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Flight of a Hummingbird
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Below are the 20 most recent journal entries recorded in tikiwanderer's LiveJournal:

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Friday, July 4th, 2014
10:46 pm
Weight loss notes after month 12 - one year on!
I'm putting up this update a little late. We had visitors and I wasn't weighing myself often, so it was a couple of days later before I realised the 29th had come and gone. It's been an odd month. About a week in, I decided to not do anything about trying to lose weight this month. No matter what I did I was running into problems, and the weight was just slowly creeping up and up, 100g at a time. It's the coldest month of the year so every old injury I had was getting aggravated by attempts to exercise and twinging constantly so then I wasn't doing the exercise properly or sufficiently. And diet, well, that's generally not too bad but this really is the time of year for sitting back on the couch with a hot chocolate and a biscuit. So I finally said to myself "look, this really isn't working, you're fighting your own body and you know that gives you bad results. Take the month off, follow your instincts, just don't go to any unusual excesses". I decided not to actively try to lose weight. And three days later I'd lost a kilo. I really do get my best results when I work with my body rather than against it. Since then I've put some of that back on, and the weight's gone up and down a lot (varying by up to two kilos!) but based on my measurements on the 29th of June, I'm going to call it a bit less than half a kilo loss for the month, maybe 200-300g.

Which gives me, based on measurements at the beginning and end of this year of effort, a sum total of about 10.5 kg loss for the year. (My monthly changes don't add up to this, there is plenty of rounding error in each measurement.) I was aiming for 1 kg / month so a total of 12 kg, and I did well enough in the first three months that I thought I might well and truly beat that. But I'm not unhappy with where I've got to either. I'm just struggling to keep the last few kilos that I lost from jumping right back on again.

I'm hoping that this month of not particularly doing anything special will help reset my body's sense of "normal". That way when I start trying for 30 minutes of high heart rate exercise broken into several sessions across the day, it should be easier to achieve that at first with light exercise and without needing to exercise so hard that I push my injuries. I'm also hoping that it will allow my body to reset what it thinks my weight is so that it's not constantly trying to put back on what's disappearing. I need a new lower set point and I haven't managed to establish one in the last four months. I dropped below my last set point partly through illness and I think my body didn't realise that this wasn't actually a problem.

The other thing about having a month off is that I was starting to get into a lot of bad habits. Not the kind of bad habits like taking a block of chocolate to bed, but the kind of, well, undermining your good habits is maybe a better way to put it. Doing the 30 minutes of exercise maybe three times a week instead of five. Making the 30 minutes more like 25, or 22, or 21. Breaking the no-snacking-after-dinner rule three or four nights a week instead of once or twice a fortnight. So I was still doing all the things I was supposed to, but not to any effectiveness. Taking the time to say "actually, I'm not doing them" for a while should make it clearer what's "doing it right" when I begin again. I might also spend some time thinking about whether I want to keep going on the same plan I had, or whether I want to alter it somewhat. It did work well initially, as long as I followed it properly.

This month I'm not sure what my goals are. The WiiFit goal turns out to expire on the 16th, I must not have got around to setting that straight away. So I have a couple of weeks to either work hard on trying to make that goal (losing about 1.5 kilos!) or to ignore it and worry about starting up again after the 16th. Which is tempting, as that's usually the end of the coldest period so I have less injury to worry about. I may just reset the goal though if I can, and start anew. I would like to get to around that goalpoint and be stable there, and I would like to drop below my currently lowest-recorded weight but if I can at least reach that range I'll be happy. Whether I do or not? Not sure. Motivation is a bit mixed right now. I may need to change my overall plan just to get my own head back in the game. So I'm not stressing about setting a goal either because I don't think I can pick one right now that'll have any kind of internal meaning, and I never follow external influences if I can possibly avoid it.
Friday, May 30th, 2014
1:37 pm
Weight loss notes after month 11
Well. Almost a year through. And, for the first time, I'm posting a gain this month. Which is a bit disappointing. I'm not sure whether it's half a kilo, a kilo or somewhere in between, because I've gone up and down a lot this month. I started by gaining a kilo. Then I lost half a kilo, then gained another kilo, then have lost most of that. I even ended up with a BMI back over 28, which I didn't think I was going to see again, though thankfully it hasn't stayed there. So the gain isn't all sticking, but I'm not managing to lose anything I didn't just gain and I'm not getting back to where I'd got to. I am sad about this, but also pleased at the same time. I injured my foot three months into the weight loss process. And while my weight loss has been slower since, it's taken til now - eight months later - to start reversing.

I'm at the point where I really can't do much more with diet - while imperfect, my diet is about as good as it sustainably gets. I'm never going to completely quit chocolate! So only exercise will keep pushing the weight down. And exercise is getting more and more problematic - there's a new pain in the side of my foot, which I assume is a different tendon starting to complain about taking too much of the workload, so that makes three different tendons that are getting aggravated by exercise. I really am not exercising enough, and I put my weight gain this month squarely at the foot of that. Combined with the sudden change to cold and rainy weather, there's a great tendency to curl up under blankets with a book, a hot sweet drink and a biscuit and stay there for a day at a time. While as a general rule I don't, there is noticeably more time spent doing quietly not much. I've also had several mild depressive patches this month, and I'm sure that hasn't helped get me off the couch or the laptop.

So, new goals for next month. To get below my previously-recorded lowest weight from two months ago, is the first and main one. That's about one kilo. Second, I'd like to get below the currently-set goal on the Wiifit, which is about one and a half kilos away and also expires at the end of this month. I'd like to make that goal! Third, I'd like to get to the point I was at when I fell pregnant with child #2, but I don't know if that will be next month or not. That's another two or three kilos. I still have around five kilos to go in my total goal, with fewer than that many months left now. So losing two kilos this month would be very helpful in the overall picture.
Sunday, May 11th, 2014
8:49 am

All good wishes to those who like pink
but who on earth thinks that we all do?
Since when did pink become the definition of woman? The only definition?

I am a guardian, a dragon who will breathe fire over someone who threatens my children without a blink of hesitation. Give me the colours of flame.

