Be careful what you wish for

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I wanted Michelle Bridges arms and a six pack. As I have had numerous people point out over the past four weeks, you don’t need legs for that.

Maybe I should have added in killer thighs – plural – or curvy calves – again plural. But I didn’t, so I really don’t have any excuse if I don’t get them, even with my dodgy achilles.

In the weeks following my operation not a lot happened. I was picked up from the hospital, still slightly drug induced and wheeled home with a goodie bag of takeaways including Tramadol, Endone, Oxycontin and my first three weeks of Clexane injections.

I was promptly placed on couch, handed TV remotes and given permission to boss, direct and order others around whenever I needed something.

What I needed was better TV. Even with Foxtel I forgot how boring, yet strangely addictive day time TV is. 16 and pregnant, 4 Weddings and my all time favorite Geordie Shore.

For whatever reason, perhaps because my brain was still floating in clouds and my leg still ached, but whenever I tried to read I had a hard time focusing. The words would swim on the page and well constructed sentences made no sense. So I gave up and just succumbed to the junk that is reality TV.

Along with the bossing and the ordering, I also called on a few more favours.

The first day post operation my ‘almost always paleo’ friend who happens to be a pharmacist bought over the pair of crutches she had ordered and I had paid for, saving me the weekly $10 hire fee from the local chemist. Given I had a bill from almost every doctor in the Epworth, the savings was well welcomed.

Her biggest favour however, was her clinical hand there to steady my own when the time came for my first injection.

Actually her hand was the only steady one, and so instead it was she who injected the preventative blood clot drug into me, slightly pinching my stomach and using one of the alcohol swabs she had thoughtfully also bought over. This time I watched. I wasn’t naive enough to think I was going to have her come over at 6pm everyday for the next six weeks.

The needle pierced my skin and the fluid was pumped into me. It swelled around the area, between her fingers and the flesh of skin she was still pinching and even when she slowly withdrew the injection the fluid remained poised. We could both feel it, bubbling just under my flesh, until she lightly pressed over the pin prick with the swab and sent the fluid flowing through my body to help keep my blood flowing.

The first of many injections was dropped in the safe syringe canister and I popped another pain killer. When my head was too cloudy to focus, she left and I returned to my TV viewing.

My routine of waking, stumbling to coach, being fed, bought coffee, food and handed remotes, iPad and water was interrupted in the first few days by welcomed visitors. My circle of friends who were part time workers or stay at home mums were the biggest help during the day. Not only did they bring conversation that actually made sense and did not involve underage sex, but my visitors also bought well meaning care packages and lunch. And their children, who could run around and distract me from the throbbing that had remained in my leg since the surgery and who pointed at my boot with a confused look on their face and asked what my ‘ouch’ was.

Good old trusty Grandma, Gma to those who know her, was also a big help visiting twice during the first week I was home alone. The first time she came for lunch it was with chicken, salad, fresh rolls and her world famous orange cake. I was thankful and hungry, but also vividly aware her orange cake was loaded with sugar and gluten and the rolls, despite being still warm, were something I had stayed away from too long to risk.

Bollucks. The part of my brain that was less drug affected thought. How was I going to tell my 84 year old Gma that all the food she had bought had recently been crossed off my ‘yes I eat that’ list. The very same Gma that had once scolded my vegetarian sister for not eating the zucchini slice she had made because it had ‘only a little bit’ of bacon in it.

Oh thanks Grandma, but I don’t eat bread very much anymore (at all)

Oh don’t you love? Do you want only half then?

Um, maybe I’ll just have the salad and not the roll.

Ok, I’ll just put you the half, which half do you want?

I faced the same challenge with the orange cake.

I’m a little full now Grandma, I might have some later.

You didn’t each that much love, ill just put you a little piece.

The second time she came, it was with her homemade soup that not long ago was my favorite. Luckily Joel had eaten most of the remaining orange cake and what little was left I had farmed off to my sister so nothing but crumbs remained.

But how this time could I explain that her once treasured and loved chicken and corn noodle soup was now a big NO on the paleo diet.

I didn’t. I ate the soup; nobody likes a fussy disabled girl.

The days were largely boring. I had visions of writing a witty and entertaining blog entry every day, but just like the fog that entered my brain when I tried to read, I couldn’t find the right words to write into my newly purchased journals and so the pencil stayed pointed the pages blank.

