Saturday, February 28, 2015

Canberra Show


Today we went to the Canberra Show, where the country comes to the city! Canberra is about a tenth the size of Sydney where I grew up and the agricultural show is proportionately smaller, but still fun.

There was wood-chopping;
a petting zoo (these are alpacas, isn't the baby one adorable!);

jousting is new to the Show this year, we all loved it;

motorbike trick riding (you can see the guy level with the trees in the middle of the picture, probably just finishing a somersault or something equally dangerous);

and Flyball which I think is an Australian sport. Each team of four dogs runs in relay over the jumps to the far end to fetch a ball then runs back to his/her owner. The height of the jumps is based on the shortest dog, so you often have a team with one tiny dog bounding over jumps and then the other three big dogs hardly noticing the jumps are even there. I'm always amazed that the dogs don't get distracted by all the other dogs all over the place, but mostly they are very motivated to get that ball and bring it back!

There are also sideshow games and rides at the Show but we don't bother with those much. We did look at some cows and sheep and various stalls selling wine and honey and windchimes and "magic" pens (we bought some of those) and sour candy and patted a baby crocodile and made a police badge and looked at local artwork. The kids got a showbag full of lollies each, which they will have a couple of pieces a day from for the next few weeks. This year I didn't buy a showbag but I did have a packet of cheezels and some chocolate as well as pizza for lunch. We were there five hours and I got a lot of steps in!

It was really hot as usual but we had a little storm just before we left and being sprinkled with cooling rain was lovely. Great day, I love the Show!

It wasn't exactly a healthy day, I'll get back into my daily reporting tomorrow.

Sleeping and napping


Ok, sleep update. I used both the CPAP and my night-time meditation app last night and went to sleep quite easily. No suffocation feeling at all, and I think listening to the relaxing voice helped distract me. I woke and had to take the mask off about three hours later because the sweat was stinging really quite badly. I had spicy tacos for dinner, can jalapenos come out through your sweat? It felt like someone had rubbed a hot chilli under my nose. Also the mask was hurting my nose a bit. That always happens when I start over with the CPAP, it's like getting used to new shoes. The skin has to toughen up in the right places. Anyway, it was a really good start and I am hopeful of getting back into the habit of using it for longer each night. I can try, as I have in the past, padding around my nose with folded tissues to stop the sweat irritation on hot nights.

I have designated Saturday as my rest day from exercise and I took that without any guilt today. I felt wiped out. Tim takes the kids out to their various sports but I have no commitments on Saturday, so I could just sit around and nurse my sleep deprivation headache. In the afternoon I slept for about two hours on the lounge. I really needed it! Tim made dinner and I basically had the whole day off.

We have a fun day planned tomorrow, which I will talk about after the event.

Report card:
Diet: Ok.
Exercise: N/A
Water: Good, finishing my last glass now.
Sleep: getting better.
Mental health: Good.

Friday, February 27, 2015



Yesterday I didn't exercise and I ate some chocolate marshmallow biscuits. "Some" being a number between one and ten. Steps under 3000. I was just so tired. At least I got immersed in writing and added quite a bit to my word count. But otherwise the day was a write-off.

I told myself to stop being an idiot and just use my CPAP already. Yes, I hate it. But how long do I have to be non-functional from sleep deprivation before I'll give in? Well, it seems I got to that point. We've had a cool change so I can't even blame my resistance on the heat. Sleep apnoea isn't my only sleeping issue, but it's one I have a specific tool to deal with.

So last night I made sure the machine was all clean and ready, and put the nose pillows on (only covers my nose, but I have to keep my mouth closed or the air goes in my nose and straight out my mouth which feels weird and unpleasant) as I got into bed. And felt like I wasn't getting enough air. I've felt like this before, especially when I first put it on and pressure is still building up, and particularly if I am still breathing a little more heavily because I've been moving around. I pulled the mask off and waited until my breathing settled down, then tried again. And got that horrible feeling of suffocating. Drowning. Heart rate rising in panic. Need air.

I checked that the mask had air flow, I checked the tubes weren't tangled, I waited until I was relaxed again, I tried five or six times, in different body positions. Same every time. So I gave up. And I was exhausted again this morning.

I am not claustrophobic at all and I don't have problems with something covering part of my face (except when it is hot and sweaty), but I have had this issue before in a milder form that I got past. The sleep doctor adjusted the settings so that the air pressure would ramp up quicker (it starts slow because some people don't like the feeling of air blowing up their nose and want to wait until they are asleep before it blows hard - not me) and that helped. I don't know what went wrong this time.

At lunchtime I was just so tired that I decided to go and have a lie down and listen to my relaxation app (and hopefully have a nap) and I decided to give the CPAP another go. And I had no problem with it at all! Breathe in, breathe out, easy. Slept for about 20 mins, unfortunately the daytime meditation wakes me up at the end of the program (I can turn that off but forgot to), and woke feeling much better. 20 minutes can't make up for weeks of bad sleep, but I felt less exhausted and much calmer and happier. I probably stress about not sleeping a lot, so I feel better now I have a bit of confidence that I can get some more restful sleep in coming nights.

Wow, that was a lot on that topic! Moving on. This morning I drove Tim to work (finally back at his normal office, his work at Parliament House finished yesterday) then had breakfast in a café before doing the grocery shopping. The bacon and eggs was lovely (I ate about half of what they served) and for the first time ever I tried the grilled tomato they always put on the plate and it was really nice! Super intense tomato flavour. I wish I had tried it before I got full, as it was I only had a few bites. Next time I'll definitely eat the tomato. Usually I give the tomato to my husband if we are breakfasting together in a café.

After my nap I had a good writing session. Chapter One is coming along nicely.

I was happy this afternoon because I found out that a magazine I accidentally subscribed to - and didn't like at all - was being discontinued and they wanted to know which of their publications I would like instead. So I'll actually get one I enjoy reading instead of that rubbish. (They might have been willing to do that before, but I never got around to contacting them. They made it easy.)

I went for a walk with Aiden while Jasmine was in her ballet class. Around 45 mins.
My steps should be up to 9,000 by the time I go to bed.

