Facing Your Truths: Starting a Healthier Lifestyle

I may have inadvertently blown my notes away. Considering the state of my handwriting that might not be the greatest loss. Okay, deep breath and…that’s how it happened! I’m being jocular because I’m doing another of those ever tiresome, dull posts where I talk about health and well being and we all end up bored to almost death. Why do them then? Because I’m a contentious idiot and any contention to that fact will be blown away too. It’s very easy to tell when I’m being serious as the puns start to drop away and you peek behind the curtain of the Jack facade. No, no, much like Santa Claus Jack is indeed real and apt to break into your home at any time, so have no fear, dear reader, or lots, depends on how you look at it.

I wish I could’ve been more systematic with these diatribes, kidding, I’m not angry…just bitter, but they come of sudden realizations and epiphanies that need to be taken down quickly lest hey be forgotten. I’ve often talked about the struggle f talking about health whilst keeping in mind all the possible human variables. There are many struggles, many people and many reasons to do and not to do. Doo be do be do. What I oten struggle with is trying to keep an open mind to everything, whilst also making sure I don’t inadvertently offering an excuse for someone not o even start on their journey. I realized that in all of this I have often placed myself at he helm and tried to steer every conversation with myself talking all blame i anything should be put wrong. Then I thought again, what was it that pushed me to such success and, yes, I’m learning o view them that way. I’m sitting here with a new bellybutton, richly earned, ten and a half stone lighter than I was. What did I do to start this? Well.

I faced my truth. I needed to lose weight and I needed to keep it off. Simple right? No, not so simple. I could find a multitude of fad diets that once failed would give me ammunition to fire back at my detractors. I could find excuse after excuse if I just looked. Mocking of healthy lifestyles, extremists in those same lifestyles, just sheer pigheadedness would have gotten me far or, rather, nowhere at all. So many comfortably lies that I could choose to believe and that would enable me to take no action, to wallow in my denial. So, when I see myself falling into the role of excuse destroyer, smashing them out of the air as fast as they come into my mind so as to help others facing those same excuses I realize that I could do that until the end of my days and not help a single soul. Not a solitary sausage. Excuses are endless and easy, comfortable as they are dangerous. I don’t even need to give any examples as you surely know them already, we all do.

Instead, I will, as I have been doing, check the weight-loss tag, it’s more healthy lifestyle advice but that not what people search most, is it?, tell you what I faced, what I had to do, why I did it and where I’m going and have gone. Firstly you have to face the truth. Accept what it is that you need to do, before anything else realize you need to know where you stand. You’re not unique, nor are you an oddity for needing to change your life. Many people would do well to look at themselves critically, but that’s them and we’re us. Am I still Jack? Here I sit, dear reader, a huge scar, future surgeries and peace of mind. For the first time in almost eight years I’m at peace with this body of mine. We’ve come to this place with so much hard graft, so much sweat and tears and pain and joy and everything else, but the first step is the most important. I assume you know what that is, right, dear reader?

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Hospital Stay With Multiple Food Allergies/Intolerances

Hey, that title might be boring, but it’s better than: You Can’t Eat A Bed-pan, right? Now, before I begin, I already have? Oh, well, anyway, this isn’t a strict guide, it’s more of a recap of what I did that worked when I was in for my abdominoplasty. You know me, dear reader, I can’t eat out and I can’t just buy food. It’s very hard, I’m at one of those low-times when it’s getting to me. Hence this post, I might as well put my work into words that might be of benefit to someone else. Who knows? As with all these types of posts this is just me, my own personal experiences with honesty running through them. This is just a discussion and look-back at what I did rather than a to-do guide. Whatever you take will have to be restructured to fit your diet and lifestyle. I’ll include a few recovery tips in here too, this is going to be pretty loose and informal. Just remember that everybody and every body is different and what suits one won’t necessarily suit another. Listen to your surgeons and doctors first, your nurses next, then Jack and then everyone else. Kidding, but seriously listen and take notes, you won’t remember it all and it can blur, take that as the first tip. You’re not that good that you’ll remember every detail and after a barrage of the same questions you’ve answered a dozen times before your head won’t be in the game fully.

