31 December 2012

That was the year, that was!

So, here we find ourselves.

Today is New Year's Eve... the very last gasp of 2012, and tomorrow brings a brand new year with lots of new opportunities.

Seems like a good time to look back, and forward too.

So, over the course of 2012, what's gone well?

My absolute number one is that I have a happy and healthy (and slimline!) darling lovely hubby once again - a gift without price that I'm so very grateful for.

Next to that is that I KNOW that life is good. Alright, maybe not always, but mostly, and that is another valuable gift to recognise and hold dear.

Weight-wise, I'm at staying nicely put at about the lowest weight I've been for years, with no Christmas gain (glory be!), and that makes this fat lass a very happy girl indeed. I couldn't put hand on heart and say my 'foodie worries' are over forever (constant vigilance is key, my dears!), but every 'good' day is a bonus and I try for as many good ones as possible.

It's also been great to see some of my blogging friends overcoming a variety of problems and getting back in the groove. You lovely chappies, and you know who you are, mean a lot to me... even though we've never met and probably won't get chance to.

... and maybe not gone quite so well?

Hmm, I'm worrying more and more about my Mum, who has been through a rough patch recently. I'm all too aware that every day I still have her with me is precious now, as her age (she's in her nineties) and general state of health is not in her favour.

Fitness. Ah well, it's been OK-ish (and, I guess, it is better than it's been for years) but, just like some of my old school reports, if I'm honest I think I'd give 2012 a 'could try harder'. Part of this is limits on time, but some of it is just down to lazy-itis(!), and the blasted knee has been grumbling too over recent weeks. Particularly over this holiday, so I need to give it some serious attention before it gets any worse. My much-loved rowing machine, Connie, will help with that.

Hey, that isn't a long list, is it? I rather like that!

And looking forward to 2013 - what and where next?

Well, I will carry on with maintaining my weight right where I want it to be. Do you know, I still get a thrill to think I can actually say this. After so many years of obesity and unhappiness, it is such a joy to feel I have 'me' back and in the driving seat again.

I'm planning to make some strides on the fitness front in 2013 - in fact, I have a couple of videos to watch that might give me some tips and help motivate me. Muscle tone. That's what I'd like to concentrate on this coming year.

Unless someone somewhere knows differently (and I really hope this isn't the case), I can look forward to this year without too many worries about health... for myself and for my family. That's a nice feeling to start a new year.

And, oh yes, I'm going to be a great aunt in 2013! I'm still reeling from this new revelation as it makes me feel prehistoric, but it is indeed a wonderful thing to look forward to.

All in all, as we move from the old year to the new, I'm feeling pretty positive. Hope you are too, and I wish everyone a wonderful 2013.

19 December 2012

That funny feeling

OK, so the jeans pic isn't me. The ones you see are the same brand as mine, probably a pretty similar size too, but mine are a nice 'denim jeans' blue, not black. Oh, and no way would I wear tan moccasins with black jeans. Aaaargh, the horror!

Now I've got that off my chest I'll confess that although I'm feeling a little 'funny' right now, I think I'm probably secretly pleased for the most part. However I'm also cringeing a little. And the cause of this apparent duality is...?

Comments and compliments. Oooh er, missus, but there've been a few in the last week or so, and it's all because 'stuff' has been happening at work where I knew I'll be running around, shifting things and getting generally grubby (make that filthy dirty!). So I've come in to work wearing jeans - a most unusual event.

Now I may be 53 years young, but I'm an old-school sort of gal. My jeans (now I can wear such wondrous things again) are usually kept just for 'me' time and are, er... closely fitting, for want of a better way to put it. That is, they show my shape pretty clearly. Quite unlike my customary nice 'respectable' work trousers which, being 'comfortable' as well as smart, leave everything to the imagination thank you very much!

So, running around in uncommon attire in the workplace just recently has generated a few comments. For the main, these have been positive, although one person did hint a bit and sort of ask in a roundabout way if I might be 'unwell' as I'd "got so thin" recently - although I haven't actually changed much in ages and the way I've been rushing about recently is surely testament to my fitness, no?

But the truly cringe-making remark stemmed from a chap who told me I looked like "a young girl" which was nice of him I guess, but who then proceeded to shoot himself in the foot and tell me that he "liked little girls". Sorry folks but that, even if said in jest, gave me the heebie-jeebies. Shudder!

Even setting that rather dodgy, er, 'compliment' aside, I'm finding it quite an uncomfortable thing to have the people I work with passing judgement (even positive judgement) on my appearance. OK, I'm used to being judged on my ability to do my job, but my looks? That's a horse of quite another colour! Hmmm, doesn't make me feel even slightly relaxed. In fact, it stresses me out quite a lot.

Is this just a confidence thing though, or could it maybe be a throwback to the days when I'd do anything to hide my obesity from comment?  Those dark old 'don't look at me' days when I hid in drab, baggy clothes may be gone, but are sure as heck not, methinks, forgotten. So which is it? Not sure if I know to be honest.

How do other people feel when remarks about personal appearance come your way? Does what is said make a difference, and does it matter who says it? Do you revel in compliments, or do you (like me) feel quite unsettled?

18 December 2012

Being yourself...

...and being true to yourself.

I'll warn you now, this is going to be a bit of a loooong ramble. There is a point (the clue is in the title), but it may take a fair time to get to it.

Before I start though, there's a song playing over and over in my head (and has been for days), and it pretty much sums up how I'm feeling at the moment. In my mind this track is all about keeping on and at it, even when things seem like they've got tough.

It's Tom Petty's 'I Won't Back Down', and there's one phrase which just leaps out at me:

Well I know what's right, I got just one life
In a world that keeps on pushin' me around
But I'll stand my ground and I won't back down

Thanks Tom, I've needed this.

OK, back to the ramble... I was speaking quite recently to a someone (of about my own age), who I've known for a lot of years, about weight loss. As almost always happens, she wanted to know what 'my secret' was. Can you hear me groaning yet?

The usual questions came up, as in 'how' had I lost the weight, and 'what' had I done to make a difference. The final question (asked in an almost accusatory fashion) was 'why' was I able, this time, after years on the lose-regain diet roller-coaster ride (some of which she'd seen happen) to maintain a healthy weight and not just heap wodges of weight straight back on like has happened in the past. I started trying to explain... but we didn't get terribly far.

That was, by the way, because she didn't actually want an actual 'discussion', nor real 'answers', nor any 'advice' or 'tips' to lose weight. Unfortunately it was one of those 'where's the magic bullet' chats which quickly morphed into a diatribe about why making long-term changes was 'impossible' and 'couldn't possibly' work for her (my eyes roll and I sigh at this point). Just the sort of conversation I'm afraid I find quite difficult to handle. I growled, hissed and spat inwardly, but kept my patience... and that's quite a feat for the fat lass!

You see, what I actually 'did' to lose the weight was put in time and effort, and that meant first accepting that it would involve me in some pretty hard graft. That is, to take on board the fact that change wouldn't 'just happen'. I'd realised, at long last, that I'd need to think about 'why' what I'd done before didn't work, formulate a plan of 'how' to get going this time, then tweak, review and tweak again the 'what' I was doing, both with food and activity, over a period of time. In fact, it took several years, but that didn't matter. After all, I didn't get to be obese overnight, did I?

And only by doing that have I been able to drop down from my OMG! June 2007 levels, where I was hurting and miserable and in imminent danger of developing some unpleasant medical issues, to where I am today. This was NOT a 'diet', as I've said many times before, it was a radical and permanent change in lifestyle.

That's right, it wasn't a 'quick fix' but sustained hard work. It was also very much an individually tailored approach. Listening to what had helped other people often had some value, but experimenting and figuring out exactly which elements worked for 'me' - sticking with the bits which were useful and ditching the stuff which didn't help (or outright hindered) was the key.

It was a 'work in progress' right the way through, from the very start of the weight loss phase to the day I was happy to say 'OK, that'll do for me'. What's more, it still, quite frankly, is... even now I'm maintaining... a work in progress

You see, whatever lessons I've learned to date (and I feel I've picked up a lot along the way), I'm no expert. I still don't and indeed can't 'know' everything there is to know. I don't get everything 'right' all of the time and, because of this, I'm still acquiring new insights as I go. A largely empirical approach to collecting data, using myself as the guinea-pig (a.k.a. the 'suck it and see' method), is still one I lean upon, and I guess I always will.

But, having pondered this and similar conversations for a while, and having read a lot about other people's experiences, I've come to another conclusion too.

And that is that I've been pretty fortunate in finding things that worked out well 'for me'. I am all too aware that I'd have struggled much more had there been specific metabolic issues or medical issues contributing to my obesity.

In my case (sad as this may be), it was merely a mixture of a lack of control (guess you could call it greed), some serious emotional eating and a very negative attitude to moving my ass, which got me up to my highest weight. And it didn't plop on overnight - no siree, it took time for that to happen.

Another major element of my personal downfall was a lack of understanding that this was purely an internal problem. Where my increasing weight was concerned, I was doing this to myself and it took far too long (and too many failed 'diets') for me to realise that the 'cure' lay within 'me'.

