03 November 2015
Let's talk about the tricks first as these led directly to the rest. My mind (I rather hesitate to say brain here - that appears to have taken leave of absence!) has been playing these on me just recently. Maybe it's been inadvertent, but maybe (more likely) with a dose of collusion on my part - the jury remains out at the moment.
You see, I've been sitting on my backside completing a plethora of online job applications of late. Not my favourite task, ever... particularly when they all seem to come to nought. I have got SO very fed up answering the same damn questions, with each and every organisation's application worded just differently enough to make me have to 'rewrite' the script every damn time. I'm also mightily tired of trying to portray myself in an engaging, positive and unmissable light, and in no way at all overqualified for this not fantastically paid but 'fascinating sounding' job. Er, me? No siree, not even slightly. C'mon someone, give me a shot and I'll show you I can do the damn job! Whinge, whinge...
Whether this has been the only trigger, I don't know. Inactivity certainly plays a part too, and it could still be some of the leftover stresses from the move as well, or even some of those old family issues raising their ugly heads again. Whatever the real cause, my internal dialogue (or the devil on my shoulder) has been pretty active of late too, and whispering slippery, subtle, dangerous words like 'working hard' and 'deserve' and 'make you feel better'.
On the back of this 'permission', my mischievous mind has also suggested (and, of course I've readily accepted) a variety of treats. Nothing 'bad' you understand, but...
Oh sure, they've all been low-carb so I haven't felt too sinful, but as we all know in our saner moments, even low-carb excess has a knock-on effect. Shame I seem to have mislaid 'sane'. A dollop of cream in my coffee, a handful of nuts here and there, a small bag of pork scratchings, cheese and olives at lunchtime (when a good breakfast suffices and we don't usually eat any lunch!). The odd snifter of scotch, or glass of red.
Get my drift? Yep, strangely enough that's also what happened to the scales! We'd managed to 'forget' to weigh ourselves for a couple of weeks, what with the birthdays and other excuses, but got back on the scale at the weekend. Oh dear - our very own Halloween nightmare! The damage for me? Two extra kilos. TWO of the blighters! There they are, cheerfully taking me over my magic eight and a half stone mark for the first time in I don't know how long.
Something went bump in the night alright. That'd be my sense of well-being and with it my self respect. Well, I can't say it should have come as a complete shock as the waistband of my jeans appeared to have 'shrunk' even though I hadn't even put them through the laundry! Darling lovely hubby fared less disastrously, but even he'd gained a kilo.
Right, we know 'what' to do, it's just a simple(!) matter of knuckling down and doing it. In the meantime, all I can do is repeat Flanders and Swann's 'Pee Po Belly Bum Drawers!' and get back to the drawing board. Onwards, and all that...
14 October 2015
Monday brought news that my cousin is not doing so well, and his gastric problems (for which he had major emergency surgery a couple of years back) have returned. I don't know the full details yet, but am rather concerned for him.
Tuesday saw a visit to my new GP to discuss staying on HRT for a while longer [pleeeeez!] and also to see what could be suggested to relieve the damn nuisance which my left knee has become (an old tale, but somewhat worse these days - after weeks of shifting furniture and boxes I guess).
I went primed, having done some background reading as I was half expecting the extended 'increased risks' fight over the HRT as I've been taking 'my' version of mother's little helpers for more than five years now. I was dreading it, to be honest, as I thought this would be time to stop, and I still remember all too well how awful the start of menopause was... Almost everything I've read indicates that symptoms return, sometimes in spades, if you come off the medication - even if you are gradually 'weaned off'.
Thankfully, we were able to have a very sensible discussion, both about HRT and some possible alternatives. My lovely (female, and fifties) GP turned out to be pretty amenable to my continuing the status quo for another year, at least, given that I've not got too awful a family history and have done a lot in lifestyle changes to mitigate some of the more obvious health risks associated with HRT. Phew, so looks like I get a temporary pass on morphing back into Alecto, my old mate the Fury - that one characterised by constant, unceasing anger.
Then came the big surprise. A few years ago when I talked to my previous practice about my dodgy knee I was fobbed off with physio (which helped a bit) and an x-ray (which was a pretty pointless exercise for something I suspected to be soft tissue related). This time I was offered an MRI scan(!) to properly investigate what's happening - probably damaged cartilage. Watch this space.
Today brought another health related day trip, this time to the eye clinic with my darling lovely hubby. Wow, up here (a well respected teaching hospital) they are SO organised, and so 'human'. I know that sounds odd, but he was treated with care and respect and kindness by everyone we encountered, from start to finish. We were very impressed.
His somewhat 'chopped about' eye (after macular hole surgery, full retinal detachment repair and subsequent cataract surgery) was thoroughly checked over and found to be in a pretty good state, except that a small, leftover suture was discovered to be working it's way out. The consultant was not happy to leave it there and before we could think for a moment, having administered a local anaesthetic eye drop, whipped out a pair of fine tweezers and scalpel and removed it on the spot. Goodness, we didn't have time to worry - he just motored on and did it, and it was all over in a flash. Perfect, and some tiny droppers of antibiotics to take home too - not even a wait for a prescription!
The other eye was also checked very carefully as there was a minor concern about the scan showing the retina being slightly 'uneven'. With the history from the first eye... better safe than sorry, eh. Looks like things are OK though, and there is no sign of any new (diabetic related) damage to either eye. Thank goodness - we'll take that!
What made me pause for thought though was the number of other people there for their eye appointments. Everyone you could imagine, from mums with their tiny babies to very elderly and infirm people in wheelchairs, from an extremely smart gentleman in a pinstriped suit with a posh briefcase (a lawyer maybe?) to a poor chap who looked almost down and out. All there because they had problems of some sort with vision. The fact that I am absolutely fine in this respect and lovely hubby is doing OK is a big blessing, and one I must make sure to count.
