Chocolate and empowerment

Yes I have made it to 5 weeks and 4 days without eating chocolate. Still, along way to go and I can break it down into 326 days left until March the 14th 2022. Oh boy that’s going to be a Red Letter day!! I am sure that people are expecting me to cave, you know the sort of thing, “oh well, I made it 3 months”, or the patronising comments from others who might say, “you did really well to get to your birthday”. That’s just not going to happen.

I don’t want to tell you a story of feeling sorry for myself, but instead, how this chocolate challenge is empowering me. As an MS warrior of many years, the ravages that have been done to me are leaving me with little control over my daily life. Whilst giving up chocolate might eventually help me to lose a little bit of weight, not seeing it yet though and may help me be healthier, the reason that I decided to do this is more fundamental.

My life is almost always dictated by being dependant on others. From the moment I wake up to the moment I return to my bed at night I have to ask for support. If I am thirsty I ask for a cup of tea, if I am hungry I can only eat what I can reach which is usually not very healthy, like sweets at the bottom of my drawer. I can’t take myself to bed and I can’t go for a walk on my own. That’s not to say that life is horrid, far from it, I love my life, but stopping eating chocolate is my decision and is the one that makes me feel just a little bit in control. I have always been a very determined or in other words ‘bloody minded’ as my mum always called me and it’s made me stronger when I am facing what is called a debilitating illness. If I wasn’t as strong as I am, and I’m not blowing my own trumpet here, but I would never have been able to cope with the disability and indignity that I have experienced.

Going back to my bloody mindedness. From the age where I was able to dress myself and make some decisions for myself I was usually determined to go against anything that anyone told me. If I was advised to wear a vest I wouldn’t and when I was told it was in my best interests to wear sensible shoes, then on principle I wouldn’t even if I had blisters on the backs of my heels or a shoe full of blood, I wouldn’t. I have a very telling photograph of a walk through the woods with my family when I was 14 years old and shod in a pair of red platform heels which I thought were so cool, nobody else did. I am also wearing a skirt which was inappropriate for the situation but I thought I looked the bees knees. Perish the thought that I would put on a coat despite it being perishingly cold! I would rather get hyperthermia than be uncool. Today I live in black trousers, always wear socks even in June and have to have at least three layers to stay warm. Oh how time has changed me.

Today is St George’s Day and William Shakespeare’s birthday, however more importantly my Dad’s birthday. Happy birthday Dad!





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Major milestone

I’m a little bit depressed about this. I’ve gone four whole weeks without eating chocolate, but I haven’t lost any weight. I’m not thinner or at least I don’t think I am. Of course, I can’t weigh myself, because, as we have discussed before, I can’t find a set of scales anywhere that can accommodate the wheelchair. However, my clothes don’t hang off me yet. When I look at my body it doesn’t seem any smaller. Now, I know that Rome wasn’t built in a day and that this may take a while, but I would expect some noticeable or tangible slimness to be happening. If I am to stay on course for this chocolate challenge I need some encouragement from my body. I’m not getting it.

There are only 11 months, 48 weeks or 336 days to go. I do miss chocolate, of course I miss it, it’s been my life. After Easter I had my house stripped bare of all chocolate or I thought I had. Yesterday, I found two bars of Lindt underneath the tea towels. It’s incredible how much chocolate I can hide and the odd places I put it in and promptly forget about it.

Replacing chocolate with something that will satisfy my sweet tooth is hard, harder than I thought. I waste a lot of time searching the Waitrose shopping aisles online to replace chocolate. I have found dried fruit, strawberries, pineapple chunks and cherries which are sweet and chewy like Opal fruits. Yes, in my life they are still Opal fruits! To those who don’t know they are Starbursts in disguise. I have found flapjacks without chocolate and they are quite good as oats are slow release, probably high in sugar but tasty nonetheless. Nuts are very healthy, but they get stuck in my teeth and they aren’t sweet. Marshmallows are good but they don’t last very long. I don’t like crisps very much and rice cakes are healthy but are like eating cardboard. I should know this as I have tried before to enjoy them but it’s a real struggle. I can’t replace one addiction with another so I have four days without wine now.

I’m also trying to restrict my consumption of carbohydrates and replace with protein wherever possible. This is supposed to encourage my body to burn fat by using my fat stores as my fuel but my body isn’t playing ball at the moment. It’s tricky at breakfast time because it’s traditionally a carbohydrate feast. You have bread, toast, croissants, muffins and cereals. Who wants to eat vegetables for breakfast? As for eggs which would be ideal but I hate, except in cakes, but it would be defeating the object a bit wouldn’t it?