I am the rememberer of stories and the keeper of traditions, the one who reminds of manners and encourages flexible understanding, who tells tales and keeps secrets. Give me the colours of the deep and changing ocean.

I am the nurturer who grows people from seeds to tall trees. Give me the colours of the wide earth, of summer bark and autumn bark, of grains and dust.

I am the restful place, a circle of arms where small people come to sit and talk in safety and quiet. Give me the colours of fresh leaves and forests.

I am the snip at the heels, the voice of disapproval when things have gone a little too wrong, the marker of the line that says "far enough". Give me the colours of frost on the windows and steel in the rain, with the gleam of the edge of a knife.

Give me as many colours as you can, because I am all of these things. Not just the one someone chose to paint all women, all ages, everywhere.
Monday, May 5th, 2014
7:21 am
Weight loss notes after month 10
This month has been a little disheartening. I think I may have managed a half kilo loss, or a little less than that. It hasn't been much. The curve of my weight loss has really flattened out in the last three months and I feel like I'm starting to stick at a new set point. The last week all my measurements have been within 0.2 kg of each other. I would feel like I've lost nothing at all, except for one thing. In the last month, I finally dropped below that artificial goal, the one set by the limitations of my measuring technology (which is a total of around 12 kilos or near enough). I dropped below it by a good 300g and stayed there for a few days. So I thought "right, let's do the full weigh-and-test that will allow me to register that I made this goal and set a new one". And when I did, I discovered that in fact it was assuming I had 600g more clothes on than I actually did. Thinking about it, that's not surprising - I started this process in midwinter when I would have been wearing more, but it meant that all my summer measurements (when I wore very little) were inaccurate. So I set the clothing indicator back to something more accurate. This meant that I was no longer below that goal. And despite my efforts, I haven't managed to get below it - in fact, I gained weight back on in the second half of the month. Because of the change in measurement process, I keep trying to remind myself that actually the line of my loss has gone down a little bit, if that error was still there the points would look lower than they do. But it's easy to forget that when you're looking at what seems like a straight line.

I really need to boost my exercise to speed the weight loss back up. I've managed to shake a little of it off a couple of times in the last month, but then been hit by huge needs for food and even though I don't totally give in to them, it's obvious that my body is trying to retain mass. Or possibly build better mass - I've been feeling like my movement is improving a lot which implies that I am building muscle. The combined foot injuries - now three different ones on the same ankle - make exercising complicated. Anything that is good for one injury usually bothers or aggravates one of the others. Especially true since two of them are tendon injuries, one gained by not handling the healing/stretching of the other correctly. So I must work out a way around this. My body has now lost enough weight that it's demanding activity - I'm back into the zone where I need to move, to dance, fairly frequently. That is a good thing too.
Friday, March 28th, 2014
11:33 am
Weight loss notes after month 9
I'm calling half a kilo loss in this month. It might be more, or less, my weight has been zigzagging a lot the last ten days. We spent most of the month with salmonella going through the house, which got my weight right down, especially when I had recovered afterwards but was still rebuilding my digestive system and couldn't eat most foods nor much of the ones that were OK. After that forced loss my weight bounced around a bit trying to restabilise. It actually started to climb right up again, but thankfully that was just a "bounce".

In the last couple of days of the month I finally restarted my exercise regime, trying to get thirty minutes of exercise a day on top of my usual activity levels, for most but not all days. My foot's healed enough to do that I think as long as I'm careful with my exercise type and impact and quantity etc, which was exactly the same as when I first started this whole process nine months ago. So now this time I just have to build up the strength without accidentally screwing my body over in the process.

Goal-wise, I did get below a line I thought I might not, thanks to the salmonella, and while I'm not perfectly always below that line it looks like the "new normal" is dropping. So it's good to see that I'm not at a fixed point right now (again, possibly thanks to the salmonella). I also got very close to one of my sub-goals. When I started this I was using the WiiFit to track my loss, and I had to put in "a goal", but their software was a bit limited. I couldn't put in my actual goal nor my actual timeframe, as they were both too large for the WF to record. So I put in the maximum time and maximum weight that I could, intending to rejig it later. And I've almost reached that goal line on the WiiFit, which is cheering. I have a good chance of passing it this month coming. The other thing that's been amusing is that some of the clothes I bought just one month ago are starting to feel a little loose on me (and it's probably not just the crap elastics). It's probably about a 2kg difference between the day I bought them and today, so not a great deal, but I like the thought that I might outshrink them within the next season or so.
Friday, February 28th, 2014
5:07 am
Weight loss notes after month 8
This month's loss: 1 kg. Time-wise, I'm now half way to my final deadline. Weight-wise, I'm two-thirds of the way there.

It doesn't quite seem fair to say that in some ways. I am fairly sure I spent much of the previous month around this weight range, though I didn't have the scales to prove it. I know I spent most of this month around this weight range seeing as I *did* have the scales to prove it. A couple of days after last month's weigh-in, the kilo that had crept back on did one of my predictable drop-one-kilo-in-two-days thing and I've stayed almost the same weight all month. Until the final week, when it started to creep back on again and I was back up to last month's marker. So I was all set for posting another 0 kg loss/gain, and absolved my sorrows in a bag of Burger Rings. The next measurement, I'd dropped 1.4 kg and hit a new lowest-weight-yet point, finally breaking through the previous 'floor' that I hadn't been able to drop below all month. That was yesterday morning. I knew it would be in part water-loss as I'd been drinking green tea, wasn't sure how real/solid the loss was. And *then* I finally caught up to the main phase of the virus my son has been trying to give me all week and spent the day with diarrhoea. So I wasn't going to record my monthly weigh-in today as it seemed like it would be not accurate enough. But in fact, when I checked, I'd gained a tiny amount since yesterday rather than lost any more, probably through re-hydrating, which has put my weight back into that same stable point I've been sitting at all month. So I decided to run with that and call this set-point my current weight.

