Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Health Update

I've been doing a little better. I'm not sure why, as I've fallen of the Paleo wagon. I'm still not eating a LOT of grains, but it's so hard to be strict for so long. The only things that could be causing my having more energy: 1) I'm coming off Effexor - very slowly and carefully. I reduced from 225mg to 150mg/day for a month, and now I'm down to 75mg/day for a month. After that, I'll be off it. I did notice my mood was pretty bad for the first 3 weeks, but now I seem okay. 2) The weather. It's spring. 3) Accumulated effect of pushing myself a little bit every day. I started going for walks, and since then I've been able to keep going for walks. It's strange.

Anyway, who knows, this could be just random too. I haven't lost any weight or inches, but I did get a Wii and Wii Fit Plus last week, as well as some Dance games for my PS2, and I've tried to do a little bit of activity every day. I've been able to do more things around the house as well. I think it's important to be consistent, so I try to force myself to do at least some movement each day, unless I'm in a lot of pain or having a lot of fatigue. It is hard to tell when I'm playing a game how much is too much, so I've had some days where I suffered a lot of pain, especially in my legs and lower back. I'm trying to be careful, but it's really difficult to know when to stop, since I feel fine while I'm doing the activity.

My motivation is kind of odd. Usually I procrastinate a lot about chores, but I've been doing pretty well. It's the other things in life that I seem to not really care about, and sometimes I find myself thinking I don't know what to do next. Reading isn't doing much for me lately, I've started 3 or 4 books that haven't held my interest. Maybe it's the books I'm choosing, I don't know. I haven't felt motivated at all to knit or bead either. All my usual hobbies give me a sort of "meh" feeling right now. Not sure what to do about that.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Progress Report

Weight: 205lb (clothed) 202lb (naked)
Chest: 45.5 inches
Waist: 41
Hips: 47.5

So it seems like I gained half an inch on my chest and hips, but it could also be that I'm not measuring in the exact right places, or that I'm wearing a different bra - I think the latter is the case, the one I have on is a bit thicker than what I usually wear.

For the last week or so I've been eating nothing but fruit, seeds and nuts. Smoothies, a little coffee (now dairy-free) and some fish, but mostly fruit - oranges, apples, grapes, bananas, berries. I think this has a lot to do with my weight loss. But I haven't been moving around much at all, been depressed and in bed a lot. So, could be muscle loss. Anyway. The good thing is that I haven't given up on my eating plan. I still often feel like not eating at all, but that's okay too. Not much energy, which is both mental and physical, but I have been out of bed the past several days, and I started beading again, which I'm enjoying a lot. It's replacing the reading. I'm watching the Olympics on my computer. Progress on my writing has halted, but I still think I'm going back to it when I have more energy. You wouldn't think writing takes a lot of energy, but it does - the brain consumes a ton of calories.

My pain levels aren't great, somewhere between the worst I've had and the few weeks I was doing really well. I think the B-complex vitamin really helps with the leg pain - I neglected to take it for a few weeks and the leg pain got worse, so I've started taking it again.


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Philosophical Update

I've spent the last 3 or 4 days (hard to know how long, really) in bed, reading and sleeping. When I put my book down I've spent some moments thinking, despairing, philosophizing. Not happy thoughts, so I don't spend much time doing that. Maybe a week or so ago I was feeling pretty rough, and I went off the Paleo wagon and ate junk. I figured I'd suffer a few days and then be fine again, but I haven't been fine since, I've been fatigued and more and more depressed and not wanting to do a damn thing. I though it was the food, but now I wonder whether it is something else, something that triggered the eating to begin with.

We store toxins in the fat cells of our body. Perhaps I'm losing fat and the toxins are being released, and that is the cause of everything I've been feeling. I can hope this is the reason, and bear it out, but who knows how long this will go on. I have a lot of fat, a lot of toxins.

Several days ago I got fed up with the routine of eating, completely bored with food and wishing I didn't have to bother with it. A few days later I realized how much I hated my body. How dirty and toxic it feels, how unnatural. I just don't want to deal with it at all until it gets better. I am enraged for feeling hungry, having to either bear the gnawing in my stomach or find something to put into it. I've decided to go on a fruit fast, so sick am I of cooking and preparing and eating. I'd stop eating all together if I felt I could deal with the hunger. But I've done fruit fasts before - eating nothing but fruit, and I always feel well when I do it. Right now it seems like the thing to do.