I’m going from both before the surgery, my first major one, and also the after, that’s double the knowledge, it’s Jack squared! Or, rather it’s the knowledge of what was actually useful rather than just what I tried. This is the second run through, not he unholy first where I only had one week, I still have black rings under my eyes thanks to that. The one big thing I did was to get as much into the freezer as I could in the time I had. Breads, buns, dinners, everything that I knew would be okay for after, in other words nothing likely to cause an upset stomach or to aggravate an already troubled stomach, remember you’ll probably be on pills that might not agree with you. I never took any painkillers, but the antibiotics I was on really tore through me. A good set of meals already made meant I could stick to my diet and eat without much fuss. You can’t be sure how you’ll feel afterwards, you may not be able to make your own meals everyday, you might have help or not. What I wish I’d done is had a few sauces and frozen sides ready. Quinoa reheats really well, rice I had in, but should’ve prepared a bit more. I had stocked up on turkey mince, much easier to prepare than cutting chicken. Though I was eating steak a few days home. Heh. As always I have blanched vegetables by the pound already stuffed in the freezer so that wasn’t a problem.

I really believe that my diet has helped the recovery, there’s no way I’d heal so well a few years ago. It won’t speed it up dramatically and have you back long before you should be, but it’ll mean that you’ll possibly suffer less complications and be in the best shape you can be in the circumstances. Now, as for the stay itself. The idea is similar. Anything that can be eaten cold is king here. Any breads will work. I prepared a bag of mixed breads, cookies and crackers, froze them in sets and had them brought up. For dinners I had cold pasta or cold quinoa, each with chicken and a cold nut/seed sauce. I’m being vague because this will depend largely on what you’re willing to eat cold. These aren’t pleasant options, but they’re the best that were available to me and I was damn glad to be able to eat so well in the hospital. If you, like me, just have no choice what I suggest is making a few trials before you go for the real thing. Freeze a few dinners, get on Google and search for freezer suitable cold lunches, there’s so much that can be defrosted and eaten cold. No matter your restrictions if you’re willing to suffer a slightly bland meal you can eat well, eat healthy and eat nutritious food that will again aid in your recovery. Best way to plan it is the less flavour it has, the less it can lose. That might sound counter-intuitive, but I tell you the honest truth when I say the more spiced and flavoured the meals when it went in the freezer the harder it was to choke them down once defrosted. I had someone bringing these in to me daily, also a yoghurt and a packet of chia seeds. I was never hungry and only had trouble with my blood pressure once, I think I forgot to eat. It’s scary, but more than doable if you research and trial.

Now, I was offered help with planning a meal plan of sorts, I was very grateful, but I didn’t need it. They were willing to start from scratch to help me, so if you can try contacting the hospital beforehand and see what’s available. I was anxious that this might cause issues so I asked beforehand, they said it was no problem and at no point was it anything more than mild interest when questions arose. You probably won’t eat after the surgery, for me I’m ready to eat whenever so the day after I was stuffing cold pasta into my face. This was the biggest issue for me staying in the hospital. One more tip would be to over-prepare just in case anything happens and you have to stay longer. I was told I’d be in five days and prepared eight dinners. It was just the five days, but the three days grace meant peace of mind for me.

One thing you might be able to do is to have a list ready, with pictures if necessary, of brands and foods that you can eat.  I had a baggie of nuts and a few nut butter bars with some fruit leather ready. One at home and one with me. Again, you may not need this, but having a list ready means that the people supporting you will have a much easier time getting what you need to you. Fresh fruit is a must as well. Every time I took a tablet, which I hate, do it regardless, I was either sticking fruit in my gob, nut-bars in my mouth or bread in my pie-hole. You can sink into sickness in the hospital, just feeling off in there can be draining and it’s all too easy to let yourself go and turn into a sickie. I saw it happen across from me, the man in that bed was fussed over, felt sorry for himself and slowly started to get sicker and more whiny. Staying healthy is mental as well as physical each helps with the other. Speaking of the mind, you may go out of yours stuck in the hospital. These next tips are probably petty well know, but you’d be amazed at what you never think of or what turns out to be useless when you’re in.

Music wasn’t as much help as you’d imagine, the problem is when you’re besieged by nurses trying to do their jobs. Reading was a little better, but it can be hard to get your focus so keep it light and airy. Put down that copy of War and Peace. You may end up throwing at the noisy machine in the night. What was a godsend was a book of crosswords and word-searches a friend brought in. They’re fast and keep your mind active enough to be distracting. I also kept a journal of my stay. Mostly taking down whatever I was told about the surgery, what I had to do and what might happen. You can also record anecdotes and stories. It again keeps your mind off things. A hospital stay can be distressing, the more comfort you can supply yourself with the better you’ll have it. Just think fast and easy to stop and resume frequently. You’ll be hit with a deluge of information and it can be extremely hard to keep it all in mind.

