Thursday, October 10, 2013

The right size for the right quality.

Months ago I bought a tin of Quality Street chocolates.
a) because I liked the colour and unusual shape to the tin
b) because I hadn't had them in over ten years
c) Alaskaboy and Kiddlywink had never had them
d) It was Easter
e) There was a LOT of us to share that big arse tin of chocolates.
f) I had a vague idea the tin might be useful for storage

After we enjoyed the contents, the tin sat around cluttering up our bedroom. For awhile now I've had the notion I'd like to use it for a jewellery box. The one I've had since I was twelve, while beautiful, doesn't hold all of my jewellery anymore. But then we realised how little money we had so I put the idea on hold.

Until today.
Spring has well and truly sprung thus I no longer need my extra fleecy tracksuit pants.
I really don't want them either because they're now too big to comfortably wear.
I held them in my hand and debated putting them in the donation bag. I held them awhile longer and considered the cost of a sheet of felt large enough to suit my crafting purposes, and just how soft and fleecy these pants were, in fact.

The penny dropped.

A big arse tin of chocolates needed a big arse pair of pants to cushion the inside.
(It's not quite finished yet, but I'm letting it percolate through the ol' brain tissue just how I wanna do the inside walls.)

Some craft glue, some scissors, some time and patience and soon enough I'll have a jewellery box that will cocoon my bling as snugly as the pants used to encase my body


Tuesday, October 08, 2013


It's been awhile since I started my Stick It To Summer Challenge. Many months and changes have gone by since then. But, I finally have made progress on all the points I measured way back then, so here's an update!

Fitness has increased so much there's no point even comparing. Plus with my recent relapse I'm still learning what my body can and can't do as compared to a month ago.

Start: 144 cms
Oct 8th: 130cms

Start: Right: 68.2cm Left 71.8cm
Oct 8th: Right: 68.0cm Left: 70.5cm

Start: 117.3cm
Oct 8th: 114.5cm

Start: 125.7cm
Oct 8th: 122.5cm

Start: 112kgs/246.9lbs
Oct 8th: 107.5kg/236.9 lbs

I know some of my measurements were even bigger before I started those challenges, my waist has definitely lost 6.5cms over the past 18 months. Since I didn't have all the measurements from back then, I'm going from when I started the challenges and began to make real strides towards turning my life around for the better. :)


Tuesday, September 03, 2013

The Immediacy Of Hunger

I wrote this last night, then let it digest a bit before posting it today. I wasn't sure if it was just for me, or to share, For the bare handful of you that are left that read this blog, I hope you're still enjoying it. Oh, and this is a long one. :)

I've always felt an immediacy to my hunger, even as a child, which has led me to eat with a voracious appetite. I usually have a keen sense of what food I am wanting and that leads to my stomach sounding very much like Veruca Salt in its insistence of being satiated straight away. “I WANT the deliciousness and I WANT it NOW!” The depth and the sharpness of my hunger led me to believe that I not only had to have food right away but I had to have a lot.

Surely, something that felt so all encompassing had to be huge in truth. Right?

Tonight, I have learned that this isn't always so.

Sure, there are times when my hunger is of an immediacy that requires food straight away. Often when I haven't been paying attention and too much time has passed, or my nutrition hasn't been adequate, and my sugar levels have dropped dangerously low thus it's either eat or have a migraine, or fall over, or gag uncontrollably, or sometimes all of the above.

But as my body has taught me, not all hunger is created equal.

My workout hunger is best satisfied by a carbohydrate snack within an hour of starting a workout, followed by a protein snack after I finish exercising. Failing that, a balanced meal of protein, carbs, fat, and veggies or fruit within an hour and a half before starting the workout. (But then, if I misjudge the meal or the timing of the start of the workout, I'll need a couple of bites of banana or nut bar to be able to sustain the workout.) I've learned this over the last six months of consistent exercise. And it works for me.

PMS hunger. I've been working on this one for decades. It makes sense. PMS hunger means my body is working hard to make a hospitable home for any pregnancy that wishes to take up residency in any given month. And that takes nutrients and calories and salt and fluid. So my calorie intake goes up drastically. It's only for a few days a month and my weight follows a predictable pattern...I lose weight during that time and then go back to my regular weight as soon as I start to menstruate. Without fail. Whether I'm 65 kg or 115kgs. There's also usually one day of hormone-induced rage/tears/emotional turmoil, that's not a hunger story though.

But it does lead me nicely to emotional hunger. Name an emotion and over the years I've substituted feeling it with eating food. Numbing. Avoiding. Denying. Celebrating. Because I can. Because it's the best I can do in that moment. Because I need soothing to take the sharpness out of the emotion to be able to express it adequately. There are many and varied reasons I've used and abused food. Admittedly, there are times it's healthy and normal to soothe myself with food...but not every time I feel something that makes me uncomfortable. Or before I can even BEGIN to feel uncomfortable. I've taken a vital, protective behaviour and let it get out of control. It's no different than covering a kid in cotton wool. They'll never learn how to cope with anything, if they feel nothing.

And I was so frightened of being uncomfortable or feeling anything bad that I felt nothing real for a long time. Not emotionally or physically. Not even true hunger. I felt plenty of sensory hunger though. Something tasted or smelled delicious and I'd continue eating it far beyond when I'd had enough, simply because it tasted so good.

My true hunger can express itself in different ways. I've learned it can be a thunderous growl, or a nauseous feeling, or a headache, or crankiness, weakness, lethargy, even an inability to concentrate. (And sometimes, those things mean I'm thirsty instead.) Tonight it happened while we were out and about running errands. They took longer than planned. We were already running late to pick my dad up, and Kiddlywink's dinner time had passed half an hour ago, so we decided to get take away.

Fast food was something we spent an obscene amount on during the last year. We only found this out when we did our budget a couple of months ago. I haven't eaten from a fast food restaurant since. My body feels better for it. After eating it fairly regularly for several years..then going cold turkey for two months, I bet you can imagine how I was tantalised by the delicious smell when I pulled the car up to the drive thru window, ordered for Alaskaboy and Kiddlywink, and then passed the food back to them.

When I opened the bag to ensure the order was correct, my mouth flooded with saliva and my stomach roiled with anticipation. Once my hand was in the bag, my brain urged me to take one chip...just one chip, they smell SO good. It was in that moment that I realised that even though I was hungry—ravenous, in fact—I wasn't hungry for this kind of food. I rolled the top of the bag back down and handed it to Alaskaboy, leaving all the contents intact.

It was torturous driving a further 40 minutes with the smells, sights and sounds of two hungry people thoroughly enjoying their dinner. I happily talked to them about what they were enjoying, and how I'd enjoyed those meals in the past. I even refused their kind offers to give me tastes of their food. I wasn't being masochistic. I simply wasn't hungry for it. And I knew I would be home soon enough and could find something there I would want and enjoy more. Believe me, if I HAD wanted the food, there would have been nothing stopping me from enjoying my own take away meal also.

There is a time and a place for take away. It is a Sometimes food after all.

We arrived home and I remembered we'd promised Kiddlywink to stop and get a particular ice cream on the way home. Unfortunately, we were out of time to go back to the shops. Kiddlywink was understandably disappointed. After brokering a deal wherein I'd get the ice cream and she could have it for her bed time snack, if she was bathed and in her pyjamas by the time I got back from the local supermarket, Kiddlywink, Alaskaboy and my dad went inside.

When I entered the store, I was struck by the sight of this particular white cauliflower. I swear it was already perfectly lit, but it was missing the accompanying upswell to the soundtrack. Oh wait, it's not a movie, it's my life. Seriously, the cauliflower looked so delectable it could have been a prop for a movie. But, I ignored it and focused on the fridge section, where I'd planned to scoop up a healthy preprepared soup and devour that when I got home. The selection was good, but it was not the soup I was looking for.

And like Luke barreling his X-wing fighter along the canals and gullies found on the death star, I manoeuvered my way back around for a final pass at the thing that had my R2 unit's head all swivelly. This WAS the cauliflower I was looking for. That, and the bag of baby spinach leaves in the cool store section. I grabbed those, the icecream bars and hotfooted it out of there, after dashing through the self-service line like any intrepid adventurer would do! Or, you know, someone in desperate need of dinner.

I made it home to a bigger fanfare than Han and Luke received, but I didn't get any fancy gold medallions.

