Sunday, March 11, 2018

The quest for 40 percent

It's no secret that I hate my body. I've been at war with my body for most of my life, hating just about everything about it. Early-onset arthritis, spinal stenosis, and SI joint dysfunction have been making me miserable for years and they're getting worse. Those conditions have been getting significantly worse for me for the past few years. I'm bitter about that because, historically, I have taken good care of myself. My body has not returned the favor.

My husband thinks I should stop complaining and go to the doctor, specifically, for my knees. Fourteen months ago, I fell knees-first onto a granite cobblestone crosswalk in Mexico. I twisted my ankle in the process, and ended up with some of the worst swelling and bruising I've ever seen on my body. I could only wear flip-flops for a week. When I got home, my doctor ordered an x-ray and was visibly surprised to learn I had not broken my patella. She did point out that, unrelated to the injury, my knee joint was rapidly deteriorating. I have done nothing about it since, and 13 months on, my knee is still painful and swollen. I didn't know swelling could last that long.
My bruised and swollen ankle in Mexico.

My leg, eight days after I fell.
 Back in November, the hamstring on my "good" leg started to tighten up and hurt. I stretched, I massaged, I stretched some more. Despite this, while pulling on a pair of yoga pants, I landed off-kilter, heard a frightening popping sound, felt white-hot pain shoot through my knee, lost my balance, crashed into the wall, broke out in a sweat, became instantly nauseated and almost fainted. I couldn't put weight on my knee for a week, having torn its medial collateral ligament. They don't do surgery on that one--it's just three or four months of rest and healing. In my case, there were ice packs, large doses of ibuprofen combined with Tylenol, and a small fortune spent on lidocaine patches. I wouldn't say it's healed (since it hurts a lot), but it's functionally better.

I'm still in significant pain, but I refuse to go to the doctor. Here's why. I know that my weight is an issue and I will be scolded for being fat. This will color any evaluation the doctor makes. Fat aggravates arthritis--I know that. I don't need to be told that. My goal is to be not so overweight the next time I ask for a doctor's help, so toward that end (and ending my pain), I'm dieting.

Yes, I'm dieting once again. My goal is to drop 40 percent of my body weight, or approximately 80 pounds. This will put me at such an indisputably healthy weight that not even the most egregiously fat-shaming doctor will be able to give me a hard time. Until then, I limp. And eat bacon.

Enter keto

I've lost 18 pounds since Thanksgiving. That's a blazing one-pound-a-week weight loss, I know. It's what I've typically done on diets in the past, but this time, I'm not so bitter about it and here's why: Keto.

If you're unfamiliar, keto is a high-fat, moderate-protein, minuscule carbohydrate diet.  I get 75-80 percent of my daily calories from healthy fats and, most days, I consume fewer than 20 grams of carbohydrates. No sugar, no flour, no grains, no fruit, no root vegetables, no pasta, no bread, no low-fat dairy. What I do eat: Lots of avocados. Eggs. Cheese (cheese!!!). Bacon. Fish. Cauliflower. Nuts. Cacao butter. Hemp seeds. Chicken. Turkey. Broccoli. Green beans. Spinach. Heavy cream. Sour cream. Butter. Gobs of coconut oil. Vodka.

I am never hungry. Sometimes, I go 24 hours without eating. It's not painful because I'm not hungry. I'm not resentful about dieting because, although it's painfully slow, I'm losing weight--and I'm never hungry.

Bonus: A high-fat diet is supposed to be good for the brain. It turns out that most of what we've been told about nutrition is flat-out wrong. If you take carbohydrates out of your diet, you need to replace it with something. If that something is just lots of protein, your body will store whatever it can't immediately process as fat. Your cholesterol level is largely determined by genetics and, to a smaller extent, exercise.

The ketogenic diet has been around for about 100 years. It was developed specifically to help epileptics, and it's still used that way therapeutically. It also stabilizes blood sugar and there are legions of diabetics who have been prescribed this diet. Once you get the hang of it, there's really no downside to keto. I do have to take a daily fiber supplement, high-potency magnesium, and I drink an electrolyte solution as part of my everyday two-liter water intake. I check my blood ketones every few days. My body refuses to go into a highly ketogenic state, preferring instead, apparently, to lollygag at the low end of the ketosis spectrum, down in the light-green zone. That's OK--I'm still burning fat and losing weight. Slowly.

I'm not celebrating my 18-pound weight loss. I've been here before. I have a long way to go. I went pants shopping yesterday and haven't even dropped a size yet (because my body despises me). It was a bracing reminder that I have a lot more work to do before I have any right to feel good about myself.

So, we'll see. If I lose a pound a week, that's 52 pounds in a year. Add another 15 weeks/pounds to get us to this time next year, and I'll be within a few pounds of my goal then. I hope my knees are still functioning enough so I can still walk by then, and if I can, I will walk into the doctor's office and maybe be lectured about waiting too long to seek help, but I will not be lectured or admonished for being fat.

Monday, January 8, 2018

Addiction is a choice

My husband and I have watched "Intervention" on A&E since it first came on 12 years ago. We have both known, and currently know, addicts. We still don't get it.

Frank and I consider ourselves to be empathetic and compassionate people, but between us, we can't seem to work up any feelings of sadness or sympathy for addicts. None. How is addiction not a personal choice? This is my question.

I understand that people take prescription medications and come to depend on them. Once they realize they're dependent, though, don't they have a choice? Can't they say to the prescribing physician, "This drug doesn't work for me. Is there another treatment that will address my chronic pain?" If surgery pain has subsided and the patient still wants the drugs, isn't it a choice to go find a heroin dealer and pay money to continue to get high instead of saying to the doctor, "I can't seem to stop wanting these pills"? If not, how is pursuing feeding the addiction instead of getting professional help not a personal decision, an independent choice? Who is holding a gun to that person's head and saying, "Use the money you have to buy heroin. Don't use it to see a medical professional who can help you through the withdrawal process." That gun-pointing person isn't there. Rather, the person has decided that however substance abuse makes him or her feel, they feel it's more important to make the choice to pursue that direction instead of going with a different option.

I understand how reward centers in the brain work, but I don't believe they force anyone to drink, shoot up, smoke, or keep gambling. That's just a choice of option A over option B.

People get sober when they want to, and if they don't want to, no treatment will be effective. It's a choice. If I'm wrong, please explain how addiction is an external force and not just an internally motivated personal unwillingness to be sober.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Color me skeptical

Things I think are bullshit nonsense:

  • Trickle down economics
  • Essential oils
  • Chiropractic
  • Cupping
  • Cleanses
  • Acupuncture
  • Apple cider vinegar as a cure for everything
  • Tapping EFT
  • Copper jewelry as cure for anything
  • Magnets as a cure for anything
  • Reiki
  • Pineal eye
  • Prayer
  • Deities
  • Prophets 
  • Astrology, horoscopes
  • Electromagnetic hypersensitivity
  • Most supplements
  • Crystal "energy"
  • Chakras
  • Sage rituals
  • Homeopathy (don't get me started on this one)
 This list is not exhaustive.




Friday, December 2, 2016

Sent to me by my mom

My mom sent me this thought. She gets it, especially in relation to my racist relatives.

Thursday, December 1, 2016


I've been thinking about this a lot lately. I'm far from perfect, but I am decent. I'm more than decent. I make a conscious effort to be nice to people, to be kind, and not intentionally to hurt anyone's feelings. As I've gotten older, I've become better at recognizing the difference between someone's bad mood versus his or her conscious decision to speak to me in a demeaning, dismissive, insulting, condescending, hostile, or hurtful way. Generally, I'm very perceptive about what other people are trying to communicate, but I always give the benefit of the doubt. Maybe she's having a bad day. Maybe he's really stressed about something and this is misplaced hostility or transference. Maybe he didn't sleep well. Maybe she has an undiagnosed brain tumor.

Eventually, I do run out of patience, close up shop, and walk away. I've done this my entire life--faster if someone kicks me when I'm down. I'm very good at moving on. When I feel like someone is blatantly treating me with intentional disrespect, why would I stick around? I'm really hard on myself--I don't need that coming from external sources, too.

As 2016 winds down, I'm reflecting on this being the year I refused to let anyone keep undermining my dignity for their own emotional bump. Sorry. No. Bullies and emotional manipulators will no longer be tolerated.

If I don't kill myself, I figure I have, what, 20 or 25 years of life left. That's precious little time to accommodate the mean-spirited and condescending barbs of the disdainful.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

I'm terrified

Things I have googled in the last 24 hours:
  • Overseas jobs
  • New Zealand immigration
  • Americans in Mexico
  • How much does it cost to forfeit US citizenship
  • Best places to retire outside US
I'll probably be out of a job within the year since the president-elect has repeatedly stated he wants to keep out refugees. Hiring Steve Bannon as a top policy advisor seems to make that a more assured reality. Who would have thought that's how my career would end?

I wrote this earlier this week:

I think what I'm struggling with most is that it's all going to be gone, like it never existed: A recovering economy, climate change mitigations, free speech, a free and independent press, religious freedom (unless you identify yourself as a white conservative Christian), immigration, humanitarian programs that give a hand up to the most vulnerable, Social Security, consumer protections, workplace safety standards, environmental protections, a balanced Supreme Court, women's reproductive rights, LGBQT advances, sensible foreign policy, firearm background checks, due process, medical care available to all and not just the wealthy, all of it.
All of it. It's all going away in the next four years, but somehow that makes America great again in some people's minds. I can barely breathe. I can't believe people actually champion those changes. Hitler is back and people are happy about the prospect of implementing Fascism led by a rapist. It is mind boggling. I still think Margaret Atwood's "The Handmaid's Tale" should be required reading for anyone over the age of 18. It's supposed to be a cautionary tale, but I get it that a lot of people consider it a how-to manual.

This prompted readers to say things like, "Oh, you're being dramatic." "Don't write the obituary yet." Let's give the benefit of the doubt." "It's going to be fine, we're stronger than anything the incoming administration can come up with." "He'll surround himself with good people."

