Wellness Wednesday – About a Body

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In The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater, there’s a thematic opener throughout the book. “Depending on where you began the story, it was about ___.” I often feel that the story of my health and fitness journey is much the same way. It looks different depending on when in my life you start and end.

Picture #1: There was once an athletic girl who had never struggled with weight issues. Then she got sick in college and had mysterious symptoms, including rapid weight gains and losses, for eleven years. Would she have gained weight in adulthood without the illness? Maybe. All we know is that by the time the illness was found and cured, she’d gained so much weight that she was morbidly obese and very unhealthy.

Picture #2: There was once a girl who who gained tons of weight through eleven years of illness. She hated her body and felt a lot of shame, and over three years of determined work, lost 100 lbs.

Picture #3: There was once a girl who had lost 100 lbs and kept that weight off for nearly two years. She was learning to love her body despite the damage done to it over the years. Then she received an emotional blow so heavy and severe that she began to attack herself in every way possible. She began a nomadic lifestyle and developed an eating disorder and regained 3/4ths of what she had lost before she found a tiny bit of peace and stopped her self-attacks.

Picture #4: There was once a girl who…only this story hasn’t been written yet. Only the setting is in place: a girl who is no longer living a nomadic life, and who wants very badly to overcome her various disorders and get healthy again. This is a girl who, other than her weight, is very healthy. A girl who is fitter than to be expected at her current size, and who wants to be more fit. A girl who is a fighter, but who has also exhausted her strength over the past four years.

Here I am. Ready to work, but weary and wary at the same time. Dismayed by my body, but trying to love it at the same time and refusing to use shame as a motivator. Knowledgeable about what used to work for weight loss, and what might not work as well now that I’ve got some new physical issues/illnesses. Upset by my failures but no longer held down by them. I acknowledge that there are good things – I’m in a better place than when I began my last weight loss journey. I saw my GP last week, and my blood-stats are better than they’ve ever been. So good, in fact, that my doctor didn’t even bother to tell me that I should try to lose weight despite me being obese. I’m also doing very well, muscle-wise. While I’ve regained a lot of weight, my body structure is very different now than it was the last time I was at this weight:

(then vs now)

My inches are closer to what they were when I weighed 15 lbs less than I do now. I have a lot more muscle mass. I’m fitter and stronger in many ways, and I’m healthier in terms of cholesterol etc than I’ve ever been (even at my thinnest). These are all good things, and good signs. Weight loss is a long, hard process and it takes a hard shove to get the ball rolling. That’s the part I’m trying to push through now – the start. I have yet to find my groove, but I hope to soon. I’d like to write that fourth story, and add a fifth picture – a healthy me at a healthy weight – to start a new story of the healthy rest of my life.

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Top Ten(ish) Autumn-themed Books

I struggled hard with this topic. I don’t know if it’s just me – maybe I don’t read the right kind of books – or if publishers just don’t take advantage of autumn-themed palettes, but I couldn’t find many books at all with fall covers. Horror covers, yes. Halloween or scary or covers, yes. But just fall? Coffee and scarves and changing leaves and all that? Rare, at least in terms of books I know. I wanted to feature all autumn-themed book covers for this topic, but eventually I broke down and compromised. I’ve chosen to pull up my favorites of autumn-themed covers, scary/horror/spooky/Halloween-themed covers, and even some covers that only remind me of fall because of the internal contents. In no particular order, here are a dozen favorites:

So am I crazy? Why am I not seeing autumn-themed book covers out there? Am I looking in the wrong places? It seems that if they aren’t out there, there’s a great avenue for marketing. Many people love autumn themes!

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Posted in Book Talk | Tagged | 8 Comments

Sunday Coffee – Serial

I have always struggled with reading in chunks. If I’m going to read through a whole book, I won’t take more than three weeks to do it.** Even the really long and/or tough ones, like Pale Fire or Don Quixote, hit a point for me where I have to push through them quick, because I can’t stand for them to linger more than three weeks. For this same reason, I’ve never been able to participate in read-alongs. I’ve tried a few times. I hosted a read-along for Bleak House by Charles Dickens, just a couple chapters per week. Even though I posted faithfully, I read the full book nearly two months before the actual read-along ended. Same thing when I co-hosted a read-along for Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson. That particular group read only lasted six weeks, and still I was done with the book by the time three weeks were out. This is consistent regardless of whether I love the book or hate it.***

Recently, though, I’ve started to realize the value of serialized reading. My most anticipated book of 2017 – Oathbringer – is due out in mid-November. Starting in late August, Tor (the publisher) began posting three chapters per week of the novel. Since this is one of those giant fat 1000+ page books, the serializing will release about a quarter of the book before Oathbringer is officially published. Of course, the day that it comes out, I will devour the other three-quarters, after which I’ll reread via audio probably half a dozen times before I’m satisfied.**** In the meantime, though, I’m reading each snippet as they’re released.

