This keto life

I decided to give the keto diet a go in my mission to shift the excess weight that I’ve been carrying. I’ve done my research and although not everything I’ve read is positive – ‘keto flu’ does not sound fun – people lose weight and keep it off.

I’m still trying to get my head around it if I’m honest; frying foods and using butter and cream feel alien. Its against everything we’re ever told. Conventional wisdom is always cut fat for weight loss. Well I’ve tried that so why not try the opposite?!

I will admit that I’m terrified of gaining weight and getting it wrong. Maybe that’s just because any of the diets I’ve done in my adult life (Slimming World, Weight Watchers, etc.) are about low fat. I’ve never been a huge fan of low fat products. If they’re removing fat (flavour) them they need to replace it with something. That something seems to me to be chemical sweeteners and I worry about putting that into my body. I know that sounds rich coming from a chocoholic sugar fan but there you go!

Sugar worries me too. Its definitely addictive. Its also empty calories. It gives your body a boost/ rush but then comes the crash and the craving for more. I know that genetically we are pre-disposed to prefer sweet fats as a throwback to our hunter- gather days. I also know that those days are long gone. Growing up, sweet treats were exactly that: treats. Over the years that I gained the weight, they ceased to be treats and became a more regular part of my diet.

There does seem to be something sensible to me about eating natural fats; olive oil, butter, cheeses, avocados rather than processed foods/ oils. So far I’m still eating all the fresh vegetables and salad ingredients that I was before. I’m still eating chicken, fish and eggs. The only difference is that I’m using butter more and cream is no longer the enemy.

I’m four days in and I don’t miss carbs or chocolate. I have no cravings and I feel satisfied. I’m eating till I’m full and being more mindful in my eating – no more hoovering my food. I’m taking time to taste it and enjoy it. I think I’ve found what will work for me long term, I’ve lost 2 pounds so far and I feel good.

I haven’t cut carbs for good, I’ll still enjoy roast potatoes as part of my Christmas dinner and order pasta as a main if I’m out for dinner. Dessert will also be on the menu, but they will be treats and I’ll enjoy them as such.

You are what you eat

I haven’t eaten great recently, there’s been far too many takeaways, bars of chocolate, baked treats and big portions. I’m aware that I’m not eating right and putting pressure on myself to lose weight as my big birthday approaches. This just makes things worse as I go into full on sabotage mode.

I’m also back at my consultant for my high blood pressure in the next few weeks too. I agreed to exercise much more regularly and keep up my healthy lifestyle at my last appointment. Last time I weighed myself I’d gained back all the weight I’d lost. My jeans are too tight and I feel very bloated and uncomfortable. It hasn’t stopped me eating though.

I’m risking my health. I’m already on medication for high blood pressure and high cholesterol. My excess weight is doing nothing to help my asthma either. I’m quite an intelligent person, so what is going on with my food choices?!?

I was never overweight growing up, as a family we ate healthily and had sweets/ chocolate as a treat. All my bad food choices have been made as an adult. My weight gain started when I moved into my own flat after I finished at university. I ate well at university (we’ll ignore the terrible food in the catered halls of residence that led to the Tuesday chinese takeaway, Super noodles or the contents of the vending machine.)

I LOVE food. I think about food a lot. After breakfast I think about my lunch and after lunch I think about my dinner. I love trying new things and eating out. I can cook. I love cooking and love baking too. I get pleasure from food. I think my problem is that I don’t listen to my body. I get excited and I eat quickly. I don’t give my stomach time to signal to my brain that I’m full. I also eat mindlessly, I can easily eat biscuits/ chocolate/ cake whilst waiting for the kettle to boil and then have more biscuits/ chocolate/ cake with my cup of tea. I’m also very bad for nibbling while I’m cooking.

I have lost weight before, I lost 3 stones nearly 10 years ago doing WeightWatchers. Then I had 2 car accidents and would cheer myself up eating treats. I gained back all the weight that I lost. My weight has been pretty steady since then. I don’t see treat foods as treat foods, they’re part of my regular diet. I still turn to food to cheer me up. I have a very sweet tooth too. I know what all my pitfalls are and what I need to do. I just can’t seem to get my head into the right mindset to make the necessary changes.

I don’t want to die young. I don’t want to have high blood pressure or high cholesterol. What am I waiting for? I have to act. Tomorrow is another day. It will be the day that I start to lose weight for good. I have to. I want to live a healthy life. Time to put my money where my mouth is. If you are what you eat, starting tomorrow I’m going to be wholesome and healthy.

