Friday, November 30, 2007

Today, I had my second physical therapy appointment. The first thing I did was show her a picture of the dog bite bruise. I figured you can say so much but a picture gives it more justice. After seeing it, she could tell how it definitely caused some damage.

After that, my PT asked how my hamstring was and whether I went running this week, how much, and whether I was planning to run this weekend. I was honest with her. I did scale back a little, however, the look on her face said she was disappointed. Or maybe it wasn't disappointment but rather just being unhappy with me. I told her I hoped she wasn't going to say I couldn't run. She said that she wasn't but never really finished the thought. Darn, my feelings of doing everything else right kind of went out the door. I had been very vigilant about doing all my pt exercises, stretching a lot, icing, etc. this week.

I did some exercises today and had someone do deep tissue massage. My PT asked how I felt afterwards. Nothing really changed. I felt the same, my leg still hurt, etc. All I said was I was a little sore, but I'd get a better idea after doing things. Apparently, my PT had planned to do a lot more things today but since I was so sore, she decided to just keep everything the same. My next appointment is on Tuesday and Thursday next week.

This got me thinking. I feel really conflicted. Part of me knows there is always a chance of completely tearing or rupturing the hamstring. However, another part of me still wants to run my usual amount of mileage. I've been in positions like this before. It's not easy. I usually push myself to the breaking point. I know my pain tolerance is high, so it's easy to just keep pushing ahead.

I think this is also tied into eating. Running gives me a sense of "control" in a way. I don't know if it is that when I run, it's okay for me to eat or it just feels more on schedule or what. I know I don't need to "earn" food, I deserve it, but by exercising, I just feel like I'm not thinking about it so much. I know this is all warped. I need to let go of this feeling. I'm just not sure how right now.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Dogs and Cognition

Moving to a different topic. Dogs and cognition. Intelligence has always been a difficult area of research when it comes to animals. Besides animals like a chimp and a parrot who have speaking capabilities, others in the animal realm have to find other ways to show their cognitive abilities. Researchers at the University of Vienna have been looking at the cognitive abilities in dogs. Their most recent study looked at how well dogs could categorize pictures and transfer them to new situations. The dogs were shown photographs of landscapes and dogs on a computer screen. When they nose-touched the dog, they received a reward. They did this with new photos as well. The dogs aced the tests. The researchers also placed photos of dogs within the landscape and again the dogs accurately chose the dog. The conclusion to the study is that the dogs formed a concept of "dog."

I think this is really cool. I've always thought dogs recognize dogs and their own breed. This is just more validation in that. Some may remember that this group of researchers the University of Vienna also had a study on dogs and imitation back in the summer. It's another fascinating study.

It's pretty amazing what these four-legged creatures can do. Everyday, we learn something new.

Stricter salt regulations may be on the horizon

Personally, I am not a big salt fan. With the exception of a few foods (kimchi, asian noodles, wheat thins), my salt intake in a day is fairly low. I remember once asking my dad what the rationale behind eating a lot of foods with salt in them. He said that the idea is that you will consume enough liquids to pass the salt through your body. Hmmm, okay. So I guess if you don't consume enough liquids, you just retain the salt.

Out today, an article about possible new regulations for salt intake. I definitely think in general most people consume more salt than they really need. Some of those pre-packaged meals are just loaded with unnecessary sodium. The bad thing is that it is virtually impossible to not consume salt products. Everything has salt. I think even those who monitor their salt intake could easily go over the recommended amount of 1 1/2 tsp. It'll be interesting whether this takes into effect and if so, whether there will be a change in Americans and their diseases. For now, stay tuned and keep your salt intake within recommended amounts.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Nutrition labels will get revamped

Here's an interesting article on the new nutritional labeling happening next year. Although it's a good thing, people have a hard time reading nutrition labels as it is. Plus, half of them are incorrect when you do the actual mathematical calculations. Perhaps, it will be helpful, but I am not holding my breath on it.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Retail therapy and Monday

After the dental appt., my mom and I did a little shopping in town. She had brought down a full size bed for me on Friday. Ever since I've lived here, I've always had a twin size bed. Well, when you have three large dogs, that can be tough to find space for yourself. Actually, Baxter and Hank are usually the only one that sleep consistently with me. Daphne sleeps on the sofa but I do catch her on the bed in the mornings when one of them is off.

