Thursday, 29 April 2010

Why I'm Giving Up Calorie Counting

I had an encounter with my Gran today that really illustrated how my thinking has changed after discovering HAES (Health At Every Size). I had suggested that we go out and get fish and chips for lunch because, well, we live at the seaside and I really fancied fish and chips. My Gran's retort was to tell me to 'think of the calories'.

My immediate and heartfelt (but polite) answer was 'no, I won't think of the calories'.

Calorie counting is a form of diet, and this is fast becoming a diet free zone. I got to thinking, who gets to say how many calories my body needs a day to survive? A limit of 2000 calories for every woman in the world makes no sense. Each and every person is different; different nutritional needs, different metabolisms, different calorific needs. To assume that some healthcare professional somewhere knows exactly what my body needs every day is ludicrous, and it's even more ludicrous to assume that every woman needs exactly the same every day.

Even in the case that a qualified nutritionist saw me, and did lots of tests to see how much protein, how much fat, how many calories my body needs every day I still wouldn't listen. It is an utterly ridiculous notion to believe that any outside person, no matter how well qualified, knows what your body needs better than your body.

So Gran, no I won't be thinking of the calories. Instead, I will be thinking about what my body wants, and I will listen to what it's telling me. If my body wants fish and chips, then I shall have fish and chips if possible, If my body tells me it wants a salad, I will have a salad. But from now on, nobody, but nobody is going to tell me what I need to put into my body to keep it healthy. Only my body knows that, and I need to learn to listen to it better.

Monday, 19 April 2010

Live Well Pledge

Today I am taking the Live Well pledge. It is the first of hopefully many steps towards Fat Acceptance and Health at Every Size. Try taking the pledge yourself, and see how you feel. You might be surprised to find you feel better than when on a diet. I'm certainly feeling better now I'm starting to let go of guilt.


Today, I will try to feed myself when I am hungry.

Today, I will try to be attentive to how foods taste and make me feel.

Today, I will try to choose foods that I like and that make me feel good.

Today, I will try to honor my body’s signals of fullness.

Today, I will try to find an enjoyable way to move my body.

Today, I will try to look kindly at my body and to treat it with
love and respect.

Signature: _____CaptainRaz_______________ Date_24/3/10_

Excerpt from Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth
About Your Weight © 2008 by Linda Bacon.
May be freely distributed, provided that it remains in its entirety
and this copyright message appears. More info at

Friday, 16 April 2010

Rights and Wrongs

Throughout my life I’ve been made aware of the things I don’t have. This is usually done by other people, who thinking they are being helpful, or just being mean, point out that I don’t have the right this, or the right that.

I have never had the right toys.

I have never had the right clothes.

I have never had the right things in my lunchbox.

I have never had the right shoes.

I have never had the right friends.

I have never had the right taste in music.

I have never had the right accessories.

I have never had the right ideas.

I have never had the right talents.

I have never had the right hobbies.

I have never had the right books.

I have never had the right nails.

I have never had the right hair.

I have never had the right complexion.

I have never had the right beauty regime.

And I have never cared about any of this, because I am individual, with my own choices and my own life to live. I realise that all of the above things are bullshit, and I have had and still do have the right EVERYTHING as far as I am concerned. Even if it’s not up to the ridiculous standard of others.

So why the hell do I care so much that I don’t have the right BMI?

Or the right numbers on the weighing scale.

Or the right body shape.

And why the hell is it so hard let go of caring about that?

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Fat Acceptance, Health At Every Size and more

This is a post to apologise for any lack of 'diet' or weight loss updates lately, and to warn people that there may not be any more updates on that front. Ever.

You see, for the last week or so, I've been reading a lots of blogs round the Fatosphere, and have come across two terms that require investigation and thought.

The first term is Fat Acceptance, and the second is Health At Every Size.

Fat Acceptance is the act of giving up the dieting and self hatred lifestyle in favour of eating whatever the hell you want and learning to love the body you have. I am seriously considering this as a lifestyle choice for me. But it requires more investigation and research before I can decide whether this is the path, the community for me. To this end I have ordered what is in fact my first 'self help' book' ever. The book is Lessons from the Fat-O-Sphere: Quit Dieting and Declare a Truce with Your Body by Kate Harding and Marianne Kirby. I trust Marianne Kirby quite a bit, as I've been slogging through the archives of her blog, The Rotund, over the last few days. I will probably end up posting quite a bit on the subject of Fat Acceptance as I investigate and decide upon my journey.

The other term, Health At Every Size; this is the notion that every single body is different and totally unique, and the exercise of making a human body conform to arbitrarily assigned societal ideals is futile and counter-productive. I have even less knowledge on this of this subject than I do Fat Acceptance, but I do intend to buy this book at some point in the future.

