak this evening – lord knows I could do with the iron boost! And I’ve got some ‘Green & Black’s 85% Dark Chocolate’ to have with a cup of coffee later in the evening or before I go to bed. The G&B bars are nicely portioned off into rows of 3 squares. 2 rows / 6 squares (18g) comes in at 4.2g of carbohydrate, with 2.6g of sugar. Being really dark and intense, those 2 little rows are just the right amount to give you a nice little hit of chocolatey loveliness, without any added polyols. Perfect for this time of the month.

Anyway, that’s all I have to share with ya’ll this weekly weigh-in. I really must get around to posting some mid-week stuff in here too…I just seem to keep blinking and before I know it, another 7 days have rolled around. Fecking lockdown bollocks! Right now, I’m off to lie down and listen to ‘Chemtrails Over The Country Club’ for a bit and try to get my arse to stop feeling like I’ve dislocated by left buttock. I’m so rock ‘n roll y’all, lol!

Stay sane folks

Blue

Fear And Loathing In Low-Carb Land

Other Half: “How long have you have you been doing your low-carb thing now babe?”

Me: “About 6 months.”

OH: “Are you not thinking about having a day off of it any time soon?”

Me: “No. This is just how I eat now.”

OH: “But don’t you miss any of the stuff you used to eat?”

Me: “Not really. I don’t even think about it much anymore.”

OH: “There must be something you still wish you could have. Something you can’t make a low-carb version of?”

Me: “The only thing I haven’t had that I’d like is a chocolate cake, but I can always make a keto version if I really feel the urge.”

OH: “So you’re never going to eat any of that stuff ever again?”

Me: “I don’t know. I mean, never say never right? I just don’t want to go back to that way of eating.”

OH: Yeah but just having one day off isn’t going to hurt is it?”

Me: “Probably not. But I’m afraid that I might just go completely overboard and I don’t know that I want to risk ruining everything I’ve achieved so far.”

OH: “Yeah but you already know that you can do this.”

Me: “Yep. But the idea of losing control again really scares me.”


BOOM! There it is again folks. Our old friend ‘Fear’ and its trusty side-kick, ‘The Control Freak’. That little back-and-forth was part of a conversation I was having with the other half today about how long it’s been since I switched over to a low-carb way of eating. He’s been nothing but supportive of me ever since I decided to change my eating habits and whilst he never doubted my ability to stay committed to something I set my mind to, even he’s been surprised at my refusal to eat off-plan even once. We’ve been together for over a decade and up until August 31st last year, I was a total sugar-fiend. He knows how much I loved eating all the high-carb processed crap; how much I loved take-away food, cakes, biscuits, fudge, chocolate and sweets of every variety. So it’s only natural that he’d be wondering whether I missed any of it or if maybe I ever thought about taking a day off to indulge in some old favourites.

But I wasn’t lying when I said I don’t really think about it. I’m not one of those demanding harridans who simply cannot have junk food in the house, simply because I’m not eating it anymore. I made it absolutely clear from day 1 that he shouldn’t feel bad about eating however he chooses. My choices are on me, not him. The rest of the world should never have to bend to my will, just because I can’t eat that stuff any more – and anyone who expects that kind of kid-glove treatment needs to get a grip, because you’ll never be able to escape being surrounded by temptation in the outside world. Plus it’s just really selfish to expect other people in your home to alter their own diets, because you lack self-control. Don’t get me wrong, I love that he’s so supportive and it was really cute when he tried to stash his own snacks away out of sight when I first switched to eating low-carb, but over time I’ve made him realise that whilst I appreciate his concerns, I’m a big girl and I’m not about to go mad and inhale an entire packet of Wispa bars, just because they’re sat on the living room table.

I still make bread and cook potatoes, rice, pasta, chips and whatnot for him. I order him take-out pizza when he wants one and it doesn’t bother me at all to have it in the house. And I think that comes down to me having made a very clear decision in my own mind, that I simply do not eat those foods any more. There’s no grey area around any of it, I just don’t eat that way. You’ve probably heard others talk about the notion of being either a moderator or an abstainer. Moderators can eat a little bit of something and then leave it alone, but can’t imagine life without it altogether. Abstainers can cut something out entirely, but can’t just have a little bit, or it will remain present in the forefront of their minds, tormenting them with thoughts of always wanting more. I’m an abstainer. Some might call that “all or nothing thinking” but it’s no different to me, than an alcoholic swearing off of drink for the rest of their lives. It’s what I decided to do from day 1 and even stuck with that approach all through the festive season.

And I can’t think of any reason as to why I’d want to deviate from my low-carb WOE any time soon. It’s become almost second nature to me now. I eat food I like, there are plenty of options for keto-friendly versions of some items I want and I just feel so much healthier. I’m about 35lb away from hitting my initial 100lb goal and when I get there I’ll probably extend that even further by another 30lb. It’s all going really well, completely according to plan and even though I know I’m definitely due to hit a stall sometime soon (we all get one eventually), I’m totally prepared for it and happy to continue eating this way indefinitely.

So, what’s the problem?

