Flogging :(


Flogging – my own term for ‘failing to blog’.

For the second year in a row, I failed to complete the A to Z Blogging Challenge. It frustrates me that I didn’t finish the challenge. I have always loved the challenge but I don’t think I will try it again next year, unless my life is less hectic.

It has made me think about blogging in general. I wonder should I give it up. There’s lots of talk about ‘the end of blogging.’ How anything longer than a Facebook post is pointless, because no one reads online. So I’m wondering… do I continue blogging, or do I throw in the towel? I’m not looking for you to answer that question. I’m just pondering the value of what I do online.

So… I may disappear for while… to work on editing 3 different projects I have on the go.

If you’re a blogger and or a reader of blogs, I’d love you to hear your thoughts on the whole blogging thing. Is it done? Or am I just done with it?

If you want to catch up on Facebook or Twitter, come find me by searching for amowriting 🙂

Q is for Questions


When I was writing the first draft of my book, I asked ‘social media’ for questions. Mainly to help me think of elements of weight loss that I hadn’t thought of. I got more than I bargained for, and I believe they’ve really added to the book. Here is just a small sample of the questions, and my rough answers.

 

How many times did you fail before you succeeded?

I joined Unislim for the first time when I was about 12 I think, maybe 14, but over 30 years ago. I’ve been on and off diets to different degrees all of that time, but how many times I actually properly tried to lose weight???? Let’s see…

In the mid 90s I lost somewhere between 2-3 stone. Got down to just over 17 stone.

Started again in 2001. I was 20 stone, I lost 3 stone.

Started again in 2008, I was 21 stone. Lost just under 3 stone.

Started again in 2012, I was just under 24 stone. Faffed about for a year and a half. Was down 1.5 stone at one point.

Started again in 2015, I was just over 23 stone, as I write I have lost 5 stone and 2lb. My first goal is to get back to where I was in the mid 90s. Just over 17 stone.

So tried and failed 4 times, before succeeding this time.

 

What was the one thing that kept you going?

I’m not one for sticking pictures of ‘fat me’ on the fridge, there was however a photo that shocked me. It was of a particular special moment and I was horrified when I saw it. It was fully side on and I had no idea that I was so big. Really, I didn’t realise. I hadn’t looked at myself for a long time. I tried to crop it, I tried to edit it, I wanted to delete it. It was a precious moment in my life and a significant memory, but all I wanted to do was delete it. Forever.

It has become the photo that keeps me going. But I don’t need to see it. The image is imprinted in my brain. I can’t ever let that happen again. Even if I put on weight again, I can’t shut the door to the discussion. It must be something I can always address if I need to.

What made you decide to lose weight, to begin with? Health?

This time around, it was health, but not because I was ill.  I was worried about dying, but only because I didn’t want to leave Richard alone to do the work he is doing. I believe what the Bible says, that to live is Christ and to die is gain – were I to die, I’d be with Jesus. But I felt that I had more to do, and I wanted to be able to do more. I wanted to be able to support Richard practically and work with him; I knew I couldn’t in the state I was in. I’ve never had trouble with blood sugar or blood pressure. It was only going to be a matter of time though. I’m not sure how I got away with being as healthy as I am, after carrying so much weight for so long.

How do you feel about people who are not overweight but constantly complain that they need to lose weight?

I used to want to throw something at people, who I felt, didn’t need to lose weight. Over time I have come to think a bit differently about that. Mainly because I thought if they weren’t my size, then they didn’t need to lose weight at all. That they were just trying to point out how skinny they were, and compare little old them to big old me.

My short term goal is to lose 6 stone. I’m on my way to that. My goal after that is to lose another 4 stone. I would be 13 stone at that stage. If I did that I would be over the moon. I mean jumping up and down (cos I’d be able to) with great joy and delight.  But I know people who are 13 stone who are desperate to lose weight. Absolutely out of their minds with worry about it. Stressed and feeling fat! At 13 stone I’d be dancing, others are mourning. So, just as much as I would like people to understand where I’m coming from; how hard it is for me… I need to understand where others are at too.

