Saturday, November 21, 2015

Love Your Lungs

November is Lung Health Awareness Month in many parts of the world. It is generally a time of increasing awareness about lung health and "encouraging everyone to stop and think about what they can do with just one breath" (from Lung Foundation Australia).

In October, a lovely lady by the name of Heather reached out to me as a blogger and asked if I would consider doing a post about lung health.

Of course, I said yes. But then life got in the way and I kept putting it off and putting it off. So I'm just now getting to doing this.

Heather is not just someone who is passionate about lung health. Heather is a survivor.

You see, Heather has just reached her 10 year cancer-FREE anniversary! *round of applause*

Amazing, right?

From Heather's website:

Without treatment, I wouldn’t live past 15 months. In November of 2005 my doctor said I had malignant pleural mesothelioma. He said “cancer”, but all I heard was that I might not be able to raise my three month old daughter, and my husband might become a widower after just six and a half years of marriage. I learned that my father, a man who worked in drywall construction, had unknowingly exposed his own little girl to asbestos through his work jacket. Treatment options were limited and there was no guarantee. Today, I’ve outlived my original prognosis and continue to raise awareness of this terrible disease.

In Heather's case, it was Mesothelioma that she had to conquer. She battled it, she beat it down, she won the war and she's using that journey to spread support, advice, and information to people all around the world.

 Although there are other causes of Mesothelioma, exposure to asbestos is by far the most common. Asbestos was historically "widely used in building materials, insulation, fire proofing, and sound absorption. When asbestos is disturbed, it sends up fibres into the air that can be easily breathed in. Once the fibres are in the lung......the body tries to break the fibres down and remove them, leading to inflammation." (from this mesothelioma fact sheet).

Exposure to asbestos can also cause something called asbestosis - "a disease that causes shortness of breath, coughing, and scarring of the lungs" (from Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance)

The sad thing is, asbestos is still legal to use in Canada and the US. I won't profess to knowing all the ins and outs of the regulations around this but I'll admit that it concerns me that the use of asbestos is still legal. In NZ and Australia, I'm happy to find that the blue and brown varieties of asbestos are both banned and NZ has even gone so far as to ban the use of the white variety.

Sadly there are still entire communities contaminated by asbestos mines and I fear that we shall see many more cases like Heather's in the future. And if you're a cigarette smoker that is exposed to asbestos? You're "50 to 84 times more likely to develop asbestos related diseases" (from Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance) .

I admit I'm still learning a lot about this horrible disease and I thank Heather for contacting me. I've been doing a lot of reading about this and many other lung issues (?) over the last little while.

My own son has asthma. In the first few years of his life he was hospitalised many times for pneumonia and we ended up having to have a nebulizer at home in case he was struggling. I am thankful every day that it was "just" asthma and that, in comparison to the journey of Heather and so many others, we have been very fortunate.

I'd like to encourage each and every one of you out there to go and read more on Heather's website about her journey. Also take the time to read up on Mesothelioma if you or someone you know has been in contact with asbestos at any time.

But don't forget your own lung health even if you haven't been in contact with asbestos. Keep an eye on those lungs. Look after them. Practicing deep breathing, exercising regularly, hydrating yourself.....all of these help to keep your lungs healthy.

Have any questions, look for your local Lung Health website. Ask your doctor. Ask your local public health nurse.

Asthma, lung cancer, mesothelioma (which is different to your "run of the mill" lung cancer), COPD.....all parts of Lung Health Awareness month...and all important.

Do your research. Look after yourself.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015


"If I say 'ADDICTION', what is the first thing that pops into your head?"

That is the question that I posed in a couple of places recently on Facebook. In my own head, I was pretty certain what the answers would be - something related to drugs, alcohol, smoking - and sure enough, those were mentioned.

I was surprised, though, how long it took someone to come up with "food", "sugar", and the like.

To me, those are every bit as bad an addiction as drugs, alcohol, or smoking. I know that the results are different, that the threat to personal life is different, but addiction is addiction.

I don't know that I could say that I'm addicted to food. I mean, I eat food and I have this insane need to eat on a couple or few times a day so that I don't keel over in a massive heap somewhere and give some poor guy a coronary as he tries to help me up. I don't need that kind of guilt. But yeah, I eat. I just don't think I'm addicted to food. I just like it. A lot.

Sugar, on the other hand, is a different story. If you had told me 6 months ago that I was addicted to sugar, I would have laughed in your face. And then chugged a Pepsi. Because sugar.

In July 2013, my son asked me to quit drinking energy drinks. Y'know.... V, Red Bull, Monster, Lift Plus. He was 9 at the time and had noticed that I was going through, easily, 3 to 6 cans (big cans!) of energy drink a day. He'd watched something on TV about them and realised that they're not good for you.

Now, I didn't honestly think it was an issue. I would have told you that the reason I could go through so many of them a day was because A) I was fat so they didn't affect me the same way, B) they didn't affect me at all, I just liked the taste, C) I don't care what they were doing to me because yum, or D) a combination of those.

But what do you do when your 9 year old is standing there looking at you with a deadly serious expression on your face like, " you need to do what I'm asking or this is going to be worse than when I found out that Santa is just you being a martyr"?!

I'll tell you what you do. You QUIT THE DAMN DRINKS!!

So I did.

I had the most excruciating headache for 2 weeks but suddenly I was sleeping better, had MORE energy, was in a better mood, and lost almost 4 kgs!

