This Is What Makes Us Girls / Weigh-In Day

“Somethin’ that we’d die for it’s our curse
Don’t cry about it, don’t cry about it
This is what makes us girls”

(I love this song so much…it’s literally the anthem to my youth. Good times!)

Yes, it’s Wednesday, yes I’m 2 days late weighing in, but “Aunt Flo” has been wreaking her regular havoc with my weight this week, so I decided to give it a couple of days and get a more realistic figure. If you remember from my last post, I had gotten down to a new low weigh of 14 stone 6lb (202lb) but I didn’t update the ‘Fat Stats’ or make it an official weigh-in because it was mid-week and I was just starting into “Shark Week” I wanted to wait and see what would happen.

Well “Aunt Flo” really didn’t disappoint (and I mean that in the most sarcastic way, because nothing is more disappointing than watching the scale creep up for absolutely no reason – urgh!) because the very next day (yes…really) I weighed myself again and got a somewhat disheartening reading of 14 stone 10lb (206lb) which meant that mother nature had bestowed a whopping 4lb of “ghost-gain” upon me, literally overnight. FML.

Obviously, I knew this was just the usual hormonal bloat, but it’s still an absolute pain in the tits (tits that are already sore as frick right now – thanks nature!) to see the scale going in the wrong direction. On Monday “Aunt Flo” was still here and I was still showing that bullshit weight of 14 stone 10lb (206lb) so I decided to give it another couple of days and see how things panned out. Today however, I could definitely feel that the bloating had receded and “Aunt Flo” was looking like she might be almost ready to feck back off to wherever it is she spends the other 3 weeks out of every month…so I decided to do a proper weigh-in and update the ‘Fat Stats’.

So…what’s the damage? Well today I weighed in at 14 stone 7lb (203lb) which is an official loss of 2lb since my previous proper weigh-in. I’m more than happy with that! And it also means that I’m only 4lb away from slipping into ‘Onederland’ for the first time in decades! I’m so close I can almost taste it! I know I’m losing a lot more slowly than I was at the beginning of this mission and I probably could lose a bit more each week if I were to tighten up my food intake and tweak things a little bit; but to be honest, I’m really not inclined to want to unduly stringent at this stage of the game. I might bitch and moan about the times when “Aunt Flo” causes the scale to go haywire every month, but that’s just me being a girl, whining about what it means to be a girl, because girls are hormonally programmed to be whiny beeshes. I’m perfectly happy with the overall downward trend on the scale and see no reason to start implementing any unnecessary or unsustainable big pushes to lose all the weight super-fast.

I’m seeing a lot of people fall into that trap lately. It’s as if they’re unable to maintain the motivation they started out with, without upping the ante at the wrong time. I’ve lost count the number of times I’ve tried to tell people that they shouldn’t be trying to lose weight using means and methods they’re unwilling or unable to keep up in perpetuity, in order to maintain that weight loss, once they hit goal. People give a lot of lip-service to the notion of this being an actual life-long change in lifestyle, when in reality they’re still stupidly hung-up on making those massive losses week-on-week right now, somehow convincing themselves that they’ll keep this up forever…only to find it too difficult to hold fast to for more than a month or so. If you can’t keep to your stringent, strict and super-charged restriction right now, why do you think you’ll be able to keep it up in the long run? The cognitive dissonance is real y’all!

No, I’m just happily plodding along, doing my own thing, losing steadily and not doing anything I won’t be able to keep up in the long run. Of course as I get closer to my UGW (probably about 55-60lb from where I am now TBH) I’ll probably have to start looking at TDEE etc, but as things stand right now I don’t have a clue how many calories I ingest every day. I don’t know what my TDEE is as of yet and I’m not going to bother even looking into those numbers until the scale stops moving for a considerable amount of time and I need to pay a bit of attention to what I’m consuming. What I’m doing is still working just fine for me right now, so I’m happy to keep on keeping on. Keeping things as simple as possible, to make this all as sustainable as possible. Because anyone can go balls-to-the-wall restrictive for a time and shift a ton of weight all at once…but those same people are unlikely to maintain that loss once they hit goal. And that’s the real challenge for me: making permanent changes in habit and losing the weight in a way that I don’t have to fight to maintain.

Stay realistic folks

Blue

Music & Movement

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

Well this was a turn up for the books!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Keep things sustainable folks

Blue

“It Ain’t What You Do It’s The Way That You Do It (That’s What Get’s Results)”

“It ain’t what you do it’s the way that you do it
And that’s what gets results”

Props to those of you who got the reference in this blog title, before seeing the video – y’all are obviously as old and haggard as I am, lol. Well, maybe older but still in the same ball-park. I was 8 years old when my aunt (who was young and cool and really into pop-music) gave me ‘Bananarama’s Greatest Hits Collection’ on cassette for Christmas. I was totally psyched and played that album to death, either on the radio-cassette-player I had in my bedroom, or the ‘Sony Walkman’ I had practically glued to my hip wherever I went. I remember my mum telling me that this track was actually a cover of a much older song from back when she was a kid, but I didn’t care because this was new and cool and nothing like the music she and my dad listened to. It’s only as you get older that you realise how sooner or later everything comes back into fashion and what we think of as new and exciting trends really just wind up being updated versions of things gone by. My musical tastes have definitely changed since those days, but whenever I hear this song I’m back standing in front of my mirror, hairbrush in hand, singing along with all the effortlessly cool demeanour that 8 year old me could muster.

Anyway, what are we here to talk about today folks? Well, it’s something that I’ve touched on a few times before, but seems to be absolutely everywhere I look right now (always the case once you notice something, right?) and it’s people who seem hell-bent on staying in that yo-yo dieting mentality…despite trying to convince anyone who will listen to them that they’re:

Totally about the lifestyle change – for realsies!”

Uh-huh?

Do people even bother to check that the shit coming out of their mouths is even remotely consistent with their previously spouted crap, anymore? Or are we all just hoping that in this internet era of stunted attention spans that no one’s gonna even remember anything a week or so down the line? Because there are SO MANY hypocrites, liars and self-contradicting BS-merchants out there right now, it’s a wonder any of us can keep track with reality at all.

First there are the “Flip-Floppers” who start off telling us how they could never give up sugar, then once they realise how much weight other people are able to lose by curbing the carbs make a sudden change to keto because it’s

“really so much healthier, once you realise how it all works”

…only to fail at it once they realise that it still takes quite a bit of dedication, before renouncing the entire low-carb ethos as something

“Completely unhealthy, actually!”

and declaring their return to CICO

“Because it’s the only thing that works scientifically, innit?”

Okay Karen, but excuse me if I don’t take any dietary advice from someone who changes their plan more often than they change their undercrackers. Call me old-fashioned but I like my advice to come from those with a little more experience than your average halfwit with a BTEC in ‘Home Ec’. If what you’re looking for is a “diet” then literally go pick any one of the myriad ones out there on the internet and if you follow it to the letter, it’ll work. They ALL “work” if what you’re looking for is a quick-fix; but if it’s life-long sustainable change that you’re after, then you’re gonna have to start looking to something you can actually implement for life. There are no short-cuts to sustainable weight-loss and life-long health – and flip-flopping certainly ain’t where it’s at bro.

