The View Not Taken

Yo, Dear Reader. I have been thinking about free from food, shocking I know, but there are a lot of different sides to the preparation of foods for different diets. It’s why you’ll baulk at some very popular recipes where many others are widely enamoured. We all have different tastes, different requirements, both dietary and mental. I know, you’re thinking I’m talking about food addiction again, but it’s a slighter lighter side of that. See when we talk food, in this case free from food, there are a few common themes that I’ve found don’t fit for me now. They once did, but I’ll get to that in a moment. This is in no way an attack on anyone’s recipes, methods, but I’ve always said everything we do can become too narrow if we don’t look outside the comfortable niche we’ve carved out for ourselves. Let’s run through this quick, bearing in mind I’m not talking absolutes, just common themes. I’m also a big fathead if that helps.

Emulation: Look! I’ve replaced the flour with sawdust, but the photos look so pretty! Okay, I’m mocking, but I’ve eaten my share of starch and gum ridden lumps of supposed bread. Appearances aren’t everything.

Recreation: The better side of familiar recipes being reworked. Again, this is within the framework of the original recipe, you try to recreate the same flavours and texture, but with different ingredients. It gets fuzzy at times because it’s obvious that at times it’s vastly overstated how effect it is. Like the sawdust example above, this is you being told that the lump of sawdust isn’t pretty, but it tastes just like cake!

Substitution: The roughest, but sometimes the best. Taking out ingredients and trying to keep everything the same is interesting it can teach you a lot too, but at times it’s obviously not going to be the same. How much is subbed can vastly change what you’re making. Think of he absurd sawdust example, this time it’s just a pinch an everything else is fine.

I’m less and less into the sweet side. Partly because I know I can only derive so much pleasure from it now, and stepping back into the mire of addiction and sugar isn’t an option, but also because I’m growing as a person. I’ll never full extradite myself from the mess that was the fat-days, but I’m getting better, even if it is tinged with a sadness born of the knowledge that what I enjoyed was often enjoyed for all the wrong reasons. Sweets to feed addiction and to plug a void are very different from sweetness solely for the saccharine pleasure they can bring in moderation. Look, it’s a little dark, but that’s Jack, I’m just letting it show now to save myself the hurt of hiding. Besides, I’m in a good place with food and want to help others see there are other ways to eat.

Okay, so the above examples are extreme and I’m not offering some perfect solution. The ideal rests in the mixing of all of the above. Take anything to an extreme and you’ll lose out. I’ve always said that the best free-from recipes are the ones that celebrate the uniqueness of their ingredients instead of burying them, but also the ones that utilize the strength of those ingredients. So, if like me you’re in an odd relationship with food, the best thing to remember is that there is no one way to cook or bake. There are popular ways, again look above, which one is the mostly likely to win you followers? Yeah. See, you will see that constantly, but if you dig through thousands of recipes you’ll start to see the really great ones. The cooks who celebrate their ingredients, balance everything for taste and health and generally will stand you better over time.

So, for me, I’ve found that playing with food, ignoring the desire to force my new food to it with what was and just taking everything as far as it will go has stood me well. There’s no great ah-ha moment in this, but if you look at my recipes you’ll find so much of my story within them. There are many I can’t eat now, there are others I’ve made once, made certain they were okay to share and then moved on. Others I make again and again. I crafted recipes for myself primarily, but I look at all the ways I could use the ingredients I had, I never said I won’t eat this or that out of stubbornness. I’ve made so many failures in my time that have been blessedly forgotten, but I learned from each. The times that stick with me are the ones where I tried too hard to fit the idea of what I should be eating, when I made complicated cakes and intricate meals, not out of enjoyment, but because I felt as if what I was making wasn’t good enough. Which is silly in retrospect. But in those early days, when I was newly stripped of my old diet I was scared of food, terrified of everything going wrong and had no choice but to follow the crowd. In time I realised I still didn’t fit and gradually drifted away. It’s why there are so many unique recipes here, it’s why I push so hard to educate about eating as part of a healthy lifestyle.

