Tag Archives: health

How we treat our pets vs. how we treat ourselves

1 Nov

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This is Greebo. Greebo is about eight years old. Also, Greebo weighs fifty percent (!!!) more than he should.

I feel bad that I let it come to this – mostly out of laziness. A hungry cat will let you know, in no uncertain terms, that it wants to be fed NOW. Which is annoying if you want to sleep in on weekends. So we got a dry food dispenser, and I never wasted a second thought on how he might just eat and eat and eat.

Studies suggest that obesity in mammals reduces life expectancy as well as quality of life in aging mammals.

Basically, what I did to the poor tomcat is bodily harm due to negligence. (Note: His sister Ronja, under the same circumstances, eats less, she is a bit pudgy but in upper normal weight range for a cat her size.)

I bet if Bastet were here she’d bust (bast) my ass over this. How dare I treat her precious feline friends like that?

Anyway, this train of thought has brought me back to the way we, as mammals, often treat our own bodies – stuffing ourselves with (oh so tasty!) garbage – or excess prime quality food – keeping ourselves from exercising and putting all that weight on our joints even if we know that it is bad for us.

I have an easier time talking about it right now, as I have lost almost one third of my body weight so far, going from “obese” to “upper normal” weight over the course of several years. And you know, I am all for body acceptance. But just as you hopefully got outraged about my negligence of Greebo’s health, I would like to think that people who cared about me got outraged when I put my own health at risk by going up to two hundred pounds.

Yeah, that was not the case. No one ever mentioned my weight. When I started exercising and reducing my calorie intake – the oldest diet known to mankind, I would guess – on the other hand, I got lots of worried remarks. Running would destroy my knees (so would all that excess weight, and running is way better for my cardiovascular system and depressive episodes, thank you very much!). I would stop looking good if I lost “too much” weight (as if I care – my physician and I have everything in check, we’re aiming for a healthy weight range with adequate body fat percentage), I was making myself unhappy by “depriving myself” (while I was still eating burgers and pizza and ice cream, only not as much … and health and exercise surely do make me happy!) etc. pp. ad nauseam. Just last week a few female colleagues ganged up on me and told me they were so worried they would start sending me care packages.

At that point I had had enough. With a big smile I offered that we could just calculate the group individuals’ average weight (total group weight/number of group members), which would surely turn out healthy for everyone. Then I left, before I could embarrass anyone any further. What can I say? My patience for bullshit is limited.

And what about body acceptance, you ask? I do not jsut accept my body, I love it – hair, stretch marks, pale skin, zits, scars, the whole bunch. I like to think of it as just another pet I have been trusted with for this episode of human existence (this sounds so weird, sorry! ^^ ), and I hope to take the best possible care of myself while I am here.

Just as I hope to take the best possible care of my beloved fluffy cats, who are planning to murder me in my sleep RIGHT NOW.

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September round-up

30 Sep

This September was kind of ridiculous, in a good way.

First, I went to a friend’s birthday party in my old hometown, and on that occasion also met my sister and her family.

Then said friend and I went on a trip to Bruges in Belgium.

The next weekend, I participated in my first obstacle race.

(Some pictures taken by Richard, some by Sportograf.)

After that, we visited Sicily, or mainly Catania, where we had secured a lovely flat for a week.

And only today, I met my word count for the next “Magic behind the mountains” adventure, completed edits while I was at it and am now ready to send everything out to my test readers in the coming days. I have also started collecting material for the cover picture.

The working title is “Skeleton blues”. And yes, my mother got me the bones of a complete roasted suckling pig.

So, this is the life. This is pretty much what people dream of – adventures, accomplishments, fun times and great food. I wonder whether it will get any better than this. I mean, next month I will be at my first book fair as a traditionally published author, and I hope to complete my first 10K race in under 60 minutes. And next year I intend to publish three more books, get started querying for the ones after “Magic behind the mountains” has ended and drag Richard on a new trip – this time it is my turn to choose, and I am thinking: Prague or Norway? ^^

I’VE FOUND THE CURE FOR EVERYTHING!!!!