A work in progress

I am not perfect. I make mistakes. Sometimes I speak without thinking. Sometimes what I say comes out wrong. Sometimes I say the wrong thing. Some days I feel like I can take on the world, other days getting out of bed is a challenge. I try my best. I’m still learning.

My mental health is definitely a work in progress. I take it day by day. I’m getting better and am working hard to continue to get well. The stigma of mental health is still something I am battling. I know it is ok to not be ok, but saying that out loud to another person is something I don’t feel able to do. I don’t know why? Maybe it is because it feels like an admission of failure, like accepting that I’m not superwoman. I have long been battling against my superwoman complex….its a work in progress.

I spend my working life problem solving and helping people to solve their problems. Mental health and its impact features in my working life and I regularly encourage people to seek support from their GP’s. I have accepted that I am experiencing anxiety and take medication for this. So why don’t I say it out loud?

I am human. I have limits. I have skills and talents, strengths and weaknesses. I’m open to trying new things. I’m absent-minded and can be easily distracted. I went upstairs to get sellotape, I found it and came back downstairs where I then found myself battling with the ivy that is trying to take over my garden. It took me what felt like minutes to figure out why I was gardening and not wrapping the present I intended doing. Answer, I saw my roses needed deadheading and went from then to the ivy. I’m a daydreamer.

I’m also getting older, I got an appointment through for a cardiac assessment. It was a sobering moment. I know it’s all part of my head to toe health assessment, but it gave me a jolt nevertheless. It reminded me that life is fleeting. I’m human.

I’m perfectly imperfect and that’s okay. I’m me and there’s nobody in the world I’d rather be.

Looking back to move forward

I’ve kept a diary for years, my memory isn’t great so it’s nice to have a record of my life. I also find it therapeutic. Its nice to have somewhere to note my thoughts, fears, worries, hopes and successes.

I know that living in the past is not healthy. I am happy in the present (work situation and anxiety aside.) Today I was looking at my diaries from 2015 and 2016. I was lax at completing my diary daily in 2015 but from my entries such as they were in 2015 and in 2016, it was very clear that I was not happy. I was frustrated, depressed and settling for way less than I should have.

My ex partner struggled with his mental health and this is in no way a dig at him. It is about me reflecting on the impact of his mental health on me and my own mental health. I was full of questions in 2016. Mostly I was questioning whether I was being unreasonable? Was I expecting too much? Were my ex partner’s expectations of me reasonable? We were operating on different hours whilst living in the same house. It was hard. I was working, he wasn’t. Today, I could see from looking back that at that time I was questioning whether to continue in the relationship.

It took me a further 18 months before I ended the relationship. It was the best decision. Yes, it was awful at the time. Ending a relationship is the hardest thing I have ever done. I knew that it would hurt my ex, but I knew I had to do it. I’d had enough. I wasn’t happy, he wasn’t happy and staying together wouldn’t have been right for either of us.

Facing being single in my late 30’s was daunting. I thought that my ex partner was the man that I would marry and would be the father of my children. Instead, I was single and childless.

It’s funny but in 2017, I’d actually thought about us trying for a baby. There was some uncertainty at work so financially it could’ve been a disaster if I got pregnant and even made redundant. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason. Thankfully, I wasn’t made redundant and it became clear that having a baby together would not have been a good idea.

Fast forward to today. I’m still childless but I’m in a relationship with an amazing man. Now I know why none of my previous relationships worked out. I also know that those relationships taught me what I needed to know about myself, to know what I need from a relationship. I know that I have found my soulmate. We have talked about having a baby and I know he will be a brilliant father to our child, when the time is right.

Friends

On International Friendship Day, this seems very appropriate. I’m lucky that I have amazing friends. I may not have a huge number but those that I have are worth their weight in gold and I wouldn’t swap that for all the money in the world. Life may have taken us in different directions and we may be at different stages in life, but no matter what, we’re friends.

As I approach the milestone that is my 40th birthday, I’m in a reflective mood. As my physical health and mental health haven’t been tip top recently, I guess this is even more the case.

Earlier this year and, as it happens just before everything health wise came to a head, one of my friends and I met up for the first time in far too long. I’m pleased to say that it was like we’d just seen each other days rather than years before.

We caught up on all our news in person, rather than through social media. It may get a bad press as its mainly how young people connect and communicate but its been a life line in helping my friends and I keep in contact when we’re all living our lives in different countries.

It was also the first time I properly opened up about the difficulties that I’ve been experiencing at work. My friend had been through something similar years before and talking to someone who really got where I was coming from and who has known me for a long time was such a tonic. Feeling heard and validated was very powerful. The advice given invaluable.

Having supportive people around me is a great thing. Friends are so important, knowing that I can text or phone no matter how long or short a time since we last talked and get some advice, have a laugh, catch up and just be myself with is awesome.

I consider myself to be very lucky to have such amazing, generous, loyal, honest, funny and wonderful friends. I don’t tell them enough how much they mean to me, so I’m going to change that…starting right now.

“Be excellent to each other”

As I wake to news of two shootings in the USA, one in El Paso, Texas and the other in Dayton, Ohio. I think of those whose lives have been changed irrevocably. I think of the loss and the senselessness of it. Innocent people going about their lives, enjoying a night out or shopping on a weekend. It brings me to think about division. There seems to be so much focus at the present time on difference, on separation and of negativity.

In the UK, Brexit has been the focus for the last three years. As the clock ticks down the deadline day on October 31st. As the four countries who make up the United Kingdom voted in different ways (Scotland and Northern Ireland to remain, England and Wales to leave) an undercurrent of racism, division and disenfranchisement becomes ever more apparent to me.

There have been numerous discussions about immigration and movement of EU citizens. As a Scot living in an EU country, I find it very troubling. It smacks to me of introversion and ‘British jobs for British people.’ What about inclusion? What about travel broadening the mind? What about seeing ourselves as citizens of the world and welcoming those who chose to make the UK their home as I have in the EU? What about all of the benefits that immigration has brought?

I also find parallels with the US, the President’s desire to build a wall to keep immigrants out and negative focus on immigration. Seeing immigrants in very negative terms. To me, all this negativity and hatred cannot possibly end well.

Surely we should be looking for commonalities? Finding what connects us? Working together to eradicate disease, poverty, homelessness. Working to have a more connected world, recognising and harnessing skills and talents from across the globe. Working to end inequalities. Why see difference as something sinister to be feared? Why not embrace it?

In these worrying times, I find myself thinking more and more of this message from the film Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and how much better the world would be of we abided by it. So, I am going to try in my life more and more to do this and would hope to encourage others to do the same.

Let’s just “be excellent to each other.”

Be more cat

As I’ve been at home more recently, I’ve spent a lot more time with my cat. He’s always been like my shadow but even more so now. He was a stray so its taken him some time to adapt to having a human and live with a human.

He’s always been friendly, he’d come to visit usually miaowing to announce his arrival then rub against my legs to say hello properly. I naturally assumed as he was in good condition, with a shiny coat, that he lived with his owners nearby.

It became apparent though that this was not the case…he appeared a few times looking dirty and unkempt. He let me clean him up, had a snooze then went on his merry way. This happened several times over a week or so before he disappeared for a few days. This was unusual, even if he didn’t come to visit, I’d see him pass through the garden.

One night, I heard a faint miaow. I opened the door to look out and even in the dark, I could see him, filthy dirty, injured on the garden wall. He jumped down and padded into the house. He’d been in a fight. He was covered in blood and dirt and looked exhausted. I cleaned him up, he was so patient and trusting and as gentle as I tried to be, I could see that he was in pain. I fed him and for the first time he hopped up on the sofa and fell asleep beside me. Exhausted. But he knew he was safe.

He’s been with me ever since. Poor boy then got cat flu and lost his miaow for a week or so but thankfully not permanently. I wouldn’t be without him now. His purr is so soothing, it really calms me down. He also gives me someone else to focus on. He needs to be fed and loves his belly rubs. He also loves his sleep – he’s asleep next to me on the sofa as I type this.

I’ve really seen his confidence increase and seen him relax into his environment. He’d never seen stairs before and was very tentative at first. I’d use treats and a soft tone to help him…he’d climb up 2 or 3 stairs, enjoy being petted but then he’d go back down and stay there. I was so delighted one night when I was getting ready for bed and heard him miaow to discover him sat on the landing, his first time ever. He then went from taking a few tentative steps into the bedroom to being perfectly comfortable sleeping beside me. When I’m out at work, he sleeps on the bed and then comes down to greet me when I come home.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that even when life is stressful, its so important to spend time with those you love, to not lose faith or trust in the world, to relax, to spend time doing things you find relaxing and enjoyable, to eat well and try to get enough sleep. Be more cat.