Health – General

Dieting and The Brain

This post is sparked by the TED Talk by Sandra Aamodt: Why Dieting Doesn’t Usually Work. Video is embedded at the end of this musing should you want to listen in too.

At the heart of the talk is the fact that the brain, specifically the hypothalamus, acts as a sort of thermostat that signals hunger, energy, and metabolism. Whether you start out thin or fat, when you lose weight, your brain thinks you’re starving. For self-preservation, you will feel hungry and have less energy available.

Because I have been morbidly obese in the past 10 years or so, my body and my brain may very well have learned to think that this is the normal. Going down to a ‘healthy’ weight in the obesity scales will definitely not be a walk in the park because I am no longer wired for a lower number on the weighing scale.

Realizing that doesn’t give me an excuse to not make an effort. In fact, what she says next only encourages me further to continue with the lifestyle changes I’ve committed to recently.

Sandra points out that there are two types of eaters – intuitive eaters: rely on their hunger, and; controlled eaters: rely on willpower. Looks like I’ve been more of the latter. That explains the endless cycle of starving and then binging. Skipping meals and then going on an all-you-can-eat buffet.

When I was in highschool, my grandmother was against my going on a diet. She argued that I just need to stick to a healthy three full meals a day. Don’t skip, but don’t over indulge. If I had just listened to her then, I may have a chance to be 30 pounds lighter today. By the way, looking at my highschool photos now, I realize now that I wasn’t FAT! But at the time? Geez.

Sandra also talks about mindful eating. Listen to your body and eat when you’re hungry. But listen too when it says that the hunger has been satiated. Now that may take me awhile, so smaller portions will also help.

She then shows a graph of a long-term study across people of various weights and their risk of death based on four healthy habits: eating enough fruits and vegetables, exercising 3x a week, not smoking, and drinking moderately. It looks very similar to this:

healthy-habits-500x360

Image Source: http://thesocietypages.org/socimages/2012/12/31/evidence-that-fat-people-can-be-as-healthy-as-thin-people/

The short story is that the more of the 4 habits you have, the lower risk of death – regardless of weight. For the obese (darkest shaded bar on the graph), even just one healthy habit significantly reduces the risk by almost 50%. And when all four healthy habits are present? Then weight doesn’t matter. The person with the normal weight is just as likely or less likely to die prematurely than the obese person. 

So I guess I am on the right track. Except that when I resolved to make a habit of having green smoothies daily I had weight loss in mind. Now, I’m changing my mindset. My goal is no longer to lose weight, but to just be better. I think that can be achieved without necessarily losing all of my excess weight. If I can lose weight while eating more fruits and veggies and adding exercise in my lifestyle, then that’s a bonus.

What are your thoughts on this?

 

Sleeping it Off

I’ve been going back to work everyday for the past two weeks, but I’m absent for today’s shift. I knew I’ve had allergic rhinitis attacks in the mornings since last week but yesterday I woke up with a clogged but runny nose. It did not get better with water therapy. I knew coffee wasn’t bound to help (I was told it promotes congestion) but I needed help to stay awake and focused so I fixed myself half a sachet of instant coffee. When I got home, I did nothing but sleep. Whenever I woke up on the couch, I’d complain to either Dad or my boyfriend that I was feeling so sick. My head felt so heavy, nose still runny, had a very sore throat, and I felt feverish.

In the afternoon, I got up to eat and popped OTC cold meds. After reading two chapters off Clash of Kings, and doing two rows of crochet, I went back to sleep.

SLEEP.

 

I know that the natural remedy to colds is lots of sleep and lots of water. So I skipped work to catch up on sleep. Since getting back into the grind I felt like I have lost so much of it.

I worked the early shift (8PM-5AM) and mid-shifts (10PM) before but I was doing the closing shift again (2AM-11AM) for at least three weeks prior to my long medical leave. I always loved the closing shift. Being an opener only worked because we made arrangements for the boyfriend to have the same schedule as I do. When I was in the hospital his schedule got moved again and now we’re on opposite shifts and not the same weekends off. That is not helping. I try to stay up until he gets home but I just can’t. Truth is, the best time for me to sleep is 12 noon so I can get up feeling well rested at 6PM. But when I get home at 8 or 9 in the morning, I just can’t stay up. So I sleep way too early and wake up four hours later. I stay up for two hours before I get sleepy again and then try to get some more rest before I absolutely need to get ready for work. I hate that pattern but it’s become the story of my life. I hope it only takes one more week to adjust.

Right now, my back hurts a bit. It does that sometimes. It’s not too painful that I’d need to take any medicine, but it hurts enough to remind me that I probably need to be a little more aggressive in my almost non-existent effort to lose weight. And that I should also do the back exercises my therapists used to make me do.  I know that getting home tired isn’t an excuse to not making time for exercising but it’s just so easy to use that excuse. I’m also always blaming the boyfriend for not being fit, my argument is that if he made time for it, I would too. But he’s not responsible for my body, I am. If he doesn’t feel that it’s urgent that he lose his belly flat, well it’s a very urgent thing for me.

