Self Control Diet

I’ve lost 11kg over the last few months and I noticed this week how many programmes on TV there are catering to the “new year, new me” crowd. There are TV chefs making bland low calorie meals, and others making meals that aren’t low cal at all yet claiming that they are diet versions of the original. One meal had 800 calories in it – that’s over half of my daily calorie intake! It’s good to know that I’m not the only one trying to lose weight but watching those TV shows wear me down.

When I first began controlling my calorie intake, I realised that I was omitting healthy food from my diet so that I could fit as much junk food into my calorie allowance as possible. Despite losing weight, my skin seriously disagreed with this which was enough to convince me to reduce my intake of junk food. I haven’t eliminated chocolate or my Friday evening sweet and sour chicken with fried rice but I’m more aware now of how it effects what else I eat in the day. Instead of eating a large bar of chocolate, I eat a small one – and most certainly not every day, and on Fridays I eat a light lunch so I can indulge in my Chinese takeaway without guilt. I’m not forcing myself to abstain from certain food groups because I know I’ll just get frustrated and go back to my old ways. This diet is just the same old food in reduced quantities and a sprinkling of the self control that I never knew I had.

I track my calorie intake and expenditure with the built in Samsung Heath monitor. While it isn’t the most accurate thing, using it in conjunction with a set of electric scales really makes me realise how I grossly underestimate how much I eat when without. This probably sounds like an advertisement for Samsung by now, but the built in health monitor in my S6 also compares what I eat to how many calories I burn. I have to burn 500 more calories than I eat every day to lose weight at a steady pace and the app just automatically works it out for me, meaning I can just focus on what I’m eating instead of worrying about the maths behind it.

I have a long way to go but it feels good to finally be losing weight after so many botched attempts at diets and lifestyle changes. I worry about what happens when I get to my goal weight but I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it. I’ve always been the fat kid but I don’t want to be like this as an adult so I’m making this change now when it is supposedly easier to do.

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Diverbo 2018

Last year I took part in Diverbo’s Pueblo Inglés for teens and I wrote a review about it afterwards (Diverbo 2017 Review). I’ve noticed that I’ve been getting a lot of web traffic on my review recently, which makes sense considering that many people are beginning to apply for summer 2018, so I thought that I would talk about that experience now that I have once again applied for the popular English immersion summer camp in Spain.

Looking back, the review that I wrote of last year’s experience was quite critical, especially given that I wrote most of it while I was actually at Pueblo Inglés in an un-airconditioned hotel room after a long day of activities. I feel like if I had wrote it retrospectively it would’ve been a lot more positive because you really forget all the little annoying things quite quickly. I can say now that I’m glad I took part.

This year I am applying once again but I know that this year shall unfortunately be my last since the oldest a teen volunteer can be is 18. To take part in Diverbo’s adult program you must be 22 so I will be taking a four year hiatus and perhaps taking part in VaughanTown’s Young Adult camps in the meantime. Vaughan (which I have no idea how to pronounce) actually have a camp starting just two days after my selected dates for Diverbo end which is honestly tempting me. I applied to different camps than last year because the problems with mosquitos at the camp I chose last year was horrific. I might go ahead and add the camp name from last year to my original review so that people know to avoid it since Diverbo decided to have a camp there once again despite talk that the location wouldn’t be used again because of the problems that hotel was plagued with.

If you have already taken part in Diverbo, it’s a lot simpler when you apply since they already have your information therefore you don’t have to fill out as many forms. I only had to fill out a medical condition form and an Agreement of Terms and Conditions form (under 18s have to get a parental consent form signed instead of the AoTC form). I did that in November and a month later got the go ahead to choose my dates. I had two choices and I haven’t heard back yet but I’m going to book my flights soon because it’s cheaper to cancel flights if I end up with different dates than if I have to book last minute like last year. I’m also going to book a hostel bed in Madrid for the night before Diverbo starts so that I can see some friends from last year and get a good night’s rest. Like my original review, I still believe that it’s better to find your own accomodation for the night before than stay in the group hotel (unless you want Diverbo to pick you up from the airport, of course). The welcome package cost €80 last year but I will be able to get accomodation and some tapas and cereveza for much cheaper (and much more fun).

At camp I hope to be less stressed out than last year, now that I know what to expect. If anyone is anxious about it please know that you are in safe hands. I’m also going to go travelling afterwards, hopefully seeing some friends from last year and making new ones too.

