Cauliflower Pizza Crust – Yum

We came across this on My Recipes site and tried it this evening for dinner and it really was yummy. A great alternative to bread if you’re a low carb or carb free guy or girl. In the ingredients it mentions riced cauliflower but don’t worry if you don’t know what that is, the video shows you how to make it. We substituted olive oil for coconut oil and it was lovely and with no real taste of coconut.

This site is cool. At the bottom you will see slots with days of the week where you can just click on a recipe and drag it into a menu planner so you have it there with all of the ingredients and a video to follow too… have a look at it if you need some help with menu planning, it does more than just that as you will discover when you check it out.

You may have to create a log in in some regions to see the video.


Crash and Burn – Low Carb Pros and Cons

It was perhaps inevitable that I would fall ill at some point. I’ve had a relatively healthy year in terms of bugs and things and am constitutionally quite sound in that I’ve never been a real sick;y person. I put this down to not taking medication unless I’m close to death. As a child we were not the kind to be rushed to the doctor as soon as we sniffled, rather we’d be left in bed, tucked up warm with comfort food and drinks and left to fight off whatever had taken over us and in the main it worked. Only now and then one of us needed a doctor and some medicine. Our parents believed they were building our immunity.

As an adult I’ve done the same with my children and they’ve been quite the same, very resilient and bounce back fast from viral infections. I like to think I’m helping them to build their immunity too and that I’ve passed on some of mine.

When I’m run down, over doing things, not sleeping enough or not eating right  I know I’m risking picking something up, especially at seasonal transitions when bugs seem to make a last attempt to invade every human possible before the heat or cold kills them off for another half a year or when the new seasons bugs spring to life. So as we move from winter to spring very definitely in the UK with increased temperatures and lighter mornings and evenings it was rather silly of me to be working more hours than there are in a day and keeping up with my routines and regimes as well as being ma to my kids and friend to my friends and queen to my king (urgh can’t believe I just said that mushy garbage but hey ho it’s done now). The only thing I’ve kept normal is my eating habits.

In short, I’m sick and I’ve never had anything like it. I’m not going to blame it on the new eating plan as I know it’s a virus but I have a real chesty cough and coughing is not something I’m used to at all. It’s so bad that it’s made me vomit a couple of times in the night which is then obviously disrupting my sleep and so it all bundles up to create a very sorry state of me, sitting blanket wrapped, soft full length pjs, warm socks and slippers with a messy bun, glasses perched on the end of my nose, reclined in the lounge in front of the telly with a frequent green tea refil infused with ginger and turmeric roots and mint leaves. A hot water bottle on my back is doing the trick in terms of keeping my yucky chest gunk nice and loose and bringupable and I’m feeling very sorry for myself. Sorry if that’s TMI but be thankful I’ve not gone into detail about how I’ve found through all of the coughing that even though I’ve never given birth, weakened pelvic floor muscles may just be a middle aged ladies thing and totally unrelated to child birth.

Anyway, I’ve managed to get my hands on my lap top but only after I swore not to use it for work and I am under strict instruction to be better for Mother’s Day on Sunday. Don’t panic anyone reading this outside of the UK, I’m talking about mother’s day here not wherever you are.

I thought I’d take this chance to write about my progress with my new eating plan, the low to zero carb approach but to be honest I don’t have much new to write about. I’ve written quite lengthy accounts of the kids’ progress and Nick and I have noticed the same positives as they have, feeling full for longer which has led to a reduction in portion size which for me is a real plus point. I’m a glutton so reducing portions was something that has been happening very slowly but surely over the past 11 months but was something I knew I’d have to work more on at this end stage of  my journey. I’d dreaded having to cope with more control over the amount I eat but this seems to be taking care of that for me which is a miracle in itself.

I am definitely losing weight and inches but I’ll update on that at the end of the first thirty days.

Before getting ill I also had noticed that I was sleeping better and feeling more energetic so it’s all good and I’ve already said that the tastiness of this organic meat and veg is fabulous, I feel like I’m having a treat every day.

I have noticed no change in terms of IBS which was something I suffered from for years until a few days into my healthy lifestyle changes last year. So it hasn’t returned. BUT acid reflux has returned. I’ve been eating virtually no fat at all, besides what is in dairy and splashes of olive oil in cooking or salad dressings and that’s kind of the same except for now of course I eat the fat on my steak and chops and I eat sausage and minced beef and bacon complete with fat and rind. I think I might have to experiment a little and eat less of the fat and see what happens but I have definitely over the past week noticed that I’m experiencing some acid indigestion or heart burn or whatever you want to call it and it’s not a welcome return.

But as I always say, this is all about trial and error and so I’ll find a way to continue with the plan but not get heart burn. It’s not so bad but having suffered with it for years and not having had it for months it feels uncomfortable but what I’m going to do is press on for another week and see if it settles, if it doesn’t then I’m going to reduce the fat I eat from meat and not have dairy in my evening meal if I can help it,

Another thing I’ve noticed and Nick can also attest to this is that we have a lot of wind, it seems to be subsiding now but for the first few days we were positively embarrassing with the amount we were expelling. I’m hoping that it’s going to eventually level out and am feeling so fortunate right now to be working for myself so that i don’t have to explain why I’m surrounded by air fresheners to anyone.