Besides, if I am to do any travelling soon, I’d better get my stamina built up again. I can’t be tired after only 5 minutes of walking, can I? Too bad sleeping doesn’t miraculously slough off the pounds…

Happy 1st Monthsary to My Back!

A month goes by very quickly; whether you’re busy or just chill it doesn’t matter, time still flies. It’s been a month and a week after my back operation!

I posted this on Instagram after my doctor’s appointment on May 25th. It was at that appointment that I was proclaimed fit to work and ready for the world. Hehe. So I’m going back to work full-time beginning this Monday, June 3rd. Yep, all in time for back-to-school rush.

It was only while we were having brunch that I realized it’s my back’s one month anniversary. That day, I went up and down the stairs at Il Terrazzo in Tomas Morato, and then again to get to Shmily Arts & Crafts Store in Sta. Ana, Manila. The girls were excited enough to go along with me for a drive and to buy some craft materials. Oh we didn’t know exactly where the store was, the iOS map was pretty helpful and we didn’t get lost or anything. Hehe.

The girls are selfie addicts, so we had our customary shots while in the car, and right before food was served.

 

Just now though, I realize more how crazy fun these girls are, look at all these photos they left for me to find on my Photo Stream (taken on the iPad):

CrazyGirls

Pretty young ones, aren’t they? Hell’a crazy too. And I’m just really glad they spent time with me that day. I may have given them an awkward talking-to about the birds and the bees but I just really love these girls and I want them to make the right decisions in life, young as they are. They were still toddlers when I was their age now, and back then I spent a lot of time with them too. I love that they still like being around Tita Vera, even when there could have been a hundred and one things they could do on a Saturday. 🙂

Hi May! Where’s April?

Well  hello there. How have you been?

Since our last conversation, I went back to the hospital and stayed there for 2 and a half weeks more. This time, with no bathroom privileges too. That was tough. Skip this post if you’d rather not hear about it. This post is about where April’s at so it may run long.  Thank you for dropping by. 🙂

The first part of my Staycation was already for pain management and bed rest but I still forced myself to get up when I needed to do number 1 or 2, and to take showers. Of course it meant also crying out in pain after about 3 minutes out of bed, but nature calls and what can you do? The doc sent me home after 7 days with medicines and a rehab schedule. I only lasted three days at home.

Every morning I would cry out for extreme pain. It was so bad we talked about just seeing my old doctor and ask for an operation. It was really bad. On the second day we went in for a therapy session. It didn’t happen. The rehab doctor looked at my MRI plates and she was of a mind to refer me back to the Orthopedic doctor. The bulge was so big. Since the doc wasn’t due in until the next morning, she sent me back home with stronger medicines. The short ride to and from the hospital was not fun.

On Saturday, 4/13, my dad went back to the hospital with my records to consult an orthopedic surgeon. My old doctor wasn’t in, so we had to get someone else. He made arrangements for me to be admitted via the Emergency Room. Oh my gee did I make a scene when we got there. There was only a wheelchair at the ER entrance when we arrived and that was useless for me, we went straight in looking for an empty bed. Within two minutes, I was crying again. There was immediate relief once my back hit the stretcher. Not sure why it took so long but it took another four hours before we reached my new accommodations at the 5th floor. Pain medication was given intravenously while we were waiting. With the hyped pain management plan, the doc wanted to give conservative treatment another chance – let’s give physical therapy one last chance, he said. If I really don’t respond, he’ll operate.

Arm Candy

Arm Candy

I was to have bed rest, no sitting up, and no going to the bathroom. It was difficult for me to use the bedpan, so it was diapers for me. There was no room to be embarrassed, my Mom and boyfriend took turns cleaning me up. By then I knew I wasn’t interested in admitting visitors, it would have been a little awkward, and I’d look like crap. Hehe.

I asked for strong medicine almost every 6 hours initially before I started to feel better. Therapy was continued bedside. I could get on with only oral medication. I was somewhat pain-free for two full days, I was happy! Maybe I didn’t need an operation after all. I got daily calls from my brother, but the best thing was that he brought the little guy over to visit me. He had his iPad time of course, but we also had cuddle time 🙂

Amir visits me!

Amir visits me!

Having Amir over was so refreshing. He was his usual self, bright, smart, and noisy! He had his breakfast there, and then asked for two cookies from my stash. Takaw!

But then I had a very, very bad attack. Not sure if it was that afternoon, or the next day. My entire left leg and lower back seemed besieged by muscle spasms. It was so painful I harassed the boyfriend who was the only one with me that afternoon. The medicine kicked in after 30 minutes, after I’d cried my lungs out already. Hot packs from my therapist were a huge help too. It was so bad. Because of that episode, the doctored ordered for a continuous traction for when the pain subsides. My bed was replaced with an older model fitted with a Balkan frame.

Balkan Frame on my bed

Balkan Frame on my bed

We didn’t get to maximize it though. The belt for the traction wasn’t big enough for me and it took days to get a new one. By then the doc had decided to do the operation. The pain may have subsided, but I wasn’t improving. I started to feel numbness from my thigh down to my toes. There was some peace between that worse episode and the actual operation. Watching movies distracted me. The nurse was right to tell me to focus on something else. Sometimes it just wasn’t easy, but most of the time I would wake up to a good morning. Oh I did use the thing to hoist myself up for shampoo time!