In other news, tonight I managed to fit comfortably into size 20 trousers, which is just one size above my goal size. In light of my investigation into FA and HAES, I'm unsure how to feel about this. At the moment my body feels good and I'm enjoying trying out the new foods that I am, so I will take this as positive news. It's just that I'm becoming more and more aware that weight ≠ health and weight loss is not the be all and end all of my existence.

Friday, 9 April 2010

Fat Romance, Take Two

My blog is three months old today. I'm not quite sure how time flew by so fast, but in honour of the occasion I thought I would talk about someone and something else for a change. Instead of everything being about me.

One of the things that's really changed the way I look at myself is getting into the fat community. I'd always shied against getting involved in the fat community, because to me that conjured up images of fat people sat in a room being fat at each other, struggling to justify their existence and slapping each other on the back for choosing an apple over a chocolate bar. The problem I ahd with that is it was admitting I'm fat, and potentially putting myself in a confusing situation where i could be the biggest or smallest person in the room. I was never sure which one would be worse.

But that awesome thing about the internet is that you can join communities with a degree of anonymity. The amount of interaction with that community is up to you; you can choose to be a 'lurker' or a full blown outspoken member of that community. For me and the online fat community, it is allowing to be become positive about my body and gain the support I need without the self consciousness. And to date it has done me the world of good; the sites that I follow, and this blog have eased me into that world, and I now feel confident and comfortable with shouting out I'M FAT! SO FREAKING WHAT?!

One of the sites that has been instrumental for me is Big Fat Deal. It was because of the people in that community that I made the decision to start this blog; to lose the weight I want to, take charge in my own life, learn to accept who and what I am, and to publicise the whole thing. They recently did an article on a post over at The Rotund about fat dating, which struck a chord with me as I'd done a post on the pitfalls of being fat and looking for romance. Both are excellent pieces, but it was something said by lampdevil in the comments at Big Fat Deal that really blew me away.

I’ve spent more than my fair share of time moping around all single-like, convinced that my horrid ugliness was repulsing everyone and ruining my life. It’s an easy trap to fall into. But the last time I pulled myself out of it, it was due to the realization that I cannot meet guys if I do not… meet guys. Y’know. Leave the house. And go to places where people are. And meet those people.

It’s crazy, I know! But your chances of hookin’ up with someone are vastly improved if you put yourself out there. I forced my mopey ass out my apartment door and joined a gaming club, accepted every let’s-go-out-after-work invite from my female co-workers, and otherwise made an effort to locate people that I got along with. It was certainly no guarantee that I was going to meet a guy, but it was more entertaining than sitting at home vaccuming the cat hair from my couch. And hey, I made some friends! And I met some guys! And dated some guys! And dumped some guys. And moved in with this one guy that’s right awesome.

This goes for everyone, fat or skinny or short or tall or whatever. It’s not always easy to get into that place where you’re able to make connections with others, but it’s absolutely worth doing. The world is often not as hateful and harsh as one might think. Or maybe I’m just too cheerfully deluded to notice, ever since I managed to drown out my self-loathing inner soundtrack. Things feel so… bright. Hopeful. I keep positive people close to me, and I avoid the negative ones. Contentment with myself has transformed into something confidence-esque. And confidence is waaaaay attractive. :D

Now I know exactly how that feels; I've spent a heck of a lot of time moping around because I'm fat and ugly and no one will ever fancy me because how could anyone fancy someone who looks like this? The remarkable thing about that comment is that it applies to non fatties almost as often as it does fatties. I know and have known a large number of people, none of whom could ever be described as fat, with exactly that problem.

And the simple truth is this: it's not fatness that is ugly, nor is it the case that skinny is sexy. None of that really matters. When it comes to romance, and indeed friendships, the thing that matters far more than how you look is how you see yourself. Nobody is ever going to fancy a mopy shut in, except maybe another mopey shut in, but if they're both sat in their rooms moping all the time how are they ever going to meet. The most important thing in the world when it comes to developing meaningful relationships, both platonic and romantic, is to be an interesting, confident person than people want to talk to, to spend time with. Everything else is secondary.

Thinking back on my personal romantic experience it was certainly the case. I found the love of my life after deciding to give up on looking for romance and concentrating on finding new hobbies and becoming an interesting, outgoing and hopefully confident person.

Those of you who are reading this looking for romance, try something for me. Try putting it to the back of your mind, and concentrate on finding a new hobby, and on meeting new people. Don't be afraid to try new things, even if a few of them scare you. Even if you don't find the love of your life, you might find your're too busy having fun to worry about it.