I will always aver that food is complex, how it affects us is something we need to discover and rediscover again and again throughout out life. Look, I’m a weight-loss success story, a hundred and forty seven pounds lost. Eight years at this and yet, have you ever seen me try to push anything on you? Have I ever oversimplified any part of this? No, because it’s too common that that’s the case. The place I’m learning to stay in isn’t the weight-loss story, nor the super healthy lifestyle, it’s in the knowledgable about food niche. It’s complex, daunting and vital. There s just too much pseudo-science, too much lies, too many trendy foods and devious brands. I’ll keep voicing my understanding like this, if ever there is an aspect of my journey you want to talk about or have me talk about in greater detail then ask. Ask yourself this one question, again and again: Why do people fail at losing weight if there are so many options and solutions out there?

It’s because, Dear Reader, weight-loss is too often linked to self-hate. When the weight is lost that’s the end, no matter how much praise you’ve had you’ll lose it by degrees. Even if you keep it off when the focus is on weight-loss then you’ll always hate what you see because you imagine it could be better. I look at myself at times, the scar doesn’t bother me, but the idea that I could put on weight does. Not that I’m doing anything different, but the dangerous idea of weight-loss hovers over me. It’s where eating disorders come from, we push all the wrong ideas about health and food because we don’t know enough and refuse to admit to that. So, instead of the self-hate of weight-loss, the desire for unobtainable perfection of form we should strive for self-love and a healthy body and mind. That’s much more difficult than yo-yo dieting, less dramatic, less “Made For TV”, but it’s the right path. Loving yourself means giving yourself all you need in life, be it food, exercise or joy. Whatever, the hard part is that dark place in us and others that will draw us down the wrong paths to supposed joy. Losing weight won’t make you happy for long, but being healthy will help you fight for your joy, it will make it easier to live your life. Take it from me, when I look not at the scar, not at what was, but at what I’ve given myself. The garden, almost no pain, a much better life on the whole, then I realise I’m right. When you work on the right things it’ll start clicking together, slowly but surely, but it’ll keep going. The shortcuts cut deeply, you just don’t realise it until the damage is done. Jack will never stop being here to spread this, it’ll refine in time, reiterated countless times in the hopes it’ll save someone from the pains I’ve been through. Okay, that’s it dear Reader. Take care.


I Don’t Recall Planting All These Weeds

A daffodil just starting to flower.

Remains of horseradish. I hope they start again.

The sunchokes grew a lot. They’re bulging everywhere in the pot.

I’m just back from the garden with photos and dirt in copious amounts. Admittedly there isn’t a whole lot to share, the weather has been unkind and the plants are still just starting their slow emergence. Still, the words fill a void in the blog. I haven’t really had many recipes to share or to try because, to be quite frank, there hasn’t been much to do. I haven’t been baking sweets that much, I’ve cut back drastically, for no greater reason than I just don’t really feel like eating desserts. Sadly, as I’ve often said, no disrespect to other bloggers either, the search for gluten free recipes yields so many desserts, treats and sugar-laden treats. that have their place, but right now I’m putting my own health first. Rather than making a cake, eating all of said cake and having a recipe to share with you I’d rather take a few mediocre photos, it’s cold and focusing is fiddly!, and share a few of the coming year’s ideas. I feel as far as the repayment of received kindness in regards recipes, advice and aid I’ve repaid it a fair bit. There are a wealth of recipes that never see the views they deserve. So, I’m not going to worry, but still wanted to put this out there if you are new to the site. The recipes are sporadic as warm day in Ireland, when they do come they’ll be the same bold-faced honest recaps and the most helpful advice I can give. When I give I give my all after all. But, for today, we sink into the mud and muck and look for our little buds: The Newly Sprouted Little Buds. I’ll soon be placing an order for the first round of seeds. Exciting times, for Jack at least.

Honeybells. From Tesco no less. Wonder if they’ll pay me? Heh.

The established snowdrops.

Spring Green Tulips. They’ll either be a delicate green or just green. I can’t wait to see.