I also noticed that I have terrible breath in the morning but again that seems to have settled now and I worried that I was just getting accustomed to it but I’ve tested it out on Nick and my son and they agree that it’s improved from the rancid stench it was before. Strange thing is nobody else has had the breath thing and only myself and Nick have the gas issue, the kids don’t. Maybe it’s our aged alimentary canals struggling with the changes which the younger bodied are adapting to far more quickly.

All in all I’d say I’m actually enjoying my food a lot more right now and definitely feeling fuller for longer and loving that I don’t even want to snack and as I said really enjoying the reduction in portion size which has come along naturally.

It get’s a thumbs up thus far, especially for tastiness, my gosh, some of these meats and vegetables, even though they are cooked in very basic ways are explosions of flavour. How much we’ve lost out on to the supermarket and mass production ways of rearing our food, it’s sad to think of it.

Weightloss Tips for Surviving Christmas 4: Festive Exercise

If you are well into a healthy new lifestyle now, then exercise is a feature, whether that is walking around your neighbourhood, dancing with the kids, running marathons, grueling gym sessions or playing your favourite sport, you are moving more than you used to and making sure you move plenty  on a daily basis.

Christmas can pose some problems for those with a strict regime of exercise. My own programme is quite time specific and time limited, in that it would be difficult right now to change it much and Christmas events encroach inevitably on the time I would download (10)normally be exercising. Couple that with gyms shortening their opening hours and even having whole days where they are closed, gym buddies not being as freely available, kids being home from school, visitors staying over and there is bound to be some disruption to the normal routine. We know that routine is important and building all of this healthy stuff into our daily lives is important. We also know that disruptions to our schedule can lead to us giving up, a little shift in our disciplined pattern can be the trip at the top of the helter skelter that sets all of our hard work back and sees us around April time wishing we’d stuck to our plan over the last Christmas and not regained all that weight. You know this, you know it happens. If you are a yo-yo dieter, a long term obese person, a person with an over eating disorder then you know that this happens and you know how sad it makes you feel when you think you could have maybe been slim by now, or a couple of stones further on the way to slim. That regret has you reaching for food more often than for your work out kit. Tell me if I’m wrong.

So what do we do? We can’t ask everyone to stay away, we can’t lock ourselves in a room and stick to our routine as if Christmas isn’t happening (well maybe some of us happily could but where is the fun in that?). We have to do like normal people do and  handle this and get used to handling it because now we are losing weight and getting fitter we are hopefully going to be seeing many more of these festive seasons. Hallelujah to that if nothing else.

First of all you have to once again, going back to tip 1, plan for this. If you want to combat it like I do or are looking for some pointers to cope try this – schedule out all of your planned Christmas commitments, including outings and your own entertaining, your devoted family time, get it all documented.

Next map on top of that when your gym is open (if you use a gym) and check when your trainer is available – is he or she going to be changing your routine or are you going to need to notify them of changes? If you don’t use a gym or trainer, think about how your scheduled activities might affect your usual exercise. Is it going to be difficult for you to do a home DVD or You Tube exercise programme at 5am because you’re going to have guests on your lounge floor? Would it feel rude if you took off for a run just as your guests sit down to breakfast? Is it safe to go for an after dinner walk in the neighbourhood you’re going to be staying? Is the weather where you are staying going to mean you can’t do what you normally do? Plan out what parts of your usual routine you can do and what you definitely can not do.

download (8)Now map on to that some opportunities. For instance, are you going to be spending Christmas somewhere warm and sunny for a change? Note that you could go for a run, a bike ride, a swim. Are you going to be somewhere cold and snowy for a change? Note that you could try skiing while you’re there or get out and have a hell of a snowball fight with the family. Will someone be able to watch your kids for you, is that a luxury you don’t often have? Then could you maybe sneak off for a run or a long walk or a swim alone or with your partner? Could you sneak out in the evening for a workout? Would download (9)you be able to get out and take some exercise in the morning because someone is there for when the kids get up? Think of these opportunities and note them down,  do not make this all about what you can’t do.

If you can then obviously sticking to your routine is great but as with the eating discussed in tip 2, if you decide to take a total break, set yourself a time limited break, don’t just make it non-specific. Set a date to resume training with your trainer and stick to it, don’t leave it at “i’ll get in touch when I’m ready for a session” because it is too easy for that day to never arrive. Write on your calendar and circle it many many times the date when you are going back to your normal routine and stick to it. Tell your trainer that you will pay him/her double if you dare to cancel the session and put it in writing. Again, as discussed in tip 1 that mental preparation and knowing what is coming will help you to follow through with it and get back on track.

