There are certainly days like that, but this is not one of them. A few days ago I decided to stop fighting sleep. I’ve had a chronic problem with afternoon fatigue hitting as early as late morning (before lunch), and I’ve tried all kinds of advice from various doctors, with no good result. I’m done with the cycle of fighting the fatigue that ends with me up until midnight (or after) and waking at dawn, still tired. If I have to sleep, then I have to sleep, and if that means I go to bed in the late afternoon or early evening and get up in the wee hours of the morning after seven or eight hours’ sleep, then I’m ahead by an hour or two of rest I’d not get otherwise. Conventionality fails yet again.
I decided to go back on the diet again, too. I may have put on a few pounds in the last several months, but summer is a good time of year to do this, and I’ve found I really can get out and walk again without all the old aches and pains, so there’s another use for those cool hours between dawn and OMG-it’s-hot! in the morning. I’ve mostly used them for doing gigs on Mechanical Turk. Mturk doesn’t pay well enough to live on, but it’s worth a couple hours of my day to bulk up the finances while I have breakfast. The rest of the time, I’m better off working around here and walking a few blocks while the mockingbirds fill the morning quiet with song. The honeysuckle is blooming in response to the first real heat of Spring, so it won’t be long ’til the roses shut down for the summer and the rosemary puts on its darker green summer coat, but for now it’s a pretty day, and there’s stuff to be done.
The latest weigh-in marked another six pounds off. I am disappointed that it was not more, but I was only mildly surprised. The weather has turned chilly, and I’ve been sloppy about tracking all the minutiae of what I eat and when. I am bored sick with the diet and with writing about it. Mind, the benefits are marvelous. 27 pounds is enough that I’ve had to buy new pants and such because the old ones won’t stay up, and while I still have a limited walking range before the body’s protests are too much, I am able to move much more freely.
I am also resting well. I went to bed when I was reasonably tired, but not nodding off, last night about 8:30, and I slept eight solid hours. That almost never happens, but I think I have it figured out. I was full of vegetables, thoroughly hydrated, and I wasn’t dead tired and hurting when I went to bed, so I could sleep soundly in the dark well before sunrise and woke rested, without pain a little after 4:30 this morning.
So, after a weekend to think, eat meat and think more, I’m ready to start changing things up. I’m not getting as much benefit from exercise, as I’m not moving around so much mass, and I’m getting more efficient in what I do, so it takes less time to do a given amount of work or distance walked. What I can do is change the challenges — set walking patterns for, say, a half hour at a time — and accept the limited calories I’ll burn doing housework. There is only so much to do, and deeper de-clutter requires some organization on my part, as I’m down to my actual crafting materials and I need to get to work with them. More on that later.
So, this happened Saturday while getting ready for Sunday’s D&D game. I’m not entirely sure it’s accurate, as I have been dealing with some fibro fog drifting through now and then over the last week or so, but I did work most of the day cleaning, shopping and cooking in patches, taking breaks to drink a mug of water and log my time for different phases of activity. I’m glad I’ve made this much progress — four months ago this would have been impossible — but the numbers scare me. I like the way I’m eating, the exercise seems to push back the pain and fatigue, and I want to build up more speed and endurance, but what the hell is with doubling the rate at which I’m burning calories? How will I stay at just two pounds a week when I’m up to doing this kind of thing daily? I’m not planning to stop, but I need to sort this out.
Between one thing and another, I forgot to mention that I did finally hit the two-pound-a-week average as of Monday last. I now weigh 21 pounds less than I did when I started, and I lost eight between the September and October weigh-ins. The new jeans are already loosening up, and I’m getting more sleep if I go to bed early. Being a fifth of the way to my goal still has me mightily pleased with myself, though it’s getting a lot easier as I go. I still have My Fitness Pal open most of the time on my notebook, but I’m not as obsessive about the process as I was in the beginning, or even a month ago, now that I average two pounds lost per week. I’ve started carrying a piece of paper to note start and finish times when I work instead of setting a stopwatch on my cellphone. At the beginning, every damned minute counted because I was starting from way too close to zero; I’m still short-winded, but I’m not struggling with sustained cleanup runs, and the chronic pains from inactivity are fading out as the post-activity needles take their place. I’m okay with that.
