19 December 2014

Christmas cheer

Do you know what? You've done quite enough of the moaning and groaning recently, fat lass. Time to get a grip!

Yep, it's time to raise a glass, see this beautiful world through seasonally rose tinted spectacles and, as my sweet Mum would have gently chided me, to count my blessings. Lori made a very sensible (and timely) suggestion that I look back through older posts. So I have done just that and, a little like Scrooge, trawling back through Decembers past has made me think.

Thanks too to Nikki for a lovely positive comment.

First off, this year won't be like 2007 when I had not long started on my journey, but was still a decidedly 'large' lady. Slowly improving for sure, but with oh such a looong, long way still to go.

This Christmas, unlike 2008, I'm happy to report that the fat lass is definitely in the pink, as in not ill (which was not fun at all by the look of it).

I'm still, like I talked about in 2009, very grateful to follow the progress of you lovely people out there in blogland - you still don't know how much support you've all been to me... and continue to be. Bless you all!

And although I'm maybe struggling a little bit, it's nothing like 2010 when I'd held just about steady but had been struggling hard to do so and was obviously pretty unhappy about it. Even the gammy knees are holding up reasonably well for a fifty-five year old ex-fat lass.

I'm delighted to realise that I'm still holding fast to my coping strategies for Christmas social events (laid out in detail in 2011) and they still work for me. I even have an open box of mince pies on my desk as a festive treat for other people to enjoy, and they don't tempt me at all - not least because I have a little box of fresh coconut pieces to nibble (hey, there's no contest Mr Kipling!).

Though I'll miss her terribly (this year and always) I won't be fretting about my darling Mum this Christmas. I'm comforted by knowing that she's in a far, far better world where she's warm, pain-free, loved and cared for forever by the Lord she relied upon and also, I think, reunited with my lovely Dad who she missed so badly after she lost him. This contrasts sharply with other years, particularly 2012 when worrying about her was at the forefront of my mind. I have a beautiful Christmas tree with pretty lights in our lounge, to keep her much-loved traditions alive, and I'm hearing carols in the shops without bursting into tears this year (er, usually).

Speaking of 2012, I still fit into and regularly wear 'those' jeans, the selfsame ones that caused me a bit of angst when I wore them to work, prompting unwelcome comments from a colleague. That means that despite all my fussing and mithering about a squidgy bit at the waistband, I'm actually still (physically) pretty close to a place that I'd worked hard to get to and was really very happy with. Yes, things (I'm talking to you, belly) could be firmed up a bit, but they will be when I finally do get back to Connie's ministrations.

And last year? Well, I'm VERY happy not to have a re-run of the events preceding and covering Christmas 2013. I don't really even like to think too much about it, and I daresay lovely hubby would second that!

So, take that Black Dog - life is GOOD and I have many blessings to count. I have a short break away with my darling lovely hubby to look forward to, and we plan lots of cuddle time and a seafood spectacular for the three days we're near the coast. The 'R' is in the month so oysters here we come!

Have a super Christmas everyone, and see you all in 2015. I think it's going to be a great year. Onwards, ever...

15 December 2014

Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's hard...

...er, life, that is... and by extension, maintaining a sensible 'happy' weight, and keeping to my desired level of fitness.

So where am I right now? Well, a school report would probably say something like 'acceptable, but could do better' (actually, as a kid mine used to say things like 'could try harder' quite a lot).

My weight remains pretty stable, floating between 54kg and 55kg so that's OK. Mind you, it does seem a bit of a struggle to keep it in this range at times. If I'm honest, I'd prefer to be sitting in the 53-54kg range, but I don't quite seem able to hang onto this at the moment, even when I do get there. I think the fitness part feeds into this...

Fitness has taken a decided turn for the not so good - I'm not the woman I was. Hmmm, nor the one I want to be. The lack shows a bit too much for my liking, and my shape is oh so definitely not what I'd prefer to see. The waist size I'd expect at my current weight is not, repeat not, what I actually see. In fact, it seems to be a half- to one whole inch larger than it 'ought' to be, and that increase is a flabby one. Now I'll admit that I never have a flat tummy (my perennial leftover kangaroo pouch sees to that!), but I appear to have a new and unwelcome squidgy bit just above the waistband of my jeans - pooh!

(in some ways this makes me giggle, when I think back to the bad old days when the very thought of wearing jeans seemed an impossible dream)

I need to get back to my daily stints on Connie the rower (sorry babe, I've missed you). I need to get back to the abs work too. I plan to do both... but life seems to have ganged up on me to foil my feeble efforts. The course didn't help (oooh, but it's been one hectic month and I'd quite forgotten the stress of exams!) and now the run up to the festive season has set a nice series of obstacles for me too.

Still, I used to be able to figure a pathway through stuff like this... so why can't I do this now? Grrr!

OK, I'll take what positives I can from this - I'm 'alright'. But I want to be better, and I know that it's do-able. Guess I need to, as Nike so often tell us, just do it!

05 November 2014

Up and down, comings and goings

Firstly, this means my moods, which are daily swinging from 'absolutely super' to 'decidedly 'orrid' and back again. Moderate and measured definitely isn't me at the moment, which makes me wonder whether the seemingly un-ending bl**dy menopause is throwing a little wobbly, despite the HRT - is that possible?

Whatever, it's been accentuated as work has been a real pig since we got back from the break (in a variety of ways, although none too serious), but more in that I am worrying about a slight change in my darling lovely hubby's health. Nothing major (crossing fingers, toes and everything else I can manage), but a nagging concern and enough to disrupt the odd night's sleep.

I also find, and this is unexpectedly tough, that I'm really, really feeling the absence of my beloved and much missed Mum as the evenings draw in. Silly, I know, but one of the problems is that I can't have just a quick nightly chat to her any more. Never expected to feel this so deeply after all this time (it's been nearly eighteen months since we lost her), but I keep telling myself it itsn't anything but natural. Ho hum.

Then there's weight. We came back to find that both of us had lost some weight, which was fabulous. But... just over one week on and I've discovered that I now own a stray kilo, which has plopped onto my body somewhere as my scales cheerily tell me. Bottoms! That doesn't make a girl feel so great... and I honestly have NOT gone silly with food, even when I've got irritable, stressed and gloomy.

And now to the comings and goings... it's going to be a hectic few weeks and I'll be MIA quite a bit. This is because I'm finally (after several years asking) booked onto a training course which should lead, er... I hope, to a nationally recognised qualification. The course starts next Monday and it's one week on (down in London to boot, with all the joys of commuting), a week back at work, another week on, then revision for two written papers... then a final one-to-one practical assessment.

Er, silly sausage that I am, I thought that this fast-track approach would be a sensible option - the alternative being six months of day release. The course materials turned up yesterday... and all I can say is 'aaaaargh'. Boy, all this stuff to cover (and remember!) in just over two weeks? And the perils of workplace legislation to consider too?? Poor old grey matter - do I ever have my work cut out for me!

If I'm honest, I'm nervous... er, let's make that scared... er, it's more like bricking it. However, it was my decision to do it, I signed up for it and I'll have to do my best with it. Who knows, I might actually enjoy it.

The upshot, as always, is to keep positive as much as possible and repeat my usual - onwards, ever...

30 October 2014

Post-holiday blue meanies

Oooh we had such a wonderful time away last week. Spending time together somewhere remote, quiet and beautiful, relaxing, reading, listening to great music, walking (mostly without getting too wet), meeting great dogs and their owners, buying and cooking lovely local food and imbibing the odd glass or two of delicious Spanish red wine.

But all good things come to an end, and apparently so quickly, and it's been back to business as usual (in spades!) this week. We've both had a few work problems to deal with and I guess the inevitable has happened... so, post-holiday, we're just a bit 'down'.

Oh well, just you think of Mum's blessings my dearie! We had a super time and have some lovely memories (and photos) to look back on. At least the sun is shining this morning, the autumn colours are gorgeous and I'll be off for a lunchtime walk before too much longer.

Onwards, ever...

14 October 2014

Changing my perspective

Monday morning was wet and rainy. In fact it was very, VERY wet, and you can add windy, dark, chilly, and decidely... bleh to that. Having trogged into work (in the blasted rain), towelled my soggy self down when I got here and then set to the beginning of my week, it was still wet, gloomy and 'orrible outside.

Thus I didn't start the week with my mood in the most positive light in the first place. Guess what? Then I was hit by an unexpected Monday morning 'thing' to deal with (right now !), just as I was trying to get prepared for one of our regular group meetings for which I write and circulate an agenda, then chair, contribute to, note-take and minute! (oooh dear, what a 'poor me' sentence that is).

Best laid plans and all that stuff... so by now I was a bit growly, and while I waited to get into our meeting room, I grumpily mentioned the 'blasted rain' and resulting autumn miseries to my colleague. Oh gosh. What he said in reply stopped me dead and made me rethink.