If you are really going to struggle with ‘normal’ exercise, think about alternatives which are not normal to you. Who knows trying something new might give you renewed enthusiasm or help you add another variation to your regime. Buy everyone in the family a pair of roller skates and go for a Christmas skate in the park, take a family bike ride to fill everyone’s lungs with fresh air and to waft off some housebound cobwebs, go for a festive ice skate, if there’s open air facilities near you go, it’s such fun.

download (1) - CopyTake everyone for a walk after Christmas lunch, walking is a great time for talking and can be great fun and good for bonding.  Dig out the kinnect or wii or even the old dance mat and get moving with some great competitive family fun games that will have everyone sweating. Take the kids out on those new bikes and run alongside them or walk fast. Dance at parties, circulate rooms do not sit in a corner, stay on those feet and keep moving. Swimming baths and gym pools can be empty over the Christmas period take advantage and go for an early morning swim or a late night one. Use the home to exercise in, everybody can manage a few runs up and down the stairs and a few squats while the turkey’s cooking, take advantage of the romance of the season and have lots of lively sex, insist on letting everyone relax and you do all of the tidying, picking up paper from the floor, fetching and carrying food and drinks. Just keep active.

But if you can’t keep up with it, just relax, kick those running shoes off and do nothing, slob out and enjoy a break just don’t let it last for too long and get back at it with gusto when the season to be jolly is over. Chances are you will find as with food (see tip 2) that you start to feel the ill effects of not exercising and want to get back to it faster than you thought. It only takes a couple of days to start feeling lethargic, stressed and irritable and for you to start to have physical side effects where you may not be sleeping so well and where your body starts to groan and ache in protest at not being used properly.

Also think about the progress you have made and think about how awesome you are going to feel when come that first week in January when the gym is bursting with people trying to get in shape again, hauling around their extra pounds with their bodies which haven’t seen a gym for a month, you are there fitter than ever and comfortably taking it all in your stride.

Don’t beat yourself up whatever happens, if you stray, you can return and you just have to dust yourself off and carry on again, beating yourself up, feeling that you let yourself down will only make you miserable, misery will have you reaching for food, scoffing that food will make you fatter and before you know it you’ll be back where you started and you don’t want to go there. Be kind to yourself and whatever happens come that first week in January when everything goes back to normal, make your exercise routine one of those things that you pick back up and run with.

Tip One – Planning

Tip Two – Throwing Caution To The Wind

Tip Three – Force Feeding: surviving gifts, parties and dining out


That time of year

It’s that time of year again, which comes around twice for a teacher at end of calendar year and end of academic year, where a scan through the diary reveals no blank spaces. In fact worse than that there are no blank spaces and double, triple, sometimes quadruple entries all glaring at you demanding you make a decision soon about which of those little penciled in appointments is going to take precedence when you know they are all equally important.

It’s hard enough managing work and life at the best of times but work, life and starting a new business and having a relationship to keep alive is pretty tough going but I’m keeping afloat thanks to the lovely people in my life who are acting as my buoyancy aids right now.

As ever deadlines are looming, marking and remarking is taking up so much time, giving unscheduled 1:1 tuition to students who have finally decided to do some course work saps what would have been desk time and so the workload which spills over into my home life and ‘free time’ expands until it has devoured every remaining second of time to be a mum, a girlfriend, a business woman and what is even worse is that it takes away the moments I’d snatch to spend being myself, doing things just for me. I’ve not had any salon pampering or a steam or blogged or written any of my book or shopped for me or even managed to throw a dinner party, go out for dinner or cinema with a friend or Nick or anything for so long and I’m craving a return to normality.

My son is 15 he can cope with a little negligence these days, he knows if there is a dire emergency I am here, he knows I disappear into a pile of papers and books to provide him with all that he has, he can reason now and I do find time to check in with him twice a day. We always breakfast and dinner together, nothing stops that and so he does get some time, just not enough time for my liking. Although being a 15 year old boy, it’s probably more than enough for his liking.

He’s finally reached that time in his life when his room is the place to be. I’d been pretty lucky that both of my kids liked to be in the communal family areas with me and each other and whoever else happened to be there. I never felt I lost them to their rooms but it seems this one is going that way but I’m not worried, it’s perfectly normal and healthy and as long as I’m still allowed in there, as long as girls are not in there for too long with the door shut and nobody else around, as long as there are no strange smells, vapours, behaviours or people coming out of there I think we’re safe.

My daughter gets a daily phone or Skype call and OK sometimes she has to instigate that when she realises it is probably time I took a break and enjoyed a quick catch up. I love to hear about her day, I love how well she is doing in her new life and how she’s made what appears to be a fantastic group of friends from all corners of the globe. She has a rich full and interesting life and I love that and feel happy that she is responsible and mature enough for me to not have to worry as much as I did when she first flew the nest.

Nick is feeling more like an employee at the moment or a work partner he has been a darling picking up the threads of my new budding empire and keeping the fires burning. I don’t want to launch my business fully until the new year but I couldn’t help but see an opportunity to make some quick money in the run up to Christmas. I was frustrated that I knew I would not have time to capitalise on that but with Nick’s help we are managing to do that without detracting too much from the original plan. He is more or less a permanent fixture here now and manages his own affairs from here and we’ve hosted his kids a few times and he’s been driving down to spend time with them regularly but comes back up more or less straight away. I did feel I was distracting him from his life but then I figured he’s old enough and open enough to say or do something if he wants to change things so he must like it this way, it’s not like I make any demands on him at all, he has always been a willing volunteer so I’m happy that it’s his own choice. He seems very happy, I believe that in spite of my lack of time i do make him feel happy, he says I do and I can see it, besides that I have no desire other than to believe him so that’s all good.