These days, as you'll have seen from recent posts, I follow a low-carb, pretty much 'primal', type of lifestyle, and it works really well for me for in maintaining my weight loss. I enjoy it, I feel satisfied (and even guilty for this at times) and feel it is a long-term, sustainable plan without involving too much of an effort... mostly.

This self-same plan probably would have been a great way to help me lose the weight, had I known more about it (or maybe not been so darned cynical!) from the outset. However, low-carb isn't necessarily a choice I'd have actively considered had it not been for wishing to find a method to control lovely hubby's diabetes without drugs.

You see, the bulk (and I use that term advisedly folks!) of my weight was lost, slowly and steadily, by following a plan I was already well aware of and had tried many times before - a restricted calorie, healthy foods and generally very low-fat approach with a dose of exercise thrown in for good measure.

That was my plan, that's what I did, and that worked 'for me'. I guess that, in this, I am probably one of the lucky ones - although I wouldn't have agreed with that when I hit my inevitable obstacles along the way!

But, chaps, we are all different people, with different bodies, and what works for me may not work for you - and vice versa.

One of the reasons the whole 'diet' (oooh, how I hate that word!) thing worked for me this time around was partly my good fortune (since I don't appear to be either insulin resistant or particularly carbohydrate intolerant) and that sufficient 'time' and, of course, a fair sprinkling of 'effort' was what I gave it. Hence Tom Petty's track, as 'backing down' wasn't an option for me this time.

And that self-same 'time' and 'effort' is what I'm still prepared to give it so that I never, ever go back to obesity and all the problems and angst which came with it. The weight loss, and all it's benefits, quite literally IS worth a lifetime to me.

And so the point (if you've stuck around this long!) of this blether is...
...that losing weight is YOUR journey to make.

So be yourself. Yes sure, you can read loads about other people's experiences, but they will be, at best, some 'rough guidelines' only for you to choose to follow... or not. The choices YOU make are what will ultimately lead to your success (...or failure, to be blunt). But the changes you want to see won't and can't happen in the blink of an eye - be prepared to give it time too.

The journey is all about learning about YOU. Part of that will involve figuring out how to actually 'hear' and then 'listen to' the things YOUR own body is trying to tell you. Not always easy to do but, like most things in life, practise makes... well, if not 'perfect' then at least 'possible'.

Another part is learning 'how' to make the changes (step by step) that your body suggests. Again, not easy. But it is so worth it - as L'Oréal are always telling us!

What I hope will happen is that you'll find a way (your way) to take your body from the dark, 'heavy' place you no longer wish to inhabit to a lighter, brighter, happier one. But this will be YOUR way and don't let anyone ever tell you that it's the wrong way. If it works for you... well, 'nuff said!

This chap has it pretty well 'nail on the head'...
Be yourself - not your idea of what you think somebody else's idea of yourself should be” Henry David Thoreau

Heck, Tom Petty and Thoreau in one post! Who's feeling philosophical today then, eh?

04 December 2012

Am I sad?

Er, literally, that is.

What I mean is, could my recent downward shift in mindset be as simple as a mild dose of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

I've never been convinced but I looked up the UK website and they suggest that common SAD symptoms include:

- Lethargy, lacking in energy, unable to carry out a normal routine [yep, that's me]
- Sleep problems, finding it hard to stay awake during the day, but having disturbed nights [Lordy, but that is right on]
- Loss of libido, not interested in physical contact [hmm, sort of, but I'm not shying away from cuddles]
- Anxiety, inability to cope [yeah, I'm even more of a worrywort than usual... if that's possible]
- Social problems, irritability, not wanting to see people [irritable - check, not wanting to see 'some' people, dead right!]
- Depression, feelings of gloom and despondency for no apparent reason [indeed]
- Craving for carbohydrates and sweet foods, leading to weight gain [OK, I can tick every box this last one - at the moment I'm craving M E A T and lots of it]

Well, if it is this SADs thingie, my plan to get my sorry ass outside around midday every day for a dose of fresh air should help me... as much as a grey, damp, windy and f-f-f-freezy cold walk can help, anyhow.

Onwards, and the plan is UPWARDS, ever. This darned black dog just ain't going to bite me!

03 December 2012

Riding for a fall...?

Hmmm, I'm very much hoping this won't be the case, but my periodic nemesis (my dark 'black dog' mood) has taken a firm hold on me at the moment and I'm guessing it wouldn't take too much for me to find myself in danger of saying 'oh stuff it' (or similar) and start comfort eating. I'm on my guard for this, but it feels like a shaky position to be in at the moment.

I'm at a bit of a loss here as I can't quite see why this has happened and why my mindset has turned around like this. If I think about it logically, it seems like I've had pretty decent a run of positives and good news lately, so to find myself derailed is something I don't quite 'get'.

I'm feeling put upon and tired and have not been sleeping properly, with bad dreams or intrusive thoughts to disturb me. Right now, it doesn't seem worth the effort to 'do' anything much, and things seem a bit pointless and meaningless.It may be down to the tiredness but it also feels like I'm probably fighting a rearguard action against a bit of a bug - nothing major, and it isn't developing into anything, but I can't quite seem to shake it off.

However, none of this should be enough to make me feel so utterly down. Silly I know, but I'm tearful and touchy and wallowing in the 'poor me' zone. Silly indeed, but... that's where I am right now.

I'm trying to force myself to use my usual 'fixes' of fresh air, music, etc., but this only seems to bring a temporary lift, then I'm back to 'down' again. If I'm honest, I'm not looking forward to Christmas at all.
For once, with a sense of resignation, I'll say, onwards, ever...

28 November 2012

Gonna tell you a little white lie...

...but it is only a little one. Promise.

I'm a happy bunny today. No, actually I'm one delighted rabbit this morning. Why is this? Because I went for my annual asthma review last night and received an early, but very welcome, Christmas present.

There we were, the specialist nurse and I, sitting in a little room while we went through all the usual questions, beginning with 'how have things been since I saw you last year?'

This one was easy - I said 'absolutely fantastic!' and went on to say I hadn't had a problem that I could remember in the last six months at least. She seemed quite pleased, if maybe a little taken aback at this somewhat vehement and definitive reply, but onwards we went.

The next question was a little more tricky as then the nurse asked if I was still taking my medication. I squirmed a bit and said 'er, no, not really'.

Starting with the Qvar (beclomethasone) inhaler, which I'm 'supposed' to use every day, both morning and evening,  and which I absolutely hated being put on in the first place. I sheepishly confessed that I'd started cutting back to once a day much earlier in the year and dropped it altogether sometime in August. I did qualify this by telling her that I felt 'just fine' while doing this and I'd seen no deterioration in my peak flow measurements (which I check fairly regularly).

As to the Ventolin (salbutamol), which is my come-with-me-everywhere, 'on demand' inhaler, I recalled quite clearly the last time I'd needed it. That was back in July. It wasn't a biggie, even then, and there was a specific reason my asthma triggered on that occasion, which I also shared with her.

Finally, I mentioned that my peak flow (PEF) now usually averaged somewhere in the region of 450 l/min. She looked up and asked me to confirm my height, and checked if she had my age correct. I did, and she had.

At this point she handed me a meter and asked me to blow into the tube. OK, I can do that. Bang on target, it read 455 l/min. She grinned at me and said 'fine' and that the result was a better reading than the average expected for a non-asthmatic of my age and height. She followed this up by telling me to 'keep on doing whatever it is you are doing'.

So, I told her about the walking and rowing (she already knows about the weight loss) and she agreed that it is very likely that this is making a significant difference to my lung function, amongst other things.

To say I floated out of there is putting it mildly!

And my little white lie...? Well, I'm going to tell you that I can say a fond farewell to these babies.

[OK, this part is a bit of a fib. I can't actually 'get rid' of them... but I can keep them stored safely away for a rainy day]

27 November 2012

Cake, anyone?

Nope. Not for me thanks.

That has been the story of the last week (thankfully!), even if I can't quite understand how things can possibly have changed in the fat lass to this extent. Amazing, isn't it.

But, before I start, I've had to perform a rather unsettling task this morning. For the last several years I've kept satisfying but fairly low-calorie snacks at work by my desk so, when I get tempted or hungry, there's 'something' to go to for a little nibble that wouldn't do too much harm.

Even during this low-carb switchover phase they've been sitting there quietly as a foodie security blanket, although I haven't touched them in weeks. Sadly though, these have definitely not been things I could even pretend are low-carb, so are not really a sensible option to have in my eye-line any longer. So today, my much loved and reliable staples, the good 'ole Grape Nuts and Shreddies, finally found a new home in the bin.

Might not sound like a big deal but, now I've done it, I feel a bit odd and ambivalent about this step - it's almost like I'm skating on rather thin ice without my 'standby' bits and bobs to hand. How stoopid is it to 'grieve' for a breakfast cereal, huh? But that's sort of how I feel.

Anyway, back to the main point and, yep, it's been a welter of wall to wall sweet treats at work over the last week. A name day last Monday, a birthday on Tuesday, a leaving do on Wednesday and a 'just because' day on Thursday (er, I think Friday just went right by me in a bit of a haze!) and, oh yeah, a meeting in London yesterday with a very fancy lunchtime spread.

On every occasion there was something sweet and edible on offer (from biscuits, to chocolates, to cakes, to cheesecake), most of which looked, at a minimum, 'very nice' to 'gorgeous', and any one of which were things I would previously have sampled (or at least wanted to) with delight.

For some odd reason though, none of these sweet treats has really 'drawn' me to it at all, and it's been easy to politely decline... every time. I'm hardly sure I can dare say this, but I seem to have lost the urge to eat anything like this... even that Polish cheesecake, which would have had me drooling with a vengeance not too long ago.

This period has even coincided with one of my 'oh Lord no, I'm hungry!' days, on Tuesday last week, (does anyone else get those days?) and I still didn't say yes. Could it be the low-carb eating 'switching' something off in me? To be honest, I just don't know.

So, my question is this. Is there truly something in what I've read (but dismissed pretty cynically) about the 'addictive' nature of sugars? Is that what's going on here? Have I, because of the dietary changes we've made, actually 'quit the habit' as it were? What's more, can I have even 'had' the habit (given that I've always said I'm more of a savouries type) and not known it?

The jury is out ladies and gentlemen. I can't decide and a quite big part of me is still pooh-poohing the whole idea. But...? Maybe... just maybe...?

OK, enough! I'm just going to be grateful and hope this lasts. Onwards ever...

19 November 2012

A deserving case?

Hmmm, nope, I don't think so!

Someone very recently asked me if, now I've lost so much weight, I find it 'easy' to stay slim. I said "oh hell, no", but without really thinking too much about it at the time. However, now I've pondered some more on that question I've realised that I've been guilty of taking my eye off the 'constant vigilance' ball.

Just lately, although I've been keeping a pretty good check on my weight and have been staying nice and stable eating low carb food, I've found myself thinking some rather bad thoughts. That cannot continue.

These 'bad' thoughts are sneaky little things like "hey, my weight's fine, I've been up and down on my feet all day and walked a long way, so I can have just a little 'x' or 'y' or maybe even a 'z' as a treat". Oh dear, that's closely related to "hey, I deserve..." a whatever it is for "being so good". Sure, my recent treat choices may have been made with low-carb in mind (e.g. a piece of cheese or a handfulof almonds), but at the end of the day they are still 'unnecessary' treats.

Oh deary me indeed - this isn't a postive mindset for a fat lass! If I carried on in this way, that's the sort of attitude that'd get me right back to the bad old days of using foodie treats as a reward for all manner of things. And, worse yet, when I actually stop to think about this a bit harder, and take it a little further than the immediate pleasure side of things (er, always a good thing for me to take time to do), I know exactly where this path would lead me...

It'd head me on a straight, clear track right back up the numbers on my scales... and that's somewhere I DO NOT want to go!

So, this is where I say "whoa, stop, halt" to those invasive thoughts! Heck, I didn't work so hard over the past few years, to get where I am now, only to throw it all away on a 'treat' or two... or three. Being 'active' or 'good' or similar (in no matter what way I feel I may have been) just isn't a deserving candidate for food rewards. C'mon fat lass - you KNOW that. Get with the plan again.

It's too early for a New Year's resolution, so I'll make myself a nice 'new week' resolution instead. Here goes...

I WILL remain vigilant, and will keep sensible strategies for maintaining a long-term healthy lifestyle firmly in mind.

Onwards ever...

14 November 2012

Good stuff

The Egyptologist Howard Carter once, on peering through a tiny opening into the tomb of Tutankhamun, was asked if he could see anything. He very famously said "Yes, wonderful things", and I'll second it. Wonderful things are indeed in my sight.

I'll begin with last Friday, when my darling lovely hubby went to see his GP to get the results of blood tests at the end of a three-month no-meds trial. The bare minimum I will say to begin with is that he came away beaming. As to me, when he told me how he'd got on I was practically dancing in the street!

Why? Now, where do I start?

Because... whilst still Type 2 diabetic (with the best will in the world, this can be held at bay but not 'cured'), he does not have to return to medication to control his blood glucose. His HbA1c is better (I'll repeat that - BETTER) than it was when he was taking Metformin. And that's purely down to diet.

Because... having been on two forms of medication to control elevated blood pressure, he now needs nothing (I'm going to say that again - NOTHING) to lower it any longer. In fact, it's lower and more stable than any of us can believe.

Because... despite having been diagnosed with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease several years ago, the markers which flag-up this problem have disappeared (yep, I'll repeat this too - DISAPPEARED) entirely. Er, to the extent that his GP thinks making an appointment for a scan to confirm the change would be a "waste of time" and very happily reported that he once again has a "fully functioning liver".

Are you grinning yet? Well, there's more good news.

Because... his blood lipids are great. For the final time, I'll repeat myself - I didn't just say good, I said GREAT. They include improved HDL, lower triglycerides and a much better (CRR) ratio. Is the additional fat in the diet (and I'm talking saturated fats, like butter, nuts, olive oil, chicken with skin, eggs and cream here, amongst other things) doing any harm? Nope, not one teeny bit!

What's more, his GP not only isn't even slightly disapproving of what he is doing in terms of a ketogenic diet to achieve these great results. He positively supports lovely hubby and told him to carry on doing what he's doing. I couldn't be happier about this - from bitter previous experience, supportive medical teams can be as rare as hen's teeth.

That in itself is a HUGE thing as low-carb high-fat flies in the face of NHS dietary guidance (closely seconded by Diabetes UK), which exhorts diabetics to, and I quote, "include starchy carbohydrates with each meal.... and to cut down on saturated fat" amongst other recommendations. I've already talked about how that didn't work for my lovely, despite our best efforts.

But it gets better. You'll have picked up already how anal this fat lass can be. Well, we've kept detailed records of food eaten against blood glucose levels over the three month trial period, with my darling testing five times each day (and occasionally more often). These show very graphically the effects of firstly a low GI diet (keeping in line with the 'official' guidance), then the conversion to a LCHF (ketogenic) diet.

Just as an example - these are the blood glucose results across three months from tests performed two hours after our main meal every evening. The date on which his diet changed to from low GI to LCHF is marked in yellow. Bear in mind the aim was to control blood glucose to minimise peaks and troughs, in other words to get it as stable as possible, by choosing the right foods for him to eat. Notice anything?

Hmmm, so did his GP. In fact, his GP asked whether lovely hubby had any objections to his printed results (and all the bloods as well as our own records) being used in teaching (our practice is a training practice for newly qualified GPs). Quite a compliment, eh?

Oh, and there was not even a mention of my lovely hubby being 'too thin' or any of that nonsense. The GP is more than satisfied with where he is so all the 'don't lose any more' doubters can just shut the... er, heck... up now please! Do you detect a note of sheer frustration here?

OK, so am I happy enough yet? Well no, things get even better. Once we'd celebrated with a small glass of red wine and a nice low-carb dinner, we packed to go visit my mother.

It was lovely being with her but then, on Monday, we took her to see her consultant. I was dreading it, as it's always really hard for her, so I'd girded my loins to argue against various pointless (in my opinion) things they usually ask her to do. It wears her out completely (well, she is in her nineties), and I just can't see the benefit to her. This time I was primed to ask 'why', and keep doing so until I got some darned good, clear answers.

My worst fears were raised when we saw the physio, who started talking about an interventive 'trial' of new medication and mentioned possible side effects. Well, stoopid here could see this trial would not have been practical for a lady of my Mum's age so I went in to see the consultant ready for the full 30 minute argument.

It didn't happen! In fact, he was an absolute sweetie, and treated her like a person, not just a 'condition' to be treated. In fact, is so happy with how her particular condition is being managed at the moment that he shelved the trial before I'd had chance to raise any objections, on the basis that she's 'stable' and happy and it makes no sense to 'fix what ain't broke'. Score another gold star for the NHS.

So, I'd say good stuff about covers it, wouldn't you? I now intend to bask in the positive vibes for as long as I can. Onwards ever...

09 November 2012


OK, I have just about managed to haul my way of thinking back to a more positive vein. Next job is to kick-start that 'enthusiasm' engine.

But, before I get going with blathering on about weight related things, with Remembrance Sunday fast approaching and in light of my 'miseries' post of a few days ago, I just wanted to take a moment to consider how fortunate I am.

In particular , to give thanks that my own life has been unaffected by the horrors of conflict experienced by so many people in the past, and still suffered by so many people in other parts of the world even today.

Life is such a fragile thing and can be so deeply affected by events outside our own making. The phrase 'Lest We Forget' is one often voiced around this time, and it does make me stop and think.

In a similar (albeit somewhat less important, in the great scheme of things) way, I sometimes need to stop and think about the changes my life has undergone over the last few years, and to give thanks for the positive things which stem from that. Actually, I can't think of a better time than this.

Again, I feel very fortunate. This time, it's gratitude that the likely 'future' which faced me whilst obese (having been so for years) and desperately unhappy, has been averted. Because I made that one choice, set my mind on that firm committment to set out to turn myself around and improve my health (and my life) by losing my excess burden of weight, in some ways that prospect now seems almost a distant memory. But it's a memory best not forgotten.

