Sep 15, 2010

Day 3

I know I couldn't maintain this kind of pace every day of my life, but right now I'm having a blast.

Yesterday was Day 2, our first full day here at the week-long intensive.  I got up, ran for 8 minutes (about 3/4 of a mile), showered, dressed, ate a small breakfast and then came into the classroom to set up.  Class was from 9:30-12:30 and so full of new ideas (and homework) for my book that I couldn't possibly transcribe them all here.  At first I tried writing notes inside the 3-ring binder they gave us, but that quickly turned into typing like a madwoman to keep up.  I have five pages of notes, just from yesterday.

Immediately after class was lunch, then an hour nap (I had to do it...I wouldn't have made the late-night critique session otherwise), then my two 30-minute appointments.  First was with Lorin, the program director.  She's a lovely person, and an experienced professional, and by the end of our meeting I had a few answers I'd been looking for.  After Lorin was my meeting with Roman, who is one of the funniest guys I've met in a long time.  He loved my story idea because those are kinds of stories he loves (sci-fi/fantasy, otherworld, superpowers).  Me, too.  So we chatted and both he and Lorin said they loved my actual writing, but of course there are things I need to work on.  It's okay.  I have thick skin.  This is what I paid to hear: what's working and what's not.

After my meetings it was on to dinner, then right into the critique session.  They sorted us by genre so there's only three of us in our group: John (fantasy), Mitsy (mystery/suspense/psychological) and me (urban fantasy).  Since it was only us and we had a full two hours scheduled to critique each other, we each got to read 10 pages of work and then have an in-depth discussion.  Awesome.

This morning I was up again at 6:00...ish...and ran for 13 minutes, which is a full mile for me.  My goal is to be at 1.5 miles by the end of the week.  I have no excuse not to meet that.  I've not been overeating and haven't missed it.  I eat whatever they put in front of me (so long as it's not fish, ick) and then get on with the other, more important, stuff that I have going on.  I wonder how I can bottle that feeling and bring it home with me.

Now I have to get to the homework that I didn't have time for last night.  John and I are of a mind...until our book is good enough to get Don to sign us, it isn't good enough yet.  Back to work.

Sep 13, 2010

Bowie, MD - Charlotte, N.C.

I drove here yesterday (Sunday) in excellent time.  Six-and-a-half hours, mostly through rain, with one stop for gas and a bite.  Then checked-in at the Doubletree, unloaded the car (including the full-sized laser color printer, ugh), unpacked, napped, read, wrote, called home, watched t.v., then finally forced myself to sleep.

I'm calm, but I can feel the anxiety building in my toes and threatening to make its way up to my heart and head.  It's a good anxiety, though, the kind that fuels me and gives me the energy to plow through challenges.  This particular challenge is a week-long writing intensive held by Free-Expressions and taught by Don Maass, the agent who I'm determined to have sign me someday, no matter how hard I have to work.

And it is work, believe me.  I am presently surrounded by notebook paper, highlighters, pens, index cards (blank and full) and of course my beloved Macbook Air.  I have multiple files on my Cloud--that mysterious place in the ether where I'm able to backup my documents and retrieve them from anywhere--dealing with character and story continuity, research notes and, always, the endless drafts of my novel.

Any author who tells you their story came from a dream and wrote itself is a lying sack.  This is work, joyful work for those of us who truly love it--and I do--but it's still hard shit to do.  My next seven days will be long and riddled with seminars, critique groups, enough writing and rewriting to make my carpal tunnel a fiery mess, and probably more than one eye-strain headache.

I couldn't be happier.  This is the life I was meant to live.

The whole group of us meets tonight for the first time, to eat dinner then attend an opening session.  They're going to hand out copies of schedules, workbooks and "other goodies" before packing us off for the last good night's sleep we'll get this week.  It's 3:40 p.m. now.  Back to the index cards and computer files, and the smile that just won't go away.