This month's official loss means in terms of mini-goals that I've now lost more than 10 kilos since starting this process. I'd hoped and expected to reach that goal two months ago, and unofficially I did but it hadn't lasted to a weigh-in. I'm now sitting at the approximate set-point that I was caught at when my first child was an infant. My next mini-goal is a numeric one - to drop below a certain point, which I was very close to yesterday so I'm hopeful I can make it next month. The goal after that is to reach the lowest weight I was between pregnancies, which is about one and a half to two kilos away from where I am. In theory I could do that in a month but the rate I've been going I'm not seeing myself reaching that one for two months. I might try remaining optimistic though and see how I go.

The challenge for next month will be to move off this set-point, and see if I can post a loss again. If things continue as they have been it'd be another 0kg loss/gain, or even a small gain depending on where in the cycle the final measurement falls. But, having dropped through that floor once gives me hope that I can break the set-point and start the downward movement again. I am comfortable at this weight, a lot more comfortable in terms of being able to wear clothes I'm happy with and not spending a lot of my energy being depressed, but I'd be just as comfortable at the goal I've set or lower so... lets keep going. I still think it might be possible to lose not just my original goal amount but a full twenty kilos by my deadline. The foot injury is both much-improved and compounded - the original injury is getting better and healing, it's close to normal again, but I've hurt one of the other tendons in the process of healing so exercise is still problematic. I have however started a new job that involves walking, and while it will only be a few hours a week that might help with the physical activity levels. I think I'm back to a point where if I want to keep losing weight it's time to boost the exercise levels again, I just need to do so in a way that doesn't aggravate either injury.
Thursday, January 30th, 2014
10:18 am
Weight loss notes after month 7
This has been... an interesting month. Upfront, I'm going to call the weight loss total for this month, from 26 Dec to 28 Jan, at 0.0 kg. No loss, no gain. The real story is more complicated (isn't it always?).

To start with, I spent a significant portion of the month at my mother's house. Her scales are far less precise than mine, with the smallest scale marking being 1 kg so the total possible precision being 500g. They are also of unknown accuracy, and furthermore I don't know how they compare to my scales (weighing over, under or the same for any given weight). Those differences are very tiny, but when you're measuring drops or rises of 100-600g they do become important. So for the first half of the month I have no official recorded weights (as I wasn't using my scales with the memory that allows me to track trends). I do believe from my observations at Mum's that I did go through at least one of my sudden drops of around half a kilo, however I put it on again with the New Year's feasting.

Which brings me to the second complication. Feasting. It's that time of year, we were on holiday, we were with family. As with month 6, there was much expectation of celebratory food which needed to be shared and enjoyed while managed and kept to reasonable levels. There was also providoring - exploring a tourist region of the state famous for its food. Which necessitates sampling. And purchasing that which is good, which is a lot of it, and eating said purchases. This significantly-higher-than-average snacking wouldn't be a problem if I remained sufficiently active to keep my overall appetite low and metabolism up. However:

The third complication is activity levels. Lots of time in the car driving while on holiday. Returning home to the extended heatwaves so common this time of year - which weren't as melting as they could be, thank goodness, but they still mean days on end of not really doing very much. And of staying quiet indoors. I have been very sedentary during this time, and the weight tracking confirms it.

Overall during the month I think I lost between 500g and 1kg, twice - and then put it back on again with either feasting or lack of exercise. So my weight loss has continued. It just hasn't been effective this month. However, I'm calling it a win for two reasons. Firstly, that I went through feasting and sedentary times without a total gain. Secondly, that while I did gain weight, I lost it first. I haven't gone above the weight that I was on the 26th of December, as best I know given lack of scales. I just haven't managed to keep off the weight that I have lost since then.

During the month I didn't pass any of my goals, not even temporarily that I know of. Though I did notice for the first time that my belly fat is noticeably reduced from what it was when I began this process. So, with concentration on adhering to my chosen appropriate eating habits and with returning to some level of exercise in between heatwaves, I have hopes that next month will see a genuine permanent loss.
Friday, January 24th, 2014
4:14 pm
Sparrow: Mummy, when it was when we'd never had fudge before, had you never had fudge before?
Me: Hmm. Yes, sweetie, I had. I had fudge a long, long time ago but not since then.
Sparrow: How did you do that?
Me: Well, when you've been around for forty years or so, that's a long time. Time to try lots of different things and find out if you like them and get used to them. It's a very big world with lots of things in it.
Me: That's part of my job as your mum, to show you lots of things in the world and help you try them and get used to them. It could be schnitzel, or fudge, or ice skating... or clouds...or undies or basketball. All kinds of things. My job is to make sure you get chances to try things and find out what you like and get used to things.
Sparrow: Mummy, I've gotten used to fudge.
Thursday, December 26th, 2013
6:04 am
Weight loss notes after month 6
Putting up this month's notes a little early seeing as I'll be too busy with family stuff to hit my scales on the 29th (my clockover day).

This has been the challenging month now I think. I lost a little over 1.5 kilos in the first two weeks, then spent most of the next two weeks slowly gaining weight at the same rate I've been trying to lose it. I think I finally managed to halt this trend and send it back downwards in the last few days, despite (or because of?) Christmas feasting. So my net total for the month is about 1.5 kg, maybe 1.3 kg depending on exactly where you call the start and end points. I was a bit disappointed with the weight gain, but to be honest I had expected that to happen immediately after the foot injury. Continuing to lose weight for six weeks after the injury and to *then* start a slow gain isn't so bad.

It took a fairly serious heat wave to knock my exercise patterns back down to almost zero, and I think that contributed to the gain too. Between that and starting to see a physio about the foot I really did change my activity levels and not in the weight-loss-helpful way. I'm boosting my exercise back up again though now - I can't afford to let my metabolism sleep for three months til summer ends.

As far as achievement levels goes, I didn't make any particular milestones this month though in the first couple of weeks I really thought I was going to. I didn't make it to a total loss of 10 kg thanks to that gaining fortnight, though I did dip under the 10 kg line for a couple of days. But: I am definitely feeling better about my physical appearance, and have lost enough weight that people are noticing. Which seems odd, as I'd be only marginally lighter than I was this time last year, most of the weight I've lost was put on since all the people giving me compliments have seen me.

