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The festive season is over and your pants are tighter than your wallet. What went wrong? AGAIN?

3 Jan

Suzanne’s Perspective

The feasting , I mean *festive* season has come to a close.

Did you feast?

To be more accurate, despite promising yourself to take it easy this year, did you feast like there was no tomorrow, while promising yourself you would start your diet in January?

Now that January is here, are you still reaching for the pies because you are depressed about the enormity of the task ahead and too broke to afford a gym membership/buy healthy food anyway?

What went wrong?

Again?

For most of my adult life I have resented the festive season.  I feel out of control, as though the world is trying to force feed me, like a Christmas goose being fattened up for slaughter.

Despite what  glossy magazines tell you about how to ‘choose this instead of that’,  I have yet to find a non offensive way to insist on getting a blob of cottage cheese on a crispbread (‘cut the crispbread into small squares and layer them between the cheese! It will still feel decadent!” they promise) when the host of the third party in as many days, offers me a tray of mini pork sausages stuffed with cheese, wrapped in bacon, while shoving a fruity sugary alcoholic drink into my other hand.

Oh alright then, I will eat it all...

Perhaps there has been a magazine article written on how to artfully offend your friends, I have yet to read it.  If I was to demand a low fat snack at a party while rejecting the proffered offerings, I am quite certain I would not be regarded as sensible and empowered – I think it’s far more likely I would be called, smug, fussy and downright ungrateful.  To my face.  Possibly followed by that fruity drink and a dollop of spittle.

The trouble with asking for a paper towel on which to dab the excess fat off a double fried chocolate fat nugget, or eating half the food you have been served and piously pushing your plate away, or pouring half your cocktail down the sink and topping up your glass with water – if this is not obvious – is that it is RUDE.  Your host has spent hours preparing the feast and probably a fair amount of cash on the ingredients.  In addition to this, the meal, if it is a small party or family get together, was probably prepared with your tastes and preferences in mind.  Your sister saw how much you enjoyed the fat nuggets last year.. you asked for seconds!  That’s why she made them again this year… specially for you… how easy then, is it to push them away when they are proudly offered?

Not easy at all, you admit, unbuttoning another button of your jeans.

Imagine a world in which you could feel safe going to dinner parties in December knowing you would not have to eat anything which fell outside of your healthy eating plan.  Imagine not even being offered these things at all, not because you have been excluded, but because these things were not even prepared, based on your attendance.  Imagine a world where not preparing these items did not make your host feel resentful, but instead made them feel considerate and open-minded.

Welcome to the world of the belief system motivated vegetarian.

Think back on the last time you hosted a vegetarian.  When you decided to include this person on your guest list you already knew a few things about them.  You knew they did not eat meat for religious or other personal reasons.  You knew with certainty this was not a point for compromise or negotiation.  Did you then, insist on serving only meatballs, even when this guest was the only vegetarian at the table?  No you did not.  Instead you created some fancy sundried tomato-balanced on a soya bean starter (which everyone, seeking to appear evolved and tolerant of the veggie eating guest, raved about) and also probably served a vegetarian lasagna which it took you twice as long to make as a steak pie would have, necessitating a trip to three different stores just to find aubergines.

On top of that, I bet you felt rather smug about it.  It was probably easy to say to your brother Peter (known for only eating meat and potatoes) – “It will be a meat free evening tonight Pete”.

As the host you felt splendid about it – what a great chance to show how liberal and cosmopolitan you are.  Meat free?  Oh.. that’s easy!  That is just the type of flexible and inclusive host I am!

The same accommodations are made for diabetics and alcoholics and they are made just as happily.

So why then can a dinner party menu not be planned around the guest (or guests, which is more likely) who are trying to slim down or manage their weight over the festive season?

Here are a couple of reasons :

*We don’t declare our dietary requirements upfront.

*If we do declare our dietary requirements, we do it WRONG.

*We don’t follow through.

*We are secretly pleased we didn’t have to follow through.

Everyone knows who the vegans, vegetarians and diabetics are.  People who have specific dietary requirements have learnt that it does not serve them to stay silent.  It is not uncommon to meet a new colleague in the workplace and to have them introduce themselves as, “Hi, I am Johno, the new Accountant and I am a vegan”.   If you didn’t already know and you invite one of these people to a party, they will not mind reminding you either, several times if necessary.