26 Jul

Well, okay, no. Maybe not for everything. But I think I may be on to something that can make all our lives better, so bear with me.

You know I am an alternative health nut with a healthy scepticism of alternative medicine. I love using herbal cures that have been proven to work, and that may even have a scientific explanation. I hold a completely irrational hate for homeopathic medicines, “superfoods”, and exotic plants pressed into pills that may mostly contain sawdust and toenail clippings.

Now comes the science:

You have probably heard that if you want to gain muscle, you should eat more protein. Do you know who else should eat more protein? Everybody with an immune system. Everybody with hair, and skin, and general human tissue.

Because – and that is what no one ever told you in quite these words – not just muscle is made of protein. Every single frigging cell in your body consists of different kinds of protein. And your body, marvellous as it may be, cannot make all the protein brands it needs on its own.

Is this an attempt to sell you some weird protein meal replacement stuff (that may also contain sawdust and toenail clippings)?

Gods, no!

Unless you have weird dietary restrictions or kidney problems – in these cases you should consult your medical expert, and keep on reading – the recommendation is that you should consume at least 0.8 grams of protein for every kilogram of your target weight (which is your current weight, unless you want to gain or lose, of course). If you are physically active, you should aim for 1.5 to 2 grams of protein per kilogram target weight.

Maybe a year ago I started keeping track of my protein intake, and upping it considerably – to the point where I get at least 75 grams of protein, every day. This coincided with the discovery that too many carbs trigger nasty migraines, so basically I tilted my food pyramid and shook it a bit until my head did not hurt anymore.

I have not had the flu all winter.

My hair and nails grow like crazy, and they are less brittle.

My skin is the epitome of – ah well, I still look like a pale woman in her mid-thirties who does not care enough about her lotion regime. But I am under the impression that cuts and such heal better.

Let me guess – you are intrigued, and panically calculating the costs of all the steak and chicken you will have to eat, all while quietly crying about all the murder in your pantry. Don’t worry. I do love steak, and chicken, and things that can be ground up for sauces and pies. I also do have a limited budget and a crazy love for books and cocktails, so during the work week I spend maybe thirty bucks on food for my sorry self by mostly eating dairy-based meals. As I am lactose-intolerant (sorry, lactose!), the dairy products I use are slightly more expensive than the regulars, and I splurge on frozen raspberries and peanuts rosted without oil and salt and such. I also like eggs, which, when paired with potatoes, have an exceptionally useful protein composition.

Meal examples (mind you, I am still trying to lose some weight):

  • 150 g cottage cheese with 30 g dry-roasted, unsalted peanuts – combined with a cup of vegetable broth if I want some “more” (like, more taste or more warmth or … just “more”);
  • 250 g “Magerquark” (low-fat curd cheese/quark – most non-Germans are puzzled about this food, which is a special kind of very young cheese which we turn into dips and desserts and cakes … a US blogger compared the taste to that of US “sour cream”, which obviously is very different from our “saure Sahne” (literally translated as “sour cream”)) with 100 g berries or other fruit according to taste;
  • 150 g boiled potatoes with a boiled (or fried, I’m not a saint) egg and a giant heap of vegetables with a little dressing or, if they are oven-roasted vegetables, some freshly grated parmegiano cheese;
  • Beans and lentils in all varieties (stews, soups, salads, … );
  • A reasonable piece of chicken or (non-fried) fish with a heap of vegetables and maybe a little rice;
  • Steak strips on a huge salad;
  • Scrambled eggs with all the veggies you can find (spinach, mushrooms, onions, … );

If you are not trying to lose weight and have no carb-migraine war going on, never worry about the rest of your meals – as long as you get enough protein, that is. Maybe just try it and see how you feel after a month.

There is some more science going on with essential and non-essential amino acids (which make up proteins, which make up us) – essential amino acids are those your body cannot make on its own, so you have to get them from food sources, and they are mostly found in animal-based products – but if you eat a varied diet with different sources of protein, you should have them covered.