As soon as my mom put the new mattress on the bed, the dogs tested it out immediately and thoroughly enjoyed. Since I did not have the proper size bedspread for it, they have easily been taking off the covers of my bed for the last two days. Needless to say, this does not make me happy as I do not like dog hair in the bed. On the cover on top of the bedspread is okay though. I can live with that.

Today, we found some pretty sheets and bedspread. I got some new pillows to replace my old, raggy ones. Then we just shopped for miscellaneous items I needed or she wanted. In mid afternoon, I had my first physical therapy appt. There, I got scolded, because I was not wearing shorts nor my actual running shoes. The physical therapist assigned to me ended up being the one I had talked to last week wanting information on the physical therapists. It was ironic since I was not fully prepared. Oh well.

She did a lot of strength assessments for my legs. I was really surprised, because my legs were really weak. There was a significant difference in my right leg which is where the hamstring strain is. She made the comment to me that she couldn't believe I was a runner, because my legs were so weak. It was truly bizarre as I've always thought I had strong legs, but they did feel very weak in general today. Hmmm. She had me do some exercises and showed me ones to do at home. There are like six or seven of them to do everyday. Yippee! But I think of it this way, it's better to be able to strengthen some muscles around my leg than face having a hamstring tear. She also said I could not run hills. This is a toughie as I am surrounded by hills here. I told her I'd try to do the flattest route possible. I also promised to wear my shorts and my running shoes at the next appt. which is on Friday. Overall, I liked her though.

After that, my mom and I came home to check on the dogs. It rained off and on all day. That means that all the dogs had to be wiped off, including their paws which is just my rule to any dog who lives in my house even if only as a guest. Jake, my friend's American Eskimo dog, however, was not thrilled with that one.

Later, we went into town and dropped off Jake and Foxy. They were happy to see their dad and vice versa. My mom and I went to a few stores. It was weird, because when I was trying on some running gear, my cell phone rang a few times. First, it was a friend of mine. I called her on Sat. when I was in excruciating tooth pain asking her if she knew how much medication I could take without causing an overdose. She felt bad for not calling back, but I was just glad to hear from her. We basically agreed that yes, I took a lot of medication and could possibly be in trouble. All day, I had waves of upper right quadrant pain, aka liver pain presumably. I did think acute liver failure but I wasn't having those type of symptoms, so I think I just inflamed and enlarged my liver a bit. The second call was my dad just checking up on me. I do admit, it was a little difficult trying on clothes and talking to them at the same time, but I did manage to do so.

After all that, my mom and I headed back home, and went out to eat at an Asian Buffet place where we had take out two nights ago. It was nice overall, though I still had my waves of pain. Hopefully, that will clear up as the pain medications all go out of my system. My tooth, however, is still sore, especially since it's been over 12 hours since I've had any pain medications at all. I hope the antibiotic kicks in soon and nips this infection in the bud. I really hate being on antibiotics, and it seems like I've been on them a lot the last two years. But at the same time, I don't really have a choice here. Out of all the various ailments I've had, tooth pain is the worst. I guess maybe I'm a wimp, but I just can't deal with it well as it effects everything. This also means that I have not run since Thursday due to the tooth pain and my mom's visit. I'm itching to go run tomorrow even if the temperatures are cold. I hope my tooth just holds up.

Okay, so that's the nutshell of the weekend. I hate feeling like I'm complaining, but I was pretty miserable with this tooth pain. The one good thing out of all this is that I did continue to eat. I could have easily not, but I did make sure I ate okay, still not enough but decent.

I hope the rest of the week goes off without a hitch. Heading off to bed now.

Tooth misery saga

Now, it's Monday (well technically Tuesday). The pain was a little better today overall. I saw my dentist in the morning. She did an x-ray and looked at the tooth which confirmed the infection yet again. I had a similar infection in this same tooth a little over a year ago. Basically, she said I had to have it extracted. Otherwise, it would just be a continuous cycle of infection, getting better wit antibiotics, infection again, etc. On top of that, the infections would be more frequent. I was so not happy to hear this. This side of my mouth (upper left jaw) already has a bridge there which I'm still paying for. I almost regret getting it now and feel suckered into it even though it was the only option at the time.

My dentist wants me to have his done soon, but my problem is my dental insurance won't kick in for any major work until after the first of a the year. I already have another crown that needs to be done as well. I know my insurance is not going to cover the extraction. One of the dental assistants asked me why I don't get the extraction done now? Well, basically because I was in a huge amount of pain afterwards with no pain medication that worked and it's very expensive. My mom paid my last one, and it's just the whole guilt thing there. She spent a lot of money on me this weekend. It was her choice of course, but still I just feel undeserving of it. She told me it was a part of Christmas, so I hope she sticks by that.

Anyway, I will now have three holes in my mouth when I get that extraction done--one hole from my previous extraction, the second from the new extraction, the third from the missing half of my tooth that needs a crown. This is all in conjunction with also needing to redo my bridge on the right upper side of my mouth. This is when I just think ripping out all my teeth and having dentures is the way to go. I mean it would be a lot less costly then.

I tell my parents this news. Neither are happy of course and feel badly for me. My dad replies with "geez, you're not going to have any teeth left. I'm glad you're over that "problem" (meaning bulimia). I'm just sad you have to go through all this tooth trouble." My mom's reply was, "I knew the eating disorder caused some problems. I wonder why you're having such problems?" Does anyone not see how neither connect the dots or something? My reply to my mom was "well, yes, eating disorders cause damage to teeth. It's individualistic with some not having many teeth problems, while others do. I was unlucky I guess."

In the end, it just sucks how much damage can be produced on your teeth due to an eating disorder. Even without consistent damage, the effects can be devastating and continuous. I'm proof of that.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Post-Thanksgiving and killer toothache

The tooth pain started around Thanksgiving day sometime. It really didn't bother me that much. I just noticed there was some soreness when I'd chew on my left side, so I stopped chewing on that side. However, there were several instances when I accidentally chomped on that side and had shooting pain in my tooth. Crap, I knew this was bad.

On Friday, the pain progressed. Again, not excruciating but definitely painful. By that evening, it was really beginning to hurt. I tried taking some tylenol which helped some. I also began the etodolac for my leg which also seemed to provide some comfort.

By that night and the following morning, I was in absolute excruciating pain. The pain would not stop. I took more meds. That Saturday, I have no clue how much medication I took, but it seemed like nothing would stop the tooth pain. I have had pain in that same area before, but no matter what, the pain is always worse than I anticipate.

On Saturday evening, I called my dentist on her cell phone. I felt horribly bad calling her on a weekend, let alone a holiday weekend, but I was in some serious pain. I took more medication which was very short lived. I remember waking up at like 3:15 AM in horrible pain. The dogs at that point thought it was time to get up. I ended up letting them out but trying to go back to sleep until my alarm went off.

On Sunday, the pain was not much better. My dentist finally called back that afternoon. We agreed it was probably and infection. She ordered an antibiotic and a pain reliever. This is where it gets tricky. I have bad side effects with many pain medications. She decided to try a vicodin-like one, thinking maybe the combination of hydrocodone and ibuprofen would be okay. Well, it wasn't, and i had similar side effects as I normally did. So as of now, codeine, hydrocodone, darvocet, lortab, and tramadol are all scratched off my list for pain medications.

I started the antibiotic on Sunday after my mom went to the pharmacist basically posing as me. She was very afraid they would not give her the meds, so she said my birthdate. That led to a very funny. Plus, if she had the same pharmacist I had from a previous few days who knows me by name, that woman must have really looked at her funny.

By this time, I had really wished, my dentist would have prescribed something that would have knocked me out rather than me feeling desperate to making this damn tooth pain go away!

Thanksgiving Day

I haven't written in about a week due to being busy. I'm going to write different posts rather than one long one.

Thanksgiving Day was okay. Nothing special really. I had the day off of work. I spent the day home with the dogs. I took a long run in the afternoon which was really nice but very cold. It was one of those moments where I tried to repeatedly tell myself the weather was really Hawaiian- like and not 40 degrees with gusty breezes. For the most part, something must have worked, because I was able to do a very long run. It was cool seeing a rainbow too. I wonder if other people saw it or it was just me?

However, this nice run was interrupted by someone honking their horn at me. Ugh! I really hate that. I can't figure out why they do that since I'm clearly on the shoulder of the far side of the road. The other day I also had a guy whistle at me.

After I got back, showered, and fed the dogs, I just settled into reading and watching tv. I had my own version of Thanksgiving dinner which consisted of stuffing, mashed potatoes, a small sweet potato, and a veggie burger. Okay, a little untraditional, but I enjoyed it.

So things I'm thankful for:

Always my parents who do give me unconditional love when I probably don't deserve it. I know they care a lot.
My dogs who give me faithful companionship and bring a lot of joy into my life.
For making it another year and not losing my sanity.
My friends who stick by me through all the ups and downs of my life.