Well, it occurred to me during that conversation at the beginning of this post, that one of my underlying reasons for not wanting to have a “cheat-day” or “day-off” was my fear of losing control of my eating again and spiralling back into some kind of inevitable inability to get back on track. Thinking on it some more, I had to admit that I’ve become somewhat of a “Carbophobic” of late, never wanting to use my full 20g daily max allowance, always trying to keep to 15g max every day instead. If I buy a premade salad and it contains grated carrot or tomato in it, I’ll spend a good 5 minutes fishing out every last bit of those ingredients, because I look at them as being too high in carbohydrates. I won’t eat any protein bars that contain more than 3g of carbohydrates. I avoid even the slightest dash of any sauce or condiment that contains sugar and if I’m being completely honest, the main reason I haven’t gotten my other half to help me make a keto-friendly cake yet, is because the one’s that look even remotely worth the effort have anywhere between 5 and 10 carbs for a slice – and ain’t nobody about to keep themselves to one tiny sliver of cake. I’m an abstainer, not a moderator remember?

And I’m a little bit worried that I might be developing a bit of an intense and unhealthy fear of carbs. Which is weird, because I know that the human body doesn’t need to consume carbs for any reason – post infancy that is, when we’re supposed to get it from breast milk, but I digress – and there’s no reason for me to ever have to consume them again (I mean, except maybe if there was some huge disaster and the only food I had any access to was a bunch of processed crap once my fat stores ran out, but I’m talking regular life here.) I have every reason to fear sugar and the damage it does to the human body. It’s an unnecessary substance that provides no nutritional value, whilst causing a whole heap of medical issues from Type II Diabetes and obesity, to dementia and inflammation all throughout the body. Shouldn’t more people be afraid of this stuff? Surely I’m right to want to give it a wide berth?

But maybe I’m not just reasonably concerned about consuming sugar. Maybe I’m becoming obsessively afraid of it, to the point of it being unhealthy in and of itself. I know I’m a natural control freak and when I had a stress related nervous breakdown, that part of me mutated into intense hypervigilance that crept into all aspects of my thinking. I’m completely over that breakdown now, but I always worry that I might be prone to another episode if enough stress factors all come together in the same kind of perfect storm that triggered the last one. So I like to always check in on myself from time to time, just to make sure that I’m doing okay. I know what to look out for and any time I feel as though things are starting to get a little too hectic, I know exactly who to speak to in order to get the help I need.

And I’m not saying I’m back lingering on the outskirts of Crazytown, about to lose my shit again anytime soon (yes, I’m allowed to use those terms, I’m a fully-fledged member of the Crazy Crew which gives me a crazy-pass to refer to mental health in the most politically incorrect terms I see fit, lol). But the thought of something getting the better of me never sits well with the control-freak part of my brain, and the added concerns surrounding a fear of certain foods, just sort of niggle at me in a way I’m not comfortable with. It’s not that I want to eat sugar. It’s that I want to carry on not eating it, by choice, not out of an unhealthy fear that’s rooted in a bad relationship with food. Does that make sense? If I can use the alcohol analogy again, I choose not to drink alcohol. Not because I fear what it will do to me; I’ve never had any problems with alcohol. I just choose not to consume it because it makes me feel like shit the next day. My house has loads of alcohol in it, but it never occurs to me to drink any, because I just don’t choose to drink alcohol. Which is how I want to feel about sugar and carb-laden junk food. I’m fine having it in the house, I can eat meals around others who are eating it and not be bothered by that. But it just feels like I’ve become unreasonably scared about sugar and carbs…and I don’t like having that fear.

If I fear something, I’m allowing it to have more power over me than it deserves. I’m attributing powers to something, that in this case, is an inanimate foodstuff. I don’t want to allow it to have that hold over me, because while it still does, I’m not wholly healed of my sugar-addiction and I don’t have the completely neutral, proper relationship with food that I’m working on achieving for myself. This concern actually first occurred to me a few days ago when I was watching a video by Thomas DeLauer. In it he said that whilst he mostly follows a keto WOE combined with a fasting regimen, sometimes he goes off of it for a day or so. I think he was trying to make a point about how he’s able to be pretty relaxed about his own eating at this point in his life and it’s normal for others to do so too, but I remember having an almost physiological reaction to hearing him say that.

“WTF? No way. I can’t do that. I don’t want to do that. I’m not gonna do that!”

The thought of “just taking the weekend off” horrified me.

“I’d gain weight immediately! How do I know I would be able to stop again? I do not want to have to go through the 3 days of hell, to get back into ketosis again!”

And I know the beginnings of concern about my having that knee-jerk response did start to creep into my mind at that point, but I just reminded myself that I’m still in the early stages of getting my health to where I want it to be.

“I need to make more improvements, lose more weight and become more settled into this way of eating, before I should even think about that kind of thing. Tom’s in a near perfect state of physical health and he’s been doing the keto and fasting thing for over a decade. He’s in the right place physically and mentally to start being able to relax a little with his diet. But I’m nowhere near where he is. No, now is not the time for me to flirting with such a dietary disaster.”