I hope to see you all there and if you have any questions, feel free to comment below

2008-2018

2008 was a good year. I made my communion, had a big birthday party and, most importantly, got a dog – all the things that make an eight year old happy. I probably imagined what 2018 would be like while I was curled up in bed with my puppy. I don’t even know how to say it, there’s no romantic way to put it. My dog didn’t get to come to 2018 with me, 2017 gave her cancer and she had to be put down after cancer of the everything was discovered during a surgery to remove the spleen which the vet claimed was causing the problems. 

It was nearly three weeks ago now that it happened but I couldn’t bring myself to write this blog post because it would make it real. I couldn’t even bring myself to go and see her body because that would make it real, nor go and collect her ashes because that would make it real. I still see her in the corner of her eye, I still hear her thundering down the stairs and I still squeeze over to one side of the bed so she has room to curl up beside me. My other dog spent three days waiting beside the front door for her to come home and subconsciously I waited too. My father said to me earlier, “we’re going to collect the dog,” instead of “we’re going to collect her ashes” and I perked up for a split second, happy that she could finally come home, instead all I got was an envelope of remains. 

And it all seems so ridiculous that all of this emotion is over a dog but I never imagined a 2018 without her.

“Are you from here?” And Dyslexia

Considering that I’m a pale girl with brown curly hair and green eyes, it would seem unlikely that I would ever be asked where I’m from considering that I live in Ireland. The problem lies begins when I open my mouth. I have a weird accent and I don’t really know why. I was tested for autism because of it when I was younger and that proved negative, so I was refered to a speech therapist because I tended to mispronounce a lot of words too. They said maybe the accent came from being around my family from Dublin whereas I live elsewhere. In secondary school, I was always asked, rather rudely, “Are you from Poland?”, “Why do you sound American?”, “Are you really from here?” but I could never answer because I didn’t know what they meant – In my head, I talk woth a Belfast accent. I think some people just presumed that I put the accent on. Eventually I forgot about it… Until last summer, that is. Last summer I participated as a volunteer in an English speaking summer camp for Spanish teens. Multiple Spaniards remarked that I spoke differently than the other Irish volunteers and that I was easier to understand. It was the first time that anyone had ever said something positive about the way I speak but it has always been made out to be a negative thing so I just made a silly excuse, saying that maybe it was because I do drama and put on a lot of accents while acting. I knew that it was not true but I didn’t know what else to say.

I was reminded of all of this tonight when I was getting a lift to a Christmas party. I had never met the girl that I was getting a lift with and she asked, just as we were getting out of the car “Are you from here?”, and my throat choked up. It was a pretty innocent question but I was so self conscious for the rest of the evening that I struggled to talk.

I am not on the autistic spectrum. I am not a foreigner. I don’t put on an accent. Those are the things I know for certain. Something that I learnt recently is that I have dyslexia – it’s not an official official diagnosis so I almost feel a bit fake calling myself dyslexic. The dyslexia mentor in my college informally assessed me and said that it is blatantly obvious that I have dyslexia, but that it would cost £500 to get an official diagnosis since its not offered on the NHS. Children are normally diagnosed before they turn 16 by an educational psychologist in school, the NHS doesn’t offer it because there is no reason a kid should have to go through education without anyone noticing their difficulties. 

I was told I would be put on the waiting list to see the educational psychologist when I was 13 but (angry rambling paragraph warning) I knew there was a long waiting list so I decided not to worry about it. I asked a few months before my GCSE’s where I was on the waiting list because I wanted extra time for the exams (I’ve no shame, honestly). I was then unapologetically informed that they “forgot” to put me on the waiting list. I managed to eventually get the extra time because of my pre-existing mental health issues, but that almost made me feel even angrier because I had the exact same mental health issues a year earlier and didn’t get extra time then. I can’t lie, my previous school’s negligence cost me a lot emotionally, academically and now financially considering I’ll have to pay for a private diagnosis. 

That last paragraph went off track but what I meant to say (type?) was that I think my accent and dyslexia are related considering that dyslexia can cause speech and language issues (source). So yeah, it is what it is. At this point I think my accent is too deeply engrained to change it but I learnt last summer that when I actually am a foreigner, maybe my accent isn’t so bad.

It will be okay

While it deserved a blog post of its own, I tagged on to the end of my last post that my lovely little dog needed surgery to remove an aggressive tumour. She went through the first surgery and then a week later she needed another to re-stitch the wound after she tore the stitches. After all the stress of surgery, it turned out to be a calcium deposit rather than a tumour. I haven’t googled what a calcium deposit is, but it sounds quite harmless in comparison to an “aggressive” tumour.