Slowly, at my brothers warning, I tried to wean myself off the pain killers. Perhaps I tried a little too early but his sms had freighted me

What drugs are you on? You better be careful, some people can get addicted to those you know. You should try not to take them.

Three years ago, my brother had broken his neck playing football and while thankfully he is fine now, he had been in a world of pain and bother back then, and had also been doped up on various blood thinners and pain killers. I was worried his warning may have come from personal experience, so excluded my daily helpers only a few days post surgery.

It was a mistake. By Tuesday I found myself in a bout of depression and pain. I had been home alone for most of the day left for once to manage my own snacks and hobble up to the kitchen every time my water bottle needed filling. TV had been bad, I was bored and feeling a little sorry for myself. And my leg was throbbing.

Epic fail.

Dad called, criticized my brother for his ‘well meaning’ warning and told me to pop a pill if I needed it.

I took two.

Nights were better.

At night friends popped over with care packages. Annie with parcels of food – all paleo food I might add – recipes she had taken the time to photocopy from the Against All Grain cookbook. Magazines, books and DVD’s. Nisha with more magazines. Megan with hand weights to help focus my frustration (and get those Michelle Bridges arms) Anna came to see me on a visit from Perth and together with Annie and Nisha, I broke my paleo diet with Thai food, wine and champagne.

But it was worth it, I felt human again.

And of course there were the flowers. A beautiful bunch from all the coaches at Crossfit Hawthorn East that arrived (conveniently) on a day when my sister was babysitting me.

A bouquet from work, cuts from Gma’s garden. Nisha, Anna and Charly all bringing a bunch when they came. My house smelled and looked beautiful, even if I didn’t

And then the first week was over.

The second week I went back to work. Well I went back working, from home. I had decided again to stop taking pain killers and for the most part the days were fine. But long. I had underestimated how much longer everything would take when dong it on one leg, by oneself, still slightly fragile from the surgery and post op week.

Getting dressed – unable to take my moonboot off until the stitches came out – meant that my wardrobe was limited. Very limited. As in I often stayed in my pajamas all day or managed to stretch a pair of trucksuit pants over the boot and hoped I had no visitors.

Making a coffee. Travel mug strategically placed on the edge of the kitchen bench. Down the two stairs I go on the crutches, leg held in air. Mug placed carefully in bag then gently lowered onto right crutch or over shoulder and slowly, very slowly, maneuver over to the couch or into the study. By the time I got there, the coffee was cold.

Showers. All of a sudden I was a child again and couldn’t perform this simple task on my own so resorted to (as hideous as it sounds) bathing only every second day. Garbage bag over moonboot, stool in base of shower. Leg stretched out of shower door and resting on another chair so it didn’t get wet and stayed elevated. All of this had to of course have a helper to lower me on stool and get me out of the shower when the time came.

Food. It was almost too hard. Breakfast was provided to me by well meaning husband (who now refers to me as the English patient) before leaving for work, but lunch and snacks were left up to me. It meant I got up only when I was starving and not for snacks, although my appetite still had not come back from the operation. At least I managed to FINALLY give up my nut addiction.

I was exhausted.

Just getting around on my own sapped my energy, and my brain trying to focus on working that first week was tough. I took regular lunch breaks, plopping myself in front of the TV on the couch for an hour while eating whatever it was I had managed to make and carry on my own.  I answered emails and dialed into meetings said a silent thanks that I didn’t have to make any massive decisions.

On Friday of that second week I glanced at myself in the mirror after negotiating the shower and was a little horrified by what I saw.

Dark bags circled my eyes, unwashed, greasy hair that hadn’t been brushed in a day or so. Pale face, very pale face from sitting indoors for weeks. Track marks and bruises some purple, some black and blue spotted my stomach from the daily injections.  And I had lost weight. The muscle tone I had tried so hard to achieve had faded into the background and left my stomach, arms and back with a thin layer of flesh. It wasn’t fat, it was just skin. For some reason despite the lack of exercise I had lost both size and weight.

Defiantly no sign of Michelle Bridges arms and a six pack. I looked hideous.

The Primal Challenge Day 23

As many of us know, some more than others, eating food is often an emotional thing. It can bring comfort during stress or sadness, to those both eating it and those making it, and celebrations often revolve around it.

