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.

My Hopes for 2020

Hi everyone and a happy new year to you all! I’m wishing all my readers the best for 2020. May this year be filled with health and happiness.

Like last year, I don’t really do new year’s resolutions. That is, I’m calling them “hopes” as to have them give me less pressure. This may be a stupid mind trick, so that if I fail at all of them at the end of the year I can just say I wasn’t really meaning to stick to them. Well, anyway, here goes.

1. I hope to find a way to keep my marriage as strong as it’s now whilst I’m living in the care facility. This mainly means I need to find a way to keep seeing my husband despite the fact that I won’t have the ParaTransit to travel one way even once every other week. I really need to find a way to learn to travel by public transportation. The thought of which overwhelms me. Then again, the consequences of not making this work, are far, far worse. I have very conflicting feelings about this whole situation, which I won’t be sharing here.

2. I hope to settle in at the care facility, both the home and the day center, and find a routine that keeps me happy.

3. I hope to keep going for a healthier lifestyle. I first hope to be more mindful of my food choices. I mean, I did okay’ish over the holidays, eating far less than I would have had I not had it in mind that I ultimately need to lose all the pounds I put on. However, I still ate more than I should have.

I hope to stick to my habit of drinking two liters of fluid each day. I have occasionally lost track when at my husband’s, but did welll over the past month otherwise.

I really want to get into an exercise routine. I have a gym in mind that I may want to join in February (because everyone else joins the gym in January).

4. I hope to stick to a regular writing and blogging schedule. I won’t push myself to blog everyday or the like. I mean, I could be joining in with #JusJoJan again and I know the rules aren’t strict so this post counts too, but I think I’d rather jump in when a prompt speaks to me. I aim for a minimum of two posts a week, unless illness or technical problems get in the way.

Dreaming bigger, I hope to write another essay that could be published in an anthology in 2020. I mean, I’m still excited about the one piece I had published in 2015, but there must be more in store for me.

5. I hope to read more. The year is off to a good start, as I finished a book (okay, one I’d started reading in 2019) today. I really want toventure out into the book blogosphere, even though I have zero intention of becoming a real book blogger.

6. I hope I can get into a better self-care routine. This is really an excuse for me to explore more of mindfulness, essential oils, relaxation, etc. I often think that I need to be productive all day. Then recently I listened to a Podcast in which the presenters explained the importance of daydreaming. They linked a lack of it to dementia, which has me scared like crap, because whenever I’m not doing anything in particular, I tend to fall asleep. They didn’t say whether you can train yourself to daydream or whether this helps, but it can’t be bad.

What do you hope to achieve in 2020?

2019: The Year in Review

Wow, can you believe 2019 is almost over yet? It was truly an eventful year. I want to do a review of the year. I originally intended on waiting till the 31st to do it, but I’m not sure I’ll have time for it then, as I’m celebrating New Year’s at my in-laws.

I had a theory when I was a teen that said life ran in cycles, by which every three years I’d find myself struggling significantly, then the next year would be one of hope, and the third year would be one of disillusionment, by the end of which I’d spiral into despair again. 2001, 2004 and 2007 were all years of despair, whereas 2002, 2005 and 2008 where years of hope. I didn’t continue to be superstitious about this past that point and honestly looking back each year was really a mixed bag. By this logic though, 2019 would have to be a year of despair. It was to begin with, but it ended on a really positive note, whereas by my teenage logic, the fall of the year of despair would be the hardest.

Well, let me say this year was extremely eventful indeed. At the end of 2018, we had just mailed out the application for long-term care funding. I started the year really hopeful by looking at a living facility and having my long-term care assessment in January. Then in February, I grew cynical. I decided everything wouldn’t be okay till 2021, as that would be the year people with lifelong psychiatric conditions would be allowed access to long-term care. I was right. My funding application got denied.

March, April and May were all largely months of waiting, as we sent out the appeal letter and my appeal was looked at. In late May, my support coordinator told me I would most likely not be granted long-term care funding this time either, but the lawyer in charge of my appeal was going to see if she could find a way to approve me anyway. She did somehow. I feel the long-term care regulations put people with multiple disabilities at a significant disadvantage. I remember writing blog posts explaining the legalities of long-term care back in like 2009 on my very first WordPress blog and I already felt the rigid care packages based on primary disability, were stupid. I don’t know how they managed to grant my appeal and even if I knew, I wouldn’t share it here.

By the time my long-term care funding was approved, my support coordinator had been informed that the care facility in Raalte with her agency had several available rooms. I started the intake process. By late August, just as I was losing hope again, I was told I would be accepted. I moved on September 23.

The past three months have been good. I feel a sense of calm, even though I still experience meltdowns. I had one tonight. Like a fellow patient on the locked unit said once, I can move around all I want, but I still need to look to myself for improving my own mental health.

