Underneath my yellow skin

Category Archives: Physical Fitness

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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Getting older and not necessarily wiser

taiwanese tai chi sculpture!
I don’t want to be made of stone.

I woke up yesterday to an incipient migraine and immediately popped two Excedrin Migraine (generic) in hopes to stave it off. It didn’t pop into a full migraine for the rest of the day, but it also didn’t dissipate after an hour as it normally does. I am still dealing with it now, but at a very low level. This is new to me. In the past, either I caught it and it went away in an hour or I didn’t. I mentioned it to my taiji teacher yesterday, and she said that unfortunately, our bodies get brittler as we get older. This is true. When I was in college, I could get by (barely) on three to four hours of sleep. In my late twenties, I could go out all night and bounce back (mostly) after four hours of sleep. Now, I could go out all night, but it would take me three days to return to normal.

Speaking of sleep. I used to get four hours a night. On the regular. Thanks to taiji, I’ve slowly added to that. Now, I’m up to six hours on average a night. That’s epic for me. I keep hearing how terrible it is if you don’t get eight hours a night, and I always want to shout, “Yeah, I know, but what the fuck do I do about it?” They never talk about that, do they? They only talk about how important eight hours of sleep is, and by the way, people used to sleep in four-hour chunks rather than one stretch of eight. That seems way more reasonable to me than sleeping eight hours in one stretch.

The only time I can sleep for eight hours (or even seven-and-a-half) is when I’m sick. Which has been a lot in the past few years. It makes me wonder if my body gets sick for the sole purpose of getting more sleep. I know I’m really sick if I actually manage to get nine hours. One time, I got ten hours! TEN HOURS. I can’t even with that. That’s like, luxury. I hear from friends who get eight to nine hours regularly and who love sleep, and I’m so envious. I don’t know what it’s like, and I can’t even imagine it. I wrote a whole novel about confronting Morpheus, for fuck’s sake.

Sleep is something that I’ve given up trying to improve consciously because I’ve poured so much energy into it for no benefit. I’ve tried ::deep breath:: melatonin, hot beverages, hot baths, valerian, lavender (found out I was allergic to it while taking a bath in it. Not a good way to find out), sleep deprivation, sleeping pills (can’t wake up from them, even if I only take a fourth of a pill), dream catchers, and other things I can’t remember. None of it worked, and it only left me more frustrated than ever. Taiji is the only thing that has helped, and it’s taken a long time. An added two hours of sleep over ten years of taiji. That means I should reach eight hours a night in another ten years!

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More things to ponder in the new year

As the year draws to a close, I’ve become more pensive than I usually am. Which is pretty pensive to begin with. This has been a rough year for me emotionally, and I have no  idea why. It started roughly six months ago, and it’s only gotten worse as the months have passed. I know what the answer is. Therapy. The thought of it makes me sigh and recoil inside myself. Not because of therapy itself. I am a big proponent of therapy, and it is one of the main reasons I’m still alive. My last therapist helped me with some really serious and dark shit, and I’m eternally grateful to her. So why my resistance to finding a new therapist? There are several reasons. One, I’ve been in and out of therapy since I was fourteen. That’s thirty years (quit my last therapist a few years ago), and I’m tired of it. Two, finding a therapist is hard. Before my last therapist (and she was a recommendation), most of my other therapist were crap for various reasons. The biggest was that I could run rings around them. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I need someone who is smart and savvy enough not to let me get away with shit. The fact that I have a psych background and am VERY good at speaking the jargon makes this a tall order.

In addition, I thought I’d get over it. Or rather, I could wait it out. Since I pulled out of my last chronic crippling depressive episode (lasting decades), I’ve had low-level depression with short periods of more intense depression. The latter have always been relatively short (a few weeks) before returning to my norm of low-key depressed. This time, it’s been months, and it’s only getting worse. I’m still able to recognize that it’s not a part of me and that it’s irrational, but it doesn’t help. My brain tells me that I might as well be dead, and even though it’s manageable most of the time, there are flashes of ‘do it now’ that are harder to  ignore.

I know the depression is bad because things that are hard for me to do in the best of times (set up an appointment to have my tire looked at) are now nearly impossible. On Saturday, I had to talk myself into going to taiji. I wanted to go, but I really did not want to leave the house and drive somewhere. To be fair to me, I had been dealing with a migraine, and was still shaky from it. It’s been years since I’ve had a full-blown migraine because I can usually catch it in time, and I had forgotten how debilitating it can be. If I catch it at the very first signs of a migraine and pop a couple Excedrin Migraine pills, it subsides into a low-key throbbing headache for a couple of hours. This time, however, I was already at the gritting-my-teeth phase when I noticed it. I popped two Excedrin Migraine pills, but it didn’t do a damn thing this time.