During exams I used to stock up on energy drinks and packets of lollies and chocolate. All the things I thought I needed to wash down the multiple cups of coffee between studying. In the romantic comedies we love to hate, during the epic post break up scene the lead female is generally pictured tucking into ice cream, or chocolate, eating peanut butter or jelly straight from the jar. How many times have we said we are only eating it because ‘we are having a bad day’? The moment something we want to celebrate happens in our lives, we arrange to go out for dinner, or drinks.

We over eat to compensate for something, we eat the wrong types of food because we are too mentally drained to think about what we should be eating, or we forget to eat because our mind is simply elsewhere.  Or on the flip side, we eat that extra piece of cake because it’s a special occasion, or because we ‘deserve it’ and that extra bottle of champagne is popped because we have worked hard, and now its time to celebrate.

When someone dies, food is often the easiest way people can communicate and show they care. Fridges and freezers are full of home cooked meals, many of which will never get eaten by those left behind to grieve.

What we put into our mouths is often the result of the way we are feeling, and can also impact the way we continue to feel.

Today was an emotional day for my family as we said goodbye to one of our own, and if there was any day I was tempted to break the challenge it was today.

But I didn’t.

I over compensated and packed not only my breakfast, but also those making the four-hour car trip with me. My bacon & egg muffins 3.0 went in one container, my sister’s vegetarian version (3.1) went into another. A (small) container of almonds and macadamia nuts to share with my sister-in-law who has kept dairy but is otherwise desperately trying to eat primal. One green apple for me. A bottle of water for each of us.

We set off early.  The muffins were gone before we had even reached the freeway, so Colac was our first stop for breakfast. I put up with more ridicule from my brother, who this time also thought it hysterical to pile a teaspoon full of white grain sugar and wave it in front of me chanting ‘take your medicine’. I might point out at this stage he is 30 years old. I managed to find a smashed pumpkin with poached eggs and rocket breakfast – hold the feta thank you.

Probably one too many coffees – two long blacks before 10am and another at 2pm. It was the only thing (apart from water) I sought out during the post service gathering. Party pies and packaged hot food was waved before me, white bread sandwiches stacked high on tables were a popular favorite.  I’m sure there were other items but I never went over to the table to see just exactly what was there. I didn’t quite trust myself.

Then the cakes.  Larger than I have ever seen before lamingtons with extra cream in the middle. Lemon slice, caramel slice and my sister-in-laws favourite, jelly slice.

I could see her eyes light up when she saw that red topped sweet being unpacked by the church ladies behind the counter, the jelly glistening in the light, its slight wobble throwing teasing shadows in our direction.

me – Don’t do it.

her – But it’s my favourite.

me – It’s not worth it.

youngest sister pipping in – I’m going to have some

me – Not helping.

I lost sight of her for a moment as my grandmother bought over a stranger who had at one time babysat me when I was two and visiting Warrnambool with my family. No sorry, I didn’t remember I was muttering, eyes searching the crowd for Heidi.

I found her, not one piece of jelly slice in hand. Still I was not confident in her determination, her sweet tooth would give most of the elderly that were around us that day who used to bake for a living a run for their money – and we were in the country so that was saying something.

I bet it’s not even homemade.

I assured her when I eventually made my way through the crowd and was able to take my post as bodyguard once again.

You reckon?

Nope, look at it, its all the same size. Look at the base.

In truth, I wasn’t that sure of its roots. It could have been homemade, I was just looking for excuses.

Ill just go have a look at it.

I kept my eye on her again, but I need not have worried. Again she returned empty handed, and for the next few hours the jelly slice, along with all the other food types on our banned substance list (which was everything available) remained uneaten.

Which meant by the time 3:30 came, we were positively starving.

I shared the nuts, well really she took one handful and I had the rest (we were in separate cars) and when they were gone I downed the green apple. Heidi had told me a recent trick of hers was to eat protein just before the fruit. It would mean the sugar levels in fruit would not just spike your insulin, so you felt fuller, and it would also mean I didn’t binge on nuts as much.

I followed the advice, and I’m not sure if it was because I had run out of nuts or because I had no other food with me and still a three hour drive ahead before we stopped in Geelong for dinner, but I didn’t feel hungry anymore.

On the way to dinner Heidi sent me a text –

My self control today deserves a mention

For sure! By passing the jelly slice in a tough emotional situation… Big mention.