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Further Detoxing and Microwave Adventures

I spent yesterday detoxing from my indulging weekend and reinstating my lifestyle plan. The detox side of it meant drinking somewhere in the region of 8 pints of iced green tea. Not 100% sure how much I drank as I made the tea up in a huge plastic bowl. But I put about 8 teabags in it.

It was interesting because I’ve heard all the rumours about how much water you’re supposed to drink in a day. Some say 8 pints a day; others say that’s physically impossible. Well I can vouch for it being very, very possible. I ended up drinking about 9 pints of tea all told during the day, and managed two pints of ginger beer when I nipped out to the pub. I probably won’t aim for 8 pints of liquid every day, as it was a struggle, but I know I can certainly increase my fluid intake.

Anyway, delicious and refreshing as this tea was, after a while of sitting around doing nothing but drinking green tea, it gets boring. Also I got hungry. So I made myself a snack of couscous. I love couscous, but since buying the blasted stuff I’ve been completely unable to get that lovely fluffy texture that couscous is supposed to have. I have, however, now discovered a really easy way to get perfect couscous. It’s probably been done before, but its new to me and I think it’s marvellous.

I cooked my couscous in the microwave.

I took about a third of a cup of couscous, about 1/3 of a cup of water, plus on table spoon, and added these to a microwavable bowl. TI then covered the bowl with a plate, and placed in the microwave for 2 minutes on full (in a 950W microwave). The couscous came out lovely and fluffy but with a slight bite to it. Perfect with some mushrooms and butter forked through. Next time I will try using cold stock instead of water to add even more flavour.

Bolstred by my success I tried the same approach with the cracked bulgur wheat I have. I used 1/3 cup of bulgur wheat to just over 1/3 cup of water. This needed four minutes to get to the al dente point, but was equally delicious. If softer bulgur wheat is preferred then double the amount of water to wheat would do it; might need longer in the microwave to cook and absorb all the water.

A word of warning though; don’t attempt the same technique with rice. The water boils over and covers the inside of the microwave in a starchy sticky substance and the rice starts exploding after a while.

But I am dead chuffed that I can now make couscous with the correct consistency. I suspect that I will be eating rather more of it for lunch now.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Detoxing and revising my plan

I think I need to detox for a few days. I don't know about any of you, but this year Easter well and truly got me. I ate far too much food and far too many foods I knew I shouldn't. But then it was Easter, I was staying at Sam's mum's house, and it was the nearest thing to a holiday I'm likely to get this year. So I made the most of it.

And damn if the food wasn't tasty.

But it does mean that this week I really need to get back to my plan. Because next week comes my biggest challenge since I started this plan; its the Easter holidays and I'm at my parent's house for three weeks. Which means I have three weeks where I have a lot less control over what I'm eating. And the person in charge of my food doesn't have anywhere near an intimate knowledge of the rules I've set myself.

For the three weeks I'm at home, I think I'll have to have a special set of rules.
  • I need to maintain control of my carbohydrate intake, whatever the meal. Part of the problem has always been the large portions of pasta and rice that get served up at home. I need to make sure I never eat more than I need.
  • I'm going to try to eat lots more fruit and vegetables, because they're always readily available in my parent's house. Also they're good for me, and I've been meaning to up my fruit and veg intake.
  • I'm going to ask my parent's to get in some all bran muesli type stuff. Having some for breakfast will ensure a good fibre intake, hopefully fill me up for a lot of the day, and will be packed full of vitamins and minerals.
  • I'm going to take my Slimfast shakes with me, and maybe see if I can get some more. They make for good, quick lunches.
  • I'm going to offer to walk the dog at least three times a week. That means that I'm still getting exercises and not sitting round on my bum all day revising.
There are probably other things I can implement to try to keep control of my health and stick to my plan while I'm at home, but that's all that comes to mind right now. If anyone has any ideas as to what else I can do, feel free to comment below.

Thursday, 1 April 2010

My Latest Obsession: Tea

Today I thought I’d talk about my latest passion obsession; tea. While I’ve been quite a fan of the beverage for some time, my interests has exploded recently. It’s one of the things that makes me incredibly happy at the moment, and it’s pretty good for me as well, so I thought I would talk about it for a while.

My family are quite big tea drinkers; they get through a good six or seven (big) pots a day. And that’s a conservative estimate. Sometimes I thin they might almost single handedly keep their chosen tea suppliers in business if they had to. I can’t quite remember when I first made the transition from ‘kiddy’ drinks like fruit squash up to the more mature and adult cup of tea, but it was a good few years ago now. In any case, I quickly matched my family’s thirst for tea.

