Sunday, September 26, 2021

Too lazy to switch on my laptop

So I'm going to do something I don't much like doing and post from my phone. Perhaps it will help me to be more concise. 

This week has been a bit up and down. I had my first online yoga class on Monday and once again was filled with horror (and shame) at how restricted my body is when it comes to movement. Mind you, when we did the first downward facing dog I thought I'd never manage (and that was my favourite the one other time I did yoga years ago), but it sort of worked. Getting out of it again was tough. But by the end of the hour, when we had done it four or five times, it actually was getting a bit better. So, not entirely hopeless. 

Similar to my experience with tai chi, I wasn't able to even pretend to flow from one movement to the next but I did my best with just stopping one thing and repositioning for the next. I've arranged with the yoga teacher to have a private one-on-one session so that she can actually see what I'm able to do and give me some advice on alternative movements and so on. I am feeling a bit proud of myself for that.

On Wednesday, for our optifast sport unit we walked to the river and then had to walk 20 minutes in one direction and then 20 minutes back, trying to maintain the same pace. I was surprised that I was actually able to walk for 40 minutes in one go. Well, ok, I did have a two-minute break but I didn't sit down for it. I was feeling pretty stiff by the end, though. Between that 40 minutes and walking to and from the river, we walked for almost a full hour. 

I mean, on the one hand, I wouldn't have been able to do that three months ago. On the other, it did me no favours since my back (the lower right-hand side/hip that's been so much trouble the past couple of years) seized up a bit overnight and I ended up calling in sick to work. I stayed home on Friday as well - and am feeling very guilty about that because I feel like I probably could have pushed through it. But I just couldn't find the mental wherewithal. I know it was probably the right thing to do but still. The guilt. 

On the positive side, over the weekend, I've been productively pottering and it feels great to finally be far enough out of the hole of depression I was living in for over a year that I am just randomly doing things that have been lying around for ages. I even did my washing yesterday and was astonished at the fact that when I thought about doing it, less than an hour later the first wash was down in the machine. And it even included the bed clothes. I can't even count the number of weekends where I spent a substantial amount of time trying to convince myself to bring washing down and didn't manage to do it until two weeks later I was about to run out of clean knickers. So I'm not as lazy as I always hate myself for being. Depression really is a hell of an illness.

So, here are some little things for me to add to the list the next time I log in on a computer:
- Got the washing done and hung to dry on Saturday. Including bedclothes.
- Cut back the marjoram and the long dead sunflowers, dill and coriander AND brought the bucket straight down to the organic waste bin.
- Also brought down the glass from the photoframe I broke two weeks ago and put it in the glass bin.
- Aired duvet on clothes horse in front of wide open windows with the sun shining in
- Watered all the plants and even added seeweed extract fertiliser to the water.
- Signs of life from someone special.
- Set up sunrise alarm clock
- Thought about doing a face mask. And then did it.

* The photos are of my Dracaema Singularis. Couldn't figure out how to add captions to pictures in the app. 

Friday, September 17, 2021

Plans for the weekend

The week has flown by, another week full of activity. I discussed this a bit with my counsellor this morning and she's going to work on it with me over the next few months. I'm handling everything pretty well at the moment but the overwhelm never feels very far away and I'd really like to try and work on learning to catch it and pull back on doing so many things before it goes too far and I'm back to not being able to do much of anything at all. Having said that, I'm pretty sure I'm going to try going back to choir when the winter semester kicks off in a few weeks. 

Random photo of an interesting plant, Lithops gesinae or stone plant. That's not just a little orange flower growing in a stone, the whole thing is the plant.

This weekend I have some translating to do - about eight hours worth and I'd like to get most, if not all, of it done so that I don't need to worry about it on Monday after my first yoga session. I also want to finish painting the office, which I started a few weeks ago and have gone back to ignoring since. I've done the bulk of the hard work so I really need to get back and finish it. The corners and edges are finished up as high as I can reach myself so I just need to get on the ladder, fill in the foot or two above that and then get the roller out. 