Aug 17, 2010


When exactly did I forget the tattoo on my back?  Today, yesterday--every fucking day, it seems. 

That's enough.  It has to be enough.

I had those words--You must do the thing you think you cannot do--engraved on myself because I meant them.  I lived them.  They'd gotten me through some tight situations when I wanted to cave and run away, but I remembered them and stayed, I did the right thing and made myself proud.  I practiced it, and over and over it helped make me who I am today: I don't lie.  I don't cheat.  I treat my family with respect.  I have honor.  What I lack is self-discipline, and it's past time that changed.

I know what I love and what I'll miss.  I also know that I'm lucky to be able to miss so many things.  I've had a full life so far and plan to keep that going.  Life doesn't end because I have to make trade-offs.  I read today about a woman who deliberately surrounded herself with the things she knew she couldn't have, just so she could face them head-on.  I was shocked, but then I understood.  I'm that brave.  I'm that tough.  I always have been.  It's who I am, who I trained myself to be, for better or worse.  Often, it's worse.  But if that's so, then let there be a better, too.  If one edge of this sword occasionally cuts and hurts, then let the other edge cut and help, let it make a path through the shit. 

Let me use my born gifts to achieve all that I know I can, and should.  Let it start now.

Aug 5, 2010


I weigh 199 pounds as of this morning.  The scale keeps climbing and it feels like I can't stop it.

I realized--actually, I've been realizing--that I need help with this weight issue of mine.  I hate taking handfuls of pills, and I hate asking anyone for help with anything.  But if I don't do something, I'll be a 200+-pound porker again in no time.

Yes, I'm angry.  Beyond angry.  I don't understand why I have this stupid addiction, this absolute need to eat all the time, and to eat foods that I know damn well aren't good for me.  But I can't "just" stop.  It's so much more than that. 

Taking away a food addict's favorite meals brings about a slew of emotions.  There's disappointment, followed by the kind of angry-hurt that makes you want to cry.  Then outright sadness bordering on depression, with pure hopelessness hot on its heels.  Verbalized, it goes something like this: Why can't I have that?  I like it.  It reminds me of happy things.  Why can't I be happy?  But I want it!  It's not fair.  Other people get to eat that and be happy.  What's wrong with me?  What am I supposed to do now?  I don't care if someone says it's bad for me--fuck them!  I'm my own person, *I* get to decide what I eat, not them.  I'm not a child, don't tell me I've been bad.  You don't live my life!  You don't know what I need to get through the day.  How am I supposed to cope now?  Why does something so nice have to be so hard?  Why does it have to be so awful for me?  How can it be awful if it makes me happy?  Please give it back.  I don't want to try other things to make me happy.  It won't be the same.  That's mine.  I don't care about how I'll feel in an hour.  If I can't have it, what's the point of anything?  I don't have the energy to fake being happy.  I don't want to fake it!  I'm tired of faking it!  What's the point?  Nothing matters, nothing feels good, nothing will make this awful feeling go away.  Leave me alone.  I don't want to talk.  I don't want to do anything but sleep.  If I can't eat, I'll just hide away and be miserable alone.

This is what I feel every time my happy food is denied me.  Every single time.  How can I describe this to my loved ones, the people who want to help me "get over" this?  How do I tell them that there's no "getting over" any of this?  I will never--no, not ever--be happy to eat oatmeal for breakfast instead of a sausage-egg-and-cheese on a bagel that reminds me of growing up in Jersey, that fills me up and makes me feel stabilized for the rest of the morning (and sometimes into the afternoon).  How do I explain that I will never willingly reach for a handful of raw carrots instead of a bag of chips that brings to mind images of cuddling on the couch, laughing at the T.V. while sharing a bag of munchies.  And how do I not snap their heads off when I try to explain that Friday night pizza night is not meant to be substituted with grilled chicken and steamed vegetables?  Sorry, no it's not.  And please, PLEASE, Dr. Phil/Oprah/Weight Watchers/Jenny Craig/NutriSystem and every fucking weight loss guru on the planet, don't tell me that it's okay to have whatever I want, so long as it's in moderation.  Fuck you.  One slice of pizza does not make a Friday Night Pizza Night.  I'm speaking to you as an honest addict, so listen up.  A food addict's joy comes from delving deeply into the world of culinary delights.  One piddly slice of pizza might take a whopping 5 minutes to eat, if I used a knife and fork.  How can one delve into 5 minutes of anything?

