Sunday, 5 July 2015

Battling Burnout

I've been MIA for the past month or so, but I've not gained weight, which is what usually happens when bloggers go silent. I've just been busy working on my mental state, which hasn't been all that great. 

Therapy and a support group have been helpful. But in addition to my own issues, add in some family issues, major work stresses, and I'm just plain tired, burnt out. And not getting enough decent nights sleep; 6 hours per night on average is far from ideal. I've been working with my therapist on issues I can control, and getting help to get back into the activities I used to love. 

My plan for this month includes getting away for a real vacation. The last time I took any non-medical related time off was around Christmas-time. Even though my issues and stresses will certainly be waiting for me when I come back, the break and a change of scenery will do me good. The only thing is, when on vacation it doesn't mean I'll be off my food plan, it'll just be a heck of a lot harder to stay on track. 

Although eating at restaurants will be more frequent, I'll make wise choices and am going to be sure to get as many meals/healthy snacks from local grocery stores or markets. My food template: Lots of vegetables and some fruit, lean protein, low-sugar, low-sodium, and limiting processed packaged foods.

As for exercise, I've been only been doing the minimum to keep the weight where it is. I still walk, do some yoga, and walk to and from the grocery store instead of using the car. But my level of actual physical fitness has degraded since I was last at this same weight when I was on my way up to gaining over 220lbs. Stamina is less, muscles have shrunk, flexibility is down and fat is higher. When I have to run to make it to the bus, I'm sucking wind like a vacuum cleaner... and that's not fit, not healthy at all. That's what I'll be concentrating on this month, building up fitness. 

I know I'll be hiking and walking quite a bit on vacation, but certainly there will be time unwind and laze on a beach or two with a good book. And get a little vitamin D recharge from the sun. 

There's nothing worse than coming back from a vacation, stepping on that scale, and seeing the number jump 10 lbs higher. That will not happen here.

Monday, 25 May 2015

A Small Victory

Removing an item off my trigger list feels really good. I won't say it it's 100% off forever and ever, but for the past several months anyway, ice cream has gradually lost its power over me. I don't know exactly when it happened, but I know partly why. Lactose-intolerance is a big part of it. Most dairy products now cause digestive turbulence of some kind in me. It doesn't feel good to eat it anymore, even in small quantities. Now there can be some in the house, and I won't touch it. Even taking a Lactaid and eating it anyway has no appeal. That soothing comfort I used to find there long ago is not there anymore.

My other main trigger foods remain and are not allowed in my house:
- anything salty and fatty, deep fried stuff, especially crackers and potato chips
- nuts, raw or roasted
- chocolate
- anything sugary and fatty, especially cereal and doughnuts

Food: Past couple of weeks have been good. No over-indulging at BBQs and parties. My strategy has been to load up on veggies, then have a small portion of BBQed meat or chicken.
Otherwise, I've measured and tracked everything while limiting sugar and salt as much as possible. I've also been searching for nice fiddleheads (tasty little unfurled fern)! I'll check the market tomorrow. I've only seen shabby ones so far this year.

Weight: Has stabilised at 169.7lbs... it was bouncing around like crazy.
Sleep: I can do better there.
Exercise: I can do better there too, especially if I don't get a good night's sleep, exercise won't come easy.
Mental: Making sure to go out with friends and not isolating is key at this point. I'm trying hard to focus on the things I can change, and still setting small doable goals. 

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Promises, Promises

I met my goals for last week, modest though they were. I walked every day for at least 30 minutes and I met a friend for a movie. We saw Hannah and her Sisters at the local art house movie theatre. They run "oldies but goodies" a few times a month. It was nice to get out of my rut of isolation, and it was just what was needed. I also forgot how much I love Classic movies. And now I also want to visit New York in the Fall :)

After hosting a 80s movie night at my place last night with a couple of friends,  I do feel like I'm slowly getting back into the swing of things. We watched Flashdance, Little Darlings and Foxes. While I wouldn't call them classics, I do call them fun movies about love and friendship.
The pollen vortex is affecting me quite a bit, so I'm very happy the pharmaceutical industry exists. I'm sure I'm single-handedly keeping tissue makers in business these days!  Switching to a morning workout on the elliptical in the basement instead of outdoor walks in the morning and during my lunch break is my best course of action.

Doable goals for this week:

1- Exercise 30 minutes every day.
2- Measure the food I eat with actual measuring cups, spoons and kitchen scale, because my portions are still too big.

Since it's 80s flashback week, here's Naked Eyes with Promises Promises. Boy, music videos were so low-budget back then! :

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Sink or Swim?

That's what I keep thinking to myself these days. Do I want to sink or swim?

