#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?

Health Check

Yesterday, I had a physical health check-up at the mental health agency. Because of the risks psychiatric medications cause for your health, they are required to do this every year. Oh well, the nurse told me not to expect another check-up until sometime in 2022.

I had to have bloodwork done to check for vitamin levels, cholesterol, glucose, etc. Everything was within the normal range except for my white blood cell count, which was slightly elevated. That’s probably because I had a cold about four weeks ago. At first, I was tempted to say “No” when the nurse asked whether I’d had a cold because of the coronavirus scare that’d cause. It turned out it explained my high white blood cell count though.

There were also two things that were low, which might indicate anemia. My hemoglobin though was normal and I’m not very tired lately. This is probably nothing to worry about.

Thankfully, my cholesterol, blood sugar, etc. were all normal. I know I run a risk of developing type 2 diabetes because of my weight. The nurse didn’t make a big point about my being obese though. She did chehck my blood pressure. My diastolic blood pressure was 93, which is considered hypertensive. My systolic blood pressure was also a bit high, namely 132, but that wasn’t too worrisome.

The nurse recommended we measure my blood pressure a couple of times over the next few days. It was 126 over 99 this morning. The latter number really worried me.

Right now, I feel pretty awful. My husband is also worried. He asked me to really “lose weight and relax”. I told him that both is not likely possible, but I’d try to at least lose weight. He asked me what options the care facility has to force me to go on a diet. Not many, I think. In fact, the staff are less worried than I am. I am likely mostly myself responsible for restricting my diet.

After I explained my and my husband’s concerns to my assigned staff, she did agree to E-mail the dietitian and behavior specialist to see if I can be put on a diet. Then again, if I nag for food, they say they’re more or less required to give in as I’m a voluntary admission. I don’t think that’s entirely true especially with the new Care and Force Act, but I think the staff feel less able to resist someone verbally pestering them for food versus someone who screams for it without actually asking, as they are non-verbal. After all, at least one of my fellow clients is on a diet and the staff flat out refuse to give her food she isn’t supposed to eat.

I feel really torn. On the one hand, I want to believe the nurse from the health check that losing weight shouldn’t be an absolute top priority, because, well, I don’t want to give up chips and sausages on week-ends. On the other hand, I absolutely don’t want to have to add yet another medication to my regimen. I originally said I wanted to avoid blood thinners at all cost. Then I found out blood thinners aren’t the same as blood pressure medication. Still, I want to avoid needing to add a blood pressure medication too, especially since, once on any medication, it’s hard to get off.

Of course, I want to avoid getting a heart attack or other cardiovascular disease for as long as possible. This means I really need to go on a diet. I’ll start with eating bread instead of cereal for breakfast. It’s hard, but I’m going to do it.

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?

#WeekendCoffeeShare (July 26, 2020)

Hi all on this summerly late Sunday evening – or should I say early night, as it’s actually past my bedtime right now? I’m still wide awake though, so thought I’d join in with #WeekendCoffeeShare. It’s too late for me to grab a coffee, but if you’d like one, I can make you one.

If we were having coffee, I would share that we were supposed to get heavy rain here today. We got some light rain in the morning and did get rain at night, but overall, it’s been a pretty rain-free day. I got to take an evening walk at 9PM. That suited the staff, as most other clients are in bed by then.

If we were having coffee, of course I’d share that I got approved for a higher care profile last Thursday. This means that the facility gets more money for me and they might be able to get some extra staff hours in. I found the letter detailing the decision in my government inbox on Friday. It was a bit hard to read how challenging my behavior really is. This care profile is called “living with very intensive support and very intensive care” and is the highest care profile for people with visual impairment.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you I made another keychain, this one for my husband. I like this one more than I do the one I did for my sister-in-law. My staff got the heart-shaped keyrings at a budget store.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that after Tuesday’s appt with my nurse practitioner, I’ve been feeling at the same time more out of sorts and more feisty than ever. I do know there’s a great risk that, if I get assessed for trauma-related symptoms, the assessor will deny I have them because I’m too open about my trauma. However, a lot of people in dissociative disorder groups have been validating my experience. Of course, I’ll need a diagnosis of at least (C-)PTSD to get treatment and the prejudices among professionals suck in this respect. However, I’m feeling more and more that I may’ve found a community I belong to and find that I can access support from them.