You’d think a headache would only cause your head to hurt. Nope. My whole body was drained, and I spent two full days just lying on the couch with the lights off, curtains drawn, and moving as little as possible. I managed to do my work, but it was slow-going. I could watch videos as long as the sound was very low, but I consider myself fortunate. I know that many people are immobilized by a migraine; I could at least move.


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A new year and a newer me

look at my toofs!
So tired. Must sleep.

It’s the end of the year, so inevitably, thoughts turn to the next year and how I’m going to do things differently. Even though I am not a bit believer in holidays or ritualistic endeavors, there is something about the end of the year that makes me somber about time passing. Not as somber as my birthday, but somber nonetheless. This year has kinda sucked for me, mostly because of my own depression. There are external factors as well, but I do not want to go into those for this post. For now, I want to focus on my health, especially since it’s been so bad this year. A couple months sick, a few weeks not sick, then back to being sick. All of it lasting the past four months or so.

I have come to the conclusion that much of it is probably allergies. From my research, I have learned that allergy symptoms can seem a lot like cold symptoms. In addition, when one has as bad allergies as I do, it exhausts the immune system, thereby making it easier to catch colds. Right now, I’m still coughing and my nose is alternating between stuffy and runny. My ears are crusted over, and my throat is scratchy from time to time. I also have gobs of goo in my throat that make it hard to swallow.

This post is about the ways I’m going to try to better my health in the new year. First, a doctor’s appointment to get everything tested. Allergies because I haven’t had it done in a while (because the testing is so unpleasant. All those pricks swelling up and me feeling as if I can’t breathe. It is no fun at all). If that doesn’t bring up anything, then other testing. Maybe a sleep test because, yeah, me and sleep still aren’t friends.

I was listening to NPR, and they had Matthew Walker on again. He is a sleep scientist and a professor in neurology and psychology. He’s an enthusiastic proponent of sleep (and he has a lovely British accent. He talks about the negatives of sleep deprivation and the positives of getting enough sleep (at least eight hours a night). Which is fine and dandy, but what he doesn’t say is how to get eight hours of sleep a night. It’s frustrating as hell because I have tried almost everything under the sun, and the only time I’m able to get eight hours a night is when I’m sick.

I’ve written before how I existed on four hours of sleep a night for many years. Decades, even. And, yeah, I know that driving while sleep-deprived is worse than driving while drunk, but if I only drove when I was fully rested, I wouldn’t drive at all. With the help of taiji, I am currently up to six/six-and-a-half hours of sleep a night. Sometimes five, but mostly six. I would love for the dear doctor to tell me how the hell I’m supposed to get the other two to three hours.

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The (mental) journey from fat to fit

oh, how i wish.
Like this, but not as hot.

I was talking with Ian yesterday about how anxiety works because we’ve both experienced it in our lives. Still do, but to a lesser degree. We were talking about how worrying about all this stupid shit that you can’t really do anything about is a way to not focus on things that are actually a problem in your life, but that you don’t want to deal with. I mentioned trying to eat better–

Side note: We both realized in Malta that we were fatter than we felt comfortable with. Air France has really short seat belts probably because the French hate everything and everyone (joke/not a joke. Will never return to Charles de Gaulle), and I could barely click it. Once we were cleared, I took it off and didn’t put it back on until we were landing. In Malta, I felt even worse because I couldn’t walk for ten minutes without getting tired. Yes, part of it was the heat, but it’s also that I’m not in great shape. Anyway, back to my narrative.

I said that I wanted to eat better, but I’m not doing anything about it. Ian quickly exclaimed that I had done a lot. I paused to really think about it because he was right. I cut out gluten and dairy a year and three months ago, and that was the start of an arduous journey. Giving up wheat and dairy was surprisingly easy especially as there are so many tasty alternatives these days, and I don’t miss anything. Well, except cheese. I miss cheese a lot. And dumplings. And pizza. It’s OK, though. *sigh*

I’m also adding back in fruits and veggies. I ate a ton when I was a kid because my mom made me. It won’t surprise you to find out that I rebelled as an adult by not eating any at all. I really was cutting off my nose to spite my own face because I like most fruits and several vegetables. I eat an orange a day, and veggies in the deli food I get from the co-op. I try to eat at least one other fruit a day to get my five in.