This may all be pitiful and pathetic, but it's the truth, with nothing held back.  I'm close to tears just writing about it.

Yes, it's time to admit that I need help.  I can't even begin to explain how much I hate knowing that.  This isn't how I was raised.  I was taught to deal with my own shit, suck it up and bear down and do what needs to be done.  Be strong, fierce, or someone will take advantage.  But now this.  I feel completely helpless.

I will  not be a nice person to be around for some time.  I am a true addict, that much I know beyond a doubt.  And like all true addicts, the backlash for taking away that which makes me normal(ish) will be misery in human form.  I have no idea how I'm going to protect my family from that, except to pull away from them.  They won't understand.  They'll insist that they can help me through this, but for anyone else who's under that illusion, please hear this: no one can help an addict.  It's all up to them.  Sure, you can pay for expensive treatment, you can be understanding of their mood swings and special needs, but that's it.  There's nothing else for you to do except stand by and wait.  Telling us you love us is nice, and we'll appreciate that later, once the mania dies down.  In the meantime, we don't care.  That's harsh, but I promised truth and there it is.  The only thing we care about during detox is ourselves and the immense pain we're going through.  Every single spark of energy is going into staying the course instead of breaking away and gorging on the stuff we've been trying to throw out of our lives.  If we lose concentration for too long, it's all over and we're back at ground zero.  Breaking an addiction is one of the most selfish things an addict has to do.  And it breaks my fucking heart to put my family through it.

My loved ones are always the reason that I don't follow through with bringing my food addiction under control.  I hate hurting them, especially my son.  I'm a bitch to begin with--now imagine me going through withdrawal.  It's hateful.  I'm hateful.  I try to hide it, but it never works.  Eventually, I go back to eating the bad stuff just so I can smile and stop crying.  And so I can become a part of the family again, because detox means I have to sequester myself so I don't destroy my relationships with my loved ones by taking my insane anger and depression out on them.  This is why I wished so badly that I could afford a real detox place, one of those fat camps where you go away for a few months and break the cycle of addiction in a peaceful environment where you can cry all you want in your private room, away from your family.  But that's beyond impossible.  We couldn't possibly afford to lose my income for three months, and even if we could, those places cost $3,000-5,000 per week.  And there are no scholarship programs, and don't even think that insurance would cover any of it, especially not for someone like me who's less than 100 pounds overweight.  People in my category are on their own, to sink or swim as their willpower sees fit.

I'll be shocked if I actually hit Publish on this post.  It's embarrassing to admit feeling all these childish things, to be so weak that I can't break this shit on my own.  I consider myself to be a strong woman in most ways, but I'm not strong enough for this.  It makes me feel like a disgrace and I'm not sure where to go from here.  I want to go up attitude-wise and down scale-wise, but lately it's only been the opposite.

Jul 20, 2010

Six Months

I never take things in small steps.  I'm always going for the big goal, the one that becomes insurmountable simply because it's a fucking mountain and I'm a mouse.  I hate that I do this to myself (all the time), but it's even harder to imagine setting smaller, boring, wussy goals.  They're not really wussy, but that's what my brain tells me all the time.  I'm working on shutting my brain up a little more often.

