Thursday, October 6, 2016

Heading Back to Paris...and The Hague

Hello All (if there are any "All" left!),

I just re-read my last post and have only one thing to add: My cough is now back full force and when I make the mistake of forgetting one of my pills (I take four per day), there's (hack, hack) hell to pay.

I've just had a broncoscopy and, although I don't think there's anything signficantly wrong with my lungs--otherwise I would have seen the doctor as soon as I came out of the anesthetic haze--something has to be done. I'm personally all for going back on the prednisone, but this time for a few months, while weaning myself off the gabapentin. I'm seeing my doctor in less than two weeks and we'll see.

In the meantime, the big news is that I'm once again Paris bound.

A friend of mine in Paris, who is a member of the same professional association that I belong to, told me that our association will be holding a seminar in The Hague this November. The topic fascinating: international humanitarian law. Taking a professional development course is tax deductible, so what better way to go back to Europe! My stay in Paris is entirely on my own dime, but it will be wonderful and well worth it. I'm planning to go to a few movies that I wouldn't be able to see here in Canada, walk around the city I adore, see some friends and just enjoy being in Paris.

I won't be staying at the same apartment I stayed in last time for several reasons. In fact, I'll be staying in a completely different neighbourhood: the 5th arrondissement. I stayed in the 5th the first time I went to Paris in 1977 (so long ago!), so it will really be a new experience for me. I got extremely attached to the 11th, and once attached, I'm loathe to change, but I think this will be good for me.

Stayed tuned for pictures!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Hello Again and...What's a Blog For If Not to Complain?

My, my. It's been a long, long time since I've posted. I have written countless posts in my mind since the last one, but none of them have actually been written down and posted. So here goes.

Just in case any of my old readers are still around and wondering how my trip to Europe went last year, the short answer is: fantastic. One month in Paris was definitely not enough. If I had my druthers and at least 10 million dollars, so I could buy an apartment in Paris larger than a shoe box, not have to worry about finding work for myself and my hubby, and also have money to pay for healthcare costs that would inevitably occur since I'm no spring chicken anymore, I would move to Paris in a heartbeat. It is the most beautiful place in the world--for me, not anyone else. I'm not trying to force it down anyone's throat. It's just the place I wish I could live permanently. And I love being able to live in French. It's a hard place to live for a young person, just starting out. That's why I say that if I had the sous (the old French equivalent of pennies--now it's actually Euro cents) to live there without financial worry, I would do so in a heartbeat.

Here's a picture of the entrance to our apartment building. This was the view of the private walkway, leading to the street. It was taken from the doorway to our building. BTW, the place we lived in was tiny. A bit too tiny for my tastes, at least on a long-term basis, and I don't need 2,000 sq. feet to stretch my legs out. Six-hundred would do just fine. We were living in a one-bedroom apartment that measured about 340 sq. feet!

We both had an extraordinary time. Maybe one day, I'll get around to really talking about it. There are so many things to say, even if it's now over a year ago since we were there.

But now, it's time to whine:

I started this blog as a weight loss blog. It has since morphed into a blog to reflect on weight and on health at every size (HAES). Trying to accept myself at the weight I am has been an effort, but not totally impossible until recently. So what has changed?

For the past 12 years or so, I have had a chronic cough. It started with a cold that went away in a short time. But the cough never left. I have gone all the traditional and non-traditional routes to eliminating this cough. My doctors have ruled out allergies, asthma and GERD--the traditional reasons for a cough. I have gone for acupuncture, traditional Chinese medicine, homeopathy, naturopathy, and probably a bunch of other things I can't remember at this point. My body just forgot how to live without coughing. My throat is extremely sensitive and it is very easy for things to "go down the wrong way," provoking coughing fits that make me sound like I'm about to choke to death, although I'm perfectly fine, aside from the thumping heart beat and sore thorax.

My most recent ENT finally gave up and said that he was going to get me in to see the "cough guru": the doctor of last resort. The cough guru wasn't accepting any more patients but my ENT pulled some strings and I got to see him. He was a small, elderly gentleman with a caustic sense of humour who started me off on the medication that I should have received 11 years ago: prednisone, a very strong, very dangerous drug that is usually only used for short periods of time. A friend of mine went on prednisone for a cough such as mine (though she had only had it for a few months at the time) and it stopped it in its tracks. Prednisone is known for weight gain, but I was only on it for about a month. Yes, I gained a bit of weight but the cough was reduced by 90%. Thing was, I couldn't stay on it forever and the cough came back. So then the cough guru put me on another drug, gabapentin, which is normally used for epilepsy. I don't have epilepsy, but gabapentin has been shown to work well "off label" for coughs. I started taking it, upping the dose every week until things seemed to stabilize. My dosage is not high at all, as compared to what is required for epileptics, but it's high enough to have provoked significant weight gain. And, after several months, the effects on my cough are wearing off. To top it off, the cough guru just retired. I will be seeing his replacement in August.

Rock, meet hard place.

Let me backtrack a bit: After my knee surgery two years ago, I lost some weight. It was not surprising since I quite literally lost most of my normal appetite. It was hard for me to eat more than a small bowl of yoghurt in the morning and my husband had to prod me to eat a tomato sandwich at 3 p.m. Once my appetite returned to normal, my weight returned to what it had been before the surgery. My new normal was maybe about 1-2 pounds above before-surgery levels. Not great but livable. Since going on the gabapentin, though, I'm now almost ten pounds more than I was when I came home from Europe. And that's taking into account that my wine consumption has plummeted. (Hey, how can you live in France without a glass on wine a day? I've never been a big drinker.) And although I'm not walking an average of 10 kms a day as I was in Europe (my best day was 15 kms), I usually walk at least 5 kms a day, and up to 10 kms/day on the weekend.