I mean, you can’t fault my logic there right? I can’t expect to cure myself of a lifetime of poor food choices in just 6 months and think I’m home free, can I? Trust me, I can make an argument for anything I think or believe – and that might just be part of the problem. Arguing happens to be one of my stronger suits. My parents encouraged heated debate in the family home, always putting the emphasis on using logical, rational propositions or defences and always keeping one’s cool. As a result of that I have always been able to stand up for myself, challenge those I disagree with…and rationalise my way into making all manner of less than intelligent decisions, lol. Part of the reason why I switched to low-carb in the first place, was because the evidence for it made complete, logical sense. I didn’t just choose to follow it because I wanted to lose weight and it was the trendy new diet on the scene. When I followed up on the books I read and the videos I watched, there was no compelling reason for me to keep on eating sugar.

And there still isn’t really. Except maybe I need to do it, just to prove to myself that I can do it and then go back to my normal low-carb WOE the next day. Urgh! Just typing that sentence out, like I’m seriously considering doing it, is already making my anxiety start prickling. I don’t want to put that stuff in my mouth or into my body. I don’t want to feel the way I used to feel when my brain’s reward centres were getting hyper-stimulated by all the crappy food I used to eat. I don’t want to like it. I don’t want to have those tastes back in my mouth, and then back in my memory, reminding me of just what I’ve been missing out on. I’m scared of eating like that again. Which again makes me feel like that’s the exact reason I should do it.

Do you see what I mean? I can provide numerous reasons as to why I shouldn’t have a day off of eating low-carb; the main one being that I just don’t want to. I have only one reason to make myself do it, and that’s to prove to myself that this stuff doesn’t have any power over me. That I can pick it up and then put it down again once I’ve proved my point. But what point would I be proving? That my control-freak nature can adhere to any rules I decide to impose upon it? Because that sort of experiment would still be me maintaining a firm grip on the reigns of my eating habits; it wouldn’t be me being “relaxed” about carbs, in any sense of the word. All it would really achieve is me proving to myself, yet again, that I can stay in control. And isn’t that really part of the problem to begin with?

I don’t know. All I’m certain of right now is that I have no immediate plans to deviate from this way of eating. I’m on a mission to lose all this extra weight, get healthy and have a better quality of life. I don’t want to do anything to ruin any of the progress I’ve already made, or scupper my chances of progressing any further. There is no need for me to consume sugar from a nutritional point of view, nor any social obligation or personal desire to do so. I’m not self-imposing this WOE for any moral reasons, I just don’t want to put that shit in my body. Not right now anyway. So I guess all I’ve done here is talk myself back to maintaining my original position, regardless of any concerns I might have about my increasing “Saccharophobia”. But it’s something I know I need to keep an eye on going forward.

And after talking some more with the other half, I made a deal with him: I’m going to stay completely on plan for as long as I see fit. But…on the 1 year anniversary of my switching over to low-carb (August 31st) I will go out to dinner with him to our favourite Indian restaurant and eat my favourite dish. So, I’ve got 6 months to work up the courage to have an ‘off-day’! 166 days and counting folks – GULP!

Have a lovely day y’all

Blue

Newsflash! Weight-Loss Is Boring! And It Should Be!

Okay, let’s be real folks. Losing weight isn’t all that interesting. I mean, it’s exciting and new when you first begin out on a new regime, fuelled by all the promises of what the end result will be, and it’s cool to see the progress pics and update videos by other people trying to lose weight, but the everyday process itself? Yeah it’s pretty bloody dull. But you know what? That’s exactly what you should be aiming for. Probably not what you wanted to hear, but lemme explain.

Everyone starts out on their weigh-loss mission pretty psyched – and that’s completely normal. We prep ourselves by reading as much as we can about our chosen plan, immerse ourselves in weight-loss communities where we can share stories, pick up tips and get support, and it’s so cool because it’s new and different and exciting. We’ve gotten to a point where we’re able to accept that we have a problem and then realise that fixing that problem is completely within our grasp. We feel empowered with all this new knowledge and as we start making the necessary dietary changes, we feel amazing because we’re getting results. We’re fricking doing this, y’all!

And it’s great. As long as we’re sticking to our plan and doing all the things we’re supposed to, the weight continues to come off, albeit a little more slowly than it did in the first few weeks. But the scale is still moving down and everything’s working and yet…suddenly it doesn’t feel that exciting any more. We’re no longer feeling the newfound excitement we felt right at the beginning, and the end is still quite a way off. So it’s only natural when some of us start looking for other ways to get that feeling of excitement back. Maybe we’ll add in a fitness challenge – those always seem really popular – or maybe we’ll consider changing up our plan – eating challenges are also all over YouTube. What we’re looking for is a return to that high we felt way back when we first started out on our weight-loss regimes…but that’s not necessarily a good thing.

The phrase “This is not a diet, it’s a lifestyle” has become a bit of a cliché, with many people repeating it verbatim, without really living by it. But the reality is, that for weight loss to not only be successful but sustainable, this really does have to be a complete lifestyle adjustment – not just a quick fix to get us to our goal weight. And like it or not, for this to BE a lifestyle change and not just a fad, we’re really going to have to expect the whole thing to become a bit boring. Is cleaning your teeth every day a blog-worthy event? I doubt it. Do you get ripples of adrenaline coursing through your veins every time you wash the dishes? I hope not. (I mean, you do you boo, but if that’s what really gets you going every day, you might want to look into trying a new hobby…just saying.)

