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November Snapshot

Since starting this blog with the aim of losing about 5 kilos, I lost some then managed to put on more!  The highest I’ve weighed has been 80 kilos.  This is me this week at 72 kilos – a product of exercising and eating healthily.  My asthma is better than it has been for a while and I don’t miss getting indigestion from overeating.  I don’t think I look dramatically different but a difference in my appearance has been commented on by people who know me.

The next step is just keeping going.  I’m still 2 kilos off the goal weight my GP set me back in April 2011 but confident I’ll get there by just keeping doing what I’m doing.  I am continuing to follow Weight Watchers with the difference that I go to get weighed every weekend and this has taken the pressure off me worrying about my weight and jumping on the scales every day.  When I get to 70 kilos and when I’ve maintained that lower weight long enough for me to be sure my body is happy with it, that I’m eating enough not to get hungry and not so much I feel bloated, I’ll stop being a Weight Watcher and work on keeping up the healthy habits.

Looking to be more physically fit and remain well and able for as long as I conceivably can.  My life’s taken some interesting turns since I started this blog and I’m proud to say that I’m less vain about my appearance now and hence, ironically(?), less worried about what people think of how I look.  I’m also calmer and happier, which is a work in progress and sorting out whatever remains to be sorted of what my priorities are in life and what I want to be doing.

Someone once told me that I want other people to think I am a good person.  All I can say is that I am a human like the rest of you and you are welcome to think what you like.  I don’t need everyone to like me but having a few people I’m close to is a blessing.

What on earth am I on about?  This isn’t an Oscar’s acceptance speech.  Sorry, but between this paragraph and the last one my darling partner showed me a YouTube video of some dogs playing the piano – I guess that brought me down to earth a bit 🙂

ETA: The weight I’m ‘supposed’ to be according to BMI charts is about 10 kilos less than I currently am. This is not, however, a goal, it’s more of a joke  and isn’t likely to occur within the realms of good health 😉


How to avoid getting colds and what to eat when you’ve got one

I have a vested interest in not catching colds; most colds, all except very mild ones, will home in on my too small and definitely uncooperative lungs resulting in a chest infection that can take from a fortnight to a month to shift.  The flu I had well over 15 years ago turned into pneumonia.  Either situation involves guaranteed rapid weight loss, sleep loss and an increase in swearing, turning your  usually mild-mannered Trish into one of the cast of Trainspotting.  The NHS is always ever so helpful in these instances, perhaps because I’m asthmatic and whingey rather than just whingey but I’d still like to learn how to help prevent these horrible, hindering and icky situations from happening.

Colds are interesting (probably more so when you don’t currently have one) – there are over 200 types of virus that can give you a cold and you don’t catch the same one twice, although the viruses do mutate so you might catch a mutated version of something you had previously.  All the sneezing and coughing is caused by your body’s own immune response stepping in to deal with the virus and get rid of it.  This may be why me asking the person who gave me the cold “how long did it last?” is not likely to give me good information; their immune response and healing time may be different to mine.

How to avoid colds?  You could invest in a space helmet and wear it whenever you venture near people but that might lead to other problems, like appearing on the news as their ‘And finally’ item.  We catch colds when people cough or sneeze near us and it we breathe the germs in or they go in our eyes.  Also we can get colds by touching something someone with a cold has touched and then putting our fingers in or on our eyes, nose or mouth.  Using sanitizing hand gel is a good idea after using public transport or if you are around someone you know has a cold, but it’s not a guarantee you won’t catch a cold.  There’s a product you can squirt up your nose to catch colds early, which I was sceptical about till someone told me the Cancer ward of a hospital told visitors to use it so they wouldn’t get colds and pass them on to patients.  It’s called ‘First Defence‘ or, if you’re in the States, ‘Vicks Early Defence’.  I’ve heard various anecdotal evidence that it works but let’s move on to how we can get our immune systems strong enough that they’ll be in fighting mode ready to send cold viruses scarpering without the need to keep buying things to squirt on our hands and up our noses.

If your immune system is strong, you’re less likely to catch stuff, period.  So what sorts of things strengthen (and weaken) your immune system?

  • Get enough sleep and have a regular sleep pattern – your body recharges during the night.  We all recharge our phones, we need to recharge ourselves too.  I raise my hand here as someone with a terrible sleep pattern.  I blame working shifts but that’s such a cop out, as my shifts only involve a time difference of a couple of hours at a time.  Note to self: the internet will still be there tomorrow – go to bed!
  • Stay hydrated – again I am a culprit.  This is also extra important if you already have a cold; the doctor I saw at the out-of-hours service told me to drink 2 pints of water before I went to bed.  I asked how I was supposed to get that much water in me and he just said, without looking up from his computer or missing a beat –  “swallow”.
  • Exercise for 30  minutes a day – this boosts your metabolism and your body’s ability to fight disease.  Although, asthmatic people who have a cold already, take it carefully and wait till you feel well enough to work out.
  • Don’t eat sugar – it makes your immune system sluggish.  I blame my current, chest-infected state not just on the food poisoning of a few weeks ago but on the sugar-fest I indulged in the minute I felt better.  Avoiding sugar at all is going to be tricky as it’s in a load of stuff but you can be wise and set your own limits.  Remember this is but one of a series of cold-avoiding measures rather than the whole story.  Also, my lovely partner, whose sweet tooth is legendary, missed out completely on getting this cold.
  • Eat a healthy, balanced diet lots of fruit and veg, protein and carbs.  Carbohydrates are not evil, they give you energy to burn up and the fibre they contain helps you not get colon cancer or loss of kidney function.  Health-conscious persons might want to stick with brown rice, wholewhat pasta and bread and also remember that fruit and veg contain carbohydrates and fibre.  I’m not going to wave a stick at people on very low carb diets just suggest that people read up and be informed
  • Take vitamins – I’ll add to this “if you think you’re not getting enough from your diet”.  Probably some of us have diets that give us enough of what we need and some of us don’t.  If you smoke then you may be low on vitamin C because nicotine destroys it – one of the reasons smokers might get more colds and find them harder to shift.  Supermarket brands of vitamins tend to be cheaper, more full-on brands, like Solgar, can turn your pee fluorescent – combine with eating beetroot and you can pee back-lit cocktails, now there’s a trick.
  • Reduce stress – stress releases chemicals in our bodies that directly depress our immune systems.  Remember that table of stressful life events where you add up your points and it tells you how likely you are to get ill in the next year?  We can’t always change what happens to us but we can change our reactions and how much we let stuff ‘get to’ us.  Watching comedy can help reduce stress 🙂 <-This is a link to a funny video, please feel free to click it 🙂

That’s all fun and funky but what about if you already have a cold?

  • So your First Defence didn’t work, what are your options for fighting from here?  Ok, firstly be sure to do ALL of the things in the above list, minus the exercise.  Up the sleep, it helps you heal.  More water, you’ll need it to replace fluids if you’re sweating and to ensure any mucus remains thin enough to cough up comfortably.  I have it on authority that you can safely take up to 4 x 1000mg vitamin C tablets per day so go for it with a special Dr Jekyll fizzy vitamin C and soluble Panadol cocktail (for US people, Panadol is a brand name for acetaminophen, although we call it paracetamol over here).  And try to keep chillin like a villain, getting stressed about being ill isn’t going to help (this one is another note to self).
  • So, we have germs to kill, let’s go kill them.  It’s said that hot chicken soup is good for colds but if you don’t eat meat then why not make a hot veggie soup and crank up the garlic?  Drinking hot liquids, like herb tea, is also useful as the heat kills germs.  If you can get hold of a steam inhaler then you can breathe in steam to help clear your airways without leaning over a bowl of boiling water with a towel over your head – otherwise just lean over a bowl of boiling water with a towel over your head.
  • Make curry or chilli!  Hot and spicy foods are said by some people to help ease congestion.  There are a couple of easy curry recipes over on the food  blog I share with my partner and, to be extra helpful I typed in curry recipes, vegetarian curry recipes, vegan curry recipes and gluten free curry recipes into Google for you
  • Garlic is good and may have antibiotic properties so eat plenty, especially raw.  You could try making pesto, or do as I did just now and eat an entire clove raw – it only burns for a minute, honest.
  • Eat more citrus fruits and other sources of vitamin C.  If you look at the table halfway down this page, you’ll see that red peppers almost top the list of foods highest in vitamin C, just beaten by papaya – oranges are quite a way down the list but still good.
  • Ginger is said to be good for coughs so stick it in food you’re making (here’s me assuming everyone cooks from scratch just like the crazy lady) or make tea with it.
  • Junk food, skipping meals and drinking coffee and caffeinated drinks – that’s not a recommendation, that’s a big NO.  Although I might just go get one little sweet from the open bag in the kitchen, raw garlic has one heck of an aftermath.
  1. Information source for avoiding colds
  2. Information source for treating colds