I don’t like to do things by  halves and so I really didn’t want to launch the business until after I’d left teaching but sometimes with a push and some extra effort and by accepting help (my new thinner self finds accepting help increasingly easy) things are possible.

So on top of all that I still run the house and do all of the usual stuff, shopping, cooking, cleaning, laundry, those jobs which never go away but again I am being assisted in those. My son’s really good at taking over after dinner and clearing everything away and making it look like nothing ever happened in the kitchen and dining room and I don’t have to nag. Someone, still not sure who, has taken it upon themselves to become my laundry fairy and as fast as there is some laundry in the basket it is washed, dried, ironed and returned to its owner. I’m not even going to try super sleuthing to find out who is guilty of that one, they are happily anonymous and I’m happily grateful.

At work we have all of the seasonal demands, attending shows and fayres and promotions for the college and meeting prospective new intake and of course as I am heading into my last three weeks as a teacher I am preparing my replacement to take over the helm as well and finishing off loose ends as well as thinking about Christmas gifts, parties, leaving parties and everything else.

But, through it all I am still eating healthily, I’ve resisted all chocolates in the staff room and I have continued with my exercise programme. The weather is so mild so biking to work is still happening and my daily run up and down the stairs still takes place and I actually have two companions who come along with me now… my example is contagious. I remember the first day I tackled all of those huge flights from top to bottom and how I thought my lungs would implode when I was half way and how my legs were shaking when I reached the top and the pain… I was in pain, every joint was aching, I was sweating, my heart was pounding and yet now I jog up them and down again and could easily manage more than once.

I still have my personal trainer sessions 3 times per week and Nick and I have a tai chi session every evening, even if sometimes it is near midnight when we get around to it.

I’ve started to notice my body changing shape these last couple of weeks. The strength training and toning (I started working in some pilates with my trainer) are really pulling things in and toning things up and my body is beginning to feel quite powerful now and I am aware of all parts of it in a way I never was before. It’s hard to explain but when I’ve exercised and I stand and drink some water for instance it’s almost as if I can visualise all of those muscles that have been worked still working and I can see the water rushing through my body, hydrating, carrying away toxins, I’m aware of my heart rate, of my breathing of my liver no longer being distended due to fat, I just feel clean, healthy and in good working order and that feeling is priceless.

I think this awareness of my body as a machine is something which is sustaining me, it helps me to avoid bad stuff and focus on good. Nowadays when I’m tempted to eat something bad I visualise, without conscious thought or prompting, how that will affect my body, I visualise fat settling around my organs and I sense the acid reflux that will occur as my stomach struggles to process garbage and I feel the irritation in my bowel at the thought of having to let cake pass through it and I just find selecting healthy options easy now as a result.

There is a lot to be said for getting to know your body as a machine, to understand what food and drink does to it, getting to grips with how it should move and function and seeing what you put in your mouth as fuel and nutrition. It does work and I think it works better when you go to a trainer or a gym and talk to people who are enthusiastic and knowledgeable about these things and when you take time to research what food does to your body and the true benefits of exercise. I felt that as an eternal dieter I knew everything there was to know about diet and nutrition and exercise but there is always something new to learn and new ways to look at things.

I wouldn’t class myself as a health freak, I don’t think I am but I really do care about myself now and I’ve found that caring about yourself helps you to love yourself and if you love yourself (something I believe a lot of people who struggle with over eating have an issue with) then you are on the way to healing yourself. If you can love you, then you have found your greatest ally in this war with food.

What is more, I’ve found that the more I love me, the freer I feel to love other people. I’m a nicer person now, I wasn’t too bad before but I am so much more easy going now and forgiving and accepting. I think that is because I’m not subconsciously looking for someone to bounce my own feelings of self loathing off of. I’m not critical anymore, I love everyone and that is the sweetest thing. That sense of love fills my heart and keeps me happy and makes me a better person and gives me strength to pour into improving myself. I’m truly becoming a better person in every respect, when I set out on this journey almost 8 months ago I had no idea of the treasures I was going to uncover, and those treasures were all inside of me, a part of me which had been buried under fat, food and unhappiness, self loathing was robbing me of even seeing let alone using the fabulous gifts I’d been given. Every pound lost unwraps another special part of me and I’ve come to see myself like a big exciting game of pass the parcel, it’s so amazing and such fun and what is more it will never end. It’s not going to stop when I reach goal, I have the rest of my life to find new bits of myself and to love new bits of myself and to learn new things and develop new talents and to love more people and to experience more places and to enjoy my family which will hopefully expand. Life is very good. I thought it was OK before, but now I realise it wasn’t, this is living… well at least it will be once I get past this term!

You can do it! If I can unlock my true self anyone can. Be committed, visualise what you want to achieve, see food as fuel not a hobby and take help and advice, be strong and remind yourself every day of the reasons you have to keep on living.

Revised Routine

So following on from the over doing it melt down I’ve revised my routine and taken some important steps to give myself more down time.

