'Two months in and I have hit the wall, and am panicking'
The continuous turning of the wheel of the year is a reassuring sign that, no matter what is going on in our own lives or indeed in the wider world, all is well, as Mother Earth continues her endless journey around the sun, bringing us the variety and joy of each season.
And the sublime joy of autumn is hibernation. Dark evenings, dropping temperatures and the first of the winter storms, all carry one message – stay indoors, stay cosy and just relax.
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I think that in a previous life I may well have been a bear because I like nothing more than donning my fluffy PJs and waddling my way onto the sofa, preferably by the fire, clutching a hot chocolate and a good book. Not that bears do any of that when they hibernate but that feeling of shutting the world out, as they settle down to snooze away the winter is probably similar to how I feel, albeit in a bear kind of way.
Autumn is also the season of comfort food, of cottage pies, bangers and mash and crumbles with lashings of custard. And just when you think the season couldn’t be any more wonderful, along comes Halloween, bringing with it jumbo bags of sweets and chocolate.
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You may have sensed by now, that I am in a slight panic. Because my autumn, just like my life is undergoing a massive overhaul; an overhaul which becomes more difficult when you realise you really loved things the way they were. It’s like having Dermot Bannon arrive into your home to tell you that your beloved kitchen has to go because it’s in danger of destroying your whole house as it’s not structurally sound.
I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in mid-August and so far, cutting carbs, calories and exercising has been relatively straight forward. But two months in and like a marathon runner, I have hit the wall, running out of motivation as opposed to energy.
And sensing this wobble, my mind has been jumping in with really great suggestions such as “oh sure go on, one cake won’t hurt” or “you’ve been great but now it’s time for a treat”. Now, I am all for treats when there is a state occasion, but that time is not now.
I am sharing this with you, not because I have some magical solution but because the ‘journey’ (yeah, I know) to a new me is not a straight road and sometimes it gets bumpy.
I am also sharing this because I have found that the biggest challenge I face in attempting to make these big and lasting life changes, is overcoming my unhelpful mind; the inner voice which tells me ‘it’s too hard’, ‘it’s not worth it’, and best of all that I ‘deserve a treat’. Getting into some kind of weird argument in my head is a waste of time and energy.
READ MORE: ‘Just 18 months ago, my bloods were fine – now I’m diabetic’ – writer Barbara Scully on her shock diagnosis
The best way I have found to counter this voice, is to literally tell it to shut up and that I am no longer listening. A wise teacher once told me “you are not your mind.” So right now, I am hanging on, telling the voice in my head to shut up and, like the marathon runner, just keeping going.
However, there has been some good news too. Drumroll please as I announce that I have lost almost a stone in weight and it’s beginning to show. Some people worry that telling me I had lost weight might offend but let me assure you, that for me (and I would imagine most people who are trying to lose the pounds) being told that I have lost weight is a great boost.
Of course, once the weight loss becomes tangible, clothes not only look different but they feel different too. They no longer bulge in places they shouldn’t and so I feel more comfortable. I hate to admit this, but tying my shoe laces is easier, as is painting my toenails. I feel younger.
Another thing, that I am somewhat ashamed to admit, is that my shopping bill has come down by about €25- €30 per week. I was never one for buying lots of treats so this saving is due to the reduction is in the quantity of food I am buying, especially butter.
I never realised I ate so much butter. I know, I know, I am mortified. But saving in the region of €100 per month has meant that I can indulge myself with something nice, like a massage or a facial, for example. And that’s my treat right there, as I tell my mind.
I have joined the gym now, as opposed to being a ‘pay as you go’ user which should also help me to get out on the dark nights to do a workout or have a swim. I have another one-to-one session booked with a trainer to start some weight training. Building muscle is also important for diabetics.
As I mentioned in my last column, my left knee was giving me grief and curtailing my brisk walking, which was disappointing. Then I had a chance meeting with Professor Niall Moyna of DCU’s School of Health and Human Performance, who told me not to worry about brisk walking and to ‘just walk’. And that has made the world of a difference and my knee is happier again.
So, like Mother Nature I am journeying on, albeit not around the sun. My autumnal evenings on the sofa start somewhat later than before, due to exercise. As long as I drastically reduce the amount, I can still enjoy mashed potato, be it on a cottage pie or with bangers.
However, I am starting to worry about Christmas. I make two fabulous puddings every year that no one enjoys as much as I do. They are a nightly dessert for months. Although himself usually gives up by mid-January, I have been known to be still eating Christmas Pudding at Easter.
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