Then there are the “All Or Nothing Over-Haulers”. These guys are always good for a laugh because you can see the inevitable car-crash coming from a mile off, but you still can’t help but stick around to witness the carnage. You know the type. Often seen making huge commitments around New Year (or after a milestone birthday or divorce) when they decide that they’re going to make the switch from being hugely overweight, eating nothing but junk-food, never exercising, drinking a bit too much booze, smoking, staying up late / not getting enough sleep, never taking their make-up off before bed, hoarding clutter, being glued to their phones for 6+ hours a day and always going overdrawn with their bank balance to…BEING ALL THE SUPER-HEALTHY, WHOLE-FOOD EATING, YOGA PRACTICING, REGULAR GYM ATTENDING, VEGAN, MEDITATING, NON-SMOKING, TEE-TOTAL, MARIE KONDO ORGANIZING, SKINCARE GURU FOLLOWING, 8-HOURS-OF-SLEEP GETTING THINGS!

Yeah, strap in baby ’cause these guys are going from 0-60 quicker than a Mitsubishi Evo with go-faster stripes. Day 1, they’re out of the starting blocks telling everyone how they’re so glad they made all these changes. Never again will junk-food pass their lips…in fact they’re never eating any animal products again and are gonna be plant based forever. Alcohol is just so bad for their skin – which they’re now looking after with a recently procured expensive and expansive range of balm cleansers, acids, serums and moisturisers (all totally vegan, naturally) – and they’re just sleeping so much better now that they knocked the evening glass of vino and all that screen-time on the head.

It’s like, they’ve become a whole new person overnight. Only they haven’t. Because whilst they’re starting out with the best of intentions, all the changes they’ve made are really just superficial and they haven’t done any work on addressing why they had accumulated all those bad habits in the first place. So little by little, the enthusiasm starts to wane as the enormity of all these readjustments to their lifestyle really hits home. First they might admit to maybe letting one or two of these changes fall by the wayside because “just so busy with work and kids and life” and maybe they’ll get a little less frequent with the status updates about how “green tea really is tons better than a venti hazelnut latte” until eventually they just sort of drop off the radar. Their “life journey” channels suddenly go dead and their Instagram has been relegated to the odd photo of the kids, the dog or some re-blogged vague quote about how “you have to find inner peace before you can bring peace to the rest of the world”.

Yep, they crash. Crash and burn. And why? Because despite them having all the best intentions regarding a complete overhaul of their lifestyle, they jumped in the deep-end before they’d even figured out how to swim. Change is hard. Making changes that last a long time is even harder; it requires a lot of self-awareness, an understanding of why you need to change a thing and a realistic plan for how you intend to implement said change. Trying to do this for more than one area of your life at a time is even harder. It involves twice the amount of inner work, twice the amount of planning and twice the amount of commitment and accountability. Suddenly attempting to change MULTIPLE areas of your life and going from a fat, lazy, junk-food eating, messy, disorganised nightmare to a 100% zen, plant-based yogi, is virtually impossible. None of us got to being hugely overweight, replete with a multitude of bad habits, overnight; we picked them up and allowed them to get worse over time. So it’s going to take a lot of time to undo all those learned behaviours and fix all the areas of our life that we’re desperate to change.

I’m not saying you can’t overhaul your life completely and become a better, fitter, healthier version of yourself. But when you try to “do all the things” at once, you’re setting yourself up for failure. And that failure will not only weigh heavy on you – either making you feel desolate and unmotivated to try again, or doomed to return to that hamster-wheel of craziness, time and again, because you “ain’t no quitter” but you also never fricking learn. It’s dull and it’s unsexy and it’s not what anyone wants to hear, but you have to be willing to take the time to address each change you want to implement on its own, and get to a point where it becomes second-nature to you, before you move onto the next issue.

Thirdly, we have “The Ratcheters”. These specimens are also real impatient, but unlike the “All Or Nothing Overhaulers” they tend to take just the one aspect that they’re hoping to change and slowly but surely, they ramp up the intensity with which they approach it. They’ll tell you

“It’s absofrickinglutely a lifestyle change!”

but what starts out looking like a sensible, long-term plan soon morphs into some hyper-wargamed need to cross the finishing-line, FAST! Of course, they’ll be saying all the right things about how much they “love this new WOE!” and that they “really do want to” do this new thing for the rest of their lives. But if you pay enough attention to them you’ll notice a bit of ‘mission creep’ start to emerge. Maybe they’ll start off by upping the frequency or intensity of their exercise regimen. Of course this alone isn’t a bad thing – progressive overload is the most popular strategy for those who want to attain continued fitness goals – but unless this new uptick is a permanently implemented change that someone intends to stick with going forward, all they’re doing is making a big push for faster results; results that won’t necessarily be something that they can expect to last once they hit goal.

Or perhaps they’ll start to shave off extra calories or carbs from their intake, not because of any natural reduction in hunger, but because they know it will help them reach their goal quicker. Maybe they’ll suddenly declare that they’re going to go zero-carb / carnivore; but not for the actual lifelong health benefits – no they just want those faster results on the scale. Sure, eating less will probably lead to faster weight-loss, but at what cost? First there’s the problem with prolonged restriction and its propensity to lead to moments of weakness and subsequent bingeing. Newsflash! Your body doesn’t like being starved and if you try to do so, it’s gonna do everything in its power to thwart even the most strong-willed dieter. And even if you DO manage to stick to your heavily restricted plan, your body will respond by lowering your metabolism so it can get by on whatever meagre rations you allow it to consume. That metabolic change isn’t just a temporary glitch either; those maladapted biological responses can stick around long after you decide to ditch the diet, potentially leading to a permanent tendency to gain weight easily and a life-long struggle to lose weight. Talk about a literal prescription for a lifetime spent yo-yo dieting.

And then there’s the “challenges”. Oof, lol. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing inherently wrong with a little gentle, supportive motivation from fellow travellers. But I don’t think that taking your own personal decision to implement permanent life changes, and making it competitive is a particularly good idea. Whether it’s something you publicly declare that you’re going to undertake by yourself, or a group-centric approach to doing better than others, by changing the focus from internal to external, you’re altering the way you view your goal. Whether you realise it or not, this shift in focus can actually cause a fragmenting of any solid mental framework you had previously worked so hard at developing. It’s no longer about you making gradual changes towards a better, healthier self for the long-term. Now it’s about making sure that you show up and provide some results (good or bad) for your audience or fellow competitors.

Whether you’re immediately aware of it or not, this level of performative success inevitably takes its toll on you, bringing about anxiety, stress, fluctuation in moods and an often subconscious adjustment to one’s eating habits in order to be seen to be doing the thing that you said you would.