I took the plunge and requested part time hours at work, I have a wonderful trainee who needs to have solo teaching hours for two days a week and so it seemed perfect to hand over and sit in the wings and be there if required. So fortunately we managed to come up with a plan for me to continue to mentor her, for her to have the independence with the classes which she needs and for me to reduce my working hours.

This means that I still get to influence my students’ learning while letting go in preparation for leaving teaching in December. It’s a weaning away for me and for them. I love teaching but the politics are beyond me these days, especially in the sector I teach, it’s stifling, frustrating and to be honest everyone is becoming very grey and disillusioned.

I will still have training involved in my new businesses so I will still put some of those skills to use but this will be much more about doing something I feel is worthwhile and on my terms. So I’m excited and I could use some time to make more of an impact on my preparations before I’m ready to launch my business hopefully in January. I won’t so much be getting a break I’ll just be splitting my time more evenly and not squashing work into what should be ‘me time’.

So my routine now consists of a total day of rest on Sunday from work and from exercise. Can I just distinguish between what I now call exercise and what I call activity. Exercise for me now is the beasting in the gym, the kind of activity which is purely aimed at making me lose weight, reshape and tone up, the all out assault on fat kind of activity, that’s my exercise. Other stuff is always going to be a part of my every day life because I enjoy it and need to do it anyway, such as riding my bike at a leisurely pace for the purpose of getting from A to B, walking, swimming, except when it becomes a swim where I power at full pelt over and over again through water, that’s exercise, swimming is for leisure and is a couple of lengths, a slide down a chute, a jump in the waves.. that kind of thing. Dancing is another activity I enjoy and I’ll still be having my evening dance around to music, even if it’s while I’m cooking dinner prancing around the kitchen. Similarly tai chi and my new love Yoga are not exercise they are relaxation.

So Sundays I move but don’t exercise, Monday I exercise first thing in the morning at the gym with my trainer, Tuesday I move but don’t exercise and start off as I do on other rest days with Tai Chi or yoga. Wednesday I exercise with my trainer outdoors, this week that involved digging a massive hole on the beach and filling it back in again and carrying some rocks around. Thursday i move but don’t exercise and Thursday has become my spa day, when I go and have a leisurely swim followed by a steam, a jacuzzi and a massage and is now the day when every fortnight I visit a counsellor for a chat. Not a weight loss counsellor, just a lovely psychologist guy who listens to me make sense of myself.. Friday I exercise with my trainer in the gym and this is going to be combat day, it’s when I’m bashing, punching, kicking, throwing and chasing him around, this is anger and stress release through exercise day. Saturday is an open day. If I feel I want to go to the gym I will, if I don’t I don’t. I can exercise or I can move or I can do nothing, it’s entirely up to my mood.

Saturday is also food indulgence day. If I feel I need to binge during the week I persuade myself to put it off until Saturday, if I get to Saturday and I still want to binge then I indulge in something I’ve not had for a while, maybe something like a cake or chocolate or something like a nice juicy steak and potato wedges. I haven’t struggled with food yet but it’s good to know that if I start to falter at any point I have Saturday as indulgence day if I need it. It’s a strategy I used in the past and it worked. I’ve factored it in because I don’t know if I will always find resisting binges so easy, especially now I have nothing else to replace the addiction. My food intake is moderate, my exercise is moderate, my self indulgence in terms of pampering and relaxation is moderate and I’m hoping that it will all stay that way but I know that I have to excess in something it’s my personality and I’m pretty sure that when I have a bad day it will be food that meets the need.

I’ve also made my work hours moderate too, nearly forgot that one. So I’m for the first time in my life living like a normal person. There is no excess, everything is ticking along like a normal, non addicted person might have it ticking along, this is my first ever attempt at being in control of not controlling myself. That sounds crazy and maybe it is but I know what I mean. I really feel that I’ve let go, even though it sounds very plotted out, I have let go.I need a routine and that’s what the planning is all about but at the same time I have allowed for spontaneity which I need otherwise I feel stifled by ‘the rules’ and I rebel.

My counsellor, on our first chat, supported this idea of moderation in all things as a starting point to see how I go. As I said I already feel more free like I’ve relaxed the hold on the reins and I’m not depending on anything. I hadn’t realised how much I depended on food, how I then came to depend on exercise to make me feel strong emotionally. It’s good to put that away and see how I get on depending on nothing other than my emotional strength which I believed I was in possession of all along. Moreso it is about allowing my emotional weakness to shine through when it fancies it because being weak, admitting weakness at times doesn’t make me any less of a valid person, it won’t change how I feel about me or how others feel about me, it will just be a normal thing to do… and if I ever do feel emotionally weak who knows someone might help me through that instead of me thinking I just have to make out I’m doing just fine when maybe I’m not.

So here’s to the new plan. I like this plan and I like that it’s come now. This feels like a real transition point for me, it feels like a good time to normalise things and start to think about how I’m going to live my life after weight loss. I know there is a long way to go but it feels right to me to start on a path which is long term sustainable and about being a normal healthy happy fulfilled person and not an out of control control freak.