Report card:
Diet: Good today.
Exercise: Good.
Water: Poor again. Maybe not pushing myself towards 12 glasses was a bad idea, because I only made 6 again today unless I guzzle some more before bed.
Sleep: Poor, but with hopes for tonight.
Mental Health: Was poor, better this afternoon.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Taking those extra steps


I felt so much better today, even though according to my Fitbit I slept less than 4 hours out of all the time I was in bed. Still, that is nearly 4 hours, right? Regardless, I had more energy and alertness, at least until evening, which is all I ask for.

So I did an hour of Fantasia and then a half hour walk, and this evening did a few laps of the lounge room to get me over the line of 10,000 steps. And I learned how to take a screenshot of my iPhone.

I made a couple of phone calls I wasn't looking forward to. One to the crematorium about picking up mum's ashes (after finding out how many thousands it was to have them put in the crematorium's rose garden - too many), and then one to a hotel about changing my reservation because my brother rang last night to ask me to change which weekend we visit to help go through mum's stuff. The hotel receptionist was a bit dubious at first, it was supposed to be non-refundable, but then I played the "my mum just died" card (she did ask why I needed to change) and she was very nice and changed my reservation straight away which was lovely. I felt really weird and uncomfortable about it, even though I was just being totally honest, because I am not good at any sort of confrontation. But got that done and out of the way when I'd been dreading it.

Tim has been working ridiculous hours these past couple of weeks, we are hoping tomorrow is the last day but who knows? Then he goes back to his usual office (he is a lawyer) with only semi-ridiculous hours. He had the car today so we couldn't get to Jasmine's dance class but it was nice to have an afternoon at home. We usually do fine with one car because Tim rides his bike to work but he's needed it a bit more often with this location and hours. One day we may get a second car, especially if we move to Sydney eventually, they don't have the extensive bike path network we have in Canberra and there is a lot more traffic and it's a much bigger city.

Report card:
Diet: Good. I'm trying to reduce my carbs a bit, the starchy ones at least. Still eating plenty of fruit. Especially grapes, which are amazing right now.
Exercise: Great. An hour and a half, and extra walking to finish my steps.
Water: Poor. Managed 7. My problem is that I know I don't have to force down 12 glasses so I assume the 8 will just happen easily by itself - in actual fact my natural inclination is about 4 glasses a day. Including tea. So I still need to make an effort to drink the 8. Work on that tomorrow.
Sleep: Better. Well, I felt better.
Mental health: Good. Thinking about my mum a lot, but doing ok.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Chaotic day


Another horrible sleep, but at least we have had a cool change so it might be better tonight. Today, though, I was very tired and unmotivated. I didn't want to exercise (and find it hard to believe that just a couple of days ago I was thinking about joining the gym to push myself) but I did half an hour of Fantasia and called it enough. I did the grocery shopping, which was exhausting in my current state and left my legs and back aching. I foolishly ate in the food court, and made about the worst choice possible. Fat with a side serving of salt, essentially. Then slumped at home while I pretended to be working on my writing.

My friend Caroline and her kids came over after school and we had a cup of tea and a chat, then Tim called and asked me to pick him up as his bike had a flat tyre. He had a few hours to come home for dinner before he had to return to work at 8 pm to meet with the committee again (damn politicians). So Caroline took all the kids to her place and I picked up my husband. We got home to find the plumber's truck in the driveway, he was here to replace that hot water thing. He hadn't called first, lucky he just got there.

Then Tim realised he had left behind his backpack during the struggle to fit his bike in the car. It had a lot of important stuff in it so he had to head back straight away to get it - about 15 mins drive each way which isn't too bad but not a fun way to spent your tiny bit of free time. He took my keys. And then I realised he had all my keys so I couldn't leave the house to walk to get the kids, and also it was starting to storm. Caroline had to drive my kids home again.

Meanwhile Tim was finding out what happens when you leave a backpack outside Parliament House. They call the bomb squad. Oops. At least we know those security guys are doing their job. Tim got home eventually.

After my terrible lunch decision AND eating some unnecessary rice crackers in the afternoon, I was left with no calories left for dinner - I was already over. So I made pasta with cream sauce and bacon. I make no attempt to justify that. I made some very bad decisions today.

Just let me get some sleep.

Report card:
Diet: Terrible.
Exercise: Ok.
Water: Poor.
Sleep: Terrible.
Mental health: Not as bad as you might expect.

It's just one of those days when you're glad that tomorrow is a clean slate.

A bit of shade


Today my exercise was walking, and I made it to 10,000 steps. I certainly didn't feel like exercising at all after another bad night (even though it wasn't as hot, the fresh sheets were neatly tucked, and I'd exercised that day which is supposed to help). But "don't want to" is not a valid excuse, so I went out. It was very hot, but luckily there were some nice shaded bike paths.
Still, I was hot and sweaty by the time I got home from my morning walk. In the afternoon we walked up to the school for a parent/teacher meeting and that was a lot hotter! At least it got me to my step goal.

I changed my mind about giving up Plant Nanny, I just lied to it about how much I weigh so it tells me to drink 8 glasses. But that got me thinking, I've read blogs written by people 400, 500, even 700 pounds. How many glasses of water is a 700 pound man supposed to drink? 50 glasses a day?

Aside from my walking in the heat, I worked on my new novel. No actual words added to the official count, but notes written and a lot of thinking about what is going to happen in chapter one to start the story. I may have fallen asleep while thinking with my eyes closed, but I got some work done before that.

Report card:
Diet: Great, within calories and more fruit and vegetables today.
Exercise: Good. Not high intensity but plenty of it.
Water: Good.
Sleep: Poor.
Mental health: Good.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Five stars and choices


I played some World of Warcraft with my husband this morning, and then did an hour of Fantasia. I was fine, back to 100%. And for the first time ever I got 5 stars in a song! Yay me. That was right at the end of the hour. In the afternoon I listened to my meditation app and had a nap.

I have chosen and paid for my meditation apps after giving them a good trial. I think they are both by someone called Surf City. One is for sleeping; the daytime one I use has a weight-loss element. There is all the relaxing bit then a visualisation of standing in front of a mirror and seeing the person you want to be. No idea if it has any effect, but I like listening to it. And if it helps me slide into a nap, I really don't mind!

I slept very badly last night, tossing and turning. Too hot and the sheets got all rucked up and I don't know what else. My Fitbit says I was fully awake 5 times and restless 20 times. Felt pretty tired and headachy but refused to let it stop me exercising. Did well today in spite of it.