He's from Africa - and from an area not noted for copious amounts of precipitation. The ensuing droughts obviously had a major impact on him and his family as he grew up, and he very gently reminded me that he sees things rather differently. He told me that in his eyes rain is a great gift from God. Rather than something unwanted, it is actually something desperately needed to sustain life.

His kids were born in the UK and sometimes they moan about the British weather to their Dad, so he said he tells them that they mustn't ever complain about the rain, and reminds them why. When that next happens I've asked him to remind me too - so I don't forget either what a blessing the rain can be.

In a funny way, he reminded me of my darling and so very much missed Mum, and this brought into mind her favourite hymn, particularly the verse about the seasons:
Summer and winter, and springtime and harvest,
Sun, moon and stars in their courses above,
Join with all nature in manifold witness
To Thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.
Then there's the chorus (which reduces me to tears as I hear her voice singing it) goes:
Great is Thy faithfulness! Great is Thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
All I have needed Thy hand hath provided— 
Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

 
Autumn blessings indeed.

13 October 2014

The Black Dog and the Brat

Having been moving along this personal journey now for a fair few years (I started on my 'serious' weight loss path way, way back in 2007), I thought it was probably about time... so I'd like to introduce you to a couple of my travelling companions.

Actually that isn't strictly true, since I don't recall ever asking either of these guys to accompany me, and can't say that I really care for either of 'em. So 'I'd like to' isn't exactly what I mean...

However, despite trying to shake off these un-called for 'mates', I do rather appear to be stuck with the ungracious pair, who will suddenly decide to step up and join me for sections of my journey. Maybe that happens to everyone - I don't know.

They really can be quite persistent, these disagreeable beggars, but thankfully they don't follow along with me all of the time. They are more like those strange people you meet now and again on public transport, who home in to plonk themselves down in the seat right next to you and then proceed to bore you rigid with their life's woes and their bizarre but heartfelt beliefs on all sorts of odd and esoteric topics, without any apparent pauses to take a breath (or does this kind of thing just happen to me?). Anyhow, they make a journey much less pleasurable and are not what I'd describe as welcome company.

Each of them, even when they show up on their own, is quite a handful. Together, and one of them does seem to bring along the other all too often, they can be an absolute nightmare!

That darn Dog I've mentioned many times in the past. He's not a cute fluffy puppy by any means. More the slavering, hot-breathed, snarling sort of creature who slinks in the shadows and prowls around on the edges of consciousness to push and nurture the darker side of life. He's extremely difficult to shake off at times, and I never quite know when to expect him to show up (although sometimes the triggers are pretty clear). Still, recognising his influence is at play and then remembering to look out for and actually list my blessings (determinedly!) is usually enough to dissuade him from hanging around... eventually. Laina has a few great tips to share for dealing with this chap - all good stuff.

The Brat can be a challenge to deal with too, and she often rocks up for a little attention in the wake of the Dog. She's a particular problem to handle, most importantly because she's my own worst side. She throws temper tantrums to get her own way, and her mantra is 'I want, I want, I want'. She's demanding and selfish and lazy, and has her eye firmly on the pleasures of 'now' and to hell with the consequences. She's the persistent voice that whispers in my ear that 'just one' little lapse in my normal sensible diet is OK and won't harm me, or there's 'no need' to go out for a walk when the weather is bad, or get on the rower, or... She's generally vanquishable by a decent dose of willpower, but... I don't always have that to hand right away.

I guess what I'm leading up to here is that my weight loss journey (and maybe yours too) was, and still can be, hampered and stymied by unexpected and unwanted companions like these. Worse, they don't politely give up and push off when the weight loss part stops and maintenance takes over.

But, the good news is that we are not completely powerless in the face of the blighters, and we can defeat them - or at least give them a good bashing (even if complete victory isn't assured). OK, it might not be easy - but it is possible.

Even if (hmmm, make that 'when') we stumble and fall, with a bit, OK sometimes a lot, of effort, we can get up, dust ourselves down and get back on with our journey. Their arrival is not game over. The cartoonist Stephen McCranie captures this idea pretty well when he says:
“The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried”


So, despite whatever or whoever shows up to obstruct us, let's plan to be masters, eh? Or, in other words, onwards, ever...

06 October 2014

Contrasts

Worries and delights. It's sort of been a week or two of both, but I'm grateful that I can (for the most part) look at the 'blessings' aspects and say that the delights outweigh the worry bits.

So to start with the worries, why have I been fussing and fretting and getting myself all in a dither? Well I don't really know specifically - the black dog hasn't been very far away but it's all been pretty nebulous 'ifs & maybes' stuff, and I daresay most of it triggered by various bits of bad news we've had in the last few weeks.

I've recently lost one former work colleague too young, have another in a high depedency unit following a stroke (still only in their twenties!), various friends have developed all too many medical and other problems, and us...? Well, I guess we're pretty much OK - thank heavens, but it does kind of make one think.

When I ponder all this a bit more deeply, probably most of this worry is rooted in 'growing older' concerns. You know, those 2 a.m. thoughts about the inevitable (and detrimental) effects of the march of time. Cue quavering soundtrack of "Things Ain't What They Used to Be".

Yep, I've been worrying quite a lot about what will become of my lovely hubby and I as we get older and less able (it does, after all, come to us all). How will we cope if one of us gets ill? What happens if one of us have to give up work? Where will we live? Those sorts of things - I know it's silly as I have no idea what is likely to happen, let alone when, but it does sometimes get me down a little.

But those delights... ah, now they've been lovely. So just keep thinking about them, not the bad stuff, eh fat lass!

Shiny conkers and the bronzing of autumn leaves. The contrasting warmth of the afternoon sun and the chill of the morning - scarf and gloves weather on the way. The full(ish) moon in the clear night sky. All things to be thankful for.

Despite a change to the most appallingly soggy weather when I look out of the window right now, we were blessed by the most gorgeous sunrise this morning. Deep streaks of oranges and reds, shading to golds and pinks across bands of parallel clouds stretching to the horizon. Who cared that the 'red skies in the morning' portended rain - simply stunning!

Other pleasures too - like the first roast Brussels sprouts of the season, crispy brown, with bacon lardons and Stilton cheese. Fantastically satisfying dinner, to the eyes as well as the tastebuds. Snuggling up in our warm winter dressing gowns and sheepskin slippers at the weekend - it might not 'really' be cold enough to justify it yet, but a treat anyway.

And we've something very special to look forward to... a whole week in the wilds of nowhere (OK, deepest Shropshire) with my lovely hubby, to celebrate birthdays and our eleventh wedding anniversary. Gosh but waking to the early morning fog in NOLA seems a long time ago.

And the weight? Well, it's at the top end of my happy band, but I'm OK with that. It's stable and I know that if I can be bothered to put in the effort I can reduce it a few pounds to where I'm happiest. Right now I'll live with the 'what is' and worry about the 'what could be' later.

18 September 2014

Sadness

I was shocked and saddened to hear this morning of the unexpected death of an old acquaintance. For some reason this news has quite shaken me more than I would expect. I've used the word acquaintance rather than friend as we hadn't kept in touch over the years so I guess that doesn't count as friends. We were never 'close' as such, but I saw him almost daily over a fair few years and had always liked him a lot.

I will remember this man as being one of those 'good' folks one meets in life. A dedicated professional who was eminently practical as well as being academically strong, he was a feet-on-the-ground, gently spoken but full of life, caring person with a dry sense of humour and a twinkle in his eye.

One of the things which has shocked me most was the realisation that he was so damn young. He'd not yet reached 50, which makes it somewhat hard to comprehend that he can actually be gone. It seems so very unfair that he'd had so short a time.

This sad news comes on top of a spate of none too positive news in the last week or so about other people (some of whom I do class as friends) who are pretty ill too. I guess this build up of 'bad' means I'm finding today a bit of a challenge and that black dog is sniffing around. So, time to stop and remind myself of what my darling Mum would have advised. That is to count my blessings.

Blessing No.1 - I have my health and I am lucky that I still have many of the people I love (my darling supportive and loving hubby and a super sister who I'll see very soon) around me.

Blessing No.2 - the sun is shining and the birds sang this morning.

Blessings No.3 onwards are manifold. I do know that, but just haven't quite got them straight in my head yet... However I will, because I know those blessings ARE there - I just need to see them properly.

Aristotle may have phrased things slightly differently when he said
“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light”
but the basic idea is the same.


For Becky at Skinny Dreaming, for me, and for many others too.

11 September 2014

Feeling girly...

Holy moly! At one time, I would not have said, or even thought to myself, that this fat lass was a particularly girly sort of critter. Instead I spent most of my formative years as one of those young 'ladies' who heartily eschewed all thoughts of make-up, 'fancy' clothing, high heels and hair-dos.

Indeed, I grew up as a classic tomboy, fighting my darling Mum every step of the way when she wanted her little girl in sweet little dresses, ribbons in her hair and lacy-topped short white socks. But in my world bruises, dirt, scabby knees and falling out of trees (I was great at climbing, rubbish at getting back down) were a more regular occurence... much to poor Mum's horror.

