Tuesday, December 31, 2013


Christmas is behind me and I did not go overboard nor did I eat as sensibly as I have done some years. I am settling down into developing my sustainable lifestyle. 

I wrote the following into my journal on the Livin La Vida website.

Only two days left of 2013. I can't wait for it to be over. Crazy thinking I know.

In fact it's been an amazing year. We spent our 50th Wedding Anniversary in Hawaii. Wonderful time. We've been away from our house here at Matarangi for more than 4 months what with going to Hawaii, trips to Christchurch and house sitting.

I've experimented with Fat Fasting and Nutritional Ketosis. I've done two 5 km walks. 

But here I am ending the year on a difficult note. I want to be positive. I want to know that I can still work at improving my health. I really want to do it.

So why am I failing at the moment?

I guess it's complicated. Only God can help me find my way.

Yesterday I tried and failed. Is failure on option? 

It's not a word I'm happy with.

I need a positive spin. Something like this.

Failure is part of the route to success.

Only I can make that true.

Today I am probably fasting ... so far ony drinking keto coffee. I know that's a bit too drastic but I need to break out of some bad habits which have been accumulating over the past few months. The last two days have seen some imrovement but I keep slipping back into behaviours I want to change.

I've also done 30 + minutes on the cross-trainer. I put on our Route 66 CD. That brightened my day nicely.

The day began with a beautiful blue sky but now, middle of the day, looks as though we will get more rain. There was so much rain yesterday that there was flooding in several towns and some roads were closed temporarily at high tide. There were also a few slips, or landslides on the roas through the hills either side of us. Nothing that completely blocked us in for more than a short period.

I'll make an effort to come back tomorrow to say how today goes.

I have completed two days of fasting. What a way to start the New Year! It has been an ideal if radical way to get rid of some bad habits. Tomorrow will be more normal food.

We are seeing the New Year in with TV while neighbours let off their fireworks. Every now and then we jump as a loud canon noise goes off.
Photos were all taken on Christmas Day when John Jane and I went for a walk to shake down our lunch.

Saturday, December 21, 2013



Weight loss has been negligible for the last 12 or more months.

I'm maintaining too well. That would be great if I had lost closer to 100% of the excess but in spite of being ketogenic, HFLC, much of the time and keeping my calories within a decent range I've bounced up and down on the same few pounds most of the time. Right now I'm at the high point of a bounce and that is not acceptable. At 83 kg/182 pounds I am still at least 20 kg/44 pounds fatter than is good for me.

I've experimented with various ratios of macro-nutrients and so on until I don't want to measure or even record another thing. 

John and I both have minor but irritating chronic health problems. John says he would be jumping out of his skin if his sinuses would dry up. I have various skin issues from psoriasis to shingles not to mention Bell's Palsy and poor eyesight. None of these things, except maybe my eyes, are age related although maybe our age has aggravated and slowed our healing. Talking today we are going to try something pretty drastic. We are going 100% dairy free for a minimum of 4 weeks and maybe 6 weeks starting when we return from our next trip to Christchurch. Official start date will be February 10th 2014 although we will be working toward being dairy free before then no doubt.

In the meantime I am going to work towards eating only meat, eggs, maybe some fish, vegetable salads with balsamic vinegar or olive oil and lemon dressing, other cooked, mostly green, veggies, and 1 piece of fresh fruit daily plus a couple of prunes if needed. I enjoy having smoothies but I'm going to make them dairy free as soon as my current batch of whey powder is finished.

I don't intend to limit myself Christmas Day. We have a fairly simple menu of ham and various salads, strawberries, fruit salad and pavlova planned.

I will gradually move into this limited diet as foods I am declaring 'off-plan' have been consumed. I am thinking that I will go coffee free for a time too. This is more or less how I eat now and it will be quite simple to maintain through the summer months. The main thing I am changing, other than dairy and coffee, is to cut out nuts because I am nibbling on them all day long. It's become obvious to me I have a problem. Where once a few, 5-10 almonds was enough, I now eat unlimited amounts of all kinds. Another thing that may or may not be contributing to my current state of maintenance is the amount of fat in my diet. 

I absolutely believe the science behind Low Carb High Fat diets and Nutritional Ketosis but I am pretty sure I am becoming addicted to fat. I would think that even the so-called healthy fats become unhealthy when consumed to excess. What is excess? I have no idea but I know I can eat a lot. People like Jimmy Moore talk about fats being so satiating you cannot over-eat. I don't think they have met me. I'm not talking about any old fats either. I only eat animal fats, coconut oil, cod liver oil and occasionally olive oil and avocado.

It's a fairly loose plan based on unprocessed foods. It may become a lifestyle or it may be an experiment. The important thing is that whatever we do feels natural and does not cause stress. Although I want to lose more weight I'm not going to worry about how this turns out. I like my animal proteins and I like vegetables. Cheese and yoghurt will be the two things I find hardest to live without. I have done a dairy free experiment in the past so this will be limited to 4 - 6 weeks for health reasons and then we'll see if it brings any improvement.