Extra information from a helpful anonymous reader

I saw nothing that stood out as inaccurate, but one thing you might want to mention is the preventative power of garlic and onions (basically, the Allium family). A quick google search brings up:—A-cure-for-Colds-and-Flu

Also, it’s important to crush garlic and let it ‘breathe’ for about 10-20 minutes for full potency. The exposure to air concentrates the allicin, apparently. I know that the garlic is much stronger when I’ve let it age.

The Worst Diet Ever

Apologies for not having been around for a while.  I’ve been busy losing weight, some of it very quickly and using a method I don’t recommend.  Yep, I had food poisoning.  All through the week of my precious annual leave as well.  I hear your silent words of sympathy and am grateful.

Remember, guys, be careful with your cooking otherwise your body might well go crazy in ways too icky to talk about online and you’ll recover approximately a week later wondering where a kilo per day went.

I am now on the anti food poisoning diet and, although I don’t have my test results back yet (I was ill for 6 days and test taken on day 6 – after that I started getting lots better as opposed to just ‘being able to stand up’) I think it’s best to know your enemy.

Campylobacter: From contaminated food or water, often raw poultry, fresh produce, or unpasteurized milk. A person can also be infected by close contact with infected people or animals. Symptoms start 2 – 4 days after exposure and generally last 1 week.

Cholera: Yes, like ‘love in the time of…’.  It occurs in places with poor sanitation, crowding, war, and famine.  So not London then, apart from the crowding.  You get it from drinking contaminated water and complications can include death.

E Coli enteritis: You can get this from eating food prepared by someone who hasn’t washed their hands properly or who has used dirty utensils.  You can get it from dairy (incl. mayo) that’s been out of the fridge too long or foods not stored at proper temperature.  Also from raw fish or from fruit and veg that hasn’t been washed properly.  Also raw fruit and veg juices, undercooked meat or eggs.  I think you’d have to live on the shredded wheat only diet to have a zero chance of contracting this so my advice here is wash your hands and your utensils, store and cook stuff properly and otherwise just don’t worry about it.   The good news is it usually does just what any other food poisoning does and forms of it that are more dangerous are rare.

Fish poisoning: I’ll let you read the details if you want but ew!  Cook fish properly, if you eat it at all – otherwise you might find you have visitors – tiny, wriggly visitors who bring the gift of diarrhoea with them.

Staphylococcus aureus:  Annoying website I was using for info didn’t have a link for this so I wikipedia’d it.  The Wiki page is hard to decipher (for me anyway) but I think you can catch this from your pets and the food poisoning variant gives you horrible food poisoning for up to a day.

Salmonella: Not something you get from eating salmon – is more a poultry and eggs thing.  You can also catch it from iguanas!  Does nasty things to you for a couple of days.

Shigella: Another contaminated water thing that Londoners are unlikely to get.  Symptoms are often mild and go away on their own.

I’m off to bed now but I’d like to leave you with an amusing patronising film about how to avoid food poisoning.  Enjoy! (sorry about the ad – you can skip it after a few seconds)

Beyond Chaotic Writing

I ordered a copy of ‘Beyond Chaotic Eating‘ in about 3 minutes flat upon hearing it recommended, this following my personal health trainer (hi Jenni!) and my CBT person (hi Megan!) both looking at my food diary and pointing out the crazy.  Helena Wilkinson is a writer and speaker who runs courses for people with a range of eating disorders, not that I think I have an eating disorder per se, but I’ve been close to it and my eating is still somewhat screwy so whyever not read the book and see what it has to say?

Helena suffered from anorexia herself and wrote about this and her recovery in another book ‘Puppet on a String’.  In the back cover photo of ‘Beyond Chaotic Eating’ she looks like a happy, healthy bunny so power to her for having recovered.  She’s also a trained counsellor.  All good so far.  The book’s subtitle/tagline thing is ‘A way out of anorexia, bulimia and compulsive eating’ but she does go on inside to say that slotting into a specific category is not what’s important and that people should hold on to what is useful (in the book) for them as individuals.