“But Blue, this is what keeps me accountable, duh!”

Okay I get that you think that, but the actual evidence based studies surrounding the act of publicly declaring our goal intentions really doesn’t bear that out. In fact the research at NYU, led by Peter Gollwitzer, shows the opposite. In a research articled titled ‘When intentions go public: Does social reality widen the intention-behavior gap?’ (Psychological Science, 20, 612-618) Gollwitzer surmised that the simple act of sharing your goal publicly can make you less likely to do the work to achieve it. I know most of y’all aren’t going to want to read an entire research paper so here’s the abstract:

“Based on Lewinian goal theory in general and self-completion theory in particular, four experiments examined the implications of other people taking notice of one’s identity-related behavioral intentions (e.g., the intention to read law periodicals regularly to reach the identity goal of becoming a lawyer). Identity-related behavioral intentions that had been noticed by other people were translated into action less intensively than those that had been ignored (Studies 1–3). This effect was evident in the field (persistent striving over 1 week’s time; Study 1)and in the laboratory (jumping on opportunities to act; Studies 2 and 3), and it held among participants with strong but not weak commitment to the identity goal (Study 3). Study 4 showed, in addition, that when other people take notice of an individual’s identity-related behavioral intention, this gives the individual a premature sense of possessing the aspired-to identity.”

 When intentions go public: Does social reality widen the intention-behavior gap? Psychological Science, 20, 612-618.

In the results of this study and subsequent studies performed on other students, the experimenters found that the participants whose intentions were known tended to act less on their intentions than those whose intentions were unknown. The researchers concluded that telling people what you want to achieve creates a premature sense of completeness. While you feel a sense of pride in letting people know what you intend to do, that pride doesn’t motivate you and can in fact hurt you later on.

When you write down or think about your intentions, there’s a gap between where you are and where you want to be. The compelling need to close this gap helps you to act on your intentions. But when you let others know about it, the gap closes because you (artificially) feel the same way you should after completing your intentions. And we see this borne out time and again by those around us who exclaim year upon year that THIS time, THIS year, they’re totally going to get on that diet and lose all the weight…only to falter a week, month or 6 months down the line. So whilst you might think that by embarking upon a little group-challenge, you’re going to give yourself that extra push to meet your goals, chances are you’re really only going to a/ load yourself up with extra anxiety, b/ develop a sort of co-dependent relationship with your fellow contenders as the guaranteed commiseration and geeing up from them floods in any time you choose to go off-plan / fail to see a downward movement on the scale, or c/ really not get the success you want because of reasons outlined above.

“Yeah but Blue, isn’t all this ‘Intention Declaration’ thing exactly what you’re dong with THIS blog?”

Well I can see why you’d think that, but just take a minute to think over what exactly y’all know about me? Do you know my real name? Do you know what I look like? Do you know anything other than the carefully selected chosen fragments of information I’ve chosen to share with y’all on here? Yeah, there’s a reason for that. I’m actually a really private person. When I decided to lose some weight, the only 2 people I told were my doctor and my other half. Not even my family knew. Which is where the whole lockdown thing really played to my strengths, because when it comes to goal setting I’m very much a lone wolf. I set a target, figure out how to get there and then just do it. And I succeed at it. I’m not a team-player by any strength of the imagination, but if you want a task carried out to completion, then just give me a quiet corner I can sequester myself off in and I’ll do it. So being cooped up in the house and ‘socially distanced’ from everyone else was great. I could just get on with losing weight to the knowledge of virtually nobody. Which made it all the funnier come Christmas when I went to stay with my family for a few days and they were gobsmacked. The girl who had forever eschewed the idea of weight-loss suddenly turned up 40+ pounds lighter – and looking younger too, according to a couple of family members.

But yeah, I keep myself to myself for the most part. This blog isn’t a big public tell-all. It’s anonymous. It’s not connected in any way to any of the rest of my life or any of my other online activity. And that was entirely intentional. This blog is for me. It’s my way of recording my efforts and progress as I work my way towards my goal. Yes it’s out there on the internet for anyone to read – and I’m real happy if any of you find it interesting or entertaining – but I’m not remotely beholden to it. Yes I’ve “met” some really lovely other people and enjoyed the interaction, but I could walk away from this blog tomorrow, never even visiting it again, and it wouldn’t have the slightest impact on my life or my weight-loss. This blog is and always will be, primarily a place for me to record my progress and let off some steam with the odd rant ‘n ramble about whatever is currently grinding my gears. It’s not a place for me to report to anyone on how I’m doing, or somewhere I can use to compete with anyone else’s efforts. The only competition I’m in, is with myself – which is exactly how it should be when you’re undertaking a personal goal.

What appear to be very public ‘Declarations Of Intent’ are really just anonymous writings that anyone can stumble upon, without ever knowing who wrote them – or even if any of it is even true (psyche!). I have made zero public declarations regarding my weight or health in my real life and I think (for me anyway) it makes the whole thing much easier. I don’t owe anyone any updates, I don’t have to care about what anyone thinks about the reading on the scale from one day to another…plus the idea of just turning up to meet a friend once lockdown is over and blowing their goddamn minds with my how much I’ve changed, really appeals to my mischievous side, lol. So…no, I don’t have any of the baggage attached to making a public declaration of intent. Whether I blog all the way to my goal (and succeeding at that is a ‘when’ not an ‘if’) or if I just decide that I’m bored with the whole idea, it will have zero impact on the rest of my life or the way in which I achieve my goals.

Anyway, I’ve gotten a bit side-tracked there and this post is getting pretty long, but I guess I just wanted to have a little rant about the ways in which so many people seem to be hell-bent on pretending that they’re making a lifestyle change, when the reality is they’re only looking for a quick-fix. Cause that shit annoys the bejeezus out of me. I hate fakery and BS merchants and people who think that they can pull the wool over everyone’s eyes, while they try to do the exact thing they claim not to be doing. And the 3 forms of BS merchants I talked about today (‘Flip-Floppers’, ‘All-Or-Nothing-Overhaulters’, and The ‘Ratcheters’) are the ones I’m seeing the most all over the various weight-loss community. They love trying to up the ante in a desperate attempt to get faster results, which is in direct contradiction to a fundamental principle of obesity management: you do not do things to lose weight that you are unlikely to continue doing to keep the weight off.

Too many people seem to think that if only they could lose some weight now, they will somehow be able maintain that lower body weight in the long-term with less effort. “If I could just get thin I could totally then be and stay thin forever!”

Sure, Jan. That’s why it’s worked so far for you up until now, right?

If you take anything away from this post let it be this: dishonesty is a pretty shitty way to interact with other people and will inevitably, eventually lead to people losing interest in what you’ve got to say or what you’re claiming to achieve. But the person you absolutely NEED to be truly honest with, is yourself. People see whatever you show them, but you can’t lie to yourself. Not if you want to have any chance of succeeding with ANY of your goals.

