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National Health Blog Post Month

Re-Sparked

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It’s been a long time since I blogged. Whew. I was in the midst of the Health Blog A Day Challenge when I seriously fell off the bloggy wagon. It was a combination of suddenly getting a HUGE influx of work combined with having a few days of feeling stuck with the blog prompts. At some point I just threw in the towel and haven’t had a chance to look back since then.

The holidays (Thanksgiving and Christmas) really threw me, schedule wise. In the past, I’ve either been working super part time OR at a nonprofit OR in the academic world. All of which equalled a big break around the holiday times. I was able to shop, organize, cook and clean, wrap and mail. But I used to spend entire days dedicated to those activities. This year, for the first time ever, my schedule got super ramped up right around Thanksgiving. I was suddenly working many more hours, many more miles from home. I would come home exhausted, fall into bed and do paperwork in my pajamas, pass out and do it again. I knew, however, that this crazy schedule was limited. I just had to keep it up until Christmas Eve.

We spent most of Christmas day in our pajamas. We had no dinner guests so we got up late, opened stockings, made our traditional brunch (Mexican baked eggs and Juniorette’s to-die-for cinnamon rolls), opened presents, took a nap, slowly prepared for dinner (which included a no-work honeybaked ham), ate dinner, then went to see the Hobbit (yay).

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The next day we flew to Sundance to meet up with cousins and to take part in some epic, gorgeous snow. It was the first time in weeks (months) that I wasn’t scheduled up like crazy.

I spent two days snowshoeing (which I LOVE) in the most amazing, powdery, fluffy, gorgeous snow ever. Also heck of a workout.

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It was a good reminder for me. To do what I love. To move in a way that makes me happy. Always good to return to this.

Yesterday afternoon I had the biggest treat. I got to meet up with my dear dear friend Shannon, who was one of my very first blogging friends. Back in the day when I was still anonymous, she was always there encouraging me, supporting me and telling me I could do it, whatever It was. So many times she would Tweet or comment, “I just love you Foodie!” and I’d feel so cared about.

Soon I will be meeting up with one of my other oldest and dearest blogging friends – Carla, aka MizFitonline. When I started blogging four years ago, she was one of the only “superstars” who reached out with genuine interest and kindness, for which I will be eternally grateful. I am so excited to welcome her to my part of the world as a neighbor. Sorry Austin – your HUGE loss is my ecstatic gain.

(by the way, world – you can get your own fabulous piece of MizFit by checking out her BRAND SIZZLING NEW E-book “How to Build Muscle and Lose Weight Without Losing Your Mind” here – I can’t wait to read it! Maybe on the plane home!)

Today I pondered whether to go out for one more glorious snowshoe hike, or to stay snuggled under the down comforter to do what I haven’t in so long – reading, writing, contemplating the icicles.

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The latter won out and I am so glad. I’ve needed down time for so long, to return to my bloggy roots, to take some time to just lie around and contemplate all that is good.

Day 20 #NHBPM – Regretting A Moment (Or Two, Or Two Hundred)

Day 20 – Tuesday, Nov. 20

“A health moment I regret…”
OR
Write about alternative treatments / regimens / medicine. What do you support? What is crazy?

I’m choosing the first prompt because if I choose the second one I’m afraid I’ll alienate a whole bunch of folks. I don’t want to get all confrontational. I think it’s a matter of personal choice. I think lots of things out there are crazy. I support PEOPLE, not regimes or treatments. Some people I care about might make different choices than I do. Some people think I’m crazy because I take pharmaceutical medications. We all have to do what we decide to do.

So… a health moment that I regret? Hmmm.

I regret waiting so long to take care of my health. That wasn’t one moment, but a series of a million moments that stretched into years. I regret waiting, knowing that I wasn’t in the best of health. I was in my forties and I thought I was OLD. That’s why I was always exhausted and out of breath, why I had chronically painful knees and back. I couldn’t go up a flight of stairs without wheezing. But I wasn’t old. I was overweight and sick. I regret having blinders on. I regret not wanting to see what was going on inside me.

But.. it’s never too late to take the blinders off.

Day 19 #NHBPM Life and Death?

Day 19 – Monday, Nov. 19

Questions I have for for other patients OR
Write about: Life and Death

It might seem melodramatic to say that losing weight and getting more active is a matter of life and death for me, but I think it is. I was on a downward spiral when I first started this blog. I had gone to Weight Watchers many many times in the past, but I didn’t think it was life and death. I thought it was skinny jeans or a high school reunion dress. So it didn’t matter much to me. Looks weren’t important. I thought, it’s what’s inside that matters. What I didn’t realize was that inside, my high blood pressure was out the roof, my lipids and blood glucose were out of control. THAT what was going on inside while I was scoffing at people who wanted to wear bikinis. It isn’t just about that.

It took realizing that it IS all about life and death. I can have a good life, or I can have a shorter, more difficult life. I know I don’t have 100% say. There are genetics and other factors to consider. But I also can lean towards the life part of it.

It wasn’t until I realized that my weight, my activity level WERE as important as life and death that I decided to do something about it. I’m glad it wasn’t too late.

 

Day 18 #NHBPM: HealthCare. Don’t Get Me Started.

Junior as a young health activist (age 4)

Day 18 – Sunday, Nov. 18

“I want to change THIS about healthcare…”
OR
Write about your advice for someone caring for a patient with your condition

Oh there is so much I want to change about healthcare.

As a health care provider, I’d say I want to change the insane amount of paperwork and bureacracy that it takes. I love love love seeing my patients. But the hours and hours I have to spend DOCUMENTING things in often redundant and irrelevant ways makes me crazy. I hate having to spend hours figuring out what kind of insurance (or not) a person has, and how this effects what I can’t or can’t do with or for them. This is so maddening. I just want to do what they need and not force it to be more or less depending on their insurance. Although Medicare is good in many ways, it’s also stupid in others. For example we only get paid if we see someone for a minimum of 5 visits. If they only need one or two, we either have to eat it, or we have to see them unnecessarily. This is just ridiculous. And then in other cases we can’t see someone as long or as much as they really need. It’s maddening.

As a patient, how nice would it be to just have a uniform way of getting health care. I love the little health post model they used to have in Nicaragua back in the day. Or in Cuba. (yeah! Socialized medicine!) You could just go to a small health center in YOUR NEIGHBORHOOD – like literally within a few blocks. And see people who know you and your neighbors. If it’s more serious, you go to a regional or national center. End of story. All paid for. No cards or forms or insurance. If someone (like me) has a pre-existing condition, take care of them, don’t deny them healthcare. JUST DO THE DAMN THING.

Sigh.

Day 17 #NHBPM: My Running Playlist

Day 17 – Saturday, Nov. 17

My strengths and weaknesses list post
OR
Health Playlist. Make a playlist for your health community

The music that I listen to when I run means a lot to me. Often it moves me to tears. It keeps me going. This is a little sample of my “must listen to” music when I’m running.

  • God Says Nothing Back, by the Wallflowers. This song is just the perfect rhythm for my running pace. If I just had one song to listen to over and over while I run, this would be it.
  • Friend of the Devil by the Counting Crows. This slower version really works for me. And the part about “set out running but I take my time” always resonates with me and makes me smile.
  • Home by Marc Broussard. Fantastic nonstop pound it out song. Makes me just pump it out and GO. Great for bringing up the energy.
  • Drive by Incubus. This one is kind of fast for me but it really also gets me going.  The lyrics speak to me.
    Sometimes I feel the fear of uncertainty stinging clear
    And I cant help but ask myself how much I’ll let the fear take the wheel and steer
    It’s driven me before, it seems to have a vague
    Haunting mass appeal
    Lately I’m beginning to find that I should be the one behind the wheel
  • Radio Nowhere by Bruce.
  • You Found Me by the Fray. If I hear this song when I am driving my car, it makes me want to stop the car, get out and run.
  • For the Summer by Ray LaMontagne. This is a gentle, loping song. I just love Ray. And I laugh out loud and sing along when he sings “I’m tired… I’m tired…”
  • It Won’t Take Long by Ferron. This is a long song, almost 8 minutes, and it’s one of my almost perfect running songs. “Don’t you want to see yourself as strong?” Yes, I do.
  • Wild World by Cat Stevens. Another slow loper. This is a great cool down song.
  • Human Wheels by John Mellencamp. Great running song. Yeah, human wheels keep going.
  • Come to Jesus by Mindy Smith. I am not a religious person, but this song gives me religion. Especially when running.
  • Safe and Sound by Capital Cities. This was the background music for the Big Blue Test video I did, and will always make me feel emotional and motivated.

Those are my top running songs. If I hear any of them when I’m not running, they make me WANT to run. I know, I know, running with earbuds is unsafe and all. I usually just wear in one ear and let the other one dangle so I can hear what’s going on in the environment too. I will forever be grateful to some of these songs for getting me going when little else would. I can now run without music because I’ve trained myself to do it but I will always have a soft spot for these tunes.

 

Day 15 #NHBPM: I Nominate…. My Incision Blog!

at a poetry reading

Day 15 – Thursday, Nov. 15

Why healthcare companies (or healthcare professionals) should use social media OR

Nominate someone for a Health Activist Award bit.ly/haawards12 & write a post about why you nominated them!

I am nominating my friend Wendy for the “Best Kept Secret” Health Activist award. Although she has been blogging about a very important health issue for a long time, our bloggy circles haven’t really crossed paths all that much.

I first met Wendy when we were both getting our masters degrees in creative writing. She is an exquisite, sensitive and wonderful writer. We were in a writing group together for over a decade. She is a beautiful soul.

we go way back

Wendy has written poetry, creative nonfiction and blogged about her experience as caregiver for her elderly mother, and as a survivor of infant surgery, from way back in the day when babies who were operated on had no anesthesia and little comfort. It is an experience that can ripple out for a lifetime.

She has recently been sharing her experiences in wider and wider circles – in the medical humanities field, and with individuals, survivors, health professionals and family members of those who have not only had surgery as infants, but who have had other types of trauma. She is a true healer, a generous spirit in every sense of the word. I have been so fortunate to have known her. Last year, at my Stories of the Body retreat, she helped people tell their body’s stories through simple drawing. Soon she will be launching a service where she will be offering guidance to others.

She is truly a gift. I encourage everyone to go read her blog. Check out her beautifully healing art.  Read her poetry and an excerpt from her memoir.

She writes about:

If you are interested in any or all of these topics, go to my dear friend’s blog. It won’t be a secret for long.

Day 14 #NHBPM: FoodFoodBodyBody, the Reality Show

Day 14 – Wednesday, Nov. 14

“My life is a reality show.” Write characters, plots, the set, and why people should watch OR
Advice for dealing with negative feedback in your community

Here are the main characters in FoodFoodBodyBody the Reality Show:

Foodie McBody: Our reluctant star. Sometimes she’s up, sometimes she’s done, but she’s always getting herself into some new pickle or another, whether it be a triathlon or a solo performance show.

Mr. McBody: main cheerleader, medic and love interest.

I couldn’t do it without him

Junior McBody: elder daughter. Zippy runner and magic maker.

Juniorette McBody: younger daughter. all-star baker and carbohydrate temptress. Also known to juggle and make awesome tie-dye.

Junior & Juniorette

Mama McBody: Junk Food Junkie and chocoholic. Although she is pushing 90, she is also a heckuva weekly bowler (with a 15 lb ball!)

mama McBody

Our Four Legged Friend: The only dog alive who really doesn’t like to go on walks. Especially if it means she will have to encounter Other Dogs.

our four legged friend

The Cast of Friends: We’ve got the loving and loyal Sidekick (always there for carpooling to workouts). We’ve also go the Greek Chorus of visible and invisible Internet friends (plot point: Are they REAL if you can’t see them? Stay tuned and find out!)

best Sidekick ever

The set: main set is a cabinish home high in the Oakland hills, under the redwoods and eucalyptus. Extra steep hills can be good for a little drama, huffing and puffing and gnashing of teeth. However, Foodie is big into travel, so you might often see her On Location in various locales like Baltimore, New  York City and Elsewhere.

Plots: Will Foodie finish this crazy endurance event (triathlon) that she signed up for? Will she (and her health) survive the departure of her beloved endocrinologist? Will she be able to show her face at Fitbloggin’ even though she is in worse shape than the previous year? Will she succumb to the temptation of the new Mac-and-cheese only restaurant in her hometown?  How will she celebrate her healthaversary THIS year?

