Sorrow and Bliss

Currently reading: Sorrow and Bliss, by Meg Mason

My regular reading fare is crime and action novels, but I saw this book mentioned in a recent Daily Stoic email and I felt compelled to grab a copy. Partly because I felt like reading something a little bit different, and partly because it talked about how the main character struggled with depression and I figured hey, I think that’s something I can relate to – though I’m hardly Robinson Crusoe there. Why it appealed to me, I don’t know – it’s not as if reading a book will make me feel better.

I’m only about 18% in, so it’s really too early to give a book review but I’m enjoying it a lot. It’s punchy, perceptive and funny, and I’ve found it thoroughly entertaining, but also poignant. The author doesn’t waste words, and describes everything in a very matter of fact way that’s both refreshing and very raw.

The thing that made me want to write about it was early in the book, this quote struck me:

They could not tell that for most of my adult life and all of my marriage I have been trying to become the opposite of myself.

It smacked me in the face and almost made me put the book down because… that’s… in so many ways… me. Not in my marriage so much, but gosh… I feel like ever since my teens I have been trying to become someone else. Some deep rooted part of me that loathes all my mannerisms and habits and most especially some of the shit I do that reminds me of my parents that has been driving me for years to metamorphose and adapt and seek change and turn into someone else because god forbid I remain that person. That sentence summed it up so neatly that I wanted to burst into tears.

Don’t take this the wrong way, my last non-training related post here was pretty positive, and things are still generally going pretty well – but ‘pretty well’ is relative. Yes, I’m mostly healthy, have a family, reasonable financial stability and from the outside it probably looks like I’ve got stuff worked out, right? But on the inside… heh. I’m forty freaking six next week – I’ve been learning about myself, self medicating and experimenting with different ways to try and feel accepted by myself and others for almost half a century and only now am I begrudgingly forming a fragile peace with where I’ve come from and who I am. And it IS fragile, because there are days when I wake up and genuinely think to myself that I hate my fucking life and who I am.

The Daily Stoic email gave another quote from the book which resonated strongly too:

“We have to attack the day,” he tells her, which was a reference to a podcast they had listened to. In it, the guest had explained the need to attack the day, “so it doesn’t attack you.”

This is almost how I approach life these days – I’ve chosen to harness that inner self loathing and use it to drive myself harder, and I guess it’s stopped the day from attacking me. If I chose to drift through on life’s tides, I think I’d probably have ended up on the rocks before now – at least this way I feel like I’ve got some sort of grip on the tiller. But I’m dog tired – if I could stay in bed and sleep for a week, I probably would.

Is that what depression is? I don’t know.


It’s almost incomprehensible to me that it’s already (the end of) May, and we’re nearly halfway through the year – it’s gone so fast! But that’s OK – there have definitely been times in my life where I’ve felt like I’m just drifting through and not achieving anything, but so far this year that really hasn’t been the case. I had a pretty distinct mindset change at the start of this year, and it’s had a really positive impact on just about everything, and I thought it was important enough to write it down and maybe reflect on it a bit more. Truthfully, I’ve been meaning to do this for a while but things have been fairly hectic – mostly in a good way though. So here goes.

The tone of my last post was pretty low, and that probably reflects how I was feeling at the time. I was tired, unhappy in my job, feeling pretty underappreciated at home, and struggling with injuries in the gym – I didn’t feel like there was much to be happy about. I did some deep thinking, and decided that I really had to change something. What do?

Six months later I’m in a new job, I’ve reduced my debt levels by downgrading cars, I’ve finished a few long overdue projects around the house, and the gym is going better than it has in a long time – I’m actually squatting pain free for the first time in a couple of years, and actually feeling pretty positive about hitting some decent numbers in an online meet next month.

How the hell did this happen?

I’m not sure anyone will care about the details, so maybe I’ll spare you the whole story. The summary answer would be that I stopped putting pressure on myself to get things done on strict timelines and just focussed on making progress one step at a time. More succinctly, I made the decision that progress itself is the goal, not completing the task at hand. Where previously I wasn’t happy unless I finished a certain task or goal by an arbitrary deadline, I told myself that so long as I am doing something to progress towards that particular goal, that in itself is progress. Life will throw spanners in the works sometimes, but just roll with them and do what you can do – show some self compassion, take breaks when you need them, and push hard when you’re able. Some days you’ll get a lot done, and other days you won’t. Somehow this simple change which seems so minor has released a ton of mostly self-imposed pressure.

One of the things that probably encapsulates that mindset change is the Easter weekend which I’d earmarked to replace our laundry door. I fitted up the new one on the Saturday, then took it down again and we painted it. Early on the Sunday morning I took the old one down again ready to install the new one and just as I was about to do that, a pipe burst in our bathroom and partially flooded the lower floor of our house. That wasn’t ideal, and I had to make an emergency dash into town to buy parts, fix the problem, and start trying to dry out the carpet – bearing in mind at this point we had a laundry with no door.

Somehow we got through that day, the door did get installed, and everything worked out fine (although it took weeks for our carpet and underlay to dry, and the joins will never be the same again after we ripped it up). But where a year or so ago that would’ve sent me into a spin, this time it wasn’t a huge deal and I would’ve been OK with putting the door off for another day. Stuff happens sometimes, and that’s OK – we just have to roll with it.

Life still isn’t perfect, and I definitely still have my bad and unhappy days – but I think it’s been a big step forward so hopefully that keeps going.

Life Stuff – A Depressing Ramble

The other day I started a post about ‘rediscovering myself’ and never finished it. It was basically a list of stuff that I enjoy in life, in an attempt to reclaim my sense of self, if that cliche makes sense. I started writing it because I’ve been feeling quite miserable lately and don’t seem to be able to dig myself out of that hole.