And she did! Not one rule broken today. Not one sweet, not one sandwhich. Not one piece of toast  – even the gluten free toast – at breakfast.

Dinner in Geelong meant more ridicule from my brother. I was ready to eat my arm off but instead ordered crispy skin salmon with the green beans, no butter, and hold the lentils but can I please have a green salad instead no dressing?

The food came and was quickly eaten. I always leave the salad for last and the first forkful revealed it was not naked as I required but fully dressed with what I thought was vinegar and olive oil – but couldn’t be sure.

But I was emotional, and hungry. And so I ate the salad and thought if there was any sugar in that vinegar dressing then too bad. I had made my choice, eat it and be full. Heath (my ridiculing brother) took great delight in taking a photo of me eating said salad and promising to put it on his blog, which was all about failed challenges….

I ignored him (again) and was just thankful I had not spent the entire eight hour car ride up and back today listening to his jeers, jokes and jibes over my eating behavior.

A BIG shout out however to his better half over her refusal of the jelly slice, and an even bigger one to all my family, both here and in Warrnambool as we remember beloved Sandi.

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The Primal Challenge Day 22

Like any normal Sunday this one was spent preparing my food for the week. I say ‘normal’ but really it has only been three Sunday’s and apparently you have to do something between 21 and 28 times to make a difference.  Regardless of that, my Sunday saw me making and eating food.

 First off was my own chicken stock, (receipe thanks to Sarah Wilson) so I was sure it was sugar free. I used an organic chicken and simmered that baby for over six hours with some lovely aromatics like onion, salt, pepper, celery and carrot.

While the chook was on the go, I moved to the slow cooked rib recipe courtesy of Jake, although I did have to change a few ingredients thanks to my now almost empty vegetable supply.

When the stock was simmering and the ribs were slow cooking I headed over to Mum’s for a roast pork lunch. I took my own vegetables – parsnips and sweet potato roasted in coconut oil, and steamed green beans and tried to not ask if the pig had been roaming free in a grass paddock or was trapped in a cage being chased by needle holding farmers pumping my pork full of preservatives.

Either way, lunch was delicious. Although when the hot homemade apple crumble came out for dessert I declined, and had to waive away my mother’s protests.

There is nothing in here you can’t eat

What’s in it?

Oats, flour, cinnamon, brown sugar, apples, a bit of honey…

So the only thing in there I can eat is the cinnamon and some of the apple.

We’ll try the zucchini slice then.

You put flour in that too. That is gluten.

It’s only a little bit.

It doesn’t matter, just like when Grandma put a ‘little bit’ of bacon into the vegetarian quiche – then it’s not vegetarian anymore.

No word of a lie. My grandma did actually put bacon into her quiche she had made especially for my vegetarian sister, and then got angry when she wouldn’t eat it.

No, it won’t kill us, nor will cutting off one of my feet, but I don’t want to do that either.

After lunch I returned to the safety of my own kitchen and tried to forget about my mother’s sighs and my brother’s jeers at my blog. He is sure nobody would want to read it, and does not understand why I am doing it, posting useless dribble up on a site when I’m not that interesting to begin with.

A pillar of support and constructive criticism from someone who has not read one post… but he is right, I’m not that interesting.

So I won’t bore you with details of how I emptied the vegetables from my stock, added them to the ribs rather than discarding them, shredded the chicken to use it in salads and lunches and dinners during the week and froze Tupperware containers of my primal paleo sugar free stock before moving onto my own version of egg & bacon muffins, let’s call them 3.0.

They were quite tasty, recipe below –  

  • 9 eggs (from happy, free-range chickens)
  • 12 long, skinny slices of bacon (Cannings)
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 red capsicum
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1/2 tin coconut cream
  • 1 onion
  • 2 spring onions
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Basil

Method via primal junction website.

I even made two with no bacon for my vegetarian sister in preparation for our road trip tomorrow.

My blog bagging brother gets nothing.

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The Primal Challenge Day 17

Just over halfway there, and I am well and truly in a mid season slump. Today I ate three pieces of fruit and wanted more. I’m stuffing nuts down my throat like it is my last day on earth and despite having a piece of frittata and a cup of smoothie for breakfast, my mind tells me I am hungry by 11. Which there is no way I should be – I’m not even training and getting up an hour later!!