The long and the short of it is that I keep active and have not changed my eating habits. I've just gained weight. The only change in my life: gabapentin. I refuse to up my dose, although I think the cough suppressant function is going down. I wonder whether the weight gain is going to continue. Being as short as I am (at this point 4'8"--age is against me on this too), 10 pounds is like 25 on an average sized person.

This blog is the only place where I feel comfortable talking about this. Thanks for listening. Maybe my next post will concentrate more on the wonders of Paris...

Sunday, April 12, 2015

A Short Post on Frankenfood...Just My Opinion

I belong to a private HAES (health at every size) food group on Facebook. Every day, members post pictures of mouth-watering foods that they not only eat, but are also not afraid to eat. "Bravo!" I say.


The other day, someone posted a picture of a dessert she'd made. I asked for the recipe, and she kindly posted it.

With the exception of the featured fruit, the recipe contained nothing but a long list of highly processed foods. Not even any real whipping cream, just Cool Whip.

Honestly, I wouldn't make this if you paid me. It has nothing to do with the sugar content. It has nothing to do with the calories. It has everything to do with the fact that virtually all the ingredients are what I call "frankenfoods"--dishes that come from foods essentially made in a lab, instead of from ingredients found in the ground, the water, trees, etc.--and BTW, I include good chocolate in the category of "real food."

I'm not planning to call her out on this pseudo-food. It's her business. And it's the business of anyone else who wants to make this no doubt tasty, but horrific concoction.

I'll stick to real food. Not because real food will make me slim. It won't. It will just help keep me healthy.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Reductive...and I'm not talking about weight loss!

Today, a friend of mine on Facebook posted a link to this article comparing school lunches in France and the US.

Not surprisingly, the French lunches are more beautiful, delicious and nutritious than the swill that often passes for food in the States.

However, as usual, the article starts with what the author feels is most important: not that French school lunches are both more nutritious and more interesting, but that these lunches explain, at least in part, why French children don't get fat. First of all, although obesity rates in France are much lower than in Canada or the US (according to the World Fact Book, published by the CIA!!, in the obesity sweepstakes the US ranks 18th, Canada 48th and France 108th), I seriously doubt there are no fat French children. Having visited France several times, I can attest to the fact that there is a typical French body type. The French are often small--certainly much shorter than the Dutch--and have a fine-boned, slight build. But that does not mean that every French person has that build.

I am furious at the reductionist vision of food that passes for mainstream thought in today's world: it's only good inasmuch as it doesn't make you fat.

And as to why French children (or, let's say a higher percentage of French children) are not fat, I can think of a host of reasons that have nothing to do with the wonderful food they eat. How about genetics, more active transportation, a better social safety net (as evidenced by the amazing food provided in the schools) that results in better outcomes related to the social determinants of health?

I fully support better, healthier foods in the schools and on all our plates because such food certainly contributes to making us healthier, though not necessarily lighter.

Here's a picture that I found on the Internet by googling "French food." It's not so different from the kind of food my family eats here in Canada, but I am certainly looking forward to trying a variety of delightful French foods and dishes on my upcoming visit to France!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

I have a tendancy... read weight loss blogs, despite the fact that I feel that intentional weight loss, unlike intentionally seeking to lead a healthier life, is certainly not the right thing for me.

I just checked in on one of these blogs a few minutes ago and felt that I must make an effort to not read this particular blogger.

This person is well-intentioned, incredibly hard-working and certainly a fine person. However, they (I'm using the indefinite pronoun to avoid identifying the person's gender) are constantly tearing themselves apart about eating the RIGHT and the WRONG foods. Everything is linked back to "addiction": X makes me feel sluggish, Y causes pain, Z should never be touched. The limits and strictures this person sets on their food consumption are absolutely painful to observe.

So I must break my addiction to this blog.

Now, off to eat such frightening foods as chicken, sweet potatoes, dried fruits, nuts, apples, honey, matzah...Yes, it's Passover!!

Chag sameach to anyone who's celebrating this holiday of freedom.

May we all live in freedom!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Better Health: What It's All About (and the answer isn't dieting...)

Sorry to be so absent. Busy, busy.

I thought it would be worthwhile posting a link to this article, "What if we all just stopped trying to lose weight?", yet another article that skillfully decouples health from weight loss.

The basic idea is that weight loss is a possible side-effect of healthier habits, but that "dieting"--in other words, the conscious reduction of calories or strict adherence to a special way of eating (no sugar, paleo, etc.)--is not, in of itself, a healthy habit. I think, in fact, that the boomerang effect of acting as your own "food police" often causes a lot more bad than good. For the vast majority of people, dieting is akin to holding your breath. Eventually, you have to take in some oxygen, often in great gulps--sort of like bingeing after restriction.

If you're interested in good health, WALK, SWIM, EAT FRUITS AND VEGGIES, LOVE YOUR FAMILY, MEDITATE, TAKE A TRIP TO PARIS (hmm, I know someone who's going to do that pretty soon...). And let the weight settle where it wants.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

"Food Sobriety"

Once in a while--OK, more often than I should--I check out some very intense weight loss blogs.

Today, I spent a few minutes reading a blogger who proudly announced how many months she has maintained "food sobriety." If it works for her, it's not my business. She seems to be happy. But there are so many people for whom "perfect eating" becomes a constant source of self-hate, because most people just can't stay perfect all the time. I feel for them deeply.

Food: the new danger. Gag me with a spoon (what an appropriate metaphor!).