Shampoo time

I availed of the service only twice in my entire stay because I learned a week late that it was available for a fee.  By then I had lost a lot of (falling) hair and I had so much yucky dandruff! Yes, I get them but only if I don’t wash my hair everyday. Ugh.

Once in a Lifetime - Cathy Kelly

Once in a Lifetime – Cathy Kelly

Reading the books I had brought with me helped. I finished Cathy Kelly’s Once in a Lifetime pretty quickly but I couldn’t go type up a review just as fast. Even blogging on the iPad mini wasn’t so convenient when you had to lie down on your side all the time. Later, I picked up A Game of Thrones, book 1 of the series A Song of Fire and Ice. I alternated watching season 1 and reading the book. I’m done with the book, and still a couple of episodes left for the first season. Can’t wait for the next.

And of course, I crocheted. No photo of the work in progress though. Maybe next time.

The operation took place on the morning of April 25th. I was wheeled in to the operating room already drowsy. The last thing I remembered was having difficulty breathing, and passing out. Next time I was awake my mouth was parched dry and my chin was sore. I was out for close to five hours. When I was transferred to my old bed I realized there was a catheter attached to me (thank God it wasn’t painful).

Amir is back!

I was wheeled in to my room and my special visitor was there, all cute and charming. He said my name a few times, and referred to ouchy (IV line). He was upset when the nurse came in but only because he thought I would get hurt. He touched my toes, my hands, and he gave me kisses. He walked all around the room. I wish I could stay awake and just watch him. But it was time to get more sleep. Sleep was vital to recovery after all.

I appreciate the good job the doctors did. I was not in much pain after the operation. Almost none. I am vaguely aware of a plate on my spine though. Strange feeling, that. Hehe. What I didn’t like was the shot of Demerol. Before knocking me out I felt it wash through my body like it was some poison. It made me extremely uncomfortable and I threw up. And throwing up after you’ve just been cut open could be an ass. So I thanked the prescription for keeping me pain-free that day, but I told the nurse not to give me another dose. Please, no.

The doctors expected a fast recovery because I was such a good patient. I didn’t meet their expectation of sitting up by that same evening though. I didn’t even try to stand up the next day, did I? But once I started sitting up two days later, it got easier and easier. What really surprised and upset me was that I still have numbness on my left foot – until today. It felt weak and I didn’t trust my leg to carry my weight. Doc says its normal because the nerve that got caught between the discs was damaged really bad. It was flattened, and only time can tell if it recovers fully. It better.

But really, there’s almost no pain now. And that was what the operation was all about. So I am happy now. Still taking it easy though.

So if anyone asks me what April 2013 was about, I’d say it was about pain and overcoming it. It was about keeping a positive attitude even when the world is reduced to one bed, and a room. It’s about how lucky I am to be born into this world as daughter to Laura and Danny, and sister to Vlady. It’s about knowing the love and support of a good man even though he can be a dick some times.

It’s not about becoming neck-deep in loans because I used up and exceeded all my medical coverage. Not even. I will have to payoff April 2013 for a long time yet, but I don’t mind. I gained more than I lost.

So hello there May! You kinda crept up on me. Let’s go. 🙂

Staycation

I have long wanted to go on a staycation. To book a weekend stay at a nice hotel in the city, have a fancy dinner, order room service, and veg out on comfy beds and luxe sheets. Inside a cool room all day long. Well, Alfred would say that I finally did it, and for an entire week too.

Problem is, I didn't spend the week in a hotel. I've been a patient at the Capitol Medical Center.

My rehab doctor advised bed rest, stronger pain medication and twice daily therapy to manage the pain. They also did an EMG and an MRI. Both tests basically confirmed an impinged nerve due to slipped disc. That's no news to me. I am going home today although I can still hardly sit up nor stand for too long. I guess they can do nothing more for me and they haven't advised surgery just yet. I go for two more weeks of thrice weekly therapy then I'll see the doctors again.

I will also need to seriously lose weight. Being heavy is making matters worse. Like that's easy, no?

Alfred is my bedside nurse, though he sleeps a lot, he's been helping me get a proper bath.

Me & my bedside nurse @badodong #dblcam made with @dblcam

My parents have kept me company here, too.

Like a scene out of our living room :) #instaparents #parents #familynight

My nieces and nephew have also been by.

FaceTime with my nephew was a regular happy event. 🙂

 

Hospital food wasn't bad at all. Actually, I feel like they should have deprived me a little.

The bed and the room does not feel new. But the A/C works just fine and I have a refrigerator, cabinets and my own small toilet and bath. The nurses have been nice and friendly, so is my therapist.

But they don't have Wi-fi so I rely on Globe for connectivity. Rather than spend so much time on my gadgets, I read books and crocheted. Mostly though, I'd been sleeping.

So anyway, that's how and where I've been. How about you?

 

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