I dabbled briefly with a marginally more 'feminine' phase in my teens, but didn't really feel comfortable nor that it suited me and I certainly couldn't be fussed with all that hair-do messing about, nor make-up nonsense! So I firmly settled into being more of the rock-chick type, in hippyish bell-bottom jeans (that my darling despairing Dad used to say had been painted onto me!) and a ratty old tee-shirt... er, while I could still fit into such wondrous things, that is.

Then, as a fat lass adult (first fat, then growing steadily fatter), my main priority was to conceal my increasing bulk as far as was practical. I guess it was rather hard for me to begin to feel feminine when I thought that I closely resembled an object capable of sinking the Titanic.

So, sombre colours, shapeless tops and long skirts (well below those chubby knees please) were the norm for me back then. Disguise me please - so should I wear trousers? Nope - that was definitely a case of 'does my bum look big in this', so no fear! Then, let's slide around the perimeter of a room, speak and walk quietly, try to blend in to the wallpaper and don't attract anyone's gaze if you can avoid it. Bare skin? No way, Jose! Yes, 'draw no attention' became my motto and my mantra. And, as I didn't like 'me' and hid whenever possible it really didn't matter what my hair looked like, did it, so I left it long and straggly, and often chopped bits off it myself. You can imagine the result.

Roll forward to the present day, and there's been something of a revolution (and a fair degree of revelation, come to that). I sit here typing away in a flared, pale pinky-beige knee-length skirt, with a fitted short-sleeved tee-shirt (OK, I also have a little cardigan too as it's getting autumnal). My hair is neatly trimmed, and about to be even neater once I've seen my hairdresser. My shoes are neat - in fact, I now actually possess 'pretty' shoes with heels (although wearing them can kill my poor dodgy knee!). My toenails are nicely shaped, and often painted - most recently with a subtly pinky-lilac varnish. What's more, even though I still don't 'do' make-up, I had a manicure as a special treat a while ago... and liked it. Whatever is the world coming to, I ask myself.

So, here I am, not far short of 55 and, for the first time in my life, I find that I am capable of feeling girly and feminine. I'm comfortable enough in my skin that showing some of it (er, maybe not those very saggy bits if you please) doesn't really phase me.

This may sound odd, but the sheer sensory bliss of dabbing on a really nice perfume is something I now understand too - a bottle of scent isn't just something to grab and spray to mask any potential whiff of sweaty bodies. Ah yes, I was almost always, always, ALWAYS too darn hot when I was at my largest, and constantly terrified that I might sweat too badly and smell.

The other day, someone who's known me for ages, in both my larger and smaller days, asked me what I liked most about having shed a lot of weight, and my first reply (without a moment's thought) was the health improvements which it brought. Actually, I still stand by that and it is indeed THE most important thing.

But, d'you know, afterwards when she'd gone and I stopped and thought a bit more about it, I really quite like being able to walk out and about with my head held high as a girly sort of girl these days too.

02 September 2014

Wow, wow and wow a bit more!

Oh my, but our week in marvellous Madrid was just fabulous. To be honest, we both feel really privileged to have had such a great time.

We walked a helluva lot, as expected, and I rather wish we'd somehow kept track of just how much, but we didn't. In fact we barely touched the Metro (except for the trip back and forth to the airport) as the Spanish architecture is too good to miss and every barrio has it's own special character. Especially loved ethnic Lavapiés, and a good many other areas, though we were not quite so keen on slightly snooty Salamanca. But wherever we explored it was just too good not to walk and enjoy it. A shade hard on the feet (and knees), and pretty tiring too, but who cares, eh?

The weather was wonderful too - wall-to-wall blue skies and sunshine! It did get pretty hot (up to 37 degrees on one day) and it was very dry, so we enjoyed the sun but drank a load of water every day and every night... though apparently still nowhere near enough, to judge by the unexpectedly colourful wee!

We met some lovely people (particularly the two very kind and welcoming young men at Cafelito), and saw such a lot. Outstanding was the most amazing and superb works of art, dating from all periods - ancient and modern, in museums and galleries, as well as lots of street art. There's so much - we spent well over five hours in the Prado and still didn't get to see it all properly!

The beautiful parks and gardens and fountains everywhere were a real treat too... especially in the heat of the day when a lovely patch of green shade with the tinkling sound of cool water was most welcome. I was in my element too - lots of people with all sorts of dogs, so lots of doggie cuddles.

The food was mind-blowingly good, and my niggling concerns about staying LCHF while we were away were blown right out of the water. It was actually very simple, especially with so much to offer in the offal line, so we came back still in ketosis and without having gained an ounce - nice eh?

What did we eat? Well, it may not be everyone's cup of chai (or do I mean café con leche?), but we are both now addicted to orejas (glutinously gorgeous grilled pig's ears), callos a la Madrileña (tasty tripe, with scraps of pig's trotter, blood sausage or chorizo, and serrano ham, all in a wonderfully rich tomatoey sauce) and, best of all, crunchy and delicious zarajos (probably best described as 'intestine on a stick').

OK, holiday over so it's back to earth with a bump...now where in the UK can we find these delicacies and how do we learn to cook them at home...? If I find out I'll let you know.

Onwards...

21 August 2014

Defining 'maintain'

Before I go away, I just thought I'd share something about maintenance which has been squirreling around in my mind. You see, maintenance is where I guess I am these days. It's a pretty nice place to be too (if sometimes a little scary) but how, exactly, does one define 'manitain'?

Well of course I have some ideas of my own, but with Google being my friend and all that, I decided to check it out. Hey, what do you know, there are two ways to define this word. Both of them are pretty appropriate too.

The first definition is to:
    cause or enable (a condition or situation) to continue
which makes sense and is pretty much what I expected to see. I guess if you'd asked to define the word myself, that's probably roughly what I'd have said.

But wow, look at this, the other one is to:
    provide with necessities for life or existence
Hmmm, 'necessities', eh? Now that's very interesting.

OK, I'd say this second one's really rather an apt definition too. Given the LCHF ketogenic way my lovely hubby and I eat these days, which is to say deliberately opting to restrict our carbohydrate intake quite dramatically (i.e. generally staying under 50g per day) to stay in a state of nutritional ketosis*, we're choosing to limit a food group which isn't actually 'essential' to our bodies.

* Don't forget, nutritional ketosis is a quite different animal to ketoacidosis. Ketosis is absolutely not a bad or dangerous thing - a ketogenic diet is, after all, one of the medical intervention strategies used to treat children with intractable epilepsy.

So, thinking about those carbohydrates for a moment - what do I mean here? That they're not an 'essential' part of my diet and I don't truly 'need' them? Yes indeed, they are actually not 'critical' or 'necessary' to my well-being in any way. Don't take my word for it though...

A number of pretty knowledgable people have written about this topic, but Dr Jeff Volek was asked in an interview a while back whether it was correct that we humans have a base-line 'requirement' for carbohydrates of around 130g to 150g per day. This figure, it seems, is calculated based on the brain's expected use of glucose as a fuel or energy source. In other words, isn't ingesting that level of carbs a daily 'necessity'?

He made it quite plain that this degree of carb intake or more is really not necessary, and went on to explain that if you allow your body to produce ketones (and the easiest way is by restricting carbohydrate intake), the vast majority of the brain cells will cheerily adapt to using those ketones for fuel. Most of your other body cells will adjust just as well too. There is, as ever, a 'but', which is that there are 'some' brain and other cells in the human body which can 'only' utilise glucose as a fuel - ketones just don't cut the mustard for these little guys.

However, in case you are worrying about those odd cells which really do require glucose to function (some of which, like the retina, lens and cornea in the eye, are pretty important), he also mentions the fact that the body can perform a sort of 'do-it-youself' miracle. That is, your body can, and does, produce the glucose it needs from other, non-carbohydrate, food sources in your diet. In short, the body can quite happily make use of the proteins you eat in a process called 'gluconeogenesis' to make any glucose it actually requires. Go on, look it up - you know you want to.

To bring us back to where I began, defining 'maintain'... I'll vote for both of those Googled definitions as being equally apposite and important. So this forms the basis of my plan to keep on and 'maintain' the status quo when it comes to my weight, and to keep on to 'maintain' my cells by providing things they actually need and minimising the things they don't.

Blather over. Onwards, ever...

19 August 2014

Got that holiday fever

You may not notice a difference since I'm not writing all that much these days, but I'll be away for a bit. Yep, we're on countdown and off for a week's holiday in a few short days... and it cannot come quickly enough. We plan to walk, and drink water, and walk, and drink the odd glass of 'something nice', and visit museums, and walk, and drink water, and... You get the idea.

I just can't wait to feel the heat of the sun warming my bones again - it's turned all autumnal here and I can't say appreciate it (especially on top of the darker mornings). Can't wait to stooge about people-watching at an airport for a while (which is all part of the happy travels fun), and can't wait to settle in to our hotel room and see our first Spanish sunset... preferably while sipping a small celebratory glass of the finest jerez (fino please). Am very mildly apprehensive about staying LCHF keto while away, when my Spanish is near nonexistent, but I'm sure we'll manage somehow. What the heck - can you say 'jamon y queso'?