People who are on a healthy eating plan are less eager to declare their requirements so blatantly for fear of scorn and derision.  If we are completely honest we must also concede that we sometimes do not describe out dietary requirements because we already plan to fail them and do not want to have to explain ourselves when the person who we outlined our carb free eating choices to in detail sees us grazing a family size box of doughnuts at the office a few days later.. but that is another blog altogether.

hmmm... I think I will pretend I want the carrots and then allow myself to be 'forced' to eat the pie...

Vegetarians and Vegans are not immune to scorn and derision.  They will tell you that when they first come out the soya closet into the meat locker which is the world in which we live, they are interrogated and questioned like criminals.  It only hurts the first couple of times though, and people do then eventually get over it and accept it.  Vegetarians and Vegans feel strongly enough about their choices and are prepared to face this sort of pain in order to reap the rewards waiting on the other side – evenings of dining without awkward moments or social pressure, without compromise or confrontation.

When followers of a healthy eating plan do manage to find the courage to come clean upfront they often hamstring themselves by apologizing or sounding ashamed about it.  The knee-jerk reaction of the person on the receiving end, when they hear ; “I would LOVE to enjoy your delicious lemon meringue pie again this season, but sadly, I am on a diet”… is to respond with, “you don’t need to diet darling! We all love you just the way you are.. don’t be silly.. one piece of pie won’t hurt you!”.  Both host and hosted disempowered… and you have only yourself to blame.  Listen to how different this sounds : “You are such a wonderful host so I thought I better let you know as soon as possible so you understand and are aware that I wont be having any of your lemon meringue pie this year; I don’t eat sugar”.

Case closed.

When a vegan gets to a dinner party and a bleeding slice of meat is served up to them, they don’t eat it.  They don’t guzzle it down while whispering to their partner that they ‘don’t want to make a fuss’.  They don’t eat it, even if it causes an awkward moment.  They know their abstinence is a sure fire way of underlining their dietary preferences to ensure it won’t happen again, and the hostess will probably be mortified when realizing the mistake and knowing the guest will go hungry.  They don’t feel bad in the slightest because they know they have explained their choices several times. They feel quite comfortable pushing that plate away.

The difference, the very big difference, is that the vegan was not secretly hoping they would get the hard choice taken away from them and get ‘forced’ to eat the meat.  The vegan is truly comfortable and satisfied with their eating plan.  They own it.  They are fully in, not balancing on a knife edge, hoping for a push to topple them and give them an excuse to abdicate from the choice and responsibility of eating too much of the things they said they did not want to eat this season.

So there it is.  Nobody force fed me this festive season, or any other festive season.  If I feel I have been fattened like a goose for slaughter, I need to acknowledge it is I that am holding the feeding tube.

Is it not time healthy eaters took on an empowering term of their own?  I am a….”X”… sorry.. I cannot eat that.   A friend suggested the term “Spartan”, or I suppose we could stick with “dieter”.  I am not satisfied with either as I would prefer to move away from anything which references deprivation or self pity.  We need something which spells it out in the same way Vegan spells it out.

I need to think more on it.  If anyone has any suggestions, I would love to hear from you.

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Session Notes : Fed Up

24 Apr

First off, my apologies for neglecting this blog.

I (Soo), have been swept up by the real world, and what has become a busy coaching practice, and Heather has been jet-setting around the globe as a busy social entrepreneur should.

The issues of weight management, food addiction and all the many other issues which orbit around the subject have, however, never been far from my mind.

I am posting my notes from the last Fed Up (Food Addicts Group Therapy) session, which was held at my offices just short of two weeks ago.

I wanted to post these notes because there is still a fair amount of confusion as to what Fed Up is all about, as well as questions regarding its philosophy and content.  I hope this inclusion helps to answer some of those questions, but I also wanted to point out the following :

  • The attached notes represent only the framework of what was a very inclusive Group Therapy session.  You are looking at the skeleton.  To get the meat, you would really need to be there*.
  • At each session a different hot topic is raised.  In future I will not be sharing the topics in this way (just posting my pre-session notes) but I will rather bring together the learnings and points of view of all the attendees in an after session blog post.  I think the result will be far more interesting to the reader.

