July 2021 Health and Wellness Update

Today, I’m not feeling too inspired to write. However, I said last month that I wanted to make health and wellness updates a monthly occurrence. Here goes.

Last month, I was worried about my kidney function. My nurse practitioner was since able to reassure me it was within the acceptable range. I since have stopped using the Water Reminder app, as it was being a bit of a nuisance having to fill out my fluid intake each time. However, I still make sure to drink plenty of water.

The fact that my kidney function is acceptable means I have been able to start the topiramate too. Thankfully, like I’ve said, I don’t experience any side effects.

I also found out last month that I don’t have a UTI. The doctor still isn’t sure what is causing my bladder pain. I for a while took the max dose of paracetamol plus naproxen twice daily. Thankfully, I have since been able to get the naproxen back to an as-needed prescription.

As of last Tuesday, my magnesium, which I’ve been taking for constipation for a few months now, has been upped. I myself thought I suffered with diarrhea, but my GP was able to see that it was a result of constipation really. I am really hoping this will work.

To be honest, with respect to lifestyle, I’m not too satisfied with how I’ve been doing over the past month. I am still struggling to make healthier breakfast and lunch choices. This week, I started having crackers for lunch, which I like far better than slices of bread. However, we didn’t have those until Wednesday and yesterday, we already had a special grill lunch.

I did make sure to eat some fruit at lunchtime each day as well as some slices of cucumber. Overall, combined with my relatively healthy choices from the meal delivery service menu, I did meet my five servings of fruit and veg each day.

I got weighed in again yesterday and, sadly, had gained 400 grams compared to last month. I am still within the acceptable to me weight range, but I do need to make sure I really watch my diet more carefully over the next month.

Exercise-wise, I’m not doing as well as I’d like to. I would really like to make it to 10K steps more regularly again. I do know the weather hasn’t been great, but I still have the elliptical and can dance in my room. I would also really like to make weight training a part of my routine again. That might take some more time though, as, well, I want so many things.

Overall, I feel okay about the things I can’t control, like the fact that my kidney function is within the acceptable range after all. However, I could really do better on things I can control, such as eating a healthier diet and exercising more.

A Perfect Health Day

I can’t remember when or why I bought the book 1000 Journal Prompts That Will Transform Your Health by Sophia Ley, but today, I felt myself drawn to it. In it, one of the prompts asks us to describe a perfect health day. Here goes.

I get up at 8:30AM. I start my day with prayer. This may not be a direct physical health habit, but it certainly helps me get in the right mindset for focusing my day on what’s right. I then get showered if it’s a day I do this or else I get a quick wash.

After I get dressed, I eat breakfast. I eat yogurt with a little crunchy muesli. This may not be the healthiest food choice physically, but it is something I definitely love and don’t really feel I want to give up on. I also eat some fruit.

After breakfast, I take a little break for writing in my journal and Bible reading. Then I go on the elliptical for 20 minutes. I’m assuming it’s a weekday. If it isn’t, I can go for my first walk instead, as my one-on-one will be there. In that case, I’ll go on the elliptical during the afternoon.

When my day activities staff arrives at 10:15AM, I have coffee. I don’t have a cookie with my morning coffee.

Then I go for a walk of about 25 to 30 minutes. After this, I usually will have some time left to do some of my crafting before my staff goes to help prepare lunch.

For lunch, I have two crackers or slices of bread with peanut butter or jelly. Again, these aren’t the healthiest food choices I can imagine, but way healthier than my current choices of lunch food on most days. I also have some slices of cucumber or some cherry tomatoes and a serving of fruit. I will have another serving of fruit in the evening.

After lunch, I will spend some time doing weight training and resistance band exercises. Then, when my staff returns from their lunch break, I’ll go for another 25-minute walk. Then I’ll have another cup of coffee, again with no biscuit.

I will spend the rest of the afternoon on my hobbies, such as blogging or reading. In the evening, I will go on two more walks with my one-on-one. In total, I will reach my goal of 10K steps.