What I’m trying to say is that whilst eating can be a part of how we celebrate or socialise, it really shouldn’t be the focal point of our entire day. I’ve mentioned this before, but my other half is a tall, athletic guy who has never really had to worry about his weight (except for one time when a course of medication for an injury caused him to lose his appetite a drop a little too much weight – but that was soon remedied by reducing his meds). He turned to me earlier while we were watching ‘My 600lb Life’ and said:

“You know, I’ll never really understand what all this is about.”

And thinking that he meant the severely super-morbidly obese people on the show, I told him that I didn’t fully understand their mindset either; that their pathological relationship with food is far more dangerous and damaged than mine has ever been. But he shook his head:

“No…I mean, I’ll never understand ANY of this weight-loss stuff. I can’t imagine having to think about everything I eat, all the time, every day. It’s completely alien to me.”

And he truly meant it. Don’t get me wrong, he’s incredibly supportive and frequently reminds me that if there’s anything he can do to help me with this, then just say the word; but it’s a whole other country to him, this world of weight-loss, fitness and food-plans. Which is exactly how it should be for someone with a totally normal relationship with food. Sure, it pays to be at least somewhat informed with regards to nutrition and activity levels, but for those who have never experienced any weight issues or food allergies / intolerances, food really isn’t that big of a deal. They enjoy a nice meal out, or a special celebratory dinner, but for the most part, food is a fuel that they need to consume in order to not die. If it tastes nice, that’s great, but they don’t feel the need to make every morsel some hyper-palatable gourmet offering that Heston Blumenthal would be proud of. And that’s one of the huge differences between those of us who have good relationships with food, and those of us who don’t.

A lot has been said recently about the notion of ‘Intuitive Eating’ and the twisted way that the ‘Fat Acceptance’ have chosen to bastardise it for their own ends. But the ideas at the core of ‘Intuitive Eating’ do make sense…for those don’t have a screwed-up relationship with food. It’s exactly how my other half eats every day. Sometimes he wakes up wanting a fried breakfast; other days he gets up and doesn’t want anything to eat for a few hours. Some days he’s happy to have a few smaller snack-like meals throughout the day, and on others he prefers a big roast dinner with all the trimmings. Aside from my obsession with wanting him to up his protein intake a bit, he normally gets enough of a wide range of food in his diet to keep him strong, lean and healthy – and he doesn’t ever stop to second-guess any of the food choices he makes.

(Yeah, I know…I really should hate the dude for that, but he’s pretty to look at and I can’t reach up to change the lightbulbs, so I like to keep him around, lol.) My point is that his relationship with food is the kind that we all should aspire to having ourselves. And part of that relationship will involve our having to find a way to stop food from having such an intense hold on us that we think about it from dawn ’til dusk. I hate to piss on everyone’s Cheerios, but not every meal needs to be interesting or exciting. What’s important is that we figure out how to get sufficient nutrition from our diet, find a plan that allows us to lose weight without feeling hungry or deprived, and then just go about the rest of our lives, like normal people do.

I’m not saying we can’t enjoy our food or that y’all should be suffering on some foul diet made up of foods you actually hate (because that shit ain’t sustainable for anyone in the long term) but if a lot of our food choices end up being pretty boring, that’s not the end of the world. That’s normal. Going out of your way to try and imbue every meal you consume on your weight-loss regime, with amazing flavours, textures, colours and fragrances, isn’t how most people eat. The very fact that we treat going out to dinner or having a celebratory birthday meal with such reverence, is precisely because they’re supposed to be special experiences that elevate the humble meal to an altogether different level. And I think we as a society have forgotten that.

“By the end of the 19th Century, fine dining restaurants had become part of the landscape for the wealthy aristocratic Europeans and upper-class Americans. These groups transformed eating out into an art form. Through the 20th century, restaurants continued to evolve through two world wars and the Great Depression. The 1950s saw the rapid growth of fast food, while the 1960s marked the beginning of casual family dining and chain restaurants. By 2000, more and more families were dining out on a weekly basis.”

History of American Restaurants in the 20th Century

Eating out regularly is still a relatively new concept for the working & middle classes as a whole. And it’s no coincidence that our ever-expanding waistlines have gotten bigger at exactly the same rate as the explosion in choices with regards eating out. It has become so much easier and cheaper for the average person to eat out, that dining culture is no longer the preserve of the upper classes. Everywhere we go there are myriad options to cater to our taste and wallets, offering intentionally hyper-palatable food combinations that we can choose to eat on the premises, take home or even have delivered to our doors. And we’ve gotten so that we almost feel as though we’re entitled to all this choice and convenience. We work hard, raise families, keep households, attend schools and at the end of the day we’re exhausted. So of course we feel like we deserve to ‘treat’ ourselves and our families to something quick, easy and tasty. But all we’ve really done is condition our taste-buds and our dopamine circuits to associate food with always being something that should taste epic and provide a massive bang for our buck.

So when we finally realise that we’re fat and out of shape, we naturally start to try and make our new food-plans really tasty and interesting and exciting, because we’re still trapped in the mindset of a person with a fucked up relationship with food. We look for recipes that will provide satisfying alternatives to the foods that we over-consumed to get fat in the first place, because we’re still obsessed with making food the focal point of our daily lives. And we really need to stop doing that.