I've been dealing with a lot of stuff; not just the physical, but the emotional and just all-around painful, not just from the present but the past too. Add to that questioning my faith in what I thought I believed in. Right now, it's sometimes hard to see the future or make plans for one; it's not impossible, just difficult.

It's like being unbalanced on a kind of precipice, and fighting against the slide into grief and depression. I am getting professional help and have been going to a specialized support group, which has been incredibly helpful.

No, I have not fallen face-first into a barrel of ice cream or chips. The solution to my issues is not that easy. And it would be easier, I've done it before, pushing down and numbing the pain with junk food.

My two closest friends know what's been going on and have been supportive. But I've been isolating myself from other friends and acquaintances. It's something that I have been slowly doing since January, and it's really not healthy. With various medical appointments, hospitalization, and now that I am well, the increased work stress, making legitimate and not so legitimate excuses to stay away from social activities has been easy. That is something I'll start to change.

Weight: 175lbs. Yes, that's a set-back and is a result of not getting regular exercise. At first, not being physically able to walk briskly, and then not wanting to for the past three weeks, has been the reason the extra 7lbs. Since walking is one of the ways I cope with the stresses of the daily grind, I do miss having that peace of mind only exercise can bring. I realize now it's a necessity in my life.

Food: Have not been tracking. At first, I was on a medical diet, then went back to my usual template, mostly eating veggies, lean proteins and fruits, and some carbs like oatmeal and high-fibre bread.
-I did have some real ice cream (made with cream and eggs, not modified milk ingredients), but had some digestive turbulence afterward. It seems my lactose intolerance is worsening slowly.
-Ate a bag of corn twists and regretted that so much, especially due to the high salt content. My face actually showed the bloat and my body was sluggish.

Plans for this week: Actually having a plan with doable goals is a good first step! 1-Get back into an exercise routine. 2-Contact some friends and make arrangements to get-together for a movie.

Sunday, 29 March 2015

A Colder Winter than Planned

The weather here has turned much warmer and we are finally getting sunny days. Temperatures are still hovering around freezing but the snow is melting. The birds are coming back; lots of cardinals and blue-jays, especially. My old friends the crows made their appearance earlier this winter.

I've not been in the mood to blog of late for a very good reason. Okay, so sometimes in the past, I've mentioned health issues but I've never been specific until now. What I've been dealing with is In Vitro Fertilisation and the difficult effects which all that entails. When my man was younger, he was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer. He had the trifecta of chemo, radiation and then surgery. He survived with a only a few side effects and must see an oncologist every year for the rest of his life. Before he began treatments, he made arrangements with the fertility clinic in the likely case that his fertility never came back. When we first discussed starting a family, this meant IVF as our only option.

It's been hard: Numerous appointments, blood tests, injections, medications, soaring and dropping hormones plus emotions, stress, pain, fatigue. Along the way, my man and I try and find the funny side, the lighter side of our experience but it's no picnic.  And now, this time, the failure has hit me especially hard. Once again we were so very hopeful, then excited, and then we had to face massive disappointment. My body will take about another two months to recover to the point where we can try again. As for my current state of mind, I am battered but still hopeful.

We are seeing a counsellor who specialises in helping couples who are struggling with IVF and related issues, which has really helped. This situation can really make or break a couple. We've seen it first-hand in the waiting room once or twice when couples are suffering from IVF burnout.

Taking things day by day, expressing feelings in constructive not destructive ways is how we're coping. I no longer have any shame about letting my emotions flow out, it's mostly tears now, but can sometimes there is anger and regret. The worst thing to do is shove those emotions far down into your soul. It's like poison really.  The emotions build and build and then get spewed out in huge and usually negative ways. Letting my man take care of me and doing all the household chores and cooking has been a little weird (and sometimes funny) but he says at least now he feels like he's contributing something other than just holding my hand. We're holding on to one another to get through this.

Am I turning to food for comfort? No, that'd be the worst thing to do. On the menu, oatmeal with chia seeds and berries for breakfast or an omelette; then for lunch or dinner, fish, chicken or eggs paired with lots of nutrient dense veggies like dark leafy greens, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, sweet potatoes. My man and I have been going out more for meals since neither of us feel much like cooking but we're making wise choices. No fast food. To help balance my electrolytes after my ordeal, the doctor suggested drinking sports drinks. No way I was drinking that sugar-laden stuff. My trusted pharmacist suggested electrolyte tablets instead. Overall, I felt better for it.

Exercise: Gentle walking only. My body needs to heal. As I feel better and energy levels and hormones regulate and get back to normal, I'll add more. It's surprising how quickly a body loses muscle tone but I'll rebuild back what was lost.

