Ways in Which My Life Has Improved Over the Past Few Months

Lately, as I’ve been recovering from COVID and as the news of the war in Ukraine has been intensely scaring me, I’ve focused more than I would like to on how my life has seemed to have spiraled out of control. Staff changes at my care home also contribute to my feeling of insecurity. This combined leads me to feel that I am worse off than I was a few months ago and getting worse by the day. For this reason, a prompt that I came across in one of my journal writing books, is particularly compelling to me right now. It asks me to describe in what ways my life has improved over the past couple of months. Here goes.

1. I sleep better. I am pretty sure this isn’t entirely due to the lingering effects of COVID, though they do play a role. I am pretty sure the new medication, pregabalin (Lyrica), also helps. I feel a lot more rested when waking up, have fewer nightmares, etc.

2. I am less anxious. Though I still experience night-time anxiety, it has significantly decreased particularly over the past couple of weeks. I am pretty sure this is thanks to the pregabalin too.

3. I have been able to be more creative. I have truly discovered my artsy side over the past couple of months. I do still stay somewhat in my comfort zone, but am exploring ways to step outside of it just a little bit too.

4. I have started on a healthier food plan. This is hard, but it is more doable than I initially expected it’d be. Though I let things go a little when I had COVID, I only gained like 0.2kg from before I got sick. Overall, I’m not disappointed.

5. I have developed some more trust in some of my staff. This is still fragile and it is even more so with the staff changes. For this reason, we have let go of the word “trust” for the most part when referring to my relation to the staff and called it “acceptance”. I feel proud of myself for admitting that I am beginning to trust a couple of staff members rather than just accept them.

Though some of these things seem to be outside of my control, they really aren’t. I mean, I have to thank the pregabalin for my decreased anxiety, but I also do practise relatively good self-care by sleeping with my music pillow when stressed, for instance. I think, by the way, that it helps to hold the view that, though my life isn’t in my hands, my choices are within my control.

How has your life improved over the past couple of months?

I Am Overweight!

Hi everyone. Today I’m joining Di of Pensitivity101 for Saturday Swapit, a weekly weight loss meme. I am not intending for this to become a weekly feature, but, because I had a dietitian’s appointment yesterday, I wanted to share some things I learned.

First though, I have a major win to share: when stepping on the scale yesterday, it told me I’m now 70.1kg. This means I’ve crossed the line back from obese to just plain overweight! I did kind of trivialize the achievement by saying it’s the absolute minimum I had to lose to cross this line and hence I may be back into the obese category next week. That may be so, but I did lose 1.7kg since starting on my food plan five weeks ago. That may not sound like much, but I’d rather lose the weight slowly and keep it off than lose more weight only to gain it all back and then some.

Like I said, I’m doing my healthy eating plan under a dietitian’s supervision. The main goal is not weight loss, but relative mental stability with respect to food and a healthy eating structure. You see, I have a history of bulimic tendencies and had a slip-up with respect to purging just before Christmas. Every opportunity to eat still leads to inner conflict.

With respect to this, the dietitian taught me about my negative and positive voices: the healthy-eating voice vs. the bulimic voice. Even if you’re not bulimic, you’ll likely recognize some of the disordered things the negative voice is telling me, such as that, if you’ve eaten a “bad” food, now the day’s gone to waste and you can just as easily call it a cheat day and binge eat whatever you want. The reality is, though, each healthy food choice will ultimately contribute to your weight loss (or other healthy lifestyle goal).

Another thought is that you have to make up for one small treat by restricting on another food. The idea that this thought is unhealthy, may contradict the previous one, but, in reality, it’s all about balance. If you’ve had one small treat that’s not on your food plan in the morning, it doesn’t mean the day’s gone to waste, but it doesn’t mean you need to be restricting or making up for it later in the day either. It doesn’t mean you can have said treat each and every day, of course. Your food plan is there for a reason, after all.