And from a TOMM point of view, Saturday will have to be my Thursday. I realised yesterday that I am not going to have time on Thursday evenings to do anything at home since tai chi doesn't finish until after nine and I don't get home until about ten past ten. That's already a good hour and a bit past my preferred bedtime and there is realistically very little chance I am ever going to feel like doing housework at that stage of the evening. Clearly, finding a half-an-hour every weekday evening for TOMM if I am also out every weekday evening is going to be challenging. I may need to sit down with a pen and paper and figure out exactly how I want to tackle it. It's mostly feeling like moving it, or at least most of it, to mornings before work will be the better option. That worked befores. Except on days I overslept. Some more ruminating is needed, methinks.

Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Dust as far as the eye can see

Housekeeping has been a very sore spot for a long time now. I was delighted to find The Organised Mum Method and app and I have used it more consistently that just about any other plan I ever came up with. However, after a good burst of starting to get back to it earlier this year, my back was so sore that I did nothing for a couple of months. Looking back through my app history I can see that I actually started on 14 November 2020 and kept going up to 31 March 2021. Then I picked it up again from 24 April to 25 May. That is more than I thought I had done. And on some days I even finished everything on the list. So, the background clutter wasn't really getting touched, but the day-to-day was getting done and no new clutter being added. 

Bits and bobs from shelves/window sill etc. in the bedroom
 At any rate, in mid-June I contacted the concierge service offered by work and asked them to find me a cleaning lady to come and do a deep clean. Unfortunately, I kept expecting it to be "any day now" and it ended up taking them a couple of months. Since my back was still pretty bad and I was generally feeling overwhelmed and not able to anything, I've just been letting the dust gather and doing just enough to maintain some basic hygiene in the bathroom and kitchen at least. 

Finally, on Sunday, after having the date moved twice, someone came and spent about four and a half hours cleaning. She was supposed to be there for five but after three hours I was already feeling very uncomfortable having someone I didn't know in MY SPACE, so I chopped a few things off the planned list and she left after four and a half hours. She seemed to think by the time she left that we were great friends, whereas I had landed more on the side of hope-to-never-see-you-again. A kind of strange person, not the best cleaner, but she did manage to deal with an awful lot of dust and I am managing to calm down a bit two days later and just appreciate the fact that she dusted things that I haven't even looked at for months or years.

The space in front of the dresser was full with boxes and bags of stuff - literally up to the drawers and about as far out as that black stool. You can see the marks in the dust!

It also forced me to deal with some of that background clutter. Now, I didn't manage to actually declutter and sort everything, but I did move most of it over to my other apartment/office. I will try to finish painting that this weekend and then start tackling the piles of bags and boxes one at a time. After already renting it for more than a year, it's time I had more than just one lonely table and chair in there! While the cleaner was here on Sunday, I mostly tried tackling my writing desk, which has become yet another incarnation of the Table of Doom

Bits and bobs from sitting room

I did loads of sorting, gathered a big bag of paper to recyle, almost filled six plastic boxes, and it still looks very much like a Table of Doom. So the plan is to first finish painting the office, but also to spend any spare TOMM time working on clearing my writing desk. I'll be most likely reverting to my old scheme of 3 Little Things to get it done. I started with the boxes of stuff that were lying around on shelves or window sills or the tops of cupboards and am making some good progress so far.

When it is all done, I can move the writing desk, and a small set of shelves and drawers over to the office, which will give me loads of space in my sitting room. I'd like to move the table down towards the window but can't quite decide where to move the couch to in order to get that done. We'll see.

Monday, August 30, 2021

I painted! But this getting fit thing takes up a lot of time

Well, I'm halfway through week 5 of the optifast program. Weightloss is going well and I'm not particularly suffering from pangs of hunger at all. Just every now and again when I haven't planned properly or something strange happens, usually with public transport. Like yesterday when I switched to wait for my tram - I had just missed one but the next was due in 12 minutes. And then none actually turned up for more than 40 minutes. Very unusual for here but it meant that I was more than an hour later getting home than planned. But it is definitely good to have a small amount of delayed gratification when it comes to hunger. Reminds me that I don't have to stop at the closest takeaway or restaurant or shop to get something to eat just because I'm starting to feel hunger. My well-nourished first world self could probably survive just fine with nothing to eat for a few days and can certainly manage an hour or two if things don't go to plan. That doesn't mean I won't try to avoid those situations, but it's a good reminder to try and keep in my head.