Food became my enemy and my comforter. I still struggle with this at times. I am learning to have a healthy relationship with food. I would love for you to talk about that in the book. What is a healthy relationship with food?

I think it might be slightly different for different people. To use the analogy of an alcoholic – having a bottle of wine in my house wouldn’t cost me a thought, but it would be tempting to an alcoholic and so they should not have it in their homes. I’d be the same with donuts or Haribo candies. I’m best not having them in my home. I can’t resist them.

I treat food now like someone I love but don’t really trust. I ‘eye’ some food with suspicion. Will it do me any good? Will it lead me into temptation? If I can’t only have one of those, I’d be better having none. I wonder if the only way I’ll stay on track will be to maintain a dysfunctional relationship with food. 😊

In short, know your enemy. If you know your downfall is ice cream, don’t buy the big tub that is on offer, then try to kid yourself you’ll be able to have only a teensy bit at a time. If you want to, buy a small one serving tub and enjoy every spoonful. Be honest with yourself, be prepared for the hungry moments and make every meal & snack a choice that you are in control of, then go and enjoy every mouthful of it, guilt free.

Did you believe that you could do it?

For a long time, no. When I started this time, I decided to believe I could. I could choose the next meal. Choose to go for a walk. I decided to make every next choice a good one. I didn’t really believe in much more than that. It was too difficult to see beyond the next choice. There’s not many silver linings to being almost 24 stone, but one was that I saw a lot of change quite quickly. Now that it has slowed down, I have to remind myself that I can do it.

O is for that ‘orrible word


The word obesity is one of the most upsetting words for me to hear, say or write. When I started my weight loss journey, I was off the standard BMI charts. Having lost 5 stone, I’m still well within the morbidly obese category. I will have to lose another 6 stone! to just be obese, and a further 2 stone after that, to be considered ‘normal’.

When the obesity crisis is discussed on TV it makes me cringe. I’m not saying it’s untrue, or unimportant, it just reminds me that it’s partly my fault. For a long time, I ate hurriedly in private because of the shame I felt. At times, I still feel guilty when I’m eating. To be fat, is the new smoking. The attitude to obesity reinforces all of that for me.

I firmly believe that extremely overweight people are not getting enough help. My obsession with food is unnatural and unhealthy and I hold my hands up and say that I did little to help myself for many years, but when I see the issue discussed in the media, I feel overeaters get more judgement than support.

It can be quite expensive to eat properly, which is another thing that needs to change. I’m not sure how effective the sugar tax will be. Rather than make the bad stuff dearer, how about making the good stuff cheaper. Fresh produce, healthy meats and particularly fresh fish can be very expensive. Bags of frozen processed food are still much cheaper and last longer.

I don’t know what to do to change any of that. I just feel the word obesity has changed from a description to a label – and it causes me great discomfort. Officially I’ll be in that category for some time, when I look at how I’ve changed, I do everything I can to shake it off. 🙂

N is for Nuts


After a busy week, I’m still playing catch up on my AtoZ posts on the theme of being a Clumsy Carb Cutter .

Nuts are one of my favourite things to eat. I have to be very careful of them as I find it really easy to over indulge. In a moderate amount, they are a great low carb snack. My world would be a sad place if I developed an intolerance to nuts, the way I have with lactose.

As I mentioned before, I use ground almonds for baking. I bought peanut flour by mistake a few weeks ago, so I’ve been using that mixed with almond flour in some of the cookies. It has a few more carbs per 100g, but really tasty, if you love the peanut taste.

I buy bags of mixed raw nuts from Lidl as they are the best value. On the rare occasion I eat cereal, I always throw some in, or I just eat them on their own for a snack. As I mentioned, moderation is key in eating nuts. They are great for the low carb/high fat diet. They are high in fibre and contain a wide variety of nutrients, but also high in calories. So to get the best benefit from them,  just a handful/half a cup at a time.   🙂

(catching up) M is for Mammy


I’m running late this week, so will be playing catch up this evening.