As you can see the food issues are just a small part of the whole. An important part and one that can be dismissed too easily. You can’t be sure how a surgery will affect you. No matter how young or strong you are it can topple even the best. Not everyone is an ideal patient like Jack. Not everyone is so wonderfully humble. My last bit of advice is to be patient, listen to your body and realise the time you take in taking care of yourself now is an investment in your future well being. Don’t be an idiot in other words. None of us are immortal, no matter how much we might feel it. Take the time to prepare beforehand, to stay healthy and happy during and to heal afterwards. It’s worth it, dear reader, it really is.

Binders, Bellybuttons and Betterment

Yo, dear reader, it is I: Winter-Jack! I know it’s not Winter yet, but Jack-lite sounds like a terrible diet soda. I might be effervescent, bubbling over with stories to relate, but I am not available in a six-pack or a sugar-free version. Jack is one and only and oh so sweet. The garden is receding into itself, slowly turning into a hibernating heart-break. I have healing to do so it’s all for the best really. Yes, I’m back again talking tummy-tucks, which doesn’t have the same ring as abdominoplasty, tucked nothing, dear reader, I have the scars to attest to it. Though, unless you’re peeking in my windows, you’re not going to see it. I might have a way with words and occasionally rely on pictures you’ll now have to take my word that the only pictures you’ll get will be conjured up by your minds eye. Jack likes his privacy and I know I’ll be respected. On the other hand, any questions that you’d like to ask will be answered happily. I have another check-up tomorrow, all is well, but still anxiety is bobbing up and down in the waters of my mind and I’d like to keep those water still so I’ll type my troubles away.

This is all so new, once in a lifetime really, so it can be overwhelming. It’s hard to pinpoint parts to relate. So let us, you and I, dear reader, wander down that meandering road to a maundering typed up talk. A digital discussion, or soliloquy, rather, you ever mute, much beloved, rhetorical device. The numbness seems to have faded or the feeling returned, whichever you like, numbness lessening sounds strange in a way. Which makes my constant companion the abdominal binder more wearisome. Five week friends. That’s us. A twenty four seven helper, it does help though, but you still start to feel it digging and rubbing, especially as I seem to have full feeling around if not fully inside. Hard to tell what my insides feel like. Though, I am realising with horrifying surety, that I could feel the divide at times when it was there. Speaking of that, I can’t believe the freedom of movement I’m enjoying even while still tight inside and bound outside. The difference in not have those muscles constantly pulling up and in, the hanging skin swinging. I may be a much more mobile Jack in the garden next year, dear reader.

Looking at it all is still strange, I haven’t had a non-protruding stomach in so long, over a decade and a half is the guess, so I’m honestly struggling to see it as fully myself. There is still swelling, it’s early days, but compared to what it was it’s honestly unbelievable. It’s going to have to be taken in stages, when the binder finally comes off, I’m hoping soon, but being smartly weary, it’s going to feel as if I’ve removed a part of myself. Like the stockings it’s going to fade quickly and I’ll wonder what the fuss was. There are so many individual stages, each feeling as if it were a gulf that could never be crossed and once passed it’s fades so quickly in the mind that you’re unsure it ever existed. I am keep notes of everything for the future. I still can’t fully laugh, cough or sneeze. I am getting back to normal in some ways, hard to imagine that a few weeks ago it was a herculean effort to get up from a chair, but now I slide forward and, gently, spring forth, or rather, get up. I think I’ll be able to walk faster too, I sometimes speed up without realising, it’s still tiring to walk a lot, but the very tired spells seem to have passed. I’m standing straight with ease too, a slight tightness exists still, but compared to the effort it took to stand upright fully, six pounds of skin and busted muscles made it so much work, this is nothing.

I’m eating well, healing well and feeling good, here are occasional downs, but that’s a given. All things in time, dear reader. I’ll leave it at that for today, take care of yourself.

Still About No Doubt

As you might have seen, the About page has transformed into My Journey To Better Health. I was having issues adding a new page, so instead I replaced it. This is my story, almost nine thousand words. It’s been requested often and I felt that now was the time to share, so if you’d like to  read about me, you can do so there. Take care, dear reader.

Autonomous Johannes

I’ve played a slight prank, a juicy jape, a clever ruse, a…hey! I’m dick, you have to be kind to me. Well, rather to quote, probably misquote Kurt Vonnegut, I have been sick and ow I am well and there is work to be done. If you’ve followed the weight loss posts, occasional as they’ve been, or read any recent posts you’ll know all about my abdominoplasty, if not, well, you know what, dear Spanky? I’m still a bit off so go do the thing. That’s as clever as I can be. For my dear readers know that I am bent, but happy. I’m on the final leg of this journey, three and a half years I waited and here I am, sans some seven pounds of skin and with a new bellybutton. I’m happy, but there’s a lot of recovery to do, so the posts that have been scheduled will continue, but new ones might be scarce. I’m finally here, dear reader.