So, that combined with the fact that we are both fit and strong enough to have walked there and back (there are hills here too) gives me some pretty amazing blessings to take account of today. Autumn colours and a little sunshine add a few more. Whatever happens in life, there are always good things too. Sometimes, when times are uncertain or challenging, I just have to be reminded of that.
Onwards and most definitely upwards...
04 October 2015
Hello world. Not sure if anyone will be left to read this as it has been such a long time since I last wrote anything but... if anyone is interested, I'm still around. Settle down with a cuppa kids, this is shaping up to be a looong read!
A whole helluva lot has happened since the last time anything got posted here, and if I can stand aside from the chaos for a moment to report back, the vast majority of that journey has been positive. Some stuff not so, and some pretty rotten (as life tends to be), but I'll get to that. Let's start off with the good stuff.
The move from our former flat and an end to living in the 'not very exciting' flatlands of Cambridgeshire territory went ahead just as May came to an end. Janey Mac, but that was a hard slog! However, my darling lovely hubby and I now benefit from land which has height as well as breadth. I always knew I'd missed hills, but didn't realise quite how much until we came to Nottinghamshire.
This is definitely a big plus. I really love seeing the play of light and shadow across distant hillsides on the walk downhill into town. I love the feeling of 'making an effort' walking uphill back from a shopping trip - especially carrying bags of heavy shopping. I love the fact too that I can do this relatively easily, and that probably tells you something as well.
Despite the multiple (and seemingly never ending) stresses of:
- downsizing (a LOT!)
- shedding much-loved possessions (aaargh - books!)
- making the move to a very much smaller flat in a completely unknown area
- knowing no-one at all
- quitting my job (hmmm, some definite pluses and minuses here)
- getting accustomed to being at home all day (for now, anyway)
- my lovely hubby's retirement and a lack of 'routine'
- finding 'trustworthy' contractors to rip out/replace a very tired and crappy bathroom and kitchen (all within our rather restricted budget)
- the dust, disruption, and glitches & hold-ups of the work taking place
- the joys of searching (unsuccessfully as yet, dammit!) for a new job
and SO much more, I'm still here.
Better yet (and I'm actually quite surprised to be able to say this), there hasn't been any significant change to my weight. Blimey! My clothes still fit me (now they've been unearthed from somewhere within the depths of a gazillion boxes!). I'm still fairly fit for an ageing former-fat lass too, as shifting furniture, those jolly old boxes, and so much more hasn't killed me off yet. Yes, I know I 'could do better' and could do with a bit of (er, lot of) toning but I promise that will come as life settles more.
I can happily report that, having moved to a new area, our health has been thoroughly checked out by a new GP practice. Hey, both of us are doing pretty darned well, even with our kooky way of eating which completely flies in the face of all NHS advice. Yep, we're still low carb, high fat and adequate protein munchers, and loving it.
We're well, that is... with one small proviso. We're waiting for an MRI scan for lovely hubby as there's a niggling concern about the underlying causes for his increasing hearing loss - the upshot is they are hoping to rule out something sinister behind it. This is a regular source of worry to me in the dead of night at the moment, but my tame angel assures me it'll all be fine... honest guv'nor.
But back to the positive stuff - counting those blessings that remain as a daily memorial to and reminder of my darling Mum. Oh yes, I did get that tattooed on my back by the way. I'll see if I can be brave and put a photo up at some stage.
After a bit of a shaky start I'm beginning to love our new home. Although compact and bijou the flat is fine - secure and warm, and a permanent place to settle for the future. Although we are not 100% done yet and still have the bedroom to de-box and organise, somehow, we have carpet on the floor at last (I could not have begun to understand the joy of this statement until we'd lived in a bare and echoey box for months!) and fresh clean paint on the walls. We now have hot water, a shower, a fully workable (and whizzy) kitchen, our beloved pictures on the walls and our remaining books beautifully arranged on the shelves (now this has made a real difference for the better).
We are a little way off a main road into the city so everything we could wish for is pretty close by, and the transport links are really good too. Great now and a definite bonus for the future as we get older. We look more or less southwards out onto an old brick-built mill building (converted to flats) across a grassy slope with trees gently beginning to shed their goldening leaves (in the sunshine at the moment and it is beautiful). We even have bats performing a synchronised fly-past each evening - now there's a joy to watch indeed. We have a colony of argumentative magpies visiting every morning to scavenge and squabble, and even the occasional visit from a jay and a couple of squirrels.
As life always goes though, not everything is entirely rosy. My dear friend is having a pretty bad time after her surgery (which thankfully went well) ever since the path lab reported back with less than positive news from the biopsies. She's now subsumed within a welter of ongoing and traumatic treatment, with none too jolly prospects and a lot of pain, and trying hard to stay positive. It's hard as there's nothing we can do to help in any way.
We also just lost a friend from our old neighbourhood, a little over a week ago. A lovely, smart, sophisticated, funny, incisive, gentle gentleman who was a real high-flyer back in the day. He'll be sadly missed, by us (lovely hubby was especially close to him) but especially by his wife. Again, it's hard knowing there's nothing one can do to be of any real help. Life really does suck sometimes.
I've been finding I miss friends and colleagues from my former life more than I thought would happen, so feel/have felt slightly isolated at times. Logically speaking, I know this will doubtless change when I do find work and develop some sort of social life (and by that I mean regular interaction with a range of people, rather than going out and about on the town) in this new area. Until then though it sometimes feels just a tad lonely - that means the dreaded black dog sniffs around whenever he gets a chance. At times he gets the upper hand, but thankfully not for too long.
Until I'm working again finances are a bit of a concern too, but these negatives notwithstanding I think we made the right decision to move. It's been a long journey, and one which isn't over yet, but on balance life is pretty good. I think we can settle down and feel at home here and one of our big worries about growing older (the old insecurity) has been lifted from us.
A very nice thing on the horizon is a visit from my sister later this week. She hasn't been able to come until we were a bit more organised and I'm really looking forward to a few days catching up, sharing time together and relaxing. Glad we always have the phone to keep in touch but a big sis hug is always best.
