A 15kg gain

No, not me (thankfully), but my son. 15kg since Christmas. Since he had the tube fitted. I cannot tell you how unbelievably happy this makes me. 5 months ago I thought I would be saying goodbye to him. He had been going downhill for several months, he had become a walking skeleton. No energy, depressed, ill, ill, ill.

But now – my god now everything is so much better. He has gained a huge amount of weight since starting overnight tube feeds, we have been on holiday to Greece (photo above) and he has a tan, he is doing exercise at the gym. I literally cannot believe the transformation and I thank the universe daily. I know, absolutely, that with cystic fibrosis this too can change in an instant, but for now I am happy and utterly, utterly relieved.

As ever while my son is trying to gain weight I am trying to lose it. A month ago I wrote about the dreaded plateau and how I was hoping to shift things by doing a 48 hour fast. Well… roll of drums…. I actually did it. A 48 hour fast!! This to my mind is absolutely amazing. I felt so proud of myself I did another 36 hour one a few days later. But I found that one much harder for some reason. The upshot is I have lost….. nothing. Aargh! Nothing. Yes I did lost weight initially but even though I carried on with low carb food the weight still went back on and it has made no difference long term.

If I view it that it’s a good way of giving my pancreas a rest and therefore might help with insulin resistance then I might try it again. In terms of weight loss it doesn’t seem to work for me. But probably if I did it regularly it would. I’m just not sure I’m ready, yet, to fast regularly. I like my food too much! But… I can absolutely see that it would be a good way of dealing with stress. I get that. Something to do with the discipline of it all maybe.

My new weight loss MO is to have bits cut off me, by stealth. A week ago I had a lipoma removed. This fatty lump had been growing in my knicker line for 2 or 3 years and it was starting to get irritating. So I’ve paid to have it removed. What felt like a relatively small lump was actually huge in terms of the fat that came out of it!

lipoma

This be the lump!

Next week I am having my breasts reduced. Yep, that time has come. I’m quite looking forward to it. I think. I am looking forward to not having these pendulous things hanging in front of me. I am very grateful to them for being a positive asset when young but they are no longer fit for purpose. They need to go.

By way of preparation I am back to eating low carb, lots of veg, very little alcohol. Sob.

Yesterday’s menu

Br: fried halloumi and eggs

Lunch: huge salad with chicken, ham, olives and French dressing

Dinner: Pork chop and roast pepper traybake with leek and cabbage carbonara and cheesy aubergine bites. Yum.

I am probably mad but…

IMG_0630

…it’s got to be worth a try, right?

My weight has been very much Groundhog Day these past few months. I lost 20 kilos relatively easily in the first 9 months last year once I’d put my mind to it. Far, far more easily than I thought I would, having been on and off diets all my life.

But then the dreaded plateau struck and I’ve been hovering between 74.5 and 77 kilos for the past 6 months. God it’s boring. On the plus side at least I haven’t piled all the weight back on again for which I’m truly grateful. And I have learned what my maintenance diet is. Essentially fairly low carb most of the time with a bit of a bread, wine and cheese blow out when I’m away from home (which is quite often).

I refuse to give up my trips away from home as they keep me sane, surrounded as I am by various family members’ hideous illnesses and diseases which I often think affect me as much as they affect them. And I refuse to not eat delicious bread when I’m away from home. Life is too short for such denial. This attitude is my lardy downfall.

I would really, really like to get down to 70 kilos and then try and hover around that weight for ever more if at all possible. There will be ups and downs I know. I will still technically be overweight even then but that will do for me, being a woman of a certain age. Don’t want to get even more haggard and wrinkly looking.

So – what is a girl to do given that even when I am being ‘good’, like now, the scales still aren’t budging? Well… I have decided to try a 48 hour fast to shake things up a bit. I am probably mad. I have read Jason Fung’s Obesity Code, which is one of the best books about insulin resistance and how we have come to gorge on carbs by default that I have read. Dr Fung recommends fasting and actually if you’re in ketosis from low carbing it isn’t (allegedly) as horrendous as it sounds, as your appetite is already fairly suppressed.

Having started low carbing properly again on Monday I am edging towards ketosis I think and hopefully by tomorrow morning I’ll be in it. I’m planning on eating my last meal tonight and having my next meal on Saturday night. Is this even possible?! I will be recording my progress. Or lack of.

Today’s 3 mile walk was around Pendennis Head and up through Princess Pavilions (of which there is a picture of the grotto, above). Today’s food was a rasher of bacon and 2 eggs for breakfast. Lunch was chicken and salad out with friends. Dinner tonight will be steak and kidney pie without the pie, and veg. No wine. Gah.

That will be my last morsel of food until Saturday, 6.30pm. Gulp.

Eat Fat and Grow Slim(ish)

0006338089

 

 

I can’t recall a time I have ever been thin. Slim, yes, for about 5 minutes thirty years ago, but never thin. I first realised I was fatter than my friends when I was about eight I suppose, though the word ‘fat’ was never used. I was ‘chubby’, it was ‘puppy fat’. When I asked my Mum what puppy fat was she made it sound like it was going to magically disappear when I got to about 13. It didn’t.

So when I reached 13 and was still inexplicably larger than my friends I embarked on my first ‘diet’. Oh how I wish I could tell my thirteen year old self not to bother! It set in motion a life time of bloody dieting. I think my first diet was simply to eat fruit and nothing else. I lasted about a day.

When I got to 15 I heard about Dr Atkins and his revolutionary low carbohydrate diet. I read his book and others such as Pure, White and Deadly by John Yudkin. Eat Fat and Grow Slim by Richard Mackarness was another one. That was it; I was convinced. This time I really was going to lose weight and be beautiful.

And I did. Lose weight. About 20lbs. I wasn’t particularly beautiful but I was beautiful-er. I found it quite easy. No more slices of thick buttered toast when I came home from school, no more bars of Galaxy. Now it was cheese. I ate a lot of cheese. I took cheese and pickled onions on skewers for my lunch at school and my friends thought I was mad. But it worked.

However. Inevitably the weight crept back on. I kept it off through sixth form college but by the time I was 20 I was back to being somewhat porky. But then the boyfriend I absolutely adored did me a massive favour by buggering off to Paris with another girl (and borrowing money from little old unsuspecting me to do so) and the weight dropped off again. I was inconsolable. I had no appetite. I hoped that if I lost weight he would love me again. He didn’t. Bastard. He messed me around and screwed with my head. He was my official First Love, although now I think about it I did fall in love when I was 16 with a boy called Derek who tried to kill himself by taking 10 iron tablets when I dumped him.

The times when I have been slim have almost always been the result of severe emotional trauma. I need to break that cycle. I need to not be relying on the next catastrophe to lose weight. I need to grow up.

So here we are, forty years on, and I’m still low-carbing. In the intervening years I have tried every diet imaginable at some point and I can now safely say, after exhaustive research, that the only diet that works when you get to my age and have hypothyroid and metabolic disease is low carbohydrate. Or to use its current cooler name, ‘ketogenic’. The sad thing is that after years of dieting I can’t even get away with eating much cheese on a low carb diet. And that is a very sad state of affairs.

Escaping

IMG_0508

 

Whilst in the midst of my ‘I could scream’ mini breakdown my friend Eve told me she was going away for a few days. To Bexhill.

“Why Bexhill?” I asked.

“Because I’m thinking of moving there,” says she.

“What?! Why?! What’s wrong with here?!”

It turns out there’s nothing wrong with here, it’s just not home. Eve was born and brought up in the South-East and while she’s had a lovely time living in Cornwall the past 8 years it’s time to go home to where her family are.

We continued to amble along beside Loe Pool, as we do, chat, chat, chat when I said I was thinking of asking my brother if I could borrow his flat in London for a few days. Just to get away from my son, painful though that is for me to write. My brother spends half his time travelling and happens to have a lovely little flat in Camden.

