Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Resolutions for 2015

Thursday:

I thought I should make a few resolutions. Three is a good number.

Then shalt thou count to three, no more, no less. Three shall be the number thou shalt count, and the number of the counting shall be three. Four shalt thou not count, neither count thou two, excepting that thou then proceed to three. Five is right out. (Monty Python)

1. First up, since this is a weight loss blog after all, I will continue to try to lose weight. I weighed 82.1 kg this morning. My plan is to do three dietbets in the first half of the year; which, if successful, should get me down under 75 kg. I've been trying to get there for years. I skimmed that weight for approximately three seconds when I was doing Weight Watchers, then went straight back up again. Losing 10% of my weight would be an awesome start, and then I'll see where I go from there.

2. Something that has become very relevant recently, I need to learn how to deal with stress. I don't mean to stop feeling sad, worried, angry, or whatever emotion is appropriate to the situation - but I do need to cope with it better when it over a long period. Right now I have so much trouble sleeping and my stomach is churning most of the time, and any tiny extra problem like a change to plans or having to disagree with someone or being asked to come out of my cave just tips me over into a crying jag, or nausea, or a spike of adrenalin into "fight or flight" mode.

I suck at meditation but obviously some kind of calming technique is needed. Breathing exercises or something. My mind is always on a hamster wheel, even when I'm not particularly stressed, so I think it would help me through "normal times" as well as bad.

3. Polish my book, let others read it and comment, finish editing and look for a publisher! And write/start on the sequel. I am a procrastinator and I let everything get in the way of what I really want. Any excuse will do. Sometimes its a valid excuse, often it isn't. But I did some great work in 2014, if a bit more slowly than I would like, and I will continue that.

Three will do. I hope everyone had a great NYE.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

2014 Highlights and lowlights

Wednesday:

Here we are on the last day of the year. The highlight of 2014 for me was writing my book. I was hoping to have it polished by now, ready for people to read and comment on, but at least I completed a whole book! And did one round of editing. Obviously the major lowlight has been my mum's health. She's mostly had a good year - given that she has terminal cancer - but these last couple of months she has been going from bad to worse.

Those two things stand out so strongly for me that I can't even think of any other 2014 events right now. Oh well, I've got a whole blog to reread if I feel inspired to check.

My weight has fluctuated a little bit throughout the year, not much, and I am ending 2014 at the same weight I started. I was 82.5 kg on 1st Jan and I was 82.7 kg yesterday. At this moment I really don't care. I'm sure it will become a priority again at some point.

One of the stressors in the past couple of weeks has been mum's Will. She made a new one when she first got sick last year, but recently wanted to make a change to it. We wrote it up (my husband is a lawyer) but it was really difficult to get two witnesses at the same time who weren't beneficiaries, at the hospital when mum could barely hold a pen to sign. We finally got it done, and I gave a copy to my uncle who is the executor. Then today my uncle contacts me and says the will is not valid because blah blah with reference and you'll need to do it again even though mum is barely conscious most of the time. Um, no sir, that is the Act for another state and doesn't apply in mum's state see this actually relevant reference and by the way you do know that my husband is an effing lawyer? (I didn't say that last bit). Sigh. The new Will pleased all the relevant parties (mum, me and my brother) and I hope my uncle isn't going to be a pain about it.

I hope everyone has a lovely NYE and a wonderful New Year.

Monday, December 29, 2014

No control

Tuesday:

I'm a planner. A planner and a worrier. Christmas was a stressful time, going back and forth between hospital and various family events. I was only able to cope because Tim and I sat down and made a plan about where we would be each day. We have a beach holiday coming up, fully paid in advance and non-refundable, and at the moment we are still planning to go but not sure if we will be able to, depending on mum's condition. I took some comfort that at least I had this period in between the two when I had some control, Tim was home to look after the kids so I could just hire a car and go and spend as much time with mum as I needed to, making my own plans about when to go and where to stay.

Now even that has been taken away. Firstly, Tim decided that he wanted to come to Sydney too with the kids, a couple of days earlier than I had planned, so we could spend New Year's Eve with his brother and no doubt other members of his family. I have never felt less like socialising. And it would also leave us travelling on a couple of the busiest days of the year, and me looking for food when everything was closed. And then I tried to book a hire car and that part fell apart too. They were all about three times the price I expected, around $100 per day, and no-one had a depot anywhere near Tim's brother's house, and they were either closed on New Year's Day or on Sundays or wouldn't let me pick up in Sydney and drop off in Canberra even though they had depots in both places and Canberra is in a tiny state completely surrounded by New South Wales so we practically count as being part of it.

What had been a simple plan to visit my mother now seemed like a nightmare. On top of dealing with my mother's illness and staying at my mother's house (I considered a hotel, but again that was very expensive and also further away from the hospital), I have to work out what to do about all the rest. Tim has suggested I keep the car and he and the kids catch the bus back to Canberra - there is a very good service but it goes from the centre of the city so it will be quite a big hassle for them getting in from the suburbs. Either I spend New Year's Eve trying to smile and be social or I drop Tim and the kids there and spend NYE without them at my mother's house, either way with them catching the bus home and me eating McDonalds for every meal with everything else closed because there is no way I am going in that revolting kitchen, or else I stay here in Canberra alone and wait until they bring the car back so I can go on the day I originally planned. And they will be left here without a car for however long I am away, which will be difficult for them.

I hate this so much. Tim isn't being unreasonable about wanting to have some fun on NYE, but between that and the hire car companies I feel like all my control over the situation has been taken away. What I had was an illusion anyway, I have no control over my mother's illness, but I was clinging to that illusion to keep me sane. I went to bed and cried for two hours last night, slept for maybe four hours, and then got up at dawn to write this because I was lying there with my stomach churning with stress. Remembering the good old days as a teenager when I used to cut myself because physical pain is so much easier to deal with than emotional pain. I can't take refuge in that any more. I have to just deal with it.

Edit: of course as soon as I told Tim how he was feeling he said we would make other arrangements that worked better for me.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Relaxing

Sunday:

I slept so much better in my own bed! And with the CPAP, which I didn't take to Sydney because the car was so full and because we were staying in four different places. But I reckon I had eight hours last night, which was amazing.

This is the wallpaper I chose for the lock screen on my new iPad. Cool huh?


The kids (and adults) have been having a great time relaxing and playing with all their presents. Christmas away from home can be tricky because they can't play with many of the things - like I wouldn't let Aiden open any of his new Lego (he got five sets) or anything else with small pieces that would get scattered and lost. So they open all this exciting stuff on the day then it gets packed away again in the suitcases and not used for another couple of days. The loungeroom floor is now completely covered in bits and pieces. Jasmine and I sat together last night and did some colouring-in and I really enjoyed it. I gave Tim a huge screen for his computer and he has a new game so he is happy. It's so nice to be home.

Christmas contrasts

Saturday:

I'm back in Canberra for a few days before I return to Sydney (alone) to spend more time with mum.

So I found out Monday afternoon that mum had been in hospital since Friday, and my brother hadn't told me. I debated whether I should drop everything and go, but my brother said she was in no immediate danger and we decided to spend the afternoon scrambling to get ready for Christmas and leave in the morning. I didn't get a lot of sleep after that decision! How much could I trust my brother's assessment? I did try ringing mum's mobile, but apparently she put it on a lunch tray and it got taken away and never returned - probably in the trash somewhere - of course I didn't find that out until later so I kept trying; and I called the hospital but at the time she was off having an MRI. So I spoke to a nurse but not to her.

Anyway, Tuesday morning we each opened one present because they weren't all going to fit in the car - we each opened the biggest one! Then the car was carefully loaded, including bags under feet and on laps. Not the most comfortable for a four hour drive. But we are big on presents in our family, especially on my husband's side. We got to Sydney and picked up mum's house key from my brother then went to the hospital.

I saw her only two weeks before and at that time she was obviously tired and unwell, but still very much herself. On Tuesday she was much worse. She didn't recognise me for a minute when I walked in, she thought I was someone else's visitor looking for a chair. Scary. She only realised it was me when Tim and the kids followed me around the curtain. She was better the rest of the visit, alert enough most of the time to go through some mail with me - we opened Christmas cards and arranged for me to pay a bill for her - but she needed to close her eyes and rest often. She needed assistance to get from bed to chair briefly so they could change her sheets. My brother said she had barely eaten in the weeks before she went into hospital, and she still wasn't. She'd had a drip for a few days but it was making her fluid retention worse and they had taken it out.

She made it clear to the doctors that she no longer wanted the cancer treatment which was making her feel so sick and not doing much good, she just wants palliative care to make her last days easier. All she wants is a private room instead of being in with three others, she is waiting for one to become available. With no hope of improvement, she doesn't see the point of hanging on. I accept this, as it is how I would feel in that situation. It is interesting that my husband's family feels the opposite, they think she needs treatment for depression so she'll have the will to live longer. Yet Tim's mother died very slowly after decades of gradual decline (MS), with a loss of all physical and mental function, and I think that would be much worse than dying relatively quickly.

