Odyssey : milestones

Who said a picture speaks a thousand words?

The answer, if we can believe Wiki answers, is an early emperor of the Xia Dynasty in China.

Well, his words resonate with me about 4 000 years later!

So, here goes everyone! Rocky Horror Show!

The beginning.2 

During lunch on Mother’s day May 2008, I called for everyone’s attention and then took the drastic step of announcing to my assembled family that I had reached the end of my tether regarding my skyrocketing weight. I did state what my weigh-in was on that Sunday  morning– a nice rounded kg amount that would have not been lightweight on a rugby front ranker!

I told my  family that I was embarking on a health & wellness journey and no-one must ever take offense if I pitched up at their homes with my own food bowls in hand!  There was a shocked silence and then everyone spoke at once assuring me of their support and understanding.

Later that evening I received a much appreciated email from my daughter-in-law who commended me on my ‘bravery’ and assured me of her support in any way I needed it.

The beginning.1

Almost 10 months – March 2009 – after the big Mother’s Day Announcement, I marched into my hairdressers and Zanet gaped at me in horror. She had not seen me – previously a monthly regular – in 7 months. She shrieked across the salon shouting “where the hell have you been?”. Only  our temperamental hairdressers can get away with such cheek not so?!! I did not blame her though for the look of shock on her face. There I was with 7 months worth of hair growth – brown ends and a HUGE re-growth of silver/grey  making up the truly dreadful picture.

I told her I wanted her to cut off all the brown and leave just the short grey growth. In other words I was “going grey”. At first she point-blank refused and it took much persuasion on my part to force her to do the deed.

When she had shorn off all my wild locks, there I was with grey hair with brown tips on the ends. She dug in her heels and refused to lop off any more and so I landed up with the brown tips being bleached a light blonde colour!

The change was indeed drastic. My husband loved it and my children hated it.

On arrival at home, I deliberately had the above two ‘before’ photos taken. At the time, I had also only lost about 3kg in 10 months but I had joined a gym and I was gearing myself up to ‘diet’. Hate that word.

I knew there would come a time when I would show the world where I had come from. I also always thought it would be on the day I reached my ultimate goal weight. Not so. Sometimes we have to pause and take stock and this is what I have decided to do.

“Odyssey : Interrupted” is a time for looking back at where I was and for taking a (brief) moment to pat myself on the back! 

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At the time this was taken I was just starting to believe I could do it!

Living with diabetes P1020856

I was starting to feel quite good in my very loose clothes here. I was honoured with a request from Dr Anna to speak as a patient living with diabetes at her seminar of the same name.  Hair getting longer and I was getting used to the change in appearance.

Eileen 20100220

This was taken one afternoon right after getting back from gym. Marc objected to taking the picture with me all sweaty-faced. I said I wanted to show how baggy the t-shirt was. I had bought half a dozen especially for gym in size XXL as I was not about to expose my fat rolls to the lycra clad guys and dolls at VA! Turns out nobody gives a damn what you look like at gym – everyone is there for their health and fitness – as it should be.

EILEEN  weigh management seminar 20200528 003

28 May 2010 and all dolled up to talk at Dr Anna’s seminar on weight management.  Felt quite glam.

EILEEN  weigh management seminar 20200528 002

Having said that I felt quite glam, I was also checking out my loose skin and darn wrinkles! Skin is not so elastic any more when you are as ancient as I am!

Eileen birthday 2010 003

Eileen birthday 2010 cropped

These two photos were taken on my birthday  9th June and this, dear friends, is what I look like today! Looking back up the screen I am chuffed with the change.

A long journey from May 2008 and the odyssey ( ‘a series of wanderings’ remember!) continues…..

Anyone know of a good plastic surgeon???!!! 🙂

Weight Loss : Spring has sprung .. or so they say…

All rightee! Listen up you lot!  After an absence of over a month from my  soapbox, I am back in full voice! You poor people!

Have endured damn nearly 3 months of pure hell business-wise. No, rather make that work-wise; business is good. The pace has slowed down very slightly from  barely concealed hysteria to the usual controlled chaos!

I also had what I am resolutely calling My Pitstop for the last two months. A slight weight gain over the period which I have firmly decided I will not beat myself over the head about. Various reasons for this and I am fully aware of all of them! Here are a few:

No food journal. Too busy to take time to record what I was eating. It was so easy to just mindlessly eat whatever was put in front of me with my left hand while my right hand was wielding the mouse at literally all hours of the day or night!