Right, enough of me blithering. As I usually say... onwards, ever upwards.
08 May 2015
OK, bottom line - I have to accept that this is NOT my battle. What my darling friend is going through is fundamentally her business and she has to walk the path so she gets to choose which path to follow.
This is written with love, but I'm really, really struggling not only with what's haapening to her, but also to have done some of my own background research, partly at her behest, and come across something (and told her about it) which makes SO much sense to me in beefing up the fight against this bloody cancer, but for her to dismiss the prospect. Oh Lord, this is hard.
[reminder to self: ALWAYS keep in mind these are her decisions to make, fat lass - not yours]
What I'm talking about is Dr. Dominic D'Agostino's research into metabolic disease. One thread of his work (in a fascinating area) seems to indicate that switching to a strict ketogenic diet can dramatically increase cancer survival rates.
Huh, you might say - why the heck does this seem a likely option? Well, setting any reaction to peer-reviewed papers aside, in an article for CBN News he explains the basics - in that:
All cells, including cancer cells, are fueled by glucose. But if you deprive them of glucose, they switch to the alternate fuel, ketone bodies.
Except cancer cells. A defect prevents them from making the switch to using ketone bodies as fuel and therefore, cancer cells can ONLY [my emphasis] survive on glucose. All other cells can use either glucose or ketone bodies.
One of the most challenging parts to me is that D'Agostino also firmly advocates hyperbaric therapy (a.k.a. use of a diving decompression chamber) in the fight against cancers, and that's something we've also discussed and she would accept... it just isn't bloody well available here. The F word is about to emerge again!
Hell, fat lass, even though you think you are right and you think it would help her and it's a relatively simple and straightforward change she could make to give herself a stronger fighting chance... this is not, repeat NOT, your call to make.
So shut your yap.
06 May 2015
OK, I'll apologise up front for the foul language but I can't think of more 'appropriate' words to use. No, they're not for me - things here are crazy with the moving plans but with a positive slant. The 'worse' is for my darling friend. She was called in by her consultant to get her biopsy results early... I think you might guess why.
Yep, that bastard, bastard, bastard cancer has decided to leave the nicely contained security of her breasts (which was bad enough), take a wee wander around, and has now been found lurking in her lymph nodes. This new 'invasive' form it's taken is, as she puts it a 'total game-changer'!
Other than swearing a blue streak I don't know what to say, nor can I begin to know what to do. I'm so bloody angry that this can be happening to such a wonderful, full of life, big-hearted, lovely lady. We've been good friends for nigh on thirty years and I love her dearly, like a sister. I just wish I could turn back the clock and somehow change/shift/amend reality so this couldn't be. But I can't and it is what it is.
OK, right, I know this is still treatable (surgery plans will still go ahead, augmented by a whole helluva lot of post-surgical treatment), and I can accept that this isn't a moment to even 'think' about a 'black notice' but I'm so scared for what she has to endure and the effect it'll have on her and all her loved ones. And, as I mentioned, really, really angry. It's coming out in tears and short-temperedness for me. Tough cookie as she's always been, God knows how she's managing to handle things.
If you are the praying kind, please pray for my darling friend.
30 April 2015
Let's start with the worried part, as the emotional part stems from this as well as from the major news. I'm worried about my oldest, dearest friend. Very worried to be honest, as her recurrent breast cancer has entered the arena with a vengeance this time around. She went into battle for 'round one' of a huge treatment regime last week (sentinel lymph node biopsies) and until early this week all was apparently as well as could be expected - she was just, in her words, 'damn sore and tired'. Sadly, Monday she was re-admitted as she'd developed an infected haematoma and was on intravenous antiobiotics awaiting more surgery. Oh, and all this is just a precursor to the main event - double mastectomy plus all the bells & whistles which hits her in a couple of short weeks time. Can I say the 'F' word please.
And then there's 'our' major news... which is that we are about to move, with a corresponding huge change in lifestyle as my darling lovely hubby is going to retire and I'm going to start a new job hunt in a brand new and unfamiliar area. And all this has happened in a whirlwind - we really did not anticipate things taking place so fast.
Er... exciting? Yep, that it is. Scary? You betcha! Actually, I'd use the word 'terrified' to describe how I feel in the early hours of the morning when I contemplate just how much there is to do in such a small amount of time - we move on 29th May! Suffice it to say that neither of our bosses are exactly over the moon.
As to us, we are currently packing, packing, packing and downsizing massively to attempt to fit into a one bedroomed retirement flat (which we go to measure precisely tomorrow - wish us luck). The local charity shops think that Christmas has come early! Whilst that's a positive, the sad part is that Connie, the super duper rower, has had to go as no way would she fit into the new flat. Boo hoo indeed, but she's gone to a local school to be used by the kids at their fitness centre, so some good has come from this (even if it doesn't feel exactly great just at the moment).
Oh, and our tattoo bookings were cancelled on us at short notice (very valid reasons though) so I've somehow got to reschedule that for before we leave the area.
So you'll understand that any semblance of coherence kind of went to the wall for a while. Amazingly, sensible eating hasn't! All I can say is that life throws curve balls at you just when you don't expect it and all you can do to retain your sanity is to roll with it.
Onwards, ever... from the bubble wrap queen!
24 April 2015
10 April 2015
I've been dreaming of her quite a bit recently and guess I know why this is. Coming up in just a few days she has a Birthday. On Monday she'd have been 94. Oh, how I miss her... though I wouldn't wish her back to her suffering.
However, I've mentioned (OK, more like bored you all) more than once about her 'Count Your Blessings' saying, and this is something I try to remember and act upon each and every day. It's become a very important part of my life and I've decided to do something to permanently remind myself (and others) of Mum's mantra.
So... in a couple of weeks time I'm booked in to have this phrase tattooed on my back, in a curve at the bottom of my spine, as a lasting reminder of how fortunate I am. I've chosen a really pretty, delicate font (better than in the picture, and may put a picture up afterwards if I feel brave) and booked a half-day holiday. What's more, my darling lovely hubby is going to have the self-same phrase tattooed too, in a different (more masculine) font on his shoulder.