Isn’t that great? No expensive pills or syrups to buy, no difficult calculations – just make sure you eat the right things, and you should feel better in a matter of days.

(Disclaimer: If you have any kind of serious condition – or if you are not sure whether you have a serious condition – go and see a specialist. I am not a specialist. Okay, I am a food-intake specialist, as you could see from the numbers on my scale, but I have no medical training whatsoever and only a head full of weird ideas.)

Tiny changes

10 Oct

But nothing much.

The mysterious toilet has disappeared as mysteriously as it had appeared. Fall is crashing into the landscape, leaving trails of bleeding trees and frost on the ground. Everyone is breaking out the heavy sweaters. And I really need to buy new pants.

The idea of doing an obstacle race refuses to die. I was ill for so long at the beginning of the year (normal cough, expert cough, ankle trouble) that we decided to postpone till next year. This gives us almost a year to train for a (hypothetical) race in September, and leaves me with enough breathing room to do a Strongman Run by the time I am thirty-five. Right now I run ten kilometers three times per week and try to get used to strength training at the gym. At the beginning of the next year I hope to get a few trainer sessions scheduled and start using free weights, at least part of the time, and maybe take on a pilates class for general torture. Oh, and I need to lose about twenty kilograms of fat to make it easier to hurl myself over the obstacles. Or that’s the plan.

Sounds boring? I don’t know, I am kind of hyped. You may have forgotten that Diana is my patron goddess, no matter how hard we fight, and moving my body, especially running through the woods, has become our kind of prayer/ritual. Sometimes birds of prey accompany me on my runs – either waiting for a nice snack once I collapse, or in order to encourage me. Who knows? My running speed has increased slighty (from originally 7:30/km to 6:15/km over the course of several years *ahem*), but I mostly enjoy that I can run rather long distances without interruption and not get hurt in the progress.

Of course there will be less wood-running as the evenings go darker, and I am not sure that the treadmill at the gym is a suitable substitute, but I will keep you posted. And in the meantime there is plenty of time for candles and horror movies and long graveyard walks. Maybe I’ll bring a few pictures the next time. ^^

Think positive, or How I was tempted to punch someone throught the screen

29 Jul

This morning an author posted a eulogy in one of the many author groups I am member of on FB. Someone he knew, a fellow author, had been suffering from depression and committed suicide.

The very, really, I-kid-you-not first comment under this post was “People should not let negativity drag them down, just think positive!”

I am sure you, too, know the urge to punch someone REALLY hard through the screen. I do. As this kind of magic has been declared illegal by the High Council of Evil Witches, I had to limit myself to telling her what I thought of her comment, and switching off all notifications for the post.

Yes, OF COURSE from the outside depression can simply look like, “You have to try harder. Don’t be such a wuss. Have you read this beautiful blog on thinking positive?” On the inside it’s more often like standing in the middle of a stony desert under a grey sky, all alone, with no input whatsoever, and no idea how to get out. All the while vultures are circling around you and whispering about all your failures and all the bad things that have happened that you could not stop.

Under these circumstances “think positive” feels a lot like saying, to someone with a broken leg, “Just jump around a little, it will mend in no time!”

Depression is a chronic condition, not something that can easily be fixed. And I know people like easy fixes. That’s why some people make shitloads of money – they promise “easy fixes” for everything from flat boobs to becoming rich without working. The idea of easy fixes is, in the end, that you are at fault yourself if oyur condition is less-than-stellar (be it financially, emotionally, health-wise) because there is this really simple easy fix available and you are essentially a bad person for not trying it – or even worse, for having tried and failed.

The woman who posted the comment in question, by the way, insisted that she was merely pointing out a very simple solution to a common problem that is not really a problem at all.

Yeah, stop being a downer, all you depressed, mentally ill people. You’re spoiling our fun.