Getting three chapters at a time draws out the excitement. I’ve been waiting for this book for SO LONG that it feels just a tiny bit closer each week. I’m noticing more details than I would get in a quick first read-through because I’m not trying to gulp down the entire book as fast as possible. Each week brings new thoughts and theories, and I’m just dying to discuss them with someone, if anyone else were reading along. And while on the one hand, I wish I could just have the whole book already, on the other, I’m rather enjoying the experience of (essentially) mini-teasers. For the first time ever, I kinda understand the joy of serialized reading, and read-alongs, and a place to discuss new developments with other eager readers. I’m not sure I have the patience to enforce serialization on myself, but I’m also really, really excited to have a chance to (ie be forced to) read this way.

**With the exception of audiobooks, which follow a different set of rules for me.
***Back in the day when I actually finished books that I wasn’t liking as I read.
****Yes, I know, I’m weird and I multi-read books.

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Words in Deep Blue, by Cath Crowley

After three years away, Rachel has lost touch with most of her friends from her home town. Those she didn’t drift away from, she cut from her life after her brother died. Grief has caused Rachel to withdraw, but she needs to get away from the place that holds all the memories surrounding Cal’s death, so she’s back in her home town again, facing people she’d rather not see again.

I prefer that synopsis to the one given on Goodreads, which makes this seem like a simple love story through letters in a bookstore. It’s not just about a love story through letters in a bookstore, though. It’s about Rachel’s depression and coping mechanisms. It’s about her ex-best-friend Henry and his obsession with a girl who comes back to him whenever she’s lonely or feeling vulnerable. It’s about a family that is falling apart, and a failing secondhand bookstore at the heart of that fallout.

This was (mostly) a very good book, thick and nuanced. With the exception of a few things toward the end (some things to do with Henry’s on-again-off-again girlfriend, who seemed a very undeveloped character), I enjoyed the story. I do wish that I hadn’t read it while I was sick, and that I hadn’t sped through it in a single afternoon. It’s the kind of book that’s easy to devour in a gulp and difficult to put down once you start, but at the same time it’s the sort of book that, for me, won’t stick long-term because of the way I read it.

And that’s unfortunate, because it’s a book that deserves to be remembered. The grief is very well-written, subtle and nuanced and just erratic enough to be believable. The love sections, too, were slow-growing and realistic. The addition of the letter-library and the various letters quoted throughout were a nice touch, and I love that not all the letters were romantic. Then there were the philosophical touches throughout, characters with backgrounds in poetry and science intermingling their plausible and not-so-plausible theories/beliefs in order to try to heal. It all meshed together so well, making a very rich experience that, again, I wish I hadn’t slammed my way through. Perhaps I will revisit one day for a longer-lasting impression.

Posted in 2017, Prose, Young Adult | 2 Comments

Wellness Wednesday – Arrogant Doctors

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I was planning to discuss the way I’ve been feeling about my body and my health/fitness journey lately today, but I had an experience Monday that got my blood boiling, and decided to put off my original plan til next week and write about this instead.

So I mentioned that I was seeing a neurologist soon. I wanted to talk to him about several things. First, there was the severe insomnia that has been ongoing for the last six years, an insomnia that is shared by several members of my family (siblings, so they don’t live with me) and which has taken the same patterns at the same age. Obviously a family history issue right? Second, there was the brain-fog that has been engulfing me over the last year, so that I’m worried something’s wrong. I want to know I don’t have some budding tumor or something! Third, I recently had a cousin with epilepsy describe the partial seizures she had growing up, the precursors to her full seizures. She described something that I experience quite often and always have, and that I know several of my siblings experience as well. I wanted to get an expert’s opinion on whether or not that’s coincidence or something more.

Unfortunately, my neurologist ended up being one of those arrogant cocky doctors who don’t listen at all to their patients – at least not to their middle-aged, obese female patients. He basically told me that for the sleep issues, I simply have to force myself not to sleep very much for two weeks, and then my body will adjust. Um…I basically did his little “strategy” for nine months when this first started. So F-you. Then he was skeptical that my cousin had epilepsy at all, and asked me who diagnosed her, because it didn’t sound like her seizures were actually epilepsy. Um, dude, my cousin has been seeing a neurologist who specialized in epilepsy for a decade and I think I trust that guy more than I trust your throw-off opinions. Well, okay, so he’ll order me a sleep study and some brain scans just in case, but they won’t find anything, because my problem is just that I don’t have enough willpower to go through the restricted sleep therapy. Yes. Literally he told me that my inability to cure my insomnia was due to lack of willpower.

