Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Physical Fitness

Chasing a unicorn

I’m fat. I know I’ve said this before, but it really hit home when I looked at the pictures of me from my niece’s wedding shower. Related, I looked up someone from college who I had a big crush on, and he looks fantastic. He’s two years older than I am, but he looks like he’s in his early thirties. I mean, I look younger than I am, too, but I’m still fat. Come to think of it, he’s also Asian, so maybe it’s partly our good genes. Anyway, I looked gargantuan in the pics. It’s partly because my niece is slim and gamine-like, but it’s also just that I’m fat. Have I said it often enough? I am fat.

I have spent almost thirty years battling eating disorders of one kind or another. Actually, my disordered relationship with food started ten years before that when my mother put me on my first diet with the words, “You would be so pretty if you would just lose weight.” I’ve also recounted my mother’s disordered thinking when it comes to her body and food, but I can’t emphasize how much it’s seeped into my subconsciousness. There was a stretch of time when every time we talked on the phone, she would mention her weight. She, of course, insists it’s all about health (also the excuse she gives for nagging about my weight until I put my foot down), but I realized it was bullshit because she never once voiced any concern when I was anorexic (both times). The only thing she said was, “Now your waist is skinnier than mine”, and it was in a jealous voice. The first time I deal with anorexia and bulimia, I got caught throwing up in the bathroom, and my mother was brought in to talk about it. I don’t remember how that actually came about, but I do remember my mom was not pleased and did not want to do anything about it. I’m sure it was embarrassing for her and that I brought¬† shame to the family. But, it also was chickens coming home to roost or however that phrase goes.

Anyway. The second bout with anorexia/bulimia included me fainting at First Ave. for a Los Lobos side project concert. Which was very disappointing because I admire Los Lobos so much. After that, I gave up on ‘dieting’ because I just could not do it in a responsible way. No matter how rationally I started (I will be honest that I wasn’t all that rational at the start of the second round, but I had at least tried not to be crazed), I spiraled out as the weeks progressed. I clearly remember how I set a goal of 150 lbs, and when I got to 155, I dropped my goal to 145. I kept doing that until I passed out.

Here’s the thing. I can’t do numbers. I don’t mean I can’t do math because of course I can. I like math. I liked everything except geometry and trig 2, and the latter was because of the teacher. I mean I can’t do numbers when I’m dieting because I lose all sense of proportion. During my first bout with anorexia/bulimia, I weighed myself twice a day. Now, this isn’t good in general, and it’s definitely not good for someone with disordered thinking. It’s not good in general because a person’s weight fluctuates on a daily basis. All the health rags say you should only weigh yourself once a week if you weigh yourself at all. It should be more about the clothing fitting better is the new train of thought, and while it’s better, it’s still too much emphasis on the actual weight loss. The second time I tried to lose weight, I tried to rely more on tape measurements than pounds, but it didn’t matter. I knew an inch was equal to five pounds, so if I didn’t lose a half inch a week, I’d be very depressed.


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Leveling up my veggie game

though not quite as tasty.
Better for me than chips.

I need to stop buying chips; I really do. I had given them up at some point, then gave into the impulse to buy them once, and the rest is history. It’s funny because while giving up caffeine was a nightmare at the time, I haven’t really missed it at all. I bought a thing of mocha coffee (with almond milk) last week, drank it for three days, then didn’t miss it when it was gone. Chips, on the other hand, are my weakness. Which is weird because I never used to be a salt person. I’m still not actually a salt person. I don’t add it to anything, and I wipe off my chips before I eat them. Or I get low-sodium chips.

I know the conventional wisdom is to eat in moderation, but that’s just not possible for me. I think another conventional wisdom should be to know thyself. One of the problems with giving advice, especially on the internet, is that the giver tends to look at the ideal situation. Look, you know I love me some advice columns. I consider them my stories, and I read them every day. But many of the comments are very black and white without considering the nuance. So, ‘eat in moderation’ is sound advice, but insisting that someone can do it through simple willpower isn’t.