Next up, I have cut way back on my caffeine. I drank up to sixty ounces of it a day (yes, I know that’s not how caffeine is measured, but it’s how I view it), and now I’m at eight or less (most days). Meaning, I went from five-ish cups to one. I’ve mostly stopped drinking coffee, substituting tea in its place. Currently, I’m giving up chips and other nibbles which for some reason I started eating again after I gave it up the last time. I find that it’s means I’m less anxious and jittery, which is a net positive. I don’t even miss my Diet Coke. I had a few while I was in Malta and when I’m eating out, and to be honest, it tastes weird to me now. So, yes. I’ve made big changes. I eat better overall now than I did a year-and-a-half ago. And yet, I still have so far to go.

Let me be clear. I hate the way I look. When I glance in the mirror and see all the roundness, I flinch. I look monstrous and grotesque to my eyes, especially my face and my belly. I’m not the biggest I’ve ever been, but it certainly feels that way. I had thought when I cut out dairy and gluten, I would naturally lose some weight. I didn’t. I think it’s because of the aforementioned delicious substitutes that are readily available these days that I didn’t really feel the pinch. And (and now we’re getting to the meat of the post) it’s because I don’t cook.

*sigh*

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A vague plan for better living

all tuckered out.
Were I so cute!

I’m fat. I have been most of my life except for the times when I was anorexic/bulimic. I’ve dealt with eating disorders (ED) for most of my life, and any time I try to lose weight in a sensible way, I plunge deeply into the abyss. No matter how reasonable I am when I first start, my ED-thinking takes over, and I end up in the same bad place. I will fully admit my desire to lose weight has always been for vanity reasons. I don’t give a shit about the health benefits–it’s all about looking in the mirror and feeling gross.

I’ve spent twenty years getting fatter and fatter. I lost weight more than once during that time, but it never lasted. One time it was because I was trying out antidepressants (for a second round), and they were making me feel deeply suicidal. I lost nineteen pounds in two months because every minute I was fighting the urge to kill myself. When I told my doctor, she kinda laughed and said, “Well, whatever it takes” or something like that. I immediately changed doctors because even though she was joking, that was completely inappropriate. Quick side note: SSRIs work well for me on the first go-around (Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa) for about a year. Then, the effect wears off, and I switch. When I re-try the same drug, it makes me suicidal. I don’t know why, but it’s highly unfortunate.

Anyway, I got off the Celexa right quick, and I stopped feeling suicidal, but I also regained the weight. I’m the fattest I’ve ever been, and it’s way out of hand. I would have thought cutting out gluten and dairy would have led to natural weight loss, but my guess is it’s the rice. I’ve added it back into my diet, and it’s calorie-dense. Jasmine rice because it’s delicious. It also doesn’t help that I don’t cook and mostly rely on deli food. It’s not so bad when it’s the co-op, but when it’s Cubs? Yeah, not the healthiest food of all. Also, I gave up fruits for some years even though I love them because my mom was very rigid about them when I was growing up. I’ve started adding them back. I eat an orange every day because it’s good at easing aches and pains (as told to my taiji teacher from a weightlifter), and I try to eat other fruits. I have grapes in my fridge right now, but I haven’t been very good about eating them.

I’ve also decided I’m going to do the ‘add one healthy item a week’ thing with the hopes that snacking on healthy food will slowly overtake my desire to munch. Earlier, I cut out chips and popcorn, but I added them back for whatever reason. Side note: There are two ways to deal with cutting out ‘bad’ foods. One, cut them out completely. Two, slowly wean yourself off of them. I’m more of a number one kind of gal because if it’s not there, I can’t eat it. But, I’m nominally a grown-up now, so I’m going to try a combination of the two. One, once I’m done with my current bag of popcorn, I’m not going to buy any more chips/popcorn. Two, I bought individualized bags of baby carrots and a bottle of pickle spears. In theory, I’ll munch on those when I have an impulse for the salt. It’s kinda working, but we’ll see what happens once the munchies are gone.

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Behind the Veneer of Health

I am fat. I am not zaftig or big-boned or padded or anything like that. I am fat. I say that because I don’t think fat is a negative word as it simply describes a state of being. I want t reclaim it as it were, and besides, it takes the sting out of it when it’s hurled at me. Granted, it doesn’t happen as much as it used to, but it’s almost amusing when it is. As Margaret said (paraphrased), “Why do they think fat dyke is an insult? To me, it means I’ma gonna eat fried chicken and pussy. That’s why I bring the Wet-Naps.” I can’t find the clip any longer, damn it, but I swear it exists. I’ve successfully neutralized the word, but I’ve had less success in actually being OK with being fat.