No meal planning. No proper shopping trips to make sure we had the right food in the right quantities in the house! Increased incidence of takeaways when we were too exhausted to bother with cooking which was a lot of the time.

Not enough pure water. Too many mugs of coffee (also mindlessly consumed while wielding the mouse!) and not nearly enough portions of fruit and vegetables to make up for the drought. The 500ml Aquelle bottles are now back on my desk – I try to swallow 4 bottles through the day. I particularly like the Aquelle bottle shape and they go to gym with me too.  

No regular exercise. I kept up the mandatory 2 days a month at Virgin Active but did little else there. We went walking several weekends – up the mountain, walked on the beach and over the rocks from Llandudno to Sandy Bay, climbed up above Simonstown to Admiral’s waterfall… All spectacular stuff and we have amazing photos to show for it but it was not nearly enough. We plan another walk this Sunday – out Hout Bay/Llandudno way again. Looking forward to that and do hope that the weather co-operates.

I also joined a unique ladies gym called Adrenalynne. The owner is an amazing person called Lynne who is not young enough to be my daughter which is a plus for me!! She is a previous Mrs Fitness SA title-holder and the fabulous framed photos and qualification certificates in her well equipped home gym have to be seen to be believed! I go (try to get to!) to a twice-weekly class of ladies who call themselves the Golden Girls. Enough said! The first couple of times I went, I thought the gentle dance/stretch routines were a little tame for me. I very soon changed my mind however and have left several classes quite puffed and feeling lekker ‘loose’ all over from all the stretching we do.

Zero self care. Hurtling from one day to the next; battling one computer issue after another. Dealing with multiple and extraordinary client issues all coming at me at once. All culminated in severe stress, fatigue, serious night leg/foot cramps from all the sitting for hours on end and weight creeping stealthily up each day on the scale – that is when I did weigh myself in the mornings!  Most days, I was already at my PC by 4:30am and often stayed right there until midnight.

As I prepare for my resumed onward and downward Odyssey, I am looking at a number of things:

Body Fat Percentage – as opposed to plain old body weight which can be deceptive.

The Metabolism Miracle – a New York Times bestseller by Diane Kress, RD, CDE.  I have never been one for fad diets and I could not care less about NY Times bestseller lists but this book resonates with me and it is anything but a fad diet.

Nutribase software – yeah, yeah, OK. I know. Just do it Eileen!  Don’t mess around with theory. Or get too technical/analytical.

Well, I see it this way for me, myself and I!  I achieved a 25kg weight loss and have almost brought the real Eileen back to life by making a big deal of plotting on graphs, keeping food logs; weight logs; BP logs; Glucose logs; examining food labels minutely, etc. etc.  It works for me and millions of others as well if we go by the sheer volume of health-based software available on the http://www.  So I let you’all know how it goes!

So do let me know how things have been for you over the worst of the Winter? Or the best of Summer for those of you in the Northern hemisphere?

Talk again soon, have a great day, Eileen

Weight loss : a mini-breakthrough

Well, it was a damn long time coming. What a battle! As of this morning, I have edged past the 25kg mark for the first time – 25.2kg down to be exact. As I said, a mini breakthrough but a breakthrough it is.

My weight loss has fluctuated between 24 –24.8kg for the last 2 months. I know the reasons for this very well. Lax portion control, little exercise, insufficient water and occasional mini-binges all contributed to the patchy downward progress.

June was a month of bi-annual medical checks I have which form part of the diabetic care protocol. At the beginning of the year and at mid-year, I have various tests done to check my health status.  Doctor, pathologists, ophthalmologist, podiatrist and dietician all had the dubious pleasure of my company last month. I will talk about it in a later post.

Diabetes really is a dread disease in that uncontrolled – or even just poorly controlled glucose levels wreak havoc with virtually every body system. Unseen and undetected until too late. That’s fact and not just me becoming neurotic or a hypochondriac! While I am very aware of my health diagnoses/challenges and am doing (action!) all I reasonably can to reverse the situation, I have no time to sit around contemplating my ‘health navel’!