Now some of you might be rolling your eyes thinking wow, three pieces of fruit… but the recommendation is two per day and I gauged, and I’m not sure if it classifies as a challenge fail, so I’m overly disgusted and upset with myself.

Ok so the pieces were small, watermelon, cantaloupe and honeydew. It was a shared fruit platter, so not like I ate the entire lot, but I did feel guilty.

Ok so I’m leaving out the 10 red grapes I also ate.

See – mid season slump.

I only had my lunch three hours ago and I’m hungry again.

Plus –only a few days ago I was walking around promoting my clean skin thanks to my clean eating and almost throwing away the dry shampoo. As if to prove a point, or perhaps in protest, my chin is riddled with blackheads and teenage acne and my hair on day two is in a high ponytail and heavily sprayed.

I know I was a late bloomer in high school, but this is ridiculous! Are my cravings and withdrawal symptoms coming so much later than first prescribed? Or am I a victim of some other bout of hormone tampering!?

Either way, day 17 is no fun.

Not that I am ready to throw in the clean eating towel, it’s just damp on the rack, hanging loosely and not really smelling the best.

I’ve decided I need a pick me up to get my mind off the fact I have to spend hours making a Christmas pudding full of things I can’t eat for our Christmas in July dinner this Saturday night, by making lots of things that I can.  And because I am still struggling with my sweet tooth, tonight it will be frosty fruit smash (if I can find almond butter) and the holy-moly banana pancakes (again if I can find almond butter).

I also had my meat delivered today to work by Canning’s – including the paleo bacon. Score.  I couldn’t wait for the weekend and their birthday discount celebration and knew I would get more stuff then anyway, so stocked up – and by the weight in the bag (I had to take the lift) I might have again gone a little overboard.

Time to re-calibrate the grocery bill budget.

But I know that bag of goodness holds my lamb shanks and ribs ready for two new primal recipes just in time for Thursday and Friday night and the cold weather we are meant to be expecting.  I’ll even prep the slow cooker tonight ready for the ribs tomorrow.

Tomorrow I can FINALLY go back to some sort of training and exercise (thank the thighs) which should also peck me up a little.

Actually as I am writing this and thinking about all the great things I can make and then eat, my mood is somewhat increasing to almost positive and I think I can feel the first shakings of my slump.

Don’t get too excited, my skin is still saw and red from when I tried to push the puss out of it in front of the work bathroom mirror.

Maybe I’ll even make my own almond butter….

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The Primal Challenge Day 10

Last night I had a slip up. It wasn’t major and it was purely by accident, but it happened.

I was having people over to dinner. A UK colleague, my sister and her boyfriend – who not by choice but by necessity doesn’t eat gluten, fructose and dairy.

No worries! I told him

I’m all over it.

By now I was in day 10, so of course thought I was a professional at this clean eating gig. Dinners were a breeze. The chocolate cake I would not eat was done, the ganache icing not even tempting. Too easy.

Plus I was cooking lamb. And I’m good at lamb. A beautiful lamb shoulder I was going to slow cook with lemon, garlic and oregano. I had done it before to rave reviews so was strutting around the kitchen with an air of confidence I didn’t deserve.

Especially as I forgot to turn the oven down after its preheating cycle and ended up roasting my slow cooked lamb for an hour before realising. Fail.  So my slow cooked meal morphed its way to a roast.

First fail of the night – lets move on.

Vegetables. Lots of them. I did corn for the grain eaters, steamed broccoli and beans, tried kale chips for the first time – delicious! (although my no fructose friend confirmed via google they were on his banned substance list). Potatoes and sweet potatoes, all cooked in coconut oil, which I had finally managed to track down (and to ‘borrow’ a back up jar from my sister-in-law) and covered only with salt and pepper.

But the lamb.

It was always going to be my achilles heel of the night and now it was roasted (not very well) deserved, and needed, a sauce to join him on the plate. At least for the guests that could eat it.

So I quickly made a gravy for those that love it before finding a new, easy to do red wine jus.

Butter, onion, garlic, salt, pepper, parsley, beef stock and of course half a cup of dry red wine.

I’d like to carry on about how the smell of it made me want to drink the sauce straight from the fry pan as it lay simmering, but it didn’t. Nothing about the way the butter sizzled in the pan or how the garlic and onion began to caramelize made me want to try it.