Another thing I asked the dietitian about is late evening snacking. I have a serving of fruit on my food plan in the evening. My staff felt that, for practical reasons, it’d be best if they’d offer it to me at 9:15PM. I countered that, since this is pretty close to my bedtime, I wouldn’t burn it off then. Thankfully, the dietitian was able to reassure me that people’s digestion works 24 hours a day. It’s a myth that late evening snacking causes you not to burn off the calories you consume!

#WeekendCoffeeShare (January 14, 2022)

Hi everyone on this Friday afternoon. I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare. I just had a glass of water and am going to have another one in half an hour or so. Maybe I’m going to ask for a Senseo or treat myself to a Dubbelfrisss, my favorite soft drink. I’m afraid we don’t have the diet variety though. Can I pour you a drink? Let’s have a cup of something and let’s chat.

If we were having coffee, first I’d share that it’s not as cold as it was last week, but it’s still too cold for my liking. Daytime temps rose to about 7°C most of this week. I did go on one longer walk yesterday, to the supermarket to buy a card for my father. He’ll celebrate his 73rd birthday tomorrow. We also bought some veggies. Oh, and a croissant, because I felt like treating myself. I had just one for lunch instead of bread though. I just looked up how many calories are in one croissant and that’s about as much as in two slices of bread without toppings. Of course, bread contains less fat and sugar and more fiber, but so what?

If we were having coffee, I would go on to share about my dietitian’s appt this morning. It went pretty well. She didn’t admonish me for not wanting to lose the 13kg I need to lose to be at a healthy BMI. I do want to lose the 1.5kg I need to lose to no longer be obese though. More importantly, I want to eat relatively healthily and hopefully quiet the inner conflict about food.

The dietitian gave me some recommendations for healthy meal choices for breakfast and lunch. For example, she said I can have salad for lunch with croutons and a little chicken, tuna or salmon (that last one I don’t really like) occasionally rather than bread. I do need to make sure the staff take care of portion sizes, of course, because I’m pretty sure they’d otherwise throw the entire can of tuna into my salad. For breakfast, I am still allowed yoghurt with muesli, just not the crunchy kind. And thankfully, the muesli doesn’t need to be plain, it can include nuts or raisins or the like.

I did share my disappointment with her at only having lost 0.5kg over the past week when I stepped on the scale yesterday. The dietitian said that this is a pretty great result though.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would tell you I got my benefits payment slip last Monday and am grateful to report I will still get enough money that I can still spend some on fun things like polymer clay supplies or the like. I don’t know whether I shared this in my coffee share posts before, but my long-term care copay will automatically be withheld from my benefits. The copay is income-dependent and, because I’m married, my husband’s income is counted too. Then again, because I’m married, I do get to pay the so-called “low” copay because the government does take into account the responsibility I have for contributing to his household expenses too.

The copay is calculated based on our combined income from two years back, so 2020 for this year. Because my husband earned more money in 2020 than in 2019 and had a lot of tax deductibles in 2019, I was expecting a higher copay by at least €100 a month, but fearing it might be as much as €200 a month. Then again, I was hoping my benefits would also be raised a little. Long story short, my net income was cut by €82 a month. That’s a lot. I realize some people won’t be able to handle this, particularly people on benefits. I am so intensely grateful that I am relatively well off.

How have you been?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (January 7, 2022)

Hi everyone on this first Friday of January, 2022. Today, I’m joining #WeekendCoffeeShare. I’m right between my dinner and my evening coffee, but if you’d like a drink, I’m sure my staff can make you a Senseo or a cup of tea, pour you a glass of juice or offer you a soft drink. Let’s catch up.

If we were having coffee, I’d start off by saying that the weather is all over the place right now. Sometimes, it’s raining or even snowing, while at other times, the sun is shining. It’s too cold for a walk though, so I’ve stayed indoors all day and most of the week. Last night, despite the heating being on and all windows being closed, I was feeling quite cold. Okay, I can feel cold in the middle of summer sometimes. That’s just me, I guess.