Whenever I’m at home I’m the first to ask if it’s cup of tea time, the first to finish the cup and ask for another one. But until about 6 months ago most of my tea drinking experience was limited to bog standard supermarket blends with lots of milk. I’d experimented with lemon tea, green tea, herbal teas and slimming teas, but I always came back to the blended English tea.

I blame my Student’s Union for starting my current obsession with tea. One of their freebie bags at Fresher’s Fayre had a tea sampler in it. One of the teabags was a Rooibos or redbush. I really liked it, so I bought a box.

A couple of months later I was searching for free tea samples on the internet, because, well, I’m a poor student and can’t afford to buy a whole box to try a new kind if tea. I spoke to a few friends who also got some samples for me. Next thing I knew I was buying tea from Twinings by the crate load.

I now own many different varieties of tea; Lapsang Souchong, Lady Gray, Ceylon, Darjeeling, Rooibos, Honeybush, green tea, vanilla flavoured, rose flavoured, camomile and more besides.

The great thing about drinking so much tea is that it’s weaned me off sugary coffee, carbonated drinks and fruit juices. Tea is essentially calorie free, which means that my waistline is benefitting from my obsession. I very rarely drank carbonated drinks, but I would start every day with a large glass of fresh fruit juice and spend most of the rest of the day drinking coffee with two sugars in. Now I start the day with a large mug of Lady Gray, and to be perfectly honest, I feel better for it.

There’s a lot of contention and controversy over the health benefits of tea. I tend to take the claims that it can protect you against cancer with a large pinch of salt, and it would be nice if green tea could burn fat for you. I think if that truly was the case then all my family would be stick thin. What is generally accepted is that tea is packed full of antioxidants in varying levels depending on whether you’re drinking black, green or white tea. The antioxidants mop up free radicals in your body, and help your natural enzymes do their job properly. These free radicals have been blamed for all sorts of diseases so drinking tea could be very good for your health.

In any case, drinking tea is a great, low calorie way to get your recommended liquid level each day. And the advantage of my collection is I have so many varieties than I shouldn’t get bored. Boredom is the enemy when I comes to food and drink, because it means your start eating and drinking things that aren’t good for you, things that aren’t in your plan.

Captainraz’s guide to teas:

Lapsang Souchong: Very smokey flavoured tea. Definitely an acquired taste. Have to be in the right mood for this tea.

Lady Gray: light and refreshing with lots of bright citrus flavours. Not as heavy on the bergamot as her husband’s tea. Definitely an all day tea.

Redbush/Rooibos: Not actually made from the tea plant at all. Naturally sweet, a little bit smokey and completely caffeine free. More accessible than Lapsang and great as an iced tea.

Vanilla: From Twining’s international range. Good strong black tea with a vanilla taste that’s not overpowering. A good afternoon tea. The vanilla flavour gives it a sweetness so no sugar is needed.

Rose Garden: Got this free from Twinings. A very nice black tea delicately flavoured with rose petals. Very nice for relaxing.

Ceylon: Another light and refreshing cup of tea. One of my go to cups along with Lady Gray

Darjeeling: another refreshing cup. Not tried as much of this as some other teas. I should rectify that

Oolong: Somewhere between green tea and black tea. A light amber brew with a delicate but refreshing tastes.

White: Very delicate and almost flowery. Very easy to scald this tea. Water temperature needs to be about 80°C

Keemun: Very similar to oolong in my opinion. I really need to try more of those two.

Rooibos Vanilla and Strawberry: Much like the regular rooibos only fruity and sweet. From Twinings Calming range, and it really does calm.

Honeybush, Orange and Mandarin. Another tea from the moment of calm range, and these really do the job. Again not actually a tea, but a herbal brew. Naturally sweet with a good orange flavour. Tastes slightly of cinnamon even though there’s non in it.

Peppermint: sweet, minty and caffeine free. I find peppermint tea helps settle a gippy stomach.

Lipton’s Morocoo Tea: An interesting infusion of liquorice, cinnamon and mint flavours. Even Sam likes this one

Of course there are many more types of tea I’ve tried that aren’t on the list; and even more tea in the world that I haven’t tried. I do want to get my hands on Yunnan and Pu-Erh at some point, but that will have to wait until I have money (in abundance, Pu-Erh is really expensive).

As a diet aid, tea really has been indispensible for me. It’s a sugar free, low calorie, and means I don’t have to drink water all the time. It’s also full of antioxidants which may or may not have drastic health benefits.

In any case, tea in all its forms is a delicious beverage, that keeps me awake and refreshes my soul. And it does all this without adding to my waistline. Which is just fine by me.