The past day or so I've come to accept my situation and grown a bit numb. Forced myself to get up and do a load of dishes, or take out the trash, before crawling back into bed, into my book, to get lost from the utter dullness of my own life. I am completely bored, tired and "over" my own existence. I feel like there is nothing more for me here, only my mind and the experiences I can have within books. My dog has been constantly in bed with me, crying if I don't bring her up into the loft to while away the hours. She's become the only thing in reality that I care about.

In my worst moments of despair, I came to the realization that all my desires for the love of another soul are pointless. No one can give me what I need, no one can mend my long-broken heart. No matter how many people love me, or how deeply, it will never be enough, and this has been the detriment of all my relationships - looking to that person to heal me, then becoming ever resentful that they can't, not being able to accept their full love, and finally disrespecting them for loving such a wretched creature as me. I know now that the only possibility of healing resides only within myself, and that it is not necessarily a possibility at all. I don't know that I'm capable of it. But for now it is enough to accept that I will never find it outside myself. I will never be able to accept love from another person until I have healed my own heart. And this is a kind of liberating thing, to let go of the dream of the knight in shining armour, the rescuer.

But it also comes with the keen awareness that I am, and have always been, awash in loneliness, ever since my heart was first fractured. Like the fish that is blind to the water that has always sustains it, I have been living in loneliness and unable to recognize it. Refusing to see it, acknowledge it. I have felt it but actively denied it at times. Now I realize that it has permeated my existence for so long, I am absolutely of it, and like the fish, cannot imagine what life is like above the surface. It has always been. I know there is a surface, I know there is clear air up there, but I don't know how to breathe it.

And so my thoughts returned to the purpose of my life, and I see that everything I've been doing has been mere distraction. The writing, the crafts, even most of the reading, though some of it has sparked progress on my true path, and I never know which books will do so. So the reading is not altogether pointless, so I continue to do it. It seems the only thing worth doing anyway, reading above eating even, seems like the thing to do.

I am paralyzed otherwise. I see the path, know I must only look within, follow perhaps my Buddhist practices, but even those I cannot find the will to do. Time has stopped. My singular life has stopped, lacks any purpose but to merely exist. And perhaps that is the beginning. I keep coming back to the phrase which has haunted me since I was a teenager, a phrase which I came upon in The Wizard of Earthsea. I don't know the exact wording, but it is something like: A man's path narrows until he comes to the point where the only thing he can do is what he must do. I've found new meanings in this quote over the years, and another one now. For I am in a prison - this body, this apartment which is so like a cell, this life which is now so constrained that at the moment I wonder if I have less freedom than a true prisoner, because I know I have less social contact! I am in near solitary confinement. Some of my limits are self-imposed, I could go out on the street and talk to people, but for what purpose? The real world is becoming meaningless, real people like ghosts, and I find this no longer frightens me like it has in the past. I don't fear losing my sanity in this isolation anymore. I don't know what has changed in me, but it is so. Perhaps it is that sanity has already left me.

And so, I wait. Until whatever is growing in me, whatever is dying away, has fully come to pass. I don't know my next steps, nor when they will come. For once this despair does not provoke the wish to die, even in the absence of a real will to live. I just go on breathing and wait, under some thrall of destiny. Wait for whatever is happening to my body to happen, and see what is left on the other side. What crawls out of this den, I will have to take my cues from that - will it be health and a rebirth into physical life? Or will it still be sickly and imprisoned? For once, it doesn't seem to matter. I only know that I have to go on for some reason, have to keep being and trying to find a way to be whole in spirit. I know that loneliness only exists because we resist the truth that we are one with everything. I don't have to leave these four walls to have all that there is. The only thing that stands in the way of communion is the self.

And yet the self holds fast with its last ounce of strength to its existence. It has such a fear - a FEAR - of opening and dissolving. Despite the agony of loneliness it fears liberation with utter desperation. I've felt this fear crawling and tearing through my body as I contemplated letting go. Such a paradox. Knowing there is nothing to fear, there is no death, only eternal life, and yet petrified anyway. Trying to convince itself through meaningless self-reference that it MUST continue to exist. And so I cannot overcome it, cannot let the light shine through it. Cannot dissolve and join with the All. And there, I am a prisoner only because I fear liberation! Paradox of fear.

Sartre was right - not about hell being other people, but about bad faith. We fear our own freedom so ultimately that we lock ourselves into prisons, and in my life, the walls of this prison have grown closer and closer even as they become more transparent. I can see through them completely at times. The walls are only made of fear. Fear, more than anything, has ruled my existence, created the loneliness in which I breathe and swim. Fear - the last obstacle, the dragon that must be slain. And little remains to fear now except the loss of the safety of these glass walls.