Lovely hubby (who's somewhat black and blue at the moment after arguing with a hard pavement... er, and losing) keeps asking me if I'm getting excited yet. Hmmm, I'd say that's an affirmative!

24 July 2014

A little victory dance...?

Something occurred to me over the weekend and, now that it's struck home, I'm going to mark it up as a positive, and as progress, and as something to be very pleased (proud?) about indeed.

In fact, I'd say it's one of my lovely Mum's blessings, right here in front of me to be counted... and, do you know, although I've 'sort of' seen it before (and even mentioned it) I just hadn't really remembered it and recognised it, nor taken notice of it for the good thing it is.

With one thing and another (you know, the usual e.g. health, family, work, you name it...), there has been a fair amount of stress, angst and worry in life again of late. Yeah, yeah, I know - so what's new, huh? That means I have, inevitably, had my fair share of rough moments, where I've felt like I'm really struggling.

At those darker points, although I've 'mostly' avoided it, the bad old behaviours try to surface and, like diving face-first into a plateful of comfort food, quite often sounded like a darned fine idea. Indeed, I have strayed off the straight and narrow low-carb ketogenic path a couple of times, but somehow (thank heavens) managed to haul my silly self back on track pretty sharpish... although I've also seen the scales needle twitch upwards now and again as a result.

But to get back to the blessing?  When I think about it, it's quite simple, but the consequences are significant. It's that I HAVE seen the danger, and that I HAVE taken notice of it, and I HAVE actually done something to avert the looming crisis. Hey, is this maintenance?

Well I guess so, and the proof? Even though I've seen the odd brief rise (and whined about it accordingly), my weight when I look back over the last couple of years (which was for soooo long a 'big' problem, in every sense of the word) has pretty much remained inside a perfectly 'acceptable' band. Acceptable, eh? So what does that mean, exactly?

Well, to me these days my 'happy' place is somewhere around the 53 to 54 kg mark. OK, I've fluctuated at times, maybe a kilo, a kilo and a half, very occasionally two kilos, above/below my 'that's fine' zone, but that's all - even throughout all of life's traumas (large and little). My dress size has remained constant too, which seems a bit of a miracle, even if I've sometimes noticed slightly tighter or looser waistbands.

Wow! How about that. For a formerly obese (Class 2, to boot!) fat lass, having no major gains or losses in the last couple of years(!) but something approaching stability, is fantastic. Actually, in my world, that's something really pretty amazing. Hence the teensy little jig of victory.

Now I know that perfection ain't me, and I don't want to count too many chickens, but I really do think this successful pattern in 'maintenance' marks a change for the better for this fat lass.

This feels significant to me because the whole concept of 'maintaining' still worries me (a.k.a. scares me witless!). Being so long obese, I still fear that I'll wake up one morning and it'll all have been a lovely dream and now I'm awake find myself still trapped in my layer of blubber. And, believe me, that's somewhere I REALLY don't want to go back to.

I'm still on my journey, and still learning to take care of 'me'. I hope I'll always be able to learn, and always recognise the lessons... eventually. It takes effort, sure, but I also know I'd have struggled a whole lot more with sustaining the weight loss if it wasn't for a low-carb lifestyle.

Long may it continue... onwards, ever.

17 July 2014

Hard times

I can hardly believe it has been a year since I sat by the side of a hospital bed and spent my last moments with my sweet Mum, holding her hand and telling her, just one final time, that I loved her. In some ways it seems an eternity ago, and such a lot (good and pretty horrible) has gone on in that time. In other ways it feels that it's just like yesterday. Either way, it hurts... like hard stone lodged in my soul... and it hurts a lot.

Sometimes, maybe even most of the time, I can remain relatively bright, shiny and positive and force myself to remember and focus upon only the good and beautiful things about how fortunate I was to share my life with her. Other times (like most of this damn week) I just want to curl up and howl at her loss.

As much as I miss her, I would not wish her back to the pain and helplessness of her last few months. But hell, I really do miss her and it hurts. I glance down at my finger which now bears her wedding ring and I know that I'll never truly 'lose' her or my darling Dad as I carry the symbol of their love and devotion to one another with me always. That comforts me. But it still bloody hurts.

Dammit, just have to keep onwards, ever...

09 July 2014

Still here

What more can I say...

24 June 2014

Fabulous news!

After all the angst and delays, at last I have my darling Mum's wedding ring back from the jeweller, incorporated into a beautiful new 'modern' design band, set with diamonds. It looks a little bit similar to the picture (by the same jeweller), but not quite the same as mine has a more rounded-triangular profile than a traditional D-shaped, half-circle one (sounds awful but it's gorgeous) and it's set with sixteen beautiful little warm brown 'cognac' diamonds in the platinum. Think of the big cat family and the strikingly lovely spots on their plush furry coats.

The inner surface of the ring is actually formed by my Mum's ring, and you can see the contrasting gold supporting the platinum as you look at the ring from the side. So now, for the rest of my days, I will carry a little bit of my Mum and Dad with me, right next to my skin.

I am so happy I could burst, and I'll be both delighted and proud to wear it.

Weight and food are doing well at the moment and I'm quite happy with both. Excercise? Oh dear and darn it, it's not so good as I've 'done something' to my dodgy knee so am limping, wincing and using diclofenac painkiller gel just to keep going.

13 June 2014

A thought for today...

...and a small sense of pride?

To move on from the motivational slogan, which I think is just great... here's to renewed starts.

OK, I know they say that pride goes before a fall, but I'm going to hold on hard to this smidge-idgen of pride for now, cross every finger behind my back and hope that the fall isn't waiting out there for me.

It's been a challenging few weeks. Actually, it feels like it's been a whole lot longer than 'weeks', but let's just stick with this for now. There's been a lot going on at work, and also at home. For whatever reason I've been tired for quite a lot of the time, slightly (and at times, very) stressed and, as lovely hubby could doubtless confirm, pretty darned sensitive for most of it. I haven't exactly slept well either, which is never good for this fat lass.

But, since my faux pas at the end of May (that dark chocolate inhalation incident) I have been trying hard to divorce feelings and food. Or, should I say, I've been trying to analyse the 'why' behind wanting to eat when I encounter one of those 'gimme a treat, now!' moments.

If it's been 'real' hunger (a tip to remember, fat lass - your tummy actually does rumble and growl when you're really hungry!) then I've eaten something from my carefully and thoughtfully pre-prepared lunch or snack boxes, and eaten it mindfully. However, if it's been an emotion-driven 'want', then I've looked at what's brought me here (grief, anger, sadness, boredom, frustration, feeling out of control or out of my depth, or whatever it's been) and, thank the Lord, I've managed to talk myself out of stuffing my face. Usually by making a cuppa, or drinking some water, or getting up and away from what I'm in the midst of and distracting myself.

It's been going pretty well, so I decided to test my resolve a bit harder and add a little 'trial by treat' to the mix. So, I did a little shopping on Monday. Above my desk there's a jar of almond butter, and in my desk another bar of 90% chocolate. Despite a difficult week (again!), to date, both of these remain unopened!

I have no idea what effect (if any) this has had on weight - that hasn't been the point of this exercise. What I'm figuring my way through is the emotional eating side of things... once again.

Yes, I've been here and done it before, and yes, I thought I had it cracked. Obviously I hadn't (hence the brother-related chocolate binge), so it's been a case of get back to the drawing board and do what has paid off for me in the past.   

So, in contrast to the cartoon (which made me giggle), maybe old dogs like me can learn a few new tricks... but they'd sure as heck better keep on practicing them because even though 'learned', they are just as soon forgotten.

Onwards, wearily but quietly proudly, ever...

09 June 2014

AWOL?

I guess I haven't been around here much for a while, mentally that is. I have been reading your posts (honest) but haven't even commented very much - sorry chaps. School report says 'must try harder'. You see, life has been giving out handfuls of Mixtures... and they've not really been those of the Dolly kind

Enough of the sweeties references, and let's get Led Zeppelin out of my system too - pardon me while I launch into a (badly sung) version of Good Times, Bad Times...

Hey, you know I've had my share! And, here they still are, oscillating from 'things are great' to 'stuff is crappy', repeat, repeat, repeat. I won't bore anyone with the gory details, but there have been/still are one or two greyish clouds on my personal horizon and, hard as I try to look only on the bright side of life, I've found I'm mired in a frettin' and a worryin' mode again.

When I do manage to drag myself up short to act like a grown-up for a moment, and take that 'oh so tricky' step back to look at this logically, I guess what I'm talking about here is actually a very normal part of life. OK, sure, but it doesn't stop me feeling down and frustrated and cross and a million other negative mind-set adjectives when I'm in the crappy phase.

Worse still, do you know what, after all the years of watching my food intake (quantity and quality!) during those inevitable low times, it STILL catches me out now and again. In fact, it just did - good and proper. Friday before last was the culmination of a not too great week and then something (brother related) happened which tipped me over the edge.