Between health, business and personal challenges, I seldom have time to scratch myself! I do not schedule enough ‘me time’.  I call it down time or time out. I am looking at that quite seriously and would recommend it for everybody.

As part of my mid-year checks, I consulted a dietician about the prolonged weight plateau. Yeah. Another one. Another dietician I mean. Did I learn anything new? No. Didn’t expect to. What I did get was a slightly revised eating plan which cuts kJ to 5200 per day. (About 1222 calories). Rather strict plan for sure. Cuts carbs and leaves protein/fats much the same. Am I following the recommendations to the letter? Not quite but I have had a shift in weight and that’s the bottom line isn’t it?!

The other perennial recommendation is to increase exercise. Any regular physical activity is crucial for overall health improvement – any physical activity at all.

So get that fat dog out on a leash and get out into the neighbourhood so that he can pick up his pee-mail!

Weight loss: we must know where we are headed

“One day Alice came to a fork in the road and saw a Cheshire cat in a tree. “Which road do I take?” she asked. “Where do you want to go?” was his response. “I don’t know,” Alice answered. “Then,” said the cat, “it doesn’t matter.””

— Lewis Carroll, author

Reducing my weight and maintaining at goal weight is the single most important element of my journey to optimum wellness. With my weight at a normal level, the other ills I have will come right. Well, if not ‘come right’, they will certainly be the best results I can achieve given my specific circumstances.

Damn it all to hell! I have said it before and I will say it again. It’s all self inflicted. By upping the ante as I mentioned in yesterday’s post, I am placing a much higher value on self care.

By doing this, I will be better able to cope with a stressful, busy life and better plan for the more rounded lifestyle I yearn for.

The first thing I am doing, as of this morning, is re-looking at portion control. W & I have been eating far too much and this is one of the main reasons why our weight is not shifting as rapidly as it was. With W-L and the very comprehensive food list booklet they provide, I am able to instantly see what size my portions should be. So, I have no excuses. Period.

The other day, I saw a list of portion sizes compiled by Dr Ingrid van Heerden (DietDoc on Health 24.com). I am sure I made a copy of it. I’ll dig it out and post it later in the day.

Chow for now. Have a good one.

Weight Loss : I’ve got to up the ante

It’s now exactly two weeks since we returned from our wonderful break at Pinnacle Point. A fading memory I am afraid. 😦  We had to jump right back into the fray and catch up on time lost while we chilled out.

There’s something fundamentally wrong with the whole scenario; with the way that we live our lives in our house. This work, work, work is not a good place to be. We should be relaxing and I suppose I should be relaxing doing crochet or something or maybe gossiping with the other tannies in our quiet apartment block. Nah, just can’t see that ever happening.

I, for one, am right up there with my kids checking out the latest Blackberry, muttering about what in the cloud data backups are costing me, taking on new payroll work for small businesses. I would just like to have a more rounded life and in truth am striving towards that goal; without any notable success at this time!

What has happened since returning to Cape Town two weeks ago? Well, on the weight front nothing much at all and therein lies the problem. Having lost 23kg, my metabolism has settled down and decided that this weight is quite OK, thank you very much. So, another dreaded plateau. I have 7kg to go to the W-L goal set for me and I still want to go at least another 5kg down after that!

I feel good! I’m told I look good (but not when I am still working in my dressing gown mid-morning!) I am much smaller than I was, of course. I had the most amazing experience just before we left on holiday. I simply had to go to Woollies and find some denim pants to take on holiday – the old ones were all hanging like sacks on me. Great feeling actually! 🙂

Not having a clue what size to buy, I confidently took home two pairs of denim pants in size 18. Bearing in mind that I had been wearing size 22 stuff, this in itself was a major victory for me. Got home to find that the jeans as well as the pull on elasticised denim pants were both far too big!

As I hate trying on clothes in shop fitting rooms, I went back, changed the pants and came home with size 16’s. Tried them on. WOW!  The fitted jeans were fine – even a little loose. The elasticised pants were too big!  So back to the shop again to came home with size 14’s. Anyone who has worn size 22 clothes and now wears size 14 will know exactly how I felt!  I was and still am over the moon about this very tangible evidence of my progress so far.