I managed to submit my first round of assignments on time – I’m just hoping that I won’t have to face resubmissions. To celebrate, I stayed in bed for the weekend. I was meant to go to my friends’ 18th birthday party but I just couldn’t bring myself to go (on the off chance either of you guys are reading, it was just me being anti-social after a stressful week – nothing personal). I guess that missing events is just part of having chronic illnesses; sometimes you just feel so burnt out that all you can do is stay in bed. I just need to focus on getting better right now because my immune system is in the gutter – I’ve been constantly sick since October now and there’s no end in sight.

Did I mention that I was almost an extra for Game of Thrones? I’m not a mega-fan but I was pretty excited. I got a short notice casting call but then I lost my role because I’m not quite 18 yet. I was annoyed because I think my agency should’ve done an age check before getting me all excited. I would’ve been paid £90 for a 12 hour shoot which works out as a lot more than minimum wage for my age group. I already had that money spent in my head when I was cancelled on. I’ve been told I’ll probably get contacted again when I turn 18 but who knows if they’ll be a GoT season 9?

On a more positive note, I am losing weight in a healthy manner. I’ve lost 7kg since coming off my antidepressants, although I think calorie counting has had a larger role to play. My weight used to fluctuate a lot, so to be able to maintain a steady rate of weight loss is impressive. It took me a while to find the right daily calorie intake but I think 1700 is good for me. 2000 calories was way too much but I felt hungry at 1500. Considering that I’m still going through puberty (without any sign of a glow-up though), and being moderately active means that 1500 calories would have been unsustainable and I probably would be given up by now if I stayed at that level. While writing that, I was worried that I was overstating but then I remembered that I have posts detailing mental breakdowns so the subject of sorting is probably quite tame in comparison.

This post was a little bit more downhearted than I intended it to be. Even though I’m relegated to my bed at the minute, I’m just glad that I have my mental sanity for now. I’ll be okay.

Formal Memories

I had been stressing about formal for a month but in the end it went really well. I was really worried that I would be the odd one out because I hadn’t seen some people since I left school but in reality it was lovely to see everyone again. One girl gave me a dirty look and another ignored me when I said hello but that’s their loss, I had too much fun to really care about them. A few people also told me that they read my blog and that made my night – I never really know what to say when someone tells me that but I really appreciate it.

I didn’t feel particularly glamorous when my earring ripped through my piercing, nor when we were in McDonald’s at 3am ordering chicken nuggets but I think that formal will be one of those nights that I’ll remember.

Tonight I’m curled up with my little dog who needs surgery to remove a tumour. No not Harry again, this time it’s my other dog. She has an aggressive tumour in her paw which needs removed. We don’t know how much damage it has done, if any. I’m just hoping that, like Harry’s tumour, it’s benign. I actually noticed it months ago, not long after Harry had his surgery. She had what looked like a red-pink sore and I told my father but he insisted that some of the mixture from the strawberry cheesecake that we had for lunch earlier that day had got matted into her fur. I don’t know why I believed that, maybe it was just easier to believe that it was nothing instead of being more vigilant like I promised I would be after Harry-dog had his watermelon sized tumour removed. 

I’m not in a good way myself either. I came down with a mild cough the day of formal and then I got a sore throat and then that caused me to get ketones which caused me to spend most of yesterday vomiting. I should’ve gone to A&E considering I had symptoms of diabetic ketoacidosis but I spent most of the day hanging onto the toilet. Of course there’s no rest for the wicked so I had to go to college today anyway, ended up with a migraine and now I have an ear infection just to add insult to injury. 

God I need everything just to stop for a minute.

Adiós a mis sueños (Goodbye to my dreams)

It has been one crazy week but I think I’ll start in the early hours of Thursday morning. My formal (prom) had finished at 2am and everyone was on the coach making their way back to Belfast. It had been a good night but it was good to be going home. My friend was sitting beside me, having a nap while I gazed out the window. I’ve always found something very comforting about staring out the window and watching the road go by but this night I experienced some serious déjà vu. About ten minutes into the ride, we drove past a residential street with a glow of orange streetlamps and a bus stop shelter. I recognised it instantly, not from real life but from a dream I must have had years ago. In the dream I was running away from home and I got off the bus at this scene, thinking that I was finally safe but then the people looking for me pulled up beside me in a car and I went running back to the bus stop. That’s where the dream ended. It’s almost easier to think that I just had too much to drink and that I was tired but this was much too real.