I poured it in a gravy jug without a second thought, but happy I had tried something new and piled it and everything else on the dining room table, dinner was served!

Plates were pilled high, wine was poured, bread was buttered.

I left off the corn (oh how I really do miss you) ignored the bread and loaded up on my meat, greens, sweet potato – no standard spud you can not join in, I’m sorry – and those delightfully crispy and salty kale chips.

I was halfway through telling a story and cutting my second bite of lamb when I realised what else I had done.

My face paled, hands flew to my head, knife and fork clattering on the white porcelain plate as they dropped from my fingers, and as my sister put it I ‘did something really girlie I have never seen before’.

Oh shit.

Whether it was the excitement of my own story telling, the comfort and confidence I had taken too far and paraded around the kitchen earlier or my pitchfork holding red devil appearing again and taking over control, I don’t know.

But whatever it was, however I had done it, there on my plate, covering the piece of my already bitten lamb, was a drizzle of that red wine jus.

I continued my girly, incoherent babble for a few moments longer, my colleague looking at me with a wide eyed expression and no doubt wondering if he could silently slip out of this madhouse now and make a run for it (we had only known each other a month), my sister reassuring me it was only a mouthful, her boyfriend staying silent, and my husband declaring I should just ‘scrape it off’.

Instead, horrified and humiliated, I got a clean plate, rescued what vegetables I could and served a few new clean slices of meat, pushing the red wine and butter infested ones with their jus over to my husband.

Then I checked and tripled checked everything on my plate again – just in case.

No sauce, no gravy, no jus, no bread, no butter, no corn, no potato. Mineral water, no wine.

I really didn’t enjoy (apart from the kale chips) the rest of the food. I felt slightly sick over my previous potentially potent forkful.

I will NOT call this a failure.

I refuse to.

Even if it was – which it wasn’t – I’m using that cheesy old saying of ‘I’m still a winner’.

It as one mouthful – small mouthful – and something totally unintentional, purely by mistake.

An accident, not a failure.

And it shook me to the core.

How careful I must still be, how diligent! This clean eating gig of mine was still in rehearsals and it would be days before I made it to the live show and it became a habit not a hindrance.  If this was The Voice I would have just lost the battle round.

Bloody jus. New recipe, first time I had ever made it. I blame the lamb, and the oven, and myself for needing a jus to begin with.

Even hours later, when everyone had left, and I was loading plates with gravy stains and bowls with brownie crumbs and ice-cream drops – none of which were mine – into the dishwasher I was still highly annoyed with myself.

My competitive spirit – the same one that once threatened a team mate to ran faster or I would poke his eye out with a spoon – was annoyed that I had, on some level, failed.

The feeling of failure followed me to bed and left a bitter taste on my not so clean eating tongue.

I’m sure the men at airport security this morning would have been rolling their eyes with laughter as I x-rayed my two bacon and egg muffins, container of macadamias and almonds, my banana and water.

And I’m sure the other lunch goers were rolling their eyes with impatience when I checked if any of the salads had gluten or dairy, and made the poor order taker recite dressing ingredients to me.

And I’m sure she was rolling her eyes in annoyance when in the end I asked if she could make me up a salad with only the vegetables I wanted don’t put on any dressing, was the chicken free range, and can she make it up in front of me so I could see what she put in it.

Today I wasn’t taking any chances.

Because yesterday I had a slight failure   accident.

Lessons learned –

  • Confidence is ok, being cocky is not
  • I make a good red wine jus
  • It takes longer than 10 days to break a lifelong habit
  • Muffins in Tupperware don’t beep through the airport security, but they do capture strange looks and ensure you get called over for an explosives and drug screening

The Primal Challenge Day 9

I have a confession to make. Some 10 odd years ago when I still fell into the early 20’s bracket, I ate McDonalds two to three times a day. I know, disgusting right. I can hear you gagging, or trying to swallow that little bit of vomit that has crept up your throat. The rest of you have foreheads creased in disgust and horror. But it’s true.

I got into a bad habit. Working 10 hour days at McDonalds while studying full time with a naïve focus of trying to fit the most in my day rather than get the most out of it. Yes there is a difference. Food was a necessity. I ate when I was hungry and never really worried too much about what it was.