Figuring food is also a lot easier, too. The things I usually eat accumulate on My Fitness Pal, so logging is simple, and the measuring cups are close at hand, so it’s not a big deal to assemble a salad or whatever and log it for the calorie content. I’ve even started posting recipes with serving sizes, so I don’t have to remember all the stuff that went into the pea soup or the details of a crock of pulled pork.
I’ve found, too, that we eat cheaper, now that I’m taking in about half the calories I did three months ago. We eat better, with more fresh veg and fruit, and less fat, but the overall volume is less, and we don’t spend the money we used to on sweets or ordering in. I’m not sure I actually cook more, but a head of romaine is cheaper than a loaf of good bread, and chef salads are about as fast as a sandwich once the lettuce is torn up and the cheese sliced or shredded. I find I do have to watch how much we buy, though, and re-package meat for the freezer more often, because we don’t eat whole packages of anything quickly anymore. That’s coming together pretty well; I forget fresh bananas now and then, and I ended up making croutons and bread crumbs from half a pack of rolls that we skipped over a couple weeks ago, but it’s getting cool enough to make a meatloaf one of these nights soon, so it’s no loss in the long run.
The fires here in California are dreadful; I’m awaiting word on a family member in Santa Rosa. I’m reasonably sure he’s in a safe area after chatting with a representative from the SRPD, but the waiting is bad, and it’s worse on his mom, who has seen the videos I avoided. I scan the news for useful information I can pass on to others or otherwise help where I can from here, but all in all, it’s not much that I can do, and the horror is overwhelming if I let myself consider it too long.
So life goes on. Bryan tells me of the latest political disasters now and then; it’s a different kind of devastation incoming from Washington DC, and it is relentless as those elected to lead abandon our people to the natural disasters and actively seek to destroy what solace remains in our country. There’s not a lot I can do about those, either.
About all I can do is to modify myself and my living conditions here at home; I diet and re-work the house as much as I can, putting such order as I can in place. The trash bin I bought last week was delivered today; it’s crimson plastic, and with that addition, the kitchen towels and the new red throw rug are beginning to tie together visually, rather than existing as isolated bright splashes against the beige, black and steel that are there now. The rust towels Bryan washed yesterday put life back into the bathroom that the light colored towels can’t. I fixed the skirt on his rocker yesterday. Today I’m purging the last of the SCA and fantasy garb, tossing cartons of scraps and failed projects into the dumpster and shedding illusions — and disillusionment — as I go. I wonder sometimes if I am lacking something that others possess in being able to do this, but so far it works well for me, and over time I find my baseline distress and bitterness are less.
Note: if you like the header illustration, you can find it here.
This is the second day of severe heat in the current run. Yesterday was a record-breaker here in Sacramento at 109°F; the damp air is gray-blue with smoke from fires all over the north state and farther north. Nonetheless, I got out this morning before the heat became brutal and, for the first time in much too long, I walked to the bus stop without pausing to catch my breath even once. My chest didn’t hurt, and I was just starting to breathe deeper when I got to the corner across the street from the bus stop. None of the trip was as difficult as it has been for the last few years, and I got back very warm but not ill. I think I’ll try walking to the store next time; it used to take me 20 minutes, which is not a bad length of time to stretch my legs every day or two, and I can set the stopwatch on my phone to track the actual time.
As for actual shopping, I kept the veg down to what we might need in the next day or two, and I picked up some tools we need, such as the bin I’ve been wanting for the lower shelf beside the sink and a mini rake that I’ll need for reaching stuff indoors more than I will for leaves outside in the planter box. I also made a point of picking up a big sack of salad mix, some of which I covered with the last of yesterday’s antipasto salad, then topped it all off with hot marinated chicken chunks for lunch. I’ve decided almost anything that can be served over rice can be served over greens to advantage, so I’ll assemble another chicken salad for dinner. Bryan’s off until times unknown, so it’s dinner for one tonight.
This is one of those times I stop to remember how very fortunate I am. I’ve got an apartment I can afford, full of cool air in the middle of a heat wave, a bottomless supply of filtered water and ice, and my stomach is full of good food. I’m also making noticeable differences in how my life works, and I’m the healthiest fat chick I know.
It’s been twelve days since I cut my goal intake to 1200 net calories per day. Since the cutback I’ve been very conscious of my body — the chronic needle pains around my joints, the tension in my muscles and the alternating nausea and cramps in my stomach — to the point I’ve hated life off and on for the last week or so. I’ve found a temporary fix, though I’m already seeing diminishing returns. If I can get myself busy physically, I’m able to keep myself distracted and to some extent content so long as keep myself up and moving, with short breaks for water and food. The mind game alone doesn’t do it, nor can I push myself to exhaustion. I’ve tried both, and I ended up getting nasty at my sister yesterday and being barely being civil to others I love for the last several days.
I am running out of relatively small jobs to do, however, and I’m looking around for bigger ones that won’t be too much. When I started six weeks ago, I could run for five or ten minutes at a time, then I’d have to rest and drink a pint of water. Now I am doing fifteen to thirty minutes of cleaning, cooking, etc. at a stretch; what’s more, I’m getting more efficient, cutting a fair amount of wasted motion out of the process and grabbing larger, heavier objects and moving them around without noticeable strain. I still get occasional spasms in my lower back but they respond to stretches, so I can come back to a task and keep going. Fatigue is becoming less of a problem, but it’s still there and I’m not sure if I will eventually be able to handle it without at least two hours’ sleep in the afternoon. More to come on that as I find out.
I had awesome plans yesterday. I had a list! I even made the first exercise/cleaning sprint!
Then I took a shower. By the time I got out of the shower, the shakiness from a few minutes of concentrated work-exercise was full-on clumsy tremors. Folding up clothes was an iffy thing that ended up half done, but we need cooked food, so I put a pot of frozen chicken thighs on to cook with some lite salt, pepper and garlic powder. When the meat was fork-tender, I took the thighs out of the broth, stripped the meat and skin off the bones, then I put the bones and skin back in the pot with a carrot and some celery to cook down about a sixth or so, as it was already good but lacked seasoning depth.
My notion of guacamole is pretty simple. Mash ripe avocados with some hot sauce or salsa, and I’m happy. The lunchtime guac was that kind of happy, with the last of the Peruvian Haas avocados on the cusp of use-it-or-lose-it ripeness, and the last of the Pace salsa mushed up together. It was rich, with a faint bacon whiff that suggested one of the avocados might have slipped over the cusp just a bit. Bryan was down over the news of Chester Bennington’s death, but he was game to join me. We ate well, and through the day I was under the goal intake, even with another guac and chicken sandwich for dinner, but not a lot more got done, as the fibro fog hit with a literal sense of concussion, then I felt as if I were slowly rolling forward, for the rest of the time I was awake, no matter how stable my seat. Good times.
I love popcorn, and it’s as easy as tossing a bag in a microwave and nuking it for two minutes. That’s a mighty advantage first thing in the morning, when I need food and water most, so I had popcorn for breakfast. It’s also very comforting, as it’s mostly starch. I needed that even more; it keeps the constant anxiety that otherwise wears me out to a low whine in the distance, rather than the keening of my muscles swearing they are going to die if they move.
And move I did. Two bursts totaling 27 minutes of continuously moving boxes and bins, bagging up trash and gathering up laundry for a total of 177 extra calories added to my daily limit, which was enough to buy me a can of Mountain Dew without cutting into the rest of the day’s calories. It’s the standard, high-fructose version, but I like it, and after working until it was too warm to work, that cold can of tart-sweet soda was very satisfying, and the caffeine kick was enough to keep me feeling good for several hours. All in all, I am very pleased.
Necessary data: Total intake: 1,711/1790. Calories burned in exercise: 177. Net deficit: 260 calories.