Tag Archive | Health

An alcohol free week

I have been alcohol free for the past week. 

Why, you ask?

Well, I have got into a habit of drinking. Like any habit, it became something I did without much thought. And repetition made it more frequent and increased the number of drinks. The glass or two of bubbles would go down very quickly. 

So although my blood pressure and blood tests are all good, I thought it might be good to give my body a rest. Not to mention saving money by not buying any sparkling wine. 

So why now? I mean who stops drinking on Sunday 26 November? The first of the month is a more normal date. And to go dry over Christmas and summer holidays, are you sane?

Indeed, when I told Mr S I was going 30 days of not drinking, his first comment was, “but what about Christmas Day?” My response: I’ve had plenty of Christmas Days with alcohol, I can have one without. 

But that doesn’t explain why I started last Sunday. 

I visited my local library and on the new books shelf was this book:

So I thought what the heck, let’s do it Lucinda. I do love a book that plots out your actions and tells you what to do each day. 

It hasn’t been hard at all. Although I bought several boxes of bubbles the week before, I just decided I wouldn’t drink. And although work is stressful, I just decided I wouldn’t drink. And although I’ve been out to dinner and to a comedy show (Bill Bailey, he of Black Books), I just didn’t drink. 

Now giving up tea. That’d be hard, if not impossible. 

Tomorrow, lessons from my first week. 

Not quite 

I said I would write 50 posts in 50 days as a celebration of 50. I got up to 34 posts in a row but have missed the last two days due to busyness and work and illness. 

Yes, I came down with something else. Laryngitis. I hadn’t really recovered from the last chest infection. Funny, because despite the rough and fading voice and the cough, I feel fine. 

Still not quite well. 

And not quite 50 posts. But this can be rectified. 

I will upload a few posts today. 

Lest you worry about my throat (Mum!) I went back to the doctor to see if it was the chest thing back and if I needed antibiotics. No. And no. Rest my voice. 

But my cheeky doctor talked me into getting a flu vaccination. Oh she’s good. I’ve avoided these for years. Not quite brave enough. 

Optimistically getting better or soldier on

I am still poorly. 

I’ve been soldiering on because I have so much to do. Who could take several weeks’ sick leave? I would feel a fraud because I don’t actually feel that sick anymore. Well not continuously. 

Four weeks of coughing and spluttering, my work colleagues have been gently, and then not so gently, nagging me to get to a real doctor. (As opposed to medical centre I went to a few weeks ago.) And get there now!

Strangely, while my cough is worse, I was feeling much better. So in the busyness of my work day would forget to phone the doctor until a coughing fit hit me. Rince and repeat. 

Anyway I did phone last week and my brilliant doctor no longer works full time. So it was six days until I could get in. The receptionist said if it was urgent they could fit me in on Friday afternoon. But I didn’t think it warranted that. And I know how my doctor often runs way behind schedule so I could be sitting there for hours and then would face the peak of the horrendous traffic home. My home is on the road north out of Sydney and Fridays are the worst. Surely I wasn’t bad enough to put up with that and to be squeezed in the doctor’s already overbooked schedule? Except the cough just wouldn’t budge. A deep, explosive cough. 

So, when I finally got in my doctor asked if the medical centre took samples to test. Mmm. Nothing so thorough. Just a quick listen and a script. 

Double mmm. She thinks I might have whooping cough. At this stage tests might come back negative. And the original antibiotics would have been useless for my infection. 

So after a lot of testing including that hard breathing one which I always fail even when well (small lung capacity), I walk out with new antibiotics that are more useful for general chest infections and cough syrup with codeine so I finally get some sleep and a medical certificate for another three days off work. 

Imagine the joy with which my work colleagues greeted the news. Yes, they weren’t happy. 

And yes, I returned to work. I had to get stuff done before I took the next two days off. But don’t worry. I am not contagious even if it was whooping cough. Too far in. (Would already have spread germs. Oh dear!.)

Strange if it is whooping cough, because I had a booster last year. 

Anyhoo, cough syrup with codeine is the best. Like a mild sedative. I slept soundly with vastly reduced coughing. Defintiely couldn’t return to work while under its influence. 

A fellow at work asked if I was a man. “Isn’t it men who normally avoid going to the doctor,” he commented. 

OK, OK. Point taken. But it is just I thought I was getting better. And I didn’t want to waste the doctor’s, and my, time. What if when I finally went in, I was healthy? Don’t want to be accused of being a hypochondriac. (Which I am so I don’t need to give further evidence towards that diagnosis.)

A couple of other colleagues asked why I didn’t follow the advice I give to all at work. Which is look after your health – it is more important than work; we will cope without you; and we’d rather you don’t spread your germs. 

OK, OK. Another point taken. I do tend to soldier on a bit too much. That horrid Germanic work ethic. 

So here I am. At home. Resting and restoring my body. 