Leaves are hard to paint

I still don't much care for the sports therapist we're working with. At the moment he is solely focused on us measuring our heart rate and learning to recognise when we're entering the exercise zone* - whereas I am delighted and proud every time I actually do any kind of movement. Because compared to six months ago, when I was just starting to go swimming/aquajogging again and after one not-very-successful attempt was instructed to not try to do more than five minutes at a time to start with, the fact that I have built up to nearly an hour makes me feel pretty good about myself. Also, I bought the cheapest fitness watch I could find (€20) and it's ridiculously bad at measuring my pulse and I am really resenting having to buy another one (€40) for something I am not the least bit interested in having to use.

At the moment, I am doing one session of rehab sport per week (45 mins) on Wednesday mornings before work. Then on Wednesday evenings there's the hour of sport that is part of the optifast program - so far that has been walking. On Thursday evenings after work I've been doing aquajogging, which I really do love so much. Because of COVID restrictions the classes are only half-an-hour long but I try to get there as early as possible so that I can swim up and down for five or ten minutes before we start and try and sneak in another five minutes when we're finished, too. Being the last out of the pool after aquajogging means that the changing rooms are less crowded by the time I get there. 

I've signed up to start an online yoga course offered by work starting at the end of September. The in person class was on Wednesdays, so no use to me. And when talking about different sports with the optifast group, I was reminded of tai chi, which I did years ago and really liked. I vaguely remember looking for a class when I moved here and finding nothing. When I googled again recently, there are in fact three different tai chi schools here. How did I miss that? Anyway, I was thinking perhaps it would be too much but then a couple of days later they listed a beginners course starting this week and taking place on Thursday but later, so that it would be easy to get to after aquajogging. And today I signed up. Hopefully the next three weeks, with that double commitment on Thursdays won't take too much out of me. After that aquajogging is over and when it starts up again in October, it will be indoor and I have signed up for the Friday sessions.

Anyone keeping count? I think that should give me a better spread because at the moment, by the time Friday comes around I am tired and have no interest in doing any sport, or honestly, moving at all. 

Current timetable

  • Monday: nothing
  • Tuesday: nothing
  • Wednesday: rehab sport (morning), optifast (evening)
  • Thursday: aquajogging (evening, after work), tai chi (evening, after aquajogging)
  • Friday: local choir for one hour every two weeks
  • Saturday: nothing (but I try to tell myself I'll do some time on the exercise bike - so far this has happened once)
  • Sunday: nothing

Future timetable (from end September/mid-October)

  • Monday: yoga (online, evenings)
  • Tuesday: nothing (kind of wanting to start going back to uni choir, which would be 2.5 hours on Tuesday evenings)
  • Wednesday: rehab sport (morning), optifast (evening)
  • Thursday: tai chi (evening)
  • Friday: aquajogging (evening, after work), local choir for one hour every two weeks (later evening)
  • Saturday: nothing (but I try to tell myself I'll do some time on the exercise bike - so far this has happened once)
  • Sunday: nothing

This was supposed to be a sunset reflected in water

So, yeah, that feels like a lot. Especially considering the fact that I haven't been able to persuade myself to do much of anything outside work for the past couple of years. So far, I'm holding up ok though. 

I even went to a watercolours workshop last Friday. It was so much fun and although I'm not very good, it was enough fun and interesting enough that I'll keep trying things out at home, I think.

It got waaay better once we layered trees and stuff on it. Let's ignore the tree whose shadow is twice as wide as the actual tree. LOL

I can see myself getting as obsessed with making tiny thin brushstrokes as a good friend of mine who paints is. The one you see on this picture was done by the teacher using the exact same paintbrush as me. 

Anyway, not quite prizewinning, but definitely good enough to hang on the fridge.

I have booked a cleaning lady to come and do a deep clean on my apartment, which hasn't been getting more than a lick and a promise for several months now. My back was just too sore and I couldn't find my way out of the hole I was in. By now, I've caught up on all the washing up, caught up on the washing, and have gotten a bit more decluttering done. The plan is for her to clean the entire place and that should leave me feeling more capable of getting back to trying to TOMM every week day. 

I don't think this level of activity is genuinely sustainable in the long-run, but I have promised myself that I will really put a lot of effort into losing weight and, more importantly, gaining health and fittness this year. We'll see how things pan out over the next few months.




*There are technical terms for the different zones and formulas for working out your own range for each of them but I'm too lazy now to go and look at my notebook.

Wednesday, August 18, 2021

Find the positives

I really should start filling out my little things list again. I don't do it half as often in my head as I'd like to think I do. And today has started as a dull and dreary one, so a bit of positivity is sorely needed.

To start off with, I think it needs its own post. So, it is currently 8:10, I am at work and I already have two things to list. 

  1. My belt is now reliably closing on the second hole every time. Extreme bloating over the last couple of months meant I had been using the very first one. Now, I can even close it on the third, although it's not quite very comfortable yet.
  2. I have a busy day ahead of me, with several appointments and things to do (apart from work) so I ended up carrying three different bags this morning. When I switched to the bus that is normally very crowded, one of the weird too-big-for-one-person, too-small-for-two-people seats was free, so I got to sit with my bags comfortably beside me instead of trying to balance it all on my knee.
  3. let's see how the day progressess ...

Friday, August 06, 2021

The fasting begins

Day one of our 12-week fasting phase started with a bang with me completely forgetting to bring one of the shaker things with me to work. I'll just had to do it the old-fashioned way yesterday and use a fork. Not optimal but it worked well enough. I think I'll buy a couple of small whisks for the office kitchen. And today I brought one of the shakers with me and it was much easier.

Food for the week

Yesterday went pretty well. I was only a little bit hungry a few times throughout the day but that is what is supposed to happen. When you sit down to eat lunch or dinner, it is normal for you to feel hungry. I've worked on that one and off over the last few years. Learning to hold back and not immediately reach for something the very second I feel hungry. There is, of course, the old Weight Watchers trick "if you feel hungry, drink a glass of water, do something to occupy yourself and wait twenty minutes". The idea being that many people don't recognise thirst anymore and think they're hungry when really they are started to need some hydration. 

The amount of liquid we are supposed to consume in addition to our five meal replacements is definitely a challenge. At least 3 litres every day. I have a 750ml bottle in work and normal fill that with water once in the morning and once after lunch. To drink three litres in a day, I'll need to fill it at least three times. That's 2.25l and then if I have a cup of tea or two at home in the evening, I'm just about there. I managed to get to 2.85l yesterday but I did end up having to get up a couple of times to go to the toilet during the night so my sleep was a bit disturbed. This morning I drank a mug of water before leaving the house. But I had therapy before work and since I started later, I'm still drinking my first bottle of water. I'm not going to kill myself with trying to do it every single day and if I don't manage it, I'm sure I'll still survive. I'm glad that water is what I normally drink anyway. I'll miss being able to drink milk but very glad that fizzy drinks are more of a once or twice a year thing for me. And of course having to quit drinking caffeine years ago because of migraines is undoubtedly a big advantage now. 

In really positive news, I managed to kill two mosquitos in my apartment last night, and don't appear to have any new bites today. The ones I collected over the past three or four days are mostly all looking red and swollen. That happens every few years and I've never managed to actually look up if it more related to the mosquitos being particularly horrible that year, or my skin/body is just reacting more that year.

In terms of appetite, the other thing I noticed yesterday was that once or twice during the day I really, really wanted to eat something. Not that I was hungry. But that I really wanted to be engaging in the physical act of eating. Interesting. We are allowed to chew a small amount of chewing gum (some gums, not all) but were also advised to try and keep it to a minimum, since chewing activates all sorts of signals relating to hunger and that's what we don't need at the moment. I'm going to try and make it to the recommended six-week mark before starting to do fancy things like adding (certain) herbs or spices to the soups, or lemon juice or ginger to my water, and I think I'll do the same with chewing gum. That one remains to be seen. 

In the plans for this weekend is tackling all of the washing up that has somehow built up again over the past week or so. Then I want to give the kitchen a bit of a scrub and enjoy the feeling of a clear and clean space for the next while. I'm excited to restart my store cupboard slowly and make sure in future to really only get the stuff I know I will use.

Happy Friday everyone!

Wednesday, August 04, 2021

Last day of eating food for a while

Today is the last day I will be eating actual food for a while. More than a year after I actually signed up, and after Corona-related postponement after postponement, last Wednesday the 52-week Optifast weightloss programme at my local hospital finally started. This evening is the second meeting, which means this evening I get to collect my first order of meal replacements and starting tomorrow, for a period of 12 weeks, I will be be eating five of those every day. We did a taste-test last week and I have to admit I was underwhelmed by the soups on offer. I had had such high hopes for the leek and potato. And I had a cup-a-soup just a few weeks ago, so it's not like I have an incredibly high bar for comparison. Still, I will be glad to have something warm on occasion, I'm sure. 