Keep it real folks

Blue

Things That Make Me Go “Mmm…”

Hi folks. Today as promised is focusing on some of the newer products I’ve been incorporating into my diet lately. Amazon is both a fantastic way to source pretty much everything you want, AND a dangerous site that will have you discovering more and more things you never realised you wanted before today…but totally NEED now that you’ve seen them, lol. Seriously, my ‘Wish Lists’ are categorised into every different type of product, yet still have over 100 items in each of them. The ones for stationery, books, perfume and foodstuffs are the biggest, as y’all can probably imagine; but I’ve definitely been working my way through the new items on the foodstuffs list a lot faster. What can I say? Your girl loves her a good protein bar, y’all!

Anyway, for those of you who are at all interested in the kind of stuff that gets me through the day, here are a few of my new favourite items – all available from Amazon at time of posting. And strap yourself in, because this is gonna be a long one folks!

Pip & Nut Almond Butter Squeeze – Box of 20 x 30g

I love these little squeezy sachets! Nut butters are something that I’ve been starting to consume more and more of lately, because they’re just such a tasty and simple way to get some protein and fat into my diet. I’ve been trying a bunch of them out recently, but this brand definitely emerged as a strong favourite for a number of reasons:

  • It. Tastes. Great.
  • It contains only 2 ingredients: almonds and a touch of sea-salt. No added sugar or palm oil. Awesome.
  • It’s a small British company set up by the founder Pip in her own kitchen as she was initially making her own nut butters for consuming after running the marathon. It went from being something she did for herself, to a small hobby that saw her selling them at London’s Maltby Street Market every weekend, and then with the help of an entrepreneur’s grant, became the successful business it is today.
  • Being pre-portioned it’s very easy to know just how many calories, carbs & protein I’m getting every time.
  • They’re conveniently portable. Nut butters are notoriously sticky and messy, so I’ve never felt inclined to carry a jar of the stuff around in my handbag with a spoon, for on-the-go consumption. But these little sachets can be taken and eaten anywhere; any time you find yourself stuck having to work late or unable to eat the convenience foods provided for everyone else, one of these will help fight off the hunger pangs and provide just enough sustenance to spur you on through the remainder of your workload.
  • Great for kids. Again they’re convenient so you can always have one in your bag or glovebox, plus they’re free from artificial additives so you know what you’re putting into your children’s bodies too. A healthy snack, the packaging also has enough bright colours on it to entice the eyes of the most discerning little one, having a hangry strop.

Almond butter is pretty new to me (until recently I’d only ever eaten peanut butter) but seeing the lower amount of carbs it contains, I was keen to try it out. Initially, I bought a box of 20 sachets thinking that if I didn’t like the taste I could easily give the rest of them away to someone else, without having contaminated the remaining ones. But that totally wasn’t the case; in fact it was love at first slurp! Being all-natural the oils can sometimes separate from the solids while stored, so you do have to give them a good squeeze to mix it up before consumption and there’s a handy reminder to do so printed just above the serrated opening area, in case you forget; but the sachets hold up perfectly to a little manual manipulation. Overall the packaging just feels incredibly well thought out and definitely contributes to my desire to repurchase.

Like I said, this was the first almond butter I’d ever tried, so I don’t have anything to compare it to taste-wise. But I’m pretty hooked on this stuff for all the reasons already mentioned. I bought my box for £18.99 on Amazon, but you can also buy them directly from the company’s own website, for £20 – with free p&p for orders over £30. (Their sachets are also available in their ‘Peanut Butter Squeeze’ and ‘Coconut Almond Butter Squeeze’ varieties – both of which can also be purchased either from Amazon or Pip & Nut’s online store. NB: The ‘Coconut Almond Butter’ version isn’t strictly low-carb as it contains agave syrup.)

I know some people have mentioned that these sachets are a bit costly, for what is essentially just 600g of almond butter; but you’re really just paying extra for the convenience factor and I for one am more than happy to fork out a little more for something I can a/ take with me anywhere and b/ know exactly what the pre-portioned sachets are providing me macro-wise. If the convenience of portability isn’t important to you however, you can just buy a regular jar or big old tub of the stuff instead. A 1kg tub is £15.51 from Amazon, or £15.80 directly from Pip & Nut – and for those of you who develop a real taste for this stuff (which is highly likely if you’re anything like me, lol) there are ‘Subscribe & Save’ options on both sites, as well as discounted bundles to help save you a few pounds each month.

ManiLife Deep Roast Crunchy Peanut Butter – 1kg tub

Yes, its another nut butter, but WHAT a nut butter! Seriously, this stuff is the best tasting peanut butter I’ve ever tried! It combines a deep dark flavour, with a thick and creamy texture and BIG crunchy pieces. Nom! To explain how this comestible work of art came about, let me quote directly from the ManiLife website:

“The deep roast crunchy was born out of a miraculous mistake in the Mani-kitchen. We thought we’d burnt the nuts. Then we tasted it… A deep, delicious flavour that our fans tell us is a life-changing experience!”

Talk about a fortuitous mistake! I am so glad that they decided to go ahead and market this unintentional creation, because it really does take peanut butter to a whole other level. Here are some of the reasons I really like both the product and the company:

  • It. Tastes. Great.
  • It contains only 2 ingredients: almonds and a touch of sea-salt. No added sugar or palm oil. Awesome.
  • It’s a small British company who thanks to their consistently great product have grown to become one of, if not the only majorly distributed peanut butter brand in the UK that produces in small batches.
  • They source all their peanuts from one farm in Córdoba, Argentina, thus guaranteeing the same level of quality every single time.
  • The peanuts they use are not only naturally sweeter but as they’re hi-oleic, they’re better for you too. They only use whole peanuts – high grade 38/42s – and never use splits (these are like the off cuts that a lot of brands use – they’re cheaper and less consistent).
  • The deep roast along with the hi-oleic peanuts actually brings down the amount of carbs per serving. Regular peanut butters would be around 12g carbs per 100g; this stuff is 10g per 100g and still packs a rich amazing flavour.
  • As the original creator of the deep roast they were the first peanut butter brand on earth to start thinking about roasting peanuts the same way master roasters think about coffee. ManiLife prides itself on creating flavour through craft rather than ingredients, which is something I really dig.
  • The 1kg tub comes with a little handle which makes it look like a little bucket. Who doesn’t want a bucket of yummy peanut butter, lol?

Before I switched over to a low-carb WOE, I used to eat a lot of peanut butter on toast with Marmite. Some people still eat Marmite on a keto diet, but at just over 3g of carbs per 20g (about 4 teaspoons) I’ve been holding off reintroducing it until a later date. But, the deep roast flavour of this particular peanut butter actually reminds me a lot of that PB&M combo I used to eat so much of. It’s not exactly the same (and if you hate Marmite, please don’t think you should avoid trying this product, because it is not the same thing) but it definitely evokes a rich umami taste like Marmite does. Being so intense in flavour, a little goes a long way when it comes to satisfaction. (Although, it does take a bit of self-restraint to not just nip back into the kitchen for another yummy spoonful!)