But thinking on it some more, I realised that many of those things don’t really bring me much joy or happiness anyway. There isn’t that much that really makes me laugh, or gives me any sense of fulfilment. It just doesn’t seem to matter what I do.

Why? I realised that I’m a massive paradox.

I’m a loner, who enjoys his own company a lot.

At work, I’m surrounded by and interacting with people all day – and I find it exhausting.

I come home to a wife and child who ostensibly both care about me a great deal.

And yet despite all that, I am lonely and sad, and don’t feel any really deep sense of connection to anyone. It’s all just so damn superficial and pathetic.

Somehow, I keep putting one foot forward, then the next, and pushing into the wind.

The Power of Self Talk

As far as I can tell, the fitness/lifting community is a motley bunch in terms of both consistency and results. There’s the ‘no pain no gain’ crew that seem to have an insatiable appetite for work – these folks will get in and crush it whether it’s 4am or 9pm and somehow seem to always have a smile on their face while doing it. There’s the casual lifters who go through phases of consistent training, and then fall off the wagon for months or years. There’s people who seem to enjoy training whenever they get the chance, and have no guilt about missing a few sessions, just so long as they’re getting in there and doing it. And don’t even get me started on all the different training methods there are – everyone has an opinion.

Personally I feel like I’m probably closer to the first group but I’m definitely not putting myself out there as an example of how to do it right. At this point I’ve been lifting consistently for over 5 years, and aside from a couple of 2ish week breaks after some minor surgeries last year, I don’t think I’ve ever had a break longer than 3 days from lifting – that includes holidays both interstate and overseas. My desire to train consistently no matter what doesn’t necessarily always come from a healthy place – I’ve written before about how I started lifting during the Great Diet of 2016 where I decided that I was going to change my life and never be obese again. I hated my body back then, and although I now look in the mirror and see a completely different physique, those scars are deep. Even though there’s been massive positive changes, I probably won’t ever be satisfied and will always be trying to improve. Another factor driving me on is that deep down in my core I still fear that if I take a break it’ll become permanent and I’ll balloon into the fat guy I used to be. Having taken forced breaks and come back to lifting, my rational mind knows that this is unlikely, but the subconscious mind is a powerful thing.

From day one I’ve trained alone in a home gym, because it’s convenient and provides more flexibility with scheduling – I have a wife, a child, a full time job and a mortgage, and all the duties and responsibilities that come along with them. Fitting in sessions isn’t always super easy, and over the years I’ve tried various schedules and frequencies but what seems to be most sustainable is 2 early morning weekday sessions a week and 2 daytime sessions on the weekend. On those weekday sessions I’m normally getting out of bed at 4:30am so I can do the normal morning stuff, imbibe the magical wake up juice and train before walking the dog and eating a proper breakfast. I’m mindful of getting enough sleep, but at that time of the morning I often don’t really feel like going to my gym and lifting heavy things, especially if there are other life stressors going on. The weekend sessions are usually easier since I can wake up and fuel properly beforehand, but even then sometimes my mind will make up all sorts of excuses why I should put it off or even skip it altogether, especially if it’s a heavy squat or deadlift day.

The idea of this post was to reflect on the stuff I say to myself that gets me through those difficult days. Maybe it helps someone, maybe it just shows I’m nuts, but I like to write, so eh… I’m putting it out there.

Getting Started

When I roll out of bed at 4:30am, unless it’s some kind of red letter day, the last thing I want to do is a heavy squat or deadlift. The first thing I usually do is go to the bathroom, weigh myself and get dressed. That gives me a few minutes to think about the session ahead and whether I really want to do it or not – and even when things are going well, I probably flirt with skipping or postponing it 20% of the time, and when I’m feeling very sore and tired that number would be much higher!

There’s a few different techniques I can use to make it happen, but the most common self talk is an old faithful: “you can always go out and start warming up, and if it feels really bad, call it off”. To date, I can’t remember ever stopping once I’ve started (short of an actual injury)1.

I’ve felt like this even during deloads and periods where the training’s been relatively light, and at those times it’s a pretty easy sell to internally say “it’s only going to be light, let’s just get it done”.

The third thing that I fall back on is a focus on the outcome. I definitely think about the progress my lifts have made, the improvements in my physique over the years, and my “why” for doing this (that’s a whole ‘nother topic in itself). But all those things pale in comparison to the acute outcome – I’ve never, ever felt worse after lifting than I have beforehand. It’s hard to describe the feeling I get after training – some people call it euphoric, but I wouldn’t go quite that far. It’s pleasantly tired, sore, and satisfied that I’ve pushed myself to do something I didn’t really want to do, but that I know is good for me and my goals. So some easy self talk to get going is ‘think how much better you’ll feel afterwards’.

Being Data Driven 2

I was always taught ‘what gets measured gets managed’. Unfortunately, I’m also someone who gets obsessive about things, and if you’re like that (maybe even if you’re not) collecting too much data can add more complication to life than it’s worth, especially if you’re not actually doing anything with it. So make sure you’re not just tracking things because they’re nice to look at – if you’re not using the information for something tangible, maybe it’s worth assessing whether the juice is worth the squeeze.

But all that said – having good solid data on my training is a fundamental tool in my toolbox that helps me push myself each session.

If I’m anxious about a heavy squat, and I look at my training log and know that I squatted that same weight (or even a little less, or a little more) at RPE 7 a week ago, then I can be absolutely sure that this week it’s not going to be a grind. My performance doesn’t fluctuate that much from week to week, and under normal circumstances I doubt most people’s would. And under abnormal circumstances (malnourishment, sleep deprivation, illness, etc) you’re gonna feel it in the warmups and can make adjustments.