Had I not bitten the bullet, accepted responsibility and 'done something' to change, I shudder to think where I'd be now. My weight would almost certainly have continued to rise, year by year. My fitness (minimal though it was back then) and mobility would have deteriorated even more. I'd likely be on medication for a wide variety of health problems by now and, because I pretty much hated being 'me', the spectre of descending into serious depression was very, very real. Not to put too much emphasis on this point, but there was also a chance that, with the strain I was inflicting on my poor abused body every single day, it could have failed me altogether and I might not even be here.

Contrast this with where I actually am today. Today's picture is much rosier by far.

Since my story began, I've lost just under half my old body weight and around eight dress sizes. Better yet, along with this, I have lost fear. Fear of getting even fatter, and of my health further deteriorating. Fear that my lovely hubby could maybe decide a slinkier model would be a better bet. Fear of being out of control of myself. Fear of dying young, but also of living for decades longer but remaining desperately unhappy with my lot. And yes, fear of failure (yet again) if I tried to do something about it, so a very real fear of being trapped in my own body.

I've lost other things too. I have lost much of my old self-consciousness, replacing this with a previously undreamed of confidence. I've lost my cringeing embarassment around new people (although, by God!, I hid it well), and a similar shame around those people I'd known before I grew my fat suit and who now viewed my bulk with pity (and often frustration).

I've lost the need to hide in baggy, drab and unflattering clothes, and the resentment that 'pretty' was out of the question, and the 'big girl' shops were my only option if I did ever want something new. I've lost the sheer horror of seeing a mirror or, worse, a camera pointed my way now that photos don't hold the terrors they used to. I've lost the need to make sad-sack excuses about why I 'didn't want' to do something, when often it was more that I wasn't sure I was able.

I've lost a lot of things I considered 'normal' back then, but now see to have been symptoms of my body's distress. Things like feeling 'old' before my time, like my almost unceasing aches and pains, the near-constant 'bugs' I used to pick up. the skin rashes, the chafing, the horrible spots and zits, the breathlessness. I've lost the need to carry an inhaler with me on every occasion (although habit means I often still do). I've lost the desire to bury my emotions under a sea of food... only to find that they surfaced again all too quickly.

And I've gained such a lot too. I've gained fitness and health and freedom and a new delight in life. I've gained the desire to be active, to get out and about in the fresh air - whatever the weather. I've gained the ability to bend over to tie a shoelace (believe me, I couldn't without a good strong support!). Now I can even pop on a pair of heels if I want to. Hell, I've gained a swimsuit... and I'm not afraid to use it!

And, most of all I've regained 'me', and I've gained my long dreamed of 'more love' for every 'square inch' of me that remains. That is a gift beyond rubies.

So, a time for remembering and a time for giving thanks. Sometimes, maybe especially when things seem to be going awry, it's worth all of us sitting quietly for a moment amongst life's daily madness, and making time to do just that.

Onwards ever...

08 November 2012

Bumps in the road

No particular reason for them to have materialised and nothing 'specific' to report on, but a general malaise. The last few days have seen me dog-tired, to the point that I've had to haul myself out of bed with a general lack of energy and enthusiasm. OK, so there's been a touch of sleeplessness and a smidgen of the black dog meanies but nothing 'real' to hang my grumpiness on.

I've kept on with the walking each day (and got soaked doing so too, but that wasn't too bad), and with the exception of today am still rowing in the mornings, which has been 'OK' (ish) but the abs work seems a chore. Ho hum. It's probably just a case of the 'here comes winter' blues.

Food has been fine, for the most part, and I've picked those couple of pounds back up (with the able assistance of butter and cream!), so am back at a 'comfortable' 54 kg (eight and a half stone) but now feel 'heavy' and slightly bloated. Huh - there's just no pleasing this fat lass, is there!

If I'm honest, right now, I'm fed up and tired of the whole subject of weight, and food, and carbs, and choices, and remembering to be 'sensible'. I feel like a holiday from it all, but I'm pretty sure this would be a recipe for disaster.

Instead, I need to get my focus back on the positives in life and, yep, they ARE there. I just need to 'see' them once again. We're off to see my lovely Mum at the weekend so maybe that'll help.

Onwards ever...

05 November 2012

Brussels sprout heaven!

So, how are things going? Or... when is a 'problem' really a problem?

Well, the fact that I'm asking myself this shows I'm not entirely happy with what's happening to me at the moment - and am finding it hard to come to terms with this new 'new'.

Hmmm, I know this sounds a bit muddled, but the thing I'm not happy about is losing weight again. After years of fighting the good fight to lose weight and get to where I am now, this in itself seems SUCH a wrong thing to be thinking. I really am struggling to get my mind around it.

You see, I've gone and dropped a couple of pounds again, despite thinking that I've been eating sufficient to keep my weight stable. I am once again down to 53kg this morning (that's below eight and a half stone... again) and I don't feel comfortable with this.

Maybe I 'ought' to be ecstatic about it, but I'm not. Instead, I'm mildly worried as I feel like I'm eating absolutely loads - too much at times. And what's more, I neither actually WANT to, nor feel I COULD, eat much more than I'm already doing in any single day.

So, increasing sheer quantity isn't going to be the answer here, or I'll get completely discouraged and less inclined to be rigorous about my low-carb food choices. Having said that though, I simply can't keep losing - I won't have clothes left that fit me properly, for one thing, and that'll really p**s me off!

OK, I guess I'm going to have to start adding a bit more fat into my diet than I have been doing. That worked to stop, then slightly reverse, a similar trend for lovely hubby so I just need to readjust my mindset.... and my habits. I've made a bit of a start with this today, adding a decidedly 'healthy' drizzle of olive oil to my breakfast!

Enough of the moaning - now let's talk about something nice. 

One of our week-night's low-carb dinners last week was a masterpiece and absolutely confirms my belief that my darling lovely hubby is a genius of culinary undertakings chez nous. To start with it was good 'ole home-made beef burgers (sans bun, of course!) and these were really, really good.

However, what accompanied them is now a firm favourite, and something we'll regularly have again because it was absolutely fantabulous!

It was some gorgeous Brussels sprouts, shredded quite finely, and dropped into a pan where a small onion had been gently sweating in a little olive oil. The crucial bit is that the sprouts were added just a short time after a spoonful of a Bengali spice mix called 'panch puran' * had been added, and the whole spices begun to 'pop' and release some of the most amazing aromas to emerge from our kitchen in ages.

* I was told about this mix, fairly recently, by a work colleague, to try with shredded cabbage - and have to admit that I am utterly addicted to it now :-)

With a quick shake, then a lid plopped on top, they steamed in their own liquid and stayed a vibrant, beautiful fresh green. A dollop of butter just before serving rounded them off to perfection, giving them a lovely glossy look and a truly decadent flavour. They went wonderfully well with the burgers.

We made loads (we both love sprouts so tend to get a bit carried away!), so there was some left for lunch the next day. Served cold, with a little crumbled cheese and a few pomegranate seeds they were just as good as 'leftovers'.

So, all I need now is a bit more butter, and maybe I'll be back to 'normal' soon. Onwards ever...

31 October 2012

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Blimey! Just how many times in a single day can a poor fat lass swing from mindset to mindset? Ever had 'one of those' roller-coaster days?

The day started off well enough, albeit a tad too early for my liking, with a fun rowing session on Connie and a successful stint at the good ole abs stuff. My bus came on time, it didn't rain on me and I got to work without a quiver. Mindset pretty good at this point.

The morning went along fairly well, and I got a fair amount accomplished,but then... whammo! Just before lunch the Bad News Bears ganged up on me and I had one hassle after another. Sometimes they didn't even wait until I'd dealt with one 'crisis' until the next one rolled along. I won't go into detail but somehow, each and every one of 'em became 'my problem' to sort out. Mindset now? Grrr, pretty bad!

Stomped out, still growling quietly to myself, at lunchtime down to the solicitor's office to sort out a change to our wills. Good move as my 'witnesses' were both lovely people and between that and the walk in the fresh air, I was back into a positive mood again.

OK, back to the grind and I WAS going to eat my lunch in peace. Er, that was the plan, anyway. It didn't happen! So at 4pm I've just finished my lunch (though I can't say I really enjoyed it much) and am, once again, pretty grumpy.

And the ugly? Yesterday, I was given a box of chocolates as a 'thank you'. A lovely gesture and, I felt, quite undeserved. I took the box home to dutifully give away. I felt strong, and good about that and not even minimally tempted. Great stuff, eh?

But today there was an exhibition with a mini competition at my workplace. Go on, you've guessed it haven't you. I won it... and the prize was the bloody great box of chocolates! My reaction was an immediate 'great, wow, fantastic' until the penny dropped and I realised I couldn't even eat one measly choccy without the low-carb business going snafu! Oh.... rude words!

Of all the days to tempt a fat lass almost beyond bearing, this one is it. Feeling mightily peed off, I put the box out for the office gannets to devour, and busied myself until the blasted box had completely emptied. Didn't take long. Guess who disposed of the empty box though? Yep, yours truly!

Ho hum, tomorrow MUST be a better day, right? Onwards ever...