I hope anyone reading this also had a nice Thanksgiving and enjoyed their day. Before we all know it will be Christmas and New Year. I kind of feel like the holidays have been thrown upon us. It's always a hard time for me in general just due to stress and anxiety. I'm trying hard not to be a downer and being compliant with my family in terms of "wish" lists and such. I know the thing they'd be happiest for is if I'd figure out my life, at least that's how it feels to me at times. Heck, I'd be happy with that too!

Monday, November 19, 2007

Another model dies

I just saw this article today about an Israeli model who died this past week. Her story isn't like many others who have fought anorexia for many years and was in and out of hospitals. Eventually, she died of heart failure. It's just another sad model story. You begin to wonder if as much as things do change, things stay the same. Although some countries have made regulations, I think for some models it's already too late as the illness has entrenched them. The only hope is for the new models coming into the industry.

Hila Elmalich

Productive day

I knew today was going to be a busyday, but it ended up being fairly productive. In the early morning, I had a dermatology appt. Nothing major, just a check up on things. The verdict for my cracked, dry hands is to change my hand washing habits. Hmm, that's a hard one. I do not consider myself OCD about hand washing, however, I am really weird about not liking things on my hands. I know it seems weird being around dogs all day and being that way. I *tolerate* a lot in my job, including dog kisses and slobber. Really though, it's not my favorite at all. Even my own dogs know not to lick me. The worse is coming in after a run and Baxter wanting to lick my sweat. I give him a leave it and let him air lick instead which seems to suffice for him.

Anyway, my dermatologist gave me suggestions to try to help alleviate t his problem as well as some steroid topical for when my hands get severely cracked and dry. Last winter, there were a few times like that, and they just felt like they were on fire if anything touched them. I used to think it was a water consumption problem, but I've learned no matter how much water I drink, I still get this tendency. The one great thing about my dermatologist is that she gives me lots of samples. I got a whole box of samples of this other med to try on my face.

After that, my original plan was to go buy some dog treats and then pick up the house guests for this week, aka my friend's dogs. Instead, I decided to see if I could make an appt. with my physiatrist about my leg problem which I'm positive stemmed from the last dog bite. I walked in and told the receptionist/nurse what happened. She asked if I had time today since I'd have to wait 2-3 weeks otherwise. My Dr. walks in from the back and gets the info. from the receptionist/nurse and then tells me "we just need to get you some kevlar to run in." I chuckled since it does seem true at times. I had her take a look, write a diagnosis and go with a treatment plan. Since she knows I'm not big into medications, she suggested trying some physical therapy for a short time to at least see if I can get that hamstring stretched out. The one thing I do not want is a hamstring tear. I've heard horror stories on that. A groin pull ten years ago was bad enough, so I don't want to have to go through a similar problem. I'll start PT next week, see my doctor in about six weeks and then go from there.

After that, I picked up some dog treats and went to my friend's apartment. We talked for a good bit of time which was really nice. Then I headed back in the late afternoon. The rest of the day spent with just the usual of feeding the dogs, eating something for dinner, then watching some tv and falling asleep while watching tv.

Tomorrow, the weather here is supposed to be crazy at like 70+ degrees at the end of November! Then it'll drop 20-25 degrees. I hate how nature does that sometimes and tempts you with such nice weather. No real plans for tomorrow other than to go by the bank and stop at the store in the evening. On Wed., I need to go by the postal office to send my father his malted pancaked mix. I'll have to stop by the library by Thurs. to drop off a book as well. My mom comes in on Friday. Hopefully, she'll be in a good mood.

All right, going to head to bed now. I think I have my game plan for the week.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Week in Review

I've actually had a lot on my mind that I wanted to blog about and then just didn't get around to it. I had yesterday off of work and have today off, so I'm finally sitting down and writing about it.

First off, I talked to my good friend last week. This was the one whom I'd been playing phone tag with. It was nice to catch up on stuff. She asked me if I could take care of two of her dogs who were supposed to stay with her ex-husband over Thanksgiving. They share custody of the dogs. Apparently, he had arrangements which fell through, so I was the only one she thought of to take care of them. I agreed and called her ex to let her know. Not sure why he couldn't call me himself. Supposedly it was something to do with I was his ex wife's friend. Okay, whatever. It's not a big problem, and I do get paid for it. I know these dogs but I've never taken care of them before. They are older. One has some incontinence issues, and the other barks. I pick them up tomorrow, so it should be an interesting week.