Oh, one small aside. Actually a book recommendation, skip this if you’d rather. No, no, have no fear, the blog isn’t turning into my personal journal. If I kept recommending books I’ve read I’d never have time for anything else. It’s not even a review, but I feel it’s worth sharing. I honestly step around talking about mental health issues because it’s a thorny thing to discuss when you’re dealing with them yourself, that’s why when I do speak up I know what I’m saying is worthwhile as I’ve gone over it again and again. So, I can say with certainty that I absolutely abhor self-books, yeah, raging angry hate from Dear Jack, so, this is weird but I’m recommending Ariel (Pronounced R-e-l) Boomer’s: Turn Your Pain Into Art. Why? Why tell you to take a look if I hate them so much? Because this has mirrored so much of my own journey. It’s an honest recount of the actions she’s taken, meticulously written up in easy to follow steps, a part of her life, her struggle, her formation of her band, don’t let that put you off if you’re not into her music, and, what made me type this: She admits when she can’t offer a solution. None of this is absolutes, it’s rather simple, but the journey from self-hate to self-love, a constant journey, written in a good place with her struggles still admitted, is what makes all the difference. She mentions near the end what I feel sums up the book’s worth. She talks about self-help gurus who have a easy life, have perhaps over come, but no longer struggle with issues telling you, someone perhaps in the midst of their own pain, to just do this one step and cure everything. Her disdain for this is what made me so happy reading it. I wish I’d have had someone like her when I was younger, but all I can do is recommend it here. You may know someone who needs it or might be interested. This isn’t sponsored, endorsed or anything like that. Just a fan who’s sharing. I won’t do this often if ever again, so have no fear there.

The canna indica bulb is nearly black, hard to see, but it looks to be at least three times the size it was last year.

Gypsy Girl are starting to double up.

My snowdrops are slower. This is the early riser.

The next major job in the garden is relaying the slug traps. I need to get heavy pots halves and fill them with slug pellets. Where there are birds and berries I’ll use quick oats again. I don”t want to poison either of us. I’m currently filling up page after page with notes on what I want to get done. It helps you keep sane while waiting to get started. There’s no point buying too much yet and leaving it all to moulder while the weather is wet and dreary. There are some seeds I know I want, others I’m still unsure of. There are some that would be ideal but might not be available. I’d love to grow blue potatoes again, but I might settle for whatever happens to be in the discount store. The onions from there were great and the rose-feed was the best thing ever. I’ll have to stock up on feeds and fertilizers too, bulbs won’t be needed as much so I’ll save that way. There are still a few spaces here and there that might get a pot of bulbs, but I’d like to get something unusual or at-least new to me. Seed starting is usually March if warm. Potatoes and onions can be late February if the weather permits.

Narcissus Ice King.

The Jasmine buds are hard to spot as they’re surrounded by dense foliage.

Turns out I have a half rose standard. A smart friend told me. I thought it was just wonky.

Blackcurrant. It smells lovely in the evening.

You know, Dear Reader, I feel that this year will be the year I enjoy the garden the most. I’m looking less at what I feel it should look like, comparing it with imaginary rival gardens, and instead enjoy what it is. It’s a hodgepodge of miscellaneous ideas. So many of them working so well. The wire held matting has kept the weeds from reclaiming so much of it, the recycled boards are keeping the grass back, the buckets are letting the roots reach and the plants thrive. I’m joking these days that I think I left a lot more than skin behind in the hospital. It’s strange that we can live our lives in a way that detrimental to our own happiness because so many unhappy souls will do their utmost to stop us, never admitting they’re unhappy. That’s why I share this posts: Because I enjoy it and I sincerely hope you do too. They’re nothing special. There are gardens that would put my humble plot to shame, but this is mine. It’s the garden that bestowed the title of Jack to me. That has forced me to think and learn so much I never even knew I could know.

Foxgloves I started very late from seed. They ad to go in when the snow came I’ll try to divide them later.

Old rhubarb is up. I hope the new crown starts again soon.

The yellow strawberries are coming back.

The hydrangea is coming on.

I realised today that it’s almost six months since my surgery. Six months, only six. It feels like years and lifetimes. I still have a few twinges, it’s still healing after all, but to give a practical comparison: A few months ago I had to lift a concrete slab and put it into the wheelbarrow. It almost killed me. The effort was almost too much. Then a few days ago I had to move it again, so I grabbed it and I could’ve swung it like a club. I took it two-handed down the garden without a bit of effort. So, the surgery has made a massive difference in both mental and physical. I hope, like last year, when the garden is going back that’s when I’ll see my next set of surgeries. For now I focus on the garden. I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I will, Dear Reader!