My next steps are to take it easy, be kind to myself and to my man, not to isolate myself too much from friends and to keep busy more often than not. Our time here on this earth is so short so I'm focusing on the positive and on things I can change.  This will help me not to dwell in the past or slide into the darkness, but to keep looking forward to the future.

I'll leave with a song that my man played and sang to me (not in Spanish however).

Saturday, 28 February 2015

50 Days of Cold

This has been a long winter. Long. The canal in the city where I live has been open for skating for a record-breaking fifty days in a row. Meaning it's been cold enough to keep that ice nice and frozen solid for all this time. I have strapped on the skates and done the 14K back and forth along the length more times than I thought I would. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em! Seriously, you do get nice and warm... once you get going :) 

Since I don't skate with my camera anymore (2 broken ones), here's a link to pics by the National Capital Commission for any skating fanatics: Rideau Canal Flickr Set

Although I have been fighting against excessive weight gain due to the meds I'm on, I was surprised this week to see that number on the scale dip into the mid-160s. I think it's because I've been more conscious about tracking my every single activity and getting up and moving, even though that bone-tiredness creeps in.

Food-wise, mostly good choices made. An experiment to try to wean myself off coffee worked so-so. I had three work days coffee free, and I felt good. Just a little groggier than usual at the start of the day. Since I only drink one measured cup, with a little lactose-free milk and sometimes some stevia, there are no big withdrawal symptoms.

Plans for this week: Watch the finale of Parks and Recreation on the pvr. 
And follow the sound advice of my favourite Ron Swanson quotation:
Intensity: Give 100%. 110% is impossible. Only idiots recommend that.

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Baby, it's Cold Outside!!

If I'm writing that it's cold, it truly means it's Cold! Normally I do love the winter, but by now we usually get a break in the cold.  A little warm spell, a little hope that Spring will come again... someday.  This year it seems like more and more days than not, I'm wearing my heavy-duty winter gear.  My mind is fighting against my inner lazy bear: Must Not Hibernate!!  The elliptical in my basement has been my escape from laziness. Weight is status quo. 

Food-wise my choices haven't been super this past week.  Had some hot chocolate from a Tim Hortons and regretted it later.  Let's call it digestive distress.  Not sure if it was the lactose or the large amounts of sugar or a combo of the two.  Never again.  I can make better tasting and better quality warm drinks at home: Coffee with freshly ground organic beans, or a cup of tea brewed from loose leaves (yep, organic too). 

Looking over my food journals and MyFitnessPal on Sunday, I noticed a bad trend; I've been turning more toward sugar and bready carbs to help "feel" warm. So I went to the store and stocked up on some good stuff and did some food prep for the week: 

-Made some chili with variety of beans and ground chicken instead of beef. 
-Roasted a chicken with a bunch of root vegetables; carrots, potatoes, parsnips, onions and a ton of garlic.
-From the chicken bones, made some stock and made a pot of chicken soup and also made a butternut squash soup. 

There were some nice Medjool dates, oranges and grapefruit on sale, so far they are filling that craving for some sweetness.

Leaving you with a fave song by James Brown that makes me get off my couch!

Saturday, 7 February 2015

Quiet Saturday

For the first time in a while, I'm spending a quiet Saturday at home. I've had a lovely morning walking about 5K, then cooling down by listening to The Beatles, The Police, Fleetwood Mac and a bunch of new alternative rock/folk music. On my brunch menu: an omelette with mushrooms, peppers and cherry tomatoes. And a big cup of coffee, a real treat for me since I usually limit it  to one measured cup per day.  I've switched to an organic brand of bean and find the taste to be even more addictive!

I'm going to head out soon, walk to the store, get some groceries, do some food prep for the coming week and settle in for a quiet evening with a good movie.

Weight-wise, I'm steady as she goes. Still in the high 160s. It's been hard not to gain. The medication I'm on makes it a real battle against fatigue. But keeping strict track of what I'm eating through my food journal and MyFitnessPal has made it a little easier.

We've got a lot of snow here recently, but nothing like last year, thank goodness! On average, about once or twice a week, I do have to spend an hour or two shoveling. Since it's been very cold the snow that falls is nice fluffy snow, which is so much easier to handle than the heavy wet kind that falls when the temperature is warmer, like near freezing. 

So I've been thinking about the future quite a bit lately and not being too sure about what it holds.
Maybe it's just because January was a long and dark month here that my thoughts are turning more inward. The more than 50 lbs I've lost and am pretty sure won't be back... Satisfaction or sometimes lack of satisfaction in my career... My life and the direction it's heading... The future in general. Trying not to navel-gaze too excessively, just trying to make the best choices and decisions that I can.

"The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time" -Abraham Lincoln.