So then he says (the kid's going to be a wheelin' dealin' S.O.B when he's older)...."I think you should give up the fizzy drink too mum".

Nope. That'll have to wait.

And so I waited. Until April or May of this year. I gave it up cold turkey. Another horrible headache, another couple of kilos lost. I did really well for about 3 months and then I got this AMAZING thought...

"I bet I'm at the point now where I could just have a Pepsi when we go to a movie."

So I did.

And then... "I bet I'm at the point now where I could just have a glass in the evening."

So I did.

Here's the thing about addictions can't do that! Now, ok, me saying "oh I'll just have one" is a lot different than an alcoholic saying that but besides the potential for life ruination and potential destruction, it's about the sends you down that slippery slope again where you find it hard to quit.

Hi. My name is Meg and I'm addicted to sugar.

So when I re-started this whole journey I realised I couldn't keep drinking the fizz. I quit cold turkey again.

It took about 3 days to rid myself of the headache this time because I just started pounding back the water.

I feel great! More energy, sleeping better, better hair and skin. I've been drinking plain water or, if I get a bit of a sweet craving, some water flavoured with ACTUAL fruit.

Can I ask something of all of you? Just picture me down on my knees, begging, big  eyes....

If you drink energy drinks or fizzy soda/pop drinks, can you quit them please? They're sooooo bad for you! Especially the Diet ones filled with Aspartame. Drink water. Drink fruit flavoured water (with real fruit not flavouring). You'll be glad you did!

Saturday, September 26, 2015

New beginnings. Again.

When I look down the side bar of this here blog o' mine, I can see just how many starts and stops there have been in the last 6 years of my journey.

SIX YEARS!! And honestly, I'm no further ahead than I was in April 2009 when I first started this blog...or this version of it.

I can also see that I had moderate success after our move to New Zealand. I didn't have a car so I had to walk everywhere. I joined Weight Watchers (again) and I started to lose weight. I was going swimming regularly and I got some semblance of control on the things I was eating.

And then.


And then in July 2012, I got a horrendous staph infection in my left leg that ran from hip to my ankle...but mostly knee to ankle. Aside from the week in hospital, I spent another month or so not doing a whole lot other than sitting around and eating. 'Cos...y'know....I could.

I never got the motivation back. I never gathered myself and said, "Hey need to get your fat ass out there and DO something". I never said "Self, those 40kgs (88 lbs) that you lost are coming to find you again and each one you let through is attaching themselves to your hips like Klingons on the starboard bow of the Enterprise".


I kept on keeping on.

And y'know what? 3 years later I'm STILL saying "oh but I got an infection in my leg".

THREE YEARS!!!! Seriously? What the eff is wrong with me? WHY am I still clinging to THAT old excuse?

I've been swimming in a pool ONCE since I got that infection because I'm scared. We're pretty sure that's where I picked up the bacteria that made me so sick and I'm scared to get it again. But you know what? I miss swimming! I love the water. I was born to be in the water. I float without even trying, always have. Even when I wasn't a narwhal, I floated. So, yeah, I miss being in the water.

I miss putting my headphones on and walking for miles (or ...kilometres, as it should be). Just being alone in my thoughts with the music drowning everything out. I miss that.

So WHY am I still hiding behind the same lame old excuse?

Because it's the only one I've got left. Being tired, lack of time, kids activities,'s all bullsh*t. But clinging to that old excuse? It's my default comfort setting.

Here's the thing though. I'm tired of being fat and unhealthy. I'm tired of being tired all the time. I'm tired of not being able to find nice clothes, touch my toes, go for a bike ride with my kids, run up a flight of stairs without dying.

I sit with my laptop and watch old school friends (Dave, Richard) of mine post on Facebook about their gym adventures and I'm so proud of them. One day, I hope that they'll see my stuff go by and think the same thing. 2 years from now is my 20 year reunion in the UK. I want to go. I want to go and show my husband where I went to school, maybe even some of the places I grew up. I want to see all the people I went to school with. More than that? I want to be able to fit in the plane seats comfortably without having to ask for a seatbelt extension.

Over the last 3 or 4 years I have stopped and started too many times. I have done it because some random person made a rude comment. I've done it because I thought my husband was embarrassed to be out with me. I've done it so that I wouldn't shame my kids when I show up at their school events, the fattest mum in attendance.

I've never done it for me.

And that? That's the key. If I do this for ANYONE other than myself, I'm doomed to fail. I've never liked people telling me what to do or think.

I don't want to be skinny. I don't care about skinny.

I want to be healthy.
I want to strong.
I want to be fit.
I want to be able to do so many things that I just can't right now because of my health and my size.

I succeed.

Step 1: Make the conscious decision that this is for me and no one else.


Step 2: Sign up for an awesome deal at the local gym AND schedule in time to go at least 3 times a week.


Step 3: Get back to my blogging and set up my FB page again. Not so that I can have people fawn over me. I don't want that. So that I can be accountable. To myself, to you, to whomever is out there reading.


Step 4: Set goals.


Step 5: Weigh myself. 166.7 kgs (366.74 lbs) *gulp* GAH! Run away!!! Oh. Wait. I don't run. Walk away...quickly!


Step 6: DO IT. Just friggin' DO IT!

This step is going to be a constant work in progress and is going to need your help. Yes. You. Sitting there reading this. Poke me. Prod me. Ask me if I've gone for a walk today. INVITE me for a walk today! Encourage me.

I'm doing this for me. Not you. Not anyone else. But the encouragement is still vital.


New post in a few days. Weigh in weekly.