I have a deadline, an important one, and it's related to my writing.  I leave in September for a week-long writing seminar held and taught by one of New York's premier agents.  I've been wanting to go to one of his workshops for years.  As part of the program, he'll critique the first 50 pages of your manuscript.  For those not in the know, that's a BIG EFFING DEAL in the publishing world.  Getting a single page of your manuscript out of the slush pile--the industry term for the pile of unsolicited manuscripts agents and publishers receive from writers who want their work read in the hopes of landing a book sale--is nearly impossible to begin with, and even if your pages do manage to get into the hands of an actual reader, it's probably someone's assistant.  Or an assistant's assistant's third cousin who was hired for the weekend to see if there's anything good in the slush pile.  I wish I was kidding.  I'm not.

So big agent guy is going to read 50 pages of my stuff.  One would assume, then, that I'd want to break my fucking back to make sure it's the best 50 pages I've ever written in my life.  And so I have to work and polish and rewrite and revamp...and submit in the next 25 days. 

Related to that, in a bizarre way that's fitting for my life these days, I took a hip-hop dance class last night.  It was more work than I'd ever thought possible, and I ache from shoulder blade to ankle, but I can't remember the last time I sweated that much in a 60-minute period. 

Which got me thinking--what are my goals, my REAL goals, right now?  It always comes back to two things: lose weight and publish my book.  But those are huge goals, bigger than my whole head, and so I procrastinate.  But I can't waste the money I've spent on this workshop, so I have to get those 50 pages ready in time.  Al helped me come up with a time budget, allotting a few pages a day until deadline.  It's still hard work, but it feels a little better.  That said, I ain't done it yet, so the jury's still out on how effective this method will be.  Usually I'm the cram-study type who works best when there's a ticking clock in the background.  But I hate that tense feeling, plus I'm too old for all-nighters anymore, so I'm giving this a try.

Which led to the idea of weight.  I wondered if, at my current pace, how long would it take me to finish my book?  And by finish I mean polish, revise, revamp--the works.  I figured six months.  Sounds like a lot but it's really not bad at all.  Time does fly, as we're all painfully aware.  So, what about weight?  What could I do there in six months?  With 40 pounds left to lose, over six months, that makes 1.5 pounds a week.  Now, before you go thinking that's nothing, I've been stagnating at 192 for months now, for fuck's sake, and it's been driving me nuts.  So that might be more of a challenge than it seems.  But maybe it'll help to see it written out.  Who knows?  Priority number one is to finish my pages and stay away from the really bad foods and keep moving my body.  Yes, those are three priorities, but let's not nitpick.

But if anyone wants to join me at hip-hop class, it's Monday nights from 6:30-7:30 in Bethesda.  Just wear sneakers, bring water, and try not to hate the Soulja Boy music.

Jul 16, 2010

Elif Shafak: The politics of fiction | Video on

Having moved a lot in my life, I can totally relate to the idea that "My imagination is the only suitcase that I could take with me."  And she's right: authors shouldn't just write what they know but rather what they feel.

A beautiful presentation, for writers and everyone else.

Elif Shafak: The politics of fiction Video on

Time for a Change

I updated my resume yesterday and submitted it to a few jobs.  With the state of things these days, who knows if I'll get any interviews, but that wasn't the point anyway.  The point is change.  With the marriage and the move, I've been feeling the need for a change.  Question always is though, what kind?

My ex called me a miserable bitch the other day.  At first, I was pissed.  Then I really thought about it.  I guess I was a miserable bitch when I was with her.  I don't mean because of her, just that during that time period of my life I admit I was miserable a lot of the time.  I can remember several tearful nights when I would go on and on about how useless it all was, how awful life was for me and why even bother to make an effort anymore.  It sounds so dramatic now but I really felt that way then.  Change takes effort and it usually hurts, so I procrastinate. 

They say that the most common cause of procrastination is setting a goal that's too big.  I've always set huge goals for myself and have only partially achieved any of them.  I don't do well in bite-sized pieces of things.  I want it all in one big gulp.  I don't want to finish revising a chapter of my book; I want to finish my book, period.  I don't want to lose five pounds in the next month; I want to lose forty in the next three. 