Food Addiction: Knowing Makes The Fight

It’s been a strange week, I’ve had this absolutely infuriating craving for sugar, for junk food, for some nebulous idea of food that nothing can satisfy. Don’t even ask if I gave in. Do you think I’d be here, ten and a half stone lighter, battling this for the last eight years, with a two foot scar running across my abdomen, healing well, thanks for asking, awaiting more surgeries to address the damage if I’d faltered? No. But, it’s something I do have to think about all the time because food addiction is a very real issue, all those years eating poorly, gaining and retaining weight rewired my brain in ways I can’t even begin to understand. So, what, right? Why talk about it? Because people so rarely do, it’s one of those parts of weight-loss that people would rather ignore. Enjoy the acclaim of the loss, just ignore the stark truth. That itching, crawling urge to eat and eat. That’s what people do you see? They fall and fall again and again until they don’t ever try again. So, we do one very special thing: We admit that it’s real and understand the vicious cycle of food. The sugar fat loop, the comfort eating problem and the culture that surrounds food that isn’t healthy for some people.

Without the knowledge this is indeed a real thing your brain will do it’d be a slaughter, but with the knowledge that it is indeed real and that you are indeed going to be able to beat it down to a very manageable level it becomes less scary, less prone to being shoved into the dark corners of denial that exist in all out minds. See, I haven’t got all the answers, I’m just going along in my plodding, slightly bitter way, but I’m a success. I envision that sentence as a party popper that’s failed to explode. Success wasn’t an end goal to me. What was is what I’m now becoming. Free from the pain, the hurt, the self-hate. This isn’t really for people just starting, though they should keep it in mind. It’s for the strugglers, the strivers and, yes, even the successful ones learning that the fight isn’t ever over. It just gets easier and easier. That’s why this all came as a shock to me, I haven’t had a spell like this in months and months, maybe a year or more, whereas I used to have it every few months. It’s not that I did anything other than stick to my plan, stick to the good food and the mindful eating, but I’m shocked less at the fact it came again and more at the fact it took this long.

What did I do? I’m sure you’re going to be very annoyed with my answer. Nothing. Yeah, no meditation, no journaling, just a big nothing. This works for me. The stubborn part of my brain that resists the pull back is probably tied to the numb parts of myself, it’s not a pleasant truth, any mental issues really are, but truth needs to be stated. Every solution will need to be tailored to, and found by, the person struggling. I just sat and questioned the urge, chipping away at it while deadening the rest of myself. It’s still there, ebbing now, a shadow of the past. I don’t want to be a buzzkill, we have fun here, right Dear Reader? But sometimes there are parts of this journey that are worth sharing, necessary to share, but they’re not suited to covering in a layer of jocular, joking Jack. I’ll leave it at this, I would turn it into a guide, but as I’ve said it doesn’t lend itself to adaption for everyone because everyone is different. Just remember that knowing makes this a fight, it gives you a chance to defend yourself from those cravings and urges. Don’t be ashamed, don’t feel as if you’ve done something wrong, this is a part of the story of your weight-loss. If you’re lucky enough to not have this problem then I envy you. Like loose skin, diastasis recti etc some people are unfortunate in their success. That’s life, we have to let ourself acknowledge that there is a struggle before we can fight and we fight it, every day. Okay, back to fun in the next posts. I promise. Until later.

Are We There Yet?

There’s a nasally, petulant child screeching in your ear whilst reading that title, right, dear reader? No? Just me then. In the vernacular of the internet, this will of course be outdated by time I reach the conclusion of this post, it’s ya boy Jack. Why am I here again? When am I not here, that’s the question. The answer is when the weather is fine and I’m happily mucking around in the garden. The weather is not fine and I’m here again thinking, not brooding, but brewing. In an effort to kick my coffee habit down a notch or two I have done the sensible thing and bought an espresso machine. Hmm? That’s not how this works? Au contraire mon frère, you see I’ve been guzzling my brew from those pods machines and it got to a level where I was drinking more because the pleasure had gone out of it, I’m almost certain I talked about how junk food messes with your brain recently, check the weight-loss tag, so now I have something I can vary at will, coffee making is fun and fascinating, I may talk about it as a wind-down later, but now I want to talk health. Jack is, of course, the bastion of health, a maestro of mindfulness and skilled rear smoke blower, heh. I’m a hale and hearty fellow and you might assume that there came a point where I found the balance and that was that. In a way that’s true, I did find a balance, but it’s not just one set piece. It’s layers, each separate and each connected. Let’s look at he coffee layer, which sounds delicious.