A few hours after this I was on the bus to Dublin to spend time with my family. My auntie took me to see the university where I’ll be studying this year, and I can’t lie – it was a bit decrepit but I know that I only have to spend one year there before my course moves to the new campus. We went back to my auntie’s house and I was thinking about the course, so I decided to look over the syllabus to see which modules would correlate with what I’m doing now at college. To my horror, they had removed the Spanish modules and replaced them with Korean. I almost cried because I was so angry that I spent six years of my life learning Spanish so I could study it at university only to have to learn a new language from scratch. But I couldn’t cry for some reason, I think because the world had been trying to tell me for months.

In August, I got a C grade in my AS Level Spanish and I was shocked because I thought I would get an A. For that reason I decided not to finish the A Level in Spanish, thinking that maybe A Levels just weren’t for me but later that week I got a place on BSc Computer Science (International) meaning that I would be able to study computer science and Spanish. I had to defer entry until next year but I told my parents that I would start a conversation class so that I wouldn’t lose my Spanish. When the time came along to enrol for that class I had a sense of unease so I lied to my parents, saying that there was no places left in the class. I told myself that I’d join the class next semester and that I wouldn’t mind a break from Spanish. In the meantime I downloaded a couple of Korean learning apps and listened to some K-pop, thinking it would be interesting to learn an Asian language. For God’s sake I even wrote about how it would be cool to study in Seoul.

So yeah… I’m awfully confused at the minute. I always hear adults saying “I used to be really good at [insert language] at school” and I never thought that would happen to me because it was my dream to become fluent in Spanish and live somewhere with a Spanish speaking population.  I was starting to worry that I’d hit a brick wall in learning Spanish, but now that wall has doubled in height and has barbed wire on the top.

 

Formal!

I wrote about how I didn’t think I’d be able to go to formal (prom in American) but I take that back. I am going to formal. I didn’t think I’d be able to go because my father declared that I wasn’t, money was tight and, well, I wasn’t sure that I’d be welcome since I’d left the school. 

One of the girls organising the formal messaged me to check if I was going. I didn’t know what to say really, and knew that she didn’t need to know the full story so I just said that money was tight hoping she’d take my half assed explanation. But she said that money shouldn’t hold a person back from formal and offered to help out. I was so blown away by that because I wasn’t really sure if people from my old school wanted me to be there – but it was kick that I needed to sort things out. I had a row with my father, managed to get the money that I had loaned someone repaid and started thinking abouy dresses. I still wasn’t 100% sure if I wanted to go but a couple of days later when I saw a friend that was going, I told her that I was thinking about going and her face lit up and she seemed so excited for me that I couldn’t say no.

I went and got my dress the next day and I’m trying to the final details sorted out now. Maybe a lot of the issues surrounding formal were just in my head, because whilst it all seemed impossible a while ago it’s all happening now. It’s definitely something to get excited for.

So even with Storm Ophelia wrecking the place, I have something to keep me preoccupied. Also, did I mention that I’m doing a solo day trip to London next week? Stay tuned for that.

Updates

I’ve written a lot of blog posts recently on which I promised to update you on so here we go.

First Driving Lesson Advice

I just finished lesson no.4 and it isn’t quite as hard as I thought although I never thought gear changes would be quite so difficult. My driving instructor says that I have a tendency to worry about what’s going on around me more than what’s happening in the car. When I see a pedestrian I tend to take my foot off the accelerator and when I see another vehicle coming my way I freeze and mess up any instructions given to me. Of course, I must focus on what I can do: start and stop, hill starts, junctions, 1st-3rd gear and drive on the main road; and then everything else will start to fall into place.

Week 2 Year 2 BTEC IT

I must admit that I forgot to hit publish on this one and left it sitting in my drafts for two weeks. I’m definitely starting to feel the burn of a disrupted sleep schedule but I’m working away with out any issues. I’ve decided that when I finally get my appointment with the special needs team, who normally support me with my diabetes and anxiety, that I’m going to push to see a psychologist to try and get a dyslexia diagnosis, or at least an idea of why I struggle with reading and writing sometimes. I’ve known that something wasn’t right since I was 13, but my GP, psychiatrist and ex-school played a game of hot potato on who was responsible for getting me an appointment with a psychologist. In the end it was my ex-school who grudgingly accepted responsibility, but told me there was a long waiting time. Thinking that there was just a long waiting list, I never bothered to ask anyone how long it would be before I got seen and just forgot about it until I was 15. When I asked my year head about it two months before my GCSEs, she admitted that the school just “forgot” about it and that there was nothing she could really do considering I was leaving at the end of that year. Last year I never thought to ask my new college to contact a psychologist because I was just so happy to be away from my old school but starting driving lessons has prompted me to start nagging about it again. I can’t tell left from right very well, and when my instructor tells me something about the clutch I reach for the gear stick since I struggle to associate words with objects at times – none of these traits are helpful when learning to drive. Thankfully I can type better than I can write, so studying IT was definitely the right choice for me.

Full Withdrawal 

I’m managing fairly well with coming off anti-depressants. I must admit there was one night where I reached for a tablet because I was having horrible intrusive thoughts. I read about the Columbia Space Shuttle disaster and how members of the public found body parts strewn across farms – all I could imagine was a disembodied head still in it’s helmet coming smashing through my bedroom window – morbid, right? Maybe fluoxetine wasn’t the right tool for that. I should’ve closed my curtains, turned the light on and watched a Korean variety show – something funny with my favourite idols (Unnies’ Slam Dunk, anyone?). Other withdrawal symptoms have subsided, but I still have insomnia although I think that’s always been there, just covered up by fluoxetine. I’ve found that as long as I feel busy and useful, I’m happy


So yeah, I just wanted to write a quick follow up to some of the posts I’ve written over the last month. I have some blog post ideas and a few recipes I want to share so hopefully you will here more from me pretty soon.

 

 

Week 2 Year 2 BTEC IT

One week has passed since I got back to college and things are looking good.We had Freshers Fayre on Thursday, which is more of a “welcome back everyone” festival than an introduction for first years. There I discovered that free Domino’s pizza, Coca-Cola and henna tattoos are all I need in life.

As fun as Freshers week was, I’m here to learn and this semester I am doing 4 and a half units: Organisational System Security, Client Side Customisation, Data Analysis, Project Planning and Human Computer Interaction as the ‘half unit’ – meaning it’s split between two semesters. This is following on from the nine units I did last year in which I achieved 7 Distinctions and 2 Merits, gaining the D*D* grade that I worked my backside off for. I’ve worked out that to get D*D*D*, which would be equivalent to A*A*A* for all you A Level folk, I need 8 Distinctions and 1 Merit so I need to keep my head down.

I thought about publishing my assignments from last year since the people who have published their assignments helped me so much but I’ve decided not to for now. You see a lot of those kids had to publish their assignments on a blog that they set up for their teachers to mark their work, but I never had to do that – I just want to “pay it forward” and see if anyone else can get some use out of my old files. Also I worry about Pearson (the exam board) tracing it back to me so maybe it’s best for me to wait until I have my certificate in hand. Writing all this has reminded me that I’m on the legacy specification – students starting this year will study 13 units instead of 18, have externally set tasks and a two hour examination which I don’t envy. If that was the case when I was applying I would’ve done A Levels instead since there’s less variety in units, controlled assessment and exams – just like A Levels; aren’t BTECs are meant to be different? Another thing putting me off publishing it is what happened the last time I published school work: an opportunity came up for me to reuse it but a classmate had already plagiarized it much to my embarrassment. I wonder if I could get any use out of coursework in uni next year? I know it will be a big jump up but maybe some of my work from now will be good as filler text then. Do you know what? Maybe I won’t publish it after all…

So that was a long detour but we’re back on track now: My timetable has changed a lot. Last year I had 9am starts everyday except for Wednesday which was my day off. This year Monday is my day off, I’m in 9am-5pm two days and 3pm-5pm on the other two which I’m not enjoying as much as I thought I would. I wish the 19 hours that I’m in class for each week were more evenly spread out and that I started around 12pm instead of 3pm on those two days. It’s messing up my sleep schedule too much since I can’t bother myself to get up at a regular time when I don’t have to do anything until 3.

Knowing how much busier I will be considering I have an extra hour of class this year and so many other things to do, I decided not to go for my A Level in Spanish. I got a C at AS Level but I had told myself unless I got a B or above I wouldn’t do the second year. Las cosas son como son. It’s weird to not have any Spanish classes for the first time in six years but in a way it’s nice and I’m just studying at my own pace for my own enjoyment. It’s also nice to have that £350 intended for it still in my savings account but I plan to attend informal conversation classes starting in January so I can brush up on my skills before going to university so I better not spend that money. My parents are disappointed with me but I don’t see them offering to pay so I don’t think they get a say. This is as close as I’m going to get to a gap year since they made me defer my course offer until next year so I may as well take it easy.

Basically that’s what going on with school. I’m going to the Castlecourt shopping centre student night for those sweet discounts on Thursday and I have to pick up my college hoodie tomorrow to show a little tech pride, as well I have a CAMHS appointment tomorrow which, if you know you know, isn’t fun. Positive vibes going on here though and I hope the same for everyone else