Hey, I’m not claiming to be free of this way of thinking folks. I say all this as someone who realised a while ago that my own relationship with food was completely skewed, because of the type of ‘stimulant seeking’ mentality I have. I wrote a blog post about that very realisation which ya’ll can read here: Stimulus Chick. I know that I have a very active mind that loves to be stimulated and hates to be inactive (I have never been able to ’empty my mind’ and meditate and probably never will, lol) and that ‘stimulant seeking’ mentality plays out in the way I have approached food. Y’all, I’m as bad as everyone else with this, but it’s something I’m working on fixing because I don’t want food to be the controlling aspect of my day-to-day life; I’ve got way too many other things I could be focusing my attention on. And that’s why I’ve come to a second realisation about food, weight-loss and why it’s actually completely normal and healthy, for it to all be incredibly mundane.

When I look back at my previous posts on here I can see that I have yet to shed that obsession with having amazingly tasty food all the time. I’m not altering my behaviour, merely finding an alternative conduit through which I can continue to satisfy that ‘food-centric’ mentality. And I see it in so many other people who are trying to overhaul their diets and implement permanent “lifestyle” changes too. Letting go of the idea that all food has to be hyper-palatable and exciting is difficult. It’s scary and that fear is rooted in our aversion to the unknown, and filtered down through these comestible crutches we develop over time. It’s hard enough to cut out something like sugar from our diets; taking the next step towards a relaxed – almost nonchalant – form of ‘Intuitive Eating’, where food is no longer a perpetually intense, sensory experience is something else. But it’s what I truly believe is at the core of a successful lifestyle overhaul and a healthy relationship with food and eating.

Does that mean I’m suddenly going to become the most clean-eating, nutrition-focused, A+ example of how to eat? Um…no, I’m a work in progress folks; always have been, always will be. But I do want to try and take a mental step back from having an obsessive preoccupation with the food I eat. It’s going to be difficult, because I’ve a/ got a whole 40 years worth of habits to try and undo, and b/ also need to make sure that I’m sticking to my low-carb WOE by always having enough of the right food on hand to tide me over. But I’ve been eating this way for just over 5 months now. I know what I can and cannot eat and going forward, just grabbing something simple to eat because it meets my nutritional needs, is how I’d like to start regarding most of my food choices. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to be eating foods that I enjoy or not enjoying the food that I eat, because I will never get sick of eating steak! But not every meal has to be a sensory adventure. Food is and should be primarily, a source of fuel. And I need to remember that.

So, if you take anything away from this post, let it be this: weight loss is going to get boring over time AND THAT’S A GOOD THING! If you’ve been plodding along for a while and you’re no longer excited by your food choices, don’t immediately rush to try and inject a sense of excitement back into your life. At least not for the reasons I’ve been talking about today. Most of us got to where we are – being overweight, addicted to sugar and having a dysgenic relationship with food – largely in part through us abusing our pleasure / reward pathways with a constant stream of sensory overload from hyper-palatable food sources. Simply put, we’ve gotten addicted to the pleasure gained from eating. And it’s hard for us to let that go.

But if we’re ever to find our way back to having a normal relationship with food, we need to work on breaking that association between food and being constantly, pleasurably stimulated. It sounds trite, but finding other avenues from which to get our kicks, really is the best alternative. Cultivating interests outside of weight loss and food is a healthy route to living and eating like a “normal” person. I know it’s really tempting to want to ‘shake things up’ and find new, exciting ways to lose weight, but by always seeking that new injection of stimulation, we’re only feeding into that same cycle of ‘stimulant seeking’ behaviour. Deciding to do an egg fast for a week might get you some great results on the scale, but is that how you’re going to eat for the rest of your life? And how do you think your body is going to react once you return to how you were eating previously? By all means, consider things like intermittent fasting as a permanent way of eating that will become boringly second-nature over time; but if all you’re after is that initial ‘high’ you get from doing something new and different with your food, then you’re never going to find your way out of this ‘stimulant seeking’ behaviour around eating.

Like I said, right now I’m as guilty of this as the next person, but I’d like to think that by coming to this realisation, I will be better equipped to do something about it. Because I hate the idea of something as mundane as food having such a powerful hold over me. I want to eat to live, not live to eat.

Stay boring, y’all!

Bue

Stimulus Chick

And you want to call your mother and say
“Mother, I can never come home again
‘Cause I seem to have left an important part of my brain somewhere
Somewhere in a field in Hampshire.”

I have never been one of those people who can just “be”. I’ve never been able to meditate, or just empty my mind, and I cannot just sit and do nothing for extended periods of time. Sitting is fine, but unless I’m occupying my mind with something, I get incredibly bored, very easily. Now I don’t bore easily – yes that might sound like an immediate contradiction, but bear with me – because I always have something I can be doing, reading, watching, learning about…even if I can’t get up and about to go anywhere. I’m incredibly good at keeping myself occupied and even as a child I could often be found just sat reading as I devoured everything I could get my proto-bibliophile little hands on. So yeah, I never struggle to find things to occupy myself with, but I simply cannot just sit and do nothing.