Are we daft? Possibly, but I can't think of many more fitting memorials to a lovely lady. Life's blessings? They surely included my darling Mother.
07 April 2015
Well, it was great to spend time alone with my darling lovely hubby, away from the mad world of work, enjoying ourselves and exploring part of the UK we don't know well at all. Off we went to the Peak District and thereabouts for an Easter break, and really liked it a lot. Probably ate way too much, but what the heck.
Friday was grey and wet, wet, wet, but that didn't stop us exploring and having 'our' version of fun. Saturday was better weather, and we saw some absolutely fabulous countryside and had a lovely walk, up hill and down dale. Sunday was a super spring day. Daffodils everywhere, a gorgeous church to explore and a ride on an old train. Bliss!
Yesterday disappeared in a blur of the 'usual' weekend tasks as we were back home and today... well, it may be Tuesday, but it sure feels like a Monday to this fat lass! Ho hum.
31 March 2015
That much-needed mental kick in the pants helped.
Ticked off 1), 2), 3) and 4), and planning on more of the same today.
30 March 2015
All it does is allow that sneaky flea-ridden black dog the opportunity to settle down on the sofa and make himself at home... and he is not a welcome house guest!
So, what are you going to do about it, eh? Make a plan, and start putting the plan into action today. So, to the plan:
1) Drink more water (yes, I know it's harder when the weather is still not warm but just do it!)
2) Get out there and w-a-l-k... every single day! Then once the breathing is a bit easier (and it WILL improve), get back on the rower.
3) Choose what you eat with good sense, stick to your choices and be mindful when you eat. Make time, and savour those textures and flavours.
4) Take note of the good stuff - yes, those blessings. Make time to SEE them, and properly recognise them for the positive things they are.
You're not in a bad place, it's a great place to be. The weight, although back up to where I was before the bug bit, is apparently stable at 54kg. So, let's make sure it doesn't increase. Do the right thing now and you won't have to undo any damage once it's happened.
25 March 2015
Try as I may, I'm just not making the grade at the moment. I'm extremely grumpy, and also quite down - to the point of being teary. Blasted black dog is definitely on the prowl. A whole raft of nebulous worries (about all sorts of things) seem to be my lot at the moment too. Doing 'something' about it though... er, that's not really happening.
In part, this is because I've still got precious little energy (I'm constantly tired and still coughing) and have practically no stamina so, apart from a bit of walking, the exercise plans are still just that - vague 'someday' plans. Having lost a load of weight while ill, I now find myself starving of the hunger a lot of the time so capable of munching for England. While initially happy for a bit of a gain back, I am getting worried that things could get right out of hand unless I curb this desire to eat... anything and everything.
I need to get a grip, to get out of this dark mindset and see the positives. They ARE there. Remember, fat lass, your lovely Mum knew that all too well, so look out (actively!) for those blessings.
On this basis, I read a quote somewhere which said something along the lines of "if you are struggling at least you are still trying". I guess that is, at least, a small silver lining. Ah well, onwards ever...
20 March 2015
Can't help being rather disappointed. Ho hum. That's all folks.
19 March 2015
Well there, it seems that plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose, as Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr would say, is pretty much spot on.
In an idle moment (a deliberately 'stolen' one) I had a wander through some old posts to look back at what happened to this fat lass in March of previous years. Some years were a bit stressful, it seems, but then I came across a post from 2010 - goodness, that's five whole years ago! Take a look here.
Do you know, I am mildly amazed to think that what I said about there being two of me back then is just as true today. Yep, it's still a case of the logical, in control, adult 'me' occasionally having to go into battle to combat the odd resurgence of the childish fat lass. Maybe, though, the habit has become just a little more ingrained and easier to accomplish?
Yesterday was a case in point, and when I consider how the day went I think that quite a lot of that uncertainty was fat lass (can I have a treat now) type behaviour. I'm pretty pleased to realise that 'me' seems to have kept the upper hand and been able to shrug her off with 'whatever', even without really knowing it.
18 March 2015
Am I hungry? Am I just bored? Do I want cheese? Do I want meat? Do I want yoghurt? Do I just want to go for a walk? Do I want to read a book?
Hell, I don't know.
Does nothing and mutters 'whatever'!
16 March 2015
So, the fat lass was a good, dutiful girl and went along to see her GP midweek. Came away with a bag of drugs and I've been on antibiotics and inhalers ever since. At least I haven't needed the steroids he also prescribed... not yet anyhow.
I can't say I remember a great amount about last week... other than coughing and other negative things. When I could raise the energy, I was very peeved to have been put back on the inhalers as it's been such a source of pride to me that I haven't needed them, after so many years. But, you know what they say about pride, eh?
I couldn't really complain though - having checked my peak flow (in between coughing bouts) it had dropped from my usual c.450 litres per minute to just a shade under 300. Not good, so just as well to enlist a little assistance. And the good news is that the medication is helping.
So here we are again. Another Monday morning back at work, catching up (or trying to) on a shed-load of missed 'work stuff', still feeling like a wrung out dish-rag, but at least I'm definitely on the mend.
What's really surprised me was getting on the scale to find I'd dropped so much weight - not all that far away from half a stone in a week! At my lowest (Saturday) I'd gone down to 51.5kg, just a few pounds over eight stone. In such a short space of time that seems extraordinary and highly improbable, but it's creeping back up a little as I cough a bit less and start eating a bit more normally. Hmmm, never though the fat lass would want to put weight on!
What I really want is a magic injection of energy. If you see any spare supplies looking for a good home...
09 March 2015
That Friday 'nice' and 'positive' thing turned out to be a significant failure, right at the final hurdle (sorry folks, can't tell you yet what it should have been at the moment). On top of that hubby had a bad head and the sniffles and then I was the one to develop a chesty man-flu doodah! Needless to say, we both didn't have a cheery weekend with that stuff happening. We're both at work today (albeit feeling bleh), but several of my colleagues rang in and are off with the same chesty thing and I'm seriously peeved as that's now three bouts of feeling crook within a month! Listen you health gods, this is NOT supposed to happen!! Guess I must be run down - certainly feel like it.