I've also started wearing three pieces of clothing again that I had outgrown - one of my favourite work dresses, a pair of karate gi pants (and it's so nice to be able to wear properly jointed pants again even if they do have no pockets!) and a very druidy-natureish-hippy green and yellow swirling dress. I wore the latter for Christmas and enjoyed it. I haven't got to wear it often - I bought it ten years ago when it was way too big for me but when I appeared to be gaining weight fast enough that I'd fit it soon after. I halted the weight gain then though, and never really fit the dress well until after pregnancy. But it's not a good dress for breastfeeding in so I didn't wear it then either. I got to wear it a couple of times between pregnancies but then have been too big for it since. So now is the first time I can really wear it well.

Goals for the next month: to keep the weight loss travelling downwards even if it's slow due to heat lethargy. I'd really like to hit that 10 kg mark and stay the other side of it. And grow into a few more dresses and pants.
Sunday, December 1st, 2013
7:20 am
Weight loss notes after month 5
This is the month that screwed most with my perceptions of what I was doing and what was working. So far.

Just before the end of last month, I'd realised that I needed to bump up my exercise. I'd gained enough fitness, and gotten slack enough on what I was fitting into my thirty minutes, that I wasn't really getting my heart rate up into the zone for very much of the time. Most of the time it was sitting just far enough below where it needed to be to not have much effect. So I increased the amount of physical activity, including more dancing into my day, a couple of days in a row. And I loved it. Until I woke up the third morning unable to walk. Plantar fasciatis, it turns out, is one hell of a bitch. The exercise change had worked - I dropped a kilo that week - but I couldn't continue it.

This month I have barely been able to exercise. I still got a lot more in in the first couple of weeks, because I'd got into the habit of constantly jiggling around and being active in all my spare moments. It was much harder to do that because I was trying to stay off my feet as much as I could to get the tendon healing. But I did anyhow. It's lessened as the month went on because the habit is breaking a little - I have to keep suppressing the urge to dance. However, my dietary habit changes have helped a lot. Because I wasn't burning quite as much I wasn't hungry as much, and so my "don't eat when you don't need to" habit meant I ate less than normal too. So overall, the effect was to lose two and a half kilos. Which is back up there with my fastest rate.

You might see why I'm surprised. I'm sure it's a combination of being able to manage the food intake vs. the injury, so that I didn't regain weight, and the simple fact that I changed the pattern. I can't just diet this weight off, unfortunately, being one of those people who survives famines beautifully. Like all nearly-to-menopause women I'm designed to give the calorie sources to the village children and subsist on what's left. I stabilise to whatever intake I've got. But I have noticed that losing weight seems to correlate to changes, the times when you shift what you're doing so that your body's fooled into burning more than it takes in. That last couple of days of last month I lost one kilo. My weight then stabilised around that point for a week to ten days. And then I lost another kilo almost overnight. And then I stabilised around that point for ten days or so. And then I lost half a kilo, and stabilised. The amount I lost in the last two weeks of this month isn't much, and in fact I may have gained that half kilo back again, I'm waiting to see if I really did undo the work of the last ten days in the first two days of month 6. And that's because I'm not really changing that much at the moment. I can't reduce what I'm eating any further particularly, and I can't exercise more. The plantar fasciatis is still being a bitch, and now my other foot is starting to show strain signs from taking extra load to compensate at times.

So I'm really looking forward to being able to dance again. But the amount I lost this month is pleasing. I am now permanently below the lowest weight I'd managed to reach after having my second child, which I hit around the time we moved to Perth. So all weight gained in this city is permanently gone. I am around the weight that I was one or two months after having my first child, so I'm now back into that post-pregnancy range with five kilos to go until I surpass that one too. I am also past the half-way mark for amount of weight to lose to reach my goal, and I've reached that half way mark a few months early. So if I can keep up the weight loss there's a real chance I can increase my goal. My current goal is basically a pre-pregnancy weight. However, my original adult weight was lower again by about what I've lost so far - I gained a whole chunk of weight when I moved to Melbourne at the beginning of one winter and my body said "OMFG COLD COLD YOU'RE GONNA DIE". So if I can continue losing weight well like this, then I might be able to return to a pre-Melbourne weight range too. But I'll see how I'm doing when I hit my current goal.

My next sub-goal is a numeric one, about two to three kilos away and probably two months away. Though at this point in time every kilo feels like a goal.
Friday, November 1st, 2013
7:07 am
Weight loss notes after month 4
Well, this has been an interesting week and month.

Upfront, I'm going to pin my monthly weight loss at just half a kilo. Because it's a small amount, less than I vary within a day, and I only weigh myself one time in each day (and not every day), it's hard to fix an accurate exact value for my weight and its change. What I did this month was make sure I weighed myself at many different times of day across the month and track the high points and low points. Over the course of the month, the little peaks dropped by 500g and so did the little valleys. In the last week I had a tummy bug one night. The next morning I stripped off and weighed myself. J called out "Weighing yourself after you've purged is cheating!" but actually, it isn't. It was mathematically necessary. Because my weight changes across a day, any measurement I take could be high or low in that daily cycle and I don't know. I can make some guesses, but I don't know for sure. So there's the natural human tendency to look at a number and say "well, I just had something to eat so it's probably not the lowest point of my cycle, it'll be around the middle or higher so I might be half a kilo lower than the scales say". The thing about weighing myself after purging was that it was a guaranteed minimum point in the cycle. There was no excuse I could give for pretending that that number was any lower than the scales said. So it was a good way of confirming the peaks and valleys.

I'd seen during the month that I was tracking towards only a half kilo loss, and my goal is a kilo a month. So I knew I was going to have to build my exercise levels up a bit. I needed to do that in two ways. One was to increase the total time each day from 30 minutes above ordinary levels to 35 or 40 minutes, in order to make sure I was boosting the energy used. But the main thing was to start getting harsher about making sure my heart rate was in the right zone for the exercise to count. I don't insist that all of the 30 minutes is elevated-heart-rate stuff, there needs to be room for muscle work and balance work and other whole-body stuff as well. But as I was getting fitter and more used to the exercise it really wasn't having as much impact as it could. Increasing the time just slightly was a way of pushing up the total quality as much as quantity. And I knew it wasn't having much impact - aside from the scales, I was starting to forget to count my minutes as I went because the constant movement and activity was restoring itself as the unconscious habit I had all the time pre-pregnancy anyhow (hooray!). So when one child wanted to spend their free time with me at Jungle Gym, a place where all the floors are thickly padded and there's bouncy music, I spent the time supervising them dancing and jumping around myself instead of standing still and got almost an hour of activity time for myself. That would have been unthinkable at the start of this as my joints weren't strong enough for it, but it was fine. I felt great. I like being not able to sit still and I love dancing my way through life. Then, the next day, child 2 realised they'd missed out on a Jungle Gym trip and claimed that for their free time too. So I did it again.