When life and the fat lass are not travelling peacefully along the rosy road, even now I find I want to dive headfirst into a pile of... er, pretty much anything edible to be honest. Just over a week ago this was signalled by descent into the Black Dog miseries and the rapid inhalation of (heck, I can't call it eating!) a complete bar... er yes, I did indeed say 'complete' bar... of 90% dark chocolate! Wait a minute, I thought you weren't supposed to be able to eat much of that stuff. What do you know - wrong, so very wrong!

Comfort eating it was, pure and simple, even though I KNOW full well (and knew full well at the time) that it isn't the answer. Proud of 'me' I was not as, surprise, surprise, the fat lass turned all 'fancy hungry' again and proceeded to give in to her inner brat. Janey Mac! This is crazy beyond words. Why don't I seem to be able to learn? Am I really 'that' old a dog and is this a trick truly beyond me?

Last week wasn't the best either and stoopid 'sibling' stress nearly got me again. So, that's the bad news. Oh, the good part...?

Well, my weight did spike briefly upwards but, after a much more sensible week last week (puttin' in the effort to make darned sure of it, my dears!), the scales returned to situation normal after a fairly short time. Call me lucky, though - had I not realised where this was heading and applied the brakes with a very firm foot it could so easily have been the start of something none too positive.

When I sheepishly confessed my chocolatey sins to lovely hubby on that Friday evening I didn't get quite the reaction I'd bargained for... which was really sweet in one way but also made me feel even more of a dolt. He just said it could have been worse, at least it was a 'relatively' low-carb sin.

That has made me think though. And what is in my head is actually cause for celebration.

Coincidentally, Mrs Swan just posted something about life being harder in stressful times without her old props, having to face up to certain feelings meaning that she 'feels' the sadness more often, and then goes on to talk about the fact that she's overcome/is getting through this 'sads' period anyhow and not eaten her way out of  things. Whether she recognises it yet, what a star she is!

And the overcoming part applies to me too. Yes, I struggled with some stressful news and I fell (leapt?) off the wagon. But it was a relatively short hop and I quickly saw what had happened and got back on track. That has to be down to changing to a low-carb, ketogenic lifestyle. If that isn't a blessing to be counted (yes, I'm still trying to live up to your ways, my lovely Mum) I don't know what is.

Onwards, ever...

22 May 2014

No wonder I like it so much...

OK, it's official - I've turned into a rabbit. Just take a look at yesterday's lunchbox.

A fascinating fact that I stumbled across today as I Googled for nutritional benefits whilst I was munching my way through a lunchtime bag of wild rocket (yes, a whole bag - I'm addicted to the stuff and can't stop at just a few leaves!).

This peppery heaven of a salad leaf (also called aragula) is actually a close relative of my beloved kale and broccoli - it's one of the cruciferous vegetables! Nuff said, really.

Happy bunny, this fat lass.

14 May 2014

Back in action

Hooray!, we got our sorry selves back to the gym on Monday night  ...albeit pretty gently to begin with, after being 'missing inactive' for ages (actually nearly a month's absence - damn, all that wasted subscription). It was, by turns, great, hard, wonderful, strange, fun, exhausting and any number of other descriptors, but it went a whole lot better than either of us had expected.

Yesterday was fine, but this morning I am somewhat aware that my upper body got some unaccustomed use. However, I'm actually quite surprised that my legs (especially my thighs) still seem to be talking nicely to me after sessions on the Wave, Recumbent and various other bits 'n bobs! The abs are absolutely fine, dandy and OK, which doesn't surprise me at all though, as weeks of coughing (which I'm still doing!) seems to have kept them pretty much used to being deployed. Silver linings, eh?

I'm delighted to say we both did our full sessions, although it took us longer than usual and neither of us did those little extras we'd grown used to doing. On a slightly less joyous note, we did both feel like we'd run the London and Boston marathons back to back afterwards! Boy, were we tired. Still, we're back in the saddle and planning our next visit later this week. Ooooh, it feels good to be back.

07 May 2014

Love at first bite

You'll have doubtless figured out by now that this fat lass absolutely loves the cruciferous vegetable family and will happily munch away on them given any opportunity. So I'm thrilled to bits that I've found another way to enjoy one of my favourites.

We buy cavalo nero whenever I see it, and usually we'll have it lightly steamed, or sometimes sauteed with panch puran spices in coconut oil. Yum! But we bought rather a lot this week, so rather than let it go to waste (a heinous sin in my book) I thought I'd try an experiment...

Hmmm, now it is quite fibrous, but does this really need to be cooked? What the heck, let's give it a go - so I removed the stalk and chopped it finely to try raw in a salad. Yep, that worked and it was great, so I have round two in my lunchbox with lots of celery, about an inch off a long pointy red pepper, mixed seeds and a little cheese, with a chilli, lemon juice and hazelnut oil dressing. Why did I not take a photo - it looks delicious.

Update: it was delicious! I think it might become a favourite.

06 May 2014

Ups and downs

Yep, life has these, doesn't it, and they can be a little perplexing.

Health status and coughing for one thing. I've decided that I don't appreciate this bug thingy, and really want it to push off now. One minute I seem to feel a lot better and I bark less, but then... whammo! The cough returns and I feel bleh again. I just start to consider a gentle return to the gym, but then... down we go and it's no way, Jose!

Other ups and downs relate to mood and positivity which, again, has varied somewhat erratically over the weekend. To set the scene - we are mid-downsize and clearout and I'm finding some aspects of this quite a challenge. The logical part of this fat lass knows we must do this (as part of planning for the future) and is fully on-board with the idea. Then, unfortunately, the emotional part of me takes hold and goes into a tail-spin about disposing of something trivial (with sentimental attachment sure) which I'd actually forgotten about until we hauled it out of the dust-balls and I clapped eyes on it again!

Another example is the needle on the scales, which has been both over the Bank Holiday too. It did, as I'd expected, register a small rise on Saturday and went up to 54.5kg... but (and I'm not complaining here) for no better reason than 'just because' it has dropped again this morning and the scale read 53.5kg (which I don't actually quite believe). Water retention? Actual weight changes? Who knows. Either way, I'm not fretting it and we'll just see what happens next.

Hey ho. Onwards, as always...

02 May 2014

Cough, cough, cough...

...and a growl or two.

So, it seems that the leftovers from the chest infection business still cling on and to be frank, I'm now getting pretty cheesed off with it.

Don't get me wrong, I'm fully aware that I'm just a whinging wuss. I know I'm way better off than many folks as this isn't life threatening, nor incapacitating, or anything much at all except feeling a bit 'tight' and breathless on exertion, and the blasted cough being an ongoing, almost constant, irritation. But even so... I want it to go away now please, and my poor work colleagues are probably just as fed up as I am with the repetitive barking sessions through the day.

Hmmm, just a thought but it'd be nice to have enough sustainable breath back to contemplate a return to the gym too. Hey ho, roll on the Bank Holiday weekend.

On a more positive note (gotta look out for those blessings, eh?) I re-checked my peak flow yesterday and it was good news - actually much better than I'd feared. My PEF averages have been about 450 litres/min over the last year or so (a bit higher than expected for my age, height and gender, especially given the asthma history). Yesterday's readings had dropped a shade, but even though I haven't done anything energetic (except bloody cough!) for nigh on two weeks, they still averaged 430 litres/min. I'm pretty happy because it means the asthma hasn't made a comeback nor got the upper hand. A definite positive this, in my books!

I do have a nasty feeling that my weight will have increased when I weigh this week though. My trousers feel a little tighter and I feel generally flabby and slug-like. Not surprising given the lack of exercise, and a tendency to put a little bit more in my lunch box than I usually do. This is comfort nibbling, my dears - and I really need to find a way to stop relying on food for this.

Still, even if the scales concur, it is something I know I can reverse... just as soon as I stop coughing! Ah well, onwards ever...

28 April 2014

A long time...

Well, it's been a while since I felt driven enough to put anything new here. It isn't that things have been going particularly badly, nor has life been super-smooth, but just... well, sort of OK.

The positive news first. My weight is remaining stable at the 54kg I mentioned a while ago - er, actually about a month ago. Wow, but the time really has flown!

Yes I'd still like to skim off a little from this figure on the scales, and also get the fitness levels back up a bit, but that doesn't seem to be happening at the moment. That darned bug, which kept coming and going, then really developed over Easter and left me with a chest infection, put paid to my exercise plans, again... but I also haven't been as careful with eating as I need to be if I 'truly' do want to shed that extra kilo. I'm determinedly NOT stressing about it though - it will happen when I get myself properly together again.

Why am I not truly committed at the moment? Well, I feel like I'm marking time as we're still in limbo regarding that consultant appointment for my darling lovely hubby (I'm trying really hard not to let it get to me) and still waiting to hear from the jeweller about progress with Mum's wedding ring. This, I'm guessing, drives most of my lack of committment - uncertainty never sits well with this fat lass!