I can’t tell you how belittled, helpless, hopeless, and angry I felt coming out of that appointment. Several hundred dollars wasted on a cocky bastard that was visibly restraining his eye-rolling when I explained exactly why restricted sleep therapy hasn’t and won’t work for me. Note that I didn’t even bother to tell him about the brain-fog issues – by the time he assumed that my cousin self-diagnosed her epilepsy and wasn’t really having seizures, I just wanted to get the hell out of there.

Now, I’m honestly not sure what to do. The neurology office is supposed to be setting up sleep studies and an EEG, and those are studies I need done, but I also never want to work with this doctor again. Tomorrow I see my primary care physician, a doctor who does actually listen to his patients and assumes they have a good idea how their own bodies are acting, and I’m going to get his opinion. I know there’s a neurologist in his practice that  might be a better person to talk to, but I don’t believe he does anything in sleep medicine, which is why I didn’t go to him in the first place. Still, it might be better to simply start over with someone who isn’t so arrogant and cocksure.

On a broader scale, I’m just sick of doctors that assume that you’re stupid and lazy if you’re fat. Years ago, I had a primary care doctor who was just like that. She assumed that everything I said was suspect, like making me redo genetic tests that I already had official results from to give her. It is so difficult to find doctors who treat you like a person when you’re overweight or obese. Coupled with being a woman – often considered stupid to certain doctors – and it just gets worse. The doctor on Monday treated me like I was just another complaining housewife, not worth the time he was spending on me. And I’m sick of that attitude. Being fat doesn’t make me unreliable, stupid, lazy, or inconvenient. Neither does being female. Yet all too often, that’s how I – we – get treated. It’s infuriating.

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Top Ten Book Boyfriends/Girlfriends

So technically today’s topic wants us to talk about which characters we as readers have crushes on. I don’t have very many of those, though, and instead I have a particular soft spot toward the rare functional couple in fiction. I like those couples that support each other and where both characters are good boyfriends/girlfriends, even when obstacles get in their way. In no particular order:

  1. Vin and Elend from the Mistborn trilogy (Brandon Sanderson)
  2. Zuzana and Mik from Daughter of Smoke and Bone (Laini Taylor)
  3. Mina and Peter from Crossed Wires (Rosy Thornton)
  4. Dalinar and Navani from the Stormlight Archive (Brandon Sanderson)
  5. Nick and Nora from The Thin Man (Dashiell Hammitt)
  6. Jasper and Dorian from The Girl at Midnight (Melissa Grey)
  7. Celia and Marco from The Night Circus (Erin Morgenstern)
  8. Siri and Susebron from Warbreaker (Brandon Sanderson)
  9. Lazlo and Sarai from Strange the Dreamer (Laini Taylor)
  10. Adam and Ronan from the Raven Cycle (Maggie Stiefvater)

What are some of your favorite functional fictional couples?

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Top Ten Tuesday is hosted by The Broke and the Bookish.

Posted in Book Talk | Tagged | 7 Comments

Sunday Coffee – New Goals

This year has been a weird one. I made goals for myself back in December, only to immediately have a bunch of them thwarted when an MRI revealed that I had a broken foot and thus I couldn’t really exercise for six months. Then of course there was the sudden move, the sudden job loss, all the extra credit card debt from fixing up the house and moving across the country, the brain-dead state I’ve been in that the doctors are trying to figure out…etc. When I look back on the goals I made for myself, I know that they’re just impossible in such a changed state. Rather than dwelling on them or just giving up the rest of the year, I decided to create some new things to focus on, based on my current situation.

  • Aim to lose 10-15 lbs
  • Paper-track my food daily
  • Attempt to finish the C25K program
  • Participate in three 5Ks
  • Do at least 25 yoga sessions (I’ve gotten way too far out of the habit!)
  • Increase my average daily steps to at least 8500
  • Take my last 2017 fitness test in October
  • Aim for 50% of nights with no sleep aids
  • Attempt to do NaNoWriMo
  • Meditate 750+ minutes (about 8-9 per day)
  • Finish either my in-progress afghan or my in-progress bedspread (crochet)

Some of these are built on the already-existing 2017 goals, but others I’ve had to let go of. I won’t use up all my yarn this year, nor do I plan to get rid of it just because I can’t use it all. There’s no way we’ll get 100% out from under our credit card until we can sell our house in Wisconsin. My brain isn’t working well for writing, so I doubt I’ll get any of the major edits or rewrites done. I have to put off the tattoos I wanted to get until we have a bit more money. Etc. Writing up these new goals will help me to refocus rather than on trying to plow through things that simply won’t work right now.

As you can see, my focus these next three months will be on my health. I’ve been stationary and stagnant for too long. I’ll discuss this a bit more in an upcoming Wellness Wednesday post, but in the meantime, I’d like to see if any of my readers have some good nonfiction suggestions regarding running, body-positivity, or food science/history. I’d appreciate any suggestions below! 🙂

 

Posted in Personal, Wellness | Tagged , | 9 Comments