Worse, our food plans went a bit awry too. We did eat what we'd planned (good 'ol keto plans stayed intact), but to be honest it wasn't really very nice. Various odd and unusual disasters ensued. Although the sauteed chicken hearts were nice, the beautiful heart-shaped eggs I cooked (or tried to) for lovely hubby leaked out around the mould into the pan and looked a complete mess. Broken hearted was definitely the feeling!
Then Sunday evening we tried the new Systema microwave steamer thingy for the first time - sorry, but we're going back to the traditional steaming on the stove-top method. The poor cauli was horrid!
Worse, we discovered that the lovely looking ham hock we'd slow cooked turned out to be more fat than meat... er, a lot more. And, as much as we welcome fat it wasn't quite what we had in mind and that's also kiboshed our weekday breakfast plans as no leftovers emerged after I'd disposed of all the slimy bits.
There were some silver linings - hubby lost a kilo last week (not that he needs to desperately but it's something he's been wanting to do) and we did have a few positive bits on Saturday. So just be grateful fat lass. Life IS good - you just need to think about what others are going through right now and remember how damned LUCKY you are.
All in all, though it was less successful that we'd have liked there are still enough of Mum's blessings floating around to rescue matters. Like the beautiful flowers (tulips and daffodils) we bought. Like the crisp frost this morning. Like cuddles from my darling man.
02 March 2015
It was a pretty rough week last week, in a lot of ways, with some very, very difficult news coming in from my oldest friend (for her sake, and for her family's, I won't share this), a selection of getting older and housing-related worries, and a tad more of a variety of irritating people and issues at work than usual to test my patience and resolve.
Oh yes, especially fun was the start of the week when I was also bedevilled by another (actually, probably the same) little bug which settled itself into my sinuses making me headachy, with ringing ears, seriously grumpy and dog-tired - indeed so grotty did I feel that my rowing was knocked off the cards again!
Speaking of dogs, that darned black dog saw his chance and took it too, and he had a field day. The blighter was slavering in the sidelines and nipping at my heels all week. Tears and minor tantrums were a part of just about every day, and I'm aware that I've been very impatient and cranky.
It was oh so tempting at times to stuff down all those negative emotions with food (ah yes, vending machine crappy chocolate bars, I am looking at you!) or, in the evenings, with a large glass of something alcoholic from over the border. Thankfully I managed to avoid both bear-traps and I neither comfort ate nor turned into the friendly neighbourhood lush. Quite an achievement, this feels, to be honest.
So my darling lovely hubby and I decided that we needed to give ourselves a break. Friday night was going to be a stress free zone, and we'd have a picnic and a glass of wine, maybe even watch a film, and R-E-L-A-X!
So we did just that, and it was lovely. We had some leftover roast pork from earlier in the week, and I bought some rather nice cheeses (Fourme d'Ambert and a Spanish goat cheese) and some gorgeous tiny green olives. Chopped celery aplenty and a half strawberry (artfully fanned, thanks to a lesson from lovely hubby) to garnish and we settled down to a feast for the eyes and to the taste buds. We listened to some great music too, even though we didn't quite make the film part. It did us both a lot of good... as did the weekend.
Sometimes, in life, we just need to stop, take stock, appreciate the good things in life and remember how lucky we are (hey, we're back to my beloved Mum's blessings here).
So here we are on Monday. Onwards, with a lot more energy, ever...
23 February 2015
We sliced a couple of decent inch or so thick 'steaks' from a beautifully fresh whole ox heart I'd picked up in the market and griddled them (without any oil apart from what had been massaged into them) on a hot ridged pan to have with buttered kale.
Oh my! Darling lovely hubby cooked them a pefect medium rare, brown outside and moist and pink in the middle. They were tender and so, so tasty. What's even better? There's more, just waiting for us, in the freezer. Yum!
Just got to pick up more kale...
18 February 2015
This may not sound momentous to anyone else out there, but it's quite a big deal for me. Another small measure of progress perhaps?
Now as my darling lovely hubby could tell you, chapter and verse, letting go of stuff, even sometimes 'useless' old stuff, is not always an easy thing for this fat lass. Sometimes it's fine. But sometimes I can have a decidedly unreasonable (yep, even I can see that) emotional attachment to the oddest of things, not necessarily because of 'what' they are, but because they are so steeped in memories and connections.
Actually, what I did was donate it to a local hospice charity. They can now sell it to someone who will (hopefully) love it and raise themselves some ever-needed ££s in the process.
In this case 'it' was a heavyweight, black, fringed leather biker jacket. A gorgeous thing indeed, but it's... well, think Phil Lynott from Thin Lizzie. I'd had this jacket ever since I was in my early twenties (and it was a serious luxury when I bought it!). However, I have only ever worn it a handful of times, first because it was such a precious (and costly) thing and then not least because for too many years I couldn't even get it on... let alone done up!
Even so, it was a part of my history somehow, and I loved it... so I carried it around with me, all carefully packed up, through a multitude of moves... to take up wardrobe space wherever I went. I 'could not' bring myself to part with it. In fact, it's been so hard to contemplate getting rid of it that I brought this jacket into work months ago with the aim of taking it to the hospice shop... since when it has languished under my desk making me feel guilty every time I kicked the bag.
It's been slightly worse because it fits me easily these days (yes, I tried it on once or twice) and I 'could' have worn it pretty comfortably I guess but... hey. C'mon, realistically, where's a middle-aged, grey-haired old bat going to go wearing such a funky 1980s thing. So, armed with Gift Aid number and a couple of bagsfull of other bits and bobs, off I marched to the charity shop, where I very nearly baulked at the final hurdle and kept it.