When I looked at my review of 2018, I saw that my husband had been warming me up to us buying a house in his work city. I thought then that this may not happen if I go into long-term care, and indeed the house we bought isn’t in his work city. However, it’s still a house he likes. It is legally my house too, of course, which is good, in that I can move there if I ever get kicked out of long-term care. I also try to stay involved with renovation plans, but I struggle with this.

I took a look at my hopes for 2019 as I was preparing to write this review. I can be pretty satisfied with how I did on them. The only goal I didn’t meet, was to have a healthier lifestyle and lose weight. I’m doing okay on the healthier eating part, as I haven’t had binges much since coming to the care facility and make sure I don’t indulge into my every food whim. However, I don’t exercise nearly as often as I want to, though I get about as many active minutes as I did when living with my husband.

I did buy a new computer. Two, in fact, as I wasn’t happy with the Mac I bought and sold it to my mother-in-law. I am very happy with my current Windows PC though. Having a working computer again enables me to do so much more with my blog than I could when only using my phone. This helps me keep a regular blogging schedule too. Finally having found a feed reader that works in my browser, also helps. That was my only initial frustration with my current PC, as my Mac had a good feed reader and I struggled to find one for PC.

My last hope for 2019 was to stay mentally stable. I’m pretty sure I have reached this goal, as I’ve not been in serious crises at all. I’m also more than happy with how my staff handle my meltdowns or short crises as they do happen.

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.

My Hopes for 2019

Happy new year everyone! Today and hopefully throughout this month, I’ll be joining in with Just Jot It! January or #JusJoJan for short, organized by Linda G. Hill. Today’s prompt is to reflect back on 2018 or write about your plans or resolutions for 2019. since I already wrote about my 2018, I’m going to use this post to jot down my hopes, goals and plans for 2019. Here goes.

1. Find suitable supported housing. This is my main hope for 2019. Of course, given my experience with finding (or not finding) supported housing out of the mental institution, I don’t have my hopes up too high. However, I at least want to get long-term care funding approved. That way, even if I don’t find a housing place, I can get more support in my current home than I get now.

2. Get back on track with healthier living. I didn’t gain any weight over the holidays and in 2018, lost a pound or 500 grams, while I expected I’d gained. I’m proud of that, but I’m still obese. Knowing that I’ve experienced some time when my BMI was under 30 this past year, I badly want to lose those two or three pounds it takes to be back at just overweight.

More importantly though, I want to embrace a healthier lifestyle. I want to exercise regularly and eat at least somewhat healthfully.

3. Blog regularly. In January, participating in #JusJoJan means I’ll have something to write about each day, as Linda will be posting prompts. I plan on writing regularly throughout the year though.

4. Get a new computer. I have had this on my list of plans ever since 2017. This year, I’m serious about it though, as I finally convinced my husband too that my current PC is outdated. I am seriously considering getting a Mac, as that’d mean I could do without having to get a screen reader separate from the operating system. I already love my iPhone, but I feel I need a computer too.

5. Stay mentally stable. Over 2018, I’ve not had serious crises other than the one in January that eventually got me kickked out of my old day activities place. I’m still considering terminating mental health treatment once I’ve found suited supported housing. After all, I’m pretty confident that the depression I suffered early in 2018 and that required an increase in my antidepressant dose, was caused by my difficulties coping at home and at day activities. I do still experience trauma-related symptoms, but at this point, they’re manageable.

What are your hopes for 2019?

Ways to Take Better Care of My Body #Write31Days

Welcome to day 14 in #Write31Days. Last week, I wrote a post on the topic of what my body is telling me. Today, I’m writing on a similar theme. The prompt from The Self Exploration Journal I’m using today supposes that your body is a temple. How could you better take care of it?

There are many ways in which I could take better care of my body. I’m already doing a lot better though than I used to. Like, until I was eighteen, I wouldn’t touch toothpaste and would brush my teeth with just water. Then, I went to the dentist to find out I had seven cavities. Filling them (without anesthetic) was horrible. From that point on, I started using toothpaste, buut I still had trouble sticking to a regular teeth-brushing routine. I struggled with this for many years to come and have only recently been able to consistently brush my teeth twice a day. I’m still not doing it very well, but I’m getting better.

Another way to take better care of my body is by getting off my behind. As a child, I was fairly active, but my activity level declined sharply in my teens. I got a computer, which meant hours upon hours of screen time. At this point, I’m still pretty sedentary, although I love walking. Since I cannot leave the house on my own, I need to think of ideas to fit in more activity at home. I already go on the elliptical regularly, but I’m thinking I could be dancing too.

Sleep is another aspect of body care that I’ve improved in. As a child and teen, I’d get no more than five to six hours of sleep a night. Now, I make sure that on week days, I get eight to nine hours of sleep. On week-ends, I get much more. That probably means that I’m still not fully rested from those eight to nine hours on week days, but I do’t know how to fit in even more sleep.

An aspect of body care in which I really need to pick up the pieces again, is food. I am doing better than I was when in the institution, when I’d binge on candy twice to three times a week. However, I’m still snacking a lot more than I should.

In what ways could you take better care of your body?