I have documented my long history with body dysmorphia and eating disorders. I have been painfully thin and grossly obese, and everything in between. Right now, I am technically at the latter stage, and I hate it. I rarely talk about it because I don’t want to feed into our society’s obsession with fat phobia, but I cannot deny it in my own head. I know how sick I was when I was anorexic, and I can see in pictures from that time that I was unwell, but a part of my mind wants that again. My thighs not touching. Wearing a size zero. Being stereotypically hot even  if I didn’t recognize it at the time. By the way, it’s a part of my EDs that when I’m at my thinnest, I don’t feel sexual at all. I think it’s because I’m so focused on food (I would look at pictures of desserts for hours–it was my porn) and because my brain is so starved, I have little room for anything else. In addition, anorexia shuts down nonessential functions, which, sex is, biological imperative aside.

I want to find a happy medium between where I am now and anorexic, but I’m not sure I can do it in a healthy way. The second time I slid into disordered thinking, I had started with what I considered to be a healthy plan. Sure, it was rigorous, but it was nothing like the first time I fell into it. As the months went on, however, I slid into more disordered thinking. I don’t know if I can diet in a healthy way, and I know that dieting isn’t the optimal way to lose weight, anyway. Which, let me be clear, is the reason I’m contemplating a diet at all. I can give you all the argle-bargle about it being for my health, but that would be a lie. I am very clear it would be to lose weight, even if it’s only in my own brain.

I keep coming back to changing the way I eat. I don’t cook, but it’s not as if I can’t. I can. I just don’t care for it. The endless prep and the mounds of dishes. Ugh. Add to that the fact that I’m now dairy-free and gluten-free….Come to think of it, that’s a good reason to start cooking–so I don’t have to rely on others to prepare reasonable repasts for me. I’ve thought about doing a cooking for dummies (me), gluten-free, dairy-free version as a YouTube show because cooking shows are popular.

I know that I need to exercise more as well, but I’m chary because of my obsessive nature. I can easily talk myself into doing twice as much as I had planned on doing and to slowly increase my exertions to the point of ridiculousness. I always move the goalposts when I set my goals, and I don’t know if I can stop myself from doing that. I also hate all exercise except taiji and dancing, so there’s that as well. I used to walk four and a half miles a day, and I hated every step. Sit-ups, push-ups, hated them. I did enjoy weightlifting, and I need to get back to the taiji weight set once I’m completely recovered.

I’m tired now. Here is an adorable video of Maru and Hana being hand-fed cat grass.

It’s Darkest Before the Dawn

Every time I think I’m getting better, I take two steps backwards. I was on the upswing last night, and I was foolishly optimistic that I would be better when I woke up. Imagine my chagrin (but not surprise) when I woke up with a tickle in my throat. Up to this  point, I’ve been mostly achy and flipping between feverish and chilly. I’ve had no strength, and I tire easily. Now, added to that, my throat is scratchy, and my nose is runny. I’m coughing as well, which, of course, makes my throat feel worse. I went to Cubs this morning to stock up on groceries, and I bought ginger, honey, and lemon so I can make my mom’s ginger tea. It feels soothing going down, and everyone knows all three of those are good for what ails you. I also bought a thing of Simply Lemonade with mango, so I’m drinking both of those in addition to my gallon of pop and my thermos of water. I’m quaffing ALL THE FLUIDS in an attempt to halt this before it gets really bad.

I also know I’m sick because my already-short patience is almost at nil. My inner sarcastic monologue is twice as bad when I’m sick, and I’m less able to keep it off my face. At Cubs, there were two elderly ladies who were blocking an aisle and didn’t move as I pushed my cart up to them. This is one of my pet peeves in the best of times, and I’m sure the impatience was etched on my face. One of the biddies slowly moved aside, and in my brain, I was thinking, “Come on, woman. Move faster! It’s only common courtesy.” Then, the cashier wanted to tell me his life story, and I was curter than I normally would have been. I think, anyway. It’s possible that it was all in my head because I’m pretty able to mask my inner impatience, but it makes me uncomfortable to be that acerbic.

Anyway, I’m keeping this short for today. I wish my Shadow would do this to me.