Tuesday 24th May 2022

Observations in October #2. 2018.104.

Observations in October #2. 2018.104.

Are we humans ever truly content with ourselves?

I am asking the hard questions today as I know personally, I find this tricky.

My husband/guru tells me “life it about living in the present”. OK. Not just him, but everyone who preaches mindfulness seems to have this view.

I can do this on some occasions now. I can bring my thoughts back to where I am (not so good ones too) and let them go of their own accord.

What made me observe this today?

My appearance. My weight. My changes.

For many decades I used food for calming and soothing and hid from much of my emotions this way. I often ate secretly. I have written about it here. I was performing well academically and professionally but not within my care of myself. The only, easy way was eating what soothed me. 

Back to the present.

I’ve had four years of over-arching anxiety related to life changes and transitions which actually resulted in not only Irritable Bowel Syndrome (diarrhoea) but a reduced appetite and a simple meal regime. I did not go out much at all. I was ‘at home’ in 2016-mid 2017 because of the increased symptoms.

I lost weight. It had started slowly in the year before we left Sydney but continued gradually until I found out I had cancer in May 2017. WOAH. Here is the page with the cancer stories if you are a first time reader.

From the time I was diagnosed with cancer in my gums until I came home from hospital it was inevitable I lost weight. I did. I was focussed on getting past the surgery stage for more than 7 weeks and if that is not an appetite suppressant, I do not have any other ideas. I wore clothes that were baggy but were not my fattest clothes as almost all of them were consigned to charity bins in the previous year. I did not think I would wear them again yet I was very reluctant to buy clothes which fitted me well.

I managed to convince myself to get some nighties and other items of a smaller size for hospital and recovering at home but it held no joy in me to need to do this. Cancer was my upper most thought. Then, once surgery was over, and I was able to finally sip water, and try a clear fluids diet in the 2 days before I came home, the dietitian visited me.

I was bombarded   given the message over and over that I needed to EAT what and when I could and that it needed to be foods of full-fat, high protein and smooth enough for a mouth with only a few teeth to get down. I had never, in all my life, been told NOT to lose any more weight.

I was weighed in hospital and then once I was home, because of the addition of an anti-biotic that played havoc with my gut I did LOSE weight. I got to the lowest I can remember. Ever. And it did not feel good. I knew I was not well.

Once the diarrheoa disappeared and my GP said ‘eat what you like and what you can keep in’ rather than the high protein/milky drinks on offer via the dietitian, I got back to a weight where i felt comfortable and well.

This lasted for a very long time.

Sharing My Image with The On-Line World.

Just under a year ago, my wellness was a great feeling. I began to think about going out by myself for a coffee. It took me until November to do that, and I decided to account for my day by entering a photo each day on Instagram under the various hashtags including:




Many of my on-line friends, family and friends found my daily posts and supported my photos with ‘likes’ and comments’. I found a love of shopping for bargains again. It was fun and I was rewarded by the feeling and knowledge that I was doing this for myself and finally I seemed to understand it was good to feel great on the outside.

Cancer meant more surgeries, and more messing about in my mouth. Food intake became protein items such as mince based meals which I could easily eat with a few teeth and a tongue and treats became staples: little cakes, small donuts, icecream. Each day had something like that in it. I did not gain weight much at all over the time from October until my last surgery in May 2018.

Photos of the day became something others with cancer discovered and they liked the idea of dressing with prpose. With head and neck cancer, because our cancer is usually visible to others, eating and drinking out is seldom done even just going out. So, I was flattered to be followed and asked more about it.

Then, a day came I had longed for…and it had been delayed so it was even more special.

I had the upper prosthesis of teeth added to my mouth. It was in late August. It felt very strange and initially I could not eat much at all. Over time, I could as I became confident of my ability to bite and chew and now…..

I began to gain weight.

Boo. It is not much at all, and I really need to put it in context. 

I have gone from very restricted eating and feeling deprived but I knew I had an end in sight. 

What has been interesting to observe in me is my behaviour changes.

  • I am not hiding my eating like I did.
  • I am limiting my treat food.
  • I am realising that I cannot use food to deal with emotions any more.
  • I am also needing to come to terms with what life is like for me now.
  • I am considering no longer doing the “outfits of the day” posts because they are almost a year old.
  • I may replace them with a “self-care” theme.
  • I am having a small internal battle but less so as I chat with my husband about it, and also follow a mindfulness eating guide.
  • I am wearing my fitbit and aim to move more than 6K steps in a day. I am a work-in-progress!

I thought getting teeth would be the best and it is…but I can eat a very wide range of foods again…but I no longer want to end up very wide again!

It has helped me to share this so thank you for reading! I hope you made it this far.

Back to where I started. Are we ever really content with ourselves?


Joining the lovely Leanne and friends here for Lovin Life Linky and for the record, I am here with Leanne when we finally caught up for a coffee…and something to eat recently!









  1. What a year it’s been for you Denyse! Isn’t it interesting that when something is taken away from you (in your case – the ability to use food for comfort) you’re able to see it for what it really was, learn from it, and change your attitude and ways towards it. I think a series of posts themed on #selfcare sounds perfect! We all need to make self care a priority in our lives! As for your question are we humans ever really content with ourselves? I don’t know. I guess maybe some people are but certainly not me … though I would like to be! #TeamLovinLife

    • Thank you so much Min for understanding what my thoughts were about.

      I am still to fine-tune how I might go about this but I like ‘talking my thoughts outloud’ here on the blog and then I get some pointers for myself about things I may try into 2019.