What I did get was the satisfaction of seeing my daughter enjoy a meal and a dessert as the treats they rightly should be. As a Sometimes food. Not the Quite Regularly Indeed foods they'd become.

I was in the mood for soup, so was Dad. Good old cauliflower soup; cauliflower, potato, onion, garlic, and veg broth all simmered for about 15-20 minutes, then whizzed. I felt kinda decadent tonight so I plopped spinach leaves in the huge soup bowls, covered them with piping hot soup and crumbled in some goats feta and added a twist of lemon. The textures and flavours had us making the same omnomnom noises I'd heard an hour and a half prior in the car.

I enjoyed every spoonful of that soup. From the piping hot start where I had to balance my hunger with the need to not burn my mouth to the dregs where it was quite cool and I had to guage my need to be fully satisfied against the tastiness of the soup and the size of my stomach.

What was it that I learned tonight? The immediacy of my hunger is not always an indication of how soon I must eat.

Sometimes, even when I'm very hungry, I can in fact wait to eat.

Sometimes, it's okay to feel my hunger and move beyond it. Especially if it's in search of what it is I truly want to eat. If I'd given in and eaten those burgers and chips because it was convenient, I wouldn't have sat with my hunger long enough to identify what it was I was truly hungry for. And I would have binged continuously throughout the evening looking to find what it was I needed..and probably not succeeded and ended up eating thousands too may calories.

Sometimes, it is necessary to eat something that isn't what I truly want. Sometimes there are other factors involved that don't allow me the luxury of choice. But when I do have the luxury of choice, I now know that being hungry is something I can survive. It's not the end of my world...I'm simply hungry.

Tonight, I was hungry was for this soup. YUM! 


Friday, August 09, 2013

A Vested Interest In Myself and My Health.

Last winter, the thought of going out late at night to walk never even occured to me. Not only because I didn't have jackets to fit, but also because I was too unfit and lazy to consider it. Sure, I'd go out during the day, sometimes. But of a night? Forget it! (To be fair, my Nanna, was getting up every hour on the hour to pee..four nights a week. This winter she sleeps right through for the four days we have her, so we're no longer exhausted.)

Today, due to a mix up between appointment times, I was dropped off first, then, voluntarily, left high and dry at one place. My appointment took longer than anticipated. Instead of being picked up again as expected, I had to walk 3 kilometres to the place where the car had ended up. I did the walk, in cold blustery wind, while wearing only a long-sleeved t-shirt and thin tracksuit pants. Without a drink of water. I did eat a nut bar though, that I'd had in the bottom of my handbag.

Last winter I wouldn't have contemplated walking that far at ALL. In fact I would have been astonished if someone suggested I do so. No, pissed off. Whiny! And I would have demanded them to come back and get me.

(In all honesty I did wait for the bus for six minutes Trying desperately to stay out of the wind behind a narrow timetable sign. And when the bus zoomed straight passed me, I wasn't going to wait another 6-15 minutes for the next bus to was warmer to keep walking. And when the next bus finally caught up with me, only a couple of hundred metres before my end destination, I singsonged out loud "Fuck you, I didn't need you, I did it all by MYSELF! I didn't neeed you. I DID NOT NEED YOU. I DID IT ALL BY MYSELF!" I even gave it a bit of the old Evil King With A Physical Defect kind of salute.)

Last winter I was excited when, for a few brief weeks, my beloved Alaska fleecy vest zipped up. Then the lazy kicked in and it stopped fitting me again. Again, earlier this winter it started to fit and I've been loving wearing it. Tonight, the jacket I had bought three years ago, suitable for winter in Minnesota, was too hot. But all my other tops were too cold. And no one else's jackets fit me either. So, I put on a hooded tracksuit zip up top...and then out of desperation attempted to zip up my vest over the top of that.

It fit. With ease. With room to spare.

And then I went for a second walk for the day. To accompany my mum, because she hadn't walked yet. Because this week we made a pact I'd help her to walk a minimum of 20 minutes per day.

A second walk!

I'm still the same weight I was last winter. If not a little heavier, in fact. My cholesterol has gone from 4.6 to 4.4. I'm the same weight but I'm much healthier.

I shall call her, Healthier-Me.  lol


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Health Update.