But let me tell you about something nice - that is our culinary cauliflowery adventures.

Oh boy. Thought we must have died and gone to heaven. Why, oh why, oh why have we never tried this before? We've sort of shied away from trying it for no real reason at all and, in retrospect, that wasn't a good decision. I'm talking about cualiflower 'rice' - that low-carb/paleo staple we've seen so many folks rave about.

So, to the glorious details... we had some beautiful rashers of belly pork from a nearby farm butchery (all they sell is fully traceable, welfare-friendly meat, bred and produced at the farm itself or by it's immediate neighbour) just waiting to be popped into the halogen oven to cook. You could see they were going to be good, and that all they needed was a sprinkling of salt and pepper. Nothing else required.

We also had a chunk of cauliflower lurking in the fridge which needed using too, so we grated it, then cooked it (enough to get lovely crispy brown edges) in the bottom of the halogen in the tasty fat which dripped off the pork as it cooked to perfection.

Simple, low-carb deliciousness and most assuredly something we WILL do again... very soon if this fat lass has any say in the matter. We bought another cauli yesterday and decided that very soon we'll have a go at cooking it in coconut oil, with a shallot (or garlic), some red pepper and maybe a couple of peas to make a special fried 'rice'. Watch this space.

03 April 2014

Growl, hiss, spit and every rude word I can dredge up

That blasted black dog has his salivating gnashers deeply embedded in my posterior after yesterday. Think Rottweiler sized mutt, with a Bulldog's tenacity.

As a day's annual leave goes, it wasn't a great day. Most of it was spent at the hospital and my lovely hubby is now back under the care of the (admittedly highly competent and lovely) surgeon/consultant who only discharged him a few short months ago. Now before I go on, yes, OK, I know there's a positive slant to all this, and I am desperately trying to hang on to it - that is that he is being properly checked on and he's receiving a great level of healthcare, but...

That 'but' has the fat lass inner child writhing and screaming 'it isn't bloody fair!' at the top of her lungs.

To cut a long story short(ish), my poor darling has had what we though was a teensy problem with the sight in the eye which has undergone the various operations in recent years. When mentioned to our optician she checked it out but, quite rightly, wanted to get an expert opinion. What she didn't tell us was that the clinic she'd booked him into yesterday was the 'emergency' eye clinic. Oh! Perhaps a few warning bells should have rung when the appointment came through so fast, but... they didn't.

The upshot from yesterday is that, having had a thorough examination, photos, the whole shebang, he's going to see the consultant in about four to six weeks time so they can have another look. Now it obviously isn't an 'oh my God!' urgent issue or he'd be whipped in to see her tomorrow, but they are also obviously concerned about 'something'.

What we couldn't thumbscrew out of the practitioner we saw yesterday is exactly what the concern is. My best guess though, is they are slightly worried about a repeat of the retinal detachment. The tip to this is the sheer number of times we were asked if we were aware of the 'signs to look out for'. Er, yes. Actually we have the tee-shirt, having been there and done that several times.

Whatever happens, we'll deal with it - together. Whatever happens, we'll be fine. But the fat lass worry genes are firmly activated and I'd say we're at DEFCON 4 or maybe 3 right now. Hence those rude words.

Tonight I'll hit the gym and take some of my frustrations and concerns out in a sweaty manner. Onwards, wearily ever...

01 April 2014

Back in touch at last

I've been woefully behind with getting anything up on the More Love page for quite a few weeks. Thankfully, this doesn't signify my gracefully falling off my wagon, but just that I've been really, really busy and life got in the way. I've tried to keep up with what's going on in your worlds but do forgive me if I haven't commented much.

Well, as you'd probably guess there's good news, and some less so.

The good news is that I finally have my darling Mum's wedding ring which she left to me in her will (er, a long story but I'm not going there as it was pretty stressful). It is now safely with the jeweller who is busily incorporating her simple gold band into a beautiful new diamond-set 'eternity-style' band which I can and will always wear. When it's finished I'll always have a little bit of my beloved Mum and Dad, and a symbol of their love, with me, close against my skin. This means SO much to me I can't express myself properly, and I well up when I even think about it.

Weight is sort of neutral news, neither particularly bad, nor good. It's not awful (although it has crept up) but not fantabulous as where it's gone up to is 54kg (growl, hiss, spit, much stamping of trotters!). Oh stop your wibbling fat lass - it's still in your 'sort of OK' range... just! You can (and will) address this.

Mostly, this gain has probably been down to a rotten bout of being poorly (sore/tight throat, cold-ish symptoms and dragging fatigue) for a few days, which put all exercise plans on hold for a while. Funny how that seems to happen and, if you're going to get sick, it's as soon as the stress slackens off, eh?

The other BIG obstacle, which took a lot of time and effort was applying for, then preparation for interview for, a new job. So now to the bad news... after all that, I interviewed well, but came second. Ho hum. Still, it wasn't completely wasted - a good learning experience, particularly since I've asked for detailed feedback, and it has made me think about what I want to do and where I want to go in life.

The other good news is that I'm back to the gym again. We went last night (gold stars for the fat lass and lovely hubby), it's planned for Thursday and then again on Sunday. See, I haven't lost that spark. I'm also back to the walking. Yes, much as I hate to admit to it, even that took a bit of a back seat for a while.

Worries? Yep, still got em. More of that once I have tomorrow under my belt. But the springlike weather, singing birds and sunshine are all things to be thankful for. So, I'm going to count my blessings and wish you all a happy, healthy bye bye for now. Onwards ever...

04 March 2014

A thought for Fat Tuesday


03 March 2014

Failures and successes!

Let's begin with the good stuff. OK, I'll admit we got off to little bit of a shaky start, but I can now say that our relationship has gone through a 180 degree turnaround and I do really like the new high-tech gym... er, even the rather unintuitive no-touch automatic shower.

OK, our midweek session was still a bit traumatic, as we were still doing our own thing without any clear guidance (never a great plan for this fat lass), but Sunday's session (with a nice shiny new pre-set, multi-step, graduated programme to follow) was great. I'm really looking forward to going back again for another session on Wednesday.

This morning I am... hmmm, a tad on the sore side. Not a groaning 'oh Lord, this is hell' awful sort of sore, but more a pleasantly(?) 'oooh, I'm aware that I've moved my body around' feeling.

When it comes to the stations, the surprise hit is something called the Wave machine which uses "multiplanar movement to simulate speed skating" no less. It is designed to work your leg muscles in multiple planes of motion (not just back and forth) as well as your core and, if you hold the handles in different places - though not sure which and where yet, it'll.work the abductor, adductor and glutes, and the tendons and ligaments around the knee... oh, and the core muscles too.

Sounds horrid, eh? Well, it isn't easy to get used to but I'm hooked - choosing it in preference over my old favourite, the elliptical 'spotty dog' walker. And, after playing on the Wave a few times, I am aware that some rather unusual bits of me are being employed. A good thing, n'est ce pas?

I also rather like the whizzy abs crunch machine which adds a whole new element (and weights) to working my mid-section... now I've figured out where to hold those odd shoulder strap thingies!

Weightwise, things are not quite so super-duper and this weekend brought me up with a shock. Having maintained a pretty constant 53kg for ages, the scales told me I'd gone up a kilo on Saturday morning. What's more, that came on the back of lovely hubby asking me if I was gaining weight (brave man!) having seen me undressing the previous night.

This gain is, unfortunately, real since it was still there, facing me in black & white on Sunday. And the cause? Nuts! Yep, yet again. This time a large bag of brazils in my desk drawer, and it's all down to getting seriously stressed (with family issues again, amongst other things)... so of course I overate the damn nuts.

Rant time...
I know this emotional eating business is a ridiculously stoopid thing to do so why do I fall into this trap time after time and... WHY CAN'T I DAMNED WELL CHANGE THIS???????

Resigned sigh time...
OK, I can't change what I did last week, but I have changed what I'm doing this week. I've taken steps to reduce my portion sizes again to address the gain, I've given myself a good talking to over fretting about stuff I can't alter (yes, brother mine, I'm talking about you) and I'm going to have a spell without my tempting (if supposedly 'healthy') snacks around me at work. We'll see how things go.

On a positive note, I'm going to have a girly day at the end of the week with my sister. Looking forward to that, and I plan to do a LOT of walking.

24 February 2014

Gentle groans

Gym induction on Friday went well, although rather quick. It was definitely only a whistle-stop tour where we just observed and hoped to remember enough so that we could figure out what to do with the various high-tech bits and bobs when we first flew solo!

Wings spread and we attempted this on Sunday morning's session... supposedly when things were quiet and calm, but... er, flying solo with this level of technology highlighted a couple of little challenges.

Started off fine, on a treadmill which must afford the best view I've ever had the pleasure of enjoying while trying to raise a sweat. Looking out over the sun on the river and the meadows and the city roofline was gorgeous. So far, so good. Yeah - we can do this :-)

But then we had to negotiate setting up the correct position for using the leg curl (me) and leg extension (hubby) set-ups. Now we've used similar things in the past at our old gym, so how hard can this be - easy, huh? Nope - this was more a case of WTF! Hey Technogym, I can only say your purportedly 'helpful' little diagrams (on all the equipment) really suck!