I will have my evening meal from the meal delivery service as usual. For dessert, I will have a small serving of fruit yogurt.

In the evening, I will drink green tea rather than coffee. Throughout the day, I will also make sure I drink at least two liters of water. This means I will have a glass of water after each walk and with each meal, as well as with each medication round. I will obviously take my medications as prescribed. When it’s a perfect health day, I hope I won’t need my painkillers anymore, but that seems to be beyond my control.

I will brush my teeth twice a day, morning and evening. At 9:30PM, I will start to unwind for bed. I will say a prayer. Then, I will diffuse a relaxing essential oil blend and start a soothing sound track on Spotify. I will go to bed at around 10PM. I will probably fall asleep within half an hour and have a good quality of sleep.

Looking over this, some of these things seem relatively easy to include into my day. Some are harder. Of course, I didn’t take into account the possibility of a severely rainy day when I can hardly go for walks. I’ll have to think of alternative ways of getting active then.

A Wonderful Wednesday

Hi everyone. This is going to be a quick post. I am really pleased with myself right now. Today is a great day. The sun shone, the birds sang and I broke my daily step record!

In the morning, my day activities staff took me to the marketplace. We got fried fish for lunch. We also wanted to get fried chicken, but the poultry guy didn’t have that today. I also got cookie crumbs (yes, they’re a real thing). They were €2 a bag but two bags for €3, so I treated myself and got two bags. One of them, I already consumed. Then we walked to the supermarket to see if they had fried chicken and they did!

I also went on a walk before going to the marketplace. We went there by car and I didn’t look at my Fitbit until we were back. I wasn’t expecting to have gotten in many steps, but already had nearly 5,000 steps.

Then in the afternoon, my mother-in-law visited me. We went on over an hour’s walk together. The sun was shining brightly and it was really warm, about 24°C. I truly loved the birdsong, the ability to walk and the sunshine!

In the evening, I went on two more walks with my one-on-one. I got in over 19,000 steps, so just yet, I did a little dance just to get to 20,000 steps. That’s double my daily step goal. I broke my daily step record, which was at just over 17,000 on December 18, 2020.

I also got in 173 active heartrate zone minutes. I wasn’t really exercising for nearly three hours today, but the minutes I got in the cardio zone, count twice.

I did worry a little about my heartrate not returning to normal nearly as fast as my mother-in-law’s. Then again, she is of average build, while I am, as much as I hate to admit it, still obese. I’m trying not to worry too much, since my resting heartrate is still within the normal range.

Overall, today was a wonderful day! Unfortunately, the temperature is supposed to drop to a high of like 13°C tomorrow. It’s not supposed to rain though, so I can still walk. That is, if my muscles don’t ache all over.

Getting Active #WotW

Hi everyone. Today I’m joining in with Word of the Week. It’s been nearly a year since I last joined this linky, but today I’m inspired to. The idea is to sum up your week in a word or phrase. My phrase for this week is: getting active.

You see, last week I was still pretty badly under the weather. This week, though I’m not fully recovered, I’m getting back on track. Though I did walk most days last week, I didn’t get in any other exercise.

This week, so far, I reached my step goal of 10K steps a day each day. I am pretty motivated. Last week, my husband joked that I’d earn a Domino’s pizza for every five million steps I took. That’d take me about a year and a half if I reached my step goal each and every day. I don’t, of course, but I do meet the goal about three times a week on average. This week, five times, so far. I still marvel at the fact that, about three years ago, I merely dreamt about reaching my step goal a few days a week and considered it a sign of optimal physical health. This does show that, as much as I may think I’m deteriorating, at least with respect to physical activity, I’m not.

In addition to walking, I went on the elliptical both yesterday and today. I got in only about ten minutes each day, but that’s okay, considering I’m still not fully recovered from my cold. Yesterday, I listened to a Christian workout playlist. Today, I chose the Southern rock playlist I created some years back when I still went on the elliptical regularly. It was good to listen to my favorite song on that playlist, Jessico by the Kentucky Headhunters.

