26 May 2015

When weight *does* matter

I read quite a lot of articles, blogs, and books about dieting, the science of weight gain, appetite, weight loss, health at higher weights, why diets fail, and so on. Secrets from the Eating Lab by Dr Traci Mann is the latest one (I highly recommend it).

BUT.

Not one of these books ever mentions the need to lose weight when you have structural problems with your hips / knees / legs / feet. It's not an issue of metabolism, or biochemistry, or social pressures to be thinner, or whether or not being fatter affects the development of different diseases, or whether the process of dieting reduces lifespans, or if curvier ladies are more or less attractive, or anything like that.

It's the weight. Weighing more puts a lot more stress on your joints. Cos. It's weight. Mass. Every step you take loads multiple times that weight through your joints. It's. The. Weight. Full stop.

If you have hip dysplasia, osteoarthritis in your hips or knees, other structural abnormalities, or even some types of foot pain — weighing less will be better for you. And if you have an artificial hip or knee, the same thing goes. Those babies don't last forever, especially if you've had joint replacement at a younger age, like me. And trust me, the longer you can avoid revision surgery (replacement of the prosthesis) the better. Revision surgery is no picnic, and is usually less successful.

Pelvis — illustration © Denise Sutherland
I always feel caught between a rock and a hard place on this one — it's clear that dieting isn't a good way to go, it's rarely sustainable, and over 90% of dieters regain their lost weight plus some. Rinse and repeat. I've tried a lot of things. I even did calorie counting for nearly a year some time ago. Yes, I lost weight, but I went a bit (more) insane in the process.  Never again. NEVER.

But I can't just go all body positive and 'accept myself at the weight I am' — I really need to lose weight to help the longevity of my hip prosthesis, avoid my next lot of hip surgery for as long as possible, and mitigate the decline of my other dysplastic hip and crappy knees.

Hip prosthesis — illustration © Denise Sutherland

And because of said hip and knee problems, as well as my autoimmune disease, running around exercising like mad isn't really possible either.

My strategy at the moment is sticking to the 5:2 intermittent fasting* (which I do find sustainable, even on the Failsafe diet I'm on to reduce inflammation) — I have lost about 7 kg over the last few years this way. Slowly. Hugely frustratingly slowly. Not even halfway there, more like a third ... wherever 'there' is. Fuck it.

I go for walks, and am about to get back in the pool (just for hydrotherapy at the moment, but hopefully I'll be able to work up to swimming). Exercise bike when my knee is cooperating (it isn't at the moment). Halving my mirtazapine dose (which I take for sleep) has helped reduce my appetite and cravings a bit more, too.

But, I really wish that all these great books about how dieting doesn't work, and how healthy you can be at any size would at least mention the fact that sometimes you have to lose weight, because the weight itself is the problem. Some acknowledgement of that existence of this problem — which surely must affect millions of people — it's not like hip and knee osteoarthritis is uncommon — would be nice. Even if all they can say is 'Yeah, it fucking sucks to be you. Ignore everything we've just said, and go on a diet. Forever.'


* Please don't offer me diet advice, thanks. What I do now works for me, albeit slowly, and I have my doctor's support. I'm glad that whatever you're doing works well for you.


02 May 2015

Too. Much. Volunteering.

It seems I stopped blogging last October. I'm not apologising.

Last October I was elected as president of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Indexer's ACT Region branch, which also put me back on the national Council. And on the committee for organising the joint IPEd (editors) & ANZSI national conference. I'm also the graphic designer and web master for the conference. And in November I became half of ANZSI's web redevelopment team. And also became the ANZSI Newsletter Editor, as the previous one resigned suddenly.

So heaps of stuff has gone by the wayside as a result, including work on my next book, and blogging, just for starters. And a social life. And my self-care health routines. And other important stuff.

The liberating news is that most of these commitments are about to end. The glorious new website is about to launch (should be live in a few days), after roughly 800 hours of work by me and my wonderful colleague Ali — we've enjoyed the work, but it's been a lot of work.


The write | edit | index conference is happening next week. That one short sentence in no way sums up the amount of time, effort and energy the next week and this event are about to take! I'm doing photography, blogging and tweeting during the conference (as part of the small social media team), as well as giving a speech, chairing one session, and I'm involved in presenting two sessions. It'll be great, I'm sure of it, but also extremely exhausting. Not entirely sure I can cope.

At the conference we're voting to abolish local branches (dismantling the local committee structures, to make the groups easier to run), in a a major restructuring of the whole of ANZSI.

So by the end of next week, both the website and conference will be done — two huge projects. And in another 59 days hopefully (yes, I'm counting), I won't be on Council, or local branch president any more. With any luck, there's only one more local branch committee meeting, and one more Council meeting to go.

Which just leaves the newsletter editor's role, which I can cope with. And my new maximum number of committees? ZERO.


23 October 2014

Sweet & Sour Chicken

This tasty recipe is failsafe (low 'food chemical') and gluten-free. I hope you enjoy it!


Serves 4

Ingredients
  • 450g chicken breast fillet, sliced thinly
  • 2 Tbspns cornflour*
  • canola oil for frying
  • 1 choko, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 3 spring onions, sliced
  • 100g sliced bamboo shoots (tinned)
  • 1 cup red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 clove garlic, minced or crushed
  • 1 cup tinned pears, diced (reserve syrup from the tin)

Sauce:
  • ½ cup pear syrup (from tinned pears)
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 Tbspns brown sugar
  • 1 Tbspn gin
  • 2 tspns cornflour
  • 1 ½ tspns citric acid
  • 1 ¼ tspns salt

Method

1. Mix the sliced chicken with the cornflour. Heat a tablespoon or two of canola oil in a large frypan or wok. Fry half the chicken, until golden brown. Remove from pan, and set aside. Fry the second batch of chicken in the same way, adding a little extra oil if necessary, and set aside.

2. Mix the sauce ingredients together in a small bowl or measuring jug. Put the cornflour into the jug first, and just add a little water, whisking constantly. When this paste is smooth, add the remaining water, whisk, and then add the other ingredients.

3. Heat a little canola oil in the pan. Stir-fry the choko, spring onions, bamboo shoots and cabbage for a few minutes. Add the garlic, and fry for another 10-20 seconds. Return the chicken to the pan, stir well.

4. Add the sauce, and diced pears to the pan. Stir well, until sauce has boiled and thickened.

5. Serve with rice or rice noodles.

*cornflour = white cornstarch, not cornmeal or polenta




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