I was completely unaware of this company or of the existence of deep roast peanut butters at all, until Amazon suggested it in my ‘Recommended For You’ section. Of course that means I have no other deep roast peanut butter to compare it to, but I absolutely love it. And seeing that other companies have since started to include their own version of this product in their ranges, I’m guessing it’s become very popular with the nut butter loving masses as a whole. It’s even won an award, being the only Peanut Butter on Earth ever to win the highest level of 3* at the Great Taste Awards – high praise indeed! – as well as having been rated 10/10 by The Sun, The Metro and The Daily Mail.

This 1kg tub cost me £9.99 from Amazon, but you can also purchase it directly from ManiLife’s own website for £10.95. They don’t just make this deep roast crunchy version though, they also make it smooth and also offer regular roast in both the smooth and crunchy variety as well. I haven’t tried any of those yet myself, but if this one is anything to go by, I’m sure they’ll all taste great. They all come in smaller jars too and can be purchased in various bundles (on both Amazon and their own site), but one option that is only available from ManiLife directly, is their Mini Taster Pack. This looks like such a brilliant little idea, because it gives you the option to try all 4 versions of their nut butters, without committing to any larger jars or tubs that you might end up not liking. The taster pack contains 4 little 15g pots and costs just £2. Perfect. So if you’re curious about the ManiLife brand and fancy trying them out, why not head over to their site and get yourself a wee Taster Pack to see what all the fuss is about.

Coffee-Mate Sugar-Free Creamer – Vanilla Caramel

Holy moly folks; this stuff is THE BOMB DOT COM! Yes really. I’ve been a big-time coffee drinker ever since I was 10 years old and wanted to know what the deal was with the funny gurgling machine on the kitchen counter and the great smelling pot of liquid it produced each morning. Over the years I’ve experimented with various beans and blends from all around the globe, finding firm favourites in some lovely Ethiopian varieties such as the darker Yirgacheffe Kochere and subtler Sidamo beans. But it’s not always practical to fire up the coffee machine when it’s only me at home and I’m not going to be drinking more than a single cup. So, of course I also have a tub of instant on hand for those time when I’m slumming it, lol. The one I usually buy is the ‘Nescafé Gold Blend Barista Instant Coffee – 180g Tin’ which sounds a bit more expensive at around £8.50 a go, but the 180g tin is almost twice the size of a regular 100g jar of coffee and it really does taste remarkably good for a peasant brew, lol.

But enough about the coffee, this is about the creamer right? I take my coffee both black or with milk/cream – it just depends on my mood. But the almond milk I use for my protein shakes doesn’t taste particularly nice in coffee and whilst full fat heavy cream is perfectly acceptable in moderation on my personal WOE, I always end up throwing most of it away. It only keeps for a couple of days before it starts to go off and even if I buy the smallest pot in the shop, I never get more than 2-3 cups of coffee out of it before I have to tip the rest down the toilet. That kind of waste really irks me, but I never have more than one creamy coffee a day and the other half doesn’t like putting it in his own coffee. So up until now I’ve been using no more than a third of a pot before having to dispose of the rest. But this product here has changed all that for the better! Now I just have to add a couple of teaspoons of this creamer to my coffee and I get a lovely, rich, indulgent tasting hot beverage. But what’s so good about it?

  • It contains 0g of carbohydrate per teaspoon. Knowing how companies can round any carb amount under 0.5g per serving, down to 0g on their nutritional panels, to err on the side of caution I can consider each teaspoon to contain a maximum of 0.5g of carbs, bringing the total potential amount for 2 teaspoons up to a very manageable 1g of carbohydrate. (Do check the label though as older formulations show a different nutritional composition.)
  • It’s already sweetened with sucralose and erythritol which means I don’t need to add any subsequent sweetener to my coffee. (Normally I use 1 Splenda pressed mini-tablet in a fairly large cup of coffee.)
  • Because of that added sweetener, it’s also a nice thing to have on hand for those moments (cough*TOM*cough) when the odd sweet craving starts to rear its ugly head.
  • Now this might sound a bit weird, but it also makes the whole thing taste ever so slightly like an Irish coffee! This may or may not be to your liking, but I very much enjoy it. It makes my coffee taste very decadent – especially on a cold, wet, winter afternoon.
  • It’s just stored in the cupboard and unlike cream, won’t go off in a couple of days. This reduces waste and means I never have to worry about making sure I nip to the shop before it closes if I’m going to have anything other than black coffee the following morning. (No 24hr stores round these parts folks!)

I can’t remember where I first heard about this stuff, but when I found it on Amazon I just HAD to buy it. (The sugar-free version also comes in ‘French Vanilla’, ‘Chocolate’ and ‘Hazelnut’ flavours – all of which I fully intend to try – but the ‘Vanilla Caramel’ had the best Amazon reviews so I figured I’d start off with that one.) If I’m honest, I really wasn’t expecting much from it. I figured it might end up being a weirdly mix-resistant powder that left a grainy layer of silt in the bottom of my mug; rather similar to the disappointing result I got from adding a collagen powder to my coffee a few months ago. But I still had to try it out for myself and man, was I ever glad I did! This is one of those products that has been a real game-changer for me after I switched over to the low-carb WOE. It might sound like something trivial to some people, but a good cup of coffee can really help get you through the day. Whether it’s a strong cup to get you going in the morning, a milder one to help you to relax of an evening, or a mid-afternoon “hug-in-a-mug” that helps to tide you over until dinnertime, good coffee is one of life’s essential luxuries. And this sugar-free creamer just makes it much easier for me to enjoy my coffee at any time of day.

Pricewise, it cost me £7.30 from Amazon, for a 289.1g tub. The other half though that sounded a bit much for some Coffee-Mate, because he uses the regular one which costs around £1.50 for a 180g tub. This one contains 100g more than his does, but aside from being a completely different product (as opposed to the same stuff just with sweetener instead of sugar) it’s also an American import. I don’t know if they’re available for sale in the UK (the closest thing I could find online is ‘Coffee-Mate Light’ for sale in Asda and that’s a reduced-fat product that has glucose syrup at the very top of its ingredients list) but they’re sold by various small businesses / Amazon 3rd Party Sellers who deal in US grocery imports. I don’t know why this isn’t sold in regular UK supermarkets – especially now that keto has become so popular, normal and accepted by the general public. It’s certainly not weird to find a non-diabetic customer looking for a sugar-free version of various products. But alas, I was only able to procure mine from a US Grocery 3rd Party Amazon Seller and shall continue to do so for as long as I’m able. This stuff really adds a special something to my regular cup of joe. And if you consider the cost of a fancy-schmancy cup of flavoured sugar-water from the likes of Starbucks (about £2-£4 depending on your preferred concoction), it’s worth its weight in gold. Or a decent cup of coffee at the very least.