Yes, of course, I know it’s because most people are limited in their capacity to look outside themselves (one reason I get so frustrated with conversations) and have a hard time truly understanding that other people may react to something differently than they do. I saw that in the Ask A Manager comments once when someone was talking about not being able to have their favorite junk food in the house because they had no control. People made sensible suggestions like divvying it up beforehand and freezing the parts you don’t immediately eat (in the case of chocolate) or hiding it away (for chips), which were very good suggestions. The problem is for someone like me–I won’t do it. I just know I won’t. We’re not always rational beings, and it’s difficult to explain why.

For example. One time while my mother was here, she said if I folded the paper bags from Cubs correctly before putting them in the cabinet, they would take up less space. Later, I told Ian that she was correct, and that I wouldn’t be doing that. He gave me a look of pure puzzlement. He said, “You know she’s right, and yet, you won’t do it?” I cheerfully said, “Yep!”, which just blew his mind. I knew it was irrational, but in that case, I also knew the reason why. Pure childish spite.

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Trying to be positive about health

I’ve been struggling with diet-related issues for some time now. By diet, I mean what I eat in general, not any specific diet. I don’t follow diets because that way lies danger for me. In fact, that’s one of the issues I have in trying to eat more healthily. I can’t count anything because it starts me down the road to an eating disorder. My brain has so many ways to trick me when it comes to eating disorders, and it’s part of my all-or-nothing personality. If I do something, I’m going to DO IT ALL THE WAY. The last time I tried to diet, I set it up in what I told myself was a reasonable way, but it wasn’t. And it only got even more unreasonable the longer I did it. I can’t weigh myself because of the numbers as well. I get too focused on them, and I get obsessed with them going down on a regular basis. The first time I slipped into an eating disorder, I was weighing myself twice a day, which is madness. It’s ridiculous for many reasons, but the biggest was that my mood would be entirely dependent upon what that number on the scale said.

The common advice for people who can’t handle the numbers on the scale is to only take your measurements instead. Boobs, waist, hips. In theory, it makes sense because those are truer numbers than the ones on the scale. Because muscle is denser than fat, you can weigh more and still be thinner, er, healthier at a higher weight than a lower one. There are a few issues with this. One, I know how much each half inch represents in terms of pounds. For me, a half inch is two-and-a-half pounds. So, I knew that when I lost a half inch (usually every week), it was two-and-a-half pounds. I would freak out if I didn’t lose the half inch, which meant I was just substituting one number for another.

I used to know the calorie count of everything I ate, and it was not a good thing. It’s why I don’t like having the calorie count so prominent on foods these days, even though I understand the reason behind it. In general, I think it’s a good thing for most people who may not be aware of how small a portion is or what the ballpark is for the calorie count of, say, a bagel. In addition, portion sizes are huge in America when we go out to eat, so it can be bracing to see the calorie count on the menu. I’ve learned how to stridently ignore the numbers, but it takes a considerable amount of mental energy to do so.

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With age, hopefully, comes wisdom

 

but not when i first wake up.
All of this looks soooooo good.

I’ve been thinking lately about all the things I learned as a kid that are not relevant to me now. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to stick with the ideas related to health, mental and physical.

1. When and how I eat. If you’re around my age (late forties), I’m sure you were taught the four food groups, how much you should eat of each, that you should eat three square meals a day, and that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. You probably won’t be surprised to hear that all of this is different now. Some of it is just science. There are now five groups (fruits and veggies got split up), and in the old days it was 4-4-3-2, that’s the way to eat for you (or something like that). I don’t remember which number goes with what group, but that was taught to me as a kid. Now, it’s ounces/cups per day, and the amount of each group has changed. I don’t have an issue with that. Things change over time.

When I should eat has always been a struggle for me. I don’t like to eat when I first awake, and usually it’s more than an hour after I get up before I’m even remotely hungry. In addition, I take a medication that requires that you don’t eat for an hour after you take it.