30 October 2012

Holiday victory!

Well, the annual challenge has come and gone and I'm really proud to report that, when it comes to weight, we've both passed this particular year's test with flying colours.

I'm talking about holidays here (vacations for US readers), and the toll they can take on losing or maintaing a sensible weight.

This year we thought it might get a wee bit more difficult as we're still pretty new to the idea of low carb and were not sure if we could translate this into things like eating out - specifically for the birthday meals.

I thought we'd be likely to be tempted by the idea of cake or desserts or higher-carb treats and half-expected us to fall off the wagon, or at least wobble wildly. I'd even made a few mental contingency plans for what we'd do if (when?) this happened - mostly to be honest and admit it, then get right back to being EXTREMELY careful as hell with everything we ate.

But... amazingly, we didn't need to 'make amends' in any way and we rode that wagon quite comfortably for the whole time we were away. I'm so, so proud of us both and so, so grateful that some aspect of the low-carb, high-fat, moderate-protein way of eating seems to help us both with keeping good control.

Without the little (carb-driven cravings?) internal voice saying 'but I want the cake' it's generally pretty easy to see something appealing, think 'hmm, that looks delicious' but still just walk on without any real regrets.

I feel that we ate really well, er... luxuriously even, in the time we were away. I don't feel in the slightest 'deprived' and we certainly seemed to eat more/better than usual. In fact, I often found that I felt quite full, and even skipped a few meals for small snacks instead as the thought of a full plate just didn't appeal.

I did have one day of feeling 'oh, poor me', when thoughts of 'but I can't have a...' got a bit intrusive (that was the day before we had to leave and my black dog got tetchy that our holiday was nearly over), but it still didn't translate into eating high-carb foods.

Does this class as a NSV? Well, sort of. It's a whole heap of victories in my mind, and even the scales said nice things on our return (neither of us had gained at all) so I guess it's SV + NSV.

17 October 2012

Psyllium husk, flax seed and apple porridge

After Friday's gloopy stuff (and Monday's poor effort, which set so solid I could have used it to hold a sizeable pane of window glass into a frame!) I've decided to change how I make my mid-morning 'fake porridge'.

Yesterday's take on this was worth the experiments, and today's is the same... er, 'recipe', if I can call it that. It's low carb, tasty, a nice sensibly 'porridgey' consistency and very satisfying. A little bowl of this totally negates any longings for my beloved (but now off limits) oatmeal.

So, what did I do?

Chopped half a nice apple into small chunks (mine are 'Honeycrisp' from Lidl), dipping these in water with a little lemon juice so they didn't go brown.

Drained the chunks and sprinkled them with a tablespoon of psyllium husk and about the same of roughly ground flax seeds (a.k.a. linseeds here in the UK).

Then, I just covered the mix with a layer of full-fat milk, stirred and left it to stand and allowed it to swell (this doesn't take too long). If it looks a tad dry after a while, I may add a touch more milk, and give it another stir.

Finally (and this is the nicest bit), I put a layer of Greek yoghurt over the top.

It's good. Really good. Not worth a picture as it isn't exactly pretty, but it fits the bill nicely.

15 October 2012

What's happening...?

Update time. OK, so I guess I'm slowly, slowly getting a wee bit more convinced... and I'm really rather enjoying this new low carb life.

I'm not really missing bread or potatoes at all, and decent, seedy bread, especially home-made, was what I expected to miss most. I was never too bothered about rice anyway, and wasn't absolutely passionate about pasta either. I've created a low carb 'porridge' work around (Greek yoghurt mixed with ground flax seeds and psyllium husk, which 'sets' into a nice porridgy consistency*) so mid-morning break is no longer a trauma.
*don't know what happened to Friday's though - it seemed to turn into slug-trail gloop, not porridge!

I'm thoroughly enjoying eating loads of gorgeous kale and cabbage and cauliflower and spinach and eggs and avocados and yoghurt. I've rediscovered a delight in nuts, cheeses, meats and... er, butter.

There.... I've gone and said it. I've outed one of my guilty secrets. The fat lass is enjoying butter! What's worse, we've even cooked with cream a couple of times!

You can see, can't you, that I still can't put hand on heart and say I feel 100% comfortable with the dietary change. I am guessing this is legacy stuff - mostly because I still can't make my inner monitor, that 'gut-feeling' part of me, accept the increased fat, after sooo many years of 'low fat' or 'no fat' as a mantra. It still 'feels' wrong/bad/naughty/sinful... But I'm sticking with it because my logical brain tells me it's the right thing to do and, despite the inner guilt trips, I am actually liking it.

My one little spark of defiance to low carb comes in the form of a nice, sweet, juicy, Pink Lady apple every day. Yes, I do know they are almost certainly higher in carbs than I 'ought' to be eating for a snack, but when it comes to these it's to hell with absolute compliance - I'll forego something else, but I won't/can't put aside my apple addiction. Fat lass stamps her trotters!

Checked for ketones in urine again at the weekend and, although I'd expected (hoped) to see a nice pretty deep purple response like last weekend, it was quite a lot less distinct than before. However, any change to purple = ketosis, so I mustn't get hung up over a colour change, even if it's paler. The fact that I got a colour change at all is in itself very reassuring (albeit in a slightly odd sort of way) as it tells me I'm still 'on track'. Hence the purple 'heart' above.

The other signpost to progress is the scales and, given the radical change in diet, my weight is remarkably steady. I've definitely quit losing, phew!, (and put back on a teensy bit) so I'm just hovering around the 54kg mark (eight and a half stone) again - just below this morning. However, with that, even if up or down a pound or so, I'm happy.

Er... make that delighted actually, not least because that's the sort of number I could never even dream about way back in 2007 when, obese and uncomfortable and unhappy and not much less than double this weight, I started my marvelous weight-loss journey.

Lovely hubby is equally happy with the new lifestyle, which makes me a much more relaxed person as I do rather fret about him like a mother hen! He is itching to get back to some decent exercise though - more specifically, onto the wondrous Connie. Now he's put a pound or so back on, and if he can gain another pound, we'll feel happier for him to get back at it.

I think I've made him quite envious in the mornings when Connie and I have a happy, early morning rowing session together. Some mornings there just aren't enough minutes though, as I enjoy it so much I could keep on rowing for a lot longer than I've time for. Good old work, and public transport timetables, drag me away from her... sigh.

Hey, fancy the fat lass wishing there was more time for exercise! Times really have changed, haven't they?

Onwards ever...

05 October 2012

Life... is going well

I haven't said a great deal recently. Going quiet like this might indicate that things have slipped and that the fat lass is struggling. Not this time though :-)

It just indicates that I've been rather busy (oooh, and how!), and preoccupied and had little time to think about writing. Work has been mad, but also this low-carb business takes some thought and coming to terms with. The upside of this, however, is that it seems to be going really well for both me and for my lovely hubby.

There is one small thing about it though... and that is that I'm feeling guilty, and I can't quite shake the feeling that I'm doing something 'bad'. Actually, that should be 'Bad', with a great, fat, capital B!.

And 'fat' it is, because I'm consuming more fat that I've done for years!

Despite reading the science (and, I think, understanding it) this newly acquired habit still feels like something I need to/ought to hide. Yes, I'm actively in 'ketosis' so am burning fats as a primary energy source but it still 'feels' a little screwy in my mind. Hmmm, fat lass emotion trying to over-rule fat lass brain cells again!

This desire to hide new habits is especially the case at work, in a shared office who have got used to seeing nice 'healthy' fat lass lunches of veggie crudites and low-fat, home-made youghurt dips.

This means that there have been a few raised eyebrows at my recent cheese and avocado snack boxes, glistening with olive oil, and one or two 'hey what the...?' looks at my conveniently placed jar of peanut butter (crunchy, please, with no added sugar or salt) to have with my daily apple.

Today's lunch will raise a few more eyebrows, I suspect. It's left-over menemen from last night's dinner - so an egg, and loads of peppers and tomatoes and onions and herbs, in a sauce glistening with... yep, you guessed it,olive oil.

And what do the scales say about this increase in fats? Well, I 'think' I've stopped losing weight (er, seeing a sudden drop of several pounds to well less than eight and a half stone on the scale scared me witless!). I have 'maybe' stabilised, or even clawed my way back up a little. Tomorrow's weigh-in will tell.

With what I'm eating, in calories from fats alone, it feels like I could sustain a large and particularly active army! However, I'm feeling great on it. I feel strong, and healthy and I seem to have found a way to overcome the... er, digestive... issues which did worry me a tad. The addition of a teaspoon a day of psyllium husk seems to be doing the trick, but I'll let you Google the reason I felt it was needed [sheepish grin].

Onwards ever...

24 September 2012

Connie, lovely hubby and me

It's turned to autumn with a vengeance and been raining and windy here in the UK, so let's ditch the blues and think about some positives.

Well, I can honestly say that whatever else life is chucking my way at the moment, and there's some fretful stuff going on that's giving me a lot of sleepless nights, there are a few nice constants.

