Tag Archives: psychology

Choosing My Miserable


Well, it’s been an interesting few days. The battle between me and the Asshole in my head has raged on and on to the point where it’s becoming old news. I’m bloodied and battered but you know what, I’m hanging in there. Yesterday was a good day. I ate clean, no naughties at all and I did two classes last night. Before you worry that you’re about to be dazzled by the light bouncing off my halo, don’t be…Saturday was shit and Sunday wasn’t much better.

So it’s been a rollercoaster, you know? It’s weird, I was off-reservation when I got back from Cuba and I’ve been sailing close to the wind ever since, as well you know but it’s fair to say that things sort of came to a head towards the back end of last week when I had to face the reality of what I was doing. I’d somehow got caught up in this whirlpool of self-sabotage for reasons known only to the voice in my head. I told you he was an asshole.

Anyway, a combination of real-life encouragement from some of my buddies and some proper wisdom and insight from you lot is helping me navigate my head to a calmer place. It was something Margaret said which provided the first reality check, in her thoughts on Friday’s post. She articulated beautifully how that first slip is a really big deal, but when the world doesn’t end the second slip feels less important, and on that sliding scale I’d reached the point where saying fuck it was pretty much part of my daily routine.

It’s a bit like boiling a frog, right? I’m not suggesting you should, but if you were to stick a frog in a pan of boiling water he’d immediately jump out screaming. Stick him in a pan of cool water and slowly turn up the heat, chances are he won’t notice how hot the water is until his legs are cooked. I didn’t notice how hot the water had got, is the long and short of it.

God of Pain provided the second reality check. I was talking to him on Sunday about how hard it’s become all of a sudden. In his usual telling it like it is way, he pointed out that I’ve got just two choices. Hate the journey for a while but stick with it anyway and reach my goals, or abandon the journey and hate the life I will inevitably go back to, and probably myself too just for good measure.

Talk about Hobson’s fucking choice, I mean both of them involve me being in turmoil and I’m miserable either way, right? But not really. Maybe right here and now, in this moment I’m pissed off because I can’t eat crap every day and lose weight. But one year from now when I’m rocking my size 12 skinny jeans I doubt very much that I’ll be pissed off at all.

So I’m sticking with it folks, even if I’m doing it through gritted teeth. I am going to do better because I am not going back to that old life. So here’s the thing. It gets harder to remember how I used to feel when I was at my heaviest. When nothing I wore felt nice, when I was so uncomfortable with a huge downer on myself because I knew I looked like a moose. I kind of felt like I needed a reminder.

Yesterday, I had to ferry my mum around to a few medical appointments, and I dressed in a pair of leggings – every lump and bump was magnified to the tune of at least a hundred, in fact who even knew it was possible for legs to be that lumpy? I’d bought them on-line, and let’s just say they didn’t look like they did on the picture when I put them on, you know? Enough said. They’d never graduated from the ‘fashion mistake but maybe when I’m thinner‘ drawer, well not until yesterday.

I teamed them with a top which is a little bit too snug, good grief it was a total car crash…there was nowhere to tuck my extra one hundred pounds into so it wasn’t on display. Never in a month of Sundays would I E.V.E.R go out looking like that…except yesterday I did. The hospital was so warm and I was sweltering but I didn’t dare take my coat off because I knew what a mess I looked underneath…it was a sharp reminder that I used to feel like that all the time. I haven’t, in a while, and I don’t want to again.

It helped. Yesterday was day one of my season two. And I’m sure it won’t all of a sudden get easier again, but I’ve chosen which miserable I’m going after…I picked the temporary one 🙂

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A Wise Man Once Said…


…whether you think you can, or think you can’t, you’re right.

I think we have Henry Ford to thank for that nugget of wisdom, and it’s one of my favourite ever quotes. I admire its simplicity, and yet it’s really clever. And there’s no doubt about it, the level of self-belief that you carry in your head is 100% responsible for your ability to keep both feet planted squarely in the middle of the dieting sweet spot. Or not.

Isn’t it funny, I don’t remember anything remarkable about the day this all began. I mean obviously I knew that the time was right – it was the first Monday after my holiday. Time for the post-holiday diet. And I suspect because the holiday had been both awesome and agonising in equal measure due to the fact that I weighed as much as a moose, I felt a tiny bit more determined than I had on other Mondays which had come and gone whilst my arse continued to party.

And it somehow felt a bit different. From day one, there was a conviction which came out of nowhere and said to me this time is IT, although I couldn’t immediately put my finger on why this time was going to be different to any of the other times. Starting a diet wasn’t an unknown concept to me if you remember, and to be fair all of them started with 100% commitment. Trouble is, they usually managed to limp across the line of Thursday at best, and by Friday I was usually promising myself faithfully that I’d start again on Monday which meant a power-eating free-for-all over the weekend.

It’s like my commitment bucket had holes in the bottom you know? And I recognised that. I knew that no matter how many hopes and dreams or how much determination I poured into the top, my resolve had a habit of disappearing out of the bottom like sand through my fingers before I’d even got going. I realised that I needed to find a way to patch the holes up. And then you lot happened.

By some miracle I made it to the Saturday. I don’t remember many conversations with the Asshole voice in that first week, it’s like I got a head start, you know? Maybe someone was rooting for me…who knows. But on the Saturday…well, that’s when I started writing. And a little while after that, you started writing back to me, and we’ve been talking ever since.

It’s a beautiful thing. Whenever I’ve had wobbles, you’ve propped me up. When you’ve had wobbles you’ve dipped in and pulled out whatever you need from the posts or the wise old owls who hang out in here. Writing all my thoughts down shines a light on the holes in my bucket, and between us all we’re busy patching them up.

When I started, I thought I could do this. I still think I can. And I’m right 🙂


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Different, And Yet The Same.


I was doing a bit of mooching about on-line last night, and I think I’ve mentioned before haven’t I, about how I love the website StumbleUpon? For folk like me who are interested in stuff, but who have the attention span of a gnat, it’s perfect. There are literally squillions of soundbites of things that might end up being interesting and which you can explore further if you want to, but similarly you can just keep clicking past the things which don’t grab your attention straight away. It could have been built for me.

One of the pages that I lingered over yesterday was in the section about eating disorders, and it contained quotes from people who are living with Anorexia. In recent years I’ve actively sought to understand eating disorders in the context of my own broken relationship with food, and whilst I’ve never felt like I could relate to people who rejected food, I’ve probably got more of an understanding about this illness than I had in the past.

I’m ashamed to admit that growing up as a fat child, in a very naive way, my lack of real understanding meant I was just desperate to catch it. I mean, I didn’t want to be poorly as such, I just wanted the getting thin bit. I used to think if I could somehow catch it until I could wear a pair of hot pants, and then not have it any more, I’d look like all the hot girls I saw in magazines. I was never in any real danger you understand, because becoming anorexic would have required me to stop eating, and that was never on the cards.

I was even fascinated by some of the hard-to-look-at pictures of people who had it. Not because I wanted to look like that, but I used to look at them and think about how much those painfully thin people would be able to eat without getting called greedy. What I never understood in the days way, way before I acknowledged and separated out the Asshole voice in my head, was that they’d lost control of their perspective in the same way that I lost control of mine years later, but at the opposite end of the spectrum.

Just listen to some of the words though. They really got to me.

The word fat assumed a meaning as deadly as cancer. Getting fat was worse than losing your job, worse than being jilted at the altar, worse than living in a trailer park and growing up without shoes. You need to start watching yourself, my Mom said, before it’s too late.

I mean..wow. That’s some serious conditioning about the perils of having a body shape that doesn’t confirm to the norm. I’m sure this young girl’s mum was doing the best she could, and it sounds like she was maybe trying to correct an unhealthy eating pattern with the right intentions, but the fuck-up fairy definitely had a hand in the way that message landed.

People don’t see me. No one sees me. It’s like being fat. No one takes you seriously. You just don’t exist – you’re so big, you’re not even there.