Side note: It would have been nice for my first doctor to tell me that when I was fourteen–which was when I first started having to take this med. He didn’t, though, and he was a bad doctor all around. Then again, he might have said it and I didn’t listen because I was overwhelmed with the new information and was exceedingly depressed at the time. Either way, it wasn’t until I was in my thirties that my (new and great) doctor told me that I wasn’t supposed to take the medication with an hour of eating.

Anyway, I sometimes don’t eat for hours after I awake. It just depends. I have a history of eating disorders, so I’m trying to honor my body by eating only when I’m hungry. It doesn’t work all the time (or even most), but I’m working on it. As for the three square meals thing, I’ve found that I feel better if I eat a little bit several times a day rather than a lot three times a day. I think it makes more sense, too, to keep my hunger at a reasonable level, rather than have a feast or famine mentality. When I go out to eat, I never eat more than half, especially if I order an appetizer and/or dessert. I don’t like feeling stuffed, so it’s easier for me to eat many times a day.

I also have to take into account all my sensitivities. I’ve been gluten-free/dairy-free for almost two years, and I’m currently troubleshooting what else is wrong with me. Food-wise, I mean. I thought it was nuts, but now I’m finding it’s not. It might be hydrogenated oil? I’m not sure. I haven’t had a serious stomach issue in a week or two, which is nice, but I would like to pinpoint what made it happen.

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The pain of my weight

fuuuuuuck!
Itme begging for mercy.

Still having birthday thoughts (not thought about my birthday, but thoughts stemming from it being my birthday), and since today is Wellness day, let’s talk about health.

Currently, my back is giving me hell. Let me clarify: My back always gives me hell one way or the other. I store my tension in my back (and my shoulders), and I didn’t feel it for a few decades because I froze out my entire body. My taiji teacher has a saying that she got from her teacher–the first sign of relaxation is when you notice the tension. Most of us are so tense all the time, we don’t realize it any longer. We kinda block it out until something reminds us.

I’ve been working diligently on my back issues, and it’s much better than it used to be. However, I still had a problem in which I have a lower back spasm that came maybe a dozen times a week. It wasn’t too bad–it basically just caused me to clench up for a brief second, then it’d go away. I do a bunch of stretches every morning that are solely to help my back. They’ve kept the pain at bay–mostly.

Then, last night, I got up from the couch (I sit sideways so my legs are out in front of me. Shadow likes to perch on my legs as I type) and my back spasmed so hard, I screamed out loud. Not grunted. Not a ladylike yelp, but a full-body scream. Like I’m a cheerleader in a horror movie scream. I wasn’t *trying* to scream like that–it was ripped from the back of my throat. Every time I shifted, it would happen. I screamed so much, I scared my cat.

I don’t feel regular pain. I trained myself to block it out when I was a child. This pain was unblockable, and it was intense. I did not want to move at all because it hurt so much. When I was changing pants and standing on my right leg, the leg buckled as my back spasmed again. I almost fell to the ground but managed to stop in time. The pain was literally breathtaking, and I found myself moving much more slowly because I didn’t want to feel it again.

It was a warning sign to me that I had to change the way I sit. Right now, I am sitting the proper way on the couch with both my feet on the ground. Shadow is sitting to the right of me, gently thumping his tail. He tried to sit on my chest, but he didn’t have as much purchase as he would if I were lying down. I don’t think he’s mad at me, but I feel guilty, anyway.

This morning, I woke up to the same spasms. They were quite as bad as they were last night, but still caused me to double over. I did the series of back-stretching I do every other day (because I don’t love it), and the pain went away. Not completely, but roughly 80% gone. It truly was a miracle, and now, I’m going to do these exercises every day. I may do them several times a day. It truly feels like a miracle. I was not looking forward to another day of spasming and crabbing my way along, and it feels good. I still have the smaller spasms, but I can deal with that. I’m determined to make changes so I’ll never have to feel that kind of pain again.