Why down my cups now? I was fine with it, which is true, I’ve been adjusting my histamine these days and am having no trouble. Cutting out citrus and soft drinks seems to have helped a great deal. But, leaving aside the issue of doing something for no greater reason than chasing a joy now fleeting, I was drinking something that’s not now detrimental to my health, but in the future might be. So, what? Well, think of it, I’ve never stop looking after my health. Not when the weight-loss stopped, nor when it stayed stable for all these years, not even after my abdominoplasty. I’ve added vegetables by the bucket-load into my weekly meals, I’ve never stopped trying to cut and curb my bad habits. In all the years I’ve never really stopped. It’s the distinction between a fad diet that works for a short time versus a long term lifestyle. One that adapts with you as you age or dies quietly in the night, forgotten and unloved. But, no keep reading about fasting, about juicing about…Woah! Jack is getting as bitter as burnt beans. Jack is never bitter, angry or anything like that. Never. No. Stop pulling at he curtain, the wizard isn’t there. What I’m saying in my roundabout way is that when it comes to health it’s a constant thing. It gets easier and almost automatic, but bad habits form quicker than good and good ones need maintenance and replacing as they wear out. For me, it means sticking to two, very decent so far, cups of coffee a day, rather than, er, six. Maybe on a day I feel like a third I’ll steam some milk and enjoy myself. I’ll also keep adding vegetables to everything I eat, taking out excess salts and sugars, generally just being smart and mindful, because it never stops. Not really. I’m fine with that, the pay-off continues to be greater and greater.

See? Jack can be somewhat eloquent, or at least clear. So, I do have an espresso machine. I was very fortunate to land it at less than half price. I should take a picture, but that feels more of bragging than sharing. It’s a fairly simple model, flanked by a burr grinder and an assortment of beans. I’m trying to get the right pull of espresso, yes, I’m going into this head-first like everything I do. I even say ess-presso, instead of ex-presso. Truly I am a barista for the ages. The fun part is that every step varies the taste of the final pull of coffee. The tamping, the action of pressing the ground coffee into the filter, needs a gentle touch, the grinding even needs an exacting eye. Then starting the water, that few micro seconds before it fully stops and forms a crema layer needs to be accounted for. The taste of the beans, the type, the roast, the blend, all those potentially pretentious parts are ever novel. I’ll of course be Jack in this too. I’m not better than anyone else regardless of how I drink it or what I drink. I’ve pulled shots that had that perfect viscousness and caramel coloured crema, I’ve also had it shoot out of the side when I neglected to lock it in fully. I’ve only had it two days, but I assume by buying it I’m now a qualified coffee snob. I’ll get back to my Machu Picchu Organic Beans. See you later, dear reader.

Habits, Fractions and Jack

Consider this a part two of this if you’d like. Naturally I think about my dietary choices quite a bit. Call it mindfulness if you’d like, I won’t hold a grudge. Heh. I don’t like to get grandiose notions about my own lifestyle, that’s probably a post unto itself. What I’ve been thinking about is something I think about each year when the resolution queriers are in full swing. A resolution is the desire to create a habit, often at least. When it concerns lifestyle choices that’s very often true, but sadly all too often people get high expectations and overestimate themselves. Now, now, dear reader, I believe in you as you should believe in yourself, but the idea you can just break through all your healthy and dietary issues with just one choice is silly and damaging. Yes, I know Jack is firmly settled on his high horse, but as I often repeat: Ten and a half stone and eight years. I’m not going to blow smoke up your ego and tell you how you, yes, just you can do this! Then ask you to pay me, follow me, give me your first born, whatever. I don’t want your children, I don’t even want praise, I just want to say I know what I’m talking about and if someone like me, Jack is just your average Joe, no that’s not my name either, can do it, you can too, but you need the right advice from the start and I really do wrack my brains trying to share it. I might be flippant often, always, but when it comes to a serious topic like this I’m ever responsible.