I don't think Steve Bannon is a good person. I don't think the followers of his doctrine are good people. Kellyanne the Trump spinner said that journalists and media outlets need to be really careful what they say about Trump, seeming to warn that no criticism would be tolerated--it would be litigated. 

My week of reading finished with Masha Greene's article in the New York Review of Books about surviving an autocracy. I cried.

I don't think I can stay here. I am terrified.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

That's what I meant

A friend posted this on Facebook. It is pretty much exactly what I've been thinking this week. I would post it on my regular page, but I understand that the people who should read it, are exactly the ones who won't bother. Their hubris, their lack of self-awareness runs too deep.

http://usuncut.news/2016/11/11/op-ed-an-open-letter-to-the-facebook-friends-and-family-ive-lost-this-week/

Friday, November 11, 2016

Self-preservation, Part 2: The Echo Chamber

I'm trying a different approach with the Facebook thing. I didn't delete my old account, I just deactivated it. It took a day for me to realize that I'm the administrator for three work-related pages, so deactivating my account meant I wouldn't be able to admin my work pages.

I also realized that there were other people I still wanted to have conversations with, but without the ridicule and demeaning comments I had been getting, mostly via private messages. After I thought about it, I realized I wanted a way to process all of my thoughts and feelings about the election outcome (and a few other things) without being smacked down for it. I wanted social media, but I wanted some privacy while I worked through a few things. How to do that?

I reactivated my Facebook account, and then I opened a new Facebook account under a different name. Friend requests, along with an explanation, went out to the people I felt safe talking to, people who I knew would respect my privacy and not share anything I posted...people who I knew would not bark, snap, or snark at me...people who wouldn't tell me to lighten up or tell me I was overly sensitive. People who would not post things so awful, so mean, as to make my heart physically hurt. Sometimes, you just need space to process without feedback.

That being said, I'm not posting anything particularly personal on the new page. No pictures. There's no profile information, no lists of things I like. Just a fake name and some posts and shares about my fears for the future. And no blistering comments coming back at me, demeaning me for what I feel and believe. That's a relief.Sometimes, an opposing point of view, especially when it comes in the form of insults, is just not what's going to help.

So, yes, I set up an account and asked a few people to follow it with the explicit instruction that they could not jab at me, debate me, or express their disagreement. It's sort of a therapy thing. And it's working. When I'm finished with it, when I get out of it what I need to, I'll shut it down and go back to my regular Facebook account. Or not. I may check out of that piece of social media completely. It's not like people will change, it's not like Facebook won't keep showing everyone on my friends list every goddam thing I liked or commented on, thereby sharing my interactions with people I don't know, have no interest in hearing from, and who I never intended to be privy to my posts.

Once I feel better, I'll close the echo chamber, but for the moment, I simply don't have the energy to be judged and jabbed at for my beliefs and the work I do.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Self-preservation

I just unfriended everyone on Facebook. Technically. I deactivated my account. I couldn't take the fact that people I know and like turned out to be awful. They not only voted for Trump, they got sucked into a spiral of championing all of the hate, believing all of the lies, and embracing all of the vitriol and rhetoric that Trump called talking points.

When my sister-in-law posted something along the lines of "The reason Republicans are late to vote is because they are busy working," and implied that Democrats are lazy leeches who don't work, I snapped.

I've been putting in 70-hour weeks for some time now. I make the world a better place. I work my fucking ass off, I'm fiscally responsible, and I don't understand this mindset that being a registered Democrat means I somehow deserve deriding mockery.  I couldn't take it anymore. People are so glib to demean good, hard-working people without any thought about what they are really saying.

I feel like the last 18 months have been a gradual awakening for me. I will not be bullied or barked at by people who pretend to be friends. I've been gradually excising a few out of my life for months now, but today I decided to just cut deep and start over.

I'm sure some will be confused by this, not because they lack self-awareness, but because they lack self-honesty. They will claim they don't remember saying hurtful things or being unkind or being generous with their snark or being demeaning or disrespectful, but I've kept a tally.

This is how I live my life. I give people a chance to be decent. If they repeatedly fail, I simply...walk away.

It felt particularly good today.

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Where has the time gone?

I write blog posts all day long, in my head. Sometimes, I start to really write them but I get distracted and those posts go unfinished. Today I was surprised to see that I had not published anything here since March. How can that be? I've written so much in my head!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Eight years on

Let's just take a moment to appreciate that I've been writing this blog, although sporadically, for almost nine years. Apparently, I can stick with something.

A few days ago, my back started to tingle, itch, and ache. It turned out to be nothing, but I was reminded that it was eight years ago this week that I first came down with shingles. My life has never been the same.

Since that first bout in 2008, I've had three recurrences. They were never as bad as the first time, but that's a relative statement. It was bad every time.

It doesn't seem like eight years have passed since the traumatic experience I had with shingles. So much has changed in my life. A lot hasn't.

It's not interesting enough to write about.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

TMI

I feel like I have shared too much. In general. In every possible way.