My self talk then is something like “you’ve got this, it’s nothing you haven’t squatted before”.

What if it’s something I haven’t squatted before? Then it becomes a matter of faith.

Having Faith

If you’re getting programming from a coach, do you think they’d program you something beyond your capabilities?

If you’re using a program or template written by someone else, do you believe that it makes sense for your situation, and that other people have successfully made progress running it?

Can you honestly say to yourself that you’ve given the program your absolute best efforts, without regularly skipping or half arsing sessions?

If the answer to these questions is yes, then the simple answer is that if you’ve put in the work, the rewards will come – and the worst that can happen is you’ll miss the lift and get on with your session. my self talk in this situation is usually “you CAN do this, just focus on executing the lift”. If I’ve got a favourite cue for that lift then I might remind myself of it – but it really helps not to think about it too much and just get on with the job.

If the answer to these questions is no, then maybe it’s time for some honest evaluation of whether your coaching and/or programming are appropriate.


1. Ironically, or something – between starting this article and finishing it, it actually did happen – I walked out of a training session while warming up because it felt so crap and something in my brain said nope. No guilt really – some disappointment, but tomorrow is another day.

2. This post originally started as a thought bubble from Josh Pelland’s great article How Hard Are We Training? Additional Considerations for RIR Accuracy (and the podcast that went along with it).

In the article, Josh has collated some evidence that perceived effort in the gym (in the form of RIR) is influenced by a bunch of external factors including (but not limited to) stuff like music, the presence of spotters and mental stress. He goes on to provide some practical suggestions to try and use that information to make training more effective – things like standardising your training environment where possible, and biasing training towards lower rep ranges. It’s well worth a read.

My immediate reaction to this was “yes, but…” – because while the evidence clearly supports outside influences having an effect, I feel like maybe the magnitude of those effects are probably pretty variable from individual to individual. Some people seem to train alone and use RPE accurately enough to make great progress, so I don’t think they’re consistently undershooting RPE because they don’t have spotters or training partners to push them. Likewise some people can barely manage a regular gym habit unless they have a fun environment to train in and people around them to encourage effort. Neither of these mean the effects aren’t real, but perhaps there are different phenotypes of people and we gravitate towards the training style that suits our personality – and perhaps we can also develop techniques to mitigate the negative effects of those outside influences when they can’t be avoided.

Ultimately this ended up being a bit of self reflection about how I personally keep myself on track, and it probably only tangentially relates to the article, but it’s well worth considering the points Josh makes if you want to get the most out of your training sessions.

Big Changes – Kinda

So, just some random stuff.

I’ve been struggling with disordered eating for a few years now. I started blogging about it, but didn’t feel comfortable putting it here so I started another blog to do it anonymously at

Things are a lot better now, although I still feel like a mess at times. A couple of months ago though I thought, screw it – why stay anonymous? So I exported all the posts from the site above and put them here in my real blog. If I ever feel the need to blog about it in future, this is where they’ll be.

Second thing, if anyone reads this they’ll know I’ve been posting my training log here on the blog (as well as on the Exodus Strength forums) for quite a few years now. Typically I’d copy and paste the previous day’s log, and just create a post in the Training Log category. Well, I got tired of that, so this week I mucked around with WordPress a bit and created a custom post type for the log entries. This is pretty cool now, the upshot is that when I click ‘new log entry’ the post editor is nicely prepopulated with a template for the day’s training log which saves me copying and pasting. Also, log entries now don’t appear on the front page of the blog and clutter up the actual blogging – the training log link on the main menu still goes to a category listing of all those posts though.

At some point in the next little while I might even move this blog to the website’s root domain – or create a link there to the blog. Not sure if I want to completely unanonymise myself (since I’ve been using this domain for general purpose email since… forever) but I’ll think on it a little more.

Made It

Back from 4 days travelling interstate with the family. This trip was much anticipated (having been postponed twice already due to COVID) and we definitely made the most of it. It was a nice break and we had quite a bit of fun, but it’s good to be home.

I had two blowups at the kid. Only one of them was really a hangry moment, trying to make breakfast this morning. But after 4 days of constant stress due to crowds in a strange city, tiredness from constant sightseeing and general stress from anti COVID measures and being away from home and all the rest…. I forgive myself. We are only human.

But this blog is mostly about food and my issues with it, so the news on that front is…. interesting on a couple of fronts.

Despite being in a big city and surrounded by cafes and restaurants, and eating out a lot (including pizza and burgers other ‘fun’ foods), there really wasn’t a lot of anxiety. I just tried to eat intuitively, (ie whatever I felt like, but to hunger signals) and prioritise protein. Never really felt like I was about to lose control, so it’s been quite a while now.

We did stay in self contained accommodation so I brought sachets of protein oats and yoghurt and things to make sure I started off each day with a good breakfast – that probably helped. We also walked miles and miles on a couple of days, so I knew I’d be burning plenty of calories, plus the hotel also had a reasonably well equipped gym and I got a couple of early morning lifting sessions in. Those two things made me a little less anxious about getting a bit looser with food, it’s a holiday after all.

I’ll weigh in tomorrow morning, if I’ve gained a little weight I won’t care, but I would be very surprised if I have – realistically I’m expecting to be a little lighter. Trying to be zen about it – weight is not the thing that defines me. And honestly, I am probably in the best shape of my life right now. I’ve put on a couple of kilos of muscle this year.

The other interesting thing is that I met up with a family member up there, someone who I didn’t even know existed until a few years ago. I think we’d talked about it once before, but she reminded me again that she’s been struggling with disordered eating since she was a child. It just shows how much of a role genetics also play in whether someone is likely to suffer from this issue. To be fair – I think she had a much different upbringing than me, and her issues may be more deep rooted in childhood trauma than mine, but there are some real similarities there as well. Of course, me being me, I had a few words to say on the subject…. but hopefully it was a positive conversation and helped give her some comfort and strength.