SO FAR

Two very crucial little words for me. I have come so far and am justifiably chuffed with my efforts. But now the real test must begin. The last 7kg’s will be difficult to lose and hence the expression below :-

“ If you up the ante, you increase the importance or value of something, especially where there’s an element of risk as the term comes from gambling, where it means to increase the stake (the amount of money bet). “    Wikipedia

The element of risk for me is, of course, the real possibility of deteriorating health issues due to too slow intervention on my part. I must place a much greater emphasis on where I am heading and pick up the pace substantially.  I will have to worry about all the loose, wrinkled, floppy bits that will only get worse once I have arrived at my destination! The value of goal weight as the basis for optimum wellness has to be the most important element of my odyssey.

So, onward and downward again – are you joining me? You are most welcome!

Fitness: an essential part of the wellness journey

Those of us who have gym memberships – great stuff!  BUT, in all honesty, are we making full use of the state-of-the-art facilities at our disposal? Sadly, the answer in my case has to be ‘no’.

Do we ask questions of the fitness staff that  wander around all over the place while we are stepping along smartly on that treadmill?  You will be surprised at the snippets of very relevant info they give  re maximising the fitness benefits of the machines, equipment and designated areas of the gym at our disposal. Do we attend the myriad FREE classes on offer?

In this post, I won’t go into all the reasons (read excuses) why we no longer look like we did the day we got married or when we were at our best. Like everyone else, I will stick my head in the sand and not ‘go there’ at this time of writing.

What I want to do is to steer you in the direction of a couple of websites that may inspire us to get up off our butts and start toning up!

In the days of Dallas on TV, Victoria Principal the actress playing Pamela Barnes Ewing (alright, I Googled that – I would never have remembered the full name of her character!) wrote a couple of quite good books on health and beauty. Cashing in on stardom of course and suddenly they’re ‘experts’ on all sorts of things! Her first publication was The Body Principal. I am sorry that I must have ‘hospice shopped’ the book as I no longer have it.

In the book she illustrated and propounded the gentle, stretching isometric exercises that maintained ‘the body’. What a body that was too! In her latest book Living Principal published in 2001, she still looks pretty darn good and she is/was still married to her plastic surgeon husband. (!)She did not subscribe to the ‘feel the burn’ aerobic physical jerks of Jane Fonda and others.

Using the lessons  learnt from Victoria’s book, I created a short, all-over stretch routine that I practised quite religiously early every morning right up to 2003 when we left our farm and moved to the Western Cape. 

The cold, dark and wet Cape winter is closing in on us. My body – I do not take time often enough to check the reality of it’s very poor condition – has more and more loose, floppy bits waving around as the weight goes down! UGH!

What am I going to do about that? Well, for a start, I am going to re-create my morning stretch routine (adding some appropriate weights) and inveigle W into joining me!

We sit slouching over our computers for hours on end daily (in our family most of us have computer based jobs). We are (or will be) paying for it dearly with loss of tone, flexibility, range of motion and all the others ills of little/no exercise in our lives.

I, for one, have paid for my workaholic lifestyle by developing severe osteoarthritis in my neck. A neuro surgeon said to me, ‘This neck is tired’. He prescribed a neck brace which I do use occasionally. He also suggested some supplements to take and asserted that he would deny it if I ever told anyone what he had recommended! Poor man, I understand he too is now a diabetic.

My GP at the time had just returned from 12 years practice in Canada and upon seeing my neck x-rays exclaimed, ‘ Oh my Gaad! Oh my Gaad! Your poor thing!‘ An Afrikaans accent overlaid with 12 years of Canadian accent makes an interesting combination!

We sit hunched over with our necks stretched forward reading our computer screens for hours on end and we wonder why we feel sore and stiff when we straighten up  and try to correct our posture. Young people I know who shall remain nameless are developing exactly the same symptoms. I manage my osteoarthritis with a daily anti-inflammatory – yet another drug added to my daily cocktail – plus a twice daily supplement.

As usual, I digress. Back to the URL’s.

If you go to the URLs hereunder, you will see the sort of thing we will be making an effort to implement. Most of the very basic exercises in the 9 step routine were part of Victoria Principal’s routine and they are as much in use today as they were back in the days of Dallas!

http://www.hearthealthyonline.com/fitness/workouts/anytime-workout_ss1.html

A website I have discovered in my (hopefully discerning) wanderings around the www is:

http://www.livestrong.com/

Connected to super cyclist Lance Armstrong who as we know has had his own health demons to conquer, I think we can safely consider the many tools and information offered on this huge site for implementation in our own lives.

