Category: health

A Sick Winter

Hey you guys!  How are things going? I just wanted to give you a little update. I wish I could say things have been rosy and perfect but unfortunately I’ve been pretty sick recently. In fact, this entire winter I have had a cold in one form or another.  This is a problem for a person that does 5+ podcasts a week (this week I have 7!). Fortunately I have not lost my voice all together but it has been challenging. I was really bummed because this last weekend I was scheduled to go to the Tumbleweeds Film Festival but I was too sick. I managed to push through Sundance but since I had a cough this time I didn’t feel right about it. I think it is super rude to go to the movies if you know you will be hacking throughout it. Plus, I felt miserable so what’s the point?

It really has been a tough winter for me. I think part of it is the inversion has been very bad and that puts my sinuses at risk for infection and viruses.  The worst thing is when you are coughing so hard that your chest starts to hurt and it feels like you can’t breath. I am also very mucusy and going through a box of tissues a day. My nose is raw and chafed from blowing it so much. Fortunately, my job has been super understanding and kind with helping me get better, which I am beyond grateful for. Even so, I wish I could take a weeks off to 100% get better and finally lick this infection.

I am just glad I don’t have kids because that would be so stressful while being sick. Plus, I’m glad there is Jamba Juice just a hop away. Caribbean Passion is my fav with immunity whenever I get sick. I also watched Happy Feet which is my traditional sick day movie (it’s dancing penguins. How can you be uncheered by that?)

Even while sick we have been plugging away at the Hallmarkies podcast and I’m very proud of our efforts. It’s entertaining, fun and people seem to really like it. Please check it out even if you don’t like Hallmark movies! (We are very charming. You don’t want to miss it)

Zootopia and Headaches

Hi guys!

I hope you are doing great!  I just wanted to do a quick post.

zootopia1

First, I needed to make sure to tell my readers on this blog about Disney’s new film- Zootopia. What a special treat we have at the theaters!  As someone who has seen the film twice and every other Disney film I can confidently say this is a MUST SEE in the theater!

Here is my review:

Here is my blog review on my movie blog if you prefer written reviews. http://54disneyreviews.com/2016/03/04/movie-55-zootopia/

Zootopia is a movie that has something for everyone.  The world building is amazing with likable characters- particularly Judy Hopps who dreams of being Zootopia’s first rabbit cop.  It’s also very funny, sweet and inventive. Disney is even willing to make fun of itself and the animation is stunning as usual.

Everyone I know who has seen it has loved it.   This is also one of the rare films I preferred seeing in 3D because the experience was so immersive in Zootopia.  It’s not 3D where things are thrown at you all the time, so if you can I’d go for it.

migraine2On another note my headache problems are persisting.  This morning it was hard to even move it was so painful.  I was wondering if any of you have tips that help you with headaches?I would love to hear anything that works for you.

It was weird because I had about 3 more hours I could have slept but I woke up with the piercing pain.  It was that bad it woke me up.  It made me feel nauseated and like I was going to pass out.

Today I ended up taking 2 excederine which I hate to do because of the caffeine and I used an ice pack to help.  I also used lavender oil and that seemed to help a little bit.

My brother came down and it was nice to talk with him- distracted me from the pain.

Anyway, anything you can do to help me that would be great.  Thank you! Hope you are doing well and will be in touch this week. I’ll at least have a Teaser Tuesday with  my latest reading and a Friday Five music post on Friday.  If you have any ideas for posts please let me know.

Thanks again!

Sorry Been Sick

coughingSorry I have let it go 5 days between posts.  I’m never sure how that happens! At least this time I have an excuse.  I’m afraid I have had a wicked virus and been quite sick.  I don’t have the strongest immune system and it seems like every year or so I get a whopper of an illness. My whole family is not the strongest when it comes to our immune system.  It is probably partly due to going 48 hours without sleep in New York City but it was worth it.

Some people are what I call high output people.  They seem to be able to accomplish so much and do things like all nighters without it phasing them.  I never could, even when I was in college.  I’ve done all nighters by accident with my insomnia but that is a completely miserable experience and it is hard for me to function.  What is amazing is people who can go, go, go without it wearing them down.  I get sick every time.  Oh well!

Luckily I have a job that I can easily do while sick and that’s a huge blessing.  I also found a new doctor that is covered by my insurance and had a very positive experience.  He prescribed me the biggest pills ever and seemed very attentive.

pillsI did keep up my movie reviews so make sure to check out the movie blog including my review of the new Dreamworks film Home.I also have been doing some fun videos on the channel including a collaboration with an awesome youtuber from London and my favorite movies when I’m sick.  If you aren’t subscribed to my movie blog and my channel please do.  I think you will really enjoy the content and it will be worth your time.