The foremost of these is, of course, my darling lovely hubby who is such a support in the worries going on in life at the moment (hmmm, maybe I'll write more of these in a later post... if I feel brave). He is such a love and takes care of me and protects me much more than I ever expect, or deserve. I won't go into detail, but he is quite prepared to change his life completely to help me and I can't thank him enough for 'being there' for me. He's a very, very special man.

The next though, surprisingly enough, is Connie. Even though I was pretty happy with our old Horizon rowing machine, I always hankered after a Concept of our very own and I'm so glad we bought her. She wasn't cheap, but she's worth every penny. In fact, I'd say, if she's good enough for this man, she's good enough for the fat lass!

Now, I can put my hand on my heart and say that I just can't believe how much difference she's made to my mornings. Hopping on and rowing (albeit for way too brief a time, dammit!) is sheer pleasure now she's set up in the office and some days I feel like could cheerfully carry on for hours if time permitted. It's like the difference between wearing a silk shirt and a haircloth one. It's funny, but it's really motivating - the knock-on feel-good effect continues right through the abs work too, which I'm also now enjoying much more than previously.

Another 'plus' is that my body finally seems to be catching up and getting the low carb message. Yes, I know, I know... I'm just too impatient!  But, I tested with Ketostix at the weekend and there was a bit of a colour difference so I guess I'm entering 'ketosis' and beginning to use up some fats as a fuel, not just glucose/glycogen. So, let's keep going this way and see what happens next.

One tiny worry though (and it's one I never thought I'd find myself putting into words) - the scales have also shifted downwards by just over a kilo in a week (aaaargh!) so I'll need to keep an eye on that as I really don't want to lose much, if anything at all. For one thing, we can't afford yet another new set of clothes... and, perhaps rather vainly, I like the clothes I have now! Hmmm, that said, if it reduces the 'orrid flap of belly fat a bit more I won't complain. Watch this space, I guess.

Onwards ever...

21 September 2012


Sorry chaps - this is going to be a long one (it's certainly taken long enough to write!), whilst the fat lass arranges her ducks into a nice neat row. Feel free to skip right past it as it may only be of interest to me.

Not that it'll help, but I'll begin with a quote:

If you can't convince 'em, confuse 'em. - Harry S. Truman

Yep, the man got that just about spot-on right and in recent weeks I've found I was getting less convinced by the day. The more I researched the science behind this particular topic, the stronger my sense of confusion became and a dawning lack of conviction grew.

What was I less convinced about? It's a tough one, this - namely the 'given' message here in the UK about eating 'healthily' with Type 2 diabetes. As you'll have gathered over recent weeks, this is a topic dear to my heart.

The bottom-line dietary advice provided by the NHS (who are supposed to be the experts and our 'look to' advisers, after all) is to "include starchy carbohydrates with each meal, eat more fruit and vegetables, to eat at least 2 portions of oily fish a week and to cut down on saturated fat, salt and sugars."

Diabetes UK say something pretty similar, and produce a nice coloured leaflet, "Eating well with Type 2 diabetes", which (although it cautions readers to limit sugars and sugary foods) states in it's second main point that readers should "include starchy carbohydrate foods such as bread, pasta, chapatis, potatoes, yam, noodles, rice and cereals" at each meal. They also go on to say that the 'starchy' carbohydrates should "make up about half of what you eat and drink".

OK, so that's good advice from 'reliable' sources, huh? Well, in some (you could even say most) respects, you can't say a great deal against it, especially if you view it as sensible dietary advice for the general population. However, when it comes to Type 2, there is one stand-out point that I beg to disagree with, actually.

It's that very first bit where it suggests a Type 2 diabetic should eat "starchy carbohydrates at each meal". Hang on a tick - can we pause and think about this for a moment.

After a very speedy canter (thanks to Google) through the science of human metabolism - call it metabolism 101 if you like - what I've read quickly reveals that.our bodies convert carbohydrates in the food we eat to glucose in order to make use of it as a source of energy for just about every part of our bodies. OK, so what?

Well, for one thing - our bodies don't actually seem to 'need' to be totally reliant on carbohydrates for energy, as some of the 'authorities' suggest. Our bodies seem (given a little time to adjust) to be able to adapt quite happily to utilising fats as an energy source instead. Indeed, that seems to be what pre-agricultural humankind used to do as a matter of course, and what some extant societies still manage to do pretty darned successfully. Hmmm, maybe those Paleo people have a point after all? Let me think about this for a second.

OK, so let's assume that those "starchy carbs" are not written-in-stone essentials then - that is they do not need to be the first choice option at meal times. Fine so far, but this'll call for a pretty radical shift in the way we think about our food intake... won't it?

Yes, I guess it will. But the clincher to this mind shift is...?

If an individual is trying to control their blood glucose to 'near normal' levels both before and after eating, and avoid 'spikes' in BG levels to minimise the risks of 'diabetic complications' (oooh, what a lovely term that is!), how on earth can this guidance (from the NHS and Diabetes UK, don't forget) be good advice? Having read around, this now seems to be completely counter-intuitive to me.

After all, it proposes incorporating a specific food category (carbohydrates) as a significant - that's right... a 'significant' - contribution to a 'healthy' diet. But yep, you got it right - that category is carbohydrates... the very stuff which the body breaks down really readily into glucose. Call me dumb, but doesn't this mean it is, therefore, the single food category most likely to lead to a high BG spike?

Head spins, brain reports "does not compute" and confusion reigns.

Let's take a look at some evidence, shall we. OK, this is 'only' empirical evidence gathered over a short period, from a very restricted sample size (of one!) to say the least, and it concentrates purely on blood glucose, not overall health. However, given those provisos, it sure has begun to look valid from where I'm standing!

To do this, we'll step back a couple of weeks to when lovely hubby first came off medication. At that point, we started off by buying into the low GI idea. This meant following the 'expert' advice and including carbohydrates. Minimising sugars, but choosing the more complex 'good' ones, such as 'wholegrain' foods which take longer to digest than the processed alternatives so 'slow' the rise in BG levels. That was the path we headed out on.

We identified some baseline 'good' BG figures to aim for and tried to keep within the limits suggested by these, whilst eating the low GI way. So far, so good?

Er, no actually, and we found it pretty challenging to adhere to the guidance whilst keep hubby's BG levels nice and stable with the low GI approach. Even relatively small amounts of 'good' carbs sometimes seemed to have quite drastic effects on his BG.

It was in part those definitions, like 'a rise' and 'spike', which first tripped us up. How do you figure what level of 'elevated' BG is an acceptable one, and what sort of increase you should label as a 'spike' and should be worried by?

More reading ensued, and we seemed to be getting a handle on it all. What we did find though, was that as we selected foods to keep my lovely hubby's BG meter readings down to manageable figures, the amount of carbohydrates in our diet was gradually decreasing.

Finally, we seemed to come to a bit of a crossroads. That was when we started reading more about the specifics of a low carb diet, and when my man began getting serious about following a low carb regime. Hence we changed what we eat (trying to lose the fear of fats!) and, since then, he's not felt so restricted and the 'strict' BG control seems so much more easily achievable for him.

Some blood glucose comparisons:

The Low GI approach
5.0 mmol/l - fasting average
6.3 mmol/l - 2-hour post-prandial average
This was not (we thought) too bad at all, but choosing foods to maintain this was beginning to feel a bit restrictive. What's more, we still encountered some surprisingly high spikes to kick the averages up a bit.

The Low Carb approach
4.6 mmol/l - fasting average
5.3 mmol/l  - 2-hour post-prandial average
Better! It seems to be a little easier and less restrictive to follow, and BG figures are definitely trending in the right direction.

I'm still confused though. Now my bafflement comes from the fact that the very organisations I expect to be able to rely upon to guide us to a healthy way of life when dealing with an extremely well known and understood metabolic disorder seem happy to sidestep some of the basic biochemistry which drives how our bodies function. Er, why? Call me cynical.... but did someone mention money, honey?

20 September 2012

I need some...


...and I need it now.

My head's spinning and my brain seems to have gone into shut-down this morning. No great huhu, just a bad day at the office. Wish I'd stayed home and played with Connie.

Ho hum... onwards ever.

16 September 2012

A new approach... for me too

Well, the ongoing trial of low carb living seems to be going well for lovely hubby. His body has happily switched to ketosis (we've checked with Ketostix) so he's now using fats as a primary energy source. His blood glucose levels (without the aid of Metformin) remain admirable, he's now off all his old blood pressure medication and there's just a statin to kick into touch... er, if we can persuade the GP!

Amazingly enough, for a former carb-hound who loved his bread, pasta, white rice and potatoes, he isn't finding it hard to do at all. In fact, he's not really missing the carbs (most of the time), and he's enjoying and feeling satisfied with the foods he's eating.

However, I was beginning to find things a bit of a challenge, as I started to feel rather torn between keeping on with eating the way I've been doing to maintain my weight loss and trying to incorporate some of the requirements of low carb into shared meals.

The problem has come about as I've still been eating some unrefined carbs as normal (e.g. my daily beloved porridge oats) and also trying to stay fairly low fat. Counter to this, we've been trying to increase lovely hubby's fat intake to slow/stop/reverse his continuing weight loss which is getting a tad dramatic. With both dietary approaches on the go, this was becoming less easily sustainable for me.