If we were having coffee, I would tell you that I’m feeling similarly about my body and food. I mean, I at once feel very disorganized and disordered, and at the same time I’m trying to do something about it. Not that it’s any more than just trying at this point. I mean, I just noticed how my jeans fit a little better around my waistline, and that’s not a good thing, as they were rather loose. This upsets me, but it’s quite a challenge getting all of me to agree on how to change it.

If we were having coffee, lastly I would share that this week-end wasn’t quite the healthy food week-end. On Friday, we had French fries and snacks and ice cream for dessert. I also ate a whole bag of sweet liquorice between Thursday and Saturday. That though is a win, in that I’d normally have eaten it all in one sitting. I guess I’ll need to dialogue with myselves to get us on the same page re healthier living.

How have you been?

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?

January Health and Wellness Update

So it’s already been over six weeks since I posted that this time finally I was serious about my weight loss and healthier living journey. I still didn’t post an update. Now is the time for one. I’ll also include a general health and wellbeing update.

I didn’t get weighed in over the holidays. Even though I took some care not to overeat, I didn’t stick to a healthy routine either. In fact, on Christmas Eve, my staff ordered Chinese and I had three servings. That clearly was a bit too much, as I had a tommy ache afterwards. Over the rest of the holiday season, I did okay’ish.

I still use my water reminder app and make sure I drink plenty of water nearly everyday. Sometimes I forget to log it, but I can be assured that I drank enough at least. When at my husband’s, it’s still a bit hard.

In January, I’ve been eating healthily most days. I eat plenty of vegetables and particularly fruit, taking care not to go for the sugary ones like bananas too much. My day activities orders grapes regularly, which the other clients can’t eat due to choking risk. I can, so I usually have them all over the course of a week.

Then of course I got sick. I didn’t eat very well for a few days two weeks ago, so that could have led to weight loss too. Then again, I did eat dinner each day. As soon as I felt a bit healthier, I started eating a good breakfast and lunch again. Lunch is still a struggle, as I’m not a fan of bread, so I often skip that. This means I only eat fruit. I don’t eat bread for breakfast usually either, but I do make sure to add muesli to my yoghurt.

I musst say I still indulge into snacks at times, but I try to limit them, so that I’m not eating all day. After all, having high blood sugar all the time contributes to type 2 diabetes.

Exercise-wise, I do pretty well. I go for a long’ish walk four to five times a week. Over the past while, I’ve managed at least 150 active minutes most weeks. I didn’t when I had the flu, of course. Still, it’s extremely hard to get to my step goal or even close. When I go for one half-hour walk a day, I usually get about 4000 steps.

So did this pay off or do I need to work harder? Regardless, I need to work harder, as healthy eating is more important than weight loss itself. Given that I only managed to do okay in the healthy living department, I was surprised to see the result on the scale last Friday. I had gone down 2.8kg or 6lbs since early December. Of course, my sickness may’ve contributed. I hope I’m not down too much when I get weighed in again at the beginning of February. I mean, that would fuel my hypochondria. I hope for a maintain or small loss. Only two more pounds and I’ll no longer be obese.

In other respects of health, I did okay too. Like I said last week, my sleep is a little messed up, in that I get a lot of vivid dreams and nightmares. For this reason, I try to do a mindfulness practice or at least listen to soothing music before going to bed now. This seems to have helped some so far.

Starting My Weight Loss Journey Again (And This Time for Real)

In the first week of my being in the care facility, I got weighed in. I hadn’t been weighed since sometime in like February. Not surprisingly, I had gained about 2-3kg in these nine months. I didn’t immediately take action though, as I felt I’d had to get used to being in the facility first and see how my weight would progress. Two weeks ago, I got weighed in and had gained about 500 grams again. This isn’t huge and could be due to the time of day I was being weighed in, but I decided it was time for action anyway. I’ve been in the facility for two months now and need to make sure I don’t gain any weight and ultimately lose some.

As regular readers of this blog know, I’m short-statured at only 1.53m. The upper border of healthy weight, as such, is 58.5kg. The border between overweight and obesity is 70.2kg. I weighed 74.9kg two weeks ago. This means I’ll have to lose at least 5kg. I have no intention of getting to a healthy weight, but I really want to cross the border back from obese to overweight. I also know I can do this, as I did this about 18 months ago too. Now though, once I reach overweight status, I have no intention of crossing the border back to obese.