For me, the upshot of that conversation was that it (again) put things in perspective. I get frustrated and feel like a failure when I lose control of my eating, and I get tired of my life revolving around food, but the reality is – it’s only been about 4 years now since I was really deep in a bad place of undiagnosed anorexia and orthorexia. 3 years ago I had a BMI of 19 and was so underfed and exhausted and miserable that I was close to taking my own life. Yet here I am now, probably 90% healed, eating Easter eggs and pizza almost like a normal person.

In the day to day hustle of life, it feels like this has been going on forever. But progress just takes consistency and patience, and hopefully when I’ll be able to look back on this as just a blip in a very long life. And for anyone else battling this rotten disease, I wish them the very best of success as well – it doesn’t have to be a life sentence.

Putting Food on a Pedal Stool

Good Morning!

No, the title isn’t a mistake. It’s an IT Crowd reference, and if you don’t get it, well… I’m not sure if we can be friends any more but if you watch this maybe I’ll reconsider. Anyway… to the point of my post.

My wife has a commitment on Monday nights which means she gets home and has a late dinner on her own. She walked in last night, said ‘I’m hungry’, looked in the freezer, pulled out a tub of leftovers and immediately said ‘that’ll do’, before proceeding to microwave it and eat. My reaction, internally, was to realise how very far away I still am from being recovered because I still can’t imagine myself doing that.

When I need to decide what to eat, my brain is just a maelstrom of thoughts and feelings.

  • How hungry am I right now – do I need something with volume to feel satisfied?
  • How much protein have I eaten today?
  • How much fat have I eaten today?
  • How many carbs have I eaten today?
  • How much ‘junk’ have I eaten today?
  • How much fruit have I eaten today?
  • What have my activity levels been like, and what will they be after this meal – how many carbs should I have?
  • How much of x is left, and when will we be buying more?
  • How much x have I already eaten today? (I try not to eat the same carb source more than once a day, or the same type of meat at lunch and dinner, etc etc)
  • What needs to be used? What is the use by date of x?
  • What do I feel like? What have I been craving?

I can easily stand in front of the pantry/fridge for some minutes if I let myself. And heck, sometimes I can make a decision and then rethink it again too. I am getting better at blocking out a lot of the unnecessary ones from the list above and trying to let the last one be the overriding factor, but it’s honestly sometimes hard to know what I ‘feel’ like.

Why is this so, and how do I get better at this?

One reason I think it’s so is because back when I was at my sickest, life was so utterly devoid of any meaning or happiness that meal times were the highlight of my day – the thought of food became so all consuming that it felt like almost my only source of pleasure – hence the title. And honestly – although I’m bigger, stronger, and far less hung up on eating perfectly and being slim these days, I still really struggle to have fun with anything except lifting weights and preparing/eating food. Spontaneous laughter just doesn’t happen all that often, work is pretty unfulfilling, and I don’t have a lot of other hobbies (although I am working on it), so yeah… life still often feels like a bit of a slog, and meals do still have a bit of a special place in my mind. When I’m on my own I enjoy shutting out the world and watching videos while eating, and with breakfast and dinner at home I really like the chance to sit and converse with the family because we just don’t get enough opportunities to do that especially during the week – between work and school and extra curricular activities, we really don’t get to spend as much quality time together as I’d like.

The other issue is practice. I pack my lunches for work in advance, and most of our evening meals are decided in advance too. Breakfast is a dilemma pretty regularly, but it’s not the worst because I really only have 3-4 options I regularly eat so I’m not spoiled for choice; also I typically walk the dog before breakfast so that gives me a long time to think about it! Dinner times are where it’s most difficult – I typically have 1 or 2 nights a week where it’s entirely up to me, and now that I let myself eat most things, I feel overwhelmed by choice. A lot of the time that means I end up going back to ‘safe’ options.

Writing this is really just a reminder to myself that it’s something I need to keep working on. Next week we are heading interstate for a few days – we’re staying in a self contained apartment, so we can buy normal groceries, but no doubt we’ll also eat out a lot. This should be a really good opportunity to broaden my horizons a little bit and get less neurotic. Food doesn’t have to be perfect.

As a footnote – our six year old is a really fussy eater. The other day after a particularly difficult dinner trying to get her to at least taste some pumpkin from her plate, I tried to explain to her that not every meal is going to be something she loves – and sometimes you just have to eat what’s put in front of you even if you don’t particularly like it, because you are hungry and need food or because it’d be rude to refuse a meal someone has prepared, etc etc. And as I was saying it, I was thinking how gosh darn hypocritical I felt. I still try to make every meal something that I’ll really enjoy, because even now I still regularly feel like I need to restrain myself from eating everything I want to eat, otherwise I’ll blow up like a balloon. It’s nowhere near as bad as it used to be, but I am so desperately tired of that nagging feeling in the back of my mind.

Hope this helps someone.


Has it really been that long since I posted anything here?

I haven’t had a binge since mid January. Been going quite well. Life is OK.

Spoke too soon

Well, I shouldn’t have made that last post. That was a Thursday… Sunday night was F1 night – it was officially the end of my cut, and I was all alone in the kitchen. You can guess what happened….

On the upside, I think aside from about 4 or 5 cookies, most of what I ate was decent quality food. Lots of protein (yoghurt, skim milk, whey protein, a protein ice cream) and carbs (dry breakfast cereal, fruit) – mostly ‘normal’ food and not treats.