Caramel Pretzel Battle Bites Protein Bars – 12 x 62g

I couldn’t do a product review without including at least one protein bar, could I? Whilst the rest of the weight-loss community online all seem to be singing the praises of the new ‘Built Bars’ (I’ve yet to try them out myself because they contain sugar and seem to average about 4g of carbs / sugars per bar – but their flavour range does looks pretty impressive) I’ve been enjoying the odd ‘Caramel Pretzel Battle Bites Protein Bar’. And they really are quite scrumptious. Here’s what’s so good about them:

  • They. Taste. Good.
  • Despite being described as “A” bar (singular) each packet actually contains 2 smaller bars. I especially like this because I regularly eat only half a regular protein bar in one sitting (just enough to put something in my stomach before I take my meds, or a sufficient little sweet-hit at the end of a meal) thus causing me to leave half-eaten bars lying all around the house. Sometimes a bar can be sticky or crumbly, which means mess; but having a 64g bar already divided up into 2 separate half-bars prevents that. I also think it might be helpful to those wanting to limit their own intake, because it’s probably a lot easier to put an entirely separate bar away for later, than it is to stop yourself from continuing to eat the whole bar you’re already holding in your hand.
  • They are made by a small family run bakery in the UK.
  • The texture is a lot different to most other protein bars. A lot of the time bars are made with extruded protein, but ‘Battle Bites’ are baked for a much softer, fluffier, cake-like texture.
  • I haven’t tried any of their ‘Battle Oats Flapjacks’ as they don’t fit in with my very low-carb eating plan (although the ‘Cherry Bakewell’ flavour sounds pretty freaking awesome to this very-cherry-bomb chick!) but the ‘Battle Bites’ bars currently come in 11 different flavour options – all of which sound very yummy!
  • Two of the flavours (‘Chocolate Caramel’ and ‘White Chocolate Toasted Marshmallow’) also come in boxes of what they call ‘Minis’ which comprise just a single piece from the regular 2-piece bars. Again these are great for those of us who like to eat just a half at a time; that they are individually wrapped may also help some people avoid the temptation to eat both pieces in one sitting.
  • They just taste like a nice candy bar. My other half isn’t a huge fan of protein bars in general because he doesn’t like the way a lot of them taste. But he will happily eat one of these as a snack, so if he’s having one of his epic gaming marathons and refuses to stop for dinner, I can at least get him to scarf down one of these to tide him over until he finally logs off and realises he needs to have a proper meal. (Yes, he’s one of those infuriating people who can consume all the junk, maintain a great physique and regularly “forgets” to eat – weirdo!)

So, I first tried this brand back when I first switched to the low-carb WOE. I went with the ‘White Chocolate Toasted Marshmallow’ version which tasted great, but having so many other brands out there to road-test, I almost forgot about these guys and took another 4 months before I came back to try another of their flavours. Again, they turned up in my Amazon ‘Recommended For You’ section and as soon as I saw what the flavour was I immediately hit that ‘Buy Now’ button! Yeah, I’m kind of a fiend for all things caramel and love that I can still have the odd sugar-free option in a variety of products. I also want to try their ‘Carrot Cake’, ‘Red Velvet’ and ‘Winter Wonderland Irish Cream’ flavours too – the WWIC one might make a really nice accompaniment to my coffee with Coffee-Mate Vanilla Caramel creamer…whaddaya think?

This ‘Caramel Pretzel’ one though has a taste reminiscent of ‘Caramac Bars’ or ‘McVitie’s Gold Biscuit Bars‘, so if you like either of those and you’re interested in a low-carb alternative, you’ll probably really like these ‘Caramel Pretzel’ bars too. If you’re looking for a low-sugar (2g) high-protein (20g) snack that won’t put a huge dent in your calorie allowance (220 calories per 62g bar), and you want it to actually taste good, definitely give them a try. I bought my box of 12 x 62g bars from Amazon for £18.95. But you can also buy them directly from their ‘Battle Bites’ website for £20 a box. Right now they’re currently running their own promotion where you can buy 2 boxes of ‘Battle Bites’ for £35, or 3 boxes for £48, so if you’re already a fan and fancy stocking up, now is definitely the time. There are also ‘Subscribe & Save’ options available on both Amazon and the ‘Battle Bites’ company website, if you’re likely to want to purchase these on the regular and save yourself a few pounds each month.

I think these are really good value for money. A box of 12 x 64g bars will set you back anything from £18 – £20 (prices seem to fluctuate a fair bit on Amazon, depending on demand) and that works out at around £1.50 – £1.67 per bar. That’s quite a bit cheaper than a lot of other protein bars out there, yet their taste and texture beats a lot of the opposition, hands down. They’re not the most serious protein bar out there, but they have great macros, are suitable for those of us with keto / low-carb lifestyles, and with a whole host of fun flavours available, they’re the perfect little treat to have on-hand any time you start to feel hungry, need an energy boost or just want all the taste of a truly decadent candy bar without any of the sugary, high-carb guilt. And what’s life without having the occasional hit of caramel to bring a wee smile to your face?

Perlege: No Added Sugar Milk Chocolate with Stevia 3 x 42g Bars

I know I’ve mentioned these briefly before, but they’ve really become a firm favourite of mine ever since I discovered them. I last spoke about them in my ‘Post Christmas Weigh-In’ post, where I talked about how they were one of the products that helped me to stay 100% ‘on-plan’ and continue to lose weight over the Christmas period. Not that I’ve ever eaten at all ‘off-plan’ since the switch to a low-carb way of life – or really even felt tempted to – but I knew that there would be a lot of desserts and chocolate about over Christmas and I wanted to go prepared to my parents’ house with my own sugar-free alternatives. And to be honest, I didn’t eat a lot of this Perlege chocolate during those days, but it was nice to have it with me as a small, readily available, ‘on-plan’ treat.

Now onto the things I really like about this stuff:

  • It. Tastes. Great.
  • On their website they state that the brand was born out of desire to “innovate on the chocolate market, with an exceptional recipe that would make people with diabetes or other sugar related disorders, forget that they cannot consume regular chocolate.” And they’ve definitely achieved that. This stuff tastes like regular, rich, decadent Belgian chocolate.
  • Their website also details how their recipes evolved over time to include a mixture of Stevia and fewer sugar alcohols, which makes the chocolate less likely to provoke gastrointestinal problems. I can absolutely attest to this. I’ve never sat and munched my way through multiple bars of this product in one sitting – I tend to have no more than 3 chunks (half a 42g bar) at a time with a good cup of coffee – but I’ve never experienced any negative side-effects from it.
  • This chocolate contains a really nice amount of cocoa, which makes each little chunk very flavourful and satisfying: their dark chocolate contains 85% cocoa and their milk chocolate contains 57% cocoa. I have yet to try the dark chocolate version, but in my opinion their milk chocolate strikes the perfect balance between deep chocolatey richness, sweetness and creaminess. (Perlege also offer a whole range of other bars that contain different flavours and ingredients – Pear, Mango, Orange, Blueberry, Hazelnut, Wafer – and even nice little boxes of pralines that would make a lovely gift option. Those of y’all who want to peruse and even download their product range can access the catalogue here. Not gonna lie, the dark chocolate with mango ganache sounds pretty fricking epic, lol!)
  • Perlege’s chocolate also comes in different sized bars and tablet slabs. I especially like these smaller 42g bars though because despite being dinky, the attention to detail is still immaculate, with the gold foil offsetting the paper wrapper in a way that makes the product look luxurious rather than tacky. It’s maybe only a small thing, but when you’re looking to treat yourself with something nice, the presentation definitely adds to the overall experience. Picking up, holding and then opening one of these bars feels a lot more special than just cracking open any regular candy bar. It’s more deluxe looking and that helps make eating this chocolate feel like a moment to be savoured, rather than a quick, mindless snack.
  • Being individually portioned into a smaller 42g bar also removes the temptation to eat more than you ought to. I mean, each 42g bar still contains 10g of carbohydrate, so they’re not something you can just munch on with abandon. It’s much easier to moderate my own consumption with these smaller bars because if I eat half of one a/ that’s not dissimilar to the way in which I regularly only consume half a protein bar and b/ the three pieces that make up half a bar are decently chunky; so when I pop a piece into my mouth the shape and size alone feels more substantive and satisfying than a piece of a flatter tablet of chocolate. I don’t know if that makes sense to anyone else, but since changing up my eating habits I’ve started to look at the different ways in which certain foods are not only nutritionally made up, but the ways in which they are also presented, structured and divided up. A lot of this is mind-games; a way of not necessarily fooling myself (’cause mama didn’t raise no fool, y’all!) but tapping into the different aspects of sensory perception that can mean the difference between feeling deprived and feeling satisfied. Yeah I probably sound like a crazy lady right now, but maybe I’ll try to go into it a little more and explain myself better in a separate post.

I purchased these bars in a pack of 3 for £6.99, from a 3rd Party Seller on Amazon, which works out at £2.33 per bar. That might sound like a lot for something quite a bit smaller than many regular candy bars on the market. But sugar-free products are always more expensive – the demand for them is far smaller to begin with. But the price-point also seems to reinforce the idea that this isn’t something to be scarfed back without thinking. We’re not talking bank-breakingly expensive here, just something that should perhaps be regarded as a slightly more considered purchase, treat-wise. By choosing Perlege over Hershey’s or Cadbury’s chocolate bars, you’re acknowledging that whilst you feel you deserve to have something decadent and tasty, you also deserve to spend a little more money on a healthier alternative to the aforementioned sugary bars. You’re choosing to prioritise better quality products consumed less frequently, over poorer quality ones consumed regularly.

So, obviously this chocolate is not something I eat every day; or every week even. However, since discovering the brand, it’s definitely become a “Shark Week” staple and I’ve always got a few bars tucked away in my ‘snack stash’. But as I mentioned above, it still contains 10g of carbohydrate per 42g bar. And I don’t doubt for one minute that the Keto Police would have a lot to say about how it’s not “clean keto”. To them I shall of course give the standard response of:

“Screw you; you’re not my real dad. You can’t tell me what to do!”

But more importantly, I’m in this for the long haul. I’m not “doing a diet” for some short-term gains and as I continue to lose weight, I’m also working on creating a more balanced, sensible and sustainable approach to eating that will hopefully last a lifetime. I’ve mentioned in a previous post how I used to eat chocolate every day with capricious abandon; caring not about the calories, carbohydrates or nutrition it was providing me. But that’s one of the habits I need to change in order to not only lose weight, but improve and maintain my health in the long term. Working on seeing something like this chocolate, not as an item for everyday, casual consumption, but as an occasional treat to be savoured every so often, is just one method I’m employing in order to become somewhat more intentional with my eating. Maybe I could be more stringent and strict with my food intake – and maybe I’ll look into taking that approach at some point in the future – but maybe, just maybe I should focus on trying to employ a little more moderation than total abstinence with regards to ‘treats’ – all whilst continuing to stick to my 20g max of carbohydrate per day.

Who knows. Maybe I’m wrong. Maybe having the odd bit of sugar-free chocolate, a few protein bars and some diet sodas will be my undoing and I’ll have to look into omitting them from my diet sometime in the future. If that’s the case then sure, I’ll hold my hands up and admit that these products just aren’t suitable for me after all and I’ll adjust my consumption accordingly. But for now I’m going to keep on doing what I’m doing while it’s still working for me; taking care to ensure that it also remains workable as a long term strategy.

And that ladies and gentlemen, brings us to the end of our little product review today. As with the previous one, let me just reiterate that I am in no way affiliated with any of the brands featured. All products were consumed with my own money and I have received no reimbursement for these reviews. The only way a company can persuade me to give their product a glowing review, is by creating and selling something I will feel naturally inclined to want to purchase and heap subsequent praise upon. Not that any company could care less what this tiny blog has to say about anything, but it’s important for y’all to know that everything you read on here is completely genuine.

I hope you enjoyed reading about these 5 “must have” items; let me know if you’ve tried any of them yourselves, and whether or not you share my unbridled enthusiasm for them.

Make tasty choices folks!

Blue

The Keto Police / Weigh-In Day

Is it just me or is anyone else also finding that despite being back in lockdown, there still don’t seem to be enough hours in the day to get everything done? It feels like a kind of inverse take on Parkinson’s Law. For those not familiar with the term, Parkinson’s Law is the old adage that:

“Work expands to fill the time allotted.”

Put simply, the amount of work required adjusts to the time available for its completion, which means the time it would take someone to complete a task seems to increase when that person has a longer amount of time in which to do so. It’s a humorous commentary on the ever expanding, banal world of bureaucracy and if you’ve ever worked in an large office or in government, you’ll totally recognise the truth in this “law”. But I’m having the opposite problem right now: the more free time I have, the busier I find myself getting as my never-ending to-do list just keeps expanding to fill all that extra time.

One thing that’s actually helping to save time however, is buying a lot of the products I use online and having them delivered directly to my door. I absolutely hate shopping (which seems to be quite unusual for a woman) and not just because I now get really sore and easily tired. I’ve always hated it. So the increasing availability of online shopping over the years has been an absolute boon to me and my other half. Especially when I live in such a small, bucolic area which simply doesn’t have the variety of huge, sprawling shops that the larger towns and cities have. (Which, by the way, I absolutely would never trade; I’ll take the unspoilt, safe, little oasis of calm, over the crime-ridden, dirty, noisy, illegal-migrant-infested shitholes, ANY day!)

I purchase all my fresh groceries from local suppliers, because it’s just so much nicer than mass-produced supermarket crap. I buy ethically farmed, grass-fed beef from a local butcher, dairy products from our small local creamery and chicken & eggs from small farms who only raise free-range / free-to-roam birds and don’t use a bunch of hormones or inject water into them to create artificially huge breast meat. Almost all of my vegetables are grown locally, which just makes it so much easier to ensure freshness – although I do buy bags of frozen Brussel sprouts from Marks & Spencer, because they only take 4 mins to cook and sometimes I just get a mad urge to eat a bowl of buttered sprouts, which makes them a super-quick snack food!