I still have that punching itch. Anyone got an alibi for me? Maybe if I can escape detection from the High Council of Evil Witches …

(Gosh, I *know* cursing her does not help anything at all in this situation. But it would feel so very, very good.)

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To end this on a happier note, this is a picture of a cake I brought to work today. A colleague is leaving the country, and she likes mice.

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A cat’s life

9 Jun

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Must be tough, being a cat. Sleeping all day in the softest, warmest spot you can find, waiting for someone to pet you and feed you and play with you and clean out your litter box and … – honestly? I think I would like to switch place for a day or two at the moment. The very day the sun came out, I got sick. Again. So far this year has been rather crappy – I had a cough, which turned into bronchitis, then I injured my heel, had another cough, injured my ankle and shinbone and now I am again sitting at home after work with a cough and a runny nose and lungs that sound suspiciously like whistling through wet paper. I have had to come to terms with the fact that I will most definitely not do an obstacle course this year, had to put my weight-loss on hold (again – my immune system does not like a low-calorie lifestyle while it is fighting bugs), our place looks like a mess and I am falling behind on even the most simple of tasks, such as scheduling appointments or doing my paperwork. At least I got the taxes done in time this year. Took me only four months of complaining and three hours of wading through numbers.

At least during Ramadan we only have to work five hours per day, which means I have two more hours to sleep per day, or get my stuff in order … and now enough complaining, my sweet potatoes are done, and I could do with a cup of ginger lemon tea. Take care of yourselves, and don’t forget to rest!

No, you don’t have dented vaginal chakras

22 Jan

I swear.

I also do know that those coming here are rather smart and would not fall for something like this. Still it was a hilarious read at the office this morning. We’re medical translators, remember, so this counts as research. ^^

Somehow many people fall for the idea that, in order to achieve physical, emotional and spiritual health, you constantly have to “fix” something – add stuff to your day, deny yourself something, do more, tweak your routines, be better. And by doing this, they stress themselves out, always looking for the next supplement or superfood or secret regimen that will give them what they think they cannot achieve otherwise – perfect health.

Don’t get me wrong – I love alternative cures and trying out new weird stuff, and I am very passionate about all things “health”. But somehow I don’t think that adding to already stressful days will help anyone except the guys peddling those “cures”. With most topics such as yoga or pilates or green smoothies I would say, go ahead, try it and see whether your body likes it – and whether it is sustainable in everyday life. But some things, such as stuffing your orifices with obscure tiny teabags or doing coffee enemas (I am not making that stuff up) or timing your eating and drinking periods throughout the day so your stomach won’t turn into a “swamp” and somehow mysteriously leech all health from your body (still not making it up), are downright ridiculous, or worse.

Our bodies have been finetuned by millenia of evolution. Our ancestors survived droughts, hard winters and periods without any food or shelter. They ate bugs, drank mud and chewed on bark. They probably did not get their nine hours of sleep each night, did not have special sleep-inducing lights and, in most cases, had never seen sweet potatoes or quinoa or pineapple – or whatever else is pushed on you as part of the caveman diet, “clean eating” or “mystify your diet chakra” (yes, that one is mine).

Detoxing as it is sold at hilarious prices is unnecessary. Your body knows how to do that. Drinking your weight in water (or anything above maybe two liters per day) does not help your body flush toxins – in fact if your blood is too diluted, your kidneys will do a less stellar job of catching the grub floating through your body. High levels of vitamins will, in most cases, not improve your health – water-soluble vitamins and nutrients will just be flushed out by your kidneys, and fat-soluble vitamins may even be stored in your body and build up to levels of toxicity. Unless you are indeed ill, your body is an expert at getting rid of the stuff it cannot use, without regular enemas or flushes or detox cures.

Instead, why not try taking things slowly? Don’t add to your day, but detract from it. Make life more simple. This morning I read how one could “eat clean” on three bucks a day by making everything yourself, from mayonnaise to stocks to rolls, and honestly – do you have the time for that? I don’t. Compromise. Find out which things are important to you and which are not. Take reasonable shortcuts. And don’t forget to have some cake.