Am I crazed? I have never written a blog post like this, though I've written plenty of journal entries as vague and philosophical, many more despairing. It will be impossible for anyone who reads it to understand, I know. They will think I'm obsessed with death, that I've gone over the cliff of reason like Phaedrus. But it is life that obsesses me, really. Life to which I am committed, life that I've been fastened to by fate. There is something I am supposed to see, to come to know. And yet it's not clear if I will ever get there. Fear stands in the way like an immutable fortress. I have been propelled on this path always, only occasionally have embraced it fully. Most of the time I don't see the steps until they are past me, in hindsight. The only choice I have about it is to live in good or bad faith about it. Will I distract myself from it or seek it? And do I really have this choice at all? Over the cliff....

Saturday, February 06, 2010

I've been mostly grain-free for a month

I started on the Paleo Diet at the beginning of January, which is a grain-free diet. I have had a few chocolate bars, but only one bread product. I’ve noticed my fibro/myofascial pain in my legs has been significantly reduced, and as of today I’ve lost 5lbs and several inches on my bust, hips and waist. I have also had quite a bit more energy. All good reasons to continue! It was really hard at first to not eat the forbidden foods – which also include beans and potatoes, and I was afraid it would be really expensive, but things are going well. I’m eating a lot of fish, making chilis and stews and stirfries. There are probably a little grain products in some of the sauces I’m using – I can’t afford to replace them all with the expensive gluten-free products, but it has been enough to make a difference. I’ll be going dairy-free in another few days, replacing my coffee cream with almond milk.

Friday, February 05, 2010

Latest Measurements, Update

It's been about 3 weeks since I last measured. I'm having a lot less leg pain, well, except for today. Not sure what it's about today, but in general. I've had a few non-Paleo treats, but nothing like a binge. In a few days I will be cutting out the last of my dairy and replacing my coffee cream with almond milk.

Weight: 212lb
Chest: 45 inches
Waist: 41.5
Hips: 47

I've lost an inch or inch and a half on each measurement! Pretty impressive. Wonder where it is going though, since I've only lost 3lbs? LOL

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Body Measurements

I've already started to lose weight, so I'd better put up my measurements!

Weight (clothed): 215 lb
Bust: 46.5 inches
Waist: 43 inches
Hips: 49 inches

Can't think of anything else to measure that's as important as those. I'm not going to measure each leg and arm, that seems a bit excessive.

Just for fun, my shoe size is 8.5. I don't expect that to change ;p

What is the Paleo Diet?

I've had a lot of positive responses to my last post, and a lot of questions about the Paleo Diet. Also called the Paleolithic, Caveman, Hunter-Gatherer or Primal Diet, it's a way of eating that returns to our pre-agricultural menu. It's a low-carb diet, with no grains and most beans. The rule of thumb to go by - if you can't eat it raw, it's not allowed. That includes grains like wheat and rice, potatoes, and legumes - all of which are toxic to the body when in raw form, and only less so when cooked. I really reccommend the book I'm reading right now - called Going Against the Grain. It's based on scientific research and shows how grain consumption is behind the health epidemics in Western society.

For an introduction to the ideas behind the Paleo Diet, please read this web page: http://www.earth360.com/diet_paleodiet_balzer.html

For more resources on the Paleo Diet, go to Paleodiet.com - it's an entire page of links and books etc. As far as I can surmise from this page, the best books on the subject are the one I'm reading, The Paleo Diet (Cordain) and the Primal Blueprint. They're all available from Amazon. I'll be ordering The Paleo Diet and some books on how to cook vegetables and how to use herbs. Eventually I may get the Primal Blueprint and Good Calories, Bad Calories.

I do think I have more energy the past few days that I've been entirely grain free. I've actually been sitting up at my kitchen table to eat and work/play on the web, which is something I haven't done in the past year at all. I didn't even do this consciously, it just looked like a good thing to do and eventually I realized what a big step it was!

I'm getting used to sleeping on the oxycocet - normally the codeine keeps me awake, but I went for so long without sleeping, I think my body got the idea that it better learn to fall asleep on it if it wanted to sleep at all. Last night, I woke up in the middle of the night in pain, took another oxycocet, and after about 45 minutes was able to get back to sleep. This is the first time in about 10 days I've been able to sleep when its dark outside. I'm not saying this improvement has anything to do with my diet, but it's important for me to keep a record of everything!