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I need a doctor

I’ve been feeling pretty shitty lately, and I’ve been open about it–here. Not in my real life because I keep that shit to myself. I wish I could talk about it, but it goes against everything I was taught. My mom has been calling me more often lately, and it’s mostly to complain about my father. Sometimes, she will perfunctorily ask me how I’m doing, but even when I answer with anything other than ‘ok’, she’ll move it right along to whatever is on her mind.

Side Note: My father is a raging narcissist, and I’ve known this since I was a little girl. I might not have had the term for it, but I knew he was a self-centered man to the extreme. What I didn’t realize until very much later, maybe my thirties, is that my mother is self-absorbed as well. I wouldn’t say she’s as extreme as my father as she has some self-awareness, but she can’t see other people’s points of view very well, either, even if she keeps it to herself more. One time, she asked how I was doing. I said I had a cold, and after a minute of sympathy, she segued into how she had had a cold as well. Then, she was off and running about her travails with my father.

Side Note to the Side Note: I’ve gotten sucked back into being her confidante. I’d done better at setting boundaries, back when we had a more fractured relationship, but now that I’ve moved past much of the turmoil of our earlier relationship and let go of a lot of my resentment (which translates in me snapping much less at her), she’s taken to dumping all her problems on me again. It’s frustrating for more than one reason. One, I’m her child. Yes, I’m an adult and an Old, but I’m still her kid. I don’t necessarily want or need to hear about her problems at length, especially with my father.

Two, she has no intention of doing the hard work that would actually make her marriage better for her without sacrificing more and more of herself. She said something about her ‘not being allowed’ to do something or the other in her marriage, and I pointed out that she *could* do it, but it would just make my father extremely unpleasant to deal with. He’s learned that if he throws a big enough temper tantrum, he’ll get his way. He’s can be very cruel and downright mean when he wants to, and my mother is extremely conflict-avoidant as am I. She knows she’s enabling him. She knows that she’s rewarding his bad behavior when she does what he wants when he throws a tantrum, but she’s been doing it for fifty years.

Three, I know way too much about my parents’ marriage now, and there’s the added fact that there’s an elephant in the room as my mother pisses and moans about my father. His mistress. Who might or might not be his mistress any longer but who is still heavily involved in his project and therefore, they talk for hours every day. Yeah, they’re still involved, even if it’s not physical. I know about it because of his hubris (as I’ve explained in past posts), and my mother knows about it because she’s not stupid. She won’t actually say it, however, and when I’ve sideways confronted her about it, she’s both deflected and talked about it (without actually naming it) in equal amounts.


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My body hates me–and the feeling is mutual

I hate my body right now. This is not unusual for me as I’ve hated it for most of my life. I was a chubby kid starting when I was seven for many reasons, and my mother put me on my first diet. One of the things I remember her saying from that time was, “You have such a beautiful face if only you weren’t so chubby.” She was a big believer in vegetables and fruits, and she didn’t allow much junk in the house. All of this started me down the road of body shame to the point of body dysmorphia, It also gave me a food hoarder mentality, and I still don’t like to share my food.

Side Note: My mother has had body issues my whole life as well (yes, my life. I don’t know about life before me, obviously, but I suspect it was there from the start). She’s tiny–roughly 5’3″ and petite. She’s been heavier in the past, and she’s always obsessed with losing five pounds. It doesn’t help that she comes from a culture that is even more oppressive about women being fat (Taiwan) than America’s, so it’s something she unthinkingly handed down to me.

It shows up in small ways as well as big ones. Such as her talking about her diet whenever she was on one (which was basically thirty years). It was her policing my food to the point that I didn’t eat fruits and/or vegetables for years in my thirties because I was so pissed off about it. It was tricksy as her adopting the tone of ‘I’m only concerned about your health’ when I confronted her about it. Fortunately, I knew that was bullshit because she never said a word when I was anorexic/bulimic other than to comment jealously how my waist was smaller than hers.

It got so bad, I had to explicitly tell her that she couldn’t talk about my weight (this was when I was at my heaviest). Predictably, that’s when she wanted to make it about my health. Hell, she probably even believed it, but as I noted, she never had a problem with me being dangerously skinny other than to envy me, so it’s never been about my health. It’s been about how she hates having a big fat galoot of a woman for a daughter–except, she can’t handle having a too-small woman as her daughter, either. I don’t know what ‘just right’ would have been, but I suspect she didn’t know, either. It wasn’t about me, you see–it was about her.