I also did some core training, ie. planking. I can do it for about ten seconds at a time, which isn’t much, but oh well. I know that if I continue to try, I’ll get better eventually.

Being able to be this physically active, truly boosts my confidence. I mean, I had to buy new clothes this past week and the jeans I ordered, seemed a bit tight at first. This caused me to feel rather self-conscious about being overweight. My staff though reassured me that jeans always fit tighter when you first buy them. Besides, though I’m overweight, at least I still have the exact same size I had about six years ago when I ordered my current favorite jeans, for which the new ones are a replacement. This means I’m not gaining weight.

Word of the Week linky

#WeekendCoffeeShare (October 25, 2020)

It’s already late Sunday evening. I was up real early today, but still didn’t get to blog so far. Today, I’m joining in with #WeekendCoffeeShare. We may still have some coffee, although our official evening coffee break has passed. Otherwise, I can offer you green tea or water. Let’s have a drink and let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I would share that last week, I bought a new Fitbit Inspire 2. It’s pretty cool to be able to track not just my steps and distance walked, but also my minutes in active heart rate zones. I got more than twice the required number of minutes this week.

That being said, I’m already looking at someday buying myself an Apple Watch. I discovered just a few days after I’d purchased the Fitbit, that there’s a new Apple Watch SE that’s significantly cheaper (or should I say less expensive?) than the regular one. I’m really hoping I’ll be able to buy that one someday.

If we were having coffee, I would share that I had a health check on Tuesday. Like I said, it showed that my blood pressure was somewhat high and of course I’m significantly overweight.

I did find out on Friday that my blood pressure is actually pretty normal when resting, ie. just after waking up. It was 115 over 75 then, but rose to 129 over 91 after I had showered and gotten dressed. I have no clue of the significance of this, but my staff E-mailed my GP about it, as the nurse from the health check-up had recommended.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you how frustrated I was when discussing my health check with my husband. He wanted me to go on a diet. I want that too, but it’s hard for me to follow through especially long-term and the staff refuse to enforce a healthy lifestyle.

After a sleepless night and some frustrated discussions with my staff, they talked to the behavior specialist. She recommended we make a food plan together, my staff and me. Then all of us know what I’m supposed to eat and not eat and the staff can redirect me when I want to overeat. So far, it’s going okay’ish. That is, the staff have still occasionally offered me food I’m not supposed to eat at that moment and then I struggled to refuse it. I did eventually talk to the staff about it and try to make up for my bad choices later on. I’ve not yet had a moment when I requested food I wasn’t supposed to eat, which according to my food plan would require the staff to tell me it’s not wise and to offer an alternative.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that my husband came by for a quick visit today to take me on a walk. That was fun.

If we were having coffee, I’d tell you I finally updated my iPhone to iOS 14. I hadn’t expected iOS 14.1, which came out a few days ago, to solve any of the many accessibility bugs the original iOS 14 had come with. After all, the release notes didn’t mention VoiceOver at all. To be sure, I asked on a Dutch VoiceOver users group about it and got a reply from the most critical iPhone user on the list saying that the update had fixed most of the bugs. Practically all other list members had already updated, claiming that most bugs can be circumvened. I didn’t want to take the risk, but I do believe this particular member. So far, it’s all pretty good. I am having a play around with VoiceOver recognition, which describes images. It’s pretty cool so far.

What have you been up to?

Accomplishments for Today (August 25, 2020)

It’s been a few days since I last wrote a blog post. I just wasn’t inspired. I still am not. For this reason, I thought I’d revisit a type of blog post I did a few times before and share my accomplishments for the day. Here goes.

1. Stayed in bed all night. I’ve been struggling with keeping a proper circadian rhythm lately, sleeping a lot during the day and not at night. Though I didn’t have too restful a sleep last night, it was good enough and I managed to stay in bed all night. I went to bed at 9:30PM and got up at 8:30AM. I also only napped for about an hour this afternoon.