And you? Do you tend to soldier on? Or think you’re getting better despite evidence and comments by others to the contrary. Or do you take a sickie at the first sign of illness?

I wonder how they cope in Japan because you never see someone coughing in public. 



Back in April I bought a heap of beauty products. One I was asked about was Lid-Care.

Mercester had never heard of it. And until a friend gave me a handful of sachets to try, neither had I.

In January I had a horrible skin reaction around my eyes. I looked horrid – puffy, inflamed, red, flakey eye-lids. My eyes stung. They were itchy. I couldn’t see. I couldn’t put make-up on because it hurt. Besides the pain and suffering, I was embarrassed.

What does everyone look at? Your face, your eyes. I was a mess. I looked like a disease-ridden, scabby, scaly, tenement-dwelling, ugly beast.

Nothing seemed to help, though a lotion for eczema did sooth the sting. Slowly the red and flakey skin largely healed. But not totally.

Enter my friend. Lid-care comes in a box with individual sachets. Each sachet contains a little wipe. The manufacturer recommends one sachet for each eye – every day. That would soon add up; though, if it worked, I’d be happy to pay. My friend recommend one sachet for both eyes, using one side of the wipe for one eye and the other side for the other eye.

They worked. Soothing, cleansing, no reoccurrence.

Dr Google diagnosed blepharitis. [OK, I diagnosed that. I had gone to a pharmacy in NZ and the pharmacist just diagnosed, “Oh, looks bad.”]

Now I use them several times a week. [OK, when I remember and give myself time of an evening.] I remove my make-up first and then wipe my lids with Lid-care, getting right along the eye lash line. Sometimes the frugal me rips a wipe in half and makes one last two nights. But that’s when I don’t have much make-up. Finally, I rinse my eye-lids with water and pat dry.

I strongly recommend this product; it’s a keeper for me. Keeps the eyes clean and free of grime.

Cost? I paid about $8 for a packet of 20. Given I am only using them occasionally, I’m fine with that.

3 months!

Three months in. Wow! I started this journey on 12 August. I have been quite good with the exercise bit; walking most weeks four times a week (think I have only missed this twice but even then I have walked at least twice and have walked extra long walks on weekends to make up); doing my Pilates once a week and doing weights twice a week.

I feel stronger and can definitely walk faster and longer.

I have to admit my diet hasn’t been that good. I have changed breakfast on week days. It is porridge with low fat milk. But on weekends I have white bread or English fruit muffins. I have tried to modify food choices a bit but still know I eat foods with no nutritional benefits, like savoury and sweet biscuits. The weight loss has slowed stopped, so it is probably time to seriously address my diet.

Still I am happy with the changes to my body. I am no longer putting on that slow, creeping weight gain.

Here’s the updated figures:

Chest: 97 to 96cm to 95cm to 95cm
Waist: 87 to 83cm to 81 1/2 cm
Hips: 98 to 96cm to 96cm to 96cm (Can’t seem to shift anything here.)
Thighs: 57 1/2 to 57cm to 56cm
Weight: 67 to 65 1/2kg to 65kg to 65kg


Need a drink?

It seems strange to think you have to make a conscious decision to drink water but I know for much of my adult life I have not been drinking enough plain water.

Most of my fluid intake has come from tea. However tea is actually a diuretic and besides the issue of consuming too much caffeine, tea can irritate your bladder and lead to an increased urge to urinate. I would drink a mug with breakfast, then about 4 or 5 mugs of tea during the day, and finally one after dinner. I also associate having a bikkie or four with a cuppa. So drinking a cup of tea more often than not results in eating empty calories.

For a while I went through a phase of having coke with my dinner – more caffeine and unnecessary calories with all that sugar. The reason I stopped was the damage Coke was potentially doing to my teeth. So I stopped the nightly can or glass of Coke.

But I still would reach for a can regularly when I was thirsty, especially when it was hot.

For the past two weeks, I have been drinking a litre of water every day. And what a difference it has made!!! There isn’t a noticeable difference in my skin but my throat feels better. Not so dry and scratchy.

And I can tell when I haven’t drunk it. So it’s more noticeable by the absence of drinking that I feel the effect of drinking – if that makes sense?

I don’t have the pavlovian desire to have any biscuits with my glass of water; indeed food with the glass of water feels wrong. I also haven’t had any cravings for sweetened drinks such as Coke And there are no wasted calories in the water. So it is a triple win – hydration and no calories and no tooth rot.

Having a jug on my desk at work and kitchen bench at home acts a reminder and makes drinking easy. No need to have to fill up a glass at the tap, water is ready to pour. It also helps me keep track of the amount I have drunk. I can see at a glance if I have to have another glass. Luckily I prefer cool, not iced, water, so tap water is the right temperature for me.

And all of this is done with a financial saving – tap water costs much less and needs no electricity to boil. Good for my health, good for my wallet.