So, a decision has been made and, as of this weekend, I'm starting down the road of adopting the low carb approach rather more 'fervently' myself. Yep, I am aware that the blood glucose effects are not relevant to me in the same way as they are to my man, but the more reading I do (especially relating to the science of low carb living) the more convinced I'm becoming that it is a healthy way of life for someone without Type 2 diabetes too.

So, I'm now in that initial metabolic changeover period, waiting for my body to figure out that it needs to use fats rather than glucose as it's primary energy source. Once the Ketostix tell me it's got it's act together life 'should' become a wee bit easier (pardon the pun - just couldn't help myself!).

I'm happy where I am so don't really want to lose any more weight, but neither do I want the scales to creep up. So, for now, I'm not adding in the additional fats as we are doing for hubby... well, not just yet anyway... and will rely on the scales to tell me how I'm doing.

So, for breakfast this morning we each tucked into half an avocado, chopped tomatoes and lettuce with black pepper, lemon juice and a drizzle of olive oil, a few olives, some feta cheese and a plum, with a Greek yoghurt and pesto dip and ground flax seeds. 

Looks nice, huh? I have to say, it was both filling and delicious!

07 September 2012

Missus Shift It, that's me!

Yep, that's me alright. For the last three days I've moved, shifted, re-organised, re-labelled, chucked out, cleaned and generally blitzed a couple of rooms at work in preparation for refurbishment work... which starts at sparrow-cough on Monday.

Why the mad panic rush, fat lass? Couldn't you have planned this better? Hmmm, you may well ask.

The rush is all to do with yours truly asking for weeks (and yes, I mean this quite literally!) when the work will start so I can make a plan and enroll some able assistance. The answer I 'always' got was "ah well, we think it'll be soon-ish, but can't give you a date just yet". Huh! That's men for you.

That WAS the answer, that is, until Wednesday morning when I asked for the umpteenth time and was told that Monday is the big day. What the ?*!#? Nothing like a tight deadline then...

So... in the past few days I've shifted fridges, freezers, filing cabinets, desks, drawer units, lab equipment (some big, awkward and seriously heavy) and a gazillion boxes of 'stuff'.

I've swept and washed floors, cleaned shelving and generally got my hands (and every darned thing else) filthy dirty, whist fielding questions from almost everyone who passed about what I was doing and why. Very few came with an 'is there anything I can do?' offer!

As of this moment I ache, I'm extremely grubby and a tad disheveled, a bit bruised in places and I'm absolutely knackered, but I feel really, really, very satisfied.

Why? Because I did it... And because I 'could' do it... And because, despite a return of summer here in the UK, I barely broke a sweat... And all that is in the most part because of the weight loss and fitness. Faced with this task a few years ago I'd probably have curled up and cried. Not now! It was head down, grit teeth and get on with it.

I've still rowed and done my abs workout in the mornings, still gone walking at lunchtime. I've (mainly) eaten sensibly. I feel strong and powerful and unstoppable, and there's a snippet of song playing over in my head at the moment. It's by the late, great James Brown, and it goes

Whoa-oa-oa! I feel good, I knew that I would, now
I feel good, I knew that I would, now
So good, so good...

03 September 2012

Meet Connie

Thought I'd just introduce our new house-mate. Say hello to Constanza Beata del Magnifico, a.k.a. Connie.

She may have only just started to live with us, but has already secured a place in our hearts.

She's a lovely neat and quiet lady. Slightly used she may be (er, she certainly shows one or two of her previous life's stresses) but she's one smooth lady, and informative too (her PM3 gives us a LOT of information - and I will investigate the 'fish game' option!) and she's an absolute joy to use.

We've already had a lot of fun with her and will continue to do so.

Otherwise, things are still ticking along nicely so nothing major to report. I'm still trying to get my head around metabolic pathways and different food groups so will probably blither on about that in another post.

Onwards ever...

31 August 2012

Wish I'd taken a photo...

...of today's lovely lunch so I could share it with you.

It was pretty simple, as lunches go, just chunks of broccoli stalk, some cauliflower florets, sticks of carrot and celery and a handful of gorgeous cherry plum tomatoes, all with a dip of Greek yoghurt and Marmite, but it was wonderful.

I ate half before I went for my walk, and attacked the rest when I got back. I'm just polishing off the last morsels now. Heaven! I even have pudding (later). Some cherries, blackberries and blueberries. What more could a fat lass ask for?

Oh, and I have a treat to go home to... the Concept 2 rower was delivered this morning. Exciting, eh? Now, where did I put my screwdriver?

Things are pretty good at the moment - long may it last. Onwards ever...

21 August 2012

More victories...

Wheeeeeee! Guess whose lovely hubby has been back to his GP and has now been taken off blood pressure medication too! That's pill number 2 off his prescription, and I'm so happy I want to put banners up at the window and shout through a megaphone from the tallest building around.

He's hitting these health targets out into the stratosphere at the moment. And his daily control of blood glucose levels, with sensible foods and careful thought given to what and how much to eat, is going pretty darned well too. What a star!

OK, we still get the odd surprise, but they are not really horrendous surprises (more of a little 'huh?' moment) and we are definitely learning more about the foods we eat... a whole lot more! If we average his readings for the period he's been testing, they fall merrily into the 'strict control' range. More power to him - so I'm officially awarding him the 'fat lass' gold medal for significant health improvement.

Now, if you'd like to step up to the podium, sir...

And me?

Well, the cunning plan that the dodgy knee would respond politely to exercise has paid off. After a weekend of some serious furniture shifting, and moving the associated mountain of books (my passion), and a good thorough cleaning, I did ache and realise I'm not twenty-something any longer (as every bit of me felt it), but my knee ached no more than any of the other bits. It had swelled a bit again by Saturday evening, but had settled by Sunday morning and seems back to normal... apart from my customary random welter of odd bruises, which I pick up all the time without having a clue what I did. Phew!

My eating is also going well and I'm sitting at my 'happy' weight and not really missing any of the sources of carbohydrates we used to eat more of. For me, this low-carb business is a great excuse to add some extra delights to my favoured veggies, and I'm getting a real taste for the proteins... To be honest, it suits me just fine :-)

We've even added peanut butter back into our lives. Those of you who have known me for a while will be aware that this is a very big step for me. Why? Because peanut butter is a firm childhood favourite and something I have never been able to be moderate around. For the course of my journey to weight loss  I haven't even been able to keep it in the house.

However, what we are doing now is mixing a teaspoon of gorgeous, crunchy, no added sugar PB from the wholefoods shop (sorry, Sun-Pat, but I just don't love you any more 'cos you're too sweet for me) with two or three teaspoons of Greek yoghurt and that's enough to give me the taste and the pleasure of eating it, and provide my darling with the necessary fats and proteins, without loading up on the calories. I'm happy to have this occasionally on a thin slice of seedy toast and, so far, this seems to work well. Victory indeed.

Some exciting (certainly to me) news too. We've bitten the bullet and ordered a lovely new (well, a second hand, but professionally refurbished) rower!

We are upgrading from my beloved old Horizon Oxford II (which has been a great workhorse and helped me a lot) to a sleek and athletic-looking Concept 2 Model D which is very like the ones they have at the gym. I've always got on well with these and the Concepts are the rowers I've always secretly coveted. We feel that now the extra cost (er, £££ ouch) is justified as we KNOW we'll both be using this Rolls Royce of rowers for a long time to come.

It should arrive in about ten days time, and we felt it deserved a rather more suitable home than our current beast, so this is why we spent the hottest weekend of the British summer totally reorganising our home office, replacing the mega-huge desk with a smaller version, to convert it into a home office/gym (and freeing up much needed space in our bedroom in the process).

Onwards ever...

16 August 2012


I think it's time we started looking at a few the positives, and stopped (well, me anyway) dwelling on the problems, puzzles and the times things don't quite go to plan.

The sun is shining, those nasty blue meanies are on the run once again and I feel that, overall, life is good. Nope, I'll go further than that. Life is pretty darned good!

Between us, lovely hubby and I are gradually building a fairly good feel for what is worth a try, foodwise, and what is likely to be off the menu chez fatlass & co.

We've also found a few places we can look up nutritional values for 'unknown' foods (like here) so we don't have to make a complete guess.

And my knee is improving. As well as the walking (and it isn't a half-hearted walk/limp now), I'm actually back on the rower. Started off very gently a couple of days ago and, whilst the knee grumbled a bit (and the swelling hasn't subsided completely), it went OK.

So much so that I managed to do my full session this morning. Alright, so the time was s-l-o-w as heck, but I did it!

Phew! Onwards ever...

14 August 2012

Two steps forward...

...and one step back?

OK, I've puzzled and puzzled 'till my puzzler is sore.

How, after eating the self-same breakfast at the same time several days running, can there be such a disparity in my darling's blood glucose (B.G.) readings.

Usually, a small bowl of jumbo porridge oats (cooked the same way every day) results in a fairly consistent reading an hour after breakfast of high 5s or low 6s (mmol/l). But not today. Today, the same breakfast caused a spike of about 8 mmol/l. How? I just don't get it and that bothers me.