My mind races all the time, jumping from one project to another as soon as I’ve finished, constantly making notes about the next 100 things to research or the next 10 books I “have” to buy. I read 2-3 different books at any one time, watch university lectures from around the world in order to learn more about…well…everything, and I have to check out/aggregate numerous news sources every day, to find out what the “bullshit du jour” is. (I’ve had it suggested on multiple occasions that I might have undiagnosed ADHD or even Asperger’s, because of the way my brain is always looking to keep itself stimulated, in a very logical, fact-oriented way. I have no idea if that’s true and I’ve never been tested for it, because what we be the point? I’m hardly suffering as a result of it and I certainly don’t require any more medication to add to my already vast prescription.)

But I know that whatever it is that causes me to be perpetually in need of stimulation is probably something that ties into my issues with sugar addiction, or food in general. When I think about what it was that really made me overconsume so many carbs, I’m perfectly ready to admit that it was an addiction. However, I also think that one of the reasons I did eat so much, was because of the experience of having different flavours in my mouth. Being so cued into stimulation at every level, I believe that food was also a way of doing something that felt interesting at the time. I love really sour things, spicy things, herbs, regional cuisines, different textures, different temperatures and of course…all things sweet. Food it seems, has been as much about the fun way flavours hit my taste receptors as it was a response to craving another hit of sugar. Addiction being the multi-layered disorder that it is, can have more than one contributory factor. Maybe I’ve been addicted to the sensory experiences involved in eating, almost as much a I’ve been addicted to the actual sugars involved? I mean, they’re probably two sides of the same coin, but it makes perfect sense when I think about it.

The weird thing is, throughout my life I’ve tried just about everything a person can become addicted to. And I don’t just mean “tried it once, didn’t inhale (I did not have sexual relations with that woman)”, lol. No, I’ve imbibed, indulged and partaken in just about every substance out there on the streets…and have done so on many, many, occasions. During my 20’s I was a complete party animal. I believed that you should work hard and then reward yourself by partying equally as hard on your time off. And I really went for it. I could list the things I’ve done, but it’s quicker and easier to just list the stuff I’ve never done. I’ve never done crystal meth (c’mon we all have to have SOME standards!), I’ve never done PCP and I’ve never used that weird khat stuff that people from Africa like to chew (that shit makes your teeth really gross and TBH you get far more bang for your buck with regular speed). Oh and I’ve never injected anything. But other than that, if it could be snorted, swallowed, smoked or absorbed through a ‘tab’, I’ve done it. A lot of it.

And I’m not saying any of that to try and make myself sound wildly interesting (trust me, most people who are completely off their face on drugs aren’t even interesting to other people currently off their face on drugs) I’m just trying to reveal a pattern in my past behaviours that I believe still exist within me today, despite me being far too old to party anymore. (I don’t even drink alcohol!). The reason I took so many drugs was partly curiosity, but mostly just because I loved the way in which different substances stimulated my mind and body in so many different ways. Up, down, sideways (thanks, Ketamine!) or completely tripping my tits off…whatever it was that I wanted to feel, I knew I could get just by ordering up whatever substance I wanted at that specific moment in time.

And I LOVED taking drugs. I’m not ashamed of that fact…I had so much fun with them and got to experience so many different sensations and levels of excitement / euphoria / relaxation / fascination / introspection, every weekend. I mixed them up, experimented with combining acid & ecstasy, ketamine & ecstasy, ketamine & heroin…all kinds of mad combinations. And looking back, yeah, I probably was pushing my luck and sailing a little too close to the wind with some of my more extreme weekends. At one point I got the nickname “munch” because when it came to taking ecstasy tablets (and this was many years ago when ecstasy tablets actually had a decent amount of MDMA in them) I would start of with just 1, then double drop a couple an hour later, then triple drop later still and by the end of the session had probably forked out about £150 for 20 pills and subsequently “munched” my way through them (and I use the term “munched” there in inverted commas, because ain’t no one in their right mind gonna chance a whitey by chewing one of those bad boys up in their mouth….bleugh!)

But you know what? No matter how many drugs I took or how often, I never became addicted to any of them. Maybe it was because I only ever did them on weekends because of the weekday work ethic. Maybe it’s because I was doing so many different things all the time, that I never became actually addicted to any one recreational drug in particular. I don’t know. But it’s the same with alcohol. When I was younger (15+) I would drink enormous amounts on the weekend. Binge drinking. But it never became something that I got addicted to. I never felt the urge to drink on weekdays, or drink alone. It was something I was able to walk away from as easily as I did the drug-fuelled party life. I did it while it was fun and then when I’d had enough, I just stopped. Inevitably, my reasons for giving up those crazy days of drug-taking were just the usual mundane reasons: 1/ the comedowns get a lot harder to get over (like hangovers) the older you get and 2/ I ended up working a job that required me to work a lot of overtime on the weekends, so it just wasn’t feasible anymore.