It’s now over a week later and despite some relatively weak urges, I’ve managed to eat pretty sensibly. I started working with a new coach for my lifting, and he wants to get an idea of my weight change over time, so I’ve been hopping on the scales. and right now it seems like I’m maintaining, not gaining or losing. I’ve been using the strategy of eating when I need to eat, but trying to choose healthier options like fruit and stuff if I feel the need to snack and I think that’s been satisfying the sweet cravings without turning me into a raving carb junkie looking to mainline sugar.

So far, at least, there is some balance in my eating. It doesn’t stop me overthinking things a lot, but it’s progress.

Oh, and we’ve got new pantry doors being made, so the old doors are back up. The food is out of sight….

This popped up in my feed the other day, and as usual Abel is on the money with this advice, I think:

Signs of Progress

Phew – another overdue update. A few things have happened in the past little while, so I figured it might be time to share some stuff.

First – about six weeks or so, I decided to try and lose some weight. My binging hadn’t stopped (although the episodes had become even less frequent and severe) so I’m not fully healed and I know it probably wasn’t the best idea. But honestly… I had let my body fat get a bit out of control, I was struggling with my clothes fitting and didn’t like how I looked in the mirror. Not only that, but I really wasn’t paying enough attention to what I was eating – it’s great to have unconditional permission to eat, but there needs to be some balance and variety and I’d tipped the scales way too far towards sugary treats whenever I wanted them, and it had become a habit that I needed to break.

So six weeks ago I stepped on the scales for the first time in over 3 months. The number I saw didn’t scare me, but it certainly confirmed that I was way past where I felt healthy and happy, so I cut calories pretty aggressively with the aim of dropping a fair bit of fat in 4 weeks or so prior to my birthday. My intention was to then do another fat loss phase a bit closer to summer so I can look decent for the warmer months – who doesn’t want that beach body, huh?

Now I’ve got to say, I spent a lot of time very hungry in those first few weeks, but I was never tempted to binge – I think it was nice to have a goal again, instead of just drifting. The diet has gone pretty well, and I dropped enough weight that I am now reasonably comfortable with my physique (and am a very similar weight to what I was exactly 12 months ago at my last birthday).

What was even more pleasant was how generally stable my moods have stayed, despite dealing with work and kids and all the usual life stresses that come our way. And here I am now, starting to increase calories again, knowing that this is the danger zone for me in that the more I tend to eat, the more I tend to WANT to eat – but so far, things are tracking OK. And this week, there’s been some huge signs of progress:

  • On the weekend, my wife took me out to dinner to one of our favourite restaurants for my birthday. I was still dieting at this point, but was planning on just having a couple of courses and skipping dessert. In the end, I did share a dessert with my wife and not only was it bloody delicious, it was absolutely no big deal. No guilt, no problem, no dramas. Life went on.
  • The vinyl wrap is peeling off our kitchen pantry doors and we’ve had to remove them to get them fixed or replaced. This means our our pantry is open to the world – all the chocolate, biscuits and cereals are staring me in the face. Our kitchen/dining/lounge is open plan, so I can’t really avoid it unless I stay out of the living area, but for some reason it doesn’t seem to be bothering me so far and I haven’t had any major urges to go carb crazy. Maybe I’m well fed enough?
  • I’ve been back on the skim milk since I started the diet, but in my wife’s Monday shopping trip she accidentally bought me a bottle of full cream. I shrugged my shoulders and went with it, where before I may have freaked out a little. The worst thing? In my next trip to the shops I intended to grab another bottle of skim myself, but did exactly the same thing and grabbed the wrong bottle. We had four and a half bottles of full cream milk in the fridge last night, but you know what? I’m drinking it anyway – hell, it tastes better, I was only back on the skim temporarily anyway, but it just forced me to go back to full cream earlier.
  • Probably the biggest one of all was yesterday. As I mentioned, it was my birthday on the weekend, and at my workplace (like many others) we usually bring morning tea for our work colleagues to celebrate the day. I said to a few of my workmates that since I was dieting I’d do my morning tea in a couple of weeks so that I could enjoy it with everyone, but god bless ’em, a few of them banded together and put on a joint morning tea anyway for myself and another colleague who’d also just had a birthday. My first instinct was to be pissed off, but for once I realised that it was a really nice gesture (they even made a ‘healthy’ option with me in mind) and decided that I’d try and be grateful for it. So I did indeed eat some cake and sweet treats and enjoyed the moment, and for the first time in a loooong time I walked away without feeling the urgent desire to go and eat several more helpings of super rich dessert food. I ate my normal lunch and dinner, and didn’t feel guilty, and it felt like a real step in the right direction.

So that’s a little bit of what’s been happening recently. I feel as if maybe, just maybe, all that time I spent eating and getting my body fat up did definitely help to regulate my feelings around food and that I’m getting much better at dealing with negative emotions without heading to the fridge. Maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel…..



Overdue Updates

Has it really been that long since I posted? I’ve been meaning to post an update for anyone in internetland who still reads this. Obviously lots has happened since my last post – I’ll attempt to be succinct.

I started lifting again a couple of weeks after my throat surgery. Sadly, the weeks of nothing but soft food didn’t cure my binging. I lasted about a week before my first episode of manic eating, and a day later I got smashed by some unknown ailment that caused debilitating joint pain for multiple days. Cause still unknown – the doctor thought it may’ve been a virus but nothing showed up in my bloodwork and some strong anti-inflammatories sorted it. So after another week off, I got back into the gym and I’ve been training pretty much continuously ever since.

Not long after that, the pandemic really started to get taken seriously here in Australia. Work got crazy, things got stressful, and I’ve been up and down like a yo-yo ever since – it was really difficult to control my stress with everything going on, and of course I feel back into old habits of using food to cope. Spending more time at home with a cupboard full of food didn’t help either. But at least I still have a job.