That was a mistake. Boosting the exercise levels and impact on joints up from half an hour a day to what worked out at an hour and a half on the second day (including two walks to drop off child #1 at school and back) damaged my plantar fascia - the tendon that runs under the foot. When I woke up Saturday I could barely walk - had to hold onto chairs to get from the bedroom to the loo.

It's been getting better over the week, but it's put a big dent in my ability to exercise. No impactful exercise til the inflammation settles - and most of the stuff that gets my heart rate into the right zone is impacting on the foot. I did go swimming this week, for the first time in years at least as exercise for myself. I tend to avoid swimming as exercise but it made sense in this case. No aqua aerobics of course - nobody does deep-water aquarobics any more which is good resistance training, and the shallow stuff is both non-weight-bearing *and* bouncing on the tendon so the worst of both worlds. But I did some laps. Boring as batshit. But: backstroke works. Breaststroke doesn't get my heart rate up enough. Walking could, but the water was too shallow to provide enough resistance except for about five metres in each up-and-back so it didn't. Overarm sends my heart rate too high so I can't sustain it and have to manage breathing panic. But backstroke was just enough difficulty that I could peacefully work my way up and down and keep my heart rate around that nice level. I am very much appreciating the time I spent at the gym years ago. As irregular as it was, it taught me to recognise the signs of what my heart rate is at so I can pick when I'm in the good zone or above or below without having to hang onto a heart monitor.

So I was expecting this month's weight loss to be pretty underwhelming. But, to my surprise, it looks like I lost a kilo in the last couple of days of the month. On top of what I'd lost before. Without exercising. Suddenly my post-tummy-bug-weight was a *peak*. I'm not counting this in the month's total as I don't know yet if it's stuck. But it seems to be at least partially gone for sure.

I suspect part of it is that my body's adapted to its former habit of being constantly energetic well enough that the first few days of no exercise I hardly ate anything - I simply wasn't hungry, as I wasn't burning the energy. And my revised-back-to-an-earlier-life dietary habits mean I don't eat when I'm not hungry, as I'm not having to constantly future-plan against spikes in energy demand any more as I was with pregnancy and breastfeeding. (Seriously. You don't want blood sugar spikes and troughs while pregnant. Snacking saves everybody's sanity.) So we'll see how the next couple of weeks go, and I'll try and stay as active as I can despite the foot and see if I can keep finding ways to burn my thirty to thirty five minutes at least half of the days.

That last minute drop does mean though that I hit two goals this month. The first was a numeric goal - just a number I'd challenged myself to get below. And on the 500g loss I had got below it but not completely - I was still bouncing above and below it in the daily cycle. Now I'm completely below it and not likely to go back. The second goal was to get to the lowest weight I'd recorded since having child #2. And I've roughly reached that one, though I haven't stayed there yet. So my next goal is to stay below that weight which I should achieve this month coming. The goal after is to reach the weight I was one-month-post-pregnancy after child #1 which is a very similar but slightly lower so I may make that one next month too if I can boost the weight loss rate back to one kilo or more a month. And then the goal after that is another numeric one, it will be two-thirds of my total planned weight loss. I suspect I won't reach that til month 7 or 8 but earlier is fine by me!
Tuesday, October 1st, 2013
12:00 pm
Weight loss notes after month 3
I'm a day or two late on the month's official measurement as we've been away, but it does look like I managed to lose about one and a half kilos. So I'll call it that. Which brings me to six kilos in three months, so I'm happy with that so far. Still clearly trending downwards. I hit a couple of milestones this month. First, I dropped below a BMI of 30 and managed to keep it there, which means I'm no longer in the technical definition of "obese", just "overweight". And second, I am now at one of my historic weight points, the one around when Robin was born. I have about two kilos to go to get to the weight point I was just after Sparrow's birth, and that's one of my next milestones. I'm hoping to make that in the next two months.

The interesting thing I learnt this month was that intestinal worms, or threadworms, are really common. And that our family all had them. Don't ask me how I diagnosed the problem, just don't. I also recommend not Google-Image-ing the topic either unless you've first thought carefully about what the search results will be like. At any rate, a few days ago we took tablets for them and I'm in the middle of going through and doing all the hygienic cleaning to prevent reinfestation. When I told James, one of the first things he said was "Don't tell me that's why you've been losing weight!". I hope not. But, I also don't think so. I'd noticed this month that I'd had more of a struggle to not drink sweet drinks, a habit I'd easily broken at the beginning of this weight loss process three months ago now. There was a constant sense of needing the quick extra energy. We also only saw symptoms of the worms in the last three or four weeks. Once I'd taken the worm tablet and cleared out the excess, so to speak, I suddenly lost all interest in sweet drinks again. So I think that my body was attempting to counterbalance the increased energy draw by adjusting intake rather than by sucking it out of stores. Which would be typical.

Anyhow, feeling cheerful. Weight loss is continuing at an acceptable pace, I'm managing it all OK, it's getting easier to fit the thirty minutes of extra exercise a day in, there's no real stress over diet, it's all working. I hit two milestones this month and have another two to hit in the next two months. It's all progress.
Sunday, September 1st, 2013
1:35 pm
Weight loss notes after month 2
My loss was slower this month. As expected. It's commonly slower the second month anyhow, I was a bit more slack on some of the basic principles, and the first month was a much bigger loss than my goal so this month was always likely to be less than that. I still beat my goal of one kilo a month - I think I lost about one and a half kilos net. So I'll continue the program as I've set it, and keep it up.