Not sure what I expected, not having read a book specifically about eating disorders before but she talks a lot about the abuse of food being a way of handling overwhelming feelings or feelings one is not comfortable with.  Thus anorexics are attempting to have mastery over the self, to suppress their desires and to attain perfection; bulimics can face their feelings but can’t always hold onto them and are swinging back and forth in a conflicted and destructive cycle that can also include self-harm; compulsive eaters are turning to food for comfort that they have missed or are missing from elsewhere but also feel guilty and can be secretive about their eating.  I don’t recognise myself as fitting any of those 3 types clearly but I think a lot of people who struggle sometimes with food (including me) would recognise occasional elements from each type cropping up.

Helena goes a lot into talking about how one’s family background and relationships shape one’s coping mechanisms and future behaviours, saying that even very well-meaning parents can contribute to a child’s eating disorder due to their own unresolved issues and past struggles.  She talks about 2 polar family types: one type where independence is praised and privacy guarded but closeness is difficult and another where the family unit shares everything, including their feelings and it’s harder to express opinions that differ from those the family espouses.  I will allow a moment here for my entire family (most of whom can read this) to point unanimously at which type we are before adding that I think it takes a lot more than differences  in communication-style and upbringing to build a screwy relationship with food.  And Helena agrees with me, she goes on to talk about various abuses people have suffered that have led to problems with their thought and emotion-processing and subsequent screwy eating.  True dat!  Throughout my childhood I ate happily and healthily, if I wasn’t eating then it was (quite correctly) “Trish must be ill”.  My relationship with food started to get screwy after one or more crappy adult relationships, the feelings from which I am beginning to be in a position to unpack and address now.

People who are abused as children have a way harder time of it.  Guilt, shame and fear from an early age do not a well-adjusted person make.  Helena makes the distinction that female anorexics are more likely to turn their anger inwards and male anorexics are more likely to turn their anger outwards, but I think anyone could go in either direction.

Now, generally I look at stuff to do with looking at your past life and using that info to work out why you’re acting a certain way now with a certain skepticism.  I’m much more of the ‘let’s see where we are now and move on from there’ school of thought, because it’s quicker and because a psychologist’s interpretation of what has happened in my life and what that has meant might differ quite a lot from my own interpretation, especially where I think something I’m doing or feeling is fine and they think otherwise on the basis that Sigmund Freud thinks it’s not normal.  However, I can see how not feeling able to communicate, feeling shame or guilt, or turning to other comforts like food when regular comforts are missing from life could build an eating disorder.  Ms Wilkinson, your book is quite persuasive, I wish I’d read more to be able to have a basis for comparison and check up on whether what you say here is true.

So, to sort your eating out, what do you have to do?  There are sections on deciding to change, options for help, body and nutrition (I found this section really helpful – it even tells you how to handle PMT), facing tough feelings (which looks to be about learning how to express feelings and being ok doing so) and a few more chapters at the end on how to get the rest of your life in gear *start U2 music* WITH OR WITHOUT GOD *end U2 music*.  Yep, this is the bit I’ve missed out from this review, Helena is Christian and includes quotes from the Bible at the end of each chapter.  I say “with or without God” because I think the book doesn’t look specifically aimed at Christians, neither does it read that way and Helena’s careful not to assume belief.  In this she is correct – this reader, about as spiritual as a packet of jaffa cakes and for whom “relationship with God” has about as much meaning as “relationship with Ernie from Sesame Street”, found the book interesting and possibly a bit helpful, if a bit less-than-optimally-accessible due to the writing style (see title of this post for details).  I would expect Christians would find it even more helpful because of the extra God stuff.

I leave you with an excerpt from the penultimate chapter, ‘Playing New Messages’, which encourages “the sufferer” to look at things they regularly say to themselves and question those things in case those thoughts are causing problems (which is VERY CBT, what was I on about earlier?):

  • Am I thinking in all-or-nothing terms?
  • Am I condemning myself as a total person on the basis of a single event?
  • Am I concentrating on my weaknesses and forgetting my strengths?
  • Am I blaming myself for something that is not my fault?
  • Am I taking something personally which has little or nothing to do with me?
  • Am I expecting myself to be perfect?
  • Am I using a double standard – how would I view someone else in my situation?
  • Am I paying attention only to the black (sic) side of things?
  • Am I overestimating the chances of disaster?
  • Am I exaggerating the importance of events?
  • Am I fretting about the way things ought to be instead of accepting and dealing with them as they come?
  • Am I assuming I can do nothing to change my situation?
  • Am I predicting the future instead of experimenting with it?