But finding more specialist products that help me to follow my low-carb way of eating, requires access to online suppliers. There are some items available in the health food shop, but ours is very small and simply cannot stock everything I want or need. Outside of lockdown, it’s okay for grabbing the odd protein bar or vitamin / mineral supplement if I run out, but again, I dislike having to faff around in actual shops and they rarely stock exactly what I’m after. So, like most people, I rely on Amazon for the majority of products I need, because you really can buy almost anything, either directly from Amazon themselves or from hundreds of thousands of third-party sellers all over the world. And when you’re following a more specialist WOE that level of choice can really make all the difference.

I know that the low-carb / keto police will say that if you’re doing “clean” keto, you don’t need anything other than the fresh produce I mentioned earlier, but screw those guys, lol. Everyone has their own way of making their particular WOE not only doable right now, but permanently sustainable in the long term; so if what you’re doing works for you and is something you can envision doing for the rest of your life, then you do you, boo. Losing weight and improving your health isn’t supposed to be some competition where y’all need to see who can be the most “perfect”the only person you are ever in competition with is the person you were yesterday. So if you’re getting good results and making gradual changes to your habits, which will give you long-term benefits that you can sustain over time, then keep it up. Read everything you can, get informed and equip yourself with sufficient knowledge to help you to make the choices you need to make your WOE work for you. But find the “sweet spot” of balance between absolute rigidity and capricious abandon, and you’ll find it so much easier to do what you need, to get the results you want.

Obviously I don’t mean that you can adulterate your own plan so much that it contradicts the basic underlying principles as laid out by its creators / proponents (I mean, you can’t call your WOE low-carb if you’re eating 400g of carbs a day!) but if making this a lifestyle that you can adhere to forever means you eat the odd protein bar, drink sugar-free soda or make the occasional keto-friendly dessert, then just freaking do it. It’s entirely possible to overhaul your old bad habits, change your WOE and be successful in your weight-loss attempts, without living a monk-like existence of pious asceticism. I mean, hey, if that’s what you enjoy and that rigidity works for you then cool. Go for it. But if you think that everyone needs to comply with your monastic standards – and the corollary of that means that you become an authoritative douchebag about it – then seriously bro: get over yourself; get another hobby.

Sorry, I didn’t mean to go off on a rant there, but I saw some insane comments on a site recently which had me rolling my eyes so far back in my head, I could see my own amygdala. A guy who had gone from over 300lb to 170lb over the course of 2 years, who had gone from being morbidly obese, to a little overweight, who had cured his pre-diabetes, stopped taking tablets for blood pressure, had gone from zero exercise to running 5K and going to the gym 4 times a week and just generally improved all of his health markers…he was lambasted for having eaten protein bars (can’t remember the brand) and having made his own keto fat-bombs every weekend, because:

“That’s not doing it properly. It’s not clean keto!”

So fucking what? The dude just spent 2 years getting his body from a sedentary, pre-diabetic blob, to being a healthy, fit example of someone who made consistently better choices, and this sanctimonious prick was trying to discredit the dude’s efforts AND results, because he didn’t follow whatever stringent ideals that said prick had decided were somehow set in stone? Get bent. That dude probably saved his own life, or at least extended it by a good 40 years. He set his mind to making himself fit & healthy, succeeded, and then got told that it doesn’t matter because he didn’t do it the “perfect” way?? Man, the keto police really can be intolerable fuckwits sometimes! Thankfully, there were plenty of other posters who came to this dude’s defence and told the sanctimonious prick to shut the hell up, but I really felt for the guy being dismissed like that.

If someone is posting that they’re not getting the results the want and upon further inquiry it turns out that they’re just making so many incorrect, uninformed choices that there’s no way it’s ever going to work for them, then by all means try to help point them in the right direction. If you’re more experienced and knowledgeable about the plan / WOE that the individual in question is purporting to follow, and they’re distressed because they aren’t getting results, then sure, the decent thing is to offer some advice and share your expertise to help that person get on track and start to see the results they desperately want. But when someone is actually being successful in their efforts and is just sharing their results with who they think will be a group of like-minded folk, don’t be a dick and try to poke holes in their methods just because they didn’t get there using your own preferred methods of absolute rigidity. You aren’t doing it to be helpful; you’re being a pious cockwomble.

Anyway. Enough of that for now. I just had that comment fresh in my mind today and really wanted to vent about it. I was going to share some more of the products I’ve been using myself recently, but I’ll save that for a separate post later on in the week. Now, it’s time to update y’all on my own progress over the past 7 days – although it’s really only the past 6 days, not 7, as I’m trying to get my weigh-in days back to being on a Monday now that the kerfuffle of Christmas festivities has passed. So, where were we last week? Well, if you remember my post Revenge Of The Chia Seeds from last Tuesday, I’d had a bit of a “situation” (lol) which led me to getting very swollen and sore. As a result the scale showed a 1lb gain (which was probably slightly lighter than I would have been a couple of days prior to weighing in) but whatever, shit happens. Or sometimes doesn’t…which was actually kinda the problem, lol.

Today though, I hopped on the scale not long after I woke up and the little screen said that my current weight is: 15 stone 7lb / 217lbs. So that means, that in the past 6 days I’ve lost 2lb! Yay! We are inching closer and closer to “onederland” folks; just 18lbs more and I’m out of the 200’s – hopefully forever! But right now I’m just happy to be losing steadily – save for the odd week when I manage to sabotage my progress by bunging up my digestive tract with bloody chia seeds, lol. I’m really expecting to see my weight-loss slow down a bit in the coming weeks, because I’ve already lost over half my initial target of 100lb. I know I still have a long way to go, but the human body loves to fight against our attempts to shift the flab, so it’s perfectly normal to start seeing smaller incremental losses as time goes by; as well as the inevitable dreaded plateaus that everyone should expect when they’re trying to lose weight.

Today though, I’m another 2lbs down and that’s awesome! Dinner tonight is going to be a massive salad with tuna fish, jalapeno cheese, crumbled pork rinds, a few pecan nuts and a pickled onion. I’ve already eaten a protein brownie cookie today (half with my meds when I got up and the other half with a cup of coffee and cream an hour or so ago) as well as a ‘Rockstar Hardcore Apple’ sugar-free energy drink and a tablespoon of ‘Manilife Deep Roast Crunchy Peanut Butter’ when I took my vitamins and supplements. I’ve got my water bottle next to me as I type this and I’m aiming to get through a couple of those today – more so if I feel the need for it.

And on that note I shall call it a day for now guys. My digestive system seems to be back to normal now (thankfully) and it’s great to see the scale continue to move in a largely downward trend. Have a lovely week, wherever you are and may the gods of weight loss shine down upon you, as you work towards achieving your own goals.

Stay determined folks

Blue