I loved the movie Forrest Gump.  Mostly because it was a great parody of how a person who completely focuses on one thing at a time can conquer the world.  I'm terrible at that, the one-thing-at-a-time thing.  But here I am, thirty-six years old, good at a bunch of things, great at nothing.  I want to be great at something.  And even though I sent my resume to jobs I'm technically qualified for, I don't want to be great at techie stuff or secretarial jobs.  I want to be a novelist.  I want to write books with characters who are impossible to forget. 

Why is it always so fucking hard to put your energy into shit you actually love, as opposed to shit you just know how to do well?  When it comes down to it, does my brat upbringing mean that I'll always wuss out when the really hard work comes into play?  If I'm so fucking smart, why can't I do this one thing?

Jul 15, 2010


There's a whiteboard in my office that hangs on the wall opposite my desk.  It's directly in my view.  Sitting on the top are four markers, blue, red, purple and orange.  I've never written anything on this board, yet it's always covered in messages.  Right now it reads, "I [heart] U".  Earlier this week it was covered in so many different forms of "I love you" messages that I could no longer tell which one was written by my wife.

And it dawns on me, sitting here, how lucky I am and how much I take that luck for granted.  People love me.  Good people, ones who could pick and choose to love anyone they wanted, and they chose me (among others).  So why can't I love myself enough--still, after thirty-six long years--to take care of myself properly?

I'm no stranger to hard work, except when it comes to self-discipline.  I can budget money and squeeze a week's worth of groceries from a half-week's food allowance, but I can't budget my calories or control my eating.  I can't manage to drag myself out of bed an hour early and go for a walk.  I'm tired of asking what's wrong with me.  I want answers.  I want the people who love me to be proud that they do so.  I want to follow through on everything that I promise myself, and yet all I can think of are dreamy visions of junk food and me sitting on the couch watching our new FIOS television with all the movie channels.  I hate feeling so lame.  But, as always, I apparently don't hate it enough.  Not yet.

I've always said that it's impossible to achieve the Holy Trinity of Food: Time, Money and Health.  You can have any two of those things, but never all three. 

If you want to save Money and your Health, you can clip coupons, search for deals, and plan and prepare healthy meals.  But it will cost you Time. 

If you want to save Money and Time, then you're stuck with microwave meals or fast food.  There goes your Health.

To save Time and Health, you can purchase freshly made, healthy, prepared foods, or eat out at organic restaurants.  So long as you have the Money.

Right now, after purchasing a new home and furnishing it, we're trying to save Money.  We both work long days and now have a house to run along with the boy to raise and the pets to care for.  Time isn't an option.  No surprise which part of the Holy Trinity of Food gets sacrificed. 

And the cycle continues.  I'd feel better if I had a plan of action, but right now I'm overwhelmed with obligations.  The family, the house, the book, the job, the food, the exercise.  All but a couple are pleasurable and so get the majority of my attention.  But that scale keeps climbing.  I need a plan. 

Jul 12, 2010


April.  That was the last month that I posted anything.  Old habits die hard, and my biggest habit (besides food addiction) is laziness. 

I've written this entry countless times in my head, but what good does that do?  I always mean to do it, I think up a title and a few lines and then...  And then life keeps moving forward.  It's the way of everything in my life, it seems. 

I mean to eat well.  I mean to walk more, work out, do pushups and yoga, take dancing lessons, work on my book.  I mean to do it all, and I mean it with a sincere energy and effort; but I guess, in the end, I still don't mean it enough.