Between the two of us we think we eventually got that sorted, but then comes inserting the magic key and trying to figure out how to set it up so it recorded what we actually did. You see, I set my desired weights on the stack (a nice gentle start at 15kg, just to get back into the swing), but the super-whizzy technological panel decided I was using 5kg (only!) and refused flatly to remember my actual weights when I reset them on the damn panel... er, several times. Sod it - gave it up as a bad job and just used the darn thing anyway so I could try to get to grips with keeping my movements (little green lights) at a speed to track the panel's orange 'ideal' band. Partial success, but we'll work on that.

To be honest, my heart rate (and blood pressure) doubtless soared while we were at the gym, but that was stress, and all because of this high-tech 'computer says' business. Probably gave me more of a work-out than the machines. Heaven only knows what 'those panels' think I did and what 'they' recorded on my magic key. Ho hum, give me a good old-fashioned piece of paper and a pencil stub anytime. [yes, I know I'm a dinosaur]

And those gentle groans? Ah well, the other thing I discovered is just how darned unfit I've become. My legs and abs are pretty much fine today (thank the Lord), but my shoulders and upper body in general are telling me I that I did something out of the ordinary. I'm guessing this could be mostly down to that arm bike thingy - ouch! It's not something I've encountered before but I'd call it a piece of wickedness designed by the fiends from hell!

Still, we got ourselves moving, we are learning, and we're going back there mid-week. Gottta be a good thing, eh?

21 February 2014

Induction night is here

Just a quickie... Off to the new gym in an hour or so for our induction sessions - yep, we loved it and signed up the very next day. It's funny but, now that day has arrived, I'm one part excited, two parts scared stiff.

I am under no illusions that any claim to fitness I could ever have made has deserted me and that I'm very probably going to hurt over the next few days... but what the heck. Let's go for it and enjoy it.

14 February 2014

Plodding quietly along

Well, after the last few 'OMG it's awful' posts I can honestly  say that there's precious little of any note to report at the moment, which could be viewed as a good thing - indeed, that's how I'm choosing to see it. Things have settled back to OK, just sort of middle-of-the-road ordinary, which is to say not great, but not dreadful either.

My surly black dog is being held at bay (er, for the most part) although the blighter does still seem to be prowling around on the periphery, looking for a way back in. I am still finding that the strangest little things trip me up and make me realise how much I miss my lovely Mum, whereas the more obvious, expected triggers I can, apparently, cope with. I'll talk to my sister at the weekend as I know she's been finding things quite tough too - it may help give both of us a better insight.

But, things are definitely less gloomy. Having been quite upset by this turn of events recently, I have (I think) managed to reconcile myself to accepting that I simply 'will' go into sharp grief and meltdown periodically and that isn't a problem. I've been repeating to myself that it's not actually anything unusual, in the circumstances, or anything to do with me being overly sensitive or silly. I've talked at length to lovely hubby (OK, cried with/all over him mostly!), who assures me that it actually indicates what a very special person Mum was, and how precious she was to me, that I continue to feel her loss so badly. She was precious to us both - he really misses her too. He also feels that these sorts of things will inevitably continue to happen every now and again for a while to come yet - a new 'normal' for us to get used to, I suppose.

On another positive note, my weight is staying at a reasonably happy place, at the lower extremity of my happy band, and I'm still in the glorious 'purple' of ketosis (although the lure of too many spoons of nut butter has challenged me a few times). I do have to confess that the exercise is still not back to anywhere near my desired levels and I'm struggling to figure out how I can change this right now as the daily commute mess is still taking a hefty toll on my time and energy. I'll find a way, but first need to come up with a workable plan. In fact, I'm off to check out a (new and expensive!) gym this evening - sadly, they've shut down my old one, dammit.

It's a bit odd, you know, but although I'm hanging in there at the lowest weight I've maintained for donkey's years I don't really feel that I'm looking 'good' and I'm not truly comfortable with 'me' at the moment. Hmm, does that make any kind of sense? I feel old, tired and worn down, unfit and, some days, positively fat again. Not good, but I guess it's that old skewed self-image conundrum again - not seeing oneself as one actually is. I know some of this will be coloured my black dog's view, not really through 'my' eyes, and I'm actively looking for ways to challenge it (like jotting things in the 'blessings' note book and investigating the gym). Unfortunately I am finding it a rather difficult process.

On the subject of 'challenges' to come, I'm also aware that I need to start to work through some of my deliberately deeply-buried angst about disposing of Mum's house and posessions (in what seemed such a goldarned hurry), about my current and future relationship,or rather non-relationship, with my brother and his wife, and a few other knotty issues... such as why do I have a continuing propensity to want to comfort myself with food when I get badly stressed, even if it's now with the slightly 'better' low-carb foods, not sugary crap. Wish me luck!

Hmmm, reading back through this post, it all sounds sort of negative too [way too 'oooh, poor me', if I'm honest]. But it wasn't/isn't intended to be.

What I'm actually trying to say is quite simple - that is I'm still here, still fighting and I haven't and will not cave in to life's obstacles - whatever form they may take. Nil illegitimi carborundum! Onwards, ever...

11 February 2014

Why, oh why, oh why do I still fall into this trap?

Yesterday, the bad news...fat lass loaded her own bullets, then promptly shot herself in the foot. [Insert rude words here]

OK, what actually happened was that I had a re-run of last week's stress and depression about losing my lovely Mum, and meltdown ensued. Hey, I have the 'poor excuse' card in my hand - see. It was kicked off by having to pay in the cheque for 'my share' from the sale of her house (my childhood home) to the bank, having carried it around with me since last week. Not a nice feeling at all, considering (however foolishly) that I still wish we hadn't really had to sell it at all. To be honest, this whole 'settling Mum's estate' business dredges up all sorts of emotional crap that I really haven't dealt with properly yet - including brother related stuff. I'm even getting all knotty-stomached again typing this.

So just as I thought I was handling things rather better after the weekend (and some lovely supportive comments - thanks chaps), it tripped me up again good 'n proper. I had one of those 'want to eat... anything... right now!' feelings that, unfortunately, lasted for most of the day. The morning wasn't too bad as it was a busy period but, by the time work had added it's own brand of stress to the fun and games, the afternoon defeated my resolve and I nose-dived into a (thankfully nowhere near full) jar of almond butter that's sat happily un-munched above my desk for ages. Sound a familiar tale? Yep. Does to me too!

The good news... and, boy, I'm so thankful there is some.

Yes, I tripped up and did something stoopid, but it could have been (and would have been, at one point) a LOT worse. Yes, I ate probably a couple of generous tablespoons of almond butter which weren't exactly part of my day's plan. But, in the bad old pre-low-carb days I'd almost certainly have pigged out on, or emotionally/comfort eaten, a whole lot more, and worse. Looking at the almond butter nutritional blurb, no it wasn't great, but it wasn't an out and out disaster either.

In my favour is that it would have been awfully easy to hit the sugary carb-laden crud too - yesterday we had a pile of, er, 'goodies' (I won't call them what I really think) left over from a morning meeting in our work kitchen area - stuff like flapjack bites, croissants, biscuits and muffins. I just can't express how SO glad I am that this stuff holds no appeal for me whatsoever these days. Although I looked at it, nothing made me want to eat it.

But back to the big question. Why do I still get the urge to stuff myself when seriously stressed. It's old, bad behaviour and I keep thinking I've defeated it. Patently that isn't correct though! Going to have to put some thought and work into this... again!

07 February 2014

Sad

I won't go into it, but something has happened today to remind me that my darling Mum is never coming back, and I feel bereft, sad, heartsick, call it what you will.

I know it maybe sounds a little silly after the time that's passed, and because to all intents and purposes I'm 'fine' and I both can and do manage everyday life 'normally' for most of the time. But, and it's a big one - but every now and again something brings me up short and I remember all over again the pain of losing her as if it had happened yesterday.

Sorry chaps, but I've come to the conclusion that the age-old 'time heals' mantra is so much B.S. It may be that time passing means the frequency of such painful episodes lessens, but the actual feeling when it hits is no less intense.

So today I need a reminder...


29 January 2014

Bambi burgers

Wheee! A bargain, and a tasty one to boot. Our lovely Farm Shop sell locally made wild venison burgers, which are just gorgeous, and today they had them at half price.

No added crap, just good honest meat and fat, with a few spices. OK, with a batch of salad, or maybe the Brussels tops, that's tonight's dinner sorted.



... oh, and while I think about it, this seems quite appropriate too. Here's to a medicinally positive evening meal with heaps of that lovely Co-Q 10 and choline.