Now, it seems like life is normalising a little and although the fallout from this pandemic is gonna be with us for a long time yet I definitely don’t feel as on edge as I was a month or two ago.  Food wise, I’ve had two or three high anxiety moments in the past six weeks where my inner Cookie Monster has taken over, but they’ve been pretty well spread out. And there have certainly been times where I’ve managed to beat the urge in various ways, where before I would’ve just given in.

I still feel pretty fat, but with a shirt on I (apparently) look like I lift. So I got that goin’ for me. I have no idea what I weigh, and haven’t stepped on the scale in a couple of months. I’ve certainly had a nagging desire to start cutting, but it’s just coming into winter here so I figure why not just keep enjoying all the food, and if I still feel like this once the cooler weather ends, I’ll still have time to lean out a bit before summer. IF I feel ready for it.

It does feel rather strange, after all the fasting and black coffees I used to drink, to now. I haven’t skipped a meal in months, I’m putting brown sugar or honey on my porridge at breakfast, and not being scared to eat cake or a biscuit if I want it. We’ve been eating takeaway at least once a week to try and support local restaurants to stay open during this pandemic, and in probably my biggest breakthrough this year, I’ve actually stopped buying skim milk. I realised how bloody unsatisfying it was both in my coffees and on my breakfast – so it’s full cream all the way right now – occasionally I even buy non-homogenised to get that extra creamy goodness.

So yeah… that’s me. I’m still alive (although there have been times I’ve wondered what value I offer). Still fighting the good fight. Let’s hope things continue to improve.

UPPP Surgery – Recovery Days 11-13

I have been a bit slack about blogging the last few days – so here’s a few updates.

Bleeding – only some very minor bleeding on Friday (day 11), as far as I can remember. Mostly, it just seems to be phlegmy now.

Pain – it’s gradually diminishing. It’s still the worst after periods of lying down, and mostly just uncomfortable when eating and drinking. Since Thursday night (so the last three nights) I’ve been back sleeping in bed, much to my wife’s chagrin – apparently my snoring has been horrendous. I’ve been taking Panadol once or twice a day but honestly don’t think I’ll bother from here on in – it’s not hurting too bad now and I honestly think a cold ice block is more effective relief anyway.

Training – I got back into the gym for a relatively light session of squats and bench pressing on Friday (day 11) and that all went fine. Naturally I’ve lost some strength – probably more than I expected – and the session also made me quite sore. As I write this though, it’s Sunday afternoon and I’ve just finished my second comeback session – best way to get rid of the soreness is to get acclimatised to training again.

Body weight – the day before the surgery I was 91.6kg on waking, and on Friday (12 days later) weighed in at 85.4kg – over 6kg gone in 12 days. A lot of it is water/glycogen and gut contents of course, but wow… it’s entirely unsurprising I’ve lost some mojo in the gym as well.

Overall feels – mostly just tired and run down, like I’ve got a bad cold. Can’t get enough decent sleep, and training is an added stressor. But I’m going to go attempt to go back to work tomorrow. Luckily I’ve done a few hours work from home in the past few days to stay on top of things and I’m hoping I’ll be able to avoid doing a full day and just ease into it.

Now it’s time for lunch, and hopefully a nap this afternoon.

UPPP Surgery – Recovery Day 10

Well, I did wake up and watch cricket at 3am. That was OK. But I’ve been even more zonked than usual today – napped after breakfast. Walked the dog, had lunch, then instead of lifting as I’d planned, dozed off again. I figured there’s no hurry, another day won’t hurt and clearly my body still needs lots of rest to heal.

Ate a few different foods today – french toast for lunch, a hot cross bun at afternoon tea, and I finally got the nerve to cook a hot apple pie for dessert. None of them caused major issues in terms of throat pain or irritation, so like I said to the wife it’s just a matter of trying things. I probably still wouldn’t eat salt and vinegar chips right now but a few more foods are back on the menu.

Pain wise today’s been good. Was sore when I woke up, but after hydrating and showering it improved a lot. Eating is more uncomfortable than painful now; I’m probably getting more pain in my ears than my throat. Still getting some minor bleeding as bits of scab fall off though.

I’m going to attempt to sleep in my own bed tonight for the first time since the operation. Hopefully my wife can deal with the snoring. Also, hopefully I sleep better and feel more refreshed tomorrow because I have plans to run some errands and do some light lifting just to get back into the swing of things.

Here’s to a good day tomorrow.

Obligatory yukky progress photo:

UPPP Surgery – Recovery Day 9

Still here.

Slept part of the night horizontal for the first time since hospital. It was on the couch, but the wife heard me snoring from a couple of rooms away and I woke up with a crazy sore throat (as usual). Probably won’t do that again tonight, but there’s a cricket match at an ungodly hour so I’ll try to keep myself amused with that.

Could only manage a smoothie for breakfast, and generally feel like I underate even more than usual today – eating is still just a battle, generally. But I’ve gotta say, it’s 10 pm as I write this and today has clearly been the easiest day so far in terms of throat pain. I’ve probably felt more phlegmy than usual and have had more radiated pain in my ears than previously. But if it improves again tomorrow, I’m thinking I might be able to get into the gym and do a few light sets to get the blood flowing a bit.

That’s about it really – nothing noteworthy really happened. I did do some work from home, and emailed my boss an update on how things are going. I’m supposed to be back at work on Monday, but don’t want to go if I’m still unable to eat or talk normally. Also, I feel like this has taken more out of me than expected – I need a nap every time I take the dog for a walk! Right now I feel like I’m an 80% chance of being back on time, but thankfully they are flexible – I can do plenty from here if needed, so if I need extra time I’ll take it.