The World Wide Web is truly an astounding place where any info on the planet can be accessed with the click of a mouse. With due caution and a good dollop of commonsense, we can only benefit from using it wisely. More about that in a future post.

Laziest cook on earth. 4

In our days of being Rotarians, W & I enjoyed an active social life with much interaction with  fellow Rotarians and we did a lot of community service work which is what Rotary International is all about.

At the time, it was a males only organisation and one became a member by invitation only. The wives were called Rotary Anns and we dutifully played our part in the organisation which I see is still very active in community work today.

During our year as Rotary President and Rotary Ann President, we entertained a lot. We had a large double storey home, a full time domestic worker, my folks lived with us in the ‘granny flat’ and they were a wonderful support system with our teenage boys. W & I forged ahead with our respective banking careers and did our share of community work while having fun with good friends. It was a good life and we had marvellous support systems in place.

Things are somewhat different today.  We still live the good life, though in a very different way. We chose to re-locate to Cape Town and we chose to take our ‘retirement jobs’ (a bookkeeping practice) along with us.

There is little time left for entertaining and it is not easy to cater for numbers in our flat, spacious as these old apartments are. Later this year, we are re-locating (again!) to a spacious home in a leafy suburb which belongs to our middle son M. But I am getting horribly sidetracked here – that is a story for a later time.

This is the meal I threw together last night for 6 members of the family:

BUTTER CHICKEN : served with brown basmati rice, cauliflower with cheese sauce and a good tossed salad.

MIXED BERRIES DESSERT : Dessert was slightly defrosted mixed berries with a choice of diet ice cream and/or lite custard. Of course, we all chose ‘and’ and not ‘or’! Mix it all up in a purple mess in your pudding dish – divine, almost fat free and low GI.

Pretty good I would say and the scale showed no overnight weight gain at my ‘Sunday Morning Showdown’ this morning. I should have had broccoli with the cauliflower as lettuce does not count as a dark green veg. (Tabitha Hume!) Red, yellow as well as green pepper strips and home grown mung bean sprouts in the salad made up for it in a small way.

Butter Chicken!!! I hear you say. Yes, so simple really. Browned chicken thighs (bone in, skin off) in a little extra virgin olive oil, dumped them in a large casserole dish with lid and poured Denny Butter Chicken Curry Sauce over them. 20 mins with casserole lid on, 20mins with casserole lid off and left them to sit there until the Sharks had won their game against I don’t know who!

The latest Weigh Less magazine is out and included is a Coat and Cook in Sauces Guide. Get it and check it out!. It will inspire you to serve something new for your family while keeping those kilos in check! You can have a quarter of the packet of wet sauce – only 424kJ and 5.0g fat.

I was given a rice cooker recently (my slow cooker/Crockpot actually does the job just as well) and the berries I had bought in bulk out at Hillcrest Berry Orchards at the height of the berry season. I use them as a treat and am only sorry I did not buy many more kilograms of these wonderful fruits at that time. I will really stock up next year.

www.hillcrestberries.co.za

High Tea at the Nelly (Mount Nelson Hotel) is on my Bucket List but the High Tea served at Hillcrest Berry Orchards is really good. Situated in the magnificent Banhoek Valley outside Stellenbosch, this working farm is well worth the trip. Check it out. They also do B & B.

Hopefully, you are starting to see from my scribblings on this blog that we CAN eat delicious food while keeping to a healthy eating plan. With careful portion control we can still ‘have our cake and eat it’!

Food labelling – we have often been misled

Over time, I have become a consumer addicted to reading nutrition information labels on foodstuffs in my favoured food markets. In the early years it was for fat content, then it became the (often vain) hope that the GI value was quoted on breakfast cereals and now, finally, I can assess the info with some degree of intelligence.

With the advent in my life of the despised Metabolic Syndrome, I will not put a grocery item into my trolley without having read the nutritional information. I was so pleasantly surprised to see recently that a very dear friend with health issues to manage will also not purchase any item that would be detrimental to his health.