I want to tell you that I am still focussed on this chocolate challenge and that I will not succumb to any kind of temptation. If I didn’t give in at Easter when chocolate was everywhere, I can carry on now until Christmas.

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Easter is over, hurrah!

I’ve had quite a bit of chocolate in the house, anyone who knows me will be aware that I prepare early for Easter and Christmas. Now, it’s all been allocated to grandchildren and their is none in the house. I did not succumb to temptation and it is three weeks today since I gave up chocolate. Yay! Only 49 weeks left.

Recently, someone asked me if I am missing chocolate. I’m actually finding it easier than I thought it would be. I do buy a lot of chocolate, but I don’t eat a lot of chocolate. That’s a paradox, isn’t it? I always like to have chocolate in the house for when the grandchildren might pop in. At the weekend we slightly broke the rules and had more than guidelines allow, because children don’t count. We had a duckling hunt. My ducks had been kidnapped and I had to send out a search party to find them scattered around my garden. Obviously, they were chocolate ducks, there were nine of them and they all had names. I did not allow any eating until they had all been found and Lexi had the list to tick them all off when they had been rescued. We had some fun and I then needed to release the rest of the chocolate from the hostess trolley. It’s a good thing that I buy the bunnies early because the supermarkets ran out early this year. Most of them were in my trolley as I had about 27 in varying sizes. Laura, my youngest daughter was astounded and convinced that the bunnies had been breeding. She shouldn’t be surprised, she knows her mother well.

When I die, I want to be remembered. I’m not saying that I won’t be remembered, but I want to be in the memory bank for being the Nonna who gave them posh chocolate. One of the things in my memory bank about my grandmothers is the Terry’s chocolate oranges given at Christmas and which I endeavoured to make last until the end of February, because I knew that I wouldn’t have another one until the following Christmas. I can probably cut down on my chocolate buying and Laura told me that Meadow would be very happy with a punnet of strawberries, so perhaps I could be a little bit restrained at Christmas.

Missing chocolate for me is a very insignificant thing compared to the other things I am missing far more. We had a good time on Saturday and it was an absolute delight to see my grandchildren who haven’t visited since Christmas Day, but I haven’t seen my mum and dad since October last year. This is the longest time since I hugged my mum and dad and although we talk and FaceTime, it’s just not the same. Missing that feeling of someones arms around me or a stroke of my hand with loved ones has been the worst thing through this pandemic and it makes chocolate seem really trivial.

I’m sorry my blogging has been a bit random lately but things sometimes get in the way. Now that Easter is over and there is no chocolate in the house I will get back to a routine.

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Still staying strong

I’m on my second weekend without chocolate. At the moment it is surprisingly easy to go without chocolate, but I also know that there are going to be challenges ahead. Easter is approaching and the lure of Lindt Bunnies will be calling. I have bought Easter eggs for my grandchildren and the bunnies are breeding in my hostess trolley, which is where I hide everything. It has in the past been a hidey hole for excess tea bags and wine. It has contained Christmas presents and once a year at Christmas it is actually used as a hostess trolley.

Last week my Mum asked me how I was going to cope over Easter. I haven’t exchanged Easter eggs with anyone over the age of 18 for many years, so nobody gives me Easter eggs. Consequently going without at Easter is not a hardship. I can’t say the same for hot cross buns which I seem to be consuming to replace the chocolate. I have always bought chocolate so that it is in the house, but I have not always been the one to eat it. I just like it to be there. It’s my safety blanket.

I wanted to work out how to import some graphs and charts to demonstrate my ongoing progress throughout this year. I can tell you that there are 354 days left which is 5664 hours allowing for 8 hours a night sleeping time when I don’t dream about chocolate. My dreams are usually about my childhood and how much smarter and cleverer I would have been if I had concentrated more in class with less day dreaming about boys! I can give you these figures but I wanted to show you a graph which contained emotions, anxieties and smugness. I would like to have an ongoing pie chart with weeks ticked off, coloured into different shades which I could use to show how my challenge is moving on. However, this needs work. I have Numbers on my Apple laptop, but I have never worked out how to use them. Again, if I had been clever I would have worked these things out instead of bewailing my computer inadequacies. I will work on this over the weekend and possibly insert numerical data on Monday.

Have a great weekend everyone

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I’m so hungry!

I nearly blew it yesterday afternoon. I had a shortbread finger and I could have had another, but then I remembered they are probably full of sugar and fat. Waitrose title them as ‘All Butter Fingers’ , I guess they are probably full of butter. Waitrose don’t miss-sell, do they! With that in mind it occurred to me that there were chocolate bunnies in the kitchen and I thought that just one wouldn’t hurt. All I could think about was the melting chocolate sensation in my mouth and I was so close, luckily they were out of my reach.