I think I mentioned that I bought a ticket for an event and was hoping not to back out of going. Well, I can report back saying that I DID NOT back out. Yeah for me! This was to the Postsecret vs. Found event. I really had to convince myself to just go. It wasn't that I didn't want to go but rather that whole sociability factor. I had asked some of my friends to go, but none of them could. I knew if at least one of them went, it would have been harder for me to back out of it. I guess you could say I fought those negative voices and went. It was a good event, for a good cause, and I enjoyed it. It was very cool to meet Frank and see him in person. Some of the postcards he shared, I remembered from the website. The Found people from "Found" magazine were very entertaining too. This was the first time I'd been aware of what "found" was about. It's basically things that people send in that they've found from various places. These are things like photos, letters, receipts, to do lists, etc. There's something cool about getting a glimpse into someone else's life for a moment. Ialso found out that one of the contributors to NPR's "This American Life" is one of the "Found" founders.

The rest of the week was uneventful other than a dog that went home from her board and train. I was really worried this dog would lose it when she got home. Plus, I was afraid I didn't do a good enough job of explaining to the owner what she learned. I later realized I had forgotten to show the owner some hand signals. I was both surprised and happy when the owner called the next day saying that the dog was doing well and doing the things asked of her. Whew, a definite relief. I told my boss about this since she asked about it, and she asked me why I felt nervous. I think she may have gotten confused but oh well. It's one of those things where you really want everything to work out. Even when you know you did your best, you still kind of feel like you have failed if it doesn't work out. I think I also am a bit weary about Board and trains after one that happened a year or so ago. I won't go into details but the situation should have been handled differently. In the end, it left everyone upset.

I also had some sad news about a potential service dog in training. He bit the owner's husband severely. I only know details from second hand, but it is just such a shame. I never saw any signs o threat from this dog at all. This dog had loads of potential. Some people don't quite understand why you can't give a second chance or train it out, etc. It's a difficult situation, but trying to elicit that type of behavior, you're putting yourself in danger. Plus, being an SD, SDIT, dogs are trained to withstand out of the normal type behaviors, stressful situations, etc. I'm not sure what will happen to this dog, and it is likely he could not be adopted with having this bite record.

Other news. I'm still waiting on lab tests done about three weeks ago. I hate when they take this long, but that's what happens when the labs have to be sent out. I'm not worried about it since these are just standard labs I have done every year. I just like knowing the results.

I took a little time off of running to see if it would make any difference with pain I'd been having. Unfortunately, it did not. I'm going to try the capazain patch first before deciding to head back to the physiatrist I saw last year. I doubt there is much she can do anyway. It's not hampering my daily life, it just gets really sore bending down, walking, exercising, and stretching. That doesn't leave much but sleeping.

So overall, this week had some positives and negatives. I try to remind myself of the positives no matter how small they are. To end this post, here's a pretty picture of a sunset from yesterday. It's a little dark but you get the idea.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Another diet scam uncovered

I read this article today and was aghast. Granted, we've all heard about the latest diet before, but I was unaware of this one called the "Kimkins Diet," essentially a take off of an old version of Atkins but to an extreme. It was apparently on the cover of Woman's World with the headline "Better than Gastric Bypass" showing a woman who had lost 100 pounds from the diet alone. That woman has now left the Kimkins company and started her own blog here. As a former PR person for this website and the Kimkins Diet, she explains what led to her leaving.

So just what is exactly is the Kimkins Diet? It's an extreme version of low cal, low carb, low fiber diet and not medically or nutritionally proven whatsoever. The fact that laxatives were promoted is a huge red flag! The "founder" who left herself in disguise for a long time has finally revealed herself as Heidi Kimberley Diaz. She developed a website promoting this diet claiming she has lost 198 pounds in 11 months and kept it off. This was the first fraudulent claim in a series of many. There were also falsified pictures of testimonials of people who'd lost weight from this diet. They turned out to be Russian mail-order bride photos taken from another site. This woman had people pay her in membership fee to join. And there are just a slew of other fraudulent claims and wrongdoings.

It really makes you realize how far people go to lose weight, and I don't just mean those who develop eating disorders, although with this diet, some of these followers were on the verge of it, starving, and malnourished with physical side effects of lethargy, hair loss, dizziness, nausea, etc. We are such a society on "lookism" and wanting that magic pill or that magic diet to provide that. It's just so scary to think how far someone will go. It seems beyond reason just like someone with an eating disorder. Logic goes out the window along with your intuitiveness. You keep reminding yourself of the reward at the end--that the self deprivation will all be worth it in the end. Is it really? I'm sure there are some who followed this diet and feel that way (the website gives a "pro-ana" type feel) but I think there are many who did not and were playing with fire in terms of their health decline.