“If he’s not going away you could always come to Bexhill with me,” said Eve.

“Why Bexhill? I ask again.

“I’ve been doing my research and it looks nice. I need to live by the sea and my budget rules out places like Brighton”.

So here we are in Bexhill. It is not nice it is a dump. It is soulless. There are endless shops devoted to old age: Alzheimers and Dementia Society, Mobility Aids, charity shops, many, many residential homes and funeral parlours. No doubt I will be delighted with all those things one day, but that day is not now. I cannot believe Eve is even considering it.

As the place that Eve booked had no space for me I did some googling and found myself a  bargain price hotel room. I totally lucked out. Eve’s place was grim, mine was fabulous. Lovely, comfy hotel: swimming pool, great bar, excellent breakfasts. The only downside to my otherwise very pleasant room was that the floor sloped at an angle of about 30 degrees, which was incredibly disconcerting whilst walking to the loo in the middle of the night, still half drunk.

The plan was to do lots of walking over the next few days to counteract the food I knew I would succumb to. As my hotel was a couple of miles outside Bexhill this was quite handy as it meant I more or less had to walk lots, just to get to Eve. Up and down Cooden Beach I walked, getting pebbles in my boots. My thighs are now strapping. I still managed to put on 4lbs in 4 days though. That takes some doing. I blame the hotel breakfasts. It just seemed rude to refuse the full English. Every. Single. Day.

Yum.

IMG_0505

Shrinking breasts

One of my motivating factors for wanting to lose weight was my consultation with Mr Breast-Reduction Man a year and a bit ago. He stared at my nakedness and told me I was too fat to have my breasts reduced. He did me the most massive, massive favour. He was right, god damn him, I could no longer pretend that if I had smaller breasts I would look thinner. I would still be fat but with perkier breasts. Perkier breasts deserved a better body to go with them than I was able to offer at that time.

He sent me away and told me to lose a stone. I lost three. Yes! I was really looking forward to presenting my new lighter self in his consulting rooms and being lavished with praise and a date for reducing my (still huge) breasts.

But something happened on the day of the consultation. Roads were blocked, the venue was changed last minute and I was also told that in any case the consultant didn’t do his operations in the Duchy Hospital any more. It was just before Christmas, I was worried sick about my son, irritated with the consultant’s secretary for being so incompetent so I just gave up on it and cancelled. The consultant, mortified at his secretary potentially costing him a lucrative operation, offered to see me in January instead, for free.

I was going to go. But then something happened in my brain. I realised I just wasn’t so bothered about it any more. Yes my breasts are still huge but they’re not quite as huge as they were. I’ve discovered Curvy Kate bras which repackage my breasts very well into something almost verging on perky. In short, I think I have reached peak boob job obsession and come out the other side. And saved myself several thousand pounds and recovery time when I’ve got enough on my plate as it is.

Today’s walk involved my friend Eve which was the best news as, due to illnesses, holidays and generally shit weather I haven’t seen her since before Christmas. We had a lot of catching up to do. A LOT. We covered every topic, as we generally do and she revealed that she’s thinking about moving back to the South-East. No!!!! She lives in Carbis Bay and this is the problem I told her. People move to Carbis Bay to live out their final years before they die. She is far too young for this. I am on a mission to persuade her to move to Falmouth, which, as everyone who lives here knows, is the best place on earth. She is unconvinced.

Yesterday I walked 12,000 steps. For breakfast I had bircher, for lunch I had tuna salad and for supper I had 2 pork steaks, sweet and sour peppers, creamed leeks and cabbage. This morning I weighed 75.1kg. It would seem I simply cannot get down to my previous lowest weight of 74.1kg. And I’m getting bloody fed up of it!

IMG_0160

 

 

Tumultuous Times

IMG_0149

…And……..breathe…..  It’s been a difficult few months. My son has been in and out of hospital, culminating early on Boxing Day by his needing to be rushed to A&E, having difficulty breathing. I kind of knew we were building up to it, but when it happened, and because it happened so suddenly, it was horrible. He had been hiding how ill he was.

I spent the next few days utterly terrified that he was on his way out. If not right then then in a few months’ time. Angus had a gastrostomy tube fitted in December and this had not gone well. He’d been in pain and without access to the painkillers he really needed (as it turned out), so he stayed in bed a lot. Staying in bed a lot when you have cystic fibrosis is wrong, wrong, wrong. You simply cannot do that. You have to keep moving. So that your lungs keep moving. If the alveoli in your lungs are constantly moving it is much harder for a bacteria to take hold and unleash micro bacterial havoc.

I visited my son every day, sometimes twice a day. We watched the stats. How much oxygen was he taking in? Too little, he needed extra O2. What about heart rate? Far too high; signs of infection (and also lung damage). I cried when I wasn’t with him. He was so thin it was impossible to see how he could still be alive. I have watched one of my children get thinner and thinner, and then die, I railed at the universe that I might have to do it again. It seemed impossibly cruel.

And then. A miracle. Angus turned a corner. The antibiotics started working. The gastrostomy tube stopped being so painful. Food was being absorbed through it overnight. This in turn led to his appetite starting to return. I could see – physically see – in his face, that he was putting on weight.

Another miracle: Angus somehow (and I have no idea how this happened) managed to improve enough so that we could go on our pre-booked family holiday to Lanzarote. Medical supplies and permissions from airports were hastily arranged. We needed to take seven huge feeding bottles in our hand luggage; way, way over the normal liquid allowance but it was all ok because Angus had a note!

As a result of us all expecting not to be going and then going we had the best holiday ever. The sun shone, Angus ate, Sorcha and Matt played pool by the pool, Ian and I swam in the sea. My mother though – aargh – managed to fall over at the airport before we’d even picked up our hire car and spent the rest of the week looking like a victim of domestic abuse.

This tale of woe has meant that my weight has been up and down and all around the houses. But some interesting stats: I started this #walkingmyselfslim campaign at 94kgs. Exactly one year later on 4th January 2018 I was 76kgs. I’m bloody proud of that! I have now been 76kg for about 3 months though…

I am still in the overweight area of the BMI chart though so I really, really need to lose some more. So… I AM BACK! Let the walking re-commence!

Today’s walk was round Mylor and Pandora. We even woke up to a little bit of snow, unheard of in Cornwall. ‘Twas lovely.

Gains… and desperately worrying losses

IMG_1980

 

 

Life is a bitch and this is why: while I am trying, very hard, and with painfully slow success to lose weight, my son is also losing weight. Except that he’s not trying. He’s trying to do the opposite in fact. His weight is now so low that I wonder if he can come back from this.

I lie awake at night worrying, worrying, worrying. It all started with the hideous bug Mycobacterium Abscessus which he started growing about 4 years ago. At first he kept on top of it – ish. Then, as more and more drugs have been tried to get rid of it my son has become more and more nauseous. The side effects of these very powerful antibiotics are bloody awful. The jury is still out as to which is worse – the symptoms of the illness or the side-effects of the medication. And worse still, there is no guarantee the medication will work and it often doesn’t. In my son’s case it hasn’t.

But still we try. Meanwhile A gets thinner and thinner and now just looks so ill and is a bag of bones. I literally cannot bear to look at him. He is in hospital now. Partly routine, he has to go in for IV antibiotics about every 4 or 5 months, but partly because I actually can’t cope with his being at home. I cannot watch him not eat. He won’t be here in 6 months’ time if he doesn’t put on weight.

There is hope. He has agreed to have a gastrostomy tube fitted so that he can be fed overnight straight into his stomach. But even that’s not straightforward. The operation itself, although a very simple one, could cause an infection which in turn could lead to sepsis because A has exhausted every single antibiotic there is. Once the peg is fitted he could still feel very sick and be unable to tolerate overnight feeds.

If someone had told me when I was younger that of the three children I would give birth to two of them would end up being tube fed for entirely different reasons I would a) never have believed them, and b) made sure contraception going forward was ultra robust. Almost worse than your child dying is watching your child suffer I think. I still have nightmares about the suffering my eldest child endured before his death.

But, this blog is supposed to be about my dietary successes or failures so, moving on: I am doing pretty well! In fact, I think trying to lose weight and doing exercise are a distraction from the pain going on around me in the rest of my life. I dread to think what I would be like now if I was going through this but still very fat and miserable about that too. Hideous.

I have now lost 18 kilos. Yes! 39.6lbs! I am two-thirds of the way there. My breasts are still massive unfortunately. I veer on a daily basis between deciding I definitely am going to have them reduced in size by a kindly surgeon to deciding that they’re not actually that bad (I have now discovered I am a 36GG not a 42DD so yes they are that bad) and it would be a complete waste of £6000 plus the recovery time, the scars etc, etc. Currently I’m thinking not to have it done.

They do really get in the way when I exercise though and being the age I am they are more like large Spaniel’s ears when I’m not wearing a bra rather than buoyant and sexy orbs. It’s not a good look. My breasts alone in a way are what incentivises me to keep going. If you are genetically pre-disposed to store a lot of fat in your breasts, which I clearly am, then the body will hold on to that fat until it has no choice. So in other words if you have large breasts then that area will be the first to get bigger if you gain weight and the last area to get smaller if you lose weight. If you have small breasts then the opposite is true. So… if I lost more weight would my breasts then get smaller? Properly smaller? It would be fantastic if they did so I’m going to give it my best shot. Though as I’m losing about a pound a month by the time I’ve lost the requisite amount of weight to make a difference I will probably be 87 and past caring.

I can but dream…

IMG_1614

 

Of the good old days, back in January, when I was losing consistently 1.1kgs a week. This week I have actually put ON 0.1kg and I have been eating more or less the same as I was a couple of months ago.

Or have I? Have the portions sizes been creeping up? The wine consumption become more regular? The walking slightly less frequent and more slowly maybe? Or is it just that I am 56 and basically fucked when it comes to trying to lose weight and keep it off because of pesky fat storing hormones?

One of the things I really wanted out of this trying-to-slim-down lark was smaller tits. Surely, surely they will reduce in size as the rest of me does? Well, no. My bra size is still massive and hasn’t changed at all. Maybe I fill the cups slightly less pneumatically but what I really want is noticeable difference. Not too much to ask when you’ve lost a stone and a half is it? Apparently yes.

I’ve been walking 3 or 4 miles a day, as usual, though I did have a couple of days off this week because I was feeling poorly.

Things I have eaten in the past week:

Thursday

Br: 2 fried eggs on one slice rye toast and butter

Lunch: 3 slices belly pork fried in magic dust, salad

Supper: Pork chop in M&S cheddar sauce, carrots, cauliflower and broccoli

Friday

Br: muesli mix

Lunch: carrot and bean chilli on some leftover veg

Supper: sausages, baked beans and chips (parboiled then oven roasted with Frylight)

Saturday

Br: 2 poached eggs on rye toast

Lunch: salad with half a quiche (pastry removed)

Supper: steak, mushroom, salad, onion rings, peas, pepper sauce

Sunday

Br: muesli mix

Lunch: (Easter Sunday, lunch out) roast beef, Yorkshire pud, 2 potatoes, veg, gravy, most of a bread and butter pudding (divine). Much wine.

Supper: salad with half a quiche, pastry removed

Monday

Br: 2 poached eggs on rye toast

Lunch:salad with halloumi cheese and cranberry sauce, turkey slice

Supper: roast lamb in orange and ginger sauce, veg, parsnips, wine.

Tuesday

Br: muesli mix

Lunch: salad with halloumi, cranberry sauce and turkey slice

Supper: courgetti bolognese

Wednesday

Br: 2 poached eggs on rye

Lunch: salad with turkey and corned beef

Supper: balsamic pork, pesto cauli mash and salad

Walked round the Trelowarren Estate today with Eve. Absolutely gorgeous. The thatched cottage above is just one of many we saw on our walk. Cornwall in Spring is so beautiful.

 

 

Just me and my boy (and the cats)

img_1392

It is awfully quiet in the house. My partner has gone to Italy with his son, skiing. My daughter and her boyfriend are up country visiting his parents, so it’s just me and my son and our two cats rattling around this house. And it’s rather nice. Much as I miss my partner and daughter sometimes it is nice to not have to cook for lots of people and to have to consider their needs. The not so great thing though, about today, was that Angus went to college and made pastries. Aargh. He came home with an apple pie, apple turnover, spotted dick and eclairs. They all looked totally divine. Agony.

It was lovely to see him eat a load of eclairs though. He needs, as ever, to put on weight. It is a constant battle. People with cystic fibrosis generally do better the more weight they have on them, yet it is so hard for them to gain weight. I wish I could siphon some (all!) of my excess fat to him. For the last twenty odd years we’ve had this weird dichotomy whereby I am trying to lose weight at the same time as he is trying to gain it. It is madly frustrating.

I was at Rock Choir this morning and my friend said, ‘have you lost weight?’ I beamed. Yes, my lovely friend, I have. Over a stone in fact. It is nice when people notice. Unfortunately I was so overweight to start with I think the amount I have lost is still barely noticeable.

Today the weather was cold and temperamental and it would have been very easy to stay indoors. But! I ignored the call of the log fire and donned a heavy mac. I did the usual Pendennis Head walk. When drier weather arrives I will start being a bit more varied. However I do love my regular walk even though I got hailed on today and I notice when I got back how much my mood had lifted. Walking really should be prescribed on the NHS.

Today I ate:

Breakfast: my muesli mix (which consists of nuts, seeds, coconut flakes, dried cranberries, a couple of tablespoons of Dorset Cereals muesli)

Lunch: I found a home-made cottage pie in the freezer and had that with broccoli and carrots.

Tea: 2 pork steaks in sweet chilli and soy sauce and salad.

 

 

Targets

img_1387

One of the ways in which I keep myself motivated is to have loads of mini targets. This is where the geeky part of me kicks in – I do love to do a bit of maths. So I have entered a few things on a google drive spreadsheet and I will tick them off as I (hopefully) reach them.

For example I have targets of ‘5% bodyweight lost’, ‘into the 13’s’ (that’s stones…), ‘into BMI overweight category’, ‘2 stone lost’, etc, etc. It means I’m never that far away from a particular target. I have ticked off four targets so far and the next one I’m aiming for is ‘13.5 stone’. This is a significant target because I specifically remember, about 10 years ago, going to Slimming World feeling MASSIVE and this is what I weighed. I was horrified at how fat I’d become. Well, here we are, several years on and I’m aiming for that weight and will be well chuffed when I get there.

It is quite horrible how the weight creeps on, and when you’re as scales-phobic as me, and you love food and eating out, it’s so easily done. I convince myself that as I don’t eat junk that I’m eating healthily, whereas the truth is cheese, bread and wine still have calories in them and I consume (used to consume) far too much of them.

I had a fabulous walk round Loe Pool with my friend Eve this morning. The sky was glowering but the rain managed to hold off. We passed fields of golden daffodils, a hint belied by the weather that Spring is on its way.  I am starting to wonder what I did before I made walking such a priority. How did I keep myself sane? Although I have always been a walker I have never been disciplined about it and would often go days without walking much. Doing it every day has made so much difference to my mood, sleeping, fitness. I am a complete convert.

Yesterday for breakfast I had 2 poached eggs on rye toast, chicken with chickpeas, feta and red peppers etc for lunch (leftovers from the night before, a BBC Good Food recipe), and for dinner I had steak and tomatoes with parmesan, peas and garlic mushrooms. No wine. God. It was Saturday night too. I will treat myself tonight I think.

I lost another couple of lbs this week making it 16.5lbs in total, so far. Only another thousand to go.