I don’t think I’ve done anything wrong, I needed that crazy frenzied approach to changing my lifestyle because I needed to lose weight to get to this point, I needed to get that huge size down, that big number on the scale into something which is more familiar to me, more manageable, to where I start to feel like me again. But at the same time I don’t want to be like me again, I want to be a better me and so now is a good time to switch things up to make sure I get there.

Let’s see how it goes.

Nothing so bad as being almost there…

When you think about it, there is nothing so disheartening as being almost there and not quite making it, getting distracted, cheated, caught in the act, injured or just running out of time, resources, energy. Nearly getting there and not quite making it sucks big time. I’m sure we can all think of one experience we’ve had (Rob, don’t tell us we can imagine :P).

So why then do so many of us, I’m talking to my fellow yo-yo’ers now, stop short of slim or target or goal or whatever we call our ideal weight? Why do we do it?

I have a couple of theories and as always welcome any comment or other ideas.

Theory 1 – Fear

This theory is based on the fact that we feel comfortable, familiar or just normal in our fat bodies. We understand ourselves, we can excuse ourselves most things, we can avoid relationships, we imagescan avoid socialising, we can avoid trying for a promotion we can avoid learning or working, we can be dependent on somebody else… we can hide basically. We can hide in our fat bodies cocooned from the world, the vulnerable us and all of our fears and anxieties, our unworthiness and lack of confidence can be zipped up in our folds. We know ourselves and we’re not challenged, we’re safe, we’re content and we actually fear a slim, new us who will have nothing to hide behind. Slim equals exposed. Slim can’t live like a fat person.3d abstract security person with green shield

I believe that some fat people use their fat as a shield, it keeps people at a distance it gives us control. Without it we’re terrified. But we’re not happy and we want to get out so we diet and when it looks like we’re going to actually become someone else we run scared straight back to that biscuit barrel and dig that takeaway menu out from under a pile of books where it’s been hiding for six months. We dieted, we denied ourselves, we restricted ourselves, we beasted ourselves in the gym and yet we’re not happy, we don’t see what others see. We did it way too quick, way too fast we didn’t address the demons in our head, we didn’t even think about why we hurt ourselves like this, how can we stop from hurting, we didn’t talk about the pain, the sad2011-11-17ness, the bitterness that makes us eat to the point of sickness and lie in a self loathing blob of misery.

Now if we’d taken this slowly, made it about health and lifestyle, addressed the physical and mental issues along the way, we may not have feared our slim self quite so much, we would have gotten to know him/her along the way and we would have started to like ourselves, to love ourselves and to want to live longer, want to be healthier, feel worthy of everything our fat self is denying us.

Theory 2 – You Know What? I’m Done

“Hey you look amazing, you’ve lost so much weight you look wonderful you don’t need to diet anymore”

“Hey you don’t need to lose more weight you’ll look too thin, you are looking so healthy”

“My aren’t you pretty, just look at you now, wow you’re looking hot since you shed that weight”

You have the new job, you have a new man or woman, or the one you had is getting a better deal from you now, you do more with your kids, you passed that course, you go to the gym every day, you fit into regular sized clothes, still at the upper end but you can buy things off the peg more easily, you feel good and healthy, you go to the salon, you treat yourself more, you socialise more, you wore your bikini on holiday…

But you’re not at target, you’re still ‘chubby’ or ‘chunky’, you’re not in that normal BMI, you’re not quite loving what you see in the mirror naked, you know there is more to go but you stop.You’re still 30lbs over weight, still 30lbs over the upper end of ‘normal’, you gain 7lbs and it doesn’t matter, you just lost 80lbs you can soon lose 7.

You gain 14lbs, those new clothes you bought, you’re glad you got elasticated waists and stretchy fabrics and your jacket looks fine undone.

Abrams34You gain 21lbs and you have to dig around for those old clothes, which you really liked anyway and like old friends they go back on and you can get back on track from Monday, you lost 80lbs, what is 20lbs to a hero like you? Except in your heart you know it’s 50lbs and 50lbs seems like a big number, 50lbs is going to be hard, maybe you’ll just stay as you are, you’re happy, at least you’re only 50lbs over weight, this time last year you were 110lbs over weight, you are still more than half as much less than you were last year.

You gain 20lbs, oh Lord, how did I find the strength to get started on that diet back when I lost 80lbs, I’m determined not to regain everything I lost, I know where I can get fat pants, let me dig out that plus size clothing brochure again, I’ll sell my exercise equipment it’s not like I use it and I’ll get myself some new clothes, I’ve got a gym membership, I’ll start going again on Monday.I’m never going back to that weight I was at before. As long as I keep under that I know I can lost 80lbs, I did it in 6 months and I wasn’t that good, I could try harder and it could be off again in 5, by Christmas I’ll be back where I was, I’ll have lost 80lbs and then I’ll only  have 40 to go, I can do that, if I can do 80 I can do 40 because 40 is half of 80 and I can lose 80 no problem.

You’re feeling down, you don’t move as much, you don’t feel as happy, you stop going to the salon, you stop weighing yourself, you tell yourself you were happier when you were fat anyway and the next time you get on the scale, after that twinge in your chest that you thought could be a heart attack, you’ve regained your 80lbs and an extra 10, now you’re 120lbs overweight and there is a mountain in front of you, why did you give all of those lovely clothes you had to charity, you really could do with them now. You eat to mask your misery but it grows and so do you.