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Checking in on my health

drink it all up!
Staying cozy and warm.

The vaunted snowstorm netted us a whopping three to four inches of snow. I’m not mad, really, just disappointed. However, I knew it wasn’t going to be eight to ten inches because we’ve consistently gotten less than has been predicted, so I’m not crushed as I would be otherwise. It’s lightly snowing now, and we’re supposed to get more snow during the big storm next week. Only a few more inches, but I’ll take it. We haven’t had snow hardly at all this winter.

As for the cold, it’s really fucking cold. Currently, the temp is ‘feels like’ -28. There is no feeling going on at that temp. That’s cold, even for me. I did have the window slightly rolled down when I ran to Cubs this morning, but it’s only three minutes from my house.

Fun fact: Some years ago, the windchill factor formula was tweaked so that it more accurately reflects how the wind feels on your skin. As a result, there will probably never be a -100 windchill again. We used to get them when I was a kid, and about ten years ago, I started wondering why I never saw -100 again. It tuns out that a new windchill factor was established in 2001, which was comforting to discover. It wasn’t just me this time!

Anyway, now I’m back at home, and taiji classes have been canceled due to the extreme cold. I had been considering going to the new class tonight (new to me, not to my teacher. She’s taking it over for her teacher), but even if the classes hadn’t been cancelled, I wouldn’t have gone. I’m not leaving the house for the rest of the day. I have my traveling mug of tea and my comfy throw over my legs. I’m hunkering down until this cold snap passes because it’s too cold even for me.

Unfortunately, I’m fighting off the crud. I feel on the cusp of being sick, which is worse than actually being sick. When I’m sick, I’m just dealing with being sick. I don’t really think of much else. When I’m maybe about to get sick, I can’t do anything to stop it, and it makes me pissed off. I don’t go out into public that often except to the grocery store, which, come to think of it, is a terrible place to go if you’re trying not to be sick.

It actually makes me angry that I can’t stop myself from getting sick. I’m drinking all the tea, including immunity-boosting tea in addition to my usual honey, ginger, lemon tea. I’m doing my taiji routine every morning (including stretching), which is a half hour. When I first started taiji, I didn’t practice at home at all. In fact, I was resentful of the idea that I should practice. I don’t know why. I was a bitter, negative, and deeply depressed person when I started taking taiji classes. I’m still depressed and negative, but not nearly as much as I used to be.

When I first started practicing taiji at home, I did it for two minutes. The first section of the Solo Form, and even that was begrudging. I slowly started adding to my morning regime, and now, I’m up to a half hour of stretching and taiji. It doesn’t even feel like anything most of the time. My taiji teacher says an hour a day is the most I should do, and I don’t have to do it in one session. Looking back, I can’t believe how much I resented having to do even two minutes of it every day.

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Let’s talk about health, baby

the best is a combination of all of the above.
All the bad and none of the good.

Hello. I have sinus problems. It is no fun. I think it’s allergies, but I am not not sure. I woke up feeling as if ice picks are being smashed up my nostrils. By the way, I think I know why I’ve had two migraines and the beginning of the third in the past two weeks is because of the lemonade lite I bought that has Stevia. Now, it’s not one of the listed side effects, but it’s the only thing that has changed in my diet, and I haven’t had a full migraine for about a decade.

I had a taiji classmate who asked me how to tell if a headache is a migraine, and my immediate response was that you would know if you had a migraine. Correction, that’s if you get the headache part of it. My taiji teacher doesn’t, and I’ve learned that’s a type of migraine, albeit rare. You get all the accompanying symptoms without the actual headache. That sounds wacky to me, but it’s apparently a thing.