So let’s hope I can kick this illness and be at the top of my game again.  Hope you are all healthy and illness free.

 

Sleep Problems

Sleep to sleep - what happens with the brain inside

So if you ‘ve noticed I’ve been a little lethargic lately it’s because I have been.  I just haven’t been feeling great- fever, fatigue, cold chills.  But no other symptoms like sore throat or stuffy nose.  Just feeling really really tired all the time.  I’ve got things to do but would pretty much always rather be sleeping.

The problem it creates is getting back to the gym because I’m so tired.  I slept this entire weekend away and took Monday off work because I felt lousy and slept all day those days.  I feel a little better today but am still very tired.

It’s frustrating because sleep is supposed to be this simple thing.  This basic human function but not for me. There always seems to be a lot of drama attached to it.  And to make matters worse when I am able to get to sleep despite being tired all day I often have a hard time getting to sleep.  It’s just a huge mess.

Can any of you relate? I have to be careful who I mention my sleep issues too because I have found my Mom friends can be a little unsympathetic.  Me a single girl tired!  “Just wait till you have a baby” they say with their eyes.  I get it but I really am tired.  I promise! 😉

I just wish I could figure this thing out and sleep regularly like a normal person but I’ve tried everything from therapy to drugs to meditation.  Sleep is my enemy and constant frustration.

All I know is I am soooooooo thankful to have a job I can do at weird hours that works with whatever weirdness my sleep is putting me through.  There are no words for how grateful I am for that.

So, excuse the sleeping vent.  It’s just frustrating.

 

Missing My Race

Friends, I feel sad.

I’m still in a lot of pain but that has become fairly normal.  What makes me sad is missing my race.  For the last 3 years the Deer Creek Open Water Swim has been one of my favorite things to do during the entire year.  I looked forward to it like Christmas, maybe more so, and now it is out of the question.

I was able to sell my spot which is good but it is still a serious bummer. I was just reading a post on facebook and it all sounds like so much fun.  I guess they have awesome finisher medals and are doing the kayak raffle again.  I’m sure they will get a good turn out like last year.

If there was any way I could do it I would, but I can’t even stand straight right now.  Moving my leg hurts let alone kicking in the water.

That’s it. I’m just sad.

But there is a lot to be grateful for. I’m grateful for good friends who have been so supportive.  I’m grateful for all the prayers from family, friends, and my internet community. I’m grateful to anyone who has given me a ride or helped me out especially my friend Stacia and my roommate Regan.

What do you guys think I should do Saturday instead of just stewing on my missing the race?  I don’t have many options and everyone seems to be busy.  Any creative ideas?

I remember thinking in June that my life was going so well and wondering how long it could all last.  Well, July threw me a curve ball I wasn’t expecting.  Sometimes that’s the way life is. The Lord builds you up so you are ready for something hard (and I realize in the grand scheme of things my hard thing isn’t that hard but still it’s been tough for me).

I just wish I could swim in that race…Sigh.

On to next year!

Heroism and Weight Loss

fat-supermanI’ve been thinking about writing this post for some time.  Everyone who reads this blog is probably aware of my distaste for weight loss in the media.  I know many find shows like the Biggest Loser to be encouraging but for me they are the opposite.

What bothers me is they paint fat people as bad, and reformed fatties as good and that just isn’t true.   As I often say,  ‘a lot of people lose weight in prison’… Losing weight is hard enough without having these types of morality judgments thrown in our face.

So that’s media but this post is a slightly different take.  I would like to talk about how we as a culture often couch weight loss in heroic terms and how this is almost never helpful.

Just the other day I was watching a show and the reporter asked the man how he had ‘overcome his heroic battle with weight loss’.  This is not uncommon phraseology for our average conversation. All of us, including myself, have used such phrases when talking about weight loss.

What’s wrong with that you ask? I mean losing weight is really hard.  Why is that not heroic?

Well, let’s start with some definitions-

Over on about.philosophy.com author Kendra Cherry asked her readers How Do You Define Heroism?  Pretty much every response is something like this:

“A hero is a person who would risk life and limb just to save people or a person. these people standout as brave intelligent and loving. these people need to be recognized”

So what are the elements of being a hero:

1. They are brave

2. They are worthy of recognition

3.  They are loving

4. They risk their own safety to help other people

It is this last aspect that is the most common thread in all the responses.  Another reader says:

“Heroism is when you act out of the kindness of your heart. Whether you’re helping someone on homework, or helping someone who got hurt, the main thing is that your helping someone who is having a hard time”

So, heroism clearly involves being unselfish and serving your fellow men and women especially when doing so is difficult.

indexHow does weight loss fit such a description?  I can’t think of any other change of appearance that is lauded in such ways.  For example, if someone gets a face lift they are often derided, criticized but I’ve rarely heard that when gastric bypass is done.  Why is one surgical enhanced change heroic and another isn’t?

You could say that gastric bypass is required where a face lift is not? Well, the research from the Health at Every Size movement would strongly disagree with that assertion, but even if you accept that gastric bypass is necessary I don’t see how it is heroic?  If I break my leg and have surgery on said leg (essentially fixing a problem in my body like GB) does that make me a hero?  No, it makes me a person with a broken leg that was fixed.

I can see no part of weight loss that involves risk to help other people. You can help people get in shape or encourage them to enter a race, but that’s not really the weight loss, that’s your service in the community and amongst your loved ones.  Anyone should be lauded who serves others no matter their size.  That is worthy of the hero label.

What about athletes? Who are they serving and we call them ‘sports heroes’?  One could argue such a term is misapplied to professional athletes but I would counter that most athletes are participating in a team or cause greater than just themselves.

For example, an Olympian is certainly worthy of individual applause but also their gift of performance on behalf of their country makes it worthy of the hero label.

There are a few sports like golf that are truly individual events and then I would say they aren’t really heroes but simply exceptional.  We like them because they are good at something and we are not. Nothing wrong with that!

But I hear you saying ‘Rachel it’s so hard.  Shouldn’t we be encouraging?’.  My answer is ‘of course, we should’.  However, there are lots of hard things we do in life that aren’t really heroic.  If I am a PHD candidate and I complete my thesis am I lauded as a hero? I’m encouraged, congratulated, cheered but unless there’s a disability or something extraordinary I rarely hear the kind of language we apply to weight loss for any other ‘hard thing’ in life.

Why? Because the diet industry in America is a 20 billion dollar industry.  They want you to spend money and what better way to get someone to spend money than to either make them feel really good or really bad about themselves.  A tepid, lukewarm person never bought anything.  They have a vested interest in convincing us that we need to change and that if we make said change we can be the hero.

Now, you might suggest that I am focusing on mere semantics and poor word choice.  I would argue back that according to the Huffington Post the average American woman has dieted 61 times by the time they are 45 and that’s starting at 16 (I would start much younger- 81% of little girls in America have dieted before the age of 10).

Assuming some marginal success in most of those diets, the average woman has been the hero 61 times,  and then fallen sometimes quite speedily off of her pedestal.  Then to make matters worse 35% of women gain more than they lost on said diet.

So, now we aren’t really a weight loss villain (to use the cannon of terms) that is probably reserved for sinful foods and the companies who pedal them but we are something even worse- the fallen hero.  I mean think about what that means.  61 times the average woman not only feels let down with her own frailties but is no longer the inspirational tool for her family and friends.  I’ve felt it and I bet most of you have too.  It is devastating.

images

I actually remember one time my sister telling me ‘you can’t gain the weight back because then you wouldn’t be this person that we admire’.  She was very little and didn’t mean to hurt my feelings but is that not what all of us go through on the roller coaster of weight loss? 2012 I was at my peak of fitness and weight loss, then I had a personal crisis, chronic pain and a herniated disk in my back.  Things changed and so did my body.

I’m not making excuses.  That’s just what happened.  I felt guilty for a long time.  Like I’d let everyone down, which is insane when you really think about it.  What had changed was something in my body.  My other actions were exactly the same.  I still swam my races, I still blogged.  I still worked.  I still held book club and spent time with my friends.  I still traveled.  All of it.  I can’t think of one thing for other people I could do in 2012 and couldn’t or didn’t do in 2013.  So why did I seemingly let them down?

Because I wasn’t the hero anymore. 