After some deliberation, and a period of not really tracking at all, I've made the commitment to change over fully to Fitbit with my food tracking. It means starting over with programming in favourite meals and finding substitutions for foods it doesn't list, but I'll have everything in one place.

I'm also rethinking my Plant Nanny app, cute though it is. It requires me to drink 12 glasses of water a day, which is the current fashion. Eight glasses is more traditional, and some nutritionists even say that includes liquid from foods. I'm usually quite dehydrated so I did need to increase my water intake, but I've decided 12 is too much. I hardly dare leave the house as I have to go to the bathroom every 20 minutes, it makes going for a walk or even doing the shopping problematic, and no jumping during exercise! And I'm up too many times at night, which is the wrong choice for me given my sleep issues. It's bad enough if I stop drinking early, but usually I'm having my last glass or two too close to bedtime and I have to get up over and over. So, back to 8 glasses and goodbye Plant Nanny (the plants wilt and die if you don't drink to water them and I can't change the 12 glass requirement unless I tell it I weigh 2/3 of my actual bodyweight. Which I considered).

Speaking of sleep, I've decided to put away my CPAP for the time being, since I haven't used it for weeks. Our bedroom has several built in wardrobes and no space for a bedside table, so I keep it on a stool beside the bed, blocking access to the wardrobe. Every time we want to open the door we have to move it, careful not to spill the water in the humidifier. It is a real pain. I can't bear to use it in this heat (that's my excuse anyway) so it is going inside the cupboard instead of blocking the door to it. I can always revisit this decision later.

Now I need to think about how to increase my exercise intensity. Maybe another three month gym membership.

Report card:
Diet: Good. Right amount of calories, could have had some more vegetables.
Exercise: Great. An hour today.
Water: Great. Eight glasses.
Sleep: Poor. But I did get a nap this afternoon.
Mental health: Good.

I have 11 days left in the first month of this dietbet. I can do it!

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Lunch at a vineyard


No beeps in the night, yay! Good sleep.

It was a friend's birthday lunch today, at a restaurant attached to a vineyard. I hadn't really been looking forward to it, there would be a lot of people I didn't know and I'm a bit shy, and I knew it was a set menu so I was really worried I wouldn't like the food (I'm afraid I gave little to no thought about whether it would fit with my diet, it was my cheat/reward/treat/indulgence meal for the week - I think I'll go with indulgence - which would be fine if I hadn't been off-plan most of the week due to illness). Anyway, it turned out great. The setting was lovely, outdoors next to big vegetable garden that the staff actually came out and gathered produce from, on the outskirts of a country town. It was a bit hot but at least we were in shade. I knew quite a few people and we were seated near friends, plus a couple of new people who were nice and chatty. And the food was really lovely.

The service was, shall we say, relaxed, so that we received our dessert at 3pm. The kids were a bit bored by then but overall it was a very nice gathering.

I did the grocery shopping in the afternoon and we had a late dinner. No afternoon snack needed today!

Report card:
Diet: Poor, I guess. Too many calories, including some wine. But nothing I feel bad about.
Exercise: Poor. But I promise that this is the last day without exercise for a while.
Water: Great. One glass to go before bedtime.
Sleep: Good. A solid night.
Mental health: Great. I did a meditation this morning and had a nice long lunch with friends. And I didn't give up on the whole day due to the lunch, I made sure the rest of the day was healthy.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

In the deep of the night


In the deepest darkest silence of last night, there came a beeping.

I woke to this insistent, loud BEEP BEEP BEEP. My first thought was the smoke alarm so I jumped up and checked that. No. My second thought was the security system, which I have never actually heard in ten years here (we may have tested it when we first moved in, I don't remember) so I woke my husband and we went to investigate together. No intruders, but still the BEEP BEEP BEEP definitely inside the house. Tim didn't get home from work until midnight, so we were both staggering around confused and half asleep, but tracked it down to the hot water tank.

There is a black box attached low, with a cord leading to a disc in the drip tray. We had this new hot water tank installed only three months ago, and from what I could remember this was to detect leaks. But the drip tray was dry, no leak anywhere. There was a big green button on the black, flashing box so we tried pressing that for various time periods. It would shriek at us then go back to BEEP BEEP BEEP drilling into my precarious sanity.

Our daughter was awake by now, somehow our son slept through it. Just like his daddy. I can't even sleep through a dripping tap, let alone this. We tried to turn the hot water system off. Unfortunately we had no idea how to do this. Tim went out to the switch and tried turning everything off in turn. We lost all the lights and power, but not the f*cking beeping. It would not stop. We both searched the Internet. Aside from water leakage, it could have been overheating or one other thing I keep forgetting.

After a frustrating hour, we rang our plumber's 24 hour hotline. Unfortunately this just meant we woke a nice receptionist who told us a plumber would call back in the morning. Eventually some more research revealed that the alarm ran off a battery to I was able to pull that out and stop the damn noise. We turned off the power to the house, just in case that helped contain whatever was wrong, and finally went back to bed. Where I lay awake feeling exhausted and miserable.

The plumber came about 3pm and revealed that the alarm was faulty, he'll be back with the part next week and in the meantime we just left the batteries out.

I spent the day with no power which was a bit of a challenge. I had breakfast in a cafe after driving Tim to work, but no cups of tea at home. Or computer. Or TV. I was supposed to go shopping, but was not about to buy perishables with the fridge turned off. All course it turned out all this was unnecessary, but we didn't know that until late afternoon. Indian take-away for dinner.

Creating a certain symmetry, there was a fire alarm at Jasmine's ballet class this evening and the whole school was halfway out before it was turned off and we came back in, another false alarm. My long day ended much as it started, with the sound of that bloody BEEP BEEP BEEP.

Report card:
Diet: Poor. Take-away and cafe. Some digestive upset and queasiness which may be from lack of sleep or whatever has been wrong with me this week or both.
Exercise: Poor. Felt pretty unwell much of the day, again maybe lack of sleep contributing. Just walking from the car into ballet school was as much as I could handle.
Water: Poor. I did try, but queasy makes it hard.
Sleep: Terrible.
Mental health: Ok I guess. I know it was just one bad night.