One Year Stable

Just saw this and thought that, with the surgery looming in the not too distant future, this deserved a reblog at the very least. The weight has stayed the same, very little changed and yet so much did too, too much to put into words. My commitment to health has stayed constant. I hope to finally end the waiting soon, dear reader, I need to get my fresh start.

Pep's Free From Kitchen

I’m not even sure where to begin with this, it’s funny, I read a lot (Probably too much) and have a decent vocabulary, but when it comes to laying my thoughts down it all gets muddled and words seem to fail me, I guess it’s still a lot to process, even years later. I’ll try to make this simple and succinct, hopefully you’ll bare with me to the end.
Yup, this is yours truly. Sorry if it shatters any illusions. As Popeye once said: I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam.

Firstly, I guess I should say where I’m currently at in my weight loss journey. I’m now at one whole year of no weight fluctuations or one year stable as I think of it. Prior to that it was two and a half years of losing weight and changing my entire diet to lose nearly…

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Beautiful Creature of Habit

One day, dearest reader, there will come a special dear reader who gets all my silly title references and I tell you on that day we will annoy each other intensely. So, fondest reader…Too cheesy? What can I’m just so fondue. Okay, I’ll quit it. Why are am here? It’s my blog and I’m in the mood to indulge in some pedagogy, but seeing as I often have no idea what it is I’m talking about, teaching might be hard. I was thinking about habits, both good and bad. It actually came to me while I watched a bell pepper plant that has been shredded by cold start to come to life again, standing upright for the first time in its life. The centre is a flurry of new growth the exterior a mess of dead and dying leaves. The temptation is to remove them, they’re bothersome and who wants them, right? No. They’re feeding the future producer. They’re taking in the sun and nurturing. They have their place. Their use. I’m terrible at allegory, but this is just how my brain works. Terrifying, huh?

What have damaged leaves got to do with habit? Nothing, but they serve as a metaphor for a part of successful sustained weight-loss, Jack is the poster child for weight-loss of course, by which I mean I’m in no way suitable. I’m just too honest and don’t want to sell you on nonsensical ideas or cures. There are habits that are hard to break, others that are hard to form. Hard to break habits were part of my weight gain. Health eating is my new habit and, yes, it can be a struggle. You see though there are foods I enjoy that are healthy and nutritious, the beautiful new green growth of the new me, there are also others that are better, more worthwhile but not as fun, not as enjoyable, but ones I still stick with. The old gnarled growth that pushes the rest forward. See I managed to mangle the metaphor to fit.

So, what has this got to do with you? Or me? Or anyone? Well, it’s part of the whole you don’t always see. I’ll put it simply: I like broccoli and sweet potato, I’ll happily eat those. I also eat carrots and cauliflower, which I’m not overly fond of, but they provide a more diverse diet. I eat sugar free natural yoghurt with flaxseed, not because I want to but because it’s good for me. I have for the last seven years, every single day. You see, I could easily keep the habit of eating the good foods I like, but without the habit of eating the others I’ d start to slip because there’d only be so much broccoli and so many sweet potatoes I could eat. Healthy eating is complex. It’s all to easy to get into the habit of eating the nice foods, but if you fail to diversify (Don’t mention portfolios and synergy) and end up making a habit of eating only the nice healthy foods then that habit can’t strengthen. I think new habits are reinforced by struggle. Now, it’s not to say I hate what I eat, but I had to get myself to this stage by eating and eating the great foods I didn’t want to. Some were easier as I’ve said, but these are habits now. I could quit but it’d be difficult, I could quit in stages: Ditch the cauliflower and just stick to the broccoli etc, but that would start a roll backwards and you know where that ends. The more obstacles I place behind me, the more foods there are to “quit”, then the harder it is to fail. Not to say it’s impossible, humans are strong willed in regards to stupid choices, but it helps.

When developing healthy habits the harder to form the better in my opinion. That’s it for the serious side of the blog, dear reader. Just a bit of the thoughts that flutter through my mind as I stand there sucking basil leaves. Did you know that Dark Opal Basil tastes of clove? Me neither, until this year. Supposedly it gains flavour as it matures and I’ve never had much to try out. The greenhouse is worth its weight in putty. I don’t know if sucking basil leaves is common practice, but it gets you the strongest flavour, no washing needed. Fat me is well and truly dead, dear reader. I just hope this surgery hurries up and I can be freed from his remains. I’ll talk to you soon.

P.S Oh, I forgot to add that I tried sorghum four in a gnocchi and it’s terrible for pastry or dough on its own. It dries up and crumbles. I’ll keep fiddling with it. Leave it to Jack!