Friday, 19 June 2009

The Fog (not the one by James Herbert)

Just some random pics which haven't seen the light of blog. Below is "The B of the Bang" outside the Eastlands Stadium (Man City ground) in Manchester, which happens to be opposite the velodrome. I'm glad I snapped it out of the window of my car at a traffic light a few weeks ago because they have just about dismantled it now! It is no more. Apparently some of the big prongs fell out which is "not right safe" (as they say in Sheffield!).
Cute sheep sitting on their ma

This one didn't want to get up even she she stood up. I felt guilty for disturbing her!

Minty guarding her toy and enjoying the sun through a bedroom it wrong to envy your pet's flat tummy? I'm glad my tum is not as furry as hers though!!

I have been trying to be "interesting" in my blog now that I've hit 500 posts. A novel departure you'll agree. It's only fair; if you've stuck it out for this long, you deserve a few challenges rather than a list of my food and exercise and a few pics of my dogs (what am I saying, pictures of my dogs alone make life worth living!!!). But it's tricky to think up new stuff - kudos to the likes of Shauna and Jennette for consistently keeping me interested! Now, I'm not setting my stall out that high, don't need the aggro, but I thought that, once in a while, I would try and get a bit deep to remind myself that it's worth the effort and that getting and staying healthy isn't just about calories and low-fat recipes.

I've been pondering on the phenomenon I think of as "The Fog". This is the state which can last a day, a few days or sometimes several weeks or even months where you drift away from your tried and tested routine of food and exercise and into murkier waters. Where you shut your mind to the consequences of what you're eating and drinking and "forget" to exercise. Where every test of will seems beyond you.

When you becalmed in The Fog, you don't really know it; you think you're just having a hard day and you'll get it back tomorrow. It's only later, when you sail out of The Fog that you look back and think - "what the hell was that?". Everything suddenly seems so much easier; healthy food tastes delicious again; exercise is wonderful and the scales start to head la la...Happy Days.

I've been caught by The Fog loads of times. Now, I even recognise it and can, if I really try, swerve out of its grasp but, even now, it can ensnare me from time to time. I want to know what triggers it; what I can do to evade it; how I can make it short and WHY ME?? [Note - I know nothing about clinical depression and really don't think my Fog is anywhere near that extreme. I can still function fine, go to work, get up in the morning, even force myself to do exercise etc, don't cry randomly and can still have a good time on occasions throughout the fogginess but, overall I suppose a cloud of fog is heading in that general direction.]

What helps me to avoid the Fog? In no particular order:

  • Company; having things arranged. If I'm at home by myself and have a quiet weekend, I often look forward to it, thinking that I'll get loads done but now I realise that these are the danger times for me. I need to make sure that I have arranged at least a couple of social events, be they a night out, a walk with a pal, or just doing some gardening or shopping with someone. An empty weekend is a trigger.
  • Keeping busy. Nearly the same thing but it's not so much about the company but more about the activity and stimulation that it brings. If I'm dashing around going to personal training, french class, velodrome, running, pub quiz, walking the dog, watching football, socialising, I'm less likely to hit the fogbank, more likely to sail in clear waters.
  • Change. When I completed my half marathon last spring, I was stale and bored with the relentless demands of my running training but I had nothing to replace it with so I slacked off on the running (almost stopped it) and this created a vacuum inviting the Fog into my life. If I had replaced it with tennis or golf or mountain biking, who knows whether I might have been able to stave off last year's lengthy (and expensive in terms of weight) stay in the foggy doldrums. What I do know is that taking up cycling and learning the track discipline for this TV programme has stimulated my love of exercise again, I'm back running and I'm enjoying it all in a different way.
  • Reasonable expectations. If I expect too much of myself then I'm bound to "fail". This then sets up the stressed eating and hiding behaviour which characterises the Fog. If I accept that I do a lot and sometimes just need to rest and that's okay, then I'm Iess likely to push myself into failing.

What helps me get out of The Fog once I'm in it?

  • Often, outside accountability. Being weighed and having to report to someone else. This can jolt me out of my complacency and avoidance of the issue.
  • Time. Sometimes you just get through it. Usually though, time is accompanied by gaining weight so it's not really the passage of time but desperation because I've gone up a size (or in the bad old days 2!) that leads to me emerging from the Fog. This is NOT what I want. I need to find a way to get out of it before I'm wearing a larger size!
  • Help. A third party, be it a friend who invites me to go jogging or someone to go to a slimming class with. A bit random.

So, it seems that the best way to cut short a period of bad habits is to set up a structure of outside accountability while you're in the good times in readiness for the bad. The need to weigh myself at set times and report on this weight to someone who would force/encourage immediate action if gains are made. How to set this up, I'm not quite sure. I thought originally that a weekly weigh in of my own and a graph on the fridge or something. But I'm not sure this is strong enough. When I'm in the thrall of the Fog I'm very good at fooling myself and could easily rationalise away any gains. Will think about this. Maybe get D involved in a positive way in maintaining my weight although this seems like anathema to me.

BTW, all this talk about the Fog is just my way of thinking about this. In reality, it all fits perfectly with the chimp theory. The Fog is when my chimp is in control and the behaviour prevalent during the Fog is her behaviour. So I'm really talking about avoiding periods of time when my chimp is in control and wresting back control when she is. Hopefully, as I learn to live my life in a better balance and keep my chimp happy on a day to day basis, this Fog business will recede but, at the moment, it's something I have to guard against.

Phew, another biggie. I must post a few more...went for a walk, ate la la posts or I'll tire you out!

1 comment:

Vanessa said...

You have nailed this! I never could have articulated it as well as you have here. Thank you for doing so. I'm in the Fog myself now but struggling to get out. Naming it seems to help. Thank you.