We left at dinner time and weren't sure if my brother had planned for us to have dinner with him and I couldn't get through on the phone so we went to a restaurant. Then when we got back to the house he had just got back from visiting mum and was starting to prepare food for us. We pretended to eat a little bit (very late for the kids!). We were a bit dubious about eating anything he had arranged. He has OCD and hoards food. Decaying, rotting food. The house stinks and now mum isn't there (he lives with mum) it's only going to get worse. We stayed there the night, in the smell and the dust. Tim's asthma got quite bad overnight.

The next day we visited mum again then went to the other side of Sydney to our hotel. My family and my husband's live about as far apart as possible in the same city. The kids swam in the pool, we set up out little travel Christmas tree, and had dinner with my husband's family.

 
On Christmas morning we opened all our presents. My main present was an iPad air, my first tablet. Also many other things, like this cute teacup and a retro kettle and toaster. The teacup is sitting on a colouring book I bought myself after I bought my daughter one and then remembered how much I enjoyed it as a child and even a teenager.


Christmas morning was hard. The contrast between getting all the material things I wanted, and my mother terminally ill in hospital, was very strange and upsetting.

We had lunch with my husband's extended family. I enjoyed the socialising part but not the food. They just don't have the same taste in food as I do. Tim's mother was English and their food traditions reflect that. They can have eight desserts on the table with not one I like! Good for me, I suppose. Not that I went hungry. I filled up on chips and chocolates.

Long drive through Christmas Day traffic and a sudden thunderstorm, back to the hospital to see mum. She had deteriorated even more over the couple of days since our first visit. She spent most of the time lying with her eyes closed. She was too weak to open her presents - which were totally inappropriate anyway since I had bought them when she was still relatively well. I can't see her reading the books now, and she barely glanced at the digital photo frame that we set up with lots of family pictures.

My brother said he hadn't had time to buy presents - and for once I didn't blame him, he's been doing pretty well looking after mum - and he'd grabbed a few things he already had. He gave us chocolates, which would be ok, but I checked the use-by dates later and threw them all out. Expired in 2009. Not sure how rancid chocolates get in five years, but I didn't want to take the risk.

We went to my grandfather's house for dinner with my side of the family. We got there so late they had given up on us but there was enough food left, if a bit cold, and we got to have dessert with them (desserts I like!) and a chat. Only an hour or so then the cousins with small children were leaving so we did too. We had a different hotel, near Poppa's (grandad). One of the hardest things of the day was everyone talking about mum. Not that I minded talking about her, but it seemed I had to say the same things over and over to each person or group of people as someone else asked how she was. It boiled down to: she's dying. But you can't say it quite like that.

We saw mum again the next morning, she barely knew I was there. The kids have been so angelic all through this. They would visit with grandma a bit then Tim would take them off for a walk around the hospital or to sit somewhere and play with their Nintendo DSs. They never complained or showed distaste for how she looked or got impatient. And Tim drove me back and forth through stressful city traffic every day. I have such a lovely family.

It's Tim's father's birthday on Boxing Day so we always get together for lunch again, it was an even bigger group than Christmas when people have other commitments. A few more presents from people we hadn't seen yet. I don't want to sound mercenary, but it actually healed a bit of hurt I was carrying from last year when I felt a bit forgotten by some of Tim's family. This year I felt showered in presents, and therefore love. It's not about what I got, it's about people showing they care about you. I usually feel very much a part of his family, I fit in better with them than I do with my own family although they are lovely people too, so it was nice to feel included again in the present orgy.

Then we saw The Hobbit, in two shifts so there were babysitters for all the children. This is a big family tradition too, major fantasy movies seem to get released on Boxing Day here and we are all fantasy geeks so we saw all the Lord of the Rings movies together and now the three Hobbit movies. Next year it will be the new Star Wars.

Stayed at my brother-in-law's house then drove home today. So nice to be home, and I am looking forward to my own bed so much. Stress and worry have kept me awake a lot, last night even though that spare bed is horribly uncomfortable I just crashed and actually had a good sleep. But I need lots more. I actually feel a bit less stressed now. I have spent some time with mum, so I no longer have the panic of "what if she dies before I get there?" Of course I am sad and worried, but less frantic.

My plan it to have a few days at home then go back to Sydney by myself to spend more time with mum. I'll be staying at her house which will be horrible, but I'll do my best to clean and I'll just stay out of the stinking kitchen - I'll probably have to eat out every meal. I can't imagine cooking there with all of my brother's stuff everywhere. But the good thing is that the house is only 5 mins from the hospital. Tim has time off work so he can look after the kids at home and I'll only have to worry about mum. I really don't know how long I'll be there or what is going to happen.

I'll try to keep myself healthy but weight loss really isn't my focus at the moment.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Hospital

Monday:

I spoke to my brother yesterday morning, after mum hadn't answered her phone. He mentioned that she'd been feeling worse and her medication was being changed. What he didn't mention was that she had been admitted to hospital on FRIDAY NIGHT. I am so stressed and angry and agitated. How could he not tell me that? Apparently he thought she would call me, from hospital, on her mobile. But she's sick, and couldn't find her phone, and never did. He called me this morning, I think after talking to mum and finding out she hadn't spoken to me.

Of course we are getting ourselves organised to go to Sydney. I just had to sit down for a minute to write out my frustration and worry. It generally helps me. Not feeling much better right now though.

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The past few days

Sunday:

I ended up winning $42.02 on dietbet - that is my $25 stake back plus $17.02 profit. Of course the money isn't the real prize (if it was it wouldn't be worth four weeks hard work!) but it is a nice motivator. I haven't weighed myself since then. I plan to do another dietbet after Christmas.

The kids' last day of school for the year was Wednesday, Tim worked until Friday but is now on holidays too. On Thursday I babysat a friend's children as she was working, they were here all day. Luckily they are very good friends with my children and they had a great time. When they were younger such a long day could sometimes be a bit too much, but it was fine.

Friday was cake day. I decided to buy the kids a treat when we were out shopping, Aiden chose potato chips but Jasmine and I decided we would get a some cake from a really good bakery nearby. It doesn't sell by the slice but it does have quarters - big enough for three generous slices. But when we got there the cake we wanted wasn't available by the quarter, only whole or half. After some dithering I bought a half. Six slices for two people (neither my son nor my husband like chocolate cake, even with chocolate and strawberry cream). We had a slice for morning tea. And afternoon tea. And dessert after dinner. Urg. It was really really good cake, with real ingredients not processed junk. But this is why I haven't dared weigh myself! I'm not proud of cake day.

We didn't host Christmas last year and won't this year, but I love cooking and I wanted to try a turducken (duck inside chicken inside turkey - in this case using just the breast of each) so tonight we are having a "Christmas in December" as I'm calling it (yes that is a joke). We'll have a little/big Christmas style dinner just for us. We watched the Carols last night from Sydney and the kids have been doing some Christmas crafts and decorating.

Mum is getting worse. She no longer wants to talk on the phone. I have talked to my brother but it's harder to get all the information I want from him. I think her doctor has changed her medication again and has moved up some other appointments. I'll see her in a few days and may stay after Christmas. I'm not sure what I can do for her. I feel like she should be in hospital, since she can still hardly eat. She seems to be going downhill fast. I lie awake worrying. I can at least prepare some food for her, she asked specifically for soup, and take that.

We are going over to a friend's house for brunch. I really haven't felt like socializing this year but I guess I can't just sit at home and worry, that doesn't help anyone.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Morbid thoughts

later Wednesday:

In the aftermath of winning dietbet, I have eaten some snacks I was saving specially for today. And didn't count calories. But I also walked for over an hour. And drank lots of water. My attempt to lose weight is not over, but I did have a bit of a break today after the extreme restrictions I had placed on myself.

I had quite a long talk with my mum today. She is ready for this to be all over, giving me contact numbers and wrapping up her finances. She doesn't seem to be in too much pain, but has discomfort, and is just so weak and tired all the time that she sleeps all day. With no hope of getting better, at the best only short term temporary improvement, she doesn't see any point in hanging on.

It made me wonder, as I was on my long walk, which is better: to die suddenly with no fearful anticipation, or to have warning so you can say goodbye and organise things left behind? Which would you prefer? And if you would chose to have warning of your death, how far in advance? A day, a week, a year? I had a dream a while ago that I died suddenly and then hung around as an unseen ghost because I couldn't bear not having said goodbye to my family. After many years I was finally able to get through to my now-grown-up son, and he passed on my message of love and farewell, and then I was able to leave them and move on. I think the dream accurately represents my feeling that I would like to be able to say goodbye. On the other hand I would hate to hang on for years in pain or with my mind going.