Eating cardboard


I was much the same yesterday as the day before. A lot better today. My two sick days I only took around 1,500 steps each day, today up to 3,500 so definitely moving around more, even if only around the house. I also got some writing done, the first 650 words or so of book two. But pretty tired, headachy and trying not to be cranky this afternoon. At least my food tastes nice again, I might as well have been eating cardboard the past couple of days (but comforting, stomach-settling cardboard).

Report card:
Diet: Poor. I think. I'm struggling to remember. Certainly very little fruit and vegetable. I haven't been tracking calories. Did have a yummy normal roast chicken dinner tonight and really enjoyed it.
Exercise: N/A. Still too dizzy to attempt it.
Water: Good today after a couple of very poor days. 10 glasses and I'll try to have those last two before bed.
Sleep: Good. Maybe the only good thing about being sick!
Mental health: Bit of a slump this afternoon, hard not to snap at kids for no reason. But ok before that.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015



Felt worse today. Abdominal cramps, weak and dizzy. Thought I was going to faint when I stood too long. A bit better this evening, as long as I stay sitting down.

I got up and dressed at my usual time this morning but almost straight away lay back down. An hour later when the family had left, I went back to bed and slept for two hours. I mention this because my Fitbit recorded this as sleeping - but only from when I went back to bed properly. How did it know? What was the difference between me lying on top of the bed resting, and in bed asleep? Was it just me moving around and changing positions when awake?

Most days I get to 5,000 steps just around the house, more if I go out shopping or for a walk. Today less than 1,500! Lots of much needed resting.

Report card:
Diet: Poor. I didn't eat that much, but what I did eat was all simple carbs. Toast, 2 min noodles, spaghetti. It's what I eat when my tummy is upset.
Exercise: Poor. Barely moved.
Water: Poor. 4 glasses.
Sleep: Great. Lots of sleep!
Mental health: Good. Sick but not sad.

Obviously I'm fine with a poor report card on a sick day.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Too hot


Every day I decide I'm going to stop being such a baby and just use my CPAP like I'm supposed to. But this evening it's so hot that my chocolate was literally liquid, running over my hand and dripping on the floor, and I just can't face attaching a plastic mask to my face. I wouldn't be able to sleep at all, even apnoea is better than that. I'll just have to lose weight instead, or wait for autumn.

I did 30 mins of Fantasia, stopping because my shoulder was getting a bit sore. Did the grocery shopping. Started working on book 2, writing an outline and character studies of a couple of new characters. Had a nap. Sat and sweated.

My stomach was a bit upset today, not enough to stop me eating, in fact I felt much better when there was a bit of food in my stomach. Hope it's better tomorrow, I'm a bit uncomfortable all over the abdomen. Haven't been able to drink all my water because it makes me feel very bloated and over-full. Right now I look pregnant.

Report card:
Diet: Good. Ate what I planned, apart from too many chocolates again - three instead of one (again). Oh well, now there is only three more left in the box, and I don't like one of them!
Exercise: Good, especially considering I didn't feel great. I've kept my commitment of 30 minutes every weekday.
Water: Poor. If I drink this one in front of me before I go to bed, that will be eight glasses. But I'm ok with that, it is making my stomach very uncomfortable to drink much.
Sleep: Ok. Much the same. Restless nights, sleepy in the afternoons. The heat doesn't help.
Mental health: Good. Feeling positive.

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Lovely feedback


I posted my novel for my writing group on Friday, and today someone emailed me. He hadn't planned doing critiques this year because he didn't have a book of his own to submit (it's a quid pro quo system) but liked the title of mine so decided to read it. And finished it in two sessions! He said he really liked it and particularly liked the magic system.  So lovely to get that positive feedback, and in only two days when I thought I would have to wait a month. He is going to send me more detailed feedback so there will probably be suggestions of things to work on, but that is an awesome start that made my day.

I did half an hour of Fantasia exercise, and mostly ate well (three chocolates though). I've been emailing back and forth with other judges and we've finalised short lists and the winners for our two categories of the Aurealis Awards. I also bustled around a bit getting some of the housework done. 5,000 steps. I feel ready for the week ahead. I have some ideas percolating for book two, and I'm thinking about rejoining the gym now that time pressures have been lifted.

Report card:
Diet: Good, I think. I haven't actually finished tracking what I ate, but I think did ok. More chocolate than I planned.
Exercise: Good. Moved my body.
Water: Ok. Only 8 glasses today.
Sleep. Ok. Got through the day without a nap.
Mental health: Mixed. I started the day feeling ok, then after exercise felt quite down, but after receiving praise for my book I felt really great! Finishing the day happy.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Back to basics


This morning I was thinking about what I need to get my food back on track after my little lapse. One or two bad meals or days need not be a diet-ender. So what works for me?

The first thing that I've slacked off on these past few days, even before the slump, was including lots of vegetables. Eating my vegetables is always a bit of a struggle, I don't like that many kinds or know many appealing ways of cooking them. My meals revolve around the protein, and making sure there are enough carbs for Tim. Vegetables are the afterthought, the "because I have to". So when the gloss of a new diet wears off, the virtuous increase in vegetables is the first thing to go.

Yet not only are veges good for me, they fill me up. No wonder I start eating more junk when i stop eating vegetables, I have to fill my stomach with something. Clearly this needs to be a priority.

The other thing I need to careful of is the timing of my meals. For example if I'm not hungry for morning tea and don't eat my piece of fruit, then I am ravenous an hour later. Too close to lunch to snack, so early lunch instead. So I'm starving by afternoon tea time, and eat too much. Not hungry at dinner time, eat only a little. But hungry in the evening... So I spend the day snacking, maybe on healthy food but not proper balanced meals. All because I didn't have my morning snack on time. It can mess up my whole day.

Pre-planning works well for me. Each evening I write down what I'm going to eat the next day, and I stick to that pretty closely. If I don't do this, it's easier to eat something less healthy. I also always plan the week's dinners before I go shopping - I don't understand how some people don't do this, I would hate not knowing what I was going to cook until it got to 5pm and try to work something out from the ingredients I happened to have.