If we were having coffee, I’d also share about my new food plan. Like I shared before, my hope is to get to a healthier, less stress-inducing diet this year. The dietitian got back to my staff on Tuesday with a healthy food plan. It’s a standard basic food plan I’m sure, as for instance it allowed for an artificial sweetener in my coffee even though I’ve been drinking my coffee black for years.

I have been trying to stick to the food plan ever since. On Wednesday, I did have my crunchy muesli for breakfast, because my staff had already prepared it. Oh, I said this was something I wasn’t willing to give up, but I’m trying after all. Yesterday and today, I had two slices of bread with jam on them.

So far, it’s going okay, but I do find that I’m struggling to eat a variety of foods, as out of the healthy food choices, I only like a few things. Today, as an alternative to the bread with jam for lunch, I tried a toasted cheese and bell pepper sandwich. After all, the dietitian said that toasted sandwiches are a healthy choice as long as you don’t load them with more than one slice of cheese, ham or the like. You can, however, add veggies to taste.

If we were having coffee, I would share that, speaking of the food plan, I do look forward to getting chips this evening. I am so happy I am still allowed these on weekends.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I haven’t been too inspired on the crafty front lately. On Wednesday though, I did create a polymer clay dolphin charm. I used the Fimo soft color blue ice quartz for the body of the dolphin, white for its belly and black for its eyes.

Polymer Clay Dolphin Charm

If we were having coffee, lastly I would share that I did do a fair bit of reading lately. I started the latest Maggie Hartley foster care memoir, which came out as an eBook yesterday, right then. I’m now at 54% already. It doesn’t look like I’m going to finish any of the other books still on my currently-reading shelf on Goodreads though, but that’s okay.

How have you been?

My Hopes for 2022

Hi everyone and a very happy 2022 to you all. Today, like each year, I am sharing some things I hope to achieve in the coming year. I don’t usually call them goals, let alone resolutions. I mean, I used to have a ton of New Year’s resolutions when I was a teen, but these went out the window come Blue Monday. Not that I’d ever heard of that date at the time, but it was still what happened. So, hopes. Here are my hopes for 2022.

1. Get to a less stress-filled (I originally typed “less stress-free”), relatively healthy diet. I already eat relatively healthily at least if I look at my hopes for last year, in that I consistently eat two to three servings of fruit each day. I have also ditched the cookie with my morning coffee. My idea of experimenting with eating bread rather than crunchy muesli for breakfast, went out the window pretty soon and I’m not likely going to give it another try.

That being said, I could still improve on my lunches and make healthier snack choices. Besides, I would really like to stress less about food. For this reason, my staff got in touch with the dietitian, who is going to E-mail her a list of tips and recommendations based on my current food list this coming Tuesday.

2. Remain stable mentally. I am pretty stable mental health-wise already. I hope I will remain relatively sane as I adjust to my increased topiramate and later my decreased aripiprazole in particular. Of course, my aripiprazole taper might not be over with by the end of this year.

3. Keep writing consistently. I started a morning writing ritual today. Officially, I decided on Morning Pages, which dictates you have to write three pages. Then again, this is done by hand and I cannot do this anyway. I’ll be content if I can keep up the writing habit each morning even if I don’t make it to 750 words.

I did pretty great on my blogging over 2021, having written 303 posts over the year. I’d really like to write at least as many posts this year.

I would also like to broaden my horizons where it comes to my writing styles, writing more creatively.

4. Expand my creativity. Particularly, keep up with my creative hobbies. I did quite well on those over the past year too, having rediscovered polymer clay. I’d really like to improve my skill, but, like last year, don’t intend on doing the work all by myself.

I would especially like to discover some things to make myself rather than just copying from YouTube. Of course, I already select my own colors and do some things differently than in the tutorials, but I’d really like to expand on my creativity.