I am not for one minute saying that I am a Joan of Arc martyr to my health challenges nor a Paragon of Virtue as headmistress Reverend Mother Maria used to call me. (Poor misguided woman – luckily for me she did not deem it necessary to open nor censor my schoolgirl correspondence with a certain young gentleman at Kearsney College! Some of my Holy Family Convent school friends were not so fortunate)!

What I am saying – with much rambling, sorry – is that we need to become informed in our health choices. I ate a slice of Black Forrest cake this week – yeah horrors! – with no consequences on the scale nor my glucose readings. (Back to the comment about not being a Joan of Arc on my odyssey to health). An occasional ‘sin’ is not going to kill me as long as the ‘sins’ do not become a regular habit. Been there, done that. Never again in my lifetime. The ‘sins’ are what got me into my MS predicament in the first place.

No food is ‘bad’. All food has its place. The trick is to know which foods we must strictly limit to occasional treats and what foods are needed for vibrant health and energy.

New regulations for food labelling become mandatory in RSA from March 2011. Some retailers already have pretty good labelling on their products – PnP and Woolworths to name two.

Misleading labels will not be permitted. For example to be labelled low in kJ, a food will have to have less than 170kJ per 100g (solids) or 80kJ per 100ml (liquids). “Low fat” must contain less than 3g per 100g (solids) or 1,5g of total fat per 100ml liquids).

Don’t wait until March 2011 to start really examining what you permit down your throat! I haven’t.

What’s the score?

In our family, that question almost always means that someone is asking the rugby score. Usually it also means the score in a game involving the Sharks!  As ex-KZNatalians, we are often berated for being disloyal to the local Stormers squad – but that’s how it is. Once a Sharks fan always a Sharks fan it seems!

I am not a huge rugby fan although I have done my fair share of screaming for our team from the sidelines; especially at schoolboy matches. Not unusual for the mother of 3 sons!  I usually only become interested if our team is still in contention near the end of a series. 

One score both W & I ARE interested in is our weight! Now back in CT, we both climbed on the scale first thing this morning to assess the ‘damage’ caused by our wonderful break at Mossel Bay. Also not forgetting the lovely roast leg of lamb dinner plus ‘ Jan Ellis Pudding’  we were treated to at the home of W’s sisters in Dana Bay. (You truly do not want to know the ingredients used for Jan Ellis Pudding! Needless to say, it tastes divine!)

The sisters plus W and I were a gang of 4 when we lived there in 2003-2005 and we had some great times together.  Not sure why but I was quite heartsore to visit there this time and realise that the gang of 4 was down to a twosome again.

Enough of that! On to the subject at hand – the ‘damage’. I should not really use that word as a slight weight gain on holiday is par for the course – (Pinnacle Point course ha ha!!).

W returned home 0.1kg lighter than he was and we can put that down to some pretty long walks on very hilly terrain. He also enjoyed a wonderful +-9km walk with M & J along the now disused railway line from Wilderness to Victoria Bay. Those of you that know that area will know what a beautiful stretch of Garden Route coast that is; Outeniqua Choo-Choo country.  A cloudy day also made for comfortable walking. All in all I would say that W walked about 15km while away and this paid dividends in increased fitness, no weight gain and a complete disappearance of stress.

My result was also pretty good – no loss but a slight gain of 0.4kg for the 7 days away. I am not in any way bothered by this and will simply re-direct my energies to continue the odyssey. W has just walked in with some yummy plums – those firm  ‘black’ skinned ones.  Not a huge plum fan but these are really lekker! Golden yellow  flesh and they do not drip all over you like some plums do! Holford would be pleased – he promotes dark coloured  fuit & veg choices almost ad nauseum!

The odyssey (‘ a series of wanderings’ remember!) continues – the green (actual) line on my Excel chart will be meandering above the solid red (target) line  at the moment but the downward momentum continues. 

I urge you to persevere with your own odyssey – whatever goal you have – it IS achievable

If you have stalled on the trip; if you have lost direction; if you are feeling de-motivated or overwhelmed by what you see as an unachievable task, I encourage you to :

Stop. take stock. re-define your goals. plan your strategy. move ahead. Baby steps are all that is required; as long as these steps are consistently applied, you WILL get there!

Another wonderful thing about an odyssey is that no matter how many times you stop and wander off the track along the way, you will reach your destination if you just keep on plodding along in the right direction!