That’s why this language about our bodies is so important.  It can have devastating repercussions that can make us feel like failures, and we already feel that way because of the way we look.  The language just piles on. And sometimes it is not just language.  I have friends who’s parents were vocally disappointed in them for their weight loss struggles. Instead of sympathy and encouragement they received pity and disgust.  (Luckily my parets have always been pretty good about letting me live my own life)

What worries me most is if being the fallen weight loss hero is hard for adults, imagine what it must feel like for a child who has so little control over his or her bodies in the first place?  That I do know.  I remember vividly the feeling of disappointment after diet, after diet, not only frustrated at not looking the way I wanted to, which is hard enough for a young girl, but letting everyone down in the process.  For goodness sakes, now these kids are even letting down the President.

So, in a perfect world where everyone took all of my advice what would I suggest? How would I encourage others in this hard thing called weight loss? I would treat it like the accomplishment of any other worthy goal.  ‘that’s great’, ‘I can see you worked very hard’, ‘great job’, ‘congrats’, ‘I’d love to go jogging with you’, or any number of responses without vaulting the person up as a hero because of the way they look.

What do you guys think? Have you felt like you were letting down people when you gain weight or fail to lose?  Do you think the hero narrative is helpful or hurtful?  Please share your experience, as this is just what makes sense to me.  Love you all!

heroes03capamericapostyo8

 

 

Headaches

This is a pretty simple post.  The last few months I have been getting terrible headaches. Debilitating.  Yesterday on Easter Sunday I sat in my room most of the day and nursed about a 10 hour head ache.

headache

I know that some of you have dealt with headaches, so I am curious for some advice.  What do you find to be the most helpful?  How do you function if you get one?  At least I have a job where I can work with lights off or sound free environment if needed but just curious if there are any suggestions that might help.

Sugar seems to help and sleeping.  If I have a bad night, which I did Saturday, than I often get a headache the next day.  But it seems to be linked to my blood sugar a bit so if I sip a soda or something sweet the pain is better.  Has anyone else experienced that?  Medicine doesn’t seem to do much to help.

Anyway, just curious for some advice and maybe to vent a bit.  I hate these headaches!

No Sleep

Last night I got no sleep.  I was tired all day and had to go to the house in Alpine to show someone around.  Worried I would be a drowsy driver I drank some caffeine around 4:30 and I bitterly regretted it by the end of the night.  Plus, my ambien prescription is out and that seems to be the only thing that really helps.

It was a long night.  I kept trying different strategies but nothing worked.  (Deep breathing, counting sheep, listening to audiobook, reading, nothing).  Finally around 4:30 I gave up and decided to start working since I was up anyway.  Its peculiar  because usually this happens when I’m worn out or frazzled but I felt fine.  No real stress. The only thing I can put my finger on is that stupid diet coke I drank.  I used to drink a super big gulp everyday, sometimes 2 and it wouldn’t affect me much but not any more.

I tried to take melatonin but it wasn’t helping.  Nothing was helping.

How do I get in these cycles  you ask?  Well, I stayed up too late during my recent trip and ever since then I’ve had a hard time going to sleep before 2 am.  Sometimes more like 3 am.  My body will be tired but my eyes will be wide awake.  At a certain point you start to have anxiety about not being able to sleep and it gets worse and worse.

I know it affects me in many ways.  Luckily I have a job that is flexible and I can even work late at night if all else fails.  But its hard to be motivated to exercise when you are so tired and a lot of the swim masters are at 6 or 6:30 and I’m sorry but I need more than 4 hours of sleep a night.

Last Fall I went to an insomnia specialist and she helped me get things on track so perhaps I need to see her again.  Meanwhile I’m trying to stay up till 8 or 9 tonight so I don’t wake up at some crazy hour.  Its literally painful.  My eyes hurt, head hurts, my stomach is bothering me and I have no appetite.

I don’t mean to be complaining.  Its just insomnia is the worst!

Do you guys have any strategies that work for you? I’ve also done the sleep studies and have a cpap but it makes my insomnia really bad so I don’t wear it often.  Some days my room helps me a lot with all its beautiful darkness and other days my whole body feels tight and I can’t relax.

Tired Rachel
Tired Rachel

By the way, this is my 700th blog post.  Pretty crazy right! Thanks to all who read it.

Exercise and Weight Loss Success

Many of you know I believe in a healthy lifestyle or the Health at Every Size Movement http://www.haescommunity.org/. 

How do you determine the success of a health regiment or diet? I would wager that 90% of you would answer “weight loss”  or if you didn’t you probably would be thinking ‘weight loss’ in your head but saying something more socially acceptable.

Here’s the thing- THAT IS WRONG!!

