Well the good news is that after a further blood test, my liver function appears to be returning to normal. What I shouldn’t admit to (on the hugely infinitesimal chance that my doctor reads this blog) is that the reduction in liver enzymes was possibly due to not taking the methotrexate medication. The reason I stopped taking it was because I was feeling a bit nauseous so held of taking the medication, fearing that the nausea would get worse. By not taking it, I was risking a return to the intense arthritic pain I had. Fortunately, the pain didn’t return.
What did happen though, was that I’ve had a lot of weird and vivid dreams which apparently are a facet of a low carb diet. I won’t bore you with all the details of the dreams, but the two most memorable ones involved arranging a drama performance for a funeral (mine) and a hole appearing in a football pitch I was playing on, followed by a bigger hole that uncovered an open top bus. The first one could be explained by my background in amateur dramatics and concern about my health. The second is either just weird or a reference to the latest football term of ‘parking the bus’, albeit in a strange place!
On the weight loss front, a further loss of 4 pounds was encouraging enough for me to continue. Along with all the lovely new meals I’m getting from Her Outdoors. She’s a star!
I survived the first week with comfort, but the second week has been harder, with nausea, tiredness and digestive problems. Not to mention the medical problems and a call from the Doctor. But there were some positives, notably a weight loss of 16 lbs by the end of week 2!
As I’ve wrote earlier, I suffer from psoriatic arthritis which is an auto immune disease. To control the condition I take methotrexate medication which can cause a range of side effects, including nausea and possible liver disease. Because of that, I need regular blood tests to monitor my blood and liver condition. My last two tests have shown an increase in liver enzymes. The very last one was taken 10 days into the diet and was much higher. Hence call from my Doctor. His advice: stop the keto diet for now.
Her Outdoors however, was convinced that the problem could be resolved with ‘tweaking’ the diet by reducing the protein level and increasing the amount of fresh vegetables. I wasn’t too sure about ignoring medical advice, bu the Doctor was not knowledgable about a Ketogenic diet and he did admit that he wasn’t certain what to do. Her Outdoors though, presented a good argument for tweaking the diet.
So I stuck to the diet, hoping that the next blood test would reverse the trend. Watch this space, or subscribe to get future blogs!
What can I say after one week? Well it can’t have been that bad, as I’m still on the diet! Not only that, but I think I’ve got off to a flying start. Weight is down from 13 stone 2lb to 12 stone 4lb (largely water rather than fat, which is normal). Visually, the flab is still there, although the tape measure has reduced by one inch, down from 41” to 40”.
Mealtimes have been even more of a pleasure than usual, as I’ve really enjoyed the fresh food and salads. Her Outdoors has excelled herself in serving up some exciting new recipes. Clearly, she has spent more time indoors than outdoors, partly due to us being in the UK this week.
The physical lowlights of the last 7 days have included waking up with headaches, a mild craving for sweet treats, more use of
mouthwash to counteract bad breathand several visits to the w.c. The physical highlight of the week was having bacon and eggs for breakfast and a glass of wine with a meal when friends came for dinner. How can you complain about a diet that allows you bacon, fried eggs and wine. Not together of course, that would be gross.
What I wasn’t prepared for, was the mental torture. A friend came round for coffee and we put out some chocolate wafer bars and he ate one! Boldly! Right in front of me! With a look of satisfaction on his face! The problem was, they were sitting there like a belisha beacon, flashing at me! “Eat me!” they taunted, “I’ll be good for you”. I resisted and was awarded later with Brownie points by Her Outdoors. Whilst you can eat Brownies, the points are not edible! (Actually watching him eat wasn’t that hard, I’m just trying to entertain here…)
The torture didn’t end there. A day later we had a family picnic planned for the weekend and Her Outdoors decided to make a carrot cake. She makes a very tasty carrot cake, which contains carrots, which are vegetables. Which should be allowable. “Wow” methinks, I will still get some treats. Wrong! “It’s not for us, it contains flour” says Her Outdoors, crushing my excitement and taking all the joy out of my world. What was worse was not getting to clean the mixing bowl out. It got even worse when watching the family eating the cake and became unbearable when my brother-in-law smiled broadly, when accepting a second piece.
But the craving has gone. More later… if I survive.
Her Outdoors has started a new regime, the ‘Ketogenic diet’. Over the years she has tried a succession of diets. Name a popular diet regime (Atkins, Fatkins, Notsofatkins…) and she has probably tried it. One or two have been very successful, others less so. Her last one, which she embarked on 4 years ago was very successful, losing 4 stones in a period of 10 months. Unfortunately, as with other diets, the weight has slowly returned. This latest one, which she started 4 weeks ago, seems different. For a start, she isn’t on it to lose weight, but to improve her health, so as she doesn’t weigh herself, she doesn’t know whether she is losing weigh. Rather strikingly though, within 10/14 days, the pair of shorts she bought the day she started the diet are now falling down. This was quite embarrassing when we were walking around the local Aldi! (Other supermarkets are now being used.)
One of the many things I love about H.O. is that she likes to look after me and particularly my health. At least, I think that is why she is always trying to get me to share her diets. I won’t admit to being a bit overweight and needing to diet, but instead I could be considered to be short for my weight…
Ok, full disclosure here, I wrote that last paragraph and then went online to find my ideal weight…
According to the above chart, I now have to admit to being a tiny bit obese and therefore needing to diet. In my defence, (from who or what I’m not sure) I think these charts are subjective or even biased against ‘big boned’ people. Anyway, I swim, cycle, walk and have even started playing football again. Walking Football (WF) admittedly, but it is still football. It’s my love for sweets, cakes, chocolate and puddings that is my downfall. I could happily eat a packet of biscuits in one go. I don’t, but I could. (Actually, I have done, but not often and they were small packets!)
Now Her Outdoors can also be very persuasive. Since she started her new regime I have had a stream of negative comments about me being overweight, flabby, having a poor diet, but also more positive views about the health and fitness benefits, having more energy and sleeping better as you don’t need to get up in the middle of the night…. And so I started to contemplate joining her on the diet. (What she failed to highlight though was not drinking beer! )
The deciding factor about joining Her Outdoors on the regime was her comment about the potential of being fitter and more mobile to play football. Oh, and another factor was the visit to the hospital for an annual check up on my psoriatic arthritis which revealed my weight had gone up to over 13 stone and the blood test revealed that my liver function was ‘a slight concern’.
So I’ve joined her, at least for a trial period, leading up to a Walking Football tournament in October. I’ve started on my very first (possibly last) diet and will blog my progress, or lack of it, on a weekly basis. It’s not going to be pretty as I intend to use pics to chart the contraction, or expansion, of the tape measure. The goal, or goals (see what I did there?) is to follow the Ketogenic diet, lose the flab, get fitter, and score more goals in the tournament. Actually I’ve never scored a goal in a WF tournament, so any goal would be a bonus.
This blog about diets is written by a man who normally scoffs about diets. (He also scoffs a lot of sweet things, which is what led us here…)
The pic immediately above may or may not be the 66 year old author of this blog. Please be kind with any comments.
Which would you rather use, an English/French/German builder or a Portuguese? There’s a danger that we lapse into using stereotypes when making this choice, but is there any difference between nationalities?
I ask because we are waiting to have an extension built, along with other work. Having used builders in UK on different properties and having a background in the building industry I’ve found it an interesting process seeking quotes in Portugal. One expat blog advocated using Portuguese builders, seemingly based on a negative experience with a British builder and a positive experience with Portuguese company. Their advice to go with the Portuguese builder was reinforced when the UK builder wanted to leave a comment. According to the blogger “I couldn’t post his comment because the attitude and language was appalling”.
There is clearly a big gap between client expectations and tradesman’s ability to deliver. Why? Could it be the language? Not English, nor Portuguese, but ‘Tradespeak’ – Tradesmen’s language, with a dash of tradesmen psychology. You have to be in the know to decipher the actual meaning.
Prepare to go through the whole gamut of emotions if you want a quote. This begins right from the start. “Tomorrow ok?” invokes the response: ‘Wow, they are on the ball, how professional. We’ll have it done in no time!’
However, as everyone knows, or should know, tomorrow never comes! And, quite often, neither does the tradesman.
You are disappointed, but make allowances – ‘it must be because they are busy and in demand’ or ‘they are probably dealing with an emergency’.
After a few days you start to wonder whether they are as professional as you first thought. So you ring them again, but have to leave a message. Irritating, but you excuse this because it probably confirms how ‘busy and in demand they are’.
So you wait another week before you ring again, but get the same result.
Another wait, another call, but the same result. By this time you have reached the limit of your patience – “useless _______ (insert your own expletive)” .
Time to start looking for a new quote. Perceived wisdom suggests that you get at least three quotes. So you have to go through that process three times, at least!
Occasionally though, you obtain a quote. Well done, you picked a good one! But beware! It could be the tradesman didn’t really want to do the work. Did you notice he was going to charge a fortune. Why? To either put you off, or make a packet out of your deparate plight.
Next post,.. Stage 2 –Getting them to do the work.
I’d love to hear your views – please leave a comment below.
Hands up those who have had an argument about the thermostat on the central heating? Come on, be honest! I know I have and it resulted in me moving 1500 miles to Portugal to avoid the frosty climate, both inside the house and outside! Well actually we both moved here, but I was going for a dramatic opening to this blog about perceived or apparent temperatures. Read on to the end to get my top tips for surviving the unexpected cold snaps.