I have to find healthy alternatives. Nobody fantasises about carrot sticks, although they would be the sensible thing. As I’m lactose intolerant, working on the basis of an 80/20 diet ie 80% of the time I am good about not eating lactose and 20% of the time not so good, chocolate was the 20%. Giving up chocolate for a year should help me soothe my stomach aswell as helping my weight. Now I need to examine what I can eat that is not chocolate. I have been browsing Waitrose website and Sainsbury’s just to be fair. I found rice cakes of different flavours, many have chocolate chips or are coated in chocolate but there are caramel flavoured and if I fancy savoury they do salt and vinegar flavour, I have bought a few of those. I like oat cakes and can anyone explain to me, why are they advertised as gluten free at 20% higher price when oats are naturally gluten free? A slice of cheese on top of an oat cake would satisfy my stomach until dinner. I like peanuts, salted obviously and I have found some rice crispy cakes with marshmallow, yum!

I have always been worried about being bossy to my PAs, and I don’t like to ask to have lunch organised for me, but I need to be more assertive and explain what I do need to help me to do the things I can’t do through the afternoon to help me stick to this challenge. I forget sometimes that the girls who work for me aren’t psychic and I need to tell them more often what I need help with, without coming across as being demanding.

It’s a childhood thing, ‘I want never gets.’ An adage from growing up.

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Week one done

I’m not a size 8 yet, disappointing, but I haven’t been for about 50 years so maybe I’m expecting too much. The problem is because I have replaced chocolate with shortbread.

I’m quite keen to keep a numerical record of my progress through this year. Obviously, this blog will help, but I feel I need more. And to that end I have done some calculations. Only 358 days to go, 8592 hours remaining, I sleep 8 hours every night so that leaves 5728 waking hours to not think about chocolate.

Tomorrow is the 23rd of March. A momentous day. Exactly a year ago we all experienced lockdown for the first time ever. I don’t know if they went into lockdown in the Black Death or Spanish Flu. I’m pretty sure we didn’t in the First World War and history tells us that we didn’t in the Second World War. However, do you think it was an over reaction to lockdown? In the Second World War, children kept their gas masks beside them at school. There was rationing, very little in the way of sweets and definitely no chocolate until the Americans arrived and they bought it with them. We knew there was a reason why they saved the war for us! The children wore their tin hats, but they still went to school, that was for five years. Adults weren’t furloughed or advised by Winston Churchill to ‘stay at home’. Life carried on throughout bombings, explosions and the possibility of German aircraft falling out of the sky. In my opinion in those days people were made of sterner stuff. Over the 5 years between 1939 and 1944, 75 million people were killed, that is the whole population of this country. Some people died, either shot, bombed, disease and starvation. So far globally in this pandemic approaching 3 million people have died. There were people who were lucky and escaped, their were some who miraculously survived against all the odds and the same thing is happening now. Some 40 year olds have been taken too soon and some 90 year olds have pulled through COVID despite the odds.

I appear to have wandered away from the chocolate deprivation! It’s self inflicted but at least week one is done. If I can survive a year of lockdown and all the things that we have missed out on like hairdressers, restaurants and theatres I think that this year should be a piece of cake, at least I know there is an end in sight, unlike the lockdown, which might be a moveable feast.

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Day 6: Still Staying Strong.

Well here I am on Saturday still resisting chocolate. Yesterday, Henry and Meadow, two of my lovely grandchildren, came to tea. They pulled a fast one on their Nonna and Grandad. They found a couple of Lindt gold bunnies and they told their Nonna, that Grandad had said they could have them, and they told their grandad that Nonna had said yes! They discovered the stash of chocolate meant for Easter. I do stock up on chocolate over Easter and Christmas, so it doesn’t matter if they eat them early because I’ll just buy more.

I haven’t found this as difficult as I thought I might, although I haven’t made it a week yet, so watch this space. I like posh chocolate, unfortunately that’s the most expensive chocolate. Supermarkets run offers on Cadbury’s often, I don’t know how they manage to sell it so cheaply, but a big bar can usually be bought for a pound, whereas Lindt and Green & Blacks costs twice as much. But lets face it they taste much better. I’ve got a confession to make. NO, I haven’t given in but I’ve given away my stash to the Orange Blossom Bakeshop, who create the most fantastic chocolate brownies. The brownie maker happens to be one of my daughters and it seems only fair to treat the other daughter in the same way. This might mean more chocolate comes into the house, but I promise I won’t be eating it.

I haven’t got a lot to blog about today this is short and sweet. Hopefully they’ll be more next time. Keep reading.