Every day there seems to be more evidence that the link between weight, even obesity, and actual health is not as strong as we once thought.  This defies the logic of the ‘war on obesity’, Michele Obama, scores of trainers/dieticians but that doesn’t mean it is not true.

Read this book.  It will BLOW YOUR MIND

health at every sizeThink it is just one woman’s crazy enabling antics?  No.  The book has 7 pages of detailed recommendations from doctors, leaders, scientists etc.  (see articles for more back up

US News World Report 

New York Times, and New York Times

The Today Show

To start the book Dr Bacon (I know ironic last name) shares her testimonial.  Here it is directly from the book:

health at every size 2This quote might lead you to believe the book is merely anecdotal but its not.  There is real science to back up what she says about eating healthy, being happy and not worrying about weight.  She leaves no stone unturned answering questions about diabetes, cholesterol, heart disease, bone density, and even has the most brilliant defense against gastric bypass I’ve ever read. I’m telling you it will change the way anyone, not just the obese, look at eating, health and exercise. Here is my favorite (this is also quoted in Amy Farrell’s brilliant book Fat Stigma):

UC Davis.

“In this study, a group of fat women was divided into 2 groups, one receiving coaching in restrictive eating (diet) and exercise, the other being encouraged to eat a healthy diet, listen to their bodies cues, to foster ways to engage in fun exercise and take part in a fat acceptance discussion group.

Significantly group 1- the traditional diet/exercise group- initially lost weight, but by the end half had dropped out; most had regained weight; blood pressure, cholesterol, and other metabolic measures had not improved and self-esteem levels had dropped.

In contrast, group 2 hadn’t lost any weight, but most stayed with the 2 year program; their blood pressure, cholesterol, and other metabolic measures had improved dramatically; their self-esteem levels increased substantially; and they exercised regularly.  Encouraged to pay attention to their bodies, to stop restricting calories, to fight the discrimination they experienced as fat people, and to enjoy their bodies through physical movement and eating well- the non-dieters showed significant health improvements.  But, and this is the key point, they never became thin.”

Doesn’t that blow your mind?

One of Dr.  Bacon’s patients describes her battle and realization of her own worth so beautifully:

health at every size 3

I recently have become aware of the activist Jeanette DePatie, otherwise known as The Fat Chick.  She gets it.  I wish someone had explained this to me when I started exercising (instead I went into it expecting to lose 100 lbs in the first year. Sigh…)

I am happy most of the time. I love  my life most of the time.  I have times when I’m more fit than others but I’ve basically looked the same since I was 17 years old and I was always ashamed by that, like it was this big failure I could never overcome.  Now I just make sure I have clothes that fit me in lots of sizes and work out at least 3 times a week.  Would I like to be skinny?  Yes, but I’m finally not convinced I’d be any happier if I was (or healthier).  The guilt is for the most part gone.

I hope this encourages all of you.  I started my journey saying I was the Only Happy Fat Woman in America and I had friends who fought me on it.  They thought I was just being patronizing or disingenuous but it was true then and today it is still true (I really had someone argue with me saying I was basically full of crap.  Not true).  TV will make you believe you have to be miserable if you are fat (biggest loser sorry)  but its a lie! Be healthy, be happy, be human, have bad days, eat cake and then work out for an hour the next day, find stuff you love, therapies that work and live the best life you can.

Every time Tanya and I swim together people look and have a surprised expression.  I know they think ‘I’ve never seen a girl that looks like do what they are doing’ and that makes me so happy.  It may be my greatest legacy of all.

So thats what I have to say on that.  Get active.  Be happy.  Love life and Follow God.

And just keep at it.
And just keep at it.
Do something you never thought you could do.  I love MMA (kick boxing) and I'm not too bad at it!
Do something you never thought you could do. I love MMA (kick boxing) and I’m not too bad at it!
Do a fashion show when you find a cute pair of jeans.  Who cares!
Do a fashion show when you find a cute pair of jeans. Who cares!
Find something you love.  Even after all the swims I've done it still makes me smile
Find something you love. Even after all the swims I’ve done it still makes me smile
My trainer who has stood by me for 4 years. She is why I go to treehouse and she is one of my rocks.  I really love her.
My trainer who has stood by me for 4 years. She is why I go to treehouse and she is one of my rocks. I really love her.

I would also just add that my times in the water when I’m at my thinnest and best trained is about 3 minutes faster than when I’m not.  My recovery is much better but my time really isn’t.  Funny. It just goes to show what your definition of success makes such a difference in achieving it.  If I was only focused on times I’d never be successful.