I guess I need to mark February 10th as a Red Letter Day although it just might happen in the natural course of our lives before then.

Today we went over to Mum's to do another job. John broke up a slab of concrete and brought about 1/4 of it home in our car boot. We'll use it somewhere around the garden. Originally it was the base of an outdoor shower but it was built overhanging our boundary so had to go. The slab was too heavy to move to another location so finally we have done something about it.

A new hedge of griselinias has been planted and seems to be settling in well. It is being watered faithfully in the hot weather we are having. This boundary will look attractive again one day.


Friday, December 20, 2013


I could begin with saying, 'Meet Mrs. Misery Guts!'

Instead I'm really trying to be humorous. Ha! Me funny!

Five nights to Christmas Day and I am totally disorganised. I have cards that have not been written in, let alone addressed and posted. I have gifts but no idea what is for whom. I want to do some foody gifts but no idea what I planned to do with ingredients waiting in the pantry. I have visits to friends and my sister planned but don't want to get in the car. I have a mental plan but no get up and go. Plus the first thing on my list is not yet possible and I seem unable to move on to the second thing.

On the positive side ...

Our little Christmas tree brightens the day and looks terrific at night with it's pretty lights.

The ointment I got from the chemist is working almost like magic. I have no idea whether or not the tentative diagnosis of shingles by daughter, who is an experienced RN and has also had shingles, the Pharmacist whose advice we sought, and me, when I matched symptoms with my own experience and Dr. Google, is correct but it will do for now.

Symptoms:- I feel lousy with a touch of nausea and 'do not want to do anything'. I had itchy arms. Worse than itchy. It was like a gazillion mosquitoes biting in the same place but in several sites at the same time. I scratched and a red rash developed and I thought I was going to scrape off all my skin. This was localised to inside my elbows and north and south on my inner arms, both arms. Direct sun and any warmth made it unbearable. Sitting in the car driving into town for 30 minutes almost had me ready for a strait-jacket. It has been worse at night so poor sleep. I've been taking extra vitamin B stress complex, magnesium capsules and panadol which all seem to help somewhat. Other parts of my body reacted in sympathy and I sometimes felt itchy all over.

There was very little to see except for where I had scratched and broken the skin. There were a few signs of a red rash, especially if I got exposed to direct intense sunlight, as in the car. How do you describe something that's driving you nuts when there's nothing to see? I was glad that little trip into town on Wednesday brought out the redness.

Past experience:- Around 1999 or 2000 I had similar symptoms but my if memory serves it was my outer arms that were most affected and it crept onto my shoulders, particularly somewhere around my shoulder blades. See .... not typical of shingles! I spent many sleepless nights distracting myself by watching or listening to Catch The Fire church meetings on-line. The stress factor was directly related to a decision John made to continue working after he reached retirement age. He decided we needed the money more than we needed to adjust our lifestyle. At the time he was working at Reporoa Dairy Factory and I was helping manage our daughter's back-packer hostel at Tairua. About 3.5 hours drive time and John's work hours separated us. There were a few times when we did not see each other for 3 weeks at a time due to his shifts. The extra income was useful but we would have done OK without it. My skin problem continued for months gradually subsiding once the weather cooled. The worst times were when it felt as though I was being attacked by a 'gazillion mosquitoes' biting in the same spot. Since that time there has always been a tendency for my arms to get itchy in hot or humid weather and particularly when exposed to summer sun. I did see a doctor and don't remember him being much help other than continue whatever I was already doing, mostly bathing with baking soda and smothering myself in chamomile lotion. He may have prescribed a steroid or put me on prednisone.

Roll on 4 or 5 years. In December 2004 we sold the hostel and rushed to buy the house we now live in. Initially the house was for investment purposes only and we had a good tenant. Our daughter had plans to travel. John and I took a percentage of the profit from selling the backpacker hostel and booked a cruise with the Catch The Fire church group. We had a trip to Christchurch to spend Christmas with our S. I. family. We returned to Mum's, the beach house we now need to sell, and I hosted some friends who were speaking at a monthly meeting I organised. We had gorgeous weather and I spent a lot of time in the sun. I caught enough sun to get mildly burnt on my arms and back. A week or so later I peeled and we set off on our amazing trip to USA. It was so exciting. I had no expectation of overseas travel and that made this trip all the more special. We had a few days in San Francisco followed by a cruise out of Miami around the Caribbean. Since we never expected to travel overseas again we decided to rent a car in Miami and take our time, seven weeks in fact, to meander back to Los Angeles, before our flight home.

I was really uncomfortable on our 12-13 hour flight to San Francisco. My arms were terribly itchy. This increased over the ensuing days until I finally gave up trying to tough it out and went to the ship's doctor. By this time I was spending half the night under a cold shower trying to get some relief.  The South African doctor took one look and said I had some kind of infection due to getting sunburnt. He mentioned something that sounded like folliculitis and gave me medication to swallow and something to use topically. The symptoms abated and became bearable but lasted at least another month. The thing I remember most is the 'gazillion mosquitoes' biting in one place but several sites at the same time.