Sorry for the morbid thoughts, but this is what is on my mind at the moment. I seem to be surrounded by death. My mum getting closer, but also a popular sportsman died in a freak on-field accident and Australian TV was full of that for a week, then this hostage thing in Sydney where two people died (plus the gunman, may he rot) and now all those children in Pakistan. It is bewildering.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

I won dietbet!

Wednesday:

I won my first dietbet! My weigh loss had stalled, still 600 grams to go, even though I was eating clean and counting calories. So for two days I cut right down on carbs, which also meant a natural reduction in calories, and concentrated on drinking lots of water. Without carbs I had little energy to exercise, but I did some walking and languid dancing. This morning I got up early, too much suspense to sleep, and got on the scale. And my weight had finally dropped to the required level! 80.7 kgs. A total loss of 3.5 kgs (7.7 pounds) over the four weeks of the dietbet.

Submitted and verified, I'm a winner. I won't know how much money I've won until everyone has weighed in, because the pot is shared between the winners. I will use it to buy myself another charm for my reward bracelet - it's been a long time since I've earned a new charm!

Then I had an early breakfast. Carbs! Oh beautiful carbs. Yummy toast.

A combination of success and carbs have made me a happy girl this morning.



My plan now is to relax my diet a bit until after Christmas (I said relax, not binge). And I'll definitely do another dietbet next year. I loved the supportive chat on the forums and the whole competition thing. I loved having a finishing line to aim for, not "this is my life now". They have 6 month challenges, but that is too long for me. One month is good.

Difficult days

Tuesday:

It's been a hard couple of days. Mum isn't any better. The new medication is helping her appetite go up from zero to low, which is good, and is also slowing down the fluid production (she thinks). But she is feeling worse and worse. Today I called several times and she didn't pick up the phone beside her bed. I finally got through to my brother when he got home and he said she's not up to answering the phone, and even talking is an effort. So that is scary. Does she need to be in hospital? Who makes that decision? I feel very helpless so far away.

Much less important, but still a burden, is that in a last-ditch attempt to win this dietbet I've cut out carbs (except fruit and non-starchy vegetables). 64 grams of carbs today, 68 yesterday. I'd been very good all week anyway with sticking to my calorie limit and avoiding junk, but my weight loss has stalled and for the past five days I've had the same 600 grams to lose, so I cut the carbs which usually does work for me. (But maybe I've already lost all the water weight I was holding on to, it doesn't seem to have helped this time so far.) I don't do well without carbs and two days without them has left me tired and weak and struggling to cope a bit. Or maybe that's just natural worry. Either way, it's been hard. My weigh out is tomorrow morning, or the next if I want. So I am looking forward to a whole additional day of low carb. Not.

Of course I could question if it is worth it. This current diet is not sustainable for me, I am only doing it to lose weight temporarily for this weigh out. Why do it to myself? I guess I just want to win this dietbet. And every day I eat healthily is another day I'm not stuffing myself with junk. Even if I binge a bit after it's over. Aside from these past couple of days, I've been eating a healthy sustainable diet. The dietbet has really helped me to stay on track. I've found it very motivational, and the chat on the website is great. Everyone is very supportive.

But right now I just want it over with.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

All about the anacondas

Sunday:

Only a couple of days to go on dietbet. 600 grams (1.3 pounds) to lose. Because of the time difference I can weigh in any time from Tuesday night to Thursday night - but I'm aiming for Wednesday morning my time. I've already been very good all week, with great success so far. I am going to have two very strict, very low carb days and see how I go. Down to the wire!

Since I'm not hosting Christmas this year and all my shopping is done for both presents and food contributions (except for helping my husband finish buying for his relatives, but he is nearly done too after a big shopping weekend), I am in a low-stress Christmas mode. Apart from my sick mum (obviously a big stress) the only thing I have to worry about is how to fit all the presents and food and boxes of crackers (those things take up a lot of space!) in the car. But we manage it every year, tucked under the kids' dangling feed or perched on laps. Everyone but the driver gets packed in! We have put a few presents under our tree and it looks exciting and very festive.

I've been listening to music by Rock My Run while exercising, often tracks I don't usually hear. That Nicki Minaj song Anaconda is weird. The rapping guy saying he isn't interested in sex with a girl unless she has a huge butt? I sure hope everyone is turning down his "anaconda" with an attitude like that. Shallow much?

But then I listened to the lyrics of "All About That Bass" and I don't think it's any better. She sings that she is not a stick figure silicone barbie doll or photo-shopped, which is fine (although possibly skinny-shaming), but then "I got that boom boom that all the boys chase" and her mamma told her "Boys like a little more booty to hold at night." So it actually has the same message as Anaconda. Be this exact shape so that boys will want to have sex with you. Great message for my ten year old daughter.

I realise that being attractive to the opposite sex is actually biologically imperative - to propagate your genes - and there is nothing wrong with wanting to look good. But I just don't like the message that your physical shape is all about attracting random sexual partners. Not about health, or feeling good about yourself, or being fit. And there is no hint that sex is about more than physical attraction, that there is/can be/should be also aspects of love and companionship and security for future children and all sorts of other things. The female body is just there to attract as many anacondas as possible, apparently.

That is my rant for the day! Maybe I'm not getting enough carbs...

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Up and down

Friday:

Today I finished my first edit of my novel and then printed it out and had it spiral bound. It's nowhere near "book" yet but I have a physical copy! Now I will do another edit on the printed copy. Sometimes I prefer having a real page in front of me. Then after that my husband gets to read it and comment - tactfully of course.

My mum had her abdomen drained again today. Only nine days after the last time and it was nearly as bad. She doesn't feel like the new medication is helping but it's only been a few days. She says she doesn't need me to go and stay there at this stage, maybe later. I don't think she has much hope of getting better now. She is being very practical, like giving me phone numbers of her friends to notify if she dies.

Life is full of good and bad, up and down.

More Christmas shopping

Thursday:

After a thunderstorm last night that cooled the air, I had a much better sleep last night. I only woke a couple of times, and had my CPAP on for around 5 hours. I might have had around 8 hours sleep for once. Awesome!

I had another long session of Christmas shopping today. I am very close to finished, apart from helping my husband chose things for his side of the family. Mum had asked me recently to print out some photos for her (I rarely print out photos anymore, I just have them on my computer) and I decided that my Christmas present to her would be a digital photo frame. I spent about three hours yesterday sorting through a few year's worth of photos for the ones she would like (family, no silly faces). I hope she likes it, but she is not that keen on technology so if she doesn't like having the screenshow on the digital frame I'll just print them out for her. She can chose the ones she likes best.

I know some adults don't exchange presents but we love it. And it's (usually!) not a matter of getting a whole lot of things you didn't want. During the year we don't just go out and buy everything we want when we want it, we save up our desires for Christmas and birthdays, and spend a lot of time and thought on getting a mix of things we know the other person would want/have asked for and random good ideas that we hope they will like. I don't think it is (totally) about commercialism, it is a way of showing love and caring. And why should the kids have all the fun?

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Worries

Wednesday:

I was tossing and turning all night (even more than usual), stressed and worried about mum. I'm going to put it all down here to help get it out of my head. This is not to moan about my hard life, poor me, (I'm not the one with cancer!) it's just that I think better when I write it down.

Firstly of course I am very worried and sad and scared about my mother. She may only have months to live; and even if this medication helps, between now and the end there will be all the pain and indignities of a terminal illness. And the indignity is not a minor thing for her. I'm a bit surprised she is even talking about me coming to live there and help her because when we've talked about it in the past she has always been horrified by the thought of a loved one seeing her humiliated by things like help toileting. She would much rather an impersonal nurse. But she is not at that point yet so maybe it will still come to professional care. Our family tends to live a long time, her own father is still alive at 96 and living in his own home, so her probably dying in her early 70s is a big shock. My children will grow up without either grandmother.

My other big worry is leaving my husband and children to cope without me. It won't be so bad in a couple of weeks as we'll all be on summer holidays and they can come with me to Sydney or travel back and forth or whatever suits us, but for the next couple of weeks my husband is still working long hours and we'd have to organise after-school care for the kids. Maybe different friends could take them each day. It would be hard for my husband to get more time off right now, he has just been borrowed by parliament house for some important work for a couple of months and he already insisted on taking his Christmas leave right in the middle of it because we'd already made plans. (Of course we may have to cancel our beach holiday, I have already warned the children about that.) If mum needs me soon, it will be a real scramble to organise. And Tim is very out of practice in the kitchen - I am imagining them all eating at midnight every night. And when will he have time to shop?

Staying at mum's house is a big problem in itself. My brother lives with her. He is two years older than me, 46, and has never had a life. He has OCD - obsessive compulsive disorder - with a germ phobia and no empathy for others and strong resistance to change. My daughter recently realised he is very like Sheldon from Big Bang Theory. Except Sheldon manages to have a job and friends. It is funny to watch on TV, not so funny to live with. He has also become a hoarder in recent years, mainly of food. He is gradually filling the house and garage with rotting food that he never wants to throw out. The bags of out of date packaged food in the spare room aren't so bad, but the meat and dairy and vegetables gone bad are just disgusting. Slimy, fly-attracting, and horrible smelling. Since mum got sicker it has got more out of control because she just can't deal with it. She had a cleaner come for a while but when they left she didn't look for a new one. Too embarrassed. If I am living there, there are going to be lots of stressful fights with him about it. Of course I will throw stuff out when he is asleep, if necessary, but I know he will just buy more. I'll need some space in the fridge for me and mum, he had taken over both fridges with just one tiny corner for mum.

Even once I get rid of the rotting food, the kitchen is falling apart and horrible. Mum was never very interested in cooking, and she knew Darren would just destroy any new kitchen if she renovated. He opens cupboard doors with his feet, stuff like that, because he doesn't like touching things with his hands.

The inconsistency between him having a germ phobia and hoarding rotting food is obvious to everyone but him. Mental illness isn't logical.

We only have one car and I am very out of practice with a manual like mum's, so I may be quite trapped once I get there. Luckily the shops are within walking distance.

And the bed. I took my single bed with me when I moved out and I'm not sure where she got the spare bed from but it is so saggy it is quite difficult not to roll out during the night. Very uncomfortable. I will have to organise buying a new one as soon as I get there.

Ok, I have got that all out of my head and onto the page where I can be less emotional about it. I can cope with any or all of that stuff. I'm glad to be able to look after mum when she needs me. I need to get on with getting things organised here so I can be ready whatever happens.

Cancer

Tuesday:

So, today started well. After one day of eating clean low carb I dropped a whole kilogram in 24 hours. Only one kg to go for my dietbet! Much less daunting than two kg in a week. I know that the loss was mainly water weight, but that is fine with me. Staying low carb will keep that off while I lose some fat.

I went to the gym and did a good half hour on the elliptical and ten minutes on the bike. I was dripping sweat by the end, my hair was soaked. Good sign. After my shower I dropped in at the library then went to the shops for a bit more Christmas shopping then grocery shopping.

While I was eating some lunch (food court Chinese, the best choice I could find) I saw that I had just missed a call from my brother. I knew he had taken mum to the oncologist today to get the results of the fluid they drained off last week.

It's not good news. I don't know the exact details, I talked to mum and she couldn't remember everything the doctor had said, but the fluid was caused by the cancer not her medication. She has already started building up more fluid in the week since they drained six and a half litres. She will probably have to have it drained regularly. She is tired and weak and hardly eating; they have put her on stronger medication and anti-nausea medication to help her get some food down. If this new medication helps then she gets a bit more time. If not, it could be a matter of months. She may need me to go and look after her soon.

I was having this conversation with mum while trying to find a quiet private spot in a busy shopping centre. It was difficult. I'll probably talk to my brother tomorrow as he sits in on her appointments and might remember more details.

Obviously the rest of the day has been a bit confused and fraught. But I'm proud of myself for not turning to food. I thought about it. My stomach was churned up and I'd just had lunch and I didn't feel like eating but I considered it anyway. Would it make me feel better if I had some comfort food? I decided no. I went and did the grocery shopping, sticking to my list. I did pick up a packet of chocolate biscuits and put it in my trolley. I had a friend coming over with her kids after school (I decided to keep the appointment, I wanted someone to talk to) and we could all share the biscuits and I would only get one or two out of the packet so that would be ok, right? I struggled with it, I already had plenty of food to share at home, and chocolate biscuits definitely weren't on my plan today. After a couple of aisles I shoved them on a random shelf and walked away.

Then my friend brought some biscuits that I love over. I didn't eat any. I concentrated on talking, not eating. I had grapes and a cup of tea, and later when she left I had a piece of cheese and a nectarine. I took my daughter to dance and came home to pulled pork that had been in the oven all afternoon and made salad and ate a moderate amount and didn't have a bread roll, and when I started nibbling at the fatty skin I quickly threw it all out. The kids had had a little piece each and none of us needed any more than that. I kept to my diet plan and my calorie goals even under stress. I'm a bit surprised, but glad.

Cancelled Dungeons and Dragons tonight. It has been a busy day and I've hardly had time to think. Not that I really want to think. But I probably need to.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Into the home stretch of dietbet

Monday:

My third week of dietbetting, like the second, was basically a maintain. I had lost a little bit but then the weekend happened. So out of the three weeks sofar, I only lost weight on the first.

This means that with slightly over a week to go, allowing for a 48 hour weigh-out window, I need to lose 2kg! This is only even remotely possible because, after two weeks maintenance, it's like starting a new diet with at least a kg of water weight to drop. A big call though. I am giving it a really good try, eating clean and low carb and exercising.

Even if I ultimately fail (but I'm not giving up!) I am still really happy I did/am doing the dietbet. This time of year I normally would already be into all the Christmas treats. Celebrating with food way too early. This year I've had only a little, here and there. Maintaining my weight instead of gaining. So if I sometimes have an errant thought that this was a bad time of year to try dietbet, NO! It is the best time of year to do it!

I had a bit of an experience online today. I was playing World of Warcraft, in which you share the game world with lots of other real people and can see their avatars running around and interact with them if you like. I was trying to trap clefthoof (big shaggy animals) for their skins, which involves attacking them so they chase you into the trap. There was another person there doing the same, a female avatar so I'll say "she", but she kept going for the same animals I was. In Wow whoever hits an enemy first tags it which means they get whatever benefit comes from that creature when it is dead - its treasure, fur, experience or whatever - even if someone else eventually kills it. I would be winding up for a big damaging spell, which takes a couple of seconds, and she would jump in front of me and attack "my" animal. She did this several times even after I tried to go right up the other end of the field away from her. It was very annoying.

I got a bit cranky and did something very unlike me - I went for revenge! Usually I shrink from any kind of confrontation. I'd let her tag the animal but then I'd kill it before it got into her trap, so she had a big useless dead animal, not what she wanted for this particular purpose. After maybe three times she asked me to stop, I did it once more and told her why I'd done it, then stopped. And she told me she had "reported" me - i.e. told the Wow authorities about me! Seemed like a very trivial thing to report someone about, but I doubt there will be any repercussions and I am quite prepared to defend myself if anyone contacts me.

I went onto the general chat feed, read by everyone currently in the same country we were in, and without mentioning any names I was like "how exciting, someone just reported me" and told my side, then she jumped on and told her side (i.e. lied) and called me a liar and I was totally pumped with adrenalin and sort-of having fun. The interesting thing was everyone who responded seemed very much on my side which surprised me considering I had been a bit mean really. But I think it was an attitude thing - she sounded really aggressive and defensive and not very likable whereas I tried hard to be relaxed and not nasty about it. I was all pumped up for ages afterwards. And I'm not sorry. Don't I lead a sheltered life!

Gold Class

Sunday:

This weekend we drove to Sydney. My husband's cousin's baby turned one and we got up early to get to the party on time. It's an important day for little Eliza because she was born very premature, but now a year later she is absolutely fine. It was great to be there to celebrate. Originally they had planned an outdoor event but the forecast was for storms so they moved it to their tiny flat. The storm didn't eventuate until much later, so it was very hot and muggy and crowded, but still lovely to see the family.

Then my sister-in-law took charge of my children and Tim and I went off to the movies. She had bought me a gift card last Christmas and it was about to expire. It was for a "Gold Class" movie experience - where there are about 30 big armchairs in the theatre and the waiters bring you food and drinks during the movie. We hadn't used it before because the theatre was in the middle of the city - a city several hours away from our house - the idea being that part of the present was her babysitting for us. We saw Hunger Games 3. And I indulged on my food choice. They had a chocolate brownie with chocolate ice cream and possibly other stuff I can't remember from the menu, all made with Lindt Swiss chocolate - my favourite brand. They brought it to me in the dark of the theatre in some kind of jar (maybe a mason jar, is that what that is? I don't understand that trend at all, a silly way to serve food) - a big jar! - and I spooned things into my mouth without being able to see what I was eating. It was utterly delicious. Except the mouthful of unadulterated cream. I would have preferred to have that shared throughout other spoonfuls. I didn't eat the whole thing, but it was probably still about a million calories. If dessert calories can ever be said to be worth it, then that was. The movie was pretty good too.

We were actually very lucky to get in at all, considering that when I booked online last Tuesday I somehow booked for that day (last Tuesday) instead of Saturday as I had intended. I had noticed the website kept reverting back to "today" but I thought I had been very careful checking I had the right day and time - right up until I handed over the printout of the ticket and saw the girl's face. Because the session was only half full they just assigned us tickets anyway, which was nice of them.

After the movie we had Thai food, a restrained amount, then went back to my sister-in-law's house. They had Just Dance going and I made myself join in. I love dancing, but I usually avoid exercise when it is so hot and humid, especially when not in gym gear. I get very uncomfortable very quickly. However, I had had plenty of extra calories that I needed to burn off, so I got up and danced. It was a really enjoyable day.

Today wasn't so fun. We went to visit my mother, who also lives in Sydney. She really isn't well. She was very tired and needed a nap even during the few hours we were there. She is eating almost nothing. She struggles to keep down even a couple of bites. I don't see how she can keep going with no food. Her next oncologist appointment is Tuesday, maybe they will have some answers. But it is very worrying. We talked about where she keeps all her financial records, and how I need to have her doctor's phone number. Preparing for the worst. If she gets too weak to look after herself does she go into hospital? Do I leave the kids here with Tim and go live with her for a while, hours away, leaving Tim to work long hours and cope without me? I don't know what is going to happen.

Long drive home. I'm feeling tired and stressed and worried.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Christmas shopping

Friday:

I have spent a lot of the past two days Christmas shopping. Four hours shopping alone yesterday then after school I took the kids up and bought them new shoes and helped them find things for daddy - another two hours. This is the first year they are spending their own money on presents for us and each other instead of putting their name to something we've paid for. They are even willingly doing extra chores to earn more money so they can spend it on us, isn't that lovely! Today I was at the shops for another three hours, although that wasn't all for Christmas. My feet are so tired!

I have (I think) finished shopping for Tim and my children, plus I've got a couple of things for other people. Still plenty of other relatives to buy for. Still, husband and children are the main ones. I love Christmas shopping. So many lovely things, and happy music playing. I generally have a list but I also make some impulse buys. My problem is thinking of suggestions for me. First world problem: I already have everything!

I got waxed this morning and was chatting about Christmas shopping with my beautician. She was worried and angry about a parcel that hasn't arrived, her present for her boyfriend, and was talking about how upset she is with Australia Post. Being waxed during that was an interesting experience. "So then they did this..." RIP! "And then I called and told them..." RIP! Quickest leg wax I've ever had. Actually one of the least painful, oddly enough.

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Drama

Wednesday:

Maybe it's because it is the end of the school year (two and a half weeks to go) or the heat or I don't know, but everyone seems on edge and cranky at the moment. My daughter's group of friends are fighting all the time and she is often in tears about it, sometimes in the middle of the night. The mother of one of my son's friends texted me this afternoon about her son being excluded from that group and I had to try to sort that out with my distraught eight year old who was already upset because...

I made my own contribution to the drama today. My children usually walk home by themselves (together) but  I generally pick them up if it is raining hard. Today I didn't have the car and there was a big thunderstorm an hour before the end of school - the sky went really dark really quickly. It was still pouring rain when they got out of school and I was pretty sure they only had one umbrella between them. So I walked up to the school with a couple of extras. The pavement was running with water and I got pretty wet even with an umbrella. I got up near the school and I could see the two of them starting to cross the oval (a bad idea in the rain). I was separated from them by the fence but I called and waved and walked parallel to them towards home. They didn't see me, and after a while turned back towards the school. I assumed they decided against more wet long grass and that they would come along the path where I was. I headed towards the school again. And around the school. And couldn't find them. And got wetter. I couldn't work out how they could have got past me unless they went some very long weird way home. I stomped home crankily. To find them there and waiting, banging on the door, having got a lift with a (trusted) friend.

From their point of view they had done nothing wrong at all. But I was wet and cross and so frustrated because I had seen them and called and waved and they had turned back and made me chase them and I had that walk for nothing. If I was the kind of person who swears, I would have been swearing. I think I went so far as to grump "Why the hell did you..." etc. Like it was all their fault. Then I went and lay on my bed and felt like crying; angry and frustrated and guilty.

My son came for cuddles to be reassured but my daughter just ignored me until I started acting normally. A good move.

My only excuse is being worried about my mother. She saw her oncologist yesterday but warned me in advance she would need to sleep the rest of the day when she got home and wouldn't call me until today. This morning I tried to call her a few times but she didn't answer the phone even though there is one right beside her bed. Was she too sick to even answer the phone? Not likely she would be out somewhere, she could hardly get out of bed two days ago. She finally called me back, it turns out she was out, getting the fluid drained from her abdomen. Six and a half litres of fluid! No wonder she looked pregnant and was so uncomfortable. They have to analyse it, don't know if it was caused by her medication or the cancer itself. Now she's just got the discomfort of her internal organs moving back into their correct positions after being forced out of place by the fluid.

Everything just feels stressful and horrible today.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Yosemite

Tuesday:

I felt so much better today. It was easy to get myself to the gym! Feeling well and not tired makes such a big difference in motivation. I'm not sure why I felt so much better today. Yesterday I ate lots of carbs, which does help, and last night I had a sore throat so didn't even try to use my CPAP. Ironic to get a better night's sleep without it.

Anyhoo, I did 45 mins on the elliptical hiking through Yosemite which was very pretty (my least favourite so far was the Grand Canyon, lots of bare rock) then 15 mins on the bike riding through the French Alps. I increased the difficulty level to 8 on both machines which means up to 11 on the hills. I was absolutely dripping sweat by the end, and I could feel waves of heat coming off my head. Yet I was still outdone by a very fit looking heavily pregnant woman who was charging along on the elliptical when I got there and still going when I left. I'm not really comparing myself to other people though, I did well today. So nice to get home and into a cool shower.

I find the bike very challenging as it requires the use of muscles I don't seem to possess... but all the more reason to use it and get that core engaged.

My legs are totally aching now. Ouchy.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Cicadas

Monday:

This morning I went for a walk after I got the kids off to school. It is the first day of summer here in Australia and the cicadas were out in force. In some places (near big trees) they literally nearly drowned out my music. They are incredibly loud insects. The cicadas spend some of their life cycle underground, then in summer they dig themselves out and crawl up trees (or, as I saw today, tall agapanthus stems) and then split their backs open and wriggle out, leaving behind an empty shell. Some trees had dozens on. As kids we sometimes wore these as bizarre broaches on our school uniforms!

 
Where I grew up in Sydney the most common kind was the "Green Grocer" with only the occasional black or yellow. Today I saw three actual cicadas, all "Black Princes", so maybe that is the common kind in Canberra. This one seemed to have only one good wing, the other deformed, so it was buzzing around on the footpath in circles, unable to fly.


I haven't been getting up early to walk as getting up early seemed to cause me to wake even earlier! I am still sleeping very badly, with or without my CPAP. I haven't been posting to my blog because the posts would all be the same "Boo hoo poor me I'm tired and cranky and not coping with my easy stress-free privileged lifestyle" and no one wants to read that every day.

I then spent a long time struggling with my menu planning, unable to think of dinners that were healthy and delicious and varied and provided leftovers but didn't use the oven because it's too hot for that. I don't think I did particularly well.

I talked to mum on the phone. She is not doing well at all. It's about a year since she found out she has breast cancer that has spread to her bones, including her skull and spine. She responded really well to the various therapies and has had a pretty healthy year, considering. But just these past few weeks she has been feeling very unwell, she sleeps nearly all the time and is having trouble eating, and she is retaining so much water that her stomach has swelled up so she looks pregnant. She has had some tests done and is seeing her oncologist tomorrow, hopefully to try some different medication. It is all very worrying. She has gone from cheerfully planning a move to a retirement home where she can get more help, to wondering if she will outlive her own father who is 96 now and fading fast.

Living four hours away, there is not much practical help I can offer right now. She says she doesn't need me to go and stay there, she is sleeping all day and my brother drives her to the doctor and does the shopping, what little she needs considering she is hardly eating. I've offered to do her Christmas shopping for her (it would be mainly for my kids, anyway) or anything else she needs, and we are visiting this weekend. She rarely replies to my emails any more as she's too tired to bother, and I don't like to call too often because it wakes her up. She was trying to find the energy to have a shower today, which is such a change from a month ago. I guess we'll see what the doctor says and make decisions from there.

I just realised that if she does die at home (soon or some time in the future) it will almost certainly be my brother who finds her. What will he do? What would I do? I have no idea what happens. What authorities do you call? It's not something I've ever had to think about. How horrible and morbid. But much as I hate to think about it, it is something I should research so if I do get that call from my brother I will no what to do and what advice to give him.