If I had the early shift I would start at 5:00am and work until early afternoon which meant breakfast was a bacon and egg muffin and a few hash browns, and lunch was fries and a burger. Sometimes when it was really cold I would make a hot chocolate using the chocolate topping from a sundae and the soft serve, throwing in a dash or two of boiling water just so I could call it a drink. Often the favorite was ‘home made’ jam donuts. Empty the middle out of a cheeseburger bun, fill it with jam then deep fry it in the vat we cooked the apple pies in.  More vomit?

I could go on, about all the things I saw and we made in the greasy fast food kitchen. Burgers that held two or three chicken patties, thickshakes with added oreo flakes and soft-serve, muffins in the warmer heaped with topping and ice-cream. Closing time and the crew got to eat whatever was left so would stuff Cheeseburgers with nuggets and chips and Big Macs with chicken patties.

If I had late shift it was no different. If I had the middle shift it was no different. Work uni, uni work and my only fuel in between was a burger, fries and a litre or two of coke.  It got to a point where my crew would ask me if I wanted a ‘McStace’ today – my custom built favorite burger. That should have been a trigger point. I worked at three different stores and most of the crew at each knew of the McStace.  Of course Ronald didn’t make it any easier by giving all the Managers access to free food. My inner tight ass (no way was it tight on the outside with that diet) thought it crazy to buy lunch when I had piles of it sitting around me I could eat for nothing and I was a poor uni student who otherwise ate two minute noodles. The problem was, I was a ‘poor’ uni student for seven years. Yep swallow that bile now.

And I thought I had no addiction to sugar.

The truth was, it started even before then. High school lunch was a carton of milk, plain or sometimes flavored (ice-coffee was my favorite) a small bucket of hot chips and a mars bar. I never ate breakfast and could often go to early afternoon before eating at all, and then of course it was sugar.

Dinner was better, but not always great. It was quick and easy, and whatever Mum could do after work on a single income that would feed six kids. Chips in the oven with a chicken and some veggies, pasta, stir fries. Things that were easy for the first child who got home to pull out of a packet and pop in the oven.

By now you are probably picturing me as a morbidly obese 20 something and you would be right to paint that picture. The truth was however I was not much bigger than I am today, maybe only five or six kilos.  My body simply rejected almost all of the food and fueled itself on the sugar.

When I got my first corporate job some eight years ago my staple breakfast item was an extra tall latte with three sugars. Over the years I changed the milk to skinny, dropped a size and eventually took out the sugar, but the coffee and milk was always there.

As early as three years ago I would rush home from work and pop open a can of full strength coke. I joked with everyone that it was like my after work beer, but in reality I was no less addicted.

Even before I started this challenge I had the same naïve outlook on my diet. I thought I had limited sugar as much as possible. I hardly ate sauces (tomato, sweet chili etc), had cut out my can of coke – now that was a painful breakup – and barely ate any of the cakes that I made for others.  

But I was eating muesli laced with sugar every morning, and at least two muesli bars during the day that also contained at least 11grams of sugar each. Pop a few pieces of fruit in the mix, a dressing of my salad, even in my soup, and I was already overloaded before even dinner.

You get this is my ‘ah ha’ moment right?

Ah ha I hear you all chorusing in the distance. And why shouldn’t you join in the chorus, I am sure you have had your own – really I ate that much?! moments.

I had long been saying fat doesn’t make you fat; sugar does, but had not once looked deeper into where the sugar was hiding in order to try and fight its fat conquest. And it does hide – everywhere.

There are almost three cups of it in my dark chocolate mud cake I made last night, and that is before the icing and not including the sugar content in the chocolate. Ohh the sweet poison. I made the cake and watched as the mixture ran off the mixers blades with little more than a slight drool. I blocked my nose to the smell that began to radiate through my kitchen and not once did I lick the spoon. I was not even half tempted to.

Well maybe a little.

I’m sure somewhere underneath my ‘second week in, clean eating’ skin it’s still lurking. I am eating one piece of fruit a day, so it’s not gone completely.  I’m even thinking of raining that back in next week just to see if I have fully broken the sugar shackles.

And to think just a decade ago Ronald was my best friend and McStace was my middle name.

 PS – I had my own version of clean cauliflower tabouleh (turmeric, lemon juice, green capsicum and tomato) and lemon pepper chicken skewers last night and really need to use my camera and not my ipad to take photos!  

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