So much has happened these past two months.  Allison and I married; we bought a house and moved; she started her teaching institute.  All good things.  The not-so-good things: I stopped taking all of my meds and we lived in a hotel for almost two weeks.  It was sweltering outside so I didn't walk nearly as much as I used to.  Combined, that was an ugly cocktail for disaster.  I won't know where my levels are until I go back to the doctor in September, and I'm not looking forward to it.  I gained back 7.5 of the pounds that I'd lost and kept off for months, and that dinged my confidence more than I'd like to admit.  I've been ignoring my health as I deal with other life events, but it's always there, just behind my shoulder, tapping me every so often as a reminder.  I keep pushing it away with the idea that I feel fine, but that's not true, either, not really.  I don't feel bad, I don't feel like I did in the beginning of this epic fucking journey--like I was forcing my body to do things it just didn't have the resources to do.  But I don't feel good, either.  I'm tired all the time, just like before.  My energy level is way down and I'm reaching more and more for those bad foods that I need to stay away from.  Most of it is mental, which leads to the emotional breakdown (the hardest kind to come back from).  I've stopped counting my Weight Watchers points, I don't log my food, I don't drink my green lemonade anymore.  My carbs are up and my steps are down.  I haven't worked on my book in months.  I had to hit the pause button on my life for a couple of months and now I'm trying to get back into things.

I've never really known how to do that.  I'm not a person who likes routine.  I wish I did.  Maybe I'd actually fill one of the many beautiful journals I have in my nightstand.  Maybe I'd finish my damn book.  But I am who I am, and I know I won't change.  Instead, I have to learn to work through and around my shortcomings.  I still have my goals: lose 40 more pounds and finish my book.  I'm not sure how I'm going to get there, but I know that I still want to. 

Current Weight: 194.2
Goal weight: 155

Organic Oatmeal
3 squares of dark chocolate
Ollie's Trolley cheesesteak and fries

Apr 27, 2010


Two nights ago I was talking to A about my mental state of being.  Namely, that I hate the majority of my life.  Oh, I'm grateful for everything I have, but it still sucks that I'm not doing what I love and that I'm not in a physical or mental place where I'm content and can just be.  It was admittedly a depressing conversation.  But it brought about an interesting dream.

I was in the hold of a large ship.  Everything had the look and feel of a Pirates of the Caribbean movie, including the character that was "me" in the dream.  There was a huge storm outside and the ship was the only means of escape.  The hold was filled with all of my family's worldly possessions--furniture, food, valuables--but it was all covered in water that had risen up to my shoulders. 

My dream-me's father was an old man who looked on the verge of death already, and he kept trying to hold his breath long enough to get into the submerged jewelry chests to rescue my most valuable gemstones so that we would have money to buy food once the storm was over and everyone was able to get back onto dry land.  He dove under water and managed to come back with a handful of jewelry that I've made (for real) over the years.  Then, in the way of dreams, he disappeared.

So did the water.  The hold was dry and I was now sharing the space with a pirate.  (He was a nice pirate, and yes he looked like Johnny Depp.)  The furniture was gone and there were tables everywhere, each one piled high with lovely cakes of all flavors and colors.  The pirate and I searched around the tables for the missing jewels that would secure my future once I was able to leave the ship, but we couldn't find them anywhere.  Finally, hungry, the pirate cut a piece of one of the pretty cakes and his knife hit one of the pieces of missing jewelry.  He then figured out that all of the jewelry had been hidden inside the cakes.

Before I could tear through them, the pirate warned me that we couldn't cut into the cakes before we were ready to eat them because they would spoil quickly once cut.  Those cakes were the only food we had until we were able to leave the ship, so we had to be patient.  Over time, we could cut and eat the cakes and extract the jewelry inside each one.  Once the storm was over and I was able to leave the ship, I would then be able to sell the jewels and live happily ever after.

Dreams are funny.  Those who know me well understand how important dreams are to me.  This was an ordinary dream (not a D-dream) but it still told me a lot.  I don't know if it was telling me my future, or just warning me to be patient, but either way it made me feel calmer and more in control of my life.  It gave me a little hope.

I hