Where am I going wrong, I ask myself? We had a great holiday right up until the last few days when poor old Fat Fella managed to pick up a mystery infection and ended up in hospital on IV antibiotics. And just so he didn’t get all the sympathy and attention, I also acquired a chest and ear infection and, frankly, have been feeling really crappy since we got home.
What’s that all about? Holidays are supposed to be stress-free times, where we sleep and rest and eat well and are generally chilled and happy. The precise recipe for good health surely? So what’s with all this infection stuff? We were staying in a perfectly clean, very comfortable villa. We feasted on marvellous fresh fruit and vegetables and seafood. I spent most of my time floating in the pool or the sea. My immune system should have been in tip-top condition. So what is the point of all this healthy eating when I am not, in fact, getting healthier?
Yesterday, I had to take my son for a routine visit to the GP. They had one of those fancy take-your-own blood pressure machines in the waiting room, so I stuck my arm in and pressed “Start”. Well, that was a mistake. According to the reading, I should probably be dead already. There certainly had been no improvement as a result of my so-called healthier lifestyle. I have to say I am very close to packing the whole thing in. But what’s the alternative? Complete hedonism? That’s not going to help, is it?
Boring as it is, I think I may need to do a bit of proper research on the subject, and not just read random internet articles, which is how I have been gleaning most of my information thus far. I specifically want to tackle the whole infection thing and find a way of boosting my immune system as it is obviously up the creek at the moment. I’ll let you know what I find out.
I could write a whole book about the morally charged language we use when talking about weight and dieting. When things aren’t going according to plan, dieters routinely talk about having “cheated”, “sinned” or “having been bad” while on days when things are going well they will say they have been “good” and “virtuous”. Is it actually morally wrong to be overweight? And why do we feel so free to condemn, in pretty harsh terms, those who are fat? I think it is because fatness is what I call a “visible vice”. Please don’t tell me that every thin person you meet is a perfectly morally correct human being without a single vice. I simply won’t believe you. But their vices, unlike mine, are not wobbling around on their butt and tummy for all the world to see and judge. True, gluttony may be considered one of the seven deadly sins, but then so are wrath, pride and envy. If you have managed to get through life without doing any of those, well, all I can say is you must be a saint!
My thoughts have turned to the word “cheating” because I suppose that is what I am planning to do this weekend. On Saturday evening, a few of my girlfriends are coming round and I am going to have some wine while we sit outside around the fire chatting. It will be lovely. If this is “cheating”, bring it on I say. My decision to not drink was mine and my decision to drink is mine. I am not entirely sure who I am cheating by changing my mind on this occasion, but there we have it.
Of course, you could argue that this is just an elaborate self-justification for being weak-willed and having no self-control. You are probably right. I have been thinking about this a lot lately. In some ways I accept that I lack self-control, and yet in others, I could argue that I am capable of exercising great self-control. Fourteen years ago, after having been a heavy smoker for many years, I put out my last cigarette and I have never had another. I did this as a result of reading Allen Carr’s book on giving up smoking*. It was very useful to me, especially one part, which essentially stated the obvious point that I was entirely in control of what I did and I could just decide to never do something again.
“Oooh, I could never manage that,” say the fatties, the smokers, the drinkers. Well, they could, but they do not choose to. We all manage to not do things by choice. Most of us, for example, do not go around killing people who annoy us, sorely tempted though we may be. We generally don’t even give them a hard smack. Why? Not because we don’t really want to (at least as much as we want that tub of ice cream). No, we choose not to do it. We don’t want to suffer the consequences and the regret arising from these actions. If I succumb to a large burger and fries in a McDonalds drive-thru, the news is unlikely to be splashed across the front pages of tomorrow’s newspapers, whereas if I strangle my supremely annoying teenage son…
I am a bit disappointed in myself. I deliberately wrote the above paragraphs before the weekend. Mostly because I wanted to make it clear that my decision to indulge was a conscious one and not some spur-of-the-moment weakness. Sadly, the initial, planned occasion gave rise to a couple of further unplanned ones. Why is it so difficult to get this food and eating thing right? I really despair. All these decisions to cut and curtail various “bad” or fattening and unhealthy food and drink are like a tight elastic band. When I cut it, just a little, it pings wide open and all my good intentions come spilling out. When I tie it back together again, it is that much shorter and tighter and the desire to cut it and get a bit of relief is that much greater.
I feel a bit miserable about it. Instead of just enjoying some wine on Saturday and that being that, I found that in my relaxed state the need for a giant cookie became an imperative, and the following day the half-drunk bottle in the fridge needed to be finished. Then, as I was being “bad” anyway, I reckoned I might as well eat up the big bag of crisps (chips, to you non-Poms) so they wouldn’t tempt me when I was being “good” again. Just wind me up and off I go – chomp, chomp, chomp.
So much for avoiding Sugar, Snacks and Sauce (booze). This bright idea of mine of abstaining from the four esses is starting to feel like the wrong way of going about achieving my ends. But I really am at a loss as to what would work better.
On a brighter note, it was a lovely evening with my friends. Perfect weather, the air heavy with the perfume of roses and woodsmoke, a delicious meal, some fine champagne and great company.
Week three: 27 May 2019 — Holding steady. No significant weight gain or loss.
I have this “big” friend who insists that she doesn’t eat that much and that she eats fairly healthy food. At times I have tried to gently explore with her what she actually eats to show her that it is, in fact, quite a lot, and at other times I just let it go by, but I always think to myself: “Who is she kidding? You can’t be that fat without eating too much.” Obviously, I think she is deluded. But what about me? Until very recently I would solemnly tell you that I am fat because I eat too much, but that my basic diet was essentially healthy. Outrageous delusion! A basic diet that includes several bottles of wine and a tub of Haagen Dasz every week is not “essentially healthy” in anyone’s book.
I managed to get away with this smug little delusion because up until now I have generally enjoyed good health. Routine blood tests have always come back showing that my liver and kidney function is fine, I don’t have diabetes, and my cholesterol levels are acceptable. I have a very skinny sister who has high cholesterol levels and I am ashamed to confess that I have often secretly smirked to myself that the big fat sister has the healthier blood. Well, not anymore. Last week, I got a pretty stiff talking to by my doctor as my cholesterol levels are now way too high.
I was a bit surprised by this. Not only because of my “essentially healthy” basic diet, but because a year ago I actually gave up eating meat. Isn’t it sod’s law that my cholesterol level would go up just as I took such a virtuous step? Another sad delusion, of course. It has nothing to do with sod’s or anyone else’s bad luck law, and everything to do with the fact that I basically swapped lean meat for as much cheese, butter and cream as I could stuff into my fat little mouth. Not to mention the carte blanche I gave myself to eat lots and lots of eggs and to fry and roast vegetables to make them more tasty and thus make up for the fact that I was missing out on meat.
Fortunately for me, when discussing this situation with my husband, he said something that has almost guaranteed that I will successfully take action on this. I was explaining that I had asked the doctor to give me three months to try and bring down my cholesterol levels by improving my diet instead of starting on medication. My husband, rather knowingly said, “I bet she (the doctor) thinks that hardly anyone manages to lower cholesterol by changing their lifestyle and she is just biding her time before putting you on medication and thus solving the problem quite easily.” I am a very curmudgeonly person and telling me I can’t do something is a brilliant way of getting me to do it. Now I am feeling really inspired and absolutely determined to prove him and the doctor wrong.
I’ve googled “cholesterol lowering foods” and have started to add these into my diet. In fact, for once my “essentially healthy” diet delusion is a reality as I am reducing dairy and salt, in addition to foregoing the Four Esses — sugar, snacks, seconds and sauce (aka booze).
Of course, the danger is that delusion’s best friend “cheating” is also lurking around. I have caught myself wondering if I could maybe have the blood test before I go on holiday (it is scheduled for right afterwards) because, as I mentioned in my previous blog I fully intend to have a wonderfully indulgent time on holiday.
I wonder how I am going to get myself back on track after that holiday? Past experience shows that I will go a bit mad, especially if I have managed to lose a bit of weight. Before I know it, I will be back to my bad old ways. I am putting an enormous amount of faith in this blog to keep me on the straight and narrow. I am secretly very keen on impressing other people and not disappointing them, so if I achieve any sort of audience for this blog, I’ll be able to use it to put the necessary pressure on myself to exceed expectations. Who knows? It might actually work. So far, (granted 2 weeks is not very far at all), the stats are encouraging. Here they are: