I Read: Brave Girl Eating

A couple of days after I wrote “My Offensive (?) Obesity Post” I came across a book called Brave Girl Eating by Harriet Brown.  It was returned to the library along with a lot of other materials on Anorexia and Bulimia.  Obviously, someone was doing research on eating disorders.  When I see such a huge number of materials on one particular health topic, I often wonder if they’re researching for school or if it’s for a more personal reason.  It’s none of my business and I would never ask, but still I wonder.

Seeing this book (and all of the others like it) in the sorting bin reminded me of my earlier post about the stigma that probably should be associated with obesity, the difficulties associated with leading a healthier lifestyle and how we learn to be obese by mirroring our families.  I admit that I don’t know much about eating disorders, so I picked up Brave Girl Eating because it was the story of a regular girl, with a healthy family life and no history of abuse or mental illness who “fell down the rabbit hole of anorexia.”

I really liked that this book wasn’t just about the struggles of Kitty, the adolescent girl who developed anorexia.  It was about the family’s struggle to bring her back through Family Based Therapy (FBT) instead of the typical institutional therapy that is prescribed for most anorexics. I also appreciated that Kitty’s story was used as the common thread as Ms. Brown discussed the research she performed on her daughter’s illness.  Her research included clinical trials, studies, articles, books and websites – many of which painted a terrible picture of Kitty’s future.

Those of us who have never had an eating disorder find it unfathomable that someone would refuse to eat, or would purge in some way just because the image they carry of themselves is so skewed that they cannot see the skin and bones everyone else does.  We cannot imagine how difficult, trying, and painful such an illness is for the families who feel powerless in the face of this disease.  It’s all just sick and sad, and not researched nearly enough.

So, while I do still think we need to do everything possible to not be obese, I think we also do need to make sure that we’re not taking it to the other extreme: starvation.

TIAs: God’s Little Reminders

Yesterday started out really good. My husband and I got up, went for a Starbucks breakfast, hiked part of the way up Mission Peak, did our grocery shopping, visited his parents, and then came home to cook a Mexican meal. About 8:30pm I got a call from my sister saying she was calling 911 for Mom. Mom’s speech was slurred, she got lost inside the house (a house she’s lived in since 1978), and wasn’t self correcting when she got stuck with her walker.

Yep. She was having another stroke.

Mom has been having mini-strokes (TIAs) since 2005. We’ve gotten used to spotting them. Her first good sized TIA was in 2008 – that’s what got me started with losing weight and being healthy back then. It was my wakeup call.

We met the ambulance at the closest Kaiser hospital with a stroke center. They were wonderful with her last TIA. But this time was different. The doctors didn’t seem to want to understand that her speech isn’t normally slurred, that she doesn’t normally get lost inside her own house, and that she’s normally aware enough of what she’s doing that she can call for help if her walker gets stuck somewhere. We had to argue because they said she seemed “fine”. I finally looked at the doctor and said “My mother doesn’t normally sound like she’s downed a 5th of whiskey. She doesn’t normally think she’s at Oak Knoll and living in Oakland. She doesn’t normally get lost on the way to the bathroom at home. This is not normal. We are not taking her home until we know she is stable.” Sometimes being the health care advocate and having Power of Attorney means being forceful.

Around 2am her memory showed improvement, but not her speech. My sister said that she felt like she could take care of mom if she were to go home. I didn’t see mom getting any worse, and she was in much better condition than she was during her last ER visit. So we took her home.

Mom doesn’t remember anything about last night and her speech is still slurred. She’s still having problems with walking. We know that she’ll show improvement over the next month until she reaches her new “normal.” We’re old hands at this, right?

Is it bad that I use my mom’s strokes as a reminder to live healthfully? Is it bad that I use them as a reminder to live life to the fullest? Probably not. But every time they happen I think of them as God’s little reminders; another kick in the pants to keep me going and to remember what’s important.

Another sick day

I’m getting really tired of my sensitive stomach.  It seems like I can’t go a week without my stomach being upset, throwing up, or running to the bathroom all the time. Grrr….

Well, the upset stomach I had while running yesterday didn’t go away.  I woke up really queasy this morning and several times last night.  That combined with my week-long headache convinced me to stay home today.

I don’t get it.  I’ve been eating pretty healthfully.  The right number of calories, fruits, veggies, grains, proteins and dairy.  I’ve been drinking at least 8 servings of water.  There aren’t any major stressors in my life right now.  And I haven’t been overdoing it with physical activity.

So what gives?  Have I developed some weird food allergy this late in the game?  Am I just not dealing well with every day stress?  Any ideas?

Either way, my stomach is still upset and my head still hurts.  I’ll just ignore it tomorrow and go to work anyway. 😦


Today’s blog prompt asks: What’s the single most important thing you accomplished in 2010?

This one is also a bit difficult for me to answer.  As you faithful readers know, 2010 was a big year for me.  So I guess it all comes down to where your focus is in life… which also doesn’t help because I don’t have one major area on which I focus.  There are really two or three areas.  All of them are important because they all intertwine and are reliant on one another in some way to succeed.

So, let’s start with work.  I work at a library and supervise the people who check your books out and the people who shelve them.  I have a great job but I always want more and I almost always have a plan.  One of the most difficult parts of my plan was completed this year when I got my Masters in Library Science.  That accomplishment has resulted in doors that are opened wider, and a feeling of greatness on my part.  I know that I wouldn’t have been able to do it as well or as completely if I didn’t have two other areas in my life to rely upon: my family and my health.

On the family front, by far my biggest accomplishment was getting married.  It’s not like it was a surprise or like planning the wedding was super hard work or like my husband and I had some major crisis to overcome in getting married.  But I guess it counts as an accomplishment because we’ve always known we’d do it even though it never felt like the right time.  Finishing school and being healthy were two major components in us deciding it was “right” to get married last year.

Healthwise the accomplishment isn’t something major like beating back a disease or coming through surgery, but it is something that’s every bit as difficult for most Americans – keeping weight off.  I wasn’t 100% successful with this accomplishment since I regained about 15 pounds that I lost, but I could have regained a lot more.  And I know that the healthier food choices I made gave me the energy to finish school, plan a wedding and honeymoon, and deal with all the stress of the latter part of the year without having major health complications of my own.

So, those are my accomplishments for 2010.  What are yours?

Picking up Mom

It is with mixed feelings that I’m bringing my mom home today.  Physically, she’s OK.  She can walk, talk, feed herself, sit up, lay down, etc.  She’s a very strong woman.  Mentally she seems OK until it’s time to get out of bed or go into the bathroom.  Those are both places that she fell and that remembered trauma makes her anxious.  It takes a few minutes to calm her down and assure her that nothing bad will happen.  I’m sure that with time she’ll “forget” the anxiety and be closer to her old self.

The anxiety issues may be a deal-breaker with my sister providing care.  I don’t know if she’s unwilling or unable to put that much time into talking mom down from an anxiety attack.  I do know that her yelling in exasperation doesn’t help.  She wants to put mom on anti anxiety medications.  I want to wait until she’s home and settled before changing/adding anything medication-wise.  This disagreement is so stressful.  I know we’ll work through it, but I don’t have to like it.

And let’s say that we can’t work through it.  Let’s say that we try adding that medication and it doesn’t work.  What then?  It’s a decision I don’t want to have to make, but I know it’s an inevitability.

So, until then, I’ll celebrate that Mom will be home for Christmas.  She’ll be with the family, surrounded by love and secure in the knowledge that we all missed her and love her very much.  What more can I wish for this holiday season?

God’s Kick in the Pants

Last time mom had a stroke, I saw it as God’s way of reminding me that our lives and health are fleeting.  I’d gone to a health fair at work a week or so before her stroke and was told that I was very healthy, I just needed to lose weight and take calcium supplements.  Her last stroke in 2008 was the kick in the pants I needed to lose 43 pounds.

Mom had another stroke this week, and it’s pretty much the same thing.  God is reminding me to live as healthy a life as I can and lose the weight I’ve regained (apparently 12 lbs) while doing so.  That means that I need to limit my alcohol intake, limit my junk food, eat lots of fruits and veggies, drink more water, and exercise like I used to.

With that in mind, I’ve created some new goals for the rest of December:

  1. Exercise for an hour a day.  Each workout should include cardio and weights.
  2. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day.
  3. Limit coffee to 2 cups a day.  Do not add sugar or buy the high calorie drinks.
  4. Be mindful of what I’m eating.  Limit junk food (chocolates, candies, cakes, salty snacks) to Christmas and New Year’s Eve.  It is OK to taste (ONE bite) the specialties that are brought in by staff for potlucks.
  5. Save the alcohol intake for Christmas and New Year’s Eve.  There is no need to have beer/wine/cocktail/eggnog drink several times a week.

Current weight 160
Waist 33.5″
Hips 42″
Thigh 25.75″
Bust 36″

I’m gonna make all of these numbers smaller – well…  except for the bust (hopefully!)


Why is it that when you go on a diet, people try to get you to eat unhealthful foods? I’m really frustrated by this!!!

The first week of my eating plan was OK. I only really had one person repeatedly offer me junk food. It’s understandable because he was only 6 years old (my nephew) and doesn’t understand that Auntie is trying to be a healthier person.

Then on 1/10 there was a birthday party. “Have some cake Danie. One bite won’t hurt.” The thing is that I knew if I had one bite, I’d want more, so it was easier to avoid the temptation. Then everyone sat there and made comments about what I ate: “My, you’re eating light today” as they all sat there eating roast turkey dinners covered in gravy. I had a salad with a little dressing and a half a turkey sandwich. It was filling enough and healthy enough to fit in with my eating plan.

During the week it was back to convenience foods. Part of eating healthfully is making sure you know what’s in it. I’m sorry, but just because fast food is easy doesn’t mean it’s healthy. I’m of the mind that even Subway should be a treat and not a necessity. Even though we’re supposed to split the cooking for the week, I feel like I have to do it all because his nights are becoming more and more “convenient” and less and less healthy.

To be fair, he does ask where I can eat, and doesn’t just blindly pick a place.

Then 1/16 was my nephew’s birthday party. We got there late, after the pizza, cake and icecream had been eaten, because my hunny got off work late. My sister became angry with me when I turned down the pizza, cake, and icecream. “But it’s vegetarian!” I know, Sha, but it’s covered in oil. I can’t eat it. So then she turns to her husband and says “Danie says pizza’s unhealthy. Why even bother coming for dinner then?” I wasn’t there for dinner. I was there to celebrate my nephew’s birthday. Somehow she made his birthday celebration about my food intake. I felt so uncomfortable that I left about a half hour after that.

It’s only been a couple weeks, and I’m already ready to avoid social eating situations. The problem is that this is how my friends and I socialize. We don’t really go out to do anything else because their schedules don’t allow it. I either need to make new friends or find a way to guide our outings into more appropriate activities.

Either way, I’m down 7 pounds from my starting weight. I just need to keep going, and keep working towards making healthy decisions.

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