2. Ate three healthy meals. We had cheesecake with our coffee today because it was another client’s birthday, but other than that I ate quite healthily today. I had yogurt with crunchy muesli for breakfast, three slices of bread for lunch and carrots, potatoes and fish for dinner.

3. Brushed my teeth, hair and used deodorant. Personal hygiene has been a struggle again lately, so this is good.

4. Had a productive appointment with my community psychiatric nurse. We discussed some of the sources of my abandonment/separation anxiety and also went into my fear of being one giant attention-seeker.

5. Did 45 minutes of mindfulness. At the appt, my CPN suggested I try mindfulness more often. She said she used to do a 45-minute daily meditation and thought I might benefit from it too. She didn’t specify which meditation she used, but I selected a body scan off Insight Timer. I actually did pretty well doing it. Of course, I couldn’t keep still the whole time, as I just had to scratch a few times when I itched. That should get better though.

6. Read for an hour. This isn’t really an accomplishment lately, as I read most days, but it’s still good.

7. Went for two walks. This is more of an accomplishment now than it used to be, as I’m sometimes seeking excuses not to go for walks. I also used the stairs, which I’m not always doing of late.

8. Did some weight-lifting exercises. I just remembered to do these while writing this post and so took a break from writing to do them. I also did some hand strength exercises.

What is something you are proud of yourself for today?

Lovin’ Lately (June 19, 2020)

Hi everyone and welcome to another edition of Lovin’ Lately, in which I share all the things I’ve been loving recently. I’m joining in with Friday Favorites.

Today was a pretty busy day. It was the Friday we have day activities (every other Friday is a day off). As such, I’ve been pretty active. This is why I didn’t sit down to write until now that it’s past 10PM. With no further ado, let me start.

1. Netflix. Last Saturday, in an impulse, I decided to get a Netflix subscription again. I always get the basic one, as I, being blind, don’t need HD video or multiple screens to watch on. I wanted to see the Netflix original documentary series Diagnosis. This is really fascinating!

2. My yoga mat. My husband brought it to me last week and I finally unfolded it this evening to get some working out done. I tried several yoga apps, but haven’t found one that I like yet. Then again, I love doing yoga just the way I like it. I mean, I’m pretty inflexible and don’t have much strength in my muscles at all, but if I don’t practise, it will remain this way. I tried a beginner’s yoga class with the app Down Dog, but couldn’t follow it without being able to see the video. Still, I loved the feel of working out.

3. Journaling prompt collections. I’ve probably mentioned half a dozen times already that I love to collect books of writing prompts, particularly those geared towards journaling. This week, I got a few good ones. The Goddess Journaling Workbook by Beatrix Minerva Linden is great. I already worked on some of the prompts over the past few days, as you can see. I however also love The Year of You by Hannah Braime.

4. A stuffed pillow. I got to borrow one from another client here at the care facility earlier this week and was totally in love with it. I kept stroking its soft side as I dozed off to sleep.

5. My Fitbit. This is by no means a new product, but I just want to mention it as a way to celebrate the huge step achievement I reached this week. So far this week, I got over 56K steps. This includes a short elliptical workout this evening. My Fitbit doesn’t count the yoga workout.

What products have you been lovin’ lately?

Thankful Thursday (May 14, 2020): Dancing!

I’ve been feeling kind of depressed lately. Or rather, less non-depressed than I was over the past month. I’m not sure how “normal” feels, being that I’ve struggled with depression off and on (and mostly on) since childhood. I was finally thinking I could be inspired and motivated for a while, but that while has stopped now I think. I hope my creativity and motivation return soon.

When I shared about my mood on an E-mail support list yesterday, some people responded by saying I could focus my attention on what I can do rather than what I can’t. Like, even a day without blogging mojo was frustrating me, even though in other areas, I’m pretty much my normal self. I’m still honestly pretty active. I’m not sleeping 15 hours a day. Okay, I slept nearly 12 hours last night, but I barely got eight the nights before. So as sort of a pick-me-up, I’m joining in with Thankful Thursday and the reason I’m thankful today is my level of physical activity.