Do I miss it? Kind of. But not enough to want to go back to it. I’m now content with getting my stimulation from a vast array of intellectual pursuits….along with getting to enjoy the company of my other half. But it was all the talk of sugar-addiction recently that just got me to thinking about addiction in general and whether or not I’ve got what you’d call an “addictive personality”. And I don’t think that I do. As I’ve just explained, I’ve put myself in the path of potential substance addiction, just by the sheer amount of things that I’ve taken over the years. Why does one person become a disease ridden crack-whore, when the next person merely dabbles and walks away completely unscathed? What makes person ‘A’ become an intravenous smack addict, when person ‘B’ just finds it something they can enjoy here and there and not become dependent upon?

And the only reason I can think of, as to why I might have never gotten addicted to any drugs I’ve ever used…yet still somehow became a sugar-addict, is because everyone knows about the dangers of drug addiction. I grew up bombarded with the “Just Say No” campaigns of the 80s/90s (not that they stopped this curious little miscreant from wanting to find out for herself what these drug things were all about, lol) and there was no shortage of films or television shows that charted the terrible demise of some wretched junkie. The potential dangers of drugs were embedded in our consciousness from a very early age. So even though I was having fun taking everything from A-Z, I think there still must have been some part of my subconscious keeping an eye on me and stopping me from stepping over the threshold from user to addict.

But sugar? It’s in pretty much every kind of processed food on the planet. And grain based carbohydrates have been touted as “good” and “healthful” for as long as I can remember. Sure, we were warned that if we didn’t clean our teeth properly then the sugar would give us cavities; but no one was going around thinking:

“I really ought to be careful dabbling in these Mars Bars and cans of Coca Cola…I don’t want to get addicted and have to go turn tricks on the streets of crime to pay for my dirty, candy habit.”

There just hasn’t been the intensive campaigning out there in schools, youth groups, churches an from within the police, telling us to “Just Say No… To Sugar”. It’s really only in the past 15 years that we’ve seen the notion of carbs being the problem with triggering metabolic disorders (Gary Taubes has really done wonders for getting this message out there to the general public, but Dr Atkins had been waxing lyrical about the low-carb diets for years, before he very sadly passed away. Taubes just really refocused energy and attention on a low-carb WOE, and continues to publish books on the subject to this day) but not many of us grew up in the knowledge that carrots & sweetcorn, or cornflakes and crusty bread could be more problems than they’re worth.

I just say all this because I think our sugar-addictions crept us on us when we weren’t necessarily clued up about the effect carbs were having us. I’m not trying to pass the buck here…none of us got fat behind our own back; but it definitely helps to make sense of how I never became addicted to the various classes of “controlled substances” consumed over the years, but I definitely became addicted to sugar from an early age. And when it’s injected into everything from dressings, to freshly baked 100% chicken breasts in the supermarket, which have also been “fortified” with HFCS…well, what chance did we really stand? *GAH*!

I never wanted to admit that I was a ‘sugar addict’ (I mean, it sounds pretty fucking lame, right?) but going through those first 3 days of withdrawal taught me what it meant to feel infuriatingly dependent on a substance for pleasure, satiety and sanity. I’ve committed those 72hrs to memory, because I, in no way ever, want to have to go back to that place, admit to a relapse and put myself through the sugar withdrawal process again. That shit sucked.

But when I also think back to the withdrawal process and how amazing I felt afterwards, I was a little surprised to see how easy it was to just get on with my new low-carb WOE. Maybe I’m just lucky because I’m not a particularly addictive personality. Hence why I also never became a recreational drug addict, no matter how many substances I used. Do I have an especially good brain that doesn’t “catch” onto addictions all that easily? Am I just mentally stronger and better able to discipline myself, or is it a genetic predisposition to avoiding addiction?

Well, in full disclosure, I’ve actually been surrounded by addicts at various points in my life. My dad (now passed) was an alcoholic, my older half-brother was a heroin addict for over a decade, my step-brother was a heroin & crack addict, one ex-boyfriend was a paranoid schizophrenic heroin addict, another boyfriend was a gambling addict and a couple of friends ended up with one of them in jail and the other dying in the apartment downstairs after a heroin/cocaine speedball overdose. One would think me more likely to develop addictions myself with all those associations & relationships, but I think if anything those people all acted more as real-life examples of what not to end up like. I’ve had front row seats to the very real fuck-ups and failures of all those individuals. There was simply no way I was going to end up going to let myself end up like them.

But nobody was skulking around with a diagnosis of sugar-addiction, for me to use as an example of what not to do. Even if many of them were as addicted to the sweet stuff as me, it simply wasn’t a thing that anyone had really heard of or talked about, 25 years ago; at least it wasn’t in my social circle and I wasn’t clued into any nutritional concepts surrounding it online for a long time in the future. So yes, I WAS a sugar addict, but I wasn’t aware of it…ergo I wasn’t in a position to do much about it. Sure I was fat, but I’m really glad I never joined WW with all their low-fat/high-carb, sugary “points system” foods that would’ve merely been allowing me to stoke those inner fires with MORE unnecessary carbohydrates.

But today is a different story. I have that information, that knowledge, that power. And it has allowed me to re-evaluate my life choices, my diet, and all the behaviours I’ve needed to change in order to get a handle on it. My mind is focused, my goals are set in stone and I have multiple tools at my disposal to assist me in getting to where I really want to be. Some might think that it’s a lot harder to deal with a sugar addiction, when we live in a world that constantly surrounds us with sweet stuff, sugar fortified foods and no way of simply abstaining from all food, forever. We still need to eat and the temptations are all around us.