Find out the answers to these and other questions by tuning into this week’s episode of FoodFoodBodyBody – a laugh (and sometimes a tear) every time!

Day 13 #NHBPM: What Does My Favorite Book Have to Do With My Health?

Day 13 – Tuesday, Nov. 13

Book report. What’s your favorite book and how can you tie it to your health or life? OR
Write about something taboo

Hmmmm. My favorite book? That’s a tough one. Of course it would be easier to write about my favorite HEALTH book (I think the prize for that goes to Savor). But my all-around favorite book? That’s a very tough call. I have many favorite books.

Okay. I am going to really stretch here.

I’d say that one of my top five favorite books of all time is Gilead, by Marilynne Robinson. How much do I love this book?

I’ve read it to myself at least four times. Mr. McBody has read it (out loud) to me at least twice. I have two copies – a dog eared and tattered hard back, a new paperback, and it’s on m Kindle AND my iPhone AND on my computer. When I heard Marilynne Robinson read from it out loud at the Associated Writers Program conference several years ago, I stood in the back of the room and bawled like a baby.

I’d say that pretty well qualifies as a favorite book.

What is it about? It’s a fictional book-length letter written by the Rev. John Ames, as he is in his seventies and dying of heart failure, to his very young son who will most likely never grow up to manhood, knowing his father. The letter serves to convey all the love and messages that the narrator wants to impart to his son – family history, small moments of attention. It’s a long and loving conversation.

When I read this book for the very first time, I cried with my entire soul and body at the end of it. I won’t say more or spoil except to say that it’s about a deep bitterness, and ultimate forgiveness and redemption. Which is surprising and overwhelming.

So.. what does that have to do with my health? Many things.

I think about the legacy and the message I want to leave to my own children. In a way, this blog is like my own version of that – the message I want to leave about what is important to me, what I have learned and what I want to share.

And, I think it is actually not too much of a stretch to think about the own bitterness and hostility I have had toward myself, my own body. And how much forgiveness is necessary. I think this is why stories of forgiveness and redemption never cease to move me – often to tears-  because it is so very needed in my own life.

Thanks, National Health Blog Post Month, for helping me to remember this book and these memories.

Day 12 #NHBPM: My Favorite App(s)

It’s a good thing that we get two “get out of jail free” days from NHBPM. It looks like I just took mine this weekend. I got SLAMMED, scheduled wise. On Saturday I drove four hours (ack!) for a Weight Watchers training (it was good, but more sitting! I paced a lot) and then four hours home.  I was FRIED when I got home. NO blogging Saturday.

Then, Sunday was filled with fun but time-eating social events: a clutterbusting gathering at a friend’s house (how great is that -a small group of us cleared out and organized a pantry, cupboard AND a big entry shelf/drawer thing) in the morning, then a very cool baby shower (books for baby! to build her library! I LOVE THIS IDEA) in the afternoon and then dinner and visit with Junior in the evening. That was my weekend. But no more slacking for me! I’m in it till the end.

Day 12 – Monday, Nov. 12

Call BS on something. What’s something that is just ridiculous? OR “My favorite health app / device / game is…” and review it

OK. I will admit I am not in the mood to “call BS” on anything because I’m just not in the mood for controversy right now. But I could definitely do that in a few cases. I’m going to take the easier route (and more positive!) of discussing my favorite health app/device(s).

Everyone knows I am a big fan of movement devices. I’m loving my Weight Watchers ActiveLink, which is pretty much a WW linked device that is the same as the DirectLife activity monitor. Very similar. They work great.

I was looking at my phone and trying to figure out which app(s) I use and like the most. I think the one I use the most (other than SleepTime, which I already wrote about) is RunKeeper. I’ve been using it a few  years now and anticipate I’ll be using it a lot more now that I am on RUN TEAM (YAYY!).

I love Runkeeper. I love that you can GPS your route, measure time and pace, sync your music and also have audio reminders at time and/or distance markers (every 5 or 10 minutes, every half or quarter mile). It keeps me going to know that I am running an X minute mile. I love being able to link it to FB and Twitter. It’s a great and motivating app and I know I’m going to be using it a lot more.

So that was Day 12! Almost halfway through the month!!

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