You see, I reached my goal of 10K steps today! If this doesn’t prove that I’m fine, I don’t know what does. I went for two longer walks during the day and a short walk in the evening. I’ve also been “dancing” some. By this I mean walking in place and swinging my arms while music is playing. I have absolutely no sense of rhythm, but so what? I put the Cardio playlist on Spotify on and just moved. I honestly really loved it.

Besides getting me active, this helped me discover new music. You know, I normally only listen to classic country and some other oldie stuff. I can’t stand most of the workout playlists on Spotify, but Cardio was an exception. I loved it! Here’s one of the songs I listened to several times.

Do you like to dance?

Yoga and Other Movement-Based Self-Care Practices #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to day 25 in the #AtoZChallenge. Wowah, can you believe after today there’s just one more day in April? Time does seem to fly.

Today I want to write about yoga and other movement-based approaches to self-care. I know, I already discussed exercise briefly a few weeks ago. However, there are other benefits to yoga too.

If you are not a yoga person, that’s totally okay. Maybe you think it’s a little too alternative for you. Or maybe, like me, you believe you don’t have the physical flexibility or balance to do it. Well, let me tell you (and myself!) that yoga truly has some benefits that aren’t spiritual at all and that anyone can do it. You may need to modify the poses. For example, when I go into tree pose (putting one leg up to your other thigh), I always touch a wall with one hand. I just don’t have the balance to do the “proper” pose and never will.

Yoga is good for both your mind and body. As well as being good for flexibility and balance, it helps you develop deep breathing, calms the mind and can even help with pain relief.

There are many kinds of yoga. Hatha yoga is what most people in the western world see as the regular kind of yoga. Maybe I didn’t do it properly but it never quite felt like a workout except for my flexibility. There are however also types of yoga that are actually a real workout, such as power yoga. However, I don’t recommend you try those if you’re a beginner or starting back freshly after a while. No matter how eager you are to get moving in these times of lockdown, you’d much better start slow.

In addition to yoga, there are other types of movement that will help you get in physical shape. For example, pilates is a way of working your muscles. Dancing (even just hopping with music on) counts as well.

How do you get moving?

Diet and Exercise: A Healthy Lifestyle for Wellness #AtoZChallenge

Welcome to my letter D post in the #AtoZChallenge. Usually when looking for inspiration this year, I have looked to The More or Less Definitive Guide to Self-Care by Anna Borges. Today though, no “D” topic inspired me. Besides, I had basically already made up my mind that I was going to write about diet. Then I decided to add exercise to today’s discussion, as I already have an “E” topic in mind.

Having a healthy lifestyle can be hard for most people and it’s especially hard for those of us struggling with mental health issues. When I suffer with major depression, for example, all I feel like is sleeping and eating and I certainly don’t feel like moving. I’m not telling you that you should force yourself to have a healthy lifestyle all the time. That’s not possible for most people and, when you suffer with serious mental health issues, it’s often not a priority. If it takes all your effort to get out of bed, I’m not telling you to exercise.

But generally, it can really be helpful for your wellbeing to mind your diet and physical activity level. I, for one, need to lose weight to get to a healthy BMI. However, that number on a BMI chart or even on the scale isn’t the main reason I try to eat a relatively healthy diet. It makes me feel better mentally if I get enough healthy food in me and don’t overeat. Getting enough veggies is a struggle with the poor quality of food we get here at the care facility, but I do try to eat enough fruit.

Besides nutrition, hydration is important too. I try to make sure I drink at least two liters of fluids a day. This has been harder now that my days are less structured due to the day center being closed, but I really need to get my hydration habit back up. I use an app called Water Reminder, which is free (with a one-time in-app purchase to remove ads and add some additional features).

It also certainly helps me to get moving. Now I must say that I’ve not been majorly depressed in a long time, so moving comes relatively easily to me. I particularly love walking, as regular readers of this blog will know. I also try to go on the elliptical a few times a week.

Do you try to develop or maintain a healthy lifestyle? Does it help with your mental health?