But... I didn't, this time, and it has now gone from my life - no more to be an item of my 'baggage'. This all seems a bit oddball, I know, but I do have a point to make here. That is to say that I've realised something about myself. Yep, another lesson in life.
That is that, however huge and hard a task it seemed beforehand, now I've actually 'done' the letting go, there's a sense of accomplishment and maybe even a slight feeling of relief in a way. I'm not, as I expected to, mourning the jacket's absence.
Actually, it's been quite a letting go sort of a week.
Thirty three years ago last weekend, on Valentine's Day, I lost my darling Dad in extremely harrowing and difficult circumstances. Eighteen months ago, almost to the day, I lost my beloved Mum. Again, what happened around that time was extremely difficult to deal with, albeit in a very different way. From both of these (and other) events I carry 'baggage' still, and I guess I always will.
But I've realised that I have been able to let go just a little bit here too. It's been about allowing myself to 'let go' of some of the pain I feel about both events, and set aside just a smidgen of the anger and recriminations which usually spring to mind. Looking back'll never be pain free. I'll always miss them both and feel their loss, and I can't turn back the clock nor change the circumstances that occurred at those times.
But I can accept that I have a choice, in this and in many other things. I can decide whether to allow my thoughts (and objects connected to them) to be 'baggage', to drag along with me ever more, or I can decide that it's time to 'let go' a bit.
It'll take practice, but I'm going to persevere and try to improve my letting go muscles. Onwards, ever...
13 February 2015
I know I've said in the past that my journey will never be over and that I still have things to learn along the way, but every now and again someone says something that makes a little 'click' happen and a lightbulb glow brightly in my brain.
Food... for thought, that is - wouldn't you agree?
Last week, one of Jeanette's posts did it, and the lightbulb glow has put me to thinking. Always a good thing for the fat lass - a little exercise for the grey matter. Anyhow, in that post she talked about shifting her mindset and getting back to the "Let food be thy medicine" approach.
Instead of letting herself think she isn't "allowed to have that food" she reframes things to look at it differently, and goes on the explain that this means she 'could' eat anything she wanted but she actively 'chooses' not to eat things which could damage her health or wellbeing. Ping! Lightbulb time.
A little recent history... although I have aimed to stay ketogenic (and have done so according to the dip-stick wee tests) I have also had the urge to eat something sweet for some weeks. To 'treat' or 'indulge' myself in some way, and make myself feel better (oh boy, remember that work stress business?). So, since Christmas I've been 'choosing' to nibble on sugar-free sweeties.
More recently I'd say this has become rather more of a bad habit than I like... from just one every now and again, to 'several' over the course of a day. Although there doesn't seem to have been any noticeable effect on my weight this doesn't, however, mean it isn't a burgeoning problem. The first step on a slippery slope, if you like.
Having read Jeanette's post I took a belated look at the little box these things come in and actually 'thought' about the contents. OK, the rest of the ingredients may look fairly innocent and 'natural', but the biggest percentage of their makeup, that sweet bit, is isomalt/sucralose.
Now I've 'justified' (excused, call it whatever) this behaviour to myself on the basis that this sweet stuff 'isn't' sugar. That it 'is' thus low-carb in a sense, so OK... no harm done, right? Hey, the body can't easily digest the stuff so it passes through the intestines a bit like dietary fibre.
Wrong! What I'd cheerfully bypassed in my head is that these substances are NOT natural in any sense (they are man-made 'Frankenfoodstuffs' in fact) and are certainly not an intrinsically good or healthy thing to be putting into my body.
Time to do a little reframing myself, methinks. OK, they are now OFF the shopping list for this fat lass. Thanks Jeanette, that was a wake-up call I rather needed!
02 February 2015
Slow cooker dry 'roasting' madness has ensued chez nous - I think we're pretty much convinced now... or is that, perhaps, addicted?
We've now tried our hand with a gammon ham (soaked first to tone down the saltiness), a whole free range chicken (no added water but I stuffed a bunch of fresh sage leaves in the cavity), and a lamb shoulder joint (OK, we did slather this with yoghurt, mint and chilli).
All I can do is groan quietly with repletion and say 'yummy'. I think this technique is definitely a winner!
On a slightly tangential but food related note, I've been reading something written by Olga Tikhonova Irez over at Delicious Istanbul about her new kitchen. Now I'm a bit of a fan at the best of times, but she's excelled herself this time. Two phrases she's used in her most recent post are so beautifully poetic.
When she describes her kitchen (not the largest nor most high-tech in the world), she anthropomorphises and says of the kitchen:
She gracefully lets me use her modest premises in exchange for respect.
This touched me, that she feels her kitchen has a personality of its own. Mine does too... er, and not always a benevolent one mind you. Mine definitely informs me if I'm unwelcome!
The other phrase she used described the view from her window at the end of a day and she wrote:
When you would think the light is gone for the day, it flashes a Cheshire cat smile through the thickets of the trees in the neighbors garden...Ooh, what a lovely image that brought to mind.
Other matters - weight is still more or less where I want it to be, although getting a pound or two off is still the game plan. Connie, the rower, is still going well. Lovely hubby and I are both healthy* and spring is surely not too far around the corner now we've hit February. All in all, life is good and I'm counting blessings whenever possible.
*I got a letter from my GP regarding the results of that mid-life health check. Apparently, the aim of this was to 'detect potential problems before they do real damage' and with my results I'm 'low risk' so they don't want to see me for five years. When I looked up exactly what these 'risks' they were interested in assessing were, the NHS listed "heart disease, stroke, diabetes, kidney disease and some forms of dementia". So, low risk eh? Sounds good enough to me!
28 January 2015
Oh my goodness. Well, that last post was by way of scene setting in some ways. Now as part of this new more fat, less carbs regime, last night's dinner was a 'cheap and cheerful' experiment - one which worked beautifully and which will also give us a plenteous dinner tonight. This is one experiment which I'm guessing will become a fat lass and lovely hubby standard.