Some interesting notes from the month though. First, that was net loss. I actually gained two kilos in the middle of the month, and lost that again so my total loss was something like three and a half kilos. So I know that being conscientious with this system of mine works. Second, I'm not sure why I suddenly gained the two kilos. I am reasonably sure though that it has to do with the only thing that changed then - at my mother's insistence, I tried eating soy grits for breakfast to help prepare for menopausal hormonal stuff. As soon as I stopped eating the grits, the weight fell off again with no more than standard effort on my part. I've been vaguely aware for some time that certain female hormones are extremely influential in weight gain and loss, and I decided that this was more data towards that premise. So I think I'll wait another six or eight months before attempting to mediate my own hormones for a menopause which theoretically is still five years away, and see how much weight I lose in that time.

The third note, which I make here for my own positive reminder, is that losing a kilo a month is actually quite hard to see when you have a daily cycle of around a kilo to begin with. Watching and recording my weight every few days, I'm mostly seeing fluctuations in the daily cycle, and have to just patiently wait to see if there really is a longer-term trend. Trying to lose two kilos a month is a lot easier to see and manage because the trend is more visible. But, I'm not sure how steadily attainable that goal would be. I'm happy with my current goal of one kilo a month, and just hope to beat it as often as I can. Two kilos a month would mean I got to my goal weight much sooner, and I am a bit on the impatient side.

The fourth note, which I make here for a less positive reminder, is that at this speed, I'm still working off the small amount of weight I gained since moving to Perth and having some basic lifestyle changes (mainly breastfeeding decline/finish and not having to go up and down stairs twice a day). So I've a ways to go to get into losing the weight I gained from pregnancy, which is responsible for about 15 kg of my excess (and then there's another five kg or so of weight gain from events prior to marriage). But I'm almost there. And my BMI has now got back down under 30, making me technically overweight rather than obese. So that's good. I'm enjoying being able to say to myself "Now I'm the same weight as I was when...".
Saturday, August 10th, 2013
3:45 pm
Elder relative, on hearing I'd decided to leave science communication: "Well, I have to say that it never really seemed like the right place for you anyway. It just wasn't your niche."

I nodded politely, made the equivalent sound.

What I didn't say.

"My *niche*? I spent fifteen years building a career in this field when almost nobody knew what it was, when you couldn't study it at university because the courses didn't exist, when it was an open slate to be anything you wanted any way you could be. Your niche was whatever you could carve for yourself. I went into it because I loved science with a passion, but I loved art, and writing, and theatre and media too, and I was good enough at all of them that I could become better with training and practice. In what other field could you do all these things at once, and touch people's dreams in six thousand different ways?

"I didn't leave it because I wasn't any good at it, though you can always secretly wonder how much of what you're praised for is just elaborate misdirection from your flaws. I left because I was tired, tired of the great battle for people's opinions that the mass media has become. And I left because of envy - envy of the other science communicators I saw who were fresh and energetic and confident, and succeeding where I had never been able to. For all I know they too are hanging on to their confidence and success by the skin of their teeth, hoping nobody notices the giant gaping chasm below - but I couldn't believe it of the crowds of happy chatting people I saw at the rare industry gatherings I managed to attend. To remain was to slowly poison myself.

"I didn't fail to fit the career, to fit the 'niche'. Rather, in the end, I failed myself. I was broken, and couldn't bring myself to try yet again."
Wednesday, July 31st, 2013
10:37 pm
Weight loss notes after month 1
Been doing this a month - made the decision to start around June 29th, it's now July 31st. Last weighed myself on July 29th and I'd lost three kilos since I started. I'm pleased with that.

My aim was one kilo a month, and it still is, but I knew the first month I might lose weight more quickly. Partly the whole "it's easier when you first start" thing, and partly because I was up above my last known setpoint, so in theory dropping back to that setpoint should be comparatively easy. My body *likes* to stay whatever weight it's set at, and so moving the setpoint is what I expect will be harder. But at the same time, this three-kilo loss was steady, and effective, and I'm hoping that I might be able to continue the loss process past the setpoint even if it's at a slower rate. The basic rules of "don't drink your calories", "cut the snacks", "skew the protein/carbohydrate ratio", "on most days do 30 minutes of exercise above and beyond your normal activity level that gets your heart rate up to light-sweat-point for at least half that time" and "don't eat after 6 pm" are working just fine. I already feel a lot better. It's gotten slightly harder already to get the 30 minutes of exercise, because at first I could get it in two minute blocks because I was so unfit my heart rate would go up straight away. Now it needs four or five minute blocks to make sure it goes up for enough of the time, and the kids often interrupt me at three minutes. But I'm still managing it. And I'm feeling better - I always was very active and have been feeling unhappy about the forced comparative inactivity of the last few years, so shifting the balance back there in my favour is working out, well, in my favour. The diet rules are ones that aren't really rules, as such, just more the way I used to do things before various combinations of pregnancy, breastfeeding and caring for very young children (sometimes all three at once) drained my metabolism to the point where I needed constant energy input to manage the mental fatigue. So I've just turned back to my old eating habits, convinced myself that I do not need to be constantly trying to fuel my brain in order to survive, and convinced myself that I no longer have to be fat to protect my children. The psychology of that last one was an important step I think too, there were some undertones of that related particularly to my second child who had feeding issues.

So, it's all working. Hoping to keep it working. May get harder to judge, as my weight varies by around one kilo in the course of a day so a one-kilo-per-month drop is tricky to see happening. But we'll see.
6:13 pm
On leaving Melbourne, moving to Perth, and the drive between
I was just cleaning trifftraff off my desktop, and found a file named "tmp2" that I didn't remember the contents of. Turns out it's a poem I started writing around the time of the Big Move, unfinished because, well, I was moving. That makes you a bit busy. So it's mostly hypothetical as well as not complete. But it has a comment stuck on the end from a crucial point of the trip - when we first crossed onto the Yilgarn Block. Rereading it now, I like it enough to go ahead and post it as is.