Back in June, the FDA issued a regulation on dietary supplements to require current good manufacturing practices. This goes along the lines of making sure that what is in the supplement is accurately labeled as such and that it is produced in a quality manner. I wish the same could be said for these type of internet weight loss scams. I'm sure this Kimkin diet will undoubtedly be the last of this type to come about again. Hopefully, this is will be a wake up call to people.

For more information on this diet and its controversy, go to here and here This site has also gotten down to the controversy as well.

Monday, November 12, 2007

A round up of emotions

I think I've had a lot of emotions stored up over the past few weeks which ended up in me kind of losing it this weekend.

The positive:
Happy. Two dog classes graduated this week. Everyone did well for the most part.
Warm, nice feeling. I got a really nice compliment about my dog training skills from my boss whom I respect incredibly.
Sigh of relief. My friend called me back.
Hopeful: Bought a ticket for this week to an event in town.
Excited: Heard from the prosthetic place about finding someone to make me a custom-made glove. Supposed to be getting samples in for me to try soon.

The negative:
Frustrated: Realizing that some dog owners are never going to "get" it and will likely continue to repeat cues. Some of these people have Ph.Ds.
Annoyed: One dog I've been working with for the past eleven days was very loud this weekend.
Guilt: Not going to my friend's party a few weeks ago and not calling her. Did get up the nerve to call her though used cop out I was depressed and isolating (true but still doesn't seem like a very good excuse) She's the one that called back. We're still currently playing phone tag. Still feeling bad about being some below the type person.
Anxiety: Holiday season right around the corner. Found out my mom wants to visit at Thanksgiving. I do better with my mom visiting than my dad as long as my mom doesn't bring up some core issues, like my life plans, what I want to do, etc. It's a very sensitive topic for me and one I'm drilled about weekly from my father.
Pissed off: My therapist send me an e-mail message returning mine. Told her I wasn't doing well and would hopefully get to see her in Nov. One line was sent saying: I'm sorry you're not doing well. Remember to keep journaling." I was expecting more than that which was obviously not a good expectation. I doubt I'll have the money to see her especially since I pay out of pocket.
Confused: Can't figure out what to do with this guy. We've gone on two dates, spoke on the phone but not really feeling a connection. Don't know what to do.

So all this, the emotions exploded. I resorted to ED type behaviors. I ate more this weekend than all week. When I get like this, I want all my food gone, even ones I really like. This normally results in binge type behavior. Saturday, it was just a binge and nothing more, Sunday, ended up binging and purging. The aftermath is always feeling like shit and then guilty for getting rid of all my food when I knowingly know I don't have the money to really spend on food. Then just angry at myself for resorting to this type of behavior even if the purges are only once every two months or so.

Every purge destroys my teeth which causes me even more guilt. Thousands of money have been spent on my teeth the last ten years. I can't even remember how many root canals, crowns put on only to lose again, and teeth cracked I've also had three bridges, one still paying off and several teeth pulled. Currently, I have a hole for where an implant is supposed to be, another that is just a half of a tooth since the temporary fell off a month ago. My dental benefits don't actually begin until Jan. for any major work. It really sucks, but at the same time I keep wondering if it's worth it.

I know this is a new week. It's a short week for me at work too which will be nice overall. There is only one more dog graduation, then I'll have my evenings again. I'm also trying to convince myself to be social and go to this event this week even if I end up going alone.

For now, it's time to get dressed and do some much needed laundry.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Confessions of a Cracker Addict

Keeping with this topic of obesity, I was listening to a podcast the other day about a book called Waistland by Deidre Barrett, a Harvard psychologist in their behavioral medicine department. I have not read the book yet, but only listened to an interview of her about the book. The book looks at the obesity problem from an evolutionary standpoint with scientific research. She also talks about how to "reprogram" your body/mind in terms of biologically. I didn't agree with everything she said in the interview. For example, she believes that there is only a grain of truth in genetics and becoming fat and some others that I can't think off the top of my head. However, there were a few interesting things she did say which I think are in fact true.

One thing she mentioned was that people really need to do more of a radical approach in order to stop their "food addiction." This is in the sense of what they are eating in terms of sugary, fattening foods. Her theory is that if you let's say eliminate a certain food that is high in sugar and fat, essentially over time, your body is going to stop craving it. This is completely opposite of what many health professionals tell you, ie. make small changes. Barrett's thinking is that 1) those small changes are not enough to truly make a difference, 2) that by continuing to "feed" your body this way only throws your body off. An example would be glucose levels or cortisol. I think in some ways this can work for some people. The problem is that many people have a hard time with continuance over time which can lead to the yo-yo dieting.

Her approach is more about breaking the pattern and developing good habits. Supposedly, it takes what 21 days to develop a habit. I decided to try to take on this type of approach and see what happens.

See, even though I've had an eating disorder for many years, mostly eat all natural and organic foods, my one "refined" substance is crackers, mainly wheat thins and animal crackers.
They are my addiction. I've always considered them "safe" foods, and I can eat quite a lot of them. I think it's due to never really feeling "full." I also think besides the psychological value of them, I think there is something biologically driven as well. Even when I was in the hospital for non-epileptic seizures (long story), I remember asking my parents to bring me wheat thins. One thing I can say about wheat thins is that by eating so many of them, it probably kept my iron levels at bay since there is some fortification in them.

I know there could be worse things in life to eat, but I don't know, I guess maybe it just feels really "unbalanced" or something. Literally, if I don't eat them, my caloric intake is drastically reduced. In a sense, it's a good challenge for me to try to eat other things.

I've tried many ways to reduce my cracker consumption--putting them in servings, only buying the small bags, always telling myself this was the last time, etc., you get my drift. The last time I completely eliminated wheat things, it was like three weeks without eating them. That was like a record for me. My parents think it is funny how these crackers have basically become another food group to me and often times when they come, they bring me a whole bunch.

Anyway, what I do notice after eating so many is that my blood sugar takes a nosedive, and I'm often tired in the late afternoon. So I'm trying hard not to buy any crackers even though I know Wal-Mart currently has the 14 oz box of reduced fat wheat thins (I really prefer the low sodium ones) for 2/$5 and the 2 lb. bag of animals crackers priced at 2/$3. Since Sunday, I have not eaten any and actually there is a difference in terms of blood sugar level. I still get a little tired but not the same as before. I know I could easily just add a protein source to the crackers, but then that just messes with my head in terms of calories and fat. I'm hoping to make 21 days and see if I have really developed a "habit" from it. I'll keep you posted.

Can we confuse people anymore?

Recently, new research came out about the causes of mortality at different BMIs and weight. According to Katherine Flegal, the lead researcher of this study, if you're underweight, there is a significant increase in non-cancer and non-cardiovascular related mortality. If you're obese, there is a significant increase in cardiovascular mortality. However, if you're overweight, then you're okay because there could be some extra nutritional reserves. Hmm, okay, whatever.

However, then this article comes out from Reuters rebutting the above study. I think this could just confuse the public at large even more. I get really tired of using the BMI to gauge your perceived health. There are a lot more factors than weight and height that determine your lifespan. Lifestyle activity is such a big one, as well as what you eat. We really are what we eat.

Sunday, November 4, 2007

More on running

In keeping with the running theme, I'm also very aware of running and eating disorders in general. I did not grow up running but rather a gymnast for many years. In my sophomore year of high school, I retired from competitive gymnastics due to some bad injuries. At that time, I did not have an eating disorder. That didn't happen until after I stopped gymnastics. Then I got into running, actually I think forcing myself, especially since I hated to run. For the rest of my high school and early college years, I consistently ran almost everyday along side of cheerleading and track activities. In the end, there was a lot of toll on my body, and it left me pretty exhausted.

I came across this article yesterday in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on eating disorder run rampant in girls cross country. I knew a number of cross country individuals in high school. Some of them were star runners, others just did it for fun. What sticks out to me were the girls who posted stellar times as freshman and sophomores, and then declined as their body changed in weight. I can only imagine how some of them felt to try to reach that best PR time again and feeling like their body betrayed them. It's similar to the gymnast who grows five inches in a year. It's only nature taking its course, but to female adolescents who are athletes, it can feel like torture.

What came across to me in this article was something that could be very controversial for high school athletics. Similar to the ban of the underweight models in Madrid, BMI would be screened for athletes involved in cross country. Currently, any BMI under 18.5 is considered underweight. Runners who are underweight and malnourished are at some serious health risks like osteoporosis, amenorrhea, anemia, and many others.