M is for Mammy, as in my mother.

Mammy regularly tried to encourage me to lose weight. I know she was very worried about my health. When I was in the zone and trying hard, she did everything to help me. She bought and cooked all the food that would make it easier for me to lose weight. Dieting was a regular part of my life from the time I was about 12. I’ve been on and off diets ever since.

my lovely mammy
my lovely mammy

I talk about it in the book I’m writing, how I wish I’d stayed happy with myself. All I ever did after a diet was get bigger. I’d have been better off staying as I was. I never saw watching what I ate as a permanent way of life. It was a stop-gap to make myself feel better and get my mother and others off my back.

 

I regret not sticking with it, not just because it’s harder now, but because my mammy is not here to see the long-term changes in me. I’m grateful for all her nagging, all her shopping and cooking, all her encouragement and worry. I only wish I’d done it right back then. But I can’t go back; I can only go forward and dwell on the joy it gives me and would give her, to see me lose more weight and get stronger and healthier.

 

L is for Low Carb Buddy


 Short post today as I’m away with family this weekend, but I wanted to give a shout out to Sam at Low Carb Buddy (LCB).

Sam is based in Bristol, UK and runs a Facebook page, an interactive group, a Pinterest page (with some fabulous recipes), and for a small fee, runs weekly interactive group chat sessions.

I’ve benefited greatly from my connection with LCB. Sam is very encouraging and always has great ideas and suggestions. She herself is on a Keto diet. Make sure to check her out on some of the links above.

Just to say, I don’t get anything from plugging her page/biz other than the satisfaction of cheering on someone who has really helped this ‘Clumsy Carb Cutter’ 🙂

K is for Kind


Following on from my thoughts in the ‘I is for If‘ post, I wanted to share another way my thinking has changed over the last few years. These days, I am kind to myself.

In the book I’m writing about this journey, I talk about how I used to hate myself. I could not bear the sight of me in a mirror. Sometimes if I caught my reflection, I would thump myself, and say the most awful things to the mirror. Those negative words would stay with me for days. They would ring around in my head. It took a long time to change that mindset; to speak and act positively towards myself. I must care for myself because God’s Spirit is within me.

Eating right, I have found, is not deprivation. Quite the opposite. It is another kind thing I can do for myself. It’s not always easy, but I try always to make choices that are for my benefit – even though my sweet tooth and old habits are always pulling at me.

Are you good to yourself?

J is for Jumping Around


Greetings all. I’m away at the mo, so catching up on my posts using the app on my tablet. Apologies if the post looks a bit wonky.

I’m using this #AtoZ  to share about being a ‘Clumsy Carb Cutter’ for the last 3 years. As well as changing my eating habits in that time, I’ve also changed my activity level. I joined a running club for a few months and then took out a 6 month gym membership. I learned a lot from both of those groups, I gained confidence and strength, but I never stopped feeling self-conscious working out in a group setting.

These days I walk regularly in good weather, often with a friend, but I also do other exercise when I’m on my own at home. This I call jumping around 🙂 It’s a combination of aerobics, step aerobics, a bit of work with my 3kg dumbbells, a bit of work with my kettlebell, and a whole lot of dancing. I put my favourite lively music on, earphones in, and I go for it. Because I’m alone, there is no self-consciousness.

I can only really dance like there’s no one watching, if there’s no one watching. 🙂

I don’t count the exercise (or any steps my Fitbit counts) against calories. Exercise is purely for health and strength. It’s not for an extra eating allowance. So if MyFitnessPal picks it up and rewards me with calories, I delete them.

Jumping around is one of my favourite things to do. It makes me feel great and I get to shake off the day and reset my mind. The beloved is used to me saying, “I’m just going upstairs to jump around.” He knows to leave me to it and that I’ll probably be in a better mood by the end of it.