I'm leaving a land that's softly grey
under the soil and over the sky
where night time comes wrapped in an orange blanket
that hides the stars on high
where playgrounds are surfaced with woodchips
because that's what's soft on clay
where summer skies are long and white
and the sun hides from sight all day

I'm leaving a city with turquoise water
in a bay of golden sands
which sounds so pretty in brochure-speak
but just looks polluted in my hands
where Impressionist painters painted soft scenes
then left for brighter sun
leaving one behind to paint the rain
and bushmen whose day was done

I'm leaving a city of the winter spirit
that comes alive in the cold
a town standing alone in the heart
of the big bush tales of old
a town that has so much inside
that nothing else can be as fine
I'm leaving this city, oh yes I am
for someplace the sun will shine

I'm leaving for a city that glows in the sun
where the beaches are blindingly white
where the ocean knows the colour blue
and flowers are tiny but bright
Where the parks are quiet with clear bird calls
no feral chatterers to clutter the air
where rainwater's precious any month but winter
and sandy playgrounds are standard fare.

The food might not be as good, true
and the social life will be more slow
but that's good for me because
if something's on, then I'll know
The first summer will be the hardest
I've forgotten how to bear the heat
endless days of 30-plus
will knock me off my feet

And I mustn't forget this is the place
of mosquitoes, gnats and flies
where two countries' colonial explorers
were turned back by biting skies

Today I stood on a granite platform, the first as you come from the east onto the Yilgarn Block, after days on the horizon-to-horizon treeless limestone karst that is our continent's belly. I could smell the lichen breaking the layers of granite away, the dampness that is tiny drips of forgotten rain trapped beneath thin fragments of stone. The sky blazed down blue, and the light even in this deep winter was penetratingly bright. I looked out over large flat expanses of woodland and smelt the eucalypts - we have so many species but these ones smelt like Western Australia. I heard a ringneck fly over, and it had the call of this state - yes, their call changes from place to place. It was good to be home.
Tuesday, July 30th, 2013
11:09 pm
Apparently one of my fave TV shows is misogynist (huh?)
I've been watching Newsroom lately. Someone posted a link to the first scene of the first episode, which hooked us to watch the first episode, which hooked us to watch the first season, which hooked us to start watching the second season. Common story, though very unusual for me as I don't generally watch TV at all (long story, short version is that I invariably have something better to do). What I loved from the get-go about Newsroom though was that it was, well, a newsroom. Many years ago I was an assistant producer for a radio talk show, and over the course of seven or eight years that became several different radio shows. I loved it. It was high-energy, in-the-moment, every show a once-off-production never to be repeated. And behind the scenes it was frantic work to make everything seem seamless, to have every resource ready on time at the host's fingertips so that it never occurred to a listener to think of all the people who must be making this happen - they only ever imagined the host, and the guest. The series Newsroom evokes that for me, that adrenalin high and that excitement, the joy of creating something that people want to listen to and engage with, something that matters. (OK, it's arguable that the late-night psychic talkline show I was on was content that mattered, but to everyone who rang up there's no question that it was.) So the show for me is nostalgia of a sort.

The episode we most recently watched happened to include a shot of the news anchor, Will McAvoy, doing a hate search on himself under the desk during a broadcast. For kicks I decided to do one too and see what was actually out there. To my surprise, I found a lot of stuff on how misogynist the show was. This really took me aback. I know that I'm very grounded in the casual sexism of my generation of Australians, and that I've had to learn to recognise some of it (especially when I perpetuate it), but I hadn't noticed any in this show. So I read the arguments. They seem to centre on two things: first, a lack of strong competent women characters, and second, a dismissal of "women's" topics such as gossip and fashion, with an occasional third of female characters getting undermined.

The first puzzles me. The show has roughly equal numbers of male and female characters, and I'd have said all the speaking women characters were strong and competent. I read several comments saying that MacKenzie was ditzy - which seems like people cherry-picking their moments. She's got her flaws, but I find them very consistently realised throughout the episodes and it's hardly a case of playing her for laughs. Instead, they feed the action and the slow reveal of the relationships she has with the people around her - crucial to a drama. I read many comments saying that Maggie isn't strong - but she is. I actually find her very realistic because she is so heavily socialised to be nice and unconfronting, and I find it funny that this is considered "not strong". She makes a lot of mistakes, and you might argue that that makes her not competent, but most of her mistakes are not professional but social. They drive the drama without undermining her work. She is consistently well-realised, and she is not a bully or a harridan or a soldier. And, y'know, you don't have to be one of those three to be strong. Just sayin'. As a side note, we didn't let people with those kinds of strengths in our newsroom either (apart from the occasional RSL veteran, but they're a different case). I have to conclude from what I read that most of the comments on the characters come from the first three or four episodes of the first season, or less. That would make it easier to cherry-pick the anger without seeing the strength.

The second... is one of those elephant in the room things for me. I personally have no interest in gossip, celebrity, or knowing about something that some other person is doing just because everyone else knows about that person too. That kind of social knowledge and being "in" on the details of society's Big People? Not interested. I know a lot of people are - there's even science that suggests that we humans might be hardwired to follow the details of the Big People as a social survival mechanism. I didn't need science to tell me that though because I went to high school. I can totally understand following the details of what's happening in your local community. I just have no interest in people who are only part of my community because they're famous. They don't know anything about my community or us, we know everything about them, it's a one-way-street, and so it's not important to me. And so, when on Newsroom they set an agenda for the news that dismisses gossip, I'm cheering. I hate people talking about each other, it's a huge source of meanness and I hate meanness. I do love information, but I value most the information that's actually about something real and not just talking about people talking about people talking. For instance, why on earth would you bother to set up a camera facing a closed hospital door while waiting for a woman to give birth? Labour could take 48 hours, and that's a lot of filling that someone has to do. If it were me, I'd wait until there was *actual* news. Which is the premise Newsroom takes. I love it. We had to do that kind of filtering constantly in our shows - when is a story really a story? It's a question you're asking all the time. "Why would someone want to listen to this?". There was one show where we'd share celebrity gossip - but it was a specialist music show, and we only talked about things that these not-so-obvious artists were actually doing. Tours, shows, recordings, the things that influenced their music and their careers. With occasionally some (usually historic) trivia thrown in to intrigue listeners with something they might not have known before, or (even better) something they once knew but had forgotten.

