Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Not so much a detox as a system reboot

This is detox week.

I don't normally follow any diet other than "every meal must contain protein, not too many carbohydrates and lots of vegetables". I'm a vegetarian, so I've become accustomed to watching my protein intake over the years, and what I eat tends to be low-fat, though not low-carb. After tracking my general intake, I've worked out that I don't really need to worry about the amount of fat I eat as much as I do carbs. And even those, I don't worry about very much. I try not to eat large quantities of bread because I don't seem to digest it very well, but that's it.

However, the last few weeks have felt a bit uncontrolled, food-wise. J's parents came up to visit and we went out several times, and then my family's Birthday Season started. We have three birthdays within a week of each other in May, and then one a month all summer. So last week contained three birthday dinners (and a strawberry shortcake on J's actual birthday) and it feels as though cake has developed into a major food group lately. I've also had a few more glasses of wine than I normally would; nothing major, but again it's calories I wouldn't normally have.

I've also not been making the best choices for lunch on work days, and I've been finding myself drinking a lot of coffee and not sleeping too well. I know it's partly that the weather is warmer and the mornings are lighter - I keep waking up because I'm too hot, and then I can't get back to sleep at all after about 6am. Which wouldn't be a big problem if I had to get up then, but I don't. So I've been tired and a bit headachy in the afternoons.

The number on the scale isn't looking terribly happy either. (The battery ran out the other day, and when we replaced it I accidentally programmed the scale to say that I was male instead of female, and it displayed my bodyfat percentage as 25% instead of 36%. What's going on there, I wonder? Is it in fact not measuring BF% by electrical impedance, as claimed on the box, but just putting the total weight reading through a sex-specific algorithm? I wonder how I could find out... Sadly it went back to normal once I'd corrected the setting.)

The last party was on Sunday. So this week I'm:

not drinking coffee
avoiding bread
drinking lots of water and herbal tea
making a concerted effort to eat vegetables or fruit as snacks, not carbs or random bits of cheese
avoiding anything sugary
trying to get plenty of sleep

I'm not counting calories or not eating when I'm hungry, just changing the choices I make a bit. So far, I'm doing well on everything except the last (I stayed up late to finish a piece of work on Monday). But then I've been at home. We will see how well I resist the siren call of the chocolate biscuits once I'm back at work. If this goes well, I may extend it for another week.

In the past, I've definitely noticed that if I avoid something for a while, I don't crave it. While I don't plan to give up coffee or bread or sugar permanently, I do want to remind my system that it can do without them perfectly well, and that I don't "need" coffee or sugar to get to the end of the afternoon without falling asleep.

I am also weighing myself every day, just to keep myself mindful of what I'm doing. Today's number was one pound lower than yesterday's, which is probably one of those random fluctuations, but mildly encouraging nonetheless.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

The official diagnosis. Or rather, diagnoses.

I finally went to the podiatrist last week, and - I'm sure you were all on tenterhooks - she didn't mention weight at all, even though I was wearing shorts. Which Mum said she wouldn't. Mums are wise.

The short version: I have the feet of a baby. And I do need orthotics. I'll get them in a couple of weeks.

It seems I'm significantly hypermobile (though still not so bendy as the siblings). That means that my ligaments are stretchy rather than taut, so my feet don't support themselves, which is why the arches are flat. Also, my knees bend backwards and have a tendency to "lock" when I stand. I've always known this, but apparently it is very bad and I mustn't do it.

When babies are born, their feet are flat and tilt outwards a bit. (Imagine a baby's feet dangling as you pick it up.) As children grow, their heels and the balls of their feet tilt inward and downward, leaving the arch of the foot higher by comparison. But my feet didn't make it all the way, so that effectively leaves me with feet that are still tilted, and which roll in when I stand, causing me to overpronate. And that's what's causing the pain.

As a secondary result, my big toes aren't working properly because they're at the wrong angle.

The podiatrist was very thorough. She examined my wrists (to see how bendy they were), the pattern of callouses on my feet, and the way I stand; she got me to walk up and down for several minutes; she drew lines up the backs of my heels and calves and examined the angle at which my foot rests. Somewhat worryingly, for my foot to be at a natural angle, I'd have to tilt it outwards far enough that none of the toes rest on the floor. The orthotic inserts will fill in that gap so each foot is level.

They'll be made of polypropylene (which sounds a little sweaty to me, but there we go) and I'll get them at the beginning of June.

I also have exercises to do: calf stretches (familiar to the runners among us), balancing on tiptoe, standing on one leg (well, one at a time) with my eyes closed, and walking around on my heels. This last makes me feel, and no doubt look, very silly.

But it's doing something! My feet don't hurt when I get out of bed in the morning any more.