I highly recommend it. What do you do for exercise? Continue reading “J is for Jumping Around”

I is for If


We’ve made it to Day 10! April is zooming past us.

Today I’m focusing on the ‘clumsy’ side of my AtoZ theme of being a ‘Clumsy Carb Cutter.’ I have long suffered from ‘clumsy’ thinking. I’m trying to improve that, by use of the word ‘if.

Every meal, every snack, every morsel is a choice. I’ve become a shudda, cudda, wudda person – but in a good way. I like to think about ‘what if…?

I was in despair about my weight for years. I never believed I could change. I prayed about it for so long, but thought my prayers were hitting the ceiling. Now I am gaining the courage to believe that anything is actually possible. (Even though I’ve been reading that in the Bible for years, I didn’t think it applied to me 😀 )

So I measure a lot of my day in ifs. You might think it sounds dreary; the worst thing you can imagine. I enjoy it though. It keeps me on track, it keeps me open to all possibilities. If I can make each individual decision the right decision, then I will continue to succeed. I’ve lost 70 lbs. If I lose another stone that will be 6 stone down. I’ll have lost 1/4 of my starting weight (you do the math…). If I can lose that much, maybe I can lose more than that.

If also works in the opposite way. If I don’t keep an eye on things, if I don’t watch what I’m eating, if I don’t keep moving… then I’ll go back to where I was before. Unfit, unhealthy and unhappy. I don’t want that life again.

Even as I look over this post, the ‘if’ thing reads like stuff and nonsense, but it really works for me. It’s a healthy mindset, keeping me accountable to myself.

What if… the possibilities are endless 🙂

H is for Have Mercy


I mentioned in my opening AtoZ post some of the changes that led to my five stone weightloss. Since then I have put on a little, lost a little, put on a little, lost a little… I am still five stone down. In some ways that is frustrating as I feel I could do with losing another five, but I can’t seem to get any further. In other ways, it is amazingly wonderful. For the first time in my long history of dieting, I have kept my weight off.

In the olden days, after a stall or a carbhorrific weekend, I would throw in the towel, pretending to still be trying for a while but in my head it would all be over. Bit by bit I would put all the weight back on and then some. So although I am not any further than that first year, I am still rejoicing and celebrating staying five stone down.

It’s almost three years since I started that journey. Within the first few weeks I really struggled, I grieved for sugar and sugary foods; truth was they made me feel better. I’ve shared about it back in 2016 (click here to read it). I knew I had to change, I knew that I was eating myself to an early grave. As I progressed, I was so happy to see those changes inside and out, but I was conscious I’d never really dealt with the why and  how of my weight gain.

In November 2017, I used the NaNoWriMo challenge, to write the story of being an overweight Christian. You might wonder how that differs from being an overweight person, but I was wrapped up in guilt and shame and I was lacking in trust of my God to help me out of the prison I was in. My faith had to be part of the story.

So I wrote it. With many tears I raked though painful memories and regrets, I fought the urge to leave out the ugly stuff and just poured it all out. By the end of it I felt like I’d been skinned. I was raw, embarrassed, ashamed, afraid and relieved. It reminded me of reading about Eustace in C.S. Lewis’ The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, when Eustace had been turned into a dragon, and only Aslan could remove the gnarly dragon skin from his body. Eustace describes the pain of having the skin removed as the worse thing he had ever felt. He was only able to bear it, because the removal of the rough skin brought pleasure and relief.

Writing an honest book about being fat was extremely painful. It turns out that editing a book about being fat is no less so! But it is a relief to say some of the stuff out loud. The working title is “Have Mercy Upon Me O Lord, a Slimmer.” I’m praying that when my story gets out there, as painfully revealing as it will be, it will help people who feel the shame and embarrassment of overeating.

If you think it’s something that might help you or someone you know. Keep an eye out here for updates 🙂