Strong Women for the 3rd month

I am into my third month of doing a weights routine based on the Strong Women program. I varied the exercises slightly for the second month and have made some changes again this month. I also increased the weights that I was lifting, as per the program.

This is what I am doing for the 3rd month: for each exercise I am doing 2 sets of 8.

1. Biceps curl with 5 kilos.
2. Upward row. 5 kilos.
3. Overhead press. 5 kilos.
4. Triceps dip on a chair.
5. Crunch.
6. Lateral crunches.
7. Pelvic lifts.
8. Push ups from the knees.

The increase from 4 to 5 kilos was hard the first time but I persevered. I was actually quite excited and couldn’t wait until Saturday. I wanted to see if the 5kg would be easier the second time. It was a little but still almost impossible to do the 8th rep. I’ll let you know when it becomes easy enough for me to do the 8 reps – cant wait until I am stronger.

I am doing the routine twice a week – Wednesday and Saturday. 22 more sessions until the end of the year.

What’s your waist measurement?


According to the Heart Foundation, a waist measurement of more than 80cm for women may be a sign of internal fat deposits and that your health is at risk. At over 88cm you could be at high risk. (It’s over 94cm and 102cm for men.)

They are hard task-masters, those Heart Foundation people.

I am currently 83cm. Bloodly heck! I was 87cm when I started my healthy living plan. Not good, nearly at high risk. I still have a bit to lose, and I am not even really fat, though I do carrying a lot of my weight around my tummy. So either most people are at risk, or I should just pull the tape measure more tightly, or this is not a very good indicator. Or (e) all of the above.

A Healthy Me – 8 weeks in.

So I have been on my healthy kick healthy living for 8 weeks, using Dr John’s ACE (activity, coping [which includes sleeping], eating) plan and the Strong Women routine. I have realised I need to focus on changing one habit at a time rather than try to change everything at once. Major focuses of the month have been improving sleep patterns and ensuring I do all the planned activity, ie 3 to 4 walks a week, 2 sessions of weights and 1 of Pilates, so at least 6 sessions of fitness activities.

First the numbers:

Chest: 97 to 96cm to 95cm (Weight loss ain’t fair!)
Waist: 87 to 83cm to 83cm
Hips: 98 to 96cm to 96cm
Thighs: 57 1/2 to 57cm to 57cm
Weight: 67 to 65 1/2kg to 65kg

Well that’s part of my journey to gorgeousness and health. What about the other aspects?

As you know I have been trying to eat a healthier diet, a la Dr John’s Great Australian Diet. I have been a bit up and down on the fruit, nut and grain consumption; but I have cut down on white bread. However biscuits, chocolates and junk is up again. After I get the water habit engrained, I will turn to addressing aspects of my diet, one at a time, with a slow and steady but sure and focused action.

I am focusing on this now. I find addressing obstacles and triggers has really helped.

Lounge/sleep nexus is broken. I am not an 8 hour straight sleeper but am OK with that.

Still going strong here; walking 3 to 5 times a week. I was able to do more when I was on holidays. This will probably drop to 3 again when I return to work. With daylight savings I may be able to sustain 4 walks a week. I have been doing Pilates every week for an hour and loving it. Have done weights twice a week for the 8 weeks, only missed one session. I see it as my “medicine”. Don’t love it but need to do it so just get it down. (Do love what it is doing to my arms though!!!) I will give an update of the exercises and kilos I am lifting later in the week.

So overall, I am very happy with how I have sustained my efforts on my journey to gorgeousness, health and organised living.

(Footnote: I have had comments from people at work about looking slimmer so the 2 kilos is being noticed!)

Tri what? Triglycerides.


So having understood and remembered the info on HDL and LDL, we come to Triglycerides.

Triglycerides are another type of fat. One that’s used as energy.

High triglyceride levels, especially with high cholesterol, high LDL and low HDL, can put your heart at risk. Really high levels of triglycerides may also cause pancreatitis.

Normal levels are less than 1.7, target level is less than 1.5 and mine is 1.0 mmol/L.

I am not doing too badly here. But so you know, triglyceride levels can be increased by excessive alcohol consumption.

To lower triglyceride levels you take much the same steps as for lower cholesterol and LDL ( the bad cholesterol).

Exercise for at least 30 minutes every day.
Eat less, particularly high fat foods.
Increase the amount of fibre in your diet.
Avoid high sugar foods such as lollies. Choose foods with a low glycaemic index (GI) such as legumes and wholegrain products.
Eat more fish. Choose fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as salmon, mackerel, tuna and trout. Omega-3 in high doses can reduce triglyceride levels.
Cut back on alcohol. The kilojoules and sugar in alcoholic drinks can raise triglyceride levels.
Lose excess body fat using a combination of healthy eating and regular exercise.
Don’t smoke.
Manage coexisting health conditions such as diabetes or hypertension effectively.