But I think it’s the opposite. Once you decide “oh I just don’t eat that stuff anymore” and don’t go down the slippery-slope of “just one cheat day won’t hurt!” then it’s a very simple WOE to follow. No complicated systems of sins/points/rewards, no wrecking one’s metabolism by massively restricting calories, no going hungry and no negotiating with oneself any time you’re presented with the opportunity to binge on something, telling yourself that you can make up for it with better behaviour, tomorrow. Just stick to the plan and work it – until it stops working for you. Then you can look at alterations, tinkering, eliminations, rethinking goal weight in relation to muscle mass etc…but don’t worry about any of that in the short term.

Sugar addiction is a real thing, but it also comes with a very simple solution. It just takes the individual to want to make the decision to “get clean” and stay that way. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy…some days will suck more than others. But it’s up to each of us, and us alone, whether we want to continue behaving like junkies, or get our shit together and work toward a happier, healthier future.

Because I’ve seen what that kind of addicted lifestyle has done to way too many people.

And I refuse point blank to end up like them.

Stay sensibly stimulated, 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

A Thoroughly Uneventful Weigh-In Day

Urgh…just another one of those maintaining weeks today folks. No real reason for it, ain’t nothing we can do about it, but accept it and keep on keeping on! Weirdly enough I was convinced that I’d lost weight yesterday and jumped on the scale a day early, only to find that I had indeed dropped another pound. But it wasn’t an official weigh-day weight, so I disregarded it and today, lo and behold, I was back up a pound again, lol! Bodies are weird! So yeah, no weight loss for this week.

I’ve probably been putting my body through all manner of undue stress lately. I was awake for nearly 72 hours during the election (24 hours of which I spent moderating a stream my buddy was running) and thanks to my chronic inability to remember stuff, I ended up having to go out on 3 different days, which completely wore out my poor, decrepit carcass. Add to that the fact that I also just quit smoking and this poor body of mine doesn’t know whether its coming or going anymore. Yesterday I slept for almost 24 hours (by no means a record time for me, lol) and only ate 2 protein brownies with a couple of cups of coffee, because the thought of any real food just made me feel nauseated. So the fact that I managed to maintain my weight and didn’t just put on 5lbs of stress & inflammation, is quite the biological miracle.

Today is lovely cold and crisp; a perfectly autumnal November day. The temperature is currently 12°C ( for you weirdos on the other side of the pond, that’s about 56 °F) and I’ve still got both my kitchen and bedroom windows open, so there’s a constantly cool breeze floating through the apartment – just the way I like it! The cooler air definitely makes me feel more alert and less drowsy (I don’t understand how people live cooped up inside with central heating on blast, drying out the air and making y’all sleepy) so I think I might spend this evening catching up with some reading.

The other half is making steak again tonight, but this time we have 2 sirloins each instead of the porterhouse for a change and instead of Portobello mushrooms we have some chestnut ones and some asparagus tips to accompany the meat. I still have yet to really break out of my comfort zone and start getting more creative in the kitchen; I do mean to, but I’m also just really happy eating steak a couple of times a week and having home-made burgers on 4 or 5 days too. Burgers with broccoli, cauliflower and cheese is my favourite go-to meal these day and when I’m tired, or sore, or whatever, it’s nice to know that I can throw that together with very little effort and really enjoy the results.

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard someone spout the same old rhetoric about how if you don’t get a bit of variety in your diet, then your plan is likely to fail. Apparently you’ll get bored and find yourself eating off-plan foods to compensate. Really Karen? Because I’ve always been a pretty repetitive eater. Don’t get me wrong, I love so many different flavours, textures and various world cuisines…but I also have a habit of finding something I really like, and then obsessing over it for AGES! There’s something quite reassuring about sitting down to a meal and knowing that you’re going to love it. There’s a time and a place for being adventurous, but when you’ve had a long day, you’re absolutely knackered and just want to be nourished from the inside out, by some lovely, warm food…it really ain’t the time to be chancing your satisfaction on something you’re not even sure you’re going to like. Thanks but no thanks. I’m just going to stick to what I know for now and be guaranteed a good feed!

So yeah, that’s what’s on the menu tonight and I’m really looking forward to it. I haven’t actually eaten anything else today so far and I can feel some beginnings of real hunger pangs starting to creep in around the edges of my stomach. I’ve definitely started to learn how to recognise what constitutes real hunger and not just a sugar craving, these days. I still don’t get massively hungry or have much of an appetite at all, being in ketosis. But every now and then, after an extended period without eating, I do feel real hunger. And it’s totally different to a sugar craving. It’s less urgent, less overwhelming, and much easier to just understand it for what it is: a cue to eat something soon…but the world isn’t going to end if you don’t acknowledge it immediately.

So I’m going to take my “real” hunger and go prep the kitchen for the other half to do his chef magic in, grab another cup of black coffee and start prepping my bujo for next month’s Christmas themed spreads.

Have a very good evening y’all!

Blue

Fail To Plan, Plan To Fail…Right?

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

What Is Intuitive Eating?

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

What part is that?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I need more chocolate, STAT!”

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

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

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

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

Until next time folks

Blue