Bad News: Neurologist says I'm not allowed to do the volunteer work at the childcare anymore, because "Your health comes first. But, we'll reassess in 6 months when you're fitter."
Apparently between getting healthier/losing weight, looking after Nan, raising my family, and doing household chores, etc, that's enough of a job for me for the moment. When I told him all I'd done in June he said, "That made even ME exhausted, and I was only listening to it!" Apparently, I'd felt so good that I'd done a few things too many, and pushed too hard. Sound familiar to anyone I know? lol

Better news: All the stresses of June, both good and bad, cause me to have a flare up. That means some of my symptoms are slightly worse than they were, especially the numbness, and now when I relax my head tilts to the left a bit, but my disability scores haven't changed. :)

Good news: He's pleased with my progress, happy for me to keep taking the same meds and continuing the exercises I've been doing. BUT sticking to 2-4 times per week, and to not overdo my life in general.

Best news: It wasn't a relapse. There are no new lesions. Nor are the ones I've got enhancing.


Friday, July 12, 2013

Muddling Through.

I've spent the last 5 days forcing myself to rest. Also felt the need to check out of the world for a little bit, so I borrowed some Supernatural seasons from the library and had DVD marathons galore! I also increased my vitamin D intake and am feeling steadier. Lots of crying. Lots of dealing with how I'm feeling. It definitely helps knowing what's going on this time, and having a support network.

I arrived at the gym today at 7am, for my prearranged appointment. Felt all virtuous with how early I was there. Felt slightly less virtuous when I walked in just as a class was FINISHING. LOL

We worked out my personalized program...and yeah I was definitely overdoing it last week. It was through excitement at being back IN a gym, but still overdoing it. Not enough rests between sets, too much cardio, weights slightly too high on some things.
So, it feels encouraging to start properly, but also good to know my leg strength has improved even since last week. (weight stayed same but increased number of reps and added another set.)
Very impressed at how they listened to what my requirements were and what my goals are and that they're working with me and my limitations. (Added to my file straight away that I'm not allowed to overheat.)

I'm trying to muddle my way through this, without making myself crazy with what I can or will not be able to do in future. I'm working with what I can and will do NOW.


Monday, July 08, 2013

I'm an active MSer!

The last time this happened, I Freaked. The. Fuck. Out.
Last time this happened, I didn't know what was happening. All I knew was that Something. Was. Not. Right.
Last time this happened, I had a husband who was gone 12-14 hours per day, and a young baby.
Last time this happened, we were isolated.
Last time I didn't have a doctor.

This time, I Can. Name. My. Emotions. And. Am. Feeling. Them.
This time, I know it could be a flare up exacerbated by sickness and over-exercising, or it could be a relapse.
This time, my husband works part time, and our daughter is old enough to do some stuff by herself.
This time, we've got a social network to help.
This time I have a doctor.

Last week I had a fantastic week.
The gym I'd joined finished their renovations and I was able to start working out again. I worked out three days. On one of those days we were running late to pick up Kiddlywink, so I power-walked for 20mins (Alaskaboy walked slightly faster than normal speed), to get to her daycare. Another day, in between workout days, I walked a big gully near our place.
On Saturday it was the last day I worked out, plus ran errands, plus cooked up a Korean feast for all seven of us. My brother is back home after a three month European vacation, and I volunteered to cook Korean for him to try. (We all already love it.) He also helped with some of the prep, and I opted out of the washing up.
Sunday I'd planned to go for a walk while having a day out and about on public transport with Kiddlywink and Alaskaboy. Except my body said, "STOP!" I spent several hours napping on the couch.
I hoped that the weird sensations I was getting were because I'd overworked myself and was exhausted.
Today they're still there, so I called to notify my doctor.
He's on annual leave and his secretary has made a note that I've called. She said about the only thing he would do is suggest I get a new MRI and come in for a review...both of which are already due to happen this month anyway.

So, this week, I play the waiting game. Is it a flare up? Is it a relapse? Are my meds still working? Was it emotional stress that caused this, from Kiddlywink being bitten by a dog last month? Was it physical stress from two colds in a row? Was it physical stress from over doing stuff?
I don't know.
But I do know that whatever happens, or whatever caused it, I'll deal with it.
I have the tools and the support network in place. I have the knowledge to know what's happening this time. Those two things are making a big difference.
Yes, I have cried. And I will cry some more. Yes, I have raged. Yes, I am fearful. But, I have hope. I'm still here. I'm still alive. I still have so much better disability scores than so many people. I love and I AM loved.

What really hits me in the gut is that while I'm in remission I can pretend I'm normal. That enough exercising, dieting, injections, and positive thinking will keep the relapses at bay. That I don't have to be aware of my energy reserves or spend them wisely. Then BLAM, my body reminds me that I AM a person with an illness. That I have a invisible disability.

So, I'm not quitting exercising, I'm simply going to go slower and work my way up to 5 sessions of half an hour per week. I'm obviously not ready for that yet. I got excited. I got ahead of myself. I got impatient. Because I've been exercising for 3 days most weeks I assumed I could go to 4-5. Nope. 2-4 is still the best for me.
I'm still excited to work out. I'm still excited no matter what happens.
Because of this website...Active Msers I know, that no matter how my disease progresses, there are still ways to stay active and lead a full, joyful life.


Tuesday, July 02, 2013

I'm a gym bunny again!

I went to join up at a gym last month. Literally two days after I signed up, they closed for renovations. I didn't let that deter me, and I still signed up. I looked at it as a positive sign. Because not only did the gym change from one of those circuit-type places to a real gym, which is my preference, I was joining as a foundation member now, so I got bonuses I wouldn't have been able to pay for otherwise. Previously, I would have taken it as a sign I wasn't meant to join. The few weeks I had to wait would have put me off ever come back again. Patience, I'm learning, is a virtue.
After dropping the kiddo off at school, I had my first session at the gym today. I arrived half an hour early for my orientation. Turns out that was a good thing because I could squeeze into the earlier session. After being thoroughly shown around the gym, and liking what I saw, I was told this week was only for orientation. I couldn't book in for my 2nd session, where they set up my program etc, until Friday next week. It's an oh god o'clock appointment, but I spoke up first, in front of the lady who took the orientation with me, because the next available appointment after that was the following week.  And..because...Me, I come first, me! Much better than the old me who would have let the other one have first dibs!
I was glad to hear that we could use the gym in the mean time, especially since I'd used the interim to get a letter from my doc saying exercise = good. I hadn't been sure if we were allowed to use it so I was in thin tracksuit pants and a polo shirt. Which worked out fine, certainly better than if I'd gotten all excited and put on my new workout clothes..and then couldn't work out! When I started to overheat on the treadmill, I simply tucked my t-shirt up under my boobs/bra and kept going. 
After ten minutes on the, slightly motion sick after getting back off that, that's new. (It was exactly like having to readjust to land legs after disembarking from a boat.) I admired the new weights and then happily settled into using them. Not as strong as I used to be, but not as weak as I thought I WOULD be. There are creaks and groans in dem bones, dem bones, dem shoulder bones when I do a shoulder presses now. Agian, I'll keep an eye on that new phenomenon. 
Feeling good after the weight session I decided on one more round of cardio, then a cool down. I by-passed the sexily, sleek spinning bikes, certainly not ready for those yet. I ignored the torture chamber that is known as the cross-trainer/elliptical, and headed for the regular bikes. (Recumbent bikes don't work, they hurt my back, plus try and garrote me with every bounce of my boobs/belly off my knees!) I managed five minutes on the bike. Well, at five minutes I pressed the cool down button and within twenty six seconds of that I'd progressed from feeling the pleasant wibble-wobbles that let me know my muscles have worked out, to the sickening wibblywobblys that let me know I've run out of juice...and should have stopped to have a snack.
My inner critic tried to argue that I had less than two minutes to go on the cool down, and I should finish what I started. I waffled for half a second and then said, "Fuck off! I want to be able to come back again this week."
"Stop!" said my body, so I did.
Now I'm waiting for my sandwich and yoghurt to stop the hungry wobbles, and avoiding eating anything else because I know I'm NOT still hungry, I'm just not registering the tank's got food in it yet. Remember to bring snacks and more water next time, and I'll be much better off.
 For the sake of my own record keeping, I was comfortable at 4.0-4.5kms per hour on the treadmill. Pushed it up to 5.0 for a couple of minutes then dropped back down to 4.5.