Surgery Recovery

So my last post might’ve sounded like it was all rainbows and butterflies but now it’s 9 days post-surgery and my perspective has changed a bit.

The main challenge (and the one I was expecting) was the direct consequences of the surgery – I’ve been in constant pain, was off my head on opioids for the first week, struggling to get any quality sleep, and as a result of the throat pain I’ve had to modify my diet significantly and eat mainly soft foods. None of this was really unexpected, although I probably underestimated the extent and the duration of impact. It’s been a challenging ten days or so for sure, and it’s not finished yet.

There’s a secondary problem though. Eating/swallowing genuinely hurts – so it’s been a struggle to force meals down. I’ve actually burst into tears a couple of times during dinner (soup!) if that gives any indication. So I have a genuine physiological reason for undereating right now. But while I’m not really having any difficulty eating zooper doopers or custard or ice cream from a mental standpoint, I still am finding myself having fairly small serves and stopping a long way from the point of satisfaction. Sometimes it’s because I am just sick of my throat hurting, but there have definitely been times when it’s from a fear of eating ‘too much’ -because I’m far less active than usual (and not lifting) and secretly hope to drop fat during this period, and also the (maybe legitimate) fear that if I overeat and make myself sick that would probably be disastrous for the stitches in my throat…

But restriction is restriction. I actually felt woozy and weak this afternoon after walking the dog, as if I’d been dieting for weeks. I managed to eat a tiny bit of ice cream and have a nap but still feel like it wasn’t enough.

This really does suck and I can’t wait to be able to eat normally again. It’s just too much for my poor brain to deal with right now.

UPPP Surgery – Recovery Day 8

Another night on the couch – two decent snatches of sleep (a few hours each) broken by waking up in agony that Panadol and Zooper Doopers barely make a dent in. I’ve also had a bit of a stomachache all day, I think continuing to take the laxatives even after stopping the opiates might’ve been a bad idea. Will leave them out tomorrow and see if things improve.

Aside from that, it’s been a pretty unremarkable day. Walked the dog twice, did lots of Netflixing, and tried to keep the throat pain at bay. It was mostly manageable – down to maybe 3 or 4 out of 10 – but mealtimes still suck donkeys balls and jump back to 6 or 7. Ate pretty light, but forced down some soup, ice cream and custard for dinner tonight. Was pleasantly surprised that swallowing some Panadol an hour or so later didn’t take a whole lot of effort.

My voice still feels pretty weak and I don’t want to talk loudly or for long periods, it hurts and I get hoarse very fast.

Today was Tuesday – I’ve got aspirations of getting into the gym for some very light lifting most likely on Thursday, and possibly going back to sleeping in bed that night too. Fingers crossed.

UPPP Surgery – Recovery Day 7

Wow. A week since the operation already! I must admit, before this all started I thought I’d be feeling better than I am at this point. But you just gotta roll with it.

Today started out shittily. I didn’t sleep well, and I’m pretty sure that my throat was bleeding most of the night because I woke up with a sore throat and a stomachache, presumably from swallowing blood. Took Targen but no Endone, and phoned the hospital – the nurse I spoke to suggested I go to a GP for assessment or otherwise, if I felt like it was really necessary, to head into A&E, where they could check it out and their ENT might be able to cauterise it if needed.

The thought of getting more anaesthesia and cauterisation really didn’t appeal, and I didn’t think the bleeding was profuse enough to be be immediately life threatening, so I sat on the couch all morning procrastinating over whether to go into hospital or not and googling for alternatives. In my internetting I read studies suggesting that probably 80% of these bleeds don’t need anything more than conservative treatment (ie, what I could do at home) so I alternated between a cold pack on my neck, zooper doopers, and salt water rinses/gargles. Sure enough, it took a few hours but the bleeding seemed to eventually stop. Crisis averted.

I still felt pretty ordinary most of the day and didn’t really eat anything solid until 3pm or so, but the calories seemed to perk me up. At dinner time, for the first time in a few nights I managed to eat a whole bowl of soup without having to stop and take a break. It still took a while though! Had some dessert and took the dog for a little walk just to get some sun, and still no signs of bleeding after eating and walking around and flushing my mouth out with salt water. I really hope that’s the end of it.

Had to go out in the car after dinner to pick up the offspring, so decided not to take Targen this evening. It’s now been about 42 hours without Endone and 14 hours without Targen and the pain seems quite manageable. There’s a few more pills there if I find myself hurting badly again, but it feels kinda nice to be off them sooner rather than later.

I’d hoped to get into the gym for some super light movement this week, but today definitely wasn’t the day. Maybe I’m not too far away from starting though – once I’m confident the risk of bleeding has passed. Obviously I’m not going to do anything heavy or anything involving a valsalva! But no reason I couldn’t start doing some light curls and fluff work just to get the blood flowing. This all makes me feel like there’s light at the end of the tunnel….

Took another photo tonight, so again, look away if you’re squeamish. Not so bloody now, but still super gross looking:

UPPP Surgery – Recovery Day 6

Sleep last night was OK – maybe because I didn’t try to force it and stayed up until my eyes were closing by themselves, and drifted in and out of sleep til 2am or so. Got up to go to the toilet, spat out a big gob of brown stuff, and immediately felt a big lessening of the pain on one side of my throat – it went from maybe 7 out of 10 to 3 out of 10. I think the scab has started to come off.

Unfortunately the other side is still pretty sore, so I stayed up for a little while, took an Endone at about 3am and crashed pretty hard after that.

When I woke up I was very sore and clogged up as usual, so had a shower (which seems to loosen the gunk and help provide relief) and while showering, spat out something small and black. On closer inspection, it turned out to be an (intact) stitch. This concerned me a bit, as I expected them to stay in until they dissolve… but while I’ve still been spitting small amounts of blood on and off throughout the day, it doesn’t seem excessive so I don’t think anything’s opened up that shouldn’t have.

Skipped the Endone this morning, and just took Targen plus the anti-bleeding pills. Managed to get out and walk the dog, as well as vacuum and mop the floors this morning, and spend a bit of time with the kidlet this afternoon so it’s been a kinda productive day.

Mealtimes, as usual, have been the most painful, so I haven’t eaten a great deal today. But aside from when eating/swallowing, the normal day to day pain has definitely eased a little, particularly on the side where the scab has fallen off (which is where the blood seems to be coming from). After dinner (which was a bit of a battle pain wise.. it was only chicken soup!) there was a bit more blood in my spit than usual, and I was pretty close to phoning the hospital for advice. However I sucked on a zooper dooper and the bleeding seemed to settle down so I decided not to bother – if things are still bad tomorrow I’ll give them a ring, but I’m about 80% sure it’s normal to bleed a bit more as the scabs fall off.

I’ve managed to get through the whole day without Endone. There’s a T20 game on tonight from South Africa, so I’m sitting here drinking a cold bottle of electrolyte water, and I’ll try to watch the cricket for a while instead of sleeping.

When I was considering phoning the hospital, I took a few photos of the current state of my throat, it’s pretty disgusting looking. If you’re squeamish, maybe don’t enlarge it or look too hard:

UPPP Surgery – A Poo Story

I mentioned in my Day 5 post that I did a huge poo today. Well I actually wrote a couple of posts about it on a forum, and decided to cross post it here, just because. So here goes:

It’s true what they say about opiates and constipation, probably exacerbated by eating a lot less than usual. I’ve just produced (and it took some work) one of the most amazingly huge BMs in the history of log cabins. A triple flusher, as long as my forearm and almost as thick. I kid you not, it was almost Instagram worthy.

Oh seriously, it was a doozy. Like you know when the midwife is telling the mother not to push til it’s time? I was in there for like half an hour feeling this immense weight on my o-ring, but nothing was happening and I didn’t want to force it, but then all of a sudden this contraction happens and there was absolutely no control, it was time to strain. So that went on for a few very long moments, at the same time I’m trying to make sure I don’t valsalva and make my throat pop open. Then when it’s over I realise that I barely felt a thing snap off, and didn’t really hear a splash either, so I’m expecting to see these little rabbit pellets like what happens sometimes. So I look down to see something the size of a large blue tongue lizard stretching from below the waterline to half way up the bowl. I wouldn’t have thought it was anatomically possible if I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes.

I found some Senna laxatives after that and popped a couple. Not going through that trauma again… it’s been a rough week.

UPPP Surgery – Recovery Day 5

Saturday today – the fifth day since the operation on Monday. I had really hoped that by now the worst of the pain would be past, but I really didn’t feel any better this morning.

I was lights out by 10:30pm, but seemed to be waking up sore every hour or so and spent quite a bit of time up and down to spit in the sink and gargle. Took an Endone about 1am, and ended up taking Targen and paracetamol a couple of hours earlier than usual at 5am. Managed to get a couple of decent hours sleep after that, but once again woke up feeling awful. Lost my rag with miss five and the dog a little bit, was feeling pretty down and had zero motivation to cook breakfast, nor was I feeling particularly hungry. But I’ve gotta eat, so forced down some greek yoghurt and frozen blueberries with a drizzle of honey, washed down with a cup of weak tepid tea. I’ve been trying to limit dairy a little bit because it does tend to make my throat more phlegmy but I didn’t feel congested afterward.

Did some grocery shopping after that, it was nice to get out and about, and buy a few more soft treats including some scallops for tea tonight. Had some heartburn while I was wandering round the supermarket – been getting that a bit this week, I assume it’s related to the surgery and the gunk I’m swallowing.

I also had a frozen Coke No Sugar from Maccas on the way home and boy, did that hit the spot. Made it last all the way home, through unpacking the shopping, and most of the way through a walk with the dog. Then I took another Endone when I got home and since the womenfolk were out for the morning, had a chance to chillax in front of the cricket for a while and enjoy the blissful silence.

Had soup for lunch, and the wife, unbidden, brought home a McFlurry from McDonalds – bless her. That went down well too. I also tried to drink some diet ginger beer but that burnt too much, although I put it back in the fridge to flatten out a bit and it was quite tolerable a few hours later.

Experienced a bout of proper constipation this afternoon, and ended up producing the biggest dump the world has ever seen. I’m hoping to avoid a repeat performance, so took some senna based laxatives and intend to keep taking them til I’m eating normally and off the painkillers.

Unfortunately, I had another meltdown at dinner time. I cooked scrambled eggs with scallops, as well as some ham and mushroom and onion. I felt pretty good before eating but it didn’t take long before my throat was really hurting and I’m pretty sure the salty ham was the culprit. Anyway, I spat the dummy and took a break from eating, and when I came back was able to eat the rest with less pain by avoiding the ham. After that I had a shower, took some more Endone and watched a movie with the wife. We had a pretty good evening in the end.

To summarise, I think the pain levels have been, on average, slightly lower today, and it’s the first day since the operation that I really haven’t had any daytime naps. The two might be connected, I don’t know.

I’m still seeing small amounts of fresh (as well as old) blood in my spit regularly though, and that’s been bothering me. Until now I’ve just assumed the wound is just weeping or something, but if it doesn’t stop soon, and the pain doesn’t really start to ramp down, I’ll have to go back to hospital and get things looked at. Fingers crossed.