I decided to swap over all my food recording to the Fitbit. It's actually quite a pain because all the items are American. The database didn't have Lebanese cucumbers (probably not much different to standard cucumbers in nutritional value) or my brand of cheese (fat and salt content could vary a lot) or my brand of tinned corn (sugar and salt). Cuts of meat are named differently. Some types of food have completely different names which might trip me up if I don't know. For example in most of the world "marinara" means seafood - that is what the word "marine" means after all, from the sea. But in the US apparently it means a tomato based sauce, nothing to do with seafood at all. Very confusing. I'll give the Fitbit recording a go, but might end up going back to my Australian CalorieKing if it's too hard.

Report Card:
Diet: Ok. Since it was Valentine's Day, we had dessert with dinner and I also ate some of the chocolates I was given. I will only be having one a day from now on.
Exercise: N/A. Saturday is my rest day.
Water: Great. Finished 12 glasses well before bedtime.
Sleep: Ok. Had an afternoon nap.
Mental health: Good. Feeling much better today. Did my meditation in the afternoon, and enjoyed spending time with my family.

Friday, February 13, 2015

One foot back on the right track.


I like to start with the good news. First, I posted my novel for my critique group! So my baby is out there in the world for people (a select group of about six) to comment on. We meet in a month and they will all tell me what they think of it. In detail. Very scary, but exciting. I have to keep reminding myself that this is for feedback so I can make it better. My novel is not in its final form yet, and I have to stay open to my readers' opinions. Next week I start working on the sequel, which is in a very nebulous form at the moment.

The other good news is that I hit 10,000 steps today! Actually a bit over 11,000. I had a short walk in the morning then a longer exhausting walk with my son in the afternoon. Shortly after we got home, my Fitbit starting flashing and buzzing on my wrist, startling me quite a lot. When I pressed the button it lit up with the good news I had walked 10,000 steps. It felt very congratulatory. Thanks Fitbit!

On the downside I haven't quite got my food back under control yet. I did well until mid-afternoon then started eating. I can't really complain about being tired today because my poor husband didn't get home until nearly 3 am and probably got 4 hours sleep. Earlier night tonight, home at 10. Oh well, the project is nearly done. So, without in any way complaining about being tired, I did overeat for whatever reason. And had a nap.

Report card:
Diet: Ok. Not as bad as pizza night.
Exercise: Great. Happy with my stepping, and the fact I tired myself out.
Water: Ok. Only 8 glasses today, my target is 12. But 8 is still good.
Sleep: Ok. Feel a bit better than the past two days.
Mental health: Good. Feeling like I am getting back on the right track.

A big step up from yesterday!

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Cheat meal


I've decided that I don't like the term "cheat meal" - which implies you are doing something naughty even though it is a planned part of your nutrition plan. Or "reward meal" which implies you have somehow earned the right to eat junk. If this six month dietbet is practice for the rest of my life, then it will include eating at restaurants, having the occasional dessert or piece of cake, eating an ice cream on a hot day, and some high-quality chocolate given by people who know I love it. None of which is "cheating" or "reward". It's just part of the balance of an enjoyable life.

But half a pizza because I'm too tired to cook shouldn't really be part of a balanced life. I can make better choices than that.

Another bad night left me pretty dopey today. My exercise was a half-hour walk. I did some work on my book then was too sleepy to keep my eyes open. I lay on the lounge and faded away for a while. Once the kids were home I did very little for the rest of the afternoon. I ate way too much, leaving me with only a couple of hundred calories for dinner. I was tired and couldn't face cooking, and didn't have the car, and pizza is about the only thing that delivers around here. I'm kind of ok with takeaway very occasionally, what I am not ok with is me eating half a pizza. And a piece of garlic bread. And a chocolate lava cake. A horrendous amount of unnecessary calories. I wasn't hungry, I was tired.

I'm not sure if I am, strictly speaking, an emotional eater. Neither happiness nor sadness particularly send me to food, although I think stress might. But boredom definitely does. And what I see again and again is that when I am tired I look to food for energy and lose my sense of when to stop eating.

I don't know what to do other than keep working on my sleep, which I suppose means trying the CPAP again. The weather has cooled a bit which should help. But sleep apnoea isn't my only problem, I also have a lot of trouble getting to sleep and have all my life since early childhood. I feel a bit hopeless about it tonight.

Tim is finishing a huge project at work and got home at midnight last night. I hope he's not so late tonight. He doesn't have my sleep issues, he's asleep when his head hits the pillow, but still he must be tired. He'll be working through most of the weekend but then it should be finished and back to normal.

Report card:
Diet: Terrible. Unhealthy salty food and way over my calorie limit.
Exercise: Fair.
Water: Poor. Only half what I should have had.
Sleep: Poor.
Mental health: Poor. Despondent.

Luckily tomorrow is a new day.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Doing it anyway


What a difference a poor night's sleep has on one's energy and outlook! The Fitbit says I was awake and restless ten times during the night, and I certainly woke up feeling tired and rotten. It's lucky I said yesterday that I wasn't going to get complacent about how easy exercise had become, because today I really didn't want to do any! Motivation had evaporated during the night.

It took me a long time to get going, but eventually I forced myself to get in front of Fantasia. I was happy to stop after half an hour, feeling that at least I had done something. The rest of the school day was spent editing my novel.

My daughter had her dance class (one of them) in the afternoon, so my son and I went on our new routine of a walk - 23 minutes. It was a slow walk on fairly flat ground and it nearly killed me. No energy today.

I've had the Fitbit for a couple of days now so I think it's time for an assessment. Physically it is pretty comfortable, and doesn't bother me at night. It's not as pretty as some of the others available, and I could only get it in black. It does a lot of things! I didn't spent the extra $100 to get the one with GPS but it has a display for my heart rate, steps taken, distance travelled, calories burned, and steps up. And even the time! It syncs with my computer, iPad and iPhone, and the dashboard there keeps track of all that information plus sleep, and (if I enter it) food and water intake. I was a bit confused by the calories allowed, at first, because I start the day with less than 1000 in my allowance. But apparently this is what I would need if I wanted to stay in bed all day yet still lose weight. As I start moving around, my calorie allowance goes up. Obviously this means is will be different every day, which I don't like. I tried to program in my chosen calorie allowance instead, but it didn't seem to take effect. I'll look at that again and try to work it out.