Apparently this proposal is divided with coaches. Some are for it, while others feel like it would place a lot of emphasis on weight. In my opinion, I think this could backfire. It is well intentioned of course, but at the same time, who's to say such and such isn't naturally thin or a girl with a normal BMI doesn't have an eating disorder? Obviously, outward symptoms of lanugo, emaciation, etc. could be evident, but what about electrolyte imbalances which you can't see unless someone goes into cardiac arrest, blacks out, etc. just for that reason. Even amenorrhea can't be considered a reliable symptom as many with eating disorders continue to have normal or irregular menstrual cycles but still some evidence of a menstrual cycle.

It'll be interesting to see where this goes and whether other high schools will implement something similar. According to the linked article above, a revised weight management program will be instituted this year for the school's wrestling program. I guess only time will tell. I'm reminded of this postcard published at postsecret a little over a year ago. It's my hope we have less of this, so individuals can get the help they need.


Saturday, November 3, 2007

Marathon news and "Wannabe ultramarathoner"

Normally, I do not follow marathon news or anything of the sort even though I do run. Apparently, the NYC Marathon was bittersweet. From the NYRR website, Ryan Shay, a hopeful young runner for the Olympics, collapsed and died. It was known that he had enlarged heart but was given clearance to run by medical doctors. It's quite sad, and my condolences go out to his family.

On the brighter side of things, the British female runner, Paula Radcliffe, won after a birth of a child this year, injuries, and a two year absence from the sport. It really reminds you that even after pregnancy, you can be top notch with good training and keeping yourself healthy.

So with reading all about the NYC marathon, I'm wondering why I am even interested. I think in the back of my mind I'm a "wannebe marathoner" or better yet "ultramarathoner." After reading Dean Karnaze's book, Ultramarathon Man: confessions of an all night runner, it peaked my interest in the ability to defy your body's odds and tests its limits. I learned a bit of the inside scoop from JW, another ultramarathoner. Since then, it's kind of goal of mine one day to be able to do one. So what stops me from pursuing his goal?

Firstly, well, in order to run anything like that, you must eat. You have to be able to sustain your body for that amount of energy. Studies show the majority of people do not fuel enough before runs or other endurance activities. I'm in that category unfortunately, although I do eat more in general most days than let's say five years ago.

Secondly, commitment. Do I have what it takes to do that? My therapist tells me I'm afraid of commitment which affects my life daily. Is it commitment or determination? People have always told me I am determined, but since high school, that determination has just dwindled into fears that seem to plague me. How do I tell myself or better yet convince myself that I could really do this?

Thirdly, there is the issue of competitiveness. It's not even about coming in first but rather having a stunning time on the first go around. I think that comes from feeling like I work hard (and I do have a good work ethic) and feeling like it never pays off. Well, I would have to precede that with "at least to my standards."

So for now, it's all up in the air. Maybe it'll be my New Year's Resolution?

Cell phone update

Well, I got my phone from ebay yesterday and got it activated today. I have to admit I really like this other phone better than the Samsung one. It sounds shallow, but this one has way better ringtones. My only issue with this phone is the charge. i'm not sure whether it's battery or the charger, but the charge is not lasting long. I'm hoping the ebay seller can give me answer to this. Ultimately, I may have to get a new battery. Since the unfortunate happening with my original phone, I decided to be on the safe side and pay for the extra warranty.

Hopefully, this will be the last of my cell phone issues. I'm sure the cell phone reps are tired of seeing me especially since I went against their advice of buying one on ebay. Oh well, sometimes you have to take a chance and have faith. That or be incredibly lucky!

Friday, November 2, 2007

Music and Marathons

I was watching part of the "Today show" before I left for work. There was a clip on there about the music ban on marathons. US Track and field apparently made that rule this year to ensure safety. While some marathons did follow the rule and disqualify any runner using such devices, others did not. The NYC marathon this weekend has decided not to follow suit as there are 38,000 runners. Policing that many runners would be very difficult indeed, especially since devices keep getting smaller and smaller.

As a runner, I sit on the fence on this one. When I got my ipod back last March, I originally found it very helpful on my long runs. Since discovering podcasts, I mostly listen to that these days. Although the issue is safety and communication between runner, I've found there is capability of doing both. For me, even though I listen to music on my runs, I still remain very vigilant of my environment. I think for the majority of people, running is for recreation, so if a little pick me up helps, then why not? Ultimately, those who are very competitive will likely not use any music devices and focus more on their bodies, breathing, time, etc. In the end, however, everyone wants to get to the finish line whether its with or without music.