Tag Archives: health

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.

Still digging

10 Aug

Not just hanging in there, but also slowly digging myself out of the MEH.

Weapons of choice: Plenty of water – for drinking. More exercise – for endorphines and good sleep. As little contact to the outside world as possible – for me-time.

Admitted, avoiding contact with the world is kind of tough, as I spend at least 35 hours per week in a 12m² office I share with three other women. Plus the time spent in bus and subway, plus mandatory groceries. And for some really weird reason some of my friends tend to get upset if I don’t hang out with them regularly. Just saying, “I don’t feel like going out” usually prompts the “wanna fix it” debates, so I don’t bother beyond, “I’m in a bad mood, just let me be”.

(Fun fact: Last week when I did not want to go see “Magic Mike XXL”, the theories ranged from “Her boyfriend won’t let her” to “She’s a prude”. Guess I can live with that, as long as I get to stay at home.)

For exercise, I have stumbled upon a new challenge. Richard had originally planned to participate in a Tough Mudder and/or a Spartan Sprint race this year, and I have been mulling over doing a Strongman Run for a while. These are all, if you are too budy to click on the links, obstacle races where you get pretty dirty and exhausted. Originally I had planned to watch Richard race and eat ice cream, but then he fell ill three days prior to his obstacle race this summer, and everything had to be cancelled.

To cheer him up (and egg him on, maybe), I suggested doing an obstacle race together next year. Now, running is kind of my thing. I am not too fast, but I can do up to 10K without too much trouble. But I seriously lack coordination and strength, which are needed for the obstacles. Who’d have thought? And as a girl with a plan, I have decided to try this:

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The book describes the most usual obstacles, including information on which kinds of exercise are especially useful for mastering the obstacle, as well as a giant collection of exercises you can do at home or at the gym with little equipment – and three different training plans, 8 weeks each, based on your starter fitness level. I have chosen to start at “dead bird” and plan to do “paralyzed slug” after that. (Note: Those are not really the names of the levels.)

Mind you, these plans are tough. 3×3 hours of strength training per week plus at least three running sessions – optional walking or running on the strength training days. And after just two training sessions I can barely move my arms OR my legs. Let’s see how long I can keep this up, right?

Now, this is not going to turn into a fitness blog. Let me just repeat that I think we as witches, pagans and generally nature-worshipping weird people should take as good care of our bodies as we do of the environment. Imagine having a pet (if you don’t have one, in which case I am slightly suspicious what kind of person you are) – most likely you would go into neat research to determine the space, exercise and nutrition needed to keep your specific pet happy. No cheeseburger meals for your cat, no matter how much they beg you – all that sodium would most definitely fry their tiny kidneys! And I think that the same care should go into your own body, especially if you profess to love nature. Of course this does not mean never having cheesecake anymore, just keep in mind that you are what you eat.

By the way, when I first started working out, I thought that my ritual energy levels dropped. It took me a while to figure out that my energy levels had indeed increased, but my body and mind were able to handle the energies better, with less post-ritual fatigue. Same goes for proper nutrition – it may be boring, but it really increases your energy not just, but also for magic. Plus all the health benefits people keep spewing at you …

So, I’m still alive, feeling slightly better after a weekend of doing not much at all, and ready to ignore the big circus. Anyone with me?

It’s been a while – health update

20 Jan

You know what they say, slow weight loss is best. If that’s true, then surely I am the epitome of health. It took me how long exactly to lose those next two kilos? Long enough. Sure, I lost them several times over, after all there was a major holiday last month. You don’t expect me to go without homemade cookies, right? So now I am down 20% of what I hope to lose eventually. Anyway, just spent an hour trying to find what I want for a reward for this milestone, and in the end I settled for – SURPRISE – a book. ^^ Red boots were another option, but I really don’t feel like buying shoes at the moment.

By the way, the weight was gone just in time, for this morning I had run out of pants and had to grab the biggest of my not-quite-right pants. Aaaaand they fit. Tough choice: Lose weight or do laundry.

A few weeks back I started looking into the paleo lifestyle. For years I have been opposed due to the complete bullshit they use as “science”. I mean, look out of the window…

1461543_909182972434305_5390155421611570033_n What do you think your “paleo ancestors” ate this time of the year? Mangos and bananas? Yeah, probably not. More like, tree bark and dead grass. (That’s actually a huge part of what people ate as little as two thousand years back, at least when the going got tough.) I am pretty sure you’d lose weight on that diet, but I’m not that desperate. And then there are plenty of cultures who had huge success and physical prowess living on a mostly grain-based diet, for example the Mayans (amaranth, anyone?). This means their claim that the human body, which in a matter of few generations can adapt to almost any lifestyle, has not adapted to use of grain (which is basically grass on steroids) over the course of a few thousand years is pretty much bullshit.

Fact is that many people simply react differently to certain food groups. And that is why it makes sense to try something and see whether it works for you. So I went and bought a few cookbooks – always a great idea, I love cooking! – and started going through our pantry.

In its strictest form paleo means you eat vegetables, fruit, eggs, meat and fish and stuff and oils. No grain, no sugars, no dairy and probably no potatoes (for good measure). And honestly, most scientists have figured out that too much sugar (or too much carbohydrates) is not a good idea. At all.

As a good German of course I’ll never live without potatoes. Also making non-dairy coffee creamer every few days is plenty of work. You guessed it, I keep adjusting everything so it fits my everyday needs. Until they find a way to put more than 24 hours in a day, we’ll have to live with compromise. But sticking mostly with protein and that pesky green stuff works wonders for me. I don’t have cravings, my joints don’t hurt, I sleep better. And I keep losing weight at a steady pace.

(One of my favorite go-to meals is sliced sausage with apples and onions, pan-fried. Does not even need salt or pepper, it’s that good. And if you don’t like sausage, try liver or scrambled eggs. Or black bread. ^^ And in a pinch, a slice of animal with some mixed frozen vegetables counts as a meal.)

The funny thing is that Richard is on board with this eating experiment. He hopes to run a “Toughmudder” obstacle course in summer, hence has to lose some weight and get fit as well. I’m not complaining.

And what else is she doing, you ask? After all, losing weight and eating are not the only things to define health. Well… I still try to move regularly. We have two runs scheduled towards the end of March, so I should get back to training as soon as it’s a bit warmer outside. I’m firmly stuck on 5K as a training distance, but that’s not too bad. I try to walk/run/exercise at least 30min each day and go outside as often as I have the time – leaving home a few minutes early in the morning to walk fifteen minutes to a bus stop down the road, getting off the subway one stop early, walking around the block after dinner, stuff like that.

Last, but not least – things I still have to improve:

  • Sleep. Really, I need seven to eight hours per night, which I mostly don’t get. Not giving up.
  • Meditating – something I try to do at least in the evening, but frequently either forget or fall asleep while meditating.

Hey, I think that’s it. At least for now, I’ll probably come up with something along the way.