My main problem, which seems a bit contrary to expectation, is that it does so many things! I already record water intake on Plant Nanny, walks on RunKeeper, calories and exercise on CalorieKing. I'm not sure if I'm ready to drop all these. I've been using CalorieKing for years and I've got lots of meals and custom foods programmed in. It knows what I eat! Plant Nanny is so cute, it's what has got me increasing my water intake. I don't want to record everything twice, but it's a big step to change over.

Report card:
Diet: Great . Having no trouble sticking to my calorie limit. I'm still eating whatever I like, but in reasonable portions.
Exercise: Good. A bit lacklustre today, but I did it.
Water: Good. Nearly done for the day.
Sleep: Poor. No idea why.
Mental Health: Good. Tired but fine.

Overall not as good today. But I'm fine with that. Not every day is a great day.

I'm one week into this 6 month dietbet and I've lost 1.5 kgs, which is awesome. And this time it wasn't a big water-weight loss in the first couple of days, it's been a steady loss over the week.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015



I left my fitbit on last night and listened to my sleep meditation. I had read something that argued that wearable sleep trackers were not very accurate because they only went by movement - if you lay still it would assume you are asleep (I don't know if that is really how they do it, I was wondering if they take your very relaxed heart rate into account). So I wasn't that surprised when in the morning the fitbit informed me I had slept very well, going to sleep in 11 minutes and then resting peacefully through the night except for getting up twice to go to the bathroom. Ha! Not true, I thought, because my sleep meditation goes for about 25 minutes (not 11) and I am sure I heard the whole thing. I distinctly remember all the muscle clenching and relaxing exercises and then visualizing being in a gently swaying hammock and then ... and then ... I did not hear the rest. I had been so sure I took a long time to get to sleep. But I definitely didn't hear the last half of the meditation. I did hear it all through the first night so I know what is said. I felt really alert today so maybe I did get a good night's sleep! As I have said before, I am just a terrible judge of how well I slept, if I compare my memory of it to how I feel the next day.

I did a whole hour of exercise this morning, Fantasia again. My arm was only a tiny bit sore, it was fine. I did a classical track (Dvorak) for a change, then Bohemian Rhapsody a few times (still only four stars) then I earned the song Radioactive so I tried that out a couple of times. I am really enjoying it at the moment. I have lost my resistance to exercise, for the moment anyway, I am not getting complacent about it. In fact the only thing I don't like is that, alone in the house, after my shower I can't put on a normal bra by myself due to my shoulder injuries. And an overweight middle-aged (in the prime of life!) woman needs a proper bra! Those pretend-bra crop-top things just aren't the same. But, here is the great news, today I found that I can almost reach high enough behind my back! My left shoulder has been very slow to return to normal (three years? More?) after healing after a tear, no doubt because I don't do any physio for it, but finally it is almost there. I wonder if all this waving my arms around for Fantasia is helping loosen it up?

I had a healthy lunch and then got a very good session of editing in. I am down to the little details that suddenly occur to me during the day, like my main character compares something to a castle rampart and then I realised she's never seen a castle so maybe it would be better for her to compare it to something else. Or adding in a few lines for a minor character to show her character more fully.

Later in the afternoon I did my other meditation app which was very restful. I am feeling calm and happy. Well, most of the time. Everything is going pretty well at the moment. Of course it is very hard to judge how much of this calm comes from semi- regular meditation. I also have a little distance now from my mother's death, and I have time to myself during the day while the kids are at school. It all contributes, I imagine, to peace of mind.

I had plenty of calories left at the end of the day so I got to have a bit more of that fabulous raspberry chocolate! Yummy.

My Fitbit says I did 4850 steps today, not bad considering I didn't leave the house! I assume it counted my conducting Fantasia as steps, but I also moved around the house a fair bit during the day. Tomorrow I'll get a walk in and try to get to 10000.

Report card:
Diet: Great. Within my limits and mostly healthy, depending on how you rate dark chocolate.
Exercise: Great. I'm gradually increasing time and intensity.
Water: Good. It's getting late with still two glasses to go, but I've had ten glasses.
Sleep: Improving.
Mental health: Great.

I've been reading the autobiography of John Cleese (British comedian of Monty Python fame, weird sketch comedy) and he talks about how on the rare occasion he did a "perfect" live performance he felt really depressed for the next few days because he knew he would never/hardly ever achieve that level again. Perfection leaves you nowhere to go. So let's be happy with progress.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Fitbit Charge HR


My exciting news for today is that I bought a Fitbit Charge HR. Wristband that tracks heart rate, steps, activity level and sleep. I had to charge it when I got home so I've only been wearing it during my sedentary evening so far. I've spent a bit of time looking at the website and the app that syncs to it - getting to know it. A fun extra app is FitRPG where you do quests (like walking 1000 steps in the next hour) to go up levels.

I listened to meditation at bedtime last night, a different one by the same people that is specifically designed to put you to sleep and give you a restful night. I listened to it all. Then lay awake another half hour. Then I slept for about five hours before waking early. but maybe I did sleep well, because at least I didn't feel sleepy today.

In the morning I did my exercise, half an hour of Fantasia. Again, I just did Bohemian Rhapsody over and over trying to get five stars. Didn't make it, but at least I can get four stars consistently now. This game is hard! Toning up those flabby arms. It stays interesting (so far) because you get to choose which instruments to add in, so it sounds a bit different each time. Bigger drum kit for Roger, violin for the slow bits. Can't really beat the original Queen though.

Then I did the shopping. And got my Fitbit. And a new frying pan. The handle came off ours last night. Shame, it was the best one I've ever owned. My dad got me a set for my engagement. I bought a scanpan this time. Not non-stick, you need the non-non-stick to get a good crust on a steak. We need a new front door too, or at least a new handle. It sticks so bad we can hardly open it.

It's been an expensive couple of months. Christmas, mum's funeral, all the kids' activities starting up again.

We were away a lot over the holidays and we missed a couple of garbage collections. We caught up on the normal one ok, but recycling is only collected once a fortnight and the bin always fills up anyway, let alone with all the extra boxes from Christmas. So beside our back door are stacks of cardboard and bottles and plastics. I can hardly get to the washing machine.

I had hoped for a lot of writing time today but I didn't get as much as I wanted.