I will continue to do my own version of The Artist’s Way. I mean, I can’t take myself on artist’s dates completely solo because I can’t leave the house independently, but so what? My inner artist wants to be released just as much.

In line with the above, I’ll also experiment more with making my own essential oil blends and such rather than just copying recipes I find online.

5. Get back into the reading groove. This was a massive fail in 2021. One of my bookish resolutions for 2021 was to read 20 books. Well, I didn’t even reach half of that. See, I should’ve called them hopes rather than resolutions. Anyway, I’m not setting a number for myself right now, but I do hope to read some more than I did last year this year.

6. Socialize more, be it online or offline. COVID permitting, I’d like to go to the rescheduled Cerebral Palsy Day in April and to a regional Eye Cafe. This is a meeting of the Eye Association, which I joined in late November. I may also want to join the regional CP Cafe, which is held online on January 8. In addition, I’d really like to join online and hopefully at some point offline meetings related to my hobbies.

7. Deepen my faith. My faith really went in deep ebbs and flows over the past year and that’s not good. Thankfully, I didn’t lose my faith altogether. In fact, I signed up for an introductory course on Christian doctrine at BiblicalTraining.org last Thursday to get myself back in tune with what I believe. I really hope to be working on my relationship with God through Jesus Christ more this year.

What are your hopes for 2022?

Mama’s Losin’ It

Also linking up with #LifeThisWeek.

Dropping Those Extra Pounds

One of Mama Kat’s writing prompts this week asks us what’s sabotaging us in dropping those extra pounds. I remember about six years ago responding to a similar prompt on my old blog. At the time, the prompt asked us specifically about those first five pounds. That would be somewhat fitting for today too, as my weight currently is about five pounds into the obese range.

It hasn’t always been that way. Back in 2015, losing five pounds wouldn’t even get my BMI under 30. In 2017, I had a BMI close to 35. I managed to turn that around and lose almost 10kg or 20lbs in six months, crossing the line back to just plain overweight for the first time in many years.

Now I’ve been back within the obese range for several years already, but my weight has been more or less stable for about two years now. I would really like to lose those first five pounds, but something’s sabotaging me. And that something isn’t binge eating anymore.

In fact, back in 2015, I admitted that the problem wasn’t most likely my emotional overeating either. I’m not sure that’s true, as I considered it a win that I hadn’t had a binge in a few weeks. Now, I haven’t had one in months.

However, I was probably right that it was more my habitual snacking and lack of exercise. Currently, I do try to get in enough exercise at least with my walking, but I still eat just a little too many cookies and chips.

The fact that I get in enough walking, probably keeps me stable, but I could be doing so much better if I just resisted the urge to have a cookie or two with each coffee break. Like my husband once said, if I removed just one cookie from my diet and didn’t make it up with anything else, I would have lost those first five pounds within six months to a year.

Mama’s Losin’ It

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.

June 2021 Health and Wellness Update

I am feeling kind of worried about my health lately. To get myself a more realistic picture of how I’m doing, I thought I’d do a health and wellness check-in. I am hoping I can make this a monthly habit.

Firstly, the reason I am worried is one abnormal result on the annual bloodwork I had done last week. I get an annual blood test for fasting glucose, cholesterol and other indicators of metabolic syndrome. This is because I take psychiatric medications that can influence this. Last year, my mental health agency ordered it, but this year, my care facility’s physician did. This means I could see my results in the patient portal for my GP surgery that same evening.

The good news is my fasting glucose, cholesterol and triglycerides were all within the normal range. The one thing that wasn’t, is an estimate of kidney function. It should be above 90 and was 81. Because it is an estimate, one abnormal blood test doesn’t say anything. I may need to be retested in a few months.

I looked up what to do about decreased kidney function, hoping to find that if I drank plenty of water, I could get it back to normal. I’m still not sure that’s the case. I mean, I try to drink at least two liters of fluid each day, but can’t figure out whether that should be enough. Other than that, I do try to watch my salt intake more closely. That’s pretty hard, of course – harder than drinking more water.