In essence it was 'roast' turkey legs, the legs being a nice dark, juicy, fatty part of the bird. These ones were 'roasted' reaaaally gently in the slow cooker for about ten hours though. It went like this - washed the two gargantuan turkey legs (boy, these are big boys!), and patted them dry. Gave 'em a light grind of sea salt and black pepper. Nothing else.
Popped the legs onto a low rack in the slow cooker (er, they only just fitted). Added NO liquid at all, nor any other ingredients. Set the slow cooker to Low, and just let the legs get on with it for about ten hours without opening the lid.
Result? Great! The meat turned out beautifully. Very tender, falling apart and wonderfully tasty. Better yet those tricky hard tendony bits that hide away in the centre of the meat slid out easy as pie. The skin had browned nicely, but it wasn't exactly crisp so as an added treat we pulled it off an popped it under a hot grill. Instant turkey chicharrones for our starter. Bliss!
A plate of the meat with buttered broccoli and kale was just divine. We have more to come tonight (two legs providing one hellacious amount of meat), and a bowlful of the most amazing drippings which I somehow think will form the basis of a cabbage soup.
Just wish we'd taken a photo.
Hmmm, after a wee bit of head scratching my darling lovely hubby and I have made the decision to tweak things a bit and to reduce our carb intake even more and increase the fats.
This is because his daily blood glucose readings, although still perfectly acceptable, OK, reasonable and within limits, are not quite as stellar as they used to be (now in the low- to mid-5s rather than the mid- to high-4s). Nothing scary, just a noticeable shift over time.
Now that could be down to a natural progression in the diabetes over the years, despite all we're doing to migtigate things (after all, we have been told that it is, unfortunately, a progressive condition), or it could just be an unnoticed shift in our diet meaning we have been eating more carbs that we used to (and this'd be a bigger deal for him with Type 2 diabetes than for me).
Either way, we're going to see if we can make some changes and make a difference. Let's see what happens, eh?
23 January 2015
Yippee! I'm not about to shuffle off this mortal coil imminently, it seems. Yep, got those blood results back and it appears to me that those lovely 'keto' gurus have got it absolutely cracked about the lack of 'danger' in eating plenty of tasty nuts, seeds, avocados, coconut, saturated animal fats and the like and steering clear of the sugars and starches (even grains - yes, even the 'healthy' whole grain option).
So, without further ado, but with a positively delighted fat lass drum roll:
21 January 2015
Unfortunately, there's a 'but' and that is that I seem to be battling a nasty case of the Januarys... or should that be 'oh hell, now what else can go wrong' January blues! This is mostly a work-related thing so in theory I 'should' be able to go home at the end of another (hassle-filled) day and forget it all. Should... not can!
It's been pretty full-on since that oh so distant festive break ended (whoooee, but that seems like an age ago now...) and things have not exactly gone smoothly since. I seem to be paddling like hell to get nowhere fast a lot of the time, and feel like I'm falling behind on planned work because of all the fire-fighting stuff! This 'too much going on' has quite often stopped me getting out to walk at lunchtimes too, and I'm less than impressed. And the stressing and mild sense of panic also means I want to eat... anything will do. This is somewhat of a daily struggle.
Although I've mostly won on this 'eat me' front, so there haven't been any disastrous effects on my weight (er, yet!), all this doesn't do much for my positivity and, for some silly reason, I can't let go of it at the end of the day. I guess it doesn't help that often I wake up and fret about things in the early hours too so I have also been growing increasingly tired.
Worse, I'm taking my bad attitude, frustration and short temper back home with me and my poor lovely hubby catches the brunt of it nine times out of ten. Not a great plan for maintaining marital harmony. Thankfully, he's a very patient, understanding man, so I'm very lucky.
The more logical half of me manages to keep relatively calm and cheerfully say 'hey, all this shall pass' but, unfortunately, my emotional part has her fingers firmly stuffed in both ears and is singing 'lah lah lah lah lah' at the top of her voice whilst running around like a headless chook.
The upshot is this - I'm officially fed up with January. Could we give February a try please? Who knows, it 'might' be better!
To end on a more upbeat note, I've been for my mid-life 'are you going to keel over soon' health check and it was hilarous. It started pretty well when the automatic 'I guess your height, weight and blood pressure' machine decided I was two inches shorter than I actually am! Ho hum. OK, so we corrected that pronto. Not that it's a huge deal, but hey, these are 'my' records and a three percent error will make a noticeable difference to that jolly old BMI value you know.
Then I did a silly thing and apologised that my BP was bit higher than I'd expected (at 129/59). Hmm, must admit here that this was because the fat lass got a tad tetchy when the instructions on the high-tech whizz-bang machine and what you 'actually' have to do didn't tally = instant grrr and raised BP! Oh, the rather surprised nurse said, but it's really good and your resting heart rate (55 bpm) is great too! Alright, so our perception differs a little here, but never mind.
Then the weekly alcohol intake, exercise patterns, smoking, family health history questions came and went. All responses seemed to make her a happy bunny. Doing OK so far... and those bloods results (full lipid panel amongst other bits and bobs) are still to come back, but the reaction when we discussed diet was an absolute cracker.
I was asked whether I felt my diet was 'good', 'poor' or 'alright'. Now who's going to say anything less than positive, eh? I told her mine was 'super' thanks. She then asked if I was aware of the 'low-fat diet' advice so I said that indeed I was, but added that I totally ignored it.
Oooops! There was a sharp intake of breath, so I explained that I followed a ketogenic diet and this helped me maintain substantial weight loss (at this point she checked on my records to see what I had been, and 'ooohed' a bit).
Then, because she looked a wee bit bemused at this 'ketogenic' business, I started to explain what it was, i.e. low carb - yep, this seemed an acceptable thing to do, with moderate protein - er, I guess that probably seems OK, and that this means my diet is high in fat - WHAT!!
Oh dear, I'm not convinced that she (or her student) expected me to manage to leave the consulting room before I dropped like a stone from imminent heart failure. Hmmm, I think both of us might look at those detailed blood results quite closely. An interesting morning, eh?