So after that phone call I went and did the grocery shopping. That went as usual except for being verbally abused by a woman with mental issues who seems to spend at lot of time at the shopping centre. I suppose it is as nice as place as any, out of the weather and lots of people and things to see. She walks up and down the aisles of the supermarket without apparently buying anything. Last week she made a pleasant-sounding comment to me, although I didn't quite understand what she said, but this week she told me to get my trolley and my fat ass out of her way, that I was blocking the whole aisle (I wasn't ) etc. I was pretty shocked, and a man nearby said "hey!" to her retreating back in tones of strong disapproval. I know it was a very minor incident, but am not used to being insulted like that and it ruffled me. People are usually so polite.

When I got home I needed a nap, and took one. Not the most cheering day. But at least I managed a walk.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Second week of dietbet

Sunday:

I maintained this week. I was extremely tired all week and made some bad choices, so didn't lose any weight. Still two weeks to go!

I slept a bit better last night and felt ok this morning. We went out for a family walk in between the summer rain. Almost summer - tomorrow! We each chose a roll of Christmas wrapping paper at the local shops, we are going for a red and silver theme this year. I've bought a couple of presents already and I like to get them wrapped, safe from curious eyes. I think we are putting up the tree this afternoon.

Normally this time of year I would be getting stuck into the "it's almost Christmas" food treats. This year I plan to wait until it's actually Christmas!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Wednesday:

I got up again yesterday and walked for half an hour in the morning coolness. After breakfast and getting the kids off to school my legs were really tired and aching so I didn't go to the gym. By mid-afternoon, when I walked up to pick up the kids, my legs felt like lead! I was also really sleepy, in fact while sitting outside Jasmine's dance class in the late afternoon I went to sleep. This is right next to loud music, other parents chatting, and children in tap shoes trotting up and down the hallway! I just couldn't keep my eyes open. I yawned my way through Dungeons and Dragons in the evening and was very glad to get to bed.

Still very tired this morning and although I did wake early, I went back to sleep again pretty quickly. A shower didn't help much and I am feeling barely functional today. I think I'll need a nap today.

I've been eating too much the past few days - nothing terrible, just too much (cashews, cheese, lots of grapes) - and I did have some chocolate and a macaron last night, tiredness makes me weak. I've also slacked off on tracking, getting lazy by lunchtime. My daily weight has reflected this lack of focus - funny, that! It has crept up a little. I need the numbers to go down! Determined to be back on track today. If I'm tired I'll nap, not eat.

Oh my goodness I'm sleepy.

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

Monday, November 24, 2014

Exercising twice

Tuesday:

I've been waking much earlier than I need to just about every day since getting Thor, even after he was gone and I no longer needed to wake up to take him outside, even when it was still dark outside at that hour, even when I was exhausted and really needed more sleep. It has been very annoying. I've thought a few times about getting up early but up until now I've been trying to break the habit of waking, and sometimes I do get back to sleep. And by the way, I see no particular virtue in getting up early. Sleep is more important to me, and going to bed earlier in the evening would mean seeing my husband even less than I do now.

This morning I gave in and got up (after lying in bed for a while). Yesterday was horribly hot and it was still uncomfortable in the house even though there had been a cool change overnight. I went for a 30 minute walk in the lovely coolness. This is my street.


I don't really have any decent "exercise music" as my taste runs more to ballads and musical theatre (Glee!) so while I walked I downloaded an app called "Rock my Run" which has lots of music compilations of different lengths for exercising to. You can make a list of the ones that appeal. It seems to be very American so I had to skip past lots of rap and bands I've never heard of, but there was plenty to choose from even so. For my walk, I chose two 10 minute compilations; some 70s disco which was surprisingly fun to walk to and then some current pop, finishing with "All about that bass".

I got up a good sweat and the house felt very hot when I got home. After getting the kids off the school, I went to the gym. First time I've been back for a while. Since I'd already done some exercise, I just did 30 mins on the elliptical. I used Rock my Run again, and hiked through Californian forests. I had it on a difficulty level of 4 but it isn't steady - when hiking "uphill" the difficulty goes up to around 7. I was pretty tired by the end.

Then I had a shower and did the grocery shopping and came home exhausted and had lunch.

Have I griped about the showers at my gym before? Tiny little cubicles, nowhere to put your towel so it won't get wet, you have to stand right in the boiling/freezing stream of water to reach the handle to adjust it, no space at the tiny sink array to do hair and makeup (which doesn't bother me but it must be a real problem for the crowd of women who do an early session before work then have to get ready there), and they didn't even have soap dispensers until I asked for them to be installed a couple of years ago. I got sick of taking in my own soap. They agreed to do that, which was nice of them, but to my other comments they said that "it wasn't a boutique gym" and I suppose there isn't much they could do without major renovations. But it was very poor planning. This isn't a small cheap gym, it is a huge well-gleaming place spread over two floors. With the toilets on the ground floor permanently locked for some reason. Anyway, unless I am going straight somewhere else after my workout like today, I prefer to drive home all sweaty and shower there.

Aside from the stupid showers, it was a good day.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Stealing mulberries

Sunday:

After my first week of dietbet (final weigh in will be on a Tuesday, I started a bit early) my weight was 82.9 kg this morning, down 1.3 kg. A good start, I need to keep that going and improve in some areas. My average needs to be 0.8 kg per week and this first week included water weight loss.

The four pillars of weight loss are sleep, diet, exercise and water. I don't include metal health/head space as a pillar - it is the foundation!

My diet has been good this week, a reasonable number of calories each day and a few treats like the lemon tart I bought from the bakery on Friday. Sleep has been decent, I've managed to keep the CPAP on most of the night on most nights. Exercise has been bad, almost none. And water has been terrible. Yesterday was hot, yet I only had two cups of tea and two and a half cups of water. And one and a half of the water was close to bed-time, trying to catch up a bit, which meant I was up three times in the night.

Today I've tried to get a head start on my water consumption, four cups by 11:00.

Summer fruit has suddenly come down in price and up in quality. Yay for fruit! I've been eating a lot of grapes, which are one of my favourite foods but only when they are crisp and fresh. This morning I had a mango for breakfast and this for morning tea:
Mulberries! From the big tree over our back fence which has a couple of branches hanging into our yard. Especially if you grab the end and gently pull them over. I was standing on the little step ladder we use to get onto the trampoline, wondering if the new neighbours would mind (we knew the previous renters but haven't met these ones) and then looked into their yard properly instead of just at the fruit.


It is a huge wilderness of overgrown trees and waist-high weeds. I'm not even sure, now, if there is someone living there at the moment. I haven't seen anyone for a little while. I haven't spent a lot of time out there since we rehomed our puppy. Anyway, I doubt they are going to care if we eat all the mulberries we can reach. The ground is covered in the dropped ones. Later in the year there will be little yellow plums - there is a whole row of fruit trees along their back fence. None of the fruit grows very big because the trees aren't looked after, but it's all very tasty.

In case you are wondering, I miss our little puppy Thor a lot. It was the right decision but I miss him. We have had the option of going to visit him at his new house but Tim and I both feel it would be too painful for us. And maybe confusing for him. I feel a bit sad about it sometimes, remembering his funny ways and his joy in life.

Today is going to be scorching hot. It is a week until summer but it definitely feels like summer here already. I will be staying inside in the air conditioning all day. And we had our Sunday roast last night instead so I wouldn't have to have the oven on today. I'll have to really start rethinking menu choices. It's tricky because things like roasts and casseroles have such good leftovers for lunch the next day. But hot meaty dishes seem a bit less appealing, and I definitely don't want the oven on for six hours in summer.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Dietbetting

Wednesday:

My dietbet is going well so far. It is officially Day 2 but since I weighed in at the earliest possible moment I have had an extra 48 hours. I've eaten very well and have lost my water weight (and hopefully a little fat), it will slow down from here but I've made a good start towards my 3.4 kg in four weeks.

I don't find it stressful and I enjoy reading everyone's comments on the website.

Yesterday the plumber was here all day - eight hours - doing expensive things. But we now have a new hot water heater and the water pressure fixed and the toilet fixed and I just hope we don't have to spent any more money for a while or we won't be able to afford Christmas!

I couldn't go to the gym yesterday because of Mr Plumber and I wasn't willing to prance around the lounge room in my lycra with him here. So no exercise. I haven't been to the gym for a couple of weeks due to being unwell, I did put my membership on hold for a week but it's back on again now. I'll go tomorrow, no car today. I still don't feel 100% but I've been looking after myself with rest and good food so I need to start easing back into it or I'll still be sitting on my behind until the New Year. Aiden is back at school with just a bit of a cough, he has certainly bounced back a lot quicker than me.

I went for a walk just before lunch. These are flowers in our garden, I thought they were interesting with the two different colours on the same plant.

And this is not very clear, but those two splashes of red are birds - Rosellas I think.

So I got a bit of fresh air and gentle exercise today. I need to work on my water consumption (as usual). But I'm feeling good about my food intake.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

A bit of chaos

Monday:

My really busy Monday has been thrown off course by a sick child. Aiden has come down with a sore throat and "don't feel well". Since I'm on the tail end of two weeks of the same thing, I know how he feels! I've let him stay home. It means chaos today, though.

I drove the car up to the repairer as soon as it opened and walked home (around 20 mins walk, hurrying) so that Tim could leave for work - he is planning to come home very early so that I can pick the car up before they close and do some grocery shopping or else we are having cheese on toast for dinner (obviously I can't walk to the shops because I can't leave a sick eight year old (or even a well one) home alone).

The car repair man rang after looking at the car and he said the drive belt has fallen off (so that was something falling out of the engine on the highway!) and also the alternator belt is badly damaged. None of that means anything to me, except that he can fix it today for around $300.

I cancelled my glucose tolerance test, and remembered that I cancelled the original appointment five months ago because Aiden was sick then too. It's a strange coincidence because he isn't sick very often. I'll book another one later. Since they no longer require three days of carb loading it's no big deal. Also my blood sugars have improved a lot since I started feeling better so I think it was being sick that was messing them up.

The plumber coming this afternoon to fix the hot water heater flooding the laundry is unaffected by having my baby home sick, thank goodness. So everything other than the glucose tolerance test should still get done, as long as Tim can get home in time.

[Edit: I spoke too soon about being relieved the car repair was only $300 - the hot water system will be nearly $3000! Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!]

My dietbet starting weight has been approved and I am officially in weight-loss mode.

Last night I had my CPAP on for around seven hours, which is excellent. I woke during the night but didn't take it off. I think I got a good night's sleep.

Dietbet weigh in

Sunday:

The very moment that I was allowed and had the code word, at midnight in PST and therefore 7pm here as we are 19 hours ahead in Australia, I submitted my weigh in photos to dietbet so I could officially get started.



If they are approved, then my starting weight is 84.2 kg and my goal will be 80.8 kg, a loss of 3.4. Nearly a kilogram a week is quite a lot to do consistently for four weeks, but do-able I think. I will certainly try! And I will feel good about it at Christmas.

Good luck to everyone trying to lose weight this holiday season.

Friday, November 14, 2014

My cousin's wedding in a heatwave

Saturday:

 

Yesterday was my cousin's wedding. We left the kids with a friend for a sleepover, taking them over before school so we could drop off overnight suitcases. Then Tim and I set off for the four hour drive. It was a stinking hot day, 37 degrees C (98.6 F). And an hour into the trip there was a weird rattle from the engine, a bit of plastic may have fallen out (or I may have just driven over a bit of plastic on the road, not sure), and the steering became very sluggish. I pulled over and we looked at all the tyres and under the hood but there was nothing for our inexperienced eyes to see. I drove on cautiously and we realised that the air conditioning was no longer working. And Tim connected this to the resistant steering wheel (power steering gone) and that something must have gone wrong with the electrics. Not much we could do on the road in the middle of nowhere.

We continued on, the steering seemed safe enough it just took a lot more strength than usual to turn the wheel, especially at very low speeds like trying to park. Losing the air conditioning, on that particular day, was much more of a problem. The car got hotter and hotter. Opening the window was like opening an oven door, and the fan just blew hot air around. We had drinks, but I felt very dehydrated and horrible.

We got to mum's, dripping sweat and exhausted. There was no option of a different car as mum's had recently been rear-ended and hadn't been fixed yet. A drink and a quick cold shower was the best we could manage before getting into our wedding gear and back into the hot car. Tim had a stressful 45 minute drive through unfamiliar territory but we found the church and made it just before the bridal party.

The ceremony was nice if very short (less than 15 minutes, cut to the bare bones - it was a Catholic church for the groom and I would have expected something much longer) then we stood outside under the shade of trees for as long as we could bear before Tim and I with mum and my brother headed off to a nearby pub to sit in the air conditioning and have about six cold drinks.

Mum was coping amazingly well with the heat, considering. Actually she was getting cold easily and carried a shawl around. She has been really tired again lately. Very worryingly, her whole abdomen has swelled up and is hard and uncomfortable. She looked pregnant. Her GP (family doctor) had no idea what was going on so she is waiting to see her oncologist (she has breast cancer that has spread to her bones) in two weeks to have a new round of tests.

The reception was at a restaurant right in the middle of the city, almost directly under the end of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Poor Tim had to drive us through the middle of the city in heavy traffic as people left work for the day. It was nice being right on the water, by that time we were starting to get a little breeze as relief from the horrible heat. My outfit looks hot but actually it was light and floaty with air vents and I don't think I was much hotter than in shorts and a T-shirt.

The reception was nice with good food, funny speeches and a good band. I didn't overeat and I drank a lot of water as well as some juice and a couple of soft drinks. I was chugging down liquids all day but hardly had to go to the bathroom at all, I guess my body wasn't willing to give up any of that precious fluid! No alcohol, it only makes me feel a lot hotter.

Of course my cousin looked lovely. And very slender.

Almost as soon as the formal part of the evening was over and the dancing started, mum said she was tired and the music was too loud and she was ready to go home. So we drove back in the much cooler evening and stayed at mum's house. She tried to check we had everything we needed but after she went to bed I found I didn't have any sheets. I was sleeping in the spare room (where my kids usually sleep) and Tim had the tiny futon that we usually share all to himself. I just draped the quilt thing over one leg and that was fine. I was too tired and hot to care.

Today was much cooler, thank goodness, and we made it back to pick up the kids before lunch. And came home to find our hot water heater had sprung a leak and the laundry floor covered in water. I rang and organised someone to look at the car Monday morning and Tim rang and organised someone to come and fix the hot water tank Monday afternoon and then we both collapsed.

The new expansion for the computer game World of Warcraft just came out on Thursday. We tried to log in then but there was a long queue because so many people are playing, and I went to bed before we got to the front of the line. Tim stayed up and played a little bit but we like to play together, as a team. As soon as we got home today we logged on to get in the queue. That was two and a half hours ago. Tim's computer currently says "Position in queue: 2121. Estimated time: 822 minutes". So I don't know if we'll get on before tomorrow! Oh the estimated time has changed to 316 minutes (it changes a lot), so maybe tonight? It will all settle down in a week or two, usually there is no queue at all, but right now everyone is excited about the new content. We'll get to play eventually. I just glad to be home in the cool.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Diet bet and the perfect diet

Thursday:

I am planning to try a diet bet, starting on Monday. I've read of a few other people doing them and it all seems legit. No idea if it will help me or not but I'll give it a go. What happens is you join a group (or start your own) that is starting on a day that suits you and you pay the ante - generally around $25. If you lose the requisite amount of weight (4% of bodyweight in 4 weeks or 10% in 6 months depending on the group) you get to share the pot. It seems that on average around 40% of people succeed so after the facilitators take their cut you get between 1.5x and 2x your money back. If you don't lose the weight you lose your ante. At my current weight I would have to lose 3.3 kg (7.3 pounds) in the 4 weeks, which I would love to do before Christmas and it seems like it should be do-able. Any extra motivation would be awesome.

I felt quite unwell again yesterday, maybe too much running around the day before, but I rested up and I'm mostly better again today. I did some more clothes shopping today and bought a couple of pretty tops for Christmas. As it is always very hot here on the day, middle of summer, dress is casual. I found something I was very happy with today. I am so glad that I am not hating my body at the moment. Of course I want to lose weight, I wish I was 25 kg lighter right this second, but that is no reason to hate myself as I am. I am still me and can still look quite nice. I picked up my tailored pants (with the legs shortened for me) and I also lightened my hair again, all ready for the wedding. Ready to face the extended family and pretend I don't feel like a hen amongst flamingos.

With worries about my pre-diabetes possibly getting worse - my blood glucose levels have been consistently high for days after even moderate amounts of carbohydrate - I revisited my recommendations for the diabetic diet. It is all so confusing. My diabetes nutritionist told me to eat regular doses of carbohydrate at every meal and snack, in amounts that seemed bewilderingly large to me although some other people in my class still didn't think it was enough, to keep my blood glucose steady. The official guidelines seem to be the same for Australia, US, UK etc. But there is a huge community of diabetics out there on the forums who say it is much better to eat almost no carbohydrate at all. They eat less in a whole day than the dieticians say to eat in a single snack. There is a lot of support for LC/HF (low carb/high fat) diets. These people say that low carb is much better than moderate carbs for keeping blood sugars low. On the nutritionist recommended diet they seem to expect you to gradually get worse and need various medication, that is the normal progression. And the LC/HF people say that of course that is the progression if you keep eating lots of carbs!