I was sat outside the local bar with a group of expat acquaintances and we were bemoaning the fact that it was cold, the temperature having gone down to 18 degrees! Admittedly I was wearing shorts and a ‘T’ shirt but I thought of myself as a ‘roughtie toughtie’ northerner, (north of England) and so used to lower temperatures. I remembered when we first moved to Portugal three years ago, I was struck by how wrapped up the locals were and particularly some of the expats, in 20-22 degrees. But now I was succumbing to the same ‘southern softness’, or so I thought. This was a serious situation, so I decided to investigate and turned up some interesting information, myths and a possible reason for feeling cold…
According to Dr Sweiss of the University of Chicago’s Cold Hands Clinic (cool name!), a recent development of sensitivity to cold could be a sign of significant medical issues, including thyroid diseases. However, there are simpler reasons that we all know or suspect; thinner people get colder than heavier people, older rather than younger individuals. Some surprising ones; married women generally handle the cold better! I always thought it was mainly men that had to handle cold shoulders…
One of the myths about apparent temperature involves the concept of developing ‘thinner’ blood. Medical evidence suggests it is more likely due to a person’s tolerance to the cold weather changing, or perhaps to a loss of some “insulating” fat due.
The perception of cold begins when nerves in the skin send impulses to the brain about skin temperature. These impulses respond not only to the temperature of the skin, but also to the rate of change in skin temperature. Impulses arriving at the cerebral cortex, the part of the brain where reasoning occurs, generate information about how cold we feel. These combine with impulses arriving from the limbic system, responsible for our emotional state, to determine how miserably cold we feel. These feelings motivate us to perform certain behaviours, such as putting on more clothes, complaining about the weather, arguing about the thermostat!
Now some of us also may feel cold simply because of how others close to us look or are behaving, a phenomenon called “cold contagion”. It’s a bit like yawning – ever notice how they spread when someone starts yawning? In one medical study, healthy volunteers felt colder if they were shown videos of actors pretending to be cold, than if the actors pretended to be warm. Now I can relate to this, remember me sitting outside the bar? Well one of the guys was continually complaining about the cold I was soon shivering and yawning!
SUNDANCE’S SURVIVAL SUGGESTIONS
Stop dieting, remember that fat is good for insulation.
Take a dip in the pool, even when the water gets down to 10 degrees. You’ll be glad of the warmer (although cool) air temperature when you get out!
Cycle to the bar. The exertion will warm you up and stop you complaining as soon as you get there. Wait a while before you start complaining.
Take control of your cerebral cortex – tell it you are just having one more beer.
FOOTNOTE: Most of us who are healthy but claim to feel cold may only have ourselves to blame. In today’s world, we rarely expose ourselves to cold. Instead, we spend money on expensive clothing to protect us from the lower temperatures and spend huge amounts warming our living and working spaces. This in turn may actually contribute to obesity as we are not using as much energy ‘stoking’ ourselves up. We’d probably all be much better off if we spent more time sitting outside the bar and being cold. But it might be a good idea to get some new friends who don’t continually complain about the weather!
One of the main reasons for people moving to Portugal is the health benefits of living in a warmer climate. As ‘Her Outdoors’ and I (Sundance) both suffer from different forms of arthritis, ailments and mood swings (I’m a self confessed SAD sufferer!) it was certainly a major factor in our decision to move here.
And what lovely weather we have had, up to mid February that is, when the first significant rain fell. At the time I was considering changing Angela’s nickname from ‘Her Outoors’ to ‘Raindancer’. (Mmm, Sundance and Raindancer, think we’ve got all bases covered there…) As a gardener she was delighted when the rain did come.
So is there evidence of health benefits to be derived from living in a warmer (usually) climate, or are they just part of the Estate Agent’s hype? Personally, I have been fitter, more active and healthier since we moved to Portugal. However, these last three cold, wet months have had a negative effect on my health. I’ve felt lethargic, more joint pain and been prone to changing moods. I wanted to know whether it was because of the weather, so here’s my take on my limited Google research.
One of the main benefits of a warmer climate is the increased exposure to the sun, which increases your body’s vitamin D levels. Vitamin D has been claimed to prevent cancer, provide higher energy levels, and keep your bones strong and healthy by helping your body absorb calcium.
Some of the comments I came across were; “Pain thresholds drop in colder weather”, “cold, rainy days affect mood, “during colder weather people are less likely to be outside and get the exercise that normally helps keep arthritis pain in check.
A warmer climate will probably make you more motivated to exercise, or maybe just give you more get up and go! Motivation to exercise is certainly the case for me as I’ve taken up the Portuguese Triathlon; I swim in the pool most days, check the fridge to ensure I haven’t run out of beers and cycle to the local Bar when I have!
Joking aside, I have taken up playing football again. Or to be more specific, walking football (WF). The game is becoming increasingly popular with the over 50’s, 60’s and even 70’s both here in Portugal and in the UK and! But here’s where the health benefits might be questionable, on a personal level. Since I started playing WF I’ve suffered: groin strains, a ruptured achilles tendon, a muscle tear and strained knee ligaments. But I keep playing. I clearly have a liking for pain, or maybe I just like to keep active!
We do lead a more active, outdoor life these days, largely due to the garden we are maintaining and developing. Any exercise is seen to be beneficial and apparently, improves memory and might even reduce the risk of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. It does this by increasing the necessary blood and oxygen the brain needs to function, which in turn create new, healthy cells. You just have to remember to get out in the garden each day!
Thinking of moving to a warmer climate? My advice would be to do what works for you, but don’t just rely on the sunshine!