I do worry that I might not be able to tolerate the topiramate though, because if I remember correctly, that medication is eliminated through the kidneys. I’m not sure though and will leave this to the doctors to decide.

Like I said though, all my other results were within the normal range. My fasting blood glucose was 4.3. It should be between 4 and 6 and was 4.2 the last time, but I’m not drawing conclusions about it increasing as of yet.

Today, I did send off a urine sample for checking for a UTI, because I’ve been having lower abdominal pain. It came back alright. My staff will likely call for an appointment for me to see the doctor, as the pain is still pretty intense.

As for some good news though, I stepped onto the scale this morning and am back at my average weight for the past six months or so. My weight usually goes up or down a few pounds. I’m now 72.1kg, which means 2kg to lose for a BMI under 30. I am unlikely to reach that goal, but it’s okay.

As my husband reminded me when I told him about the abnormal blood result, small steps go a long way. I am already trying to cut back on my snacking on the weekend. I also make sure to eat enough veg and fruit. I mean, the meal delivery company isn’t great on putting veg in its pasta and rice dishes, which I eat most days. However, I make sure to eat some cucumber, tomatoes or raw bell pepper with each lunch. For the upcoming month, I’ve also selected some potato dishes from the meal menu, since they usually are richer in veg.

My husband also pointed out that I get enough physical activity. I could go on the elliptical more often, but my walking is pretty good already.

I did feel a little depressed when my husband told me that it’s obvious that I’m not as healthy as the average woman in her thirties. Then again, he reminded me that I turned the tide on my weight gain in 2018 and am healthier in some ways than I was before. Besides, a century ago I wouldn’t have lived past infancy. That put things into perspective.

Accomplishments for the Day (June 6, 2021)

Hi everyone! I was feeling a little low this morning after a restless sleep. This afternoon, I felt even lower after I misinterpreted a comment from my husband about my (lack of) Bible knowledge as criticism. It thankfully wasn’t meant that way. Right now though, I am feeling quite accomplished. Let me share what things I achieved today.

1. Got showered and brushed my teeth and hair. Personal hygiene is a struggle of late, so I am very proud that I got these things accomplished.

2. Got weighed in. I had gained a little over a pound over the past few weeks, but I’m okay with that. After all, my diet hasn’t been too healthy lately. It could also still be the fact that I literally stuffed myself full of fries yesterday.

3. Made relatively healthy food choices. I mean, I had three meals that weren’t too unhealthy. For lunch, I had a grilled cheese sandwich at a sandwich place, but I don’t think it was very unhealthy. I had mini rolls for breakfast and my care facility’s meal service’s meal for dinner. I did have chips this evening, but I kept to one serving.

4. Broke my daily step record. This is the one thing that helped me move from feeling low to feeling accomplished. My old record was 20.2K steps. Now, I have walked 20.5K steps today. Only 200 more to go and I’ll have reached 100K steps in the past week.

5. Read my Bible. I signed up for the Bible in a Year E-mail service earlier this week. Because I had selected the start-to-finish reading plan, I’m now only at Genesis 21-23. Discussing my progress with my husband got me a bit discouraged. He recommended I, being a Christian, read the New Testament first, then got to recommend that if I read the Old Testament now anyway, I could start with Daniel. So I decided to read Daniel.

To get myself acquainted with the story, I got the Immersion Bible Studies book for Daniel, because I like Immersion. That study though combined Ezekiel with Daniel and I’m not intending on reading Ezekiel anytime soon. So I got a little confused and this further discouraged me.

Then I texted my husband in a bit of frustration. He thankfully replied that he had just meant that Daniel might be a more interesting story than most of the rest of the Old Testament. He wasn’t meaning to question my faith.! That lifted my mood again and encouraged me to study the Bible some more.

What have you accomplished today?