Even stranger (or is it? - I don't know) is that the readings from tests 2 hours after eating all seem pretty similar, sitting neatly in the low-mid 5s or low 6s.

I don't even know if this is something I should be getting hung up about, or if this may just be down to inaccuracies in the testing process (read somewhere that test strips can vary by c.0.5 mmol/l at the c.5.5 mmol/l range and the meters are not infallible either).

That aside, there are other things bothering the fat lass. A couple of nights ago I turned over in bed and felt the most appallingly excruciating pain in my left kneecap. I kid you not, it felt like the darned thing was coming off! By holding it really tight and first flexing my leg then straightening it, I managed to get it back to bearable, but it's not exactly what I'd describe as OK.

Now I know I haven't done my poor old joints a lot of favours over the years, carrying so much excess weight for so long, and do have the odd problem, but this was something new. The knee is still a bit swollen although there's no bruising I can see, and it's still quite painful, especially coming down slopes and steps or if I twist. I've put off the rower for a day or two but continue to walk (carefully), but I just want it to get better again... and fast!

It's scary how something so silly and simple can affect daily life so drastically. Ho hum... onwards ever!

09 August 2012

Getting to grips with change

Well, they do say that you live and learn. And I have to agree wholeheartedly. The learning process isn't without it's frustrations though, and sometimes it would be all too easy to throw our hands in the air, stamp our feet and state "we just can't do this". But, liking a challenge as we do, we are not going to take that approach!

It's proving to be quite an 'interesting' period at the moment, this experimenting with food choices to control blood glucose. The phrase 'live by the meter' is something we are saying to one another... a lot! You see, things we start off by happily considering to be nice 'healthy' choices (mostly because, setting aside B.G. concerns, they are!) appear to be the cause of some fairly hefty short-term spikes in a way we definitely do NOT want.

Bananas are a case in point. We both like them, and we thought they were a pretty good idea on a thin slice of home-made wholemeal toast, for breakfast,... Er, but not for my darling lovely hubby, it seems. Porridge (which we thought would be worse) is actually much, much better for him.

Rice, even a very small portion, was also a bad move so we threw out the remaining white rice in the pot and will try brown at some point. Likewise, pasta has been exchanged for wholemeal and will be tried out... sparingly, and with much vegetable padding.

Some experiments are a tremendous success though. Last night's leek & potato soup with added kale (try it - it's lovely), and a beautiful side salad of chopped tomatoes, red onions, basil, walnuts and nectarine chunks (which I've just had again for a lovely lunch) was brilliant and barely gave him more than a smallish blip in B.G. readings.

We've had some really helpful tips too from the nutritionally minded, with a special mention going to FattyMcFatPants

So, things are progressing and we WILL get a better understanding. Soon, I hope. Onwards ever...

06 August 2012

Learning curve

I can happily confirm that teaching a couple of old dogs some fancy new tricks is not an easy process, but it's certainly going to be achievable... albeit with a bit of head scratching, puzzling and figuring out.

OK, so what am I blathering on about?

I'm talking GI, and I don't mean Joe or Jane here! This is GI a.k.a.Glycaemic Index. Even having managed to lose and keep off a significant percentage of my former bulk, this isn't a topic I can say I'm exactly familiar with, nor have I ever really given too much thought to it. Have to admit that I've spent much more time considering calorie and fat content of the foods we choose. However, this is about to change big time, now that my darling lovely hubby is off medication and relying on diet control for Type 2 diabetes.

The crux of 'good control', and by that I mean the best way to go about minimising the likelihood of diabetic 'complications' (a nice, dainty, polite word for some pretty awful outcomes!), seems to be avoiding spikes in blood glucose and generally keeping a relatively 'constant(ish)' sensible blood glucose level through the day.

To do this, the carbohydrate content of the food we eat is something we need to become very aware of. These little tinkers, and how the body deals with them, are the things which seem to affect blood glucose most directly, so it's time for us to get back to the classroom for Carbs 101.

Even given just a brief trawl through the wonderful worldwide web, there's a HUGE amount of information out there. However, some of it seems conflicting... and complex... and frankly counter-intuitive. But, nothing ventured..., here we are, making our start on the bumpy road to getting to grips with it. Wish us luck!

To be honest, while I haven't really thought much about it before, this will be a very good thing for us both, benefiting the fat lass long-term as well as my darling. But it does, of course, mean making adjustments to what we eat... again. Hmmm, I think we'll both be keeping food diaries. What a studious household we'll be!

Onwards ever...

02 August 2012

Good stuff

Yep, good stuff indeed, in all sorts of ways. My darling Mum has always exhorted everyone in the family to "count your blessings" so I'm doing just that!

For example, my beloved lovely hubby is doing brilliantly well now that he's come off the Metformin tablets. He is SO much more conscious of what he's eating and is actively experimenting and getting to grips with the direct effect of different food chioces, and exercise, on his blood glucose levels.

Never thought I'd see the day when he kept a food diary (and he was pretty vociferous about never, ever even contemplating such a thing), but... keeping it he is!

As to me, things are also pretty good. I'm fairly happy with my weight, happy with the food choices I'm making (muching on califlower florets with a youghurt and Marmite dip as I type) and enjoying being back to regular and progressive exercise. While hopping on the rower at just after 5 a.m. is (and always will be) a bit of a challenge, I know it is the right thing to do and do feel better for it afterwards. I'm very pleased to have got back to doing the positive things that I know benefit me.

The sun is shining (at the moment) so I'm off for a walk in a wee while and I'm going to take advantage of every teensy glimmer since, although it's still quite warm and muggy, it's looking like our all too brief summer has deserted us again.

The only blot on my landscape is that my asthma seems to have decided to play up a little. Although my peak flow is still holding up reasonably I have needed my salbutamol inhaler a few times recently.Generally at the oddest times for no apparent reason. Have to keep a watch and go to see the asthma nurse if this continues.

Oh well, onwards ever...

30 July 2012

Water, water, everywhere...

Duh! Friday was one of those days.

There was the fat lass, thinking she felt hungry, but knowing she couldn't actually still be hungry because a delicious lunch had been munched not all that long ago (OK, if you must know - it was two large, juicy, deep red and fragrant chopped tomatoes and a spread of hot pepper paste on a slice of rye bread) .

The old 'bad' side of her started hunting about for something 'acceptable' to eat, and was getting close to doing something she'd regret when (thankfully) the penny dropped. Silly old fat lass! She was not hungry at all. What she was feeling was thirsty!

I usually fill my water bottle first thing when I get to work, and then have emptied it to refill again by just after lunch. What's more, I usually have a big mug of lemon tea mid-morning. However, Friday was a little hectic and although I drank most of my tea (albeit cold) my water bottle remained, filled to the brim and unloved, on my desk. It was also a summer's day, even if not the hottest summer's day ever.

Aha, dehydration! OK, that was remedied easily enough and... as if by magic, the hunger disappeared. Elementary, my dear Watson!

A trip out to a lovely waterside pub (on the banks of the River Nene) for lunch with friends on Saturday was also on the cards. We knew this was going to be a serious indulgence so planned accordingly and daintily nibbled a suitably 'minimalist' breakfast before we went.

I couldn't even consider fighting my way through three courses (oh, how things have changed!), so skipped the starter and sipped a spritzer instead. Mind you, lovely hubby's starter of home made chicken liver pate looked and smelled delicious and I did steal some of his salad accompaniment. He had a monster-sized battered fish fillet (from Moby Dick?) and thick-cut chips as a main course, and pronounced it to be very good - but couldn't finish it all, it was such a big portion.

I opted for the Ploughman's for my main course (laughably on the 'light bites' section of the menu) and was not disappointed. I think it would have stuffed two ploughmen, to be honest. There it sat, on a wooden trencher, a substantial hunk of freshly-baked, warm cottage loaf (and generous pat of butter on the side), an ample(!) chunk of cheddar, a thick slice of lovely home-cured ham, a quarter of a gorgeous home made pork pie with beautiful hot water crust pastry and loads of lovely jelly (which was delicious!) and the usual, plenteous, accompaniments of pickled onions, a Branston-style pickle and a fantastic chunky and spicy piccalilli (of which I am a serious fan). I'm afraid I couldn't do the cheese, bread and butter justice... but the rest disappeared!

Between the four of us, we shared some deliciously indulgent (and highly calorific) puds. Even so, we didn't manage to eat everything and felt a bit guilty that we couldn't. We groaned outside for a stroll by the water afterwards. Neither lovely hubby nor I wanted anything to eat for the rest of Saturday!

More water on Sunday morning. This time in the form of a lovely walk along the river Cam, setting off about 7.30 out towards Baits Bite Lock. We figured that we probably walked about six and a half miles in total (when we added in our little 'oooh, I wonder what's down there' diversions) and had a fabulous morning out in the sunshine. Chatted to people out for their own constitutional, made friends with a variety of dogs, saw rowers, runners, cyclists and strollers, watched herons, ducks, swans and a gazillion pigeons. Food was rather more restrained than on Saturday and our tummies said a heartfelt 'thanks' for that. A very good day.

In fact, a very good weekend.

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