So, I took this basic premise of Newsroom for granted - and it is a really basic premise of the show - they are trying to gain acceptance for a show which is about information rather than entertainment. It's a fightback against current mass media. If I had to name one thing that the show was about, this would be it. It had never occurred to me that this could be seen as a feminist issue. However, now I've seen it. If you argue that the demographic with the greatest consumption of topics such as gossip, fashion and other stuff dismissed during the season is predominantly female, then yes, trivialising this content as unimportant is trivialising and "othering" female interests. However, I think this might be a failure of humans to understand statistics. All bugs are insects, not all insects are bugs. It is rather shallow and stereotypical to say that current events is *not* a "female interest". I'd have said at a guess, knowing I might well be wrong, that equal numbers/proportions of males and females wanted current events - and that equal numbers/proportions of males and females wanted entertainment and to not hear about things that made them think. The demographic difference just becomes what's considered "entertainment". I personally trivialise gossip. *And* I equally trivialise sport, stereotypically considered primarily a male interest. Newsroom manages to never mention sport at all other than as an occasional recreation of the male lead, which is a rather interesting and curious oversight. Whether that makes it more antagonistic to female demographics or male demographics I'm not sure.

We're now a couple of episodes into Season 2, and I'm finding myself liking Newsroom less. The news events are (naturally) very US-centric which makes me less likely to care about them - some of them were major events in US consciousness but barely ripples here. More importantly though it's also becoming much more of a drama about people, rather than about the news. I'm generally not interested in people-dramas and don't get why others are. I had a wonderful friend once who explained it to me. He was a huge, cheerful, traditional-chauvinist/heterocentric kind of guy who worked a day job as a security guard and a night job in emergency services, who genially took women, children and animals under his wing to protect them - you know the type. And he was totally addicted to Home and Away. He'd cry over it with no shame. When I asked him why he watched it, he said "Because no matter how bad life is, it's not as bad as theirs". Drama made him feel good about his own life because to him it wasn't real. But I watch drama, and I see people I've had to work with, study with, share space with - real people made talking shadows on the screen. I think Newsroom does a good job of drawing real people, and the real mistakes they make interacting with each other. Sadly, that's the biggest thing pushing me away.
Sunday, July 14th, 2013
8:35 am
I've blocked anonymous comments
I really didn't want to do this, it goes against my general sense of open communication, but anyway. You can no longer comment anonymously on this blog: you have to be a registered LJ user, or I think you can also use OpenID to comment. I have always resented having to sign up to platforms in order to communicate with friends, especially as there's so many different platforms which people use. So I'd left commenting open to anyone. I had to change the settings to screen anonymous comments a couple of years back when one persistent troll was annoying both me and anyone who posted on my journal. He (and it is a he, I knew him in highschool) even went to the effort of researching up other commenters to try and deliberately provoke bystanders into joining an argument. So I screened all anonymous comments. I figured he or any other troll that wandered by wouldn't get the satisfaction of seeing their comments appear and would get bored. I dealt with anonymous unclaimed comments by the usual blog principle that you let through those comments intended to contribute to interesting discussion and delete without engagement those comments intended purely for provocation - and it's my blog, so I get to decide which is which. Unfortunately, he or someone very similar has been commenting again recently (didn't he get bored waiting when I didn't post on this blog for a year?) and I must have let enough of their comments through that they've decided to keep it up as a regular pastime. I'm getting bored of having to delete their comments. So, ID'd comments only from now on. Sorry about that, guys. Those of you coming here from Facebook or Twitter will have to comment there if you have something burning you want to add.
Saturday, July 13th, 2013
11:01 pm
Bruce Rock
Last year when I arrived back in W.A. I had a sudden hankering to go explore the granite areas - out around Bruce Rock, say, or Westonia. Parts that direction, anyway. We talked about it but it didn't happen. Chatting with James tonight it came up again and he said "Let's do it". Which may have been a way of getting me to go and work on my laptop and leave him alone so he could complete another XCom: Enemy Unknown mission or three, but it suited me fine. So, we're booked: we found a weekend a) in August that b) does not contain an Eagles home game and c) does not conflict with seeing Prof. Brian Cox live on stage. And we'll head out. Not sure what we'll do - most of the stuff to do out that way is of high interest to me and small interest to the kids, but a quick minute of research suggests enough little things that will work to be fine. The kids are at a funny age where they *might* really enjoy bush stops to go haring around weird rocks and trees and look at flowers, but then again they might not. However, I give the working-order vintage machinery at the local museum even odds of holding at least one child's interest at a time. So we'll drive out via Quairading and Shackleton (where I can peek at a house I seriously considered buying ten years ago), spend some time at Australia's third-largest monolith, and then come back the next day via Kellerberrin, Tammin etc on the Great Eastern Highway. There are more rocks along there I wouldn't mind seeing, but I suspect seeing Kokerbin and Bruce Rock will suffice for the rest of the family. And just covering the ground and the towns will be nice for me - it's been a very long time since I drove that stretch of road. Possibly twenty years, and even that was rail rather than the highway with no diversions. No, wait, it was 2003, but I was a bit distracted at the time after a major car accident just outside Coolgardie so I don't remember the drive particularly well. At any rate, it's an area I'll be happy to refamiliarise myself with.
9:23 am
Armatey and Sillyhead
Sparrow: Uncle Chris is a sillyhead. He said my name was Robin and I have green eyes.
Me: (laughing) Yep, that's pretty silly. Uncle Chris is good at being silly.
(pause) (more thoughtfully) He's also pretty smart, you know. He knows all kinds of things.
Sparrow: He doesn't know he's a sillyhead.

The kids were playing on the couch. They'd put a couple of big cushions on it. My bossy-as-usual daughter said to her little brother "It's a ship. I'll be the captain." Robin drew a breath to start up the "I'm put-upon wail" and Sparrow remembered that she had to give him something to do too. So she said "You can be the armatey". I had to ask what an armatey was. Both kids immediately said "Aaarr! Matey!".
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