Report card:
Diet: Great. Lindt came out with a new flavoured dark chocolate - raspberry. It is fabulous. And I only had two squares, staying within my calorie limit for the day.
Exercise: Great. Pushed myself even when my left arm got pretty sore (not "I am doing permanent damage" sore).
Water: Excellent.
Sleep: I'm really not sure. I thought I had a short sleep but I feel fine today. Much better than the last couple. Yes I know I should be using my CPAP. But if wearing it stops me going to sleep in the first place its not much use, is it? It will be interesting to see what my Fitbit records tonight.
Mental Health: Good. Keeping busy.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Relaxing day


I tried listening to my meditation app in bed last night. Of course, because I actually wanted to go to sleep I didn't - I heard every word! It was pretty nice, much longer than the 10 min Headspace one. About 25 mins I think. Breathing, then relaxing each body part, then some positive visualisations. I tried it again this afternoon and of course I went to sleep straight away! Sigh. Only seems to work in the daytime.

I had a very quiet day. No required reading! I played some World of Warcraft with Tim and ... Do you know I can't think of anything else?! I said it was a quiet day. And a very hot one.

Report card:
Diet: Great. Healthy food, within my calorie range. I didn't even have any of the pikelets (mini pancakes) that Tim made for afternoon tea. I could have included a few more vegetables.
Water: Excellent. 12 glasses all done.
Exercise: Poor. Probably should have done something.
Sleep: Poor. It is so hot tonight there is no way I am going to try to wear my CPAP. Too sweaty. But I will try listening again.
Mental health: Great. Very relaxed.

My plan for the week ahead is to keep up the great eating and drinking, improve the exercise and sleep. Somehow. And work on my novel.

I have been weighing myself daily since staring this new dietbet, and the numbers are going down very nicely. A little every day.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Finishing the reading


The great thing about today is that I finished my last book and a half for the Aurealis Awards. That is a big commitment out of the way. For the next six months I can read whatever I want without feeling like I should be "work" reading! Awesome.

The not so great thing was I ate too many calories today. It was silly. In the afternoon, I had pre-planned to eat a peach with yoghurt. I got a yoghurt-making kit for Christmas, the first batch looked like cottage cheese but the second batch worked out great and tastes lovely. But this afternoon what I wanted was cheese and crackers. But I was determined to stick to my plan. So I ate my nice yoghurt with a peach, and it was good. But it wasn't what I wanted. So I had some sultanas (strange choice, I know). But it wasn't what I wanted. So I ended up having the cheese and crackers after all, making my afternoon tea as big as a real meal, but without the balance! I had a small healthy dinner, but still ended up over calories for the day.

The kids had very busy day. Tennis, swimming, and an evening playing Dungeons and Dragons with some friends. They had a great time. Poor Tim had to spend half the day at work.

I took a day off from exercise. I've done well this week and needed a break.

Report card:
Diet: Ok. Not as good today, but I still went for real food instead of junk.
Exercise: None today, which is fine.
Water: Good, but haven't quite got there today.
Sleep: I thought I would have a great night's sleep because I was so tired, but I actually had my worst night for a while. Tossed and turned a lot. Very tired this morning. So today I tried the new meditation app I downloaded yesterday. I chose this one because in the reviews people said they kept falling asleep during it! I lay down in the afternoon, put it on --- and sure enough I was asleep in moments. No idea what the woman said. I had it set to wake me at the end, but you can turn that off if you buy the app to get all the extra features. I don't usually have the phone in my room at night, especially with headphones in - but it can't be as bad as the CPAP mask. If it helps me get to sleep that would be worth it.
Mental health: well I got the new app, does it count if you listen in your sleep? The app instructions say it does.

Overall the report card doesn't look as good today. I spent a lot of time reading. But not too bad.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Lots of exercise


After a healthy breakfast, getting the kids off to school, and sitting with a cup of tea reading my emails, I did 40 mins of Fantasia. I really pushed myself today, getting right into the arm movements. I was determined to get 5 stars in "Bohemian Rhapsody"! I ran out of steam and arm strength though, with only 4 stars. I find this game quite difficult. I usually do really well in these dance-type things, but my daughter gets better scores than me in this one. I blame my dodgy shoulders. Yeah, I'm sure that's it.

I did the grocery shopping and had lunch. I decided not to edit today, although I had some more ideas fizzing, because I've only got two more books to read for this competition and I want to get them done by the end of the weekend. So I read for a while. Then decided to listen to my meditation app Headspace. It was number ten of the ten free sessions. I fell asleep! But only for about 15 minutes. Then I looked into subscribing to it and found out it's $17 a month which seems a lot, especially since I don't use it every day. I'm going to try out a few different free ones before I decide. I don't mind paying for apps that I think are worth it, but I don't really have anything to compare this one to. There are certainly plenty out there that are free or have a free trial period so I have lots to try. I do like the Headspace guy's voice.

This year Jasmine is starting ballet on Fridays so she had her first lesson. She loved it. Aiden has been talking about learning tennis or cricket, and everyone advises against cricket (adult games can go for five full days, and even the kids' games take up a whole day) so we decided on tennis. And Jasmine decided she wants to do it too. So they are both booked into lessons, right before their swimming lessons, starting tomorrow. So now Jasmine does French, jazz dance, ballet, karate, tennis and swimming outside school, plus trumpet in school band. Aiden does karate, swimming and tennis. We also have a regular playdate with friends once a week, and they are about to start playing Dungeons and Dragons, a kids' group run by a friend of ours. I feel like they are very overscheduled, but they really want to do all this stuff!

While Jasmine was at ballet, Aiden and I went for a walk again. 30 minutes this time. I planned out the route beforehand and we only went the wrong way once. It was a really hot day, and still very hot at 5:00pm. The route was hilly, too, so by the time we got back I was tired and hot and hungry. I read for half an hour, until dance finished, then we went home and I made dinner. It should have been very filling - a T-bone steak and a whole corn on the cob with butter and salad - but I am still wanting to eat more. I think because I am so tired. Physically tired, not sleepy tired. I'm not used to all this exercise, and in the heat. I might have got a bit sunburned, too, I really wasn't expecting it to be like that so late in the day, and sunburn always affects me.

I will make sure I drink more water and wait a while but if I'm still hungry later I'll have fruit or something. I don't plan to starve myself if it's actual hunger, not cravings or boredom. But maybe I should go to bed early instead!