I know it’s New Years! Happy whatever! Seriously, I only care about my appointment Thursday. I don’t drink, celebrate at all and I’ll be here all year so we can just act like this is any another eve. All my Dear Readers, all five hundred followers…WHAT?!, will have a happy year because it’ll be filled with Jack! No need to wish. So, wait, what was the other post about. Cogs? Machines? Who wrote this?…Oh, I did. This one is about habits and their formation. The biggest mistake is the idea that a starting at the peak of a habit, be it going cold turkey or jumping head-first into anything will mean success as you’ll have to have some of the habit adhere. No. No, that never works, been there early in my life and no. No! No. Nooooo…Okay, I’ll stop. So, what then? You’ll hate me for it. Really. Well, small changes! Yes you’ve heard it before but allow me to reiterate: SMALL CHANGES! Why am I sharing what’s been said countless times? Because you’re possibly missing the second half of this. Small changes need to be stacked. A glass of water daily is a start, a larger glass is a further step, never missing a day is another piece, larger and larger amounts is the way to go. When you get enough small changes together consistently you form the basis of a habit. To take a negative example: Imagine dropping a coin into a slot machine, you don’t win, but surely the next will…and so on. You keep at it in the hopes of a pay-off, whereas with the water example you keep at it in-spite of wanting to stop. You still need willpower, but by increasing the amount gradually, expanding the scope slowly, the habit becomes more concrete, more exact and thus harder to break when it finally has formed. Simple sounding, but very hard to do, I have to admit.

Never settle for good enough, dear reader, be the best you you can be, don’t try to emulate others, just make these small consistent changes and watch how they stack and connect with others. It doesn’t have to be done in January. That’s why I’m so against the idea of resolutions, the pressures that they create and the ease of failure and of course the comfort of being surrounded by fellow failures. Do what little you can, but never stop and settle until you’re there. Now, I’ll leave you for a while, but I will share my New Year’s message with you all. Take care, be safe and be happy.

It’s time for New Year’s resolutions.

Though I already drink enough water, eat all healthy food, get exercise in the garden, have lost ten and a half stone, cut down greatly in my sugar intake, read a lot…

Well then, I’ll just sleep until my surgeries. Happy New Year!

Gains and Loses: The Sum of Jack

Yo, Dear Reader, here I am, back yet again with more words than you can shake an expression at. I’m actually going to talk a little more about resolutions, but do bear in mind that the arbitrary markings based on the revolution of the Earth have little to do with these resolutions. Eight years ago, a little more now actually, in early December I made a decision to be better, to get better and to feel better. I didn’t even consider the New Year instead I considered the the new me. Thus was Jack born! Heh. Seriously, what I’m getting at is that you can start to improve your life little by little at any time and starting alongside everyone else can put undue pressure and undo all your hard work. I really would like to just post flippant and sardonic posts and recipes without end, but I remember who I was, that unhappy wretch has long since moved on thankfully, so I can’t but do what little for anyone who might be in a similar situation to what I was. Naturally this is just a fragment of the whole, but it’s the best way to share it. You get to examine it’s multifacetedness without trying to pieces together the whole picture. I wish I were paid by the word like Dickens.

Sadly I have no photos to intersperse today. There has been no breaks in the miserable weather to amble forth and snap portraits of old flowery friends, nor the new green shoots shooting forth. Charles has also left. Which I am very happy to report was a success to the last. My nephew thought him real until the last, even receiving a letter from Santa via Charles. Okay, back to the point, just wanted to share a little cheer. One of the things I’ve done in all these years is to polish my mindset, perfecting the perfection that is Jack. No? How dare y…yeah, I know, but it is a very different me from the me that started. Each year that passes sees me with more choice in food, thanks to my own recipes and willingness to eat anything that I can. It never stops I’ve repeated often because it’s true, it gets easier, but you have to work at it to make it so. There are many parts to the machine of sustained weight-loss and continued health. Today let’s pop off a cog and see what we can see.