The more I read Going Against the Grain, the more I want to recommend it to everyone, especially anyone with chronic illness. The evidence really does point towards our grain consumption causing many of our health problems. I'm not sure how much pain reduction it will result in, but I am convinced I will lose weight and have more energy. Also, the author herself had chronic fatigue syndrome and discovered that going grain-free was her cure. So, in my opinion, it's worth reading, even if you don't decide to go grain-free.

by Lierre Keith (link to Goodreads). I have gotten some grief in the past about not being vegetarian, and the Paleo Diet is definitely not vegetarian! I would like to read this book to support my decision and also to be able to defend myself against more challenges. Though I expect my health improvements to be the only justification I need.

Monday, January 11, 2010

The Year of Desperate Measures

So. I was going to start a whole 'nother blog to chronicle my health progress this year. But geez, I already have a Tumblr, Facebook, this blog...and a caringbridge health site. I thought about doing it on the caringbridge site, but I've decided to do it here. All in one place is good for me, and this blog doesn't get enough posts anyway.

Here's the story:

On Dec 29, my pain doctor informed me that he was dumping most of his patients, including me. He didn't say it like that, of course, he said he was 'changing the focus of his practice'. He's only going to be seeing new clients for diagnostic purposes only, and keep his current clients only if they are on certain medications. I was on one of these, but since it wasn't helping that much, and increasing the dosage would result in the bad side effects I had last year, he decided not to give it to me anymore. He then told me I was "stuck" and my only options were 'natural therapies'. As if I can afford those.

Needless to say, I was unhappy. I felt betrayed and like he'd given up on me. He sent me away with a 3 month prescription for oxycocet and a letter for my GP saying he might want to try clonazepam to help me sleep (since I've tried everything else and it doesn't work). I have used it in the past, and didn't really like it, but I'm pretty desperate. Yes, desperate is how I felt the few days after my appointment. What was I to do?

Gradually I stopped focusing on my anger and started to come up with solutions. I can't afford massages, acupuncture, chiropractic or any other treatment like that. But I might be able to change my diet, and take a few more supplements - if I stopped seeing my psychotherapist. She's in Toronto like my pain doctor, but the medical transportation costs were only covered to see him, not her. So I can't go see her. She's been on vacation, so I haven't told her the news yet, but I talk to her on Wednesday. I can't say this is a great thing, she has helped me so much, and she's pretty much the only person I talk to about my problems (aside from my online friends). But on the other hand, it will free up some money so I can afford a couple more supplements and healthier groceries.

In that department, I've decided to go on the Paleolithic diet. It's based on what our hunter-gatherer ancestors ate, what humans have evolved to survive on. We aren't genetically capable of digesting grains very well. So this diet will be grain free and dairy free. I have yet to get a copy of the Paleo Diet book, but I'm currently reading Going Against the Grain, which describes why grains are so bad for us, and how they contribute to the epidemics of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease in our culture. It's a pretty radical diet from the standard person's point of view, but it's a low-carb diet, which I already know is helpful for me for losing weight.

I told myself on New Years I was going to make this huge switch - the Paleo diet, daily yoga & meditation, quitting smoking...but I failed to do those things because it was giving up too much. I felt like I was asking myself to give up my best friends - being so poor and isolated, some of my greatest pleasures have been food and drink (like coffee, not alcohol). I was miserable at the thought, and I failed to quit smoking.

Since then, I have slowly started shifting my diet. I made a big pot of chili (without the beans - they have the same issues as grains), and have been eating eggs with spinach and some bacon for breakfast. I've had trouble giving up coffee, and I'm still smoking, but at least I feel like this is manageable. It's too much to ask for me to become a different person overnight.

So I'm starting by focusing on what I eat. I think it will make a big difference on its own. I'll soon be taking some measurements and posting them so I can track any body changes that happen as a result.

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Disclaimer

I sometimes write things that I don't really mean or believe. These are not to be taken literally, nor as definitive statements about me or my beliefs. Thoughts and emotions are transient, and I reserve the right to change my mind, generalize, exaggerate, give strong opinions, or write other possibly offensive statements. I don't lie, but I may say something that's not true to check whether I believe it or not, or to make a point. Call it creative license. This is my blog, and do have the right to say what I want. I'm using it in creatively therapeutic ways. Whatever the reader may think of me and my words, please believe that my core intentions are always good and I never willingly hurt anyone.