The other thing that happened this afternoon was that my writing group asked me to go first, which means having my novel ready for them to read by next Friday! I only have a week to finish polishing. That is very exciting and very scary. And my husband will be busy on the weekend and might not have a chance to read it before it goes out to other people. It's kind of finished but I keep having these little revelations and ideas and things I need to change. But that process is endless. I have a week. I think it's good to have an actual deadline.

My report card:
Diet: Good - as long as I don't binge tonight. I want to. I won't.
Exercise: Excellent.
Sleep: Feel good, and taking steps that I'll talk about tomorrow.
Water: Still a bit to go. I'll get them drunk, but I'm leaving it a bit late tonight.
Mental Health: Great. Did a meditation and researching others.

Thursday, February 5, 2015



I've managed to keep myself very busy so far since the kids went back to school. Today I did my exercise (30 mins of Fantasia) and prepared healthy food for each meal and snack, but mostly I worked on my novel. While it's certainly not perfect (no such thing) I feel like I am ready for my husband to read it, which is very exciting. No-one else has read it yet! But I've joined a critique group that starts next week, we will all read each other's works, one per month, and comment. So you get feedback from a lot of people. I don't know if I'll go first or not, but if no one else is ready I will. What I would really love is to have my novel polished and ready by April so that when I meet with a lot of publishers at the Aurealis Awards ceremony (I'm a judge) and I casually mention my novel and they say "send it to me" then I can! Depends how much work I need to do after other eyes see it... If there is a consensus that it needs major surgery then maybe I won't be ready by then.

I also need my elevator pitch ready for when people say "so what is it about?" Something like:

Seyune, a young magic-user, has to join forces with the slavers who capture her to defeat a greater foe. A dragon has found a way to drain the life-essence of other creatures to fuel her own magic, and she and her whelp will destroy everyone Seyune loves for their own opposing purposes.

That has the vital information (Fantasy genre, who is the main character, what is the problem she has to overcome, what are the stakes?) but sounds very unnatural when spoken aloud.

I am both very excited and very scared to have other people read it. What if they think it is rubbish and that I've wasted the last year and a half of my life? I can take specific criticism (this bit doesn't work, you need to change this other bit, I didn't understand why this character did this) but not "it's ok, I guess"! Don't crush my dream!

Quick report card:
Water: Excellent (finished three hours before bed-time so we'll see how that goes)
Sleep: Ok. Feeling alert, but not through any action I've taken.
Diet: Great. Right number of calories, right sort of food.
Exercise: Good. Did my 30 mins.
Mental Health: Great. On a bit of a writing high.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Starting well


First day back into it went really well. I spent an hour or so in the morning dealing with paperwork for mum's estate, then went for a 15 minute walk and did 15 minutes of Fantasia (vigorous music conducting). Edited my novel, made healthy lunch, did some reading/judging. I had my planned afternoon tea but was still really hungry so made a great choice and had a little tin of tuna in springwater - low calorie filling protein. Took Jasmine to her dance class and spent part of the waiting time going for a walk with Aiden before we settled down with our electronic devices. Healthy dinner.

My report card:
Water: Excellent. I would like to finish my drinking a bit earlier in the day though so I don't have to get up so often at night.
Sleep: Ok. I feel fine, but I still haven't been using my CPAP. When I try, I lie awake for an hour then give up. I really am feeling fine though, not too tired.
Exercise: Good. I never feel like I've achieved enough when I start slowly, but at least I haven't injured myself again!
Food: Great. Within my calorie limits and lots of plants.
Mental Health: Feeling very positive. Even though it is that time of the month and I have horrible abdominal cramps. Not affecting my brain this time.

I'm thinking about buying a wearable health tracker thing, either a Jawbone Up3 or a FitBit Charge HR. They look like a watch band give heart rate and daily steps and even track how well you are sleeping. Anyone got either?

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

I will


Yesterday was the last day of school holidays, we went into the city (or should that be "city", Canberra is Australia's political capital but only has 350,000 people spread over five regional centres - so Civic itself isn't that big and it's only 12 minutes drive away) and bought all Jasmine's required dance gear for her ballet and jazz classes. Her first ballet shoes! Not pointe shoes though.

We had lunch at our favourite Chinese restaurant. I swear those kids can eat as much as adults.

They both seemed quite excited to get back to school today and see all their friends. And I had six hours to myself! I am determined to schedule my days so that I actually get the important things done instead of only "if I have time". Therefore exercise and writing in the morning, anything else can go after lunch.  I am very unfit at the moment and seem to be injuring myself shockingly easily. The ankle that I strained walking along the beach took several weeks to fully heal, and I pulled a muscle in my stomach doing crunches the first (and only) time I tried that mean app Carrot Fit. It still hurts when I bend forward. So today I started off very gently with two 15 min walks.

I got some writing done, did the grocery shopping, and did some book judging. So productive! After school we went to a friend's house. They just got a new rescue dog. Cookie is half Border Collie and half Irish Wolfhound, and at ten months old is enormous! It's like patting a pony. Luckily she is very placid.

My new dietbet starts tomorrow. Here's the plan:

Diet: I will eat less processed junk. More fruit and vegetables. Smaller portions. I'll be tracking food and counting calories.

Exercise: I will be easing back in, but making it a priority. 30 mins five times a week.

Water: I will keep up the great work. Lots of water.

Sleep: I will be more consistent using my CPAP, until hopefully soon I don't need it any more. I spend the right number of hours in bed, I need to improve the quality.

Mental Health: I don't always remember this one. I'm using my Headspace app maybe once every three days. I need to make time for either this or something similar. I will work out a regular time for some kind of meditation.

Tonight I admit to a bit of eating indulgence. I asked myself what I would feel guilty eating from tomorrow on, and chose veal schnitzel and potato bake. And then our Dungeons and Dragons friends brought over a cheesecake for supper and I had a slice, so that was more than I had planned. I'm not planning to ban any food from my diet but I won't be having that many calories in one meal again for a while!

I was thinking today that I can easily weigh at least 2 kg more (say 5 pounds) at night than I do the next morning. But I don't burn that many calories in my sleep and I might get up to pee but not 2 or 3 litres! So where does the weight go overnight?