I personally don't like eating high fat, it makes me feel sick and greasy. And I am unwilling to approve any diet that greatly restricts fruit and even many vegetables. But I don't think lots of carbs is good either (and I'd never lose any weight, which is very important for diabetic health). Is there a compromise?

I think I have a pretty clear idea now of what I think the "perfect" diet is (for me, at least), and it is summed up by Michael Pollan's "Eat food, not too much, mostly plants."

"Eat food" means to eat real food - vegetables, fruits, whole grains, dairy and meat. Nothing that has a shelf life of several years - if it won't rot, it isn't real food. And mostly plant food is healthiest, lots of fruit and vegetables of as many varieties as you can get.
 
I don't ban fruit from my "perfect" diet even though it has natural sugars. I don't ban grain even though it has gluten. I don't ban dairy even though it has lots of fat. I don't have sensitivities to any particular foods so that would be an issue for some but not me. But there is very little room in my perfect diet for anything heavily processed. Basically anything that comes in a packet. If it needs a label with nutritional information on it, I probably shouldn't be eating it. And there needs to be portion control even with the best of foods.
 
So why don't I follow this perfect diet? Because the other junk is so tempting! Still working on it, every day.
 
I saw a bit of a documentary the other day about meat consumption and they were saying that for environmental sustainability (with the world's population continuing to expand but the land available remaining the same) we should be consuming around 100 grams of meat per person per day. I eat a lot more meat than that. But we are running out of forests to cut down to make more farm land for our cows and sheep so rich people can keep stuffing themselves with meat. It's another thing to take into consideration.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

New clothes

Tuesday:

I had a very busy but productive day today. I spent basically the entire morning looking for something to wear to this wedding on Friday. I was running out of time to buy, especially as a lot of things I buy have to be altered to fit because I am so short. Today I was feeling much better, nearly over my cold, so I was up to stressful shopping. Clothes shopping is definitely stressful when you are unhappy with the way you look in just about anything. You have to compromise between finding something you think you look good in and realising that you are not going to look like Elle McPhearson no matter how many dresses you try on. Every outfit you ask "is this as good as it gets?"

I chose a pair of floaty black pants, very interesting actually and not at all like work trousers, and a floaty purple top. I felt a bit like a gypsy. It is going to be a stinking hot day but I decided I would be more comfortable in loose pants than with my thighs rubbing together. I was happy with my eventual choice.

Then I realised how late it was getting and rushed to my hair appointment without having any time for lunch. Happy with my haircut too. I'll take a picture when I'm all made up and not so much red nose and bleary eyes.

At 2pm (so late for me, I always eat at noon) I grabbed lunch, put in the trousers for alteration, got a script at the chemist and asked them to check my blood pressure. The lady tried four times but kept getting an error message. All that arm-squeezing pain for nothing! I'll have to wait for my doctor next week. My blood sugars have been consistently high yesterday and today (I hadn't checked it for a while before that) but apparently being sick can mess with that. If you're diabetic. I've booked in for the diabetes blood test I didn't have six months ago, next Monday when presumably I'll be completely over my cold so the results should be accurate. The great news is you no longer need to carb load for three days beforehand! I always hated doing that. But I am definitely a bit worried, my pre-diabetes had seemed to be improving last time I was tested 18 months ago.

I got home just minutes before the kids and their playdate guests, had a nice chat with my friend, took my daughter to dance, got a rotisserie chicken on the way home because I hadn't had time to do grocery shopping today, then had Dungeons and Dragons night. I'm really not enjoying it at all lately, my favourite bit is the combat and we get to do that about one session in four this campaign (usually it should be every session, or I think so anyway!). It's all debate about what to do next and how to achieve our goals. Hours of it. Boring. I want to charge in and kill the monsters! But we can't because they are usually too tough for us and we have to be sneaky and clever. Blah. I spend a lot of type rudely playing with my phone. But they know how I feel.

At least with the playdate and the games night I put out all the rest of the cake and party leftovers so that is all gone instead of sitting around tempting me. I'd already tipped chips into the bin to avoid eating the whole packet after I couldn't resist opening them. Gone now.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

But

Monday:

My darling boy is 8 years old today. Still my baby.

I was awake from 5am coughing and blowing my nose so eventually I got up, sitting upright is slightly better when you are a snot machine. I was tired though, so after presents and breakfast and walking to the chemist near the school to buy more tissues, I settled in front of the TV to watch the second innings of last night's cricket match and fell asleep almost immediately. Cricket is awesome for sleeping to. A traditional match goes for five whole days, so you can have a nap and not miss anything. Then they invented one-day matches (controversial!). Last night's match between Australia and South Africa was the new exciting twenty/20 format that only takes around three hours and is much more dramatic. I'd watched the first half then gone to bed early last night, recording the second half so I could watch this morning.

I woke from my nap an hour later, right at the end, Australia close to winning but not assured. I watched for five minutes then the recording ended with only another five minutes to go! I had set it to run an extra 15 mins just in case but even that wasn't enough. Argh! I had to look up the ending online. (We won, but it was quite close.)

My three mouth ulcers have stopped me snacking on anything sweet, but that didn't prevent me getting into the leftover Burger Rings this morning. And my blood sugars went up to 12.5 mmol/L afterwards (225 mg/dl) which is completely unacceptable. I totally suck at looking after myself properly. I hope that result was influenced by being sick, otherwise it looks like a scary plunge towards full blown diabetes.

I have been sick so much all this year and I think the sleep apnoea has a lot to do with that, being constantly sleep deprived is a serious problem for the body. I need to get my weight under control to get rid of the sleep apnoea, or at least improve it. But losing weight would be so much easier if I didn't have sleep apnoea... yeah well this is where I am right now and I have to break the circle somehow. I am so sick of being sick all the time. Not just my usual "fat and tired" but actually catching every disease going around.

I have to stop thinking about losing weight for the wedding Christmas and start thinking about nourishing my body and getting healthier. Eating foods that promote wellness not illness. Moving my body. Do I sound like a broken record? Do anybody even use records anymore? A scratched CD, then.

But it's my baby's birthday and we are going out to dinner tonight.

But we have left over junk food from the party which I am raiding saving for tomorrow's games night.

But I am going to a wedding on the weekend and there will be fancy delicious food.

But

But

Birthday party

Sunday:

It was a very busy and exhausting weekend. I am still battling my cold, and trying not to pass it on to everyone, while having family staying here (including a toddler) and hosting a birthday party for Aiden who turns eight tomorrow. Lots of cleaning and cooking and making some vague attempt to be sociable when sometimes I just wanted to sit down and cry from tiredness.

Aiden asked for a strawberry birthday cake. I've never made one but I searched the internet and came up with a recipe that included real pureed strawberries in the batter. I made cream cheese frosting and put fresh strawberries on top and it turned out very well. I make no claims for decorating skill.



Tim ran the games, which included the Water Balloon Olympics in the backyard (it was a very hot day) and I think all the kids had a great time. But my favourite moment was when all the guests left!

Everyone is talking about sugar these days and a lot of bloggers talk about their addiction to the substance, for instance their brain lights up like it's cocaine and they just have to avoid it entirely. I'm finding I also have to avoid it these days but not for the same reason! My body does not in any way have a positive response. For many years I've felt quite ill if I've eaten a lot of sugar, I feel what I call "over-sugared" and it is not a nice feeling. And I also get mouth ulcers which stay for days and are quite painful and make it hard to eat anything. Last night because we had visitors we had dessert after dinner (we don't usually), a rather delicious chocolate mousse cake that I bought frozen because I was too tired to do any additional cooking. And within about half an hour I had an ulcer on the tip of my tongue. I couldn't believe everyone else wanted supper a couple of hours later - how could they eat when I felt so yuck? Today at the party I had one single m&m, and the pain from the ulcer convinced me not to have anything else sweet. (I did try the cake though, I will admit, but left a lot on my plate.) I enjoyed my roast chicken for dinner tonight very much, but if I look at the left over party food I just wince.

I've been going back and forth for years on sugar in my tea and I may have finally conquered that one. I just didn't like the taste as much without that half-a-teaspoon of sugar. I went down to zero for a week then tried sugar again and it was too sweet. Yet I still don't like the taste so much without it. I could give up tea altogether I suppose, but I like the calming ritual of it. If I'm not "addicted" to sugar do I need to give it up? It has never been a trigger food for me, salty crunchy fatty things are my downfall (Doritos I'm looking at you). Yet my body is clearly telling me it doesn't like it. I just looked up that chocolate mousse cake and I would have eaten around 21 grams of sugar, four teaspoons (much less than is in a can of cola). I guess I am resentful that I can't have the occasional sweet dessert without consequences. But I've been having this response to large(ish) amounts of sugar for years and I am pre-diabetic - I really need to start listening to my body!