This time:- I finally got into the garden a few weeks ago and begin to undo the damage done during a very dry spring, while we were away for 5 weeks. The dry was followed by some good healthy rain. Choice plants had died or shrivelled and weeds had grown with vigour. I was careful about the length of time I spent outside but I did work in direct sunlight. My arms began to itch and I tried hard not to scratch. I was woken in the night by the 'gazillion mosquitoes' stabbing at me. We had bought some Noni lotion earlier this year when in Hawaii and that proved to give some relief until this week when the 'gazillion mosquitoes' began to win.

I guess I should have gone to the doctor but I am somewhat doctor phobic and if I can find a solution for myself that's better. *smiles to self*

At the chemist shop we decided that Zostrix, a topical analgesic cream would be the best thing to try. It is 0.075% capsaicin which is derived from chilli peppers. There are warnings about tingling or burning on the skin after application. This was true but so much more bearable than the 'gazillion mosquitoes'. I have only used this cream for three days and already the 'gazillion mosquitoes' seem to have fled. But I still feel lousy. It's a bit like the pre-onset of a cold sore so I'm not out of the woods yet.

I see that Zostrix HP Cream is recommended for medically diagnosed painful diabetic neuropathy or post-herpetic neuralgia, (pain following shingles). I'm not caring too much about the whys and wherefores. It's working and that's all I need to know right now.

But I agree I need to see a doctor and deal with the herpes thing for good if that's possible. Since it's a chronic problem and we are short on time and cash and I am very short on energy I'm leaving this until sometime after New Year.

It's time to bring out the happy and soothing music. I must look for all my Christmassy CDs and set the atmosphere.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


Only 6 nights and Christmas Day will dawn. I'm not sure whether to be delighted the year is nearly finished with or shocked by how the days have flown by.

It's been a very mixed up year and nothing has changed as far as mixed up goes. Diet wise I have really worked at find what fits best for me but so far have not found that place where I can lose the last 1/3rd of excess fat.

I am relieved that the ointment I got from the pharmacy yesterday just might be making a difference. I slept right through to nearly 7 am only waking a couple of times, each time I fell asleep again without getting out of bed, but I did not go to bed until well after mid-night.

It doesn't help that somehow I've messed up my settings possibly in the control panel and cannot work out what I did. I'm having some serious problems with photographs. storing, downloading and now placing them into my blog. I'm not in the right frame of mind to deal with this. I guess I'm going to have to find a clever person to do it for me .... just as long as they do not mess up how I use me laptop. One thing I've found is that every expert I've ever asked to help me has put the default settings into a system that they like and it may not be the way I am used to using my computer. That means there is always a learning curve and there may be some things I never get right again.

I've copied in last night's post in my journal at Livin La Vida.

We went into town to shop this morning and I was being driven nuts by the rash which has developed on my arms. This has been going on for some weeks and I blamed it on gardening in the sun. 

As we parked and were getting out of the car our daughter called from across the street. She had pulled out from her work place as we went by and wanted to know what we were up to. Clearly she is not overly busy today so had time to be nosey.

I complained about the rash which was increasing and how uncomfortable it is. Nurse that she is, took one look and said it looks and sounds like shingles. Duh! She followed me into the chemist shop where I spoke with the pharmacist and bought some kind of anti herpes cream. 

I've looked up the symptoms and have to agree that they are probably right. What's more this is my 3rd bout of a similar rash in 13 years, not to mention that Bells Palsy which I've had for 22 months, could also be associated with the herpes virus. For years cold sores were the bane of my life until eventually one never healed and was finally diagnosed as basal cell cancer with subsequent plastic surgery. The first two bouts of the rash were never given a diagnosis. All I can say is that I have been poorly served by the medical profession. Someone should have picked up before now that I am prone to herpes infections and warned me to take care and not take it as lightly as I have been doing.

Looking at the symptoms it's no wonder I have felt below par, lacking energy and verging on depression. It all fits now. I'm hoping I can get away without a visit with my Dr. We'll see whether the cream brings sufficient relief.

I feel cheated and angry. My almost-paleo style diet should have helped build my immune system sufficiently that I would be strong enough to avoid this complication to my life. 

Useless reaction. 

I'm having a quiet afternoon while I assess where to from here. I fully understand that stress has been the major contributor to each attack of this virus. My eating pattern will stay much the same. I will not be doing any fat fasting for a while. But I do need to see if there is anything I should be doing to strengthen and heal my body. It's like a vicious cycle. Stress and worry equal some poor choices and lack of sleep. Shingles simply makes it more difficult to undo the stress damage and get quality sleep.

Deep breaths. Take one day at a time. This will pass by but I'm hoping the discomfort does not last until the weather cools next May/June.