One of the main points of contention is what you need to give up in order to lose weight. It’s a complex issue and is heavily dependant on you and your lifestyle. What irks me is the thought of “giving up” because it sets us up with a mighty chip on our hopefully slimming shoulders. What I’ve found myself thinking without even realising it is that I gave up a lot, but I gained much more. Instead of lamenting my losses, I instead look at what bad I’ve lost: The pains, aches, night terrors etc and when it comes to food I look at my gains: I enjoy my food now more than I have ever in my life, I eat a more varied diet than I ever thought possible and I eat better than I have ever. I used to look back on what I was supposedly missing and the chip swelled and swelled and I would’ve buckled under it’s weight had I not had the determination I had to keep moving forward. I can’t give you that determination, but I can tell you that looking at my gains rather than my losses has made my whole outlook better.

I know it seems too easy to be true, but it was anything but getting, and staying, here. It took a long time for me to full appreciate what I had done with my mindset, even longer to distil that down to the words here. I share posts like this because they’re universal. This isn’t a diet I’m sharing, a gym plan I’m bragging about, it’s just a simple filter to overlay over your life. What way you use it is entirely up to you. For me I’m filing my body with the good stuff. Simple, unprocessed and, yes, delicious food. There’s work to go on the outside, but the inside is doing well. If I can share an absurdity: For the first time in all these eight years (Never before these years could I even squat!) I can squat halfway and hold myself up. I finally have the muscle strength to do something many would take for granted. So, know that that’s who you take your advice from. A man who marvels at the simplicity of his new found mobility. See you again soon, dear reader.

Bitterment And Subderfudge

Dear reader, I was going to collect the random posts tagged with weight-loss, a slight subterfuge to get people to read them and discover that they’re not just quick weight-loss posts rather they’re carefully crafted posts about health and proper eating, but you’re a smart kid you can click it and read away. Now, what? The title? Heh. Bitter, Jack? Jack is always bitter! Bitter about the false narratives that surround weight-loss and health, bitter about other things too, but I keep those off thee blog. Here I’m all sunshine and sardonic mutterings. The other word? Why! It’s when you conceal your problems by covering them in fudge…No? Okay, okay, it was a typo I had to reuse.

If you’ve ever read any of my posts on weight-loss health and whatever you know how I feel a bout fads, spoiler: they’re idiotic, and you know I’ve run clean out of patience for lame excuses. Jack is tired, dear reader, so, so very tired, but he also knows there are those like him who will do the work necessary to be better and who will understand that better isn’t perfection because perfection is anything sustainable. Small successes chain, willingness to sacrifice, to stop believing in the hype and the fads and just eat better. I’ve repeated this so often, but eating a proper diet is very simple, the hard part is sticking to it, I’ve also said that we craft our excuses to excuse ourselves from doing anything. This isn’t for those people. This is for those trying, failing perhaps but getting right back to it. Those who are scared that their would will never improve. Those who just can’t envision a world where they can be better.

I’ve done this every year before New Years and here I once again sit, urging you to check that tag, there’s a wealth of shared experiences within them. Here I sit, dear reader, a two feet scar across my abdomen, sutured abdominal muscles, a total weight-loss of ten and a half stone and I never want to see anyone else ave to go through anything like this. I saw a discussion yesterday, regarding gluten free chocolate, devolve into a misinformational mess because the group who started it decided they didn’t want the effort of teaching, they wanted no responsibility, check Twitter it’s in a thread here. So, here I am, someone who struggled so often on whether to speak up, knowing that I need to. I’ll keep repeating it over and over. I’m the antithesis of all the fads that are coming and you know what? They’ll be believed fast because it’s convenient. But if I reach just one other “Jack”, a single Dear Reader then I feel I’ve done something.

Read what I’ve written, dear reader, share it if you can. If you want to buy Jack a cup of coffee you can toss him some coins here. Next year I will hopefully see more of my surgeries, I’m on the fast-track now, perhaps I’ll be lucky and it’ll all be done next year, probably not though, but someday I’ll sit here, scarred but whole. I promise you that no matter what I will never forget my responsibilities, I will never forget the struggling mess that I was, that just wanted some modicum of sensible help. Something other than the flood of copy and paste nonsense that scrolled passed his eyes as he searched for the hidden hope. I don’t expect to be anyone’s hidden hope, but if I can be a signpost to something better then I’m happy. As always I don’t do much on the holidays so instead I’ll just wish you all well, dear readers.