Onwards, and a shade frustratedly, ever...
14 January 2015
It kicked off Friday night and I thought it must have been something I ate to start with, but no. I can only say that an 'interesting' weekend ensued... more detail than that you do not need. Indeed it's only just getting back to normal(ish) today. Food of any sort has been way, way down my priority list, but I've drunk for England.
One of the few nourishing things I've been able to handle is good old beefy Bovril.
I've ached and felt like a wet dish rag, and although I have been at work (er, several people have probably wish I'd stayed away, since I've been pretty cranky) it's knocked me off the morning's rowing - damn it. I hate it when I get derailed, especially just as I'd started stepping up the times. Still, can't be helped and I'm hoping I'll be back at it before the weekend.
Maybe a gentle row tomorrow?
09 January 2015
Now call me a tad cynical, oh, and downright bloody ungrateful if you like, but as sweet and nice and fluffily helpful and caring as this all sounds, it does seem to be just a shade off the mark to me. To be called in for a chat now, just because I've attained the magic age of 55, seems to miss the point a wee bit.
Why? Well I'd say I'm in better overall 'physical' shape these days than any time I can really remember so maybe a health check at this point is less likely to be beneficial than perhaps it could have been.
You see I can't actually recall being invited for a similar 'health check' of any kind while I was morbidly obese, seriously unfit and a long-term drug-dependent asthmatic - but hey, I guess I was a few years younger then. Maybe it's hindsight's 20:20 vision dictating this poor attitude on my part, but I can't help but think that it might have maybe, just maybe, had a positive effect on my thinking and actions had I been warned of the pretty imminent dangers of my crappy lifestyle back then. Still, water under the bridge and all that.
To my mind the betterment of my general health in the past seven or so years has been nothing short of amazing. The weight (OK, let's call it what it really is - fat) that I've lost is one aspect for sure, and is a powerful positive. My current BMI of 20.8, just below half way along that 'normal' band, is nice to see as at the start of my weight loss it used to be over 39 which is... er, not so good! Sure, I'd like to drop another pound or two and things could probably do with being a little more toned, but we're working on that. I'm certainly one helluva lot slimmer than I was for way too many years but this, taken alone, misses the point slightly too.
Very much more importantly in my eyes are those nice positive effects upon 'me' and my health that derive from losing almost half my previous body mass and fundamentally changing my diet and lifestyle. These show in all sorts of ways.
Simple things, like my skin being clearer, so no more sore spots or fungal infections where the fat bits rubbed and sweated (yeah, I know - TMI). My dentist has commented that my teeth don't have the same old levels of scale and gunk deposits and my gums are in better health. I now suffer far fewer and less severe infections of all sorts (even colds and sniffles are not as they used to be, if/when I do pick something up). And I know my blood pressure is fine, thankfully. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the benefits I see have an impact (and a good one) on my mental outlook too - my confidence has improved and I'm more the 'me' I thought I'd lost forever.
My achy joints may still remain, as a legacy of years of abuse, but they bug me considerably less that they used to. Funnily enough, life's general aches and pains must have reduced too, as there are barely any painkillers in our medicine cabinet and those which are there date back a while - a thing I've only just realised. What's more, between improvements to joints and lungs I can happily run up a flight of stairs (or more) without near collapse or an asthma attack.
Of particularly precious note to me is the breathing side. After decades carrying those damn things everywhere I went (out of necessity) I've been off all inhalers for a looong time now. In fact, the only medication I'm taking is HRT. My peak flow, which I still check from time to time, is still nicely above the predicted levels for a female of my age (without asthma) and that makes me very happy indeed. Thank you exercise and weight loss.
Now, I do have a wee niggling minor concern for when I go for this check. This is that following a ketogenic, low-carb diet as I do, I'm wondering whether I'll be read the cholesterol riot act/scare story as my bloods are pretty likely to show the effects of this way of life, and my total C and HDL-C levels might well be elevated... although I may be fretting without need and borrowing troubles here. Who knows yet.
If this is so, I don't mind a bit (read Cholesterol Clarity for why), but the NICE guidelines the Health Service have to follow, but which I believe are flawed, may well decide that I urgently 'need' statinating... hmmm, we'll see. It ain't going to happen, even if that's what I'm told will 'benefit' me.
05 January 2015
Well, I think I'll label this festive season a success.
My darling lovely hubby and I had a super break, walking on the beach for hours on Christmas Day (cold, but beautiful), and with some absolutely gorgeous seafood to enjoy (oooh, that lobster!). As the whole period was pretty moderate overall, it didn't result in any weight gain. Thanks, methinks, to the joys of low-carb.
Saying that though, I'd still like to shed a couple of pounds and get comfortably back into the lower end of my 'happy' range, and get those flabby bits under some semblance of control. With that in mind, as of December 27th I'm pleased to say... er, I think I am anyhow... that I'm back on the rower in the mornings.
It's only 'I think' right now as things are still a bit of a mental battle at the moment (until dear old 'habit' gets itself together and kicks in). Especially true today, my first day back at the coal face. Stumbling out of bed this morning in the dark and chill of 5 a.m. when that blasted alarm clock woke me from a lovely, cozy, snuggly slumber and making myself get on the rower and 'do it' first thing was definitely a challenge!
Still, it is nice to know that I am actually walking the walk and doing it, and that the motivation to continue and ramp things up as I get a shade fitter is also there (fledgling as it is), so to paraphrase John Leyton just a tad...
When the mist's a rising and the rain is falling
And the wind is blowing cold across the moor
I hear the voice of my darlin'
The rower I loved and quit a year ago...
...Connie, remember me!
All in all I'm fairly happy with the start of the year, though I do rather think that I need to cut down on imbibing good whisky for a wee while... those single malts were too just nice over the break and that is a habit I don't really want to continue through 2015. Strictly weekends only from here on.
Onwards, as ever...
Posted by Deniz at 16:25