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Chocolate challenge day 3, 4 and 5

I am sorry I have missed the last couple of days, my typing is rubbish and you might end up with random numbers and letters because my fingers don’t lift off the keyboard. I was adding something to yesterday’s blog which had been typed by one of my PAs when I accidentally deleted it! That will teach me to save more often.

Anyone who knows me well would say that I am a bit of a chocoholic. Most people have laughed at my decision, they have said, ‘Why would you do that just before Easter, you will never stick to it, why do you want to do that anyway?’ Well I will stick to it, I am determined and anyway it’s a challenge.

I have always enjoyed chocolate, well ever since I have been able to choose to eat chocolate. Obviously when I was a baby, I couldn’t, but when I got my own pocket money I always wanted to buy it. My Nanna worked part-time in Martins a newsagent in Chandlers Ford and I took my threepenny bit and spent it wisely. Just thinking now I am transported back to being ten years old and the anticipation and thrill of first, seeing my Nanna and second choosing a weeks worth of sweets from the array of jars that lined the back wall of the shop. I vividly remember a little white paper bag being placed on one side of a set of balance scales with a 2oz weight placed on the other side. I loved white chocolate mice, they even had a tiny string tail attached in those days, but I knew that I would not get as much for my money as they weighed heavier, so they were a luxury. The Jazzies, chocolate discs with hundreds and thousands were lighter and I chose both white and milk chocolate. White chocolate shaped into milk bottles were added to my paper bag and I can remember watching carefully incase the scales tipped before I had filled the bag enough to last me a week.

In a different newsagents, at a different age, 14, I would skip breakfast, rush out of the house and spend hard earned cash on a Mars bar and eat it on the way to school. As you can see, chocolate is a big part of my life. I am missing Lindt bunnies and Cadbury’s cream eggs, but here is the thing. It takes me much longer to unwrap the damn thing than it does to eat it, so I’m not missing that much.

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No chocolate, day 2.

Yesterday was easier than I was expecting. I’m sure that you, my reader thought that I would cave in, and a part of me wasn’t sure about my willpower either, but I held out so let’s see if I’m still on course on day 175!

At about 3pm yesterday afternoon if the chocolate had still been available I might have given in. It’s the time when I am most vulnerable. I have breakfast around 9.30, I usually skip lunch, generally because I can’t think of anything that I would like to eat. If I had had toast for breakfast I don’t want more bread at lunchtime, so I can’t think of anything that takes my fancy. Of course, with all the money I will save on chocolate I will be able to have smoked salmon every day, but it’s not showing on my bank balance yet! Consequently I am a bit peckish by 3 o clock. I might be watching my TV and a “little something” would do very well.

I can think of all the things which could replace the chocolate fix. I can have fairy cakes, shortbread biscuits, marshmallows or fudge. That’s just the sweet things. Easter is coming and shops are chocka block with hot cross buns, there is no chocolate in them, well, Waitrose do a nice chocolate orange, but they also have a rum and raison. I could have cheese straws, popcorn, cherry tomatoes, cheese squares or pork pie. When I think about it, chocolate is a very small part of the deliciousness of things to eat.

I just need to stock up on small enjoyable food snacks to get me through to 6pm, when I can have the occasional glass of wine.

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My year without chocolate. yes seriously!

I am giving up chocolate for a year. Some of my readers will now be laughing, choking on their toast, splitting their sides at the thought of me making such a bold decision.

Sometimes, when I am laying in bed at night I have ideas. I can often write eloquently and free flowing in my head. I would be a famous author by now if only I could remember it in the morning. The idea of giving up chocolate for a year came to me at 3am on Sunday morning.

As you can imagine I have quite a bit of chocolate in my house. I was going to collect up all of the chocolate yesterday, but I ran out of time with my PA and I didn’t want to ask Husband in a Hurry to help me. He would not understand, he hates being Husband in a Hurry! I have done it this morning and even I am horrified.

I intend to blog every day to you my reader about this journey. I will tell you of the emotions that I go through, I will talk about my weight, which I don’t know as we have discussed in previous blogs, I can’t find anyone with scales for a wheelchair user. I will add up the calories that I save over a year and the fat that will miraculously drop off my body.

I am giving up Cadbury’s, Lindt, Green and Blacks, Galaxy, Nestle and Divine. I give notice to chocolate companies that their profits may drop. I have listed all the chocolate in a notebook with calorie content, fat content and sugars. Over the coming months you too will be astounded at the shocking figures that we consume without realising. I will talk about ease in which we eat chocolate without thinking about it or realising what it might be doing to us.

I’m not going to be sanctimonious or preachy about the next year, you can do what you want but this is my challenge and I am determined to stick to this, so come with me if you want to accompany me.

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