Today, I told everyone in work about it to ask for their support, warn them/apologise in advance in case the next few weeks bring a very moody or easily distracted Moonwaves, and to let them know that there will be no more sweets/cakes/treats to be found in my office. It's somewhat traditional for the secretary to have a bowl of treat out, for example in the run-up to Christmas. And I asked them specifically to just not let me know if someone bakes a cake and brings it in to share. While ultimately my success will be up to me, I am fully embracing the attitude of make everybody else help, too.

Forgot to take a photo this morning,
this is after the pile has been raided.

 In return, anyone who wants has the opportunity today to take any of the remaining storecupboard stuff I had. Despite my efforts to eat the cupboards down, I still managed to fill two large shopping bags. And I have to admit I also threw out more than one packet of sooooo far past its best before date, I'd better not risk giving it to someone else, items. My boss is going to take a small basket of things into care (olive oil, the good balsamic vinegar and that kind of thing), hide it somewhere and give it back to me when I start to incorporate proper food again. That will start happening at the end of October. 

After the 12 weeks of just meal replacements are over, we begin a transition phase, in which we slowly start to replace the meal replacements with actual food again. And that will bring us up to Christmas. Possibly not the best timing for the first two weeks of the stabilisation phase to be over Christmas and New Year but I'm sure it'll be fine. 

Obviously food is not the only component to play a role when it comes to dealing with serious obesity and eating disorders and this programme also involves a 3-hour appointment every week. There's a talk on some aspect of nutrition and group therapy. I think at the beginning these two sort of blend into one another and the psychologist and the nutrition advisor are both there at the same time. We get weighed and have a check-up with the doctor. And at the end, there is an hour to an hour and a half of sport. Gentle stuff like walking at the start, moving on to pilates, yoga, nordic walking and so on in the later months. The idea being to try out a good few different things and hopefully find things you like to do. About five times throughout the year there are longer appointments where a full blood workup and body fat analysis and so on are done. 

From a financial point of view, at €3,400 for the year, it's not exactly cheap. You are supposed to pay in instalments but I asked to be allowed to pay the whole thing up front and have done that. I just don't want to have to remake the decision every month to keep going. That feels more like pressure to me than an opportunity to choose the commitment again and I am fully leaning into doing whatever it is that will make this work. I have now been very overweight for most of the past thirty years. I think for a few months in 1996/1997 I managed to maintain around 85kg (about 188lbs for any foreigners here, or a bit less than 13.5 stone) for a while and that is the lightest I have been since I was a child. Honestly, I would be thrilled if I were able to reach that again, but at this stage, I'll take any sustainable weightloss I can manage. 

So, it has been a strange couple of weeks as I haven't much felt up to cooking but kept buying things to make x one last time, and y just once more. I've ended up having some strange combinations and because I normally try to be aware of portion size, it has been really weird to be erring more on the side of "well, I'll have more since I need to use it up". I'm glad it has felt so weird though, as it kind of proves to me that I have learnt a lot over the years, especially during the time I spent seeing a nutritionist on a weekly basis a few years ago. For posterity's sake, here's what's on the menu for today: 

Breakfast was:
Scrambled eggs and tomato with toast (3 eggs, 1 tomato, 2 slices of toast, some butter)
Oh, I also finished the crisps (about one very large handful), had three chocolate digestive biscuits, and a large mug of milk 

Snacks on my desk for throughout the day:
The last of the mixed nuts and sultanas
1.5 bars of ritter sport with cornflakes
1 banana
1 apple 

Lunch will be:
The last of the fresh veg, which I chopped and sautéed in olive oil this morning, then mixed with the last of the cream cheese.
2 small courgettes, 4 scallions, 2 small leeks, 1 tiny carrot, cherry tomatoes. I'll have that with some leftover chicken.
Oh, and I have the last few pieces of kimchi from a tin I opened at the weekend. 

With all of that, and considering our meeting will go from five to eight o'clock, I don't think I'll have or need dinner. Although I am going to try and make an appearance at a colleague's retirement dinner after the meeting, so I may be tempted to have some falafel there. We'll see.