That last one is my favourite.  I want to be someone who experiments with the future, who tries different things out every day and works towards… not perfection, but being a happy and healthy bunny.

This has been my first post for a while and I look forward to comments (either here or in the blogosphere); however I would prefer there not to be comments to this blog post about why I, or anyone else, either should or should not believe in God.   If Helena can behave herself then so can we 🙂

June Snapshot

When you take a photo of yourself in a restaurant bathroom, close the DOORS to the cubicles or you’ll have to crop the photo when you get home.  This is me about to have all-you-can-eat sushi.  Is there less of me than there was in May?  Possibly not that much.  But this is what I look like when I’m happy. 🙂

Watch me Dancing! No, honestly (review of Dance Central 2)

Many moons ago I discovered Dance Central, which is an Xbox game where one copies an on-screen dancer’s moves thus does workout thus fitness and yay.  I had a few criticisms of it, which I told you about here.  Still, I was fond of playing it on occasions, even after my neighbour’s 10 year old son blew me away by being able to perform some of the most difficult dances with ease.

And then came Dance Central 2, which I got hold of a copy of after a fun escapade at the supermarket. I started playing it yesterday and found that just about everything that annoyed me about the original game had gone away, some better stuff had been added and there I was with a disco in my living room.

Better Songs
From looking at the song list I don’t recognise most of them but most of them sound familiar.  I think they’re more recent, whereas Dance Central has songs that are definitely oldies.

Better Graphics / More of a Disco Feel
If Dance Central was like being at the school disco, Dance Central 2 is like being at a night club, with a laser light show.  It takes photos of you dancing (just as Dance Central did) but when it plays them back it has transformed your living room into a light-filled dancing booth (think neon strip joint).  Actually one dance I did the background looked like Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory with Christmas lights but it was a really silly song so that matched.  Additionally, the small picture of me that shows in the bottom right corner looks a lot more like me than the Cyberman ghost picture that I remember the original game showed – except I’m rendered in techno-pink, I’m a techno-pink dancing piece of putty that needs to work out more.  Sorry that last sentence won’t make sense to anyone who doesn’t have an XBox.

Easier Instructions
It’s easier to follow the moves because you’re shown in advance how many times you’ll be doing a particular move – it kinda works.  Also, when breaking down the moves, the avatars perform each move as it follows on from the previous move so you can see how to make it flow.

Less Ego
Aside from a few words after they’ve finished dancing, so far I’ve not seen any of the avatars talk.  This is a massive improvement as they were a bunch of egomaniacs.

More workout
In the original game, dances start off quite easy and work their way up rather gradually to energetic.  With Dance Central 2 it’s like “you know the deal by now so let’s get working out”; even the easiest dance is quite full-on exercise wise.

I forget which blog post but I did promise a video of me working out so here it is, me doing Dance Central 2.
Ideally one would have DC2 demonstrated by someone beautiful in a shiny leotard but instead you get a middle-aged woman in a flowery dress, sorry ’bout that 🙂  Much thanks to Peter for taking and editing the video.

In return for you getting to see me look silly, I feel some of you should return the favour so let me know if you’re up for Kinect Dance Evening in the same way as we’ve had Kinect Adventure and Sports evenings at ours (which some of you reading have been to, hello)

Ok, that’s it, end of the weekend now – shame, because I could really do with another couple of days off.  Oh no, hang on…

Filling and Healthy

It’s time to come clean, to stand up and say “I fell off the Weight Watchers wagon”.  All that points counting got to be rather annoying and all that was happening was I was trying to be ‘good’ during the day and then eating so much at night that my stomach hurt with corresponding daytime angel promising fitness, health and glory and nighttime devil force-feeding me biscuits and similar rubbish, a devil which then laughed it’s butt off when I got stomach ache.  I wasn’t taking any control for myself and I had begun to resent the whole thing.  Luckily, just as I was about to give up, a light bulb appeared over my head and I decided to change tracks and to explore instead the WW option where you eat a load of healthy food and only track the less healthy food.  I’ve been doing so for a while now and I’ll bet you any money I’m eating healthier.

How does it work? Read more…