For me, I can tell because the world goes gray. Or rather, everything starts losing color and feels dull. In addition, stimuli hurts even more than usual (I have sensory issues in general), and I find myself wincing at the least bit of light. When I say hurt, I mean physically. The light hurts my eyeballs, and sounds hurt my ears. It’s as if I have no sensory filter, and everything scores a direct and palpable hit.

If I’m lucky and I catch it right in the beginning, I can pop two Excedrin Migraine (or the generic equivalent), deal with a lowkey headache, and go about my life. If I don’t catch it in time, however, it’s a completely different matter. I will say that I’m still lucky because I can at least function when I have a migraine, albeit at a much less productive pace. I have to turn off all the lights and if I’m watching a video, I have to keep the sound extremely low. I can still write/work, but I have to take more breaks, and my brain runs at a slower pace. The full migraine lasts roughly twenty-four hours, and the chemtrails last for another twenty-four hours or so.

Sinus issues are a different matter. This time, it’s not a sinus headache. It’s my nose feeling as if I’ve snorted a handful of pine needles into it. Again, it’s as if I have no filters, and I can feel everything more intensely than I otherwise would. My nose is also stuffy, and my ears are scabby. I have a cough that comes and goes as it pleases. My body is aching, but that could also be because of some changes my teacher is making to our stance in taiji. It takes more effort, though it’s supposed to be better for you in the long run.

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My life is one long Groundhog Day

The night before the new classes, I was hit with a migraine. I didn’t catch it in time, which I think is a shorter window these days. I’m also not sure my Excedrin Migraine (generic) pills are enough any longer. That would be a shame as it used to be I could pop two if I caught it in time, suffer through a low-level headache for an hour (and maybe some nausea), then I was fine. For the last three instances (in two weeks!), I didn’t catch two in time, and the one I did, it the pills didn’t have the same effect. It took longer to work, and the pain was more intense.

I’ve written before that I’m relatively lucky when it comes to migraines because I can still do work even though I’m not as productive as long as I take plenty of breaks. I think it’s because I have a very high pain tolerance, but whatever the reason, I’ll take it. On the other hand, it’s possible if I completely rested while I had the migraine, it might not last over twenty-four hours.

I just went to the grocery store, and I knew in an instant my migraine wasn’t over. It’s a gray and gloomy day, but there is sun. I winced as it hit my eyes*, and the bright lights in the grocery store made me nausea. I had to press my lips together several times even though I don’t throw up in general,** and I got out of there as quickly as possible. I hate nausea and dizziness. I would much rather have a backache or even a headache rather than nausea and dizziness–or my eyes hurting. It’s the weirdest feeling. It’s like the lenses of my eyes aren’t even there, and the sun rays are boring into my pupils.

Anyway, migraines suck. I don’t know why they’re popping more lately, but I need to figure it out. I hate having a whole day and a half (or two or more) wiped out because of them, and I haven’t had a full migraine in quite some time. I experience many of the triggers for migraines. Lack of sleep, stress, and depression are on the list. Also, certain smells, foods, and even sunlight can be triggers as well. That’s basically my whole life right there. The only one I am mostly clear of is the food trigger. I don’t consume caffeine any longer (which has been hellish, let me tell you); I don’t drink; and I don’t eat cheese any longer, either. Those are the biggest migraine triggers food-wise.

Veering wildly to another topic. The one YouTube series I watch consistently is the Prepare to Try lads. Well, it used to be. They were a group of three lads from IGN who started this as a lark. Apparently, Krupa (Daniel Krupa, who loves the Soulsborne series) floated the idea before the release of Dark Souls III of having a newbie (Rory Powers) play through the original Dark Souls with him, Krupa, as the guide/loremaster. Gav (Gavin Murphy) was along for the bants (banter. He drives the banter bus). I found it way after they did it, and I gobbled up the whole thing. I bingewatched the original series plus the Dark Souls III series.¬† They’ve done a bunch of one-offs as well as Bloodborne, and I was excited when they finally announced they were doing Dark Souls II (which Krupa hates. I think it’s a very good game, though not a great Souls game). This was in November of last year, then they said it was being put off until February of this year because reasons.


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