I discussed my eating habits with my husband. He said that, if I skip just the cookie at morning coffee break and don’t change anything else, I’ll have lost those 5kg in a year or two. I want to go faster though. For this reason, I’ve also changed from chocolate spread to peanut butter on my breakfast bread. I know, peanut butter still isn’t low-calorie, but it’s a lot healthier than chocolate spread. At lunchtime, I still got two slices of bread which were heavily topped with butter and sweet toppings, one with peanut butter and the other usually with chocolate spread or chocolate flakes. There’s a mealtime assistant who prepares our lunch and I didn’t want to have a huge list of demands of her, given that I already have quite a few likes and dislikes on my list. Like, I can’t stand ham or cheese (unless toasted). I basically only eat what are called sweet toppings and don’t even like all of those. As such, I initially didn’t want to say that I don’t want butter and don’t want my bread too heavily topped. After discussing it with the staff, we agreed to put this on my list of lunchtime menu requests anyway.

My husband advised me for the millionth time to drink more water. At first, I was like, how do I remember to drink enough water? He told me to put reminders in my iPhone. At first, I thought that would be weird or annoying and indeed it’s a hassle to put reminders in my phone via the default reminders app. I however remembered a friend recommending an app that reminds you to drink water and where you can log your water intake. I searched for it. The first one I found cost like €8,99/week and hardly had any free features. I mean seriously?! Who would pay almost €40 a month for an app to remind you to drink water? I doubted my friend meant this app. Turned out there’s another app by a similar name that’s free and €9,99 once for paid features. I got that one and love it! I had some trouble setting it up at first, but now it reminds me each hour between 9AM and 9PM to drink water. Its sound is really catchy. I reached my recommended water intake goal for the past three or four days and almost reached it for the entire week that I’ve been using the app.

I finally made my Fitbit activity tracker work again this past week too. It had been lying around ever since I came here because its battery was empty and I couldn’t find the charger. Then when I finally found it, the app had somehow locked me out. I got in again after an app update. I notice that, though overall I manage fewer daily steps than before I moved here, my active hours are better. This means I get over 250 steps most hours during the day. Today, I didn’t do that well in this department, but I did manage nearly 8000 steps throughout the day.

I was pretty conscious of my eating habits all through the week, making sure I eat my veggies if there’s even the slightest chance I may be able to like them. Before this, I’d not even try a lot of them. I made sure to eat enough fruit. Not that I had much trouble with that before, but fruit usually meant bananas. These are relatively high in calories and very sugary. Thankfully, we had grapes, kiwifruit and clementines too, as well as of course apples and sometimes pears.

Over the week-end, I stayed at the facility. When discussing my weight loss plans with my husband, I mentioned that we get chips on week-ends. However, this week-end, we also got pancakes for lunch and a lot of other treats. I didn’t really like the result this would have on my weight, but also found it hard to resist them.

My staff wasn’t particularly motivating either. Some literally told me to wait for January to start my healthier lifestyle routine, as I’d not make it in December anyway. I mean, yes, we celebrate St. Nicholas with a fries and snacks stand on Thursday and get a lot of extra treats this holiday season. Does that mean I don’t need to eat in moderation? Someone asked an overeaters’ support group a few weeks back and was encouraged to follow through now in spite of the holidays. Now I don’t really like the abstinence-focused mindset of Overeaters Anonymous and the like, but I have always felt that you can always start on a healthier lifestyle journey right now.

Yesterday, I decided to get weighed in. I wanted to know how bad the result really was and how much I’d have to lose once I’d start my journey for real. Well, guess what? I weighed 73.8kg. This truly motivates me.

On Thursday, I fully intend to not stuff myself full of fries and snacks even though I can. Tomorrow, my support coordinator has an evening shift and I’ll be asking her to ask her colleagues for help on my weight loss journey. I realized this past week-end that some make me really uncomfortable with how often they offer me food. I mean, my husband was annoyed at my former support worker for allowing me (not encouraging me!) to buy binge food when she took me to the store on Thursdays. I didn’t realize and probably didn’t want to admit that, in some respects, my current staff are worse. I mean, I haven’t had a binge since buying liquorice with my mother-in-law three weeks ago and the staff definitely discouraged that, but weight gain isn’t about an occasional binge. It’s about what you eat everyday.

Today’s Accomplishments (October 29, 2019)

Last December, I wrote a post in which I shared my small (but important!) accomplishments for the day. I wanted to make this a regular feature, but didn’t. I am not promising it will be this time around, as pressure to do something every day or week with regards to my blog, usually overwhelms me to the point where I quit prematurely. Such was the case with the 31-day writing challenge this October and it’s been the case before. I’m however definitely hoping I can do these more often. Anyway, here are my accomplishments for today.