*I realise it is not possible for everyone, particularly the international followers of this blog, to ‘be there’.   I am working on a way round that, perhaps a podcast format for some portions of the session, or transcripts (thinking cap needs time to do its work…)

As usual, email me at talktosoopat@hotmail.com if you do not want your comments on the record.

FED UP, SESSION NOTES : APRIL 12TH 2011

WELCOME (Soo)

WHAT IS FED UP NOT?

A slimming club

A pity party

A one man show

FED UP IS :

A safe space

A place without judgement

A place to vent

A place to be real

A place and time to take ownership and responsibility for your life, your communication and your actions

THE FED UP MANIFESTO :

Fed Up is a confidential on-going support system for women struggling with issues related to food addiction and self esteem.  The Fed Up Sessions have a group therapy structure, and offer encouragement and therapeutic advice in your journey to self-awareness, victory over your addiction and the issues which underlie it.  You will NOT be weighed, you will NOT be measured.  You will not be asked to leave the group if you do not lose weight.  You will never be shamed, over praised or treated like a child.  You WILL be heard, understood, and given an opportunity to vent, facilitated by a kind a gentle process.

There are a few rules here, and they are designed to protect and empower us all

  • Never comment on a group member’s weight, whether it be a gain or a loss, unless the information is freely offered, and your opinion is sought.   We do not measure each other’s worth based on kilograms in this space, and this is not a competition.   Please know that I will stop you, if I see you doing this at any time. Feel free however to crow about your achievements, or vent your frustrations during the sharing portion of the session.
  • Do not use these sessions to evangelize about the latest weight loss fad, or to sell anything to anyone.  If the details of a diet or plan are specifically requested, rather offer an email, or a private phone conversation at a later time. I do not want participants of this group feeling they have been tricked into an Amway or direct sales presentation.  Please know that I will stop you, if I see you doing this at any time.
  • Be aware of the time you take up, in proportion to the other ladies in the group.  It is my responsibility as facilitator of these sessions to ensure they do not become focused on, or dominated by, one person and I will take measures to ensure this, if this ever becomes necessary.  If you need more of my time, approach me afterwards to arrange a one on one session.

INTRODUCTION & VENTING (All)

Each person introduces themselves, speaks briefly of their history with regard to food, and vents something, if necessary.  They can choose to end by reading the fed up affirmation.  Two minutes per person. (These confessional moments will never be shared in a blog.  They are private.  What happens in Fed Up, stays in Fed Up).

“I am FED UP with a world which measures my worth in kilograms.  I am FED UP by the ways in which I have reacted to these measures and judgements in the past.  I am FED UP! Today, I am moving forward, taking charge, and claiming my right to life, love and happiness.  Right NOW”

THE HOT TOPIC (tabled & facilitated by Soo, and discussed by all)

(Please note these are my rough pre-session notes.  I welcome any questions or queries on this topic, which was discussed in depth by the group during the session.)

“I don’t trust my body”

“when I eat too much, food makes me feel polluted and stuffed”

(these things were said by an anorexic, who weighs 73 pounds)

This woman is deliberately attempting to get as fat as she can. Empathy, Disgust or Pity?

What I really want to achieve tonight is a possible re-frame on some of these issues.  When food is the weapon are we really so different, in the ways we harm ourselves? Do we have double standards?  Do we have less sympathy, or more sympathy for different kinds of eating disorders?  Do we feel ok about ripping off a skinny person, in the way we would never consider doing to a fat person?  Or perhaps vice versa?  Do we admire the extremely skinny on a level, even anorexics, while we are disgusted by the obese? Aren’t they both killing themselves?

Anorexics can be mean and controlling to get what they want.  They lie about what they have eaten.  This is well documented.  Can fat people also be mean and controlling to get what they want?  Do they also lie about what they have eaten?  Does an anorexic person seem meaner to you?  Does a fat person seem sadder?  Does one have more of a reason or excuse to lie, than the other, in your mind?

Anorexic documentary : family describes when she ‘gets ugly’ she is ‘like a monster’.  How would it feel to be described this way, based on your weight?  Have you been described in this way, based on your weight?

This woman has deliberately attempted to get as thin as she can. Empathy, Disgust or Pity?

Anorexics have interventions and are told ‘you are killing yourself!” or are taken on Dr Phil, or sent off to treatment centres, where they are forced to eat the ‘right’ amount… but this is not done for the obese.  Why the double standard.  Who is getting short-changed?  Are the problems of the obese not taken seriously?  Does Anorexia get more ‘sympathy’?  Does it get less?

Anorexics often seek to dictate the terms of their treatment, or want to quit.  Do the obese do the same?  Are you able to relinquish control (and should you), even if this control is related to wanting to be left completely alone to self abuse, or insisting on following a crazy diet of your choosing, rather than following the advice and help of others? (Dr Phil to anorexic ‘You don’t get to be calling the terms of your treatment’.  ‘You are not equipped to deal with how this should be handled’)

Anorexics insist on exercising, or do it secretly.  The obese refuse to exercise, feel persecuted about being forced to exercise, and don’t stick to exercise programs and resent them.

Anorexics eat secretly for fear of being judged.  The obese eat secretly for fear of being judged.

Others say to anorexics “you don’t have to do this, stop right now.  Why are you being so selfish?”.  Does that seem reasonable.  How would you feel, if the same thing was said to you, as an obese or overweight person?

Anorexics are asked to stand in their underwear and to lift their shirts and show their bony ribs, and these clips are shown on national television, to show ‘the extent of their disease’ and how it has ‘ravaged her body’.  How do you feel about this?  How would you feel if you saw a clip of an obese person, who was asked to lift their shirt and show their fat rolls, or to stand in skimpy underwear to show the world ‘the extent of the disease which has ravaged her body’.  Are you more sympathetic to one, over the other, in terms of this humiliation?  Are you more sympathetic to one over the other, in terms of their disease?

Not Enabling Means :  Your disorder is not allowed in the house, in the same way as an abusive boyfriend.  No special accommodations are made (such as : ‘this is my food’, ‘this is my mustard’, ‘no one must watch me eat’, ‘no one is allowed to comment when I go off the rails’)

Anorexic’s say “I feel as though I am trapped in this body, while others are having fun and having a life”.  Do the obese say the same thing? (Particularly regarding hobbies and interests).

TONIGHT’S POWER TOOL (explained by Soo, and then workshopped by the group)

Do you know how to take a compliment?  Really take it and integrate it?  Do you know how to deliver a compliment?

Would you like to have a tool which allows you to take a compliment at face value, and to feel bolstered by it, no matter what it is?

Receiving a compliment :

Example :

“You really look fantastic.  Something is different.  What is it?”

Steps :

  • Internalise – do you believe it? Give them the benefit of the doubt.  Take it in equal measure (the example of the tot glass vs the pint glass – they are offering you a pint glass worth, but your current self esteem results in you receiving it in a tot glass)
  • Smile.  Don’t grimace or squirm!
  • Respond and pay it forward.  The practice of giving genuine compliments must be rewarded!  Be sincere.  Dig deep.

“Thank You.  I feel good.  Life is good.  I really appreciate how you have picked up on my improved attitude.  I respect and admire how in tune you are with people”.

THE PROCESS FOR GIVING A COMPLIMENT IS THE SAME!  Make sure you are not :

Giving a back handed compliment and that you don’t have any urge to ‘put them in their place’.  Even seemingly perfect people need compliments.  It is meaningful compliments they would prefer, ones which do not relate to their looks.

CLOSING COMPLIMENTS

compliments : I'll take em!

Each person gives a compliment to the person next to them.  It is not allowed to be based on their size. (post- meeting note :  This was an experiment and it ROCKED.  It may sound silly or superficial, but it was actually wonderfully moving and affirming, as we were all sincere and digging deep.  It ended the session on a high note)

Meeting closes.

Bands and Ties and Other Things Which Bind

24 Jan

Suzanne’s Perspective

At the end of last year, my big sister (in all the ways that count, and some that don’t) underwent a surgical procedure, and had a weight loss device – a lap band – inserted.  She now has a teeny little inner tube circling her stomach, which when inflated will squeeze tighter and more efficiently than any iron-fisted willpower she has been able to summon to date and limit the amount of food she can comfortably eat in one sitting.

Inside my 15 year-old sister (pictured here) was always a fat person, fighting her way out. Slim and pretty, but in her mind fat and clumsy. Hiding under bulky shorts, arms covering a belly she didn't have. Eating until years later, her outside matched her inside.

Two earth-shattering, conscience jarring, where-the-hell-do-you-stand-on-anything-actually parcels of life found their way to my door step at the end of last year.  Both of them, in terms of my contribution to this blog, struck me dumb.

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Diet Diaries : Part 2 : The Milkshake Diet and Soo’s Homemade “you can always eat it tomorrow” Plan

14 Oct

I measured myself after a week of adhering to the Atkins Diet (as described in my previous blog) and I did not lose a single centimeter.  Not one.  I cannot tell you whether or not I lost mass, as I don’t own a scale, but even if I had, it would be a misleading brain hump, as centimeters are what really count in this game.  So scrap that.  All that suffering for nada.

Well maybe it was good for something – my veggie friends would be delighted to know that I am currently repulsed by the texture and smell of red meat.

So here are my measurements, as promised, the week before, and the week after the Atkins Diet :

Chest 98 cm’s (38 ½  inches)

Waist 77 cm’s (30 ½ inches)

Hips 91 cm’s (36 inches)

Thigh 57 cm’s (22 ½ inches)

Calve 34 cm’s (13 ½ inches)

Upper Arm 27 cm’s (10 ½ inches)

 

hmmm.. I am not sure I have got a fair shake

 

For the first three days after abandoning the Atkins Diet, I followed a Milkshake Diet.  This was probably venturing a little too deeply into old territory for the sake of science, but I weighed up my decision for about 30 seconds and decided I could handle it.  I went to the Supermarket and picked up a can of Strawberry “SHAPE”.

Although Milkshake Diets may have become more sophisticated since the nineties and there a several more popular brands available these days, “SHAPE” will always hold a special place in my heart.  I lived off it for six weeks straight (and the occasionally cup of Black Forrest Tea) while taking part in Bikini Competitions when I was 21.

It is cheap (R85 buys you a tin good for 15 meals) and it always promises quick results, if you have the right sort of twisted willpower.  I wondered how I would fair on it now, all these years later.

Making a glass of “SHAPE” involves scooping 3 nuclear pink tablespoons of powder into a glass, and adding 200ml of milk.  This inadequate amount of milk makes for a very sad looking half glass of shake, so I always top it up with water, which also dilutes it down, as I find it a little thick for my taste.

I watch the powdery lumps circling round the top of my shake nostalgically.  When you use the chocolate flavor you will grow to love those lumps, and hungrily claw at your empty glass with your fingers to scratch out the last of them, but the strawberry flavor is quite a bit sweeter, and the lumps are just plain nasty.  I had forgotten about my trick of making a paste with a bit of hot water first to remove the lumps.

“SHAPE” is quite delicious, although you will tire of the strawberry flavor more quickly than you will of the chocolate (which is almost impossible to find at the shops).  You need to replace two out of three meals in the day with the shake, and then you need to ensure your evening meal is modest.  A pamphlet attached to the lid of your tin (containing a ridiculous weight to height chart seemingly designed to make overweight people feel better about themselves) helps you work it all out.  A good evening meal would be a skinless chicken breast and steamed vegetables.

I find a good evening meal to be another serving of “SHAPE”.

What you can expect on a milkshake diet :

  • You will be starving ALL the time, despite what the packaging says.  I am not joking or exaggerating.  If you have never been able to handle feeling starving without heading for the fridge, this is NOT the diet for you.
  • Although you will be starving, you will not feel shaky.  Not feeling shaky will help you to get over feeling starving.  You are not going to pass out.  You will not feel dizzy.  Certainly better than being garden variety starving, with all the other side effects normally associated with it.  Here’s the catch though… people often quit diets because “I was feeling dizzy and felt as though I would pass out, and I can’t be expected to live like that”.  Well if those excuses have been your free pass to quit this sort of extreme regimen in the past, you will be deprived of them here.  The milkshakes are giving your body just enough nutrients to not shut down, but not enough to avoid discomfort.
  • You will be constipated.
  • You will feel like a social freak, so work around this by using your allowed meal on occasions where you are dining out with friends.

Milkshake diets are fuss free, as you don’t need to agonize over planning your next meal, and you can stick to them while working at an office.  Milkshake diets are NOT easy to follow.  I can’t stress this enough.

After a day or two on a milkshake diet, if you are a certain sort of person, you will start to enjoy the deprivation.  You will feel virtuous, smug and light.  You might even feel highly energized.  If you are me, with a certain history and following the plan for the purposes of blogging about it, this is when it is time to stop.

I lost 4cm overall in 3 days.

After that exercise in stupidity, I followed what I would like to call the “you can always eat it tomorrow” plan, for what remained of the two weeks leading up to today.

The rules are simple.  Stick to universally recognized healthy eating guidelines.  Drink more water and less soft drinks.  Cut out sugar wherever possible including the fair chunk you have in coffee and tea every day.  Remove visible fat from meat.  Eat more vegetables.

And most importantly, when you need to eat something delicious, eat it, but don’t eat it all.  Eat half of it, and put the rest in the fridge, and tell yourself – “you can always eat it tomorrow”.  When tomorrow comes, see if you can trick yourself into delaying it by another day.  Or eat it.  Whatever.  If you keep delaying it, it will eventually get nasty in the fridge and you will rather choose to throw it away.  If you do eat it, it is only a half portion of the original, spread over two days.

Here are my measurement’s, as of this morning.

Chest 95 cm’s (37 ½  inches) – 3 cm’s lost (the boobs always the first to go… *sigh*)

Waist 75 cm’s (29 ½ inches) – 2 cm’s lost (the place I really want to lose it)

Hips 88 cm’s (34 ½ inches) – 3 cm’s lost (the place I really want to lose it)

Thigh 57 cm’s (22 ½ inches) – the same. Not surprising, as not where I carry weight

Calve 34 cm’s (13 ½ inches) – the same. Not surprising, as not where I carry weight

Upper Arm 27 cm’s (10 ½ inches) – the same. Not surprising, as not where I carry weight

Total lost in 2 weeks : 8cm’s (just over 3 inches)

 

there it is

 

I took these photographs this morning, and perhaps it is appropriate to admit a few things.

  • I probably wasn’t fat 3 weeks ago.
  • I probably got hysterical when I laid eyes on a very unfortunate and unflattering photograph of myself (see below).
  • I probably went about this all the wrong way.
  • I am probably still going to try to lose a little more, but not by using Atkins, or drinking shakes.
  • I probably need to pay a little more attention to my state of mind when conducting “experiments”.
  • I am probably only human, and I would rather be real, than pretend to be perfect, either physically or emotionally.

Next time, I would like to talk about what all of this means.  Do you know any women who have a healthy relationship with food?  What IS a healthy relationship with food?  And other thoughts.

Thank you as always for your emails.  I do understand why you cannot comment here.

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Diet Diaries Part 1 : Atkins

30 Sep

Suzanne’s Perspective

Let me start this post with a disclaimer.  I am doing my best to blog honestly.  I do not believe it is helpful to anyone for me to self edit through this process.  I do rant, I do get revolted with myself and I am not always a paragon of virtue, goodness and light.  Please read this blog as being personal to me and my journey.  I am not calling you, or anyone else any of the names I occasionally call myself.  I ask any reader to please not project, or feel persecuted by my rants.  The alternative to posting honestly is to bottle up and lie, and I am not going to do that.  Please deal.  Thanks in anticipation.

One week ago :

It is spring, and I find myself a size 34, instead of a 32 or a 30.  I have these great boobs at the moment, but after that, there is not much to recommend it.  My face is plain and moonish, the tops of my thighs rounded and lumpy and I have a little pasty paunch.  I am as close to chubby as I ever allow myself to get.  Size 36 would be unforgivable –  I would commit myself to the fat farm if it came to that, but this is close.. too darn close to being completely revolting and out of control.

I succeed at healthy eating, most of the time, but for the last couple of weeks I have not, and on top of the 3kgs I was carrying from earlier in winter, this has been enough to deliver me to my present circumstances.  You won’t hear any excuses from me.  There is nothing wrong with my metabolism.  I am not big boned.  I did not eat hardly anything and then just glanced at a pizza and gained weight.  I am the only one who raised my greedy paw to my mouth and who tucked into second helpings of pasta.  Me alone, my hand unguided by any malevolent chubby fairy.

I will also spare you all the boo-the-hoo-hoo’s about how I have been stressed and under pressure in various areas of my life, as well as occasionally lonely and housebound in the cold and miserable weather of previous months.

If chocolate is a friend, who needs enemies, right?

The pic from two weeks ago which tipped the scales : don't you want me baby? (in my defence, that was actually my first drink at a Fancy Dress party, and it was a dark garden, suddenly lit up by the flash of the camera, which revealed the true horror which is me)

I have rationalized to myself, how the 6kg’s  I need to lose presents me with a perfect opportunity to trial a couple of diets, and allow you, the audience, to suffer through them with me.  So here it goes.  You will get only honesty from me, so if you are not sure you are going to like it, stop reading now.

Perhaps I should have said that a few paragraphs ago?  (Don’t worry past week ago self, your future self added a helpful disclaimer, but you should still expect a little hate mail)

The Atkins Diet.

I am looking for fast results, and I don’t mind a bit of sacrifice.  Truth be told.. I NEED  a bit of sacrifice.

In case you have been locked in a trunk for the past 40 years, The Atkins diet is a high protein, low (as in NO) carb plan.  You are allowed to eat large quantities of meat, eggs and cheese and not much else.

I have had a run in with the Atkins Diet before and it worked out rather nicely for me.  I have never been able to sustain it for more than three weeks, and I am interested to see how I fair this time (ie. I am ready to do it again, because I have forgotten how nasty it is).

I start by emptying my fridge of all offending, forbidden items.  Out goes the low fat yoghurt I eat for breakfast.  Into the freezer go the bananas and strawberries I still have a stock of.  I leave the milk behind, as I will still need it for guests.  The cream also stays because I am allowed to use it as a milk substitute in coffee.

yup. there is is.

There wasn’t much else in my fridge, so I head for the shops.  I soon realize this is going to be an expensive little experiment as I fill my basket with bacon, steaks, full fat cheddar, pork chops, chicken breasts and Avo’s.  I spend R500 without even trying, and it’s probably not enough to last me more than three or four days.  I feel a little resentful.

I take my measurements on the first day as I don’t have a scale (which is why I judge myself based on clothing size not on weight).

I decide to refresh my memory about anything else I need to know about the pros and cons of the diet and hit the interwebs.  I am soon confronted with some sobering news.  No alcohol.

I thought I had remembered being allowed vodka and Coke Zero (which has been my staple for years), but apparently not.  I ponder how I am going to survive my date the same evening.  We had planned to “go for drinks”.  I mean it’s not like I am an alchie or anything, but I do have one or  two vodkas about twice a week on dates, and when I meet friends.

Alright then, I will suggest we meet for coffee instead.  Perfectly reasonable, and most places serve cappuccinos with real cream if you ask for it.  I read further.  No caffeine.  Ok.. now that is going to be more of a problem.   “I didn’t sign up for this!”  I wail.

I keep reading.  “You can expect to experience withdrawal symptoms from caffeine if you are a regular coffee drinker, such as headaches and listlessness”.  No kidding.  I feel the immediate onset of a migraine.

Oh, but heres the kicker.  “No Aspartame.  Please choose a soda which does not contain aspartame”.  Well, I never realized this before now, but no such diet drink exists on the South African market (that I can find).  Which means I will have to sip water on my date as coffee and Coke Zero are forbidden.

I have eaten steak and chicken all day, but I decide before leaving the house that the options presented are just too humiliating for me and I allocate myself 2 x Coke Zeros WITH vodka for the evening.

First day diet fail.

I wake up feeling ashamed of myself the next day and decide to not leave the house for the duration of the diet, unless strictly necessary, as there is nothing I am allowed to consume at any restaurant or coffee house.  It was going to be a little easier as for the first 6 days of my diet I would be working from home, and only on the last day did I have a working day which took place outside of the home.  I would barricade myself in, with just bacon and steak for company.  So be it.  Great sacrifices and all that.

I took six aspirins on the second day to combat my caffeine withdrawal, which was severe.  I also noticed I had not been to the toilet.  Hit the net again and found “severe constipation” was to be expected, and combated by adding some husks or other to your food and drinking lots of water.  Yay.

The days pass and I am sticking to Atkins like a crazed zealot.  I have to wash my frying pan four times a day.  Everything is dripping with fat and I pretend it does not repulse me.  My drain blocks from all the fat getting washed down it from pan cleaning on day three and I have a sharp vision of the same gunky glue trying to work its way through my system.

I finally pass one small dry parcel on day four.

I am not sure if I am losing weight or not. I check myself out in the mirror each morning, waiting to see some sort of change (Atkins promises weight loss of between 2 and 5kg in the first two weeks).  My paunch seems bigger, probably because every pork chop and avo topped chicken breast is still churning within it.

Speaking of churning, my stomach is constantly groaning and mubbling like a cement mixer while I am on this diet.  It keeps me awake some nights.

Because it inspires me to remember why I am doing this, I sit around naked a lot while working, to not allow myself to forget about my belly and lumpy thighs.

I may be acting like a crazy person.

would you like a creamy de-caf coffee with your flesh madam?

I am exhausted.  I don’t manage to get through a single day without a nap, and I haven’t found time to exercise this week, which is not like me.

Everything on my plate is brown or yellow and equal parts crispy/greasy.  I am allowed a few handfuls of all the boring vegetables per day, which offer nothing in compensation.

On night four I dream of feasting on chocolate, fruit and cakes, and when I wake for a panicked moment I am not sure if I have or not.

Night five presents another challenge.  I have to leave the house.  It is my “Rumble in Pub” debating night, and I never miss it.  What to do about the beverage situation??? What to do???  I turn back to the net to try to find out why caffeine is the devil on this diet as I remember it never used to be in Dr Atkins first edition.  Apparently new discoveries show caffeine (and the dreaded aspartame) cause carb cravings.  Deciding I couldn’t possibly crave carbs any more than I am already, I make the decision to have three fully loaded cappuccinos at the pub.  They are DELICIOUS and as punishment I get about 3 minutes of sleep that night.

I have spent many hours this week scratching flesh out my teeth.  When you eat this much protein you realize how sinewy and stringy it actually is.  Even a well cooked steak or chicken breast is as easy to chew as a ball of string.  My gums are sore.  My breath stinks.

On day six I ponder how stupid I have been feeling all week.  I feel mildly brain damaged and can’t wrap my head around any of my daily chores or assignments.  I have procrastinated all important tasks, and even this blog, written on the last day of the week is a massive slog which I am plonking out with red eyes, my fingers feeling as heavy as lead on the keyboard.

Is there anything I have enjoyed about this diet? *stares blankly for 20 minutes into the middle distance*

I haven’t once had “that shaky feeling” which I get when I go too long between meals or eat too much sugar or carbs.  Atkins claims to balance your blood sugar levels, and maybe there is something in it.  But before I give them too much credit I was following their guideline of not going more than six waking hours between meals, which may have made the real difference, as I have been guilty in the past of going entire days without eating anything more than one large evening meal.

There have been a few moments where I feel manically energetic and my heart races, so its not entirely true to say I have been tired ALL the time.

One week on Atkins is enough for me, I suspect, and tonight I will take my measurements to determine if my pain and suffering to date has yielded any sort of result.

Don’t worry, I will post them, and we can all compare and stuff.  I would never deprive you of that.

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We are all one pay-cheque away from chubby

21 Sep

If you are “a normal weight”, you walk a very fine line between fat and skinny.

One bout of a 3 day tummy bug would be enough to have you knocking on the door of skinny, and a one week beach holiday at a hotel with a buffet is sufficient to push you into chubby land.

fighting the beast within?

We walk really close to the edge and it may be partly responsible for why and how we lash out at people on either end of the weight spectrum.

Anyone who has seen “American Beauty” knows the guy who is the meanest to gay men, is like that because he is terribly fearful of the inevitable weak moment he will try to stick his tongue down the throat of Kevin Spacey.

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the risk of unprotected life – a poem

23 Aug

(a poem by Soo, written in April 2010)

I made a suit
To protect my core
I made it better than before
My early suits were full of fail
Malfunctions on a epic scale
The first I knitted from whipped cream
It tore apart I blame the seams
I got the second off ebay
I went uncovered for a day
I smiled at someone on the way,
To fetch my suit late in the day
It wasn’t ready when they said
So I decided to get hitched instead.
The risk of unprotected life
From smile to lust to love to wife
Then wife to smile to on my own
With burnt fingers better suits are sewn
This time lined with kryptonite
But also sexy sleek and tight
Last week it caught on a 6ft nail
Another cautionary tale.
For a second I thought I wanted that
But this will do
I am intact.

well suited

Protective layers.  It is not only my sister who understands the concept.

Poetry.  Try it.  Not just for geeks and pretentious asses, and often a way to get whats in.. out.

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