27 January 2014

A strange weekend, but somehow settled

Well now, let's start this week as I mean to go on - the fat lass is OK. In fact, to quote Nina Simone:
It's a new dawn
It's a new day
It's a new life
For me
And I'm feeling good


You know, with the dismal down days of the last few weeks it's really so, so nice to be writing this and even better to be feeling this positive.

OK, I am fully aware it's possibly early days, but I'm beginning to think that my black dog is reconsidering his options and maybe even deciding to call off his attack. Hey, I've seen the beast and recognised my enemy so it's a tad futile for him to continue, right?. I certainly hope that is the case.

The events of this weekend 'could' have been veiwed as a bit of a disaster. I'm fighting a bit of a bug, which has floored others around me but is neither coming-on fully nor going away right now, and we're on flood alert yet again so Sunday was spent a humpin' and a movin' stuff to safety... just in case... again! But I'm not going to allow the negativity of that statement into my head. No siree, the last few days have actually held several minor (and one major) victories.

The minor ones first... we both ate sensibly, stuck to our lovely low-carb meals and had relatively modest portions. We both felt completely comfortable with this. Better, it means that, as of this morning, my weight is back down to the 52.5kg I had got quite used to seeing on the scale but, er, lost for a while. That's just a tad below the 'happy band' I set for myself a while back, but it feels like it's the new 'right' place to be.
[just as an aside, it's sort of funny to be thinking of this as just a 'minor' victory]

Other good things include (finally) having bought a little brightly-coloured notebook to carry with me everywhere, in which to record my blessings as I count them... and I've already started getting them down in black and white. Better late than never, eh?

Lovely hubby and I have also come up with a 'looking after ourselves' plan. We've decided to go ahead with a 'picnic Friday' each week, where we don't need to mess about spending time cooking, and this way we don't waste valuable cuddling time.

Instead, I plan to support our fabulous Farm Shop (who stock local and organic produce as far as possible) and pick up whatever I can find to create a tasty, low-carb picnic feast for us to enjoy. Almost like we did for our Christmas dinner... probably just slightly smaller, less exotic and a little more down to earth. This Friday we enjoyed smoked duck breast, pork loin with rosemary & garlic, a wonderfully creamy (if stinky) Stilton, olives and celery sticks filled with soft goat cheese. Hmmm, still pretty exotic, to be fair, and absolutely wonderful it was too!

We're looking after us physically too - now he's lost such a lot of his previous insulation (a.k.a. fat suit) my lovely hubby feels the cold a lot more, so we bought a beautifully puffy down-filled gilet to help keep him warm. It was less than half price in the sales too - now that was a nice surprise.

And then we get to the big victory, and I am so happy about this I can't really express it. It just feels like a huge worry has been lifted right off me. This is G-O-O-D news.

As you know, I've been dressing lovely hubby's pre-Christmas injury daily. Well, last night when we took off the day's dressing, we realised that the large, ugly scab that we'd seen, still intact and firmly attached, the previous night had almost completely detached from the wound - and not in an 'oh, s**t' way, but because of the healing which had taken place beneath the protective scab.

It's so good to see the new, if delicate, pale pink 'skin' in its place (albeit his thumb is a tad flatter than it used to be and missing a fingerprint!). Although he's going to have to be careful with it and protect it for a while yet as it's still pretty fragile, it's a great indicator of his general good health that this level of repair has only taken five weeks when we'd first been told that it couldn't be stitched as he'd lost a bit of flesh and he 'might' need a skin graft.

I think that, in part, this must be a measure of the lifestyle (or call it diet if you must) we now follow. Decent amounts of quality protein and good healthy fats to aid the body when it needs to repair, but no grains or added sugars and minimal carbs to inflame anything. I'm guessing that's also one reason the bug I'm fighting is on the losing end of the deal (she whispers quietly, carefully crossing her fingers behind her back).

On that happy note, I'll revert to my onwards, ever... finish and think hard about what I can do to increase my exercise levels and fitness - soon!

24 January 2014

Turning around a non-stellar week

Why was the last week a tough one? Well, I think it all kicked off when, last Friday, I had a text from my brother updating me about my darling Mum's house. Perhaps I saw negative things which aren't really there, but the only thing it seemed to me that he was interested in was the fact that 'the monies' will be released soon.

What the f**? To quote some devilishly handsome bloke from a film "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn". The point, to me anyway, is that this is perhaps a final reminder of losing our mother - not something to be celebrated. Maybe (as lovely hubby gently pointed out) I'm being too hard on him, but I got very mad, and so, so sad, and ended up feeling even more down and depressed than I had been.

So I did the obvious thing and leapt off the wagon. I won't detail my sorry story, other than to say that Christmas cake is not known as one of the low-carb staples and that I paid for my mistakes... oooh, how I paid.

However, I going to tell you the positive side of the story too.

In fairly short order I realised what I had done/was doing to myself - both physically and emotionally. So, I kicked my backside (metaphorically, anyhow) and got back to drinking copious amounts of good clear water, eating moderately of my low-carb repasts, and walking as much as I could. It was a fairly stressful week in a few ways, but (with a lot of help from lovely hubby) I managed to hang in there.

And, thanks be - that fairly small (but scary!) weight hike I saw mid-week has come back off, and I feel more in control once again. My emotions are better settled and I feel rather more like 'me' again. Victory, in my eyes anyway.

I will end with one more thought - best expressed by my Mum, but in her absence by the picture below.

15 January 2014

Is this poor old nag ready for the knackers yard?

Ho hum. So much for my galloping plans and enthusiasm then. If you asked me how 2014 is going so far (and I don't advise it...), my answer would, sadly, be unprintable!

Far from banishing my unwanted black dog, the sneaky blighter seems to have closed in on me and has now got its fangs sunk into my posterior. Worse still, the damn thing growls and howls in the night so I've not been getting a great deal of that lovely beneficial sleep. If anyone knows how I can disengage the beast, or where I can locate the 'OFF' switch to shut down the worries and negative thoughts in the middle of the night, I'd dearly love to know.

Oh sure, I'm still trying to remind myself about the good stuff in life each day, but it isn't making all that much headway with my positivity at the moment. And did I buy that pretty little notebook to record my blessings? Did I hell as like!
[school report card would say 'must try harder' here]

Then we get to the exercise part. Well, there is some good news as I'm still walking... which is a positive thing in several ways, it seems. Work carried out by the University of Illinois has revealed this:


Pretty exciting stuff, eh? Hey, this should give that miserable black dog something to think about, and it also helps keep my fitness levels from completely falling off a cliff.

The less good news is that the abs work hasn't actually restarted yet. I know it's a sad and sorry excuse but, just when I thought I had a work-around and could dress lovely hubby's injury in the evenings, my lack of time in the mornings has been made worse.

Wouldn't you know it, this is because our local public transport 'experts', in their infinite wisdom, have messed with the timetables and cut some services (which they, of course, deny!), leaving me even less time to get my sorry self up, washed, dressed, fed and out in time for the damn bus. That's if I want to stand a chance of getting on the remaining service. As to Connie? Er, let's not go there. I know I'm sounding pathetic, but I'm angry as heck and am struggling (a lot) with this.

Right, enough of these moans and grumbles... all I can say is thank the Lord for low-carb at the moment. Things really aren't all that bad. My weight remains pretty stable and I'm not 'desperate' for the comfort foods of the old days, although thoughts of chocolate (albeit 90%) are crossing my mind periodically. Heaven help me if I was fighting sweet and comfort food cravings in earnest too.

So, instead of saying my usual 'onwards, ever' this time, I'll say it's more a case of just move one foot, then move the next foot, repeat and keep plodding along. The old nag may be struggling a bit, but she's NOT headed for the knackers yard just yet! Things will improve for sure and, if I think logically, I do know that. I've just got to get to the place where that happens.

06 January 2014

The plan...

OK, 2014 is under way and this horse is ready to gallop!

Said I'd think about how best to combat those 'negatives' I have hanging around at the moment, so here's some first thoughts and the beginnings (at least) of the plan.

Black Dog (a.k.a. depression) defence tactics - remember each and EVERY day to remind myself about Mum's 'blessings'. Recognise, and count, at least one blessing - remember, they really do exist. Don't rush - take time to think carefully about it and appreciate it. Spend a moment or two being properly grateful for it. Rinse & repeat. It may help to actually write them down... we'll see.

Fitness - walk, walk, and walk some more as a first stage. Find (make!) time to get back to the abs work in the morning (at the moment, this may mean re-negotiating when lovely hubby's dressings are changed). Make a start, and gradually step things back up and do more. Add back in the upper arm weights (yep, actually use those odd shaped things covered in dust!). Longer term... get back to my love affair with Connie the Concept rower. She's been neglected and needs to feel loved again (oooh, I'm guessing this'll probably hurt, but what the heck!).

And what progress in identifying those positive motivational markers? Well, the jury is still out and considering their verdict at the moment, but I think Gwen has a point when she suggested that I might emulate her and cease wallowing in the loss of the old markers and allow myself to be passionate about the benefits this new low-carb (semi-Primal) way of life has to offer.

Here goes...

 
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