1. Took good care of my personal hygiene. It’s Tuesday, which means I start my morning routine all by myself and don’t get any help with my personal care. I usually take a quick shower then and often forget to put on deodorant, brush my teeth and hair. I not only took a more thorough shower than usual, but did use deodorant and brushed my teeth. I don’t think I brushed my hair.

2. Took my morning and evening meds, including multivitamin. I got the multivitamin added to my meds recently as I am deficient in folic acid (one of the possible reasons for my fatigue). I often have to remember to ask the staff for this one myself, as it isn’t in the med management system yet.

3. Had three relatively healthy meals. I had two slices of bread with chocolate spread on it for breakfast. That isn’t the healthiest possible choice, but it’s okay. I had two slices of bread again for lunch, plus a banana and a pear. For dinner, we had boiled potatoes, a hamburger and kohlrabi.

4. Walked twice today. Well, three times really, as I also took a short walk in the morning with the day activities staff and two other clients. I took a longer (about 20 minutes) walk in the afternoon with just the staff and took another walk with the living facility staff and one other client in the evening. I don’t have my Fitbit anymore, as its battery is dead and I can’t find its charger, but I’m confident I met my goal for active minutes for the day.

5. Did a short mindfulness meditation. Okay, it took only three or four minutes, but the act of starting a guided meditation in itself is already an accomplishment.

What have you accomplished today?

#FOWC: Diet

Today’s Prompt for #FOWC is diet. I have no experience following any diet. Not even a “No-Diet” diet such as Slimming World. I know, I do need to lose weight. I do need to moderate my food intake. I do know that Slimming World, Weight Watchers and the like can help some stick to a habit of moderation where it comes to food. However, I’m not sure I’m ready to stick to the diet.

I really want to stick to a plan where it comes to food, but I don’t want it to become an obsession. And, honestly, food can quite easily become an obsession, because in my thoughts, it already is.

I think I need to allow others some control over my food intake. It may be best if I take full responsibility, but given how badly my overeating can get, I don’t believe that’s realistic right now.

I hope that, once I move into supported housing, I will have a more structured day where it comes to my meals and snacks. I really hope I’ll subsequently be able to eat less. After all, whichever diet you follow, that’s the real deal.

My husband and I were talking about a care facility that wants me, and he asked whether they have side-by-side bikes. I think they do. They certainly do have a stationary bike. We were discussing getting rid of my elliptical, because there’s not enough room in our new house to put it if I only use it on week-ends. I was thinking of taking it to the care facility. Maybe they can use it at the day center that’s near the living facility. That way, I’ll still be able to go on the elliptical.

I, after all, didn’t say I would never lose weight again. I do want to, but now is not the right time. Then when is, you ask? Well, like I said, I’m genuinely hoping that, once I go to the care facility, I will be able to stick to a diet and exercise plan with the help of my staff.

Weight Loss (Or Rather, Weight Gain) Update

It’s been months since I last posted an update on my weight loss and healthier living journey. My last update was very positive. This one, not so, but it has a silver lining.

I had not at all been following my diet. Not that I generally follow a specific diet, but when trying to lose weight, I try to moderate my food intake and limit myself on snacks and sweets. I don’t want to completely deny myself any sweets or snacks, but I really had been snacking far too much.

I wasn’t motivated to expose myself on the scale, so I didn’t weigh myself. Today though I did and the result was as expected: I’m now 71.3kg. This means I gained 2.4kg or roughly 5lbs in these three months. My BMI is over 30 once again.

Back three months ago, I was at my lowest weight in five years and had been thinking I could reach a weight in the lower sixties by the end of the year. Obviously, now I can’t. I’m not even sure my ultimate goal is to be at a healthy weight anymore, which for my height is 58kg. I had originally intended to reach that by January of 2020. Now I think I’d need to be content if I can get and keep my weight under 70kg and hence my BMI under 30.

Exercise-wise, I’ve not been doing as well as I wanted to either. I had set myself a goal for October of getting active everyday. Though it looks like I met that goal, I have to be more creative with what I consider “activity” than I’d originally intended on being. Today though was a great day, in that I got 95 active minutes according to my Fitbit and reached my daily step goal of 10,000 steps. Now that has me end this post on a positive note!