That’s another very profound observation. I remember mentioning in a really early post that sometimes the bigger you are, the more invisible you feel. I’m quite a gregarious character when I’m in the mood to be and I’ve never been one to fade into the background, but some people just have a way of looking at you like they’re looking through you, you know?

At my heaviest I noticed that, a lot. They know you’re speaking but they obviously make some kind of snap assessment which tells them you have nothing to say that they might be remotely interested in, so whatever you say is just white noise. You’re not heard.

You will be tempted quite frequently, and you will have to choose whether you will enjoy your self hugely in the twenty minutes or so that you will be consuming the excess calories, or whether you will dislike yourself cordially for two or three days, for your lack of willpower.

That’s a bit of a leveller, isn’t it? That’s not just anorexia…anyone who’s ever been driven by an urge to use food for all the wrong reasons would identify with that, me included.

What I find difficult to process, is that some of the broken thinking is the same, and yet. If you’re starving yourself half to death and you’re diagnosed with Anorexia, you’re regarded as sick and there’s help, and protocols, and understanding. It’s an illness.

If you’re overeating to the point where your own body is consuming you bit by bit, the vast majority of folk would just write you off as being really fat. Get over yourself, stop eating all the pies, like it’s that simple.

That feels a bit harsh, to be fair. What do you think?


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Food, Shmood, Whatever!


One of the things that really fascinates me about people is that we’re all different. Each one of us is different in the way we look at the world as well as having different priorities, and different stuff which pushes our buttons. One of the things which intrigues me most of all is how people who are really different often get on incredibly well.

Take my friend for example. She’s one of my special people you know? We’ve been through a lot together over the last twenty-odd years. Our friendship is rooted in mutual affection and respect, although I guess that hardly needs calling out when I’m talking about a friendship which has lasted all this time. And yet, I think you’d struggle to find two more different people.

You know me, I’m an eternal optimist. I look at the world through can-do eyes, and I have an unwavering belief that everything will come good in the end. Looking back I’m not sure why I was blessed with such a sunny disposition, I just can’t remember a time when I didn’t have hope in my heart that even shit would eventually turn to gold if I hung in there long enough.

In the middle of whatever shit-storm has surrounded me, I’ve stubbornly refused to stray anywhere near why me? territory because I just don’t find that it helps. What I do instead, is blithely push through and hope for the best. I’ve always described myself as good in a crisis, and that’s fine and dandy in the moment, but I don’t always cut to the chase and deal with the pain or the fallout because I’m so busy focusing on the positive outcome which I’m sure  will materialize…eventually.

And God forbid I would need to ask anyone for help, I mean it’s just not something I do…I never have. So I emerge from the storm with a smile on my face, and life carries on but there’s often stuff which stays unresolved on the inside. In an indirect way I’m sure that’s contributed to the size of my arse, you know?

My friend’s approach is different. She would look you in the eye and tell you how strong I am, but in reality she’s the strong one. She’s not afraid to have a few why me? moments, but she’ll do it whilst she’s staring down whatever it is that’s causing her pain, and she deals with it there and then. It might take a while to come out the other side, but when she does, it’s resolved in a way that isn’t just skin deep, I mean it’s mended, not ignored.

So we’re like chalk and cheese, but very close non the less. Last time we were chatting we talked about how my diet and exercise regime was going, and reflected on how I’d been up and down the scale a gazillion times over all the years that we’d been friends, and how food had always been my Achilles heel. And then, my friend said something which sort of stopped me in my tracks.

I really only eat because I have to, I wouldn’t care if I never ate again.

HELLO?  I thought I knew about all the ways in which we’re different, but I never knew about that one! I couldn’t quite wrap my head around what she was saying, you know? I mean this is food we’re talking about. It’s the first thing I think about when I open my eyes in the morning, and on Sundays especially when I wake up to a brand new Weight Watchers’ week bursting at the seams with new Smart Points, I get really giddy at how my week is going to pan out and what food I’m going to be able to eat.

It preoccupies me, all the time. Even now I’m losing weight, in fact probably more so now I’m losing weight. My head, to one degree or another, is always overly invested in what I’m going to eat next, where it’s coming from, and how I can absolutely maximize the experience. And we all know by that  I mean how much I can fit on the plate whilst using as few smart points as possible so there’s scope for more  food later.

I suppose I’ve always known that not everyone is as preoccupied with eating stuff as I am, but it never occurred to me before that point that anyone, ever, would almost regard food as an nuisance…necessary to make the wheels go round but serving no purpose other than providing fuel for their body. I mean, it’s food! It tastes good!! What’s not to love?!!!

I can’t begin to understand it, but then I suppose some folk wouldn’t be able to imagine a world without wine, right? My friend is one of them, to be fair.

Me, I’d rather eat the grapes 🙂

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In The Company Of My Thoughts

thinkOne of the things I’ve come to value the most from my time spent walking Charlie dog is the time and space it gives me to think. Those of you who’ve followed my journey from the early days won’t be surprised when I say that some of the ways in which my mind connects the dots can be a bit random, but you know time spent on musing even seemingly random stuff occasionally leads to a nugget of insight.

So we’ve just returned from one of our usual circuits of the town. On the way up the hill there were no insights worth a mention, my mind entertained itself quite happily with a succession of interesting topics to ponder, for example if sweat is what it looks like when your fat starts to cry, then my fat is very clearly very upset today because despite it being much cooler outdoors, by the time I got to the top of the hill I was glowing.

Then I got to thinking about where does your fat actually go, when you lose it? I mean, I was looking at a picture on-line this week about what one pound of fat actually looks like, and its big, you know? So if you lose like two pounds a week…where is it now? It’s like it melts away by magic. One week those two pounds of fat are inside my skin, and the next week they’re not.

They just disappear, sneak away like thieves in the night. I go to bed weighing one number, and I wake up weighing a smaller number but nothing went anywhere, right? I must have spend a good ten minutes on that one, in fact I was so absorbed that I’d reached the top of the hill before the Asshole voice had even chipped in with his usual helpful suggestions about the shortcuts we could take every time we passed an opportunity to avoid having to walk right to the top.

And that’s the bit that provided the key to help me unlock today’s useful stuff. It’s the first time that I’ve actually put two and two together and realised that when my mind is occupied, I’m far less open to an approach or a suggestion from the Asshole. Which sounds really obvious but don’t you often find that things stare us in the face and we’re still blind to it?

I have a really low boredom threshold, you know? It’s one of those things that goes hand in hand with an inquisitive mind. When I’m bored I get destructive and my mind leads me into mischief. I’ll give you an example – on Thursday I was involved in doing some recruitment, and one of the candidates lost me in the first five minutes. By the time we’d completed the interview I couldn’t have told you how he’d answered the majority of our questions, even though I’d written down his answers on autopilot.

What I could have told you, was how many times he said the words in terms of during his one hour interview. I was bored, and my mind started fixating on the wrong thing. My in-terms-of ometer leapt into action and I counted them all, with a mental ker-CHING every time he said it. Seventeen in-terms-ofs, if you’re interested. And, don’t even get me started on the four little hairs sprouting from the top of his nose, which I’d have paid good money to tweeze out.

So that’s what I mean…because what he was saying wasn’t holding my attention, my mind wandered off and started poking at stuff it had no business with. And I think the Asshole voice recognises those moments where my mind is suggestible, and that’s when he moves in for the kill.

It’s hardly breaking news, I get that. I’m sure some of you are thinking well yes, so what – eating because you’re bored is a well known thing and you’d be right, it is. I’ve heard plenty of people say that, in fact I’ve more than likely said it myself. But only in the context of doing, and not thinking, right?

I can be completely knocking it out of the park being busy doing stuff, but if my head isn’t similarly engaged, that’s the chink in my armour, right there.

Just another little post-it note to self, to add to my collection. Knowledge is power, right?


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