Lost-Final-Season-Poster-All-Characters-lost-10838110-1024-768My theory is, you never get slim so you never stop being fat, you settle, you become one of life’s satisficers instead of one of life’s optimisers or maximisers, whatever you want to dress it up as, you’re a loser. You gave up, you didn’t get to the end and because you never got slim, it was OK to get a little bit fat again and a little bit fatter and a little bit fatter. You backed so far away from that goal that half way down the path you just turned your back on it and started to run away from it, you even slammed the door on it and still kept running. You’re so far off the path it’d take a miracle to even find it again.

You were doing so well until…you make up every excuse in the book, but the truth is, you were doing well until you gave up and felt that this would do, you would settle for this because this is better than that, everyone says this is good, so it must be, I’m done.

Now if you actually allowed yourself to reach your goal (and I’m just hypothetically speaking here because I’ve done all of theory 1 and theory 2 but I’ve never got to goal, the only time I got skinny was when some psycho starved me – but hey at least I know it’s possible and I’m not one of life’s ‘big boned’ people) if you allowed yourself to reach your goal you would be slim, you would be ‘normal’ you would have accomplished everything you set out to accomplish and if you gained a pound you would lose that pound because you would be firmly at the goal, you would be one of life’s winners, you’d be a finisher, a champ and there is no way on Earth you would let yourself go back. You would not have a stretch item in your wardrobe, if you gained an ounce your fitted suits and dresses would strain and you’d lose that ounce the next day, you would maintain and control and remain slim.

I don’t know if I’m talking crap, it’s just my take on things or we could go with the last theory…

Theory 3 – Survival of the Fittest

Some people are born slim and can’t gain weight, we accept that, they are naturally thin. They’re the people we hate who can’t put weight on and let you know it. Why can’t we accept that some people are naturally fat?

I was born fat, I was fed the same diet as my siblings yet I was the only fat one, my parents weren’t images (1)fat and nobody else in my family was fat. Why me? I was very active as a child. What if I can’t get to goal because for me goal IS overweight? What if my healthy is 200lbs? If there was a sudden famine, fat people would last longer, fact. We contain more water, more reserves, who is to say that some people are not genetically engineered to be fat so that when/if there is a sudden famine there is more chance of the species surviving.

I know this depends on having a fat guy and a fat gal in the same tiny village back in the day but you know that’s not such a crazy idea. Many indigenous tribes saw fat as attractive, and still do, a sign of being a good provider and of being well provided for, someone who can milk your babies and the rest of the villages’ if need be long after the food ran out. I’ve traveled I’ve seen it and heard it.. the stories going back as far as time. What if eh? What if we’re fighting to wipe out the very people who were engineered to keep the world going? What if we should give up fighting nature and just be who we are, saviours 😀

What Do You Think?

So which one are you going for or do you have one of your own? Or do you think I’ve gone slightly mad and missed the mark altogether? Would be interesting to hear if anyone can self identify here.

Last day: sharks, pirates, boats, planes, control, fear, rebirth and more…

I’m having such a fab time if it wasn’t for the children I would find it difficult to leave but tomorrow that is what we shall be doing, leaving 😦

I’m so looking forward to seeing them again and hearing about their adventures and to heading on our little camping trip together which is going to be a whole world away from this experience in many ways but in others it will be similar, especially in a ‘bringing me closer back to nature’ kind of way. Perhaps more so as we are not camping in any parks but out in the wilds so we’re going right back to basics.

Setting the scene
Setting the scene

But back to where we are now. The past two days we spent on a hired yacht, well 24 hours from lunch time to lunch time yesterday but what a delightful 24 hours they were aboard our borrowed 70 foot floating villa. In some ways challenging as I’m so full of energy right now and being cooped up in a relatively small space is not good when you’re bursting with energy but I found ways to cope.

We swam. I finally laid my fear of shark attacks in open water aside and enjoyed it although tentatively at first.  I did an aerobic workout to some music on the deck and we did some middle of nowhere Tai-Chi twice. Once in the pitch dark and once as the sun was rising. We ate dinner out in the middle of a dark ocean. If you’ve never tried it it’s a bit scary I’ll tell you. You hear things, like splashes and can only wonder what made the noise and you see the odd light but nothing much else. We weren’t too distant from shore but distant enough for it to be a far off strip of light.

I wished I’d never watched Captain Phillips as I developed a sure and certain conviction that we were going to be boarded by pirates even though the modest crew assured us that was not going to happen.

It’s rather a primitive state of existence out there, it’s like someone switched the responsiveness of your senses around. You suddenly hear things you wouldn’t normally detect and you see things you really don’t notice… like the stars. Oh wow, the stars are something else when it’s pitch black on Earth. Electric lighting has robbed us of a veritable nocturnal spectacular for sure. I’ve not seen a sky like that in so long, maybe back when I plodded my way around bits of Africa.

I think focusing on the night sky finally enabled me to lay my fears and anxieties aside. We’ve done some snuggled down night sky gazing from our accommodation and from the beach but the spectacular really revealed itself out there that night with no light contamination from anywhere. I realised lying there that my irrational anxieties about being boarded by pirates, fear of what was swimming around us in the darkness, my feeling of helplessness on the sea were all born of my need to be in control. If you can’t see, if you don’t know where you’re going, if there’s nothing to listen to, if there’s no point of reference for much, then control is taken away from you. There’s not a lot left for you to actually take charge of, other than yourself.

I kind of had the beginnings of this epiphany while we were flying over to Miami, I hate flying and that is simply because I have no control, I can’t see where I’m going so I feel very much at the mercy of someone else. Realising this helped me to relax and enjoy the flight so much more. It was easier to this as the way we flew meant I did feel closer to the seat of control,  perhaps more influential, although in real terms of course I had no control at all. Just thinking of those things helped me to understand my fear, rationalise it and enjoy it taking a back seat for a change. It wasn’t gone but it wasn’t at the forefront of the flying experience like it normally is.

Back to the boat…I had nothing to do and no part to play in where I was going, I couldn’t see much and couldn’t hear anything familiar and it was beautiful but unnerving to the point where the beauty was in danger of evading me. It was only when I was made to look up, in fact I didn’t need to look up, the sky came down to meet us, but when I was made to look at it, it was only then that I really appreciated my insignificance in terms of time and space and I realised that I’m not really in control of anything anyway. I asked myself what do I control at the end of the day and do I need to be in control of anything at all? Does holding the reins really make me feel any better, does it serve any advantage or is it actually detrimental to my enjoyment of life? I’ve had a good chat with myself if nothing else.

I had a lovely talk with Nick about this too, about how much of what happens to us happens anyway and will happen anyway and so we may as well just yield to it and go with it, not fight it, not try to control it. It’s a place he’s already in and has been for some time and he laughed as I joined him there.  I thought about how I could see the stars but if there had been anyone near one of them they wouldn’t be able to see me, I’d just be lost in the darkness, nothing, invisible, unseen. I wondered if trying to control anything was not only pointless but put us in danger of enjoying the real delights the world has to offer which can only truly be enjoyed when we lay ourselves open, bare and without the shackles of what we think of as essential for life.

I realised eating disorders are all about control, I don’t have control issues because I have an eating disorder, I have an eating disorder because I have control issues. I’ve always felt like the world was against me, like I had to fight something for what I wanted, like I had to prove myself, like there was an invisible or even visible enemy always trying to thwart my attempts to achieve anything. That battle’s been going on since I was a cute little girl, it’s why I’m so feisty and always have been, I’ve been fighting my whole life for acceptance and I finally see that I only have to accept myself, I can’t control what anyone else does or thinks, I don’t have to influence their actions, it’s not my fault if other people are unkind, unhappy, uncaring, unloving, all of those ‘uns’. It’s not my fault and I don’t have to try to change them. All I need do is be myself and concentrate on making me happy. Funny thing is, the less I try the easier being happy gets.

I don’t know it all got very deep out there in more ways than one. I just felt an even more profound sense of relaxation on a whole other level. In short… I’m so insignificant nothing really matters, that could sound pretty morbid but it’s not, it’s far from it.

I’m going through some kind of awakening. I really feel that I’ve been in a mid life crisis for the past 5 years or so and this is my emergence as an ‘elder’. I feel like I’m shedding my youth skin and growing a new mature layer which is richer, more flexible, more comfortable to live in. I’m feeling very much as if I’m on about my fourth phase of life and that I have more phases yet to experience.

I think that I was unwittingly mourning my youth, mourning the woman I’d lost sight of, floudering in a world where I didn’t fit, I didn’t want to fit and I wasn’t sure of my place or what I could bring with me, but now it’s all clear, I know who I am and what I’m bringing, I know where I’m going and I know what there is for me to do there and I’m relaxed and happy to be on the journey, I’m not fighting anymore, I’m not worried about pirates coming to rob me, I’m not worried about nasty people coming to hurt me, I’m not worried about anyone taking anything from me, I’m not letting a fear of shark attack stop me from enjoying the freedom of swimming in the ocean, I’m opening up my doors and not worrying about who is going to come in, I’m just grateful for the light and air that can make its way through now.

It’s a great feeling. When I started out I saw this as a caterpillar to butterfly like journey and I thought that it was all about my weight and my  health but it has turned out to be about a catharsis so much more deep and meaningful than that, it’s been about my transition through the final part of the middle phase of my existence it’s been like a rebirth, like I was being prepared and this last bit is the squeeze through the canal into my  new life and I feel like I’m about crowning now and on the cusp of something wonderful, something I had feared and fought and didn’t feel I’d earned the right to yet and that is a relaxed, self indulgent, worry free middle age. I don’t need to be a kid to be happy. I don’t need to feel old to be a grown up. I’m a vibrant, beautiful, happy woman who has achieved so much and has so much yet to achieve.

I might not feel like that in the next couple of days out on the cold Welsh hills in a tent with a tin of beans but I’m going with it and whatever happens, happens, it’s a new experience and I get to do it with the people I love the most, my amazing children… something I undoubtedly did well in my life and have not celebrated anywhere near enough.