      Yes, the insight into the why of my eating has helped. It still comes up, the need to comfort eat, but instead of it being secretive, I am ‘confessing’ it and that actually helps.

      Denyse x

  2. Super post, Denyse. Many of us suffer the same issues. I was/am a compulsive eater but with my limited eating options I don’t seem to put on weight the way I used to. I’ve stayed big but have never got up to the 85 kg I was before the last head and neck cancer. It’s like a consolation prize but not one I ever wanted to receive.

    I will miss your #dresswithpurpose but #selfcare is a great theme too.

    Most important thing is to keep healthy and keep smiling!

    • Thank you Maureen. I really ‘hid’ behind my weight for many years. I ate for the reasons most of us have, relaxation, soothing and more. However, I recall vividly sitting down at the table where my husband was doing a crossword last year before I had surgery but I knew I had cancer, and saying ‘outloud’ but how will I soothe myself now if I need to?

      Thank you for sharing your situation and I know I am not alone!

      Interestingly, once I found I was going OK I did not need to soothe much at all. I could, in the many months after surgeries let chocolate melt on my tongue and that was lovely but I was enjoying for its own sake.

      However, what is going on now is a bit of old behaviour trying it on again. I missed textures so much – crunch of chips etc – but am doing some substitution like slices of apple now.

      Sigh. I really need to know I am OK with a few kilos back on but my inner critic is a tyrant.

      I am giving some consideration to my future posts but I am ‘over’ the daily outfits so may incorporate this in another way. Nothing is stopping me from ‘getting out and about’ which is the more important reason!!

      Denyse x

  3. Interesting post Denyse. I do think we always yearn for something more — whether with ourselves or our lives. I’m not sure if we are wired that way or brought up to think that way. Weirdly, I am currently happy with my body now but there’s a lot of other things about myself I’m not happy with. So yeah, it’s the same thing…just never completely content.

    I’m looking forward to catching up with you later this month! 🙂

    • I think we humans would need to be wired for improvement (may not be the right word) otherwise we would give up and fade away.

      Maybe too, it is also something others feel more than us or less than us.

      I have always been a ‘striver’ in my career and now, would like to think I am using some of my skills to help share the word about head and neck cancer.

      My inner me though often wants to have a bit of comfort food still but my adult me can usually distract or at least limit intake.

      Life, as you describe it for you, never seems to go ‘everything wonderful’ at once does it?

      Yes, catching up in just over 2 weeks will be great.

      Denyse x

  4. The answer to your question Denyse is simply NO! I spent a good part of last year dieting and trying to lose weight. Once I’d lost some weight I felt fantastic and started to fit back into some of my clothing that I loved. This year with all the stress of selling and moving house I’ve managed to put some of the weight back on and I feel disgusting. I think you’ve done an incredible job of coping with all the curve balls have thrown at you, so you should be very happy. It’s all about looking at all the positives in our life and not dwelling on the negatives. #TeamLovinLife

    • Isn’t it sad (and I feel it too) that we ‘dislike’ that part of ourselves. We use such strong words of condemnation.

      I do not have an answer. I know obviously that I could ‘live without’ many foods’ to recover and lost weight but in doing that, and getting heaps of praise, it was “only through illness, then cancer” that it happened.

      I like the foods that put on weight (der) too so it is a constant ‘battle’ between sensible and indulgent me.

      Of course your last year has been an enormous stress, and the transitions you have experienced , as I may have said to you before, take ages to catch up with us emotionally.

      Be kind to Kathy.

      Denyse x

  5. It’s interesting how the experience has also given you that mind-body connection that you need to both lose weight and keep it off. It’s def something I struggle greatly with.

    • I still struggle. I have not been able to easily let myself enjoy foods as they are the ones that are increasing my weight. It is only a relatively small amount too. But I would like to relax somewhat and ease up on the inner critic.

      I have, though, become more honest about it, so that is a big step.

      I hear you Jo, food is a great salve for more than nutrition.

      Denyse x

  6. Great post Denyse. It was so great to see you IRL and you looked amazing.
    I’m about to embark on my own journey of wellness and fitness and feeling good outside and in again, Part of my “one more year to 50” journey. I want to hit 50 feeling AMAZING. Right now, not so much. It will come though! You’ve proved it.

    • Yes I agree, nothing like a friendly bloggy catch up.

      I think you look amazing BUT it is the inner you that I sense you have decided to work with.

      No-one else can decide that.

      I am going to be sharing less about my appearance I think because it became ‘how good I look” and yes, that was really encouraging during my 14 months with no teeth. So, I am going to consider what it means to be self-caring …and not always with food.

      I am thinking of you my friend….

      Denyse x

  7. I’m definitely the wrong person to ask as I’ve never been content with much in my life at all – let alone myself.

    I can relate to some of the weight struggles though and like that you’re able to write your thoughts down to process them as I think that’s a really important element – that self-awareness. xx

    • That is very sad to read, although I am not shocked. But one day, I hope you can see the ways in which you may be content.

      I do not think you are alone!!

      It’s taken me to a good age to work out this time is the only one we have so stop putting things off.

      It has surprised me that some of the reasons I ate returned. Makes me more aware but in some ways I now wonder “how did I manage while I could only eat in a limited way”

      Thanks for your honesty in your comment. Appreciated this!

      Denyse x

  8. Thanks for sharing your journey so openly and honestly, Denyse. One of the many things I love about blogging is how posting like this keeps us accountable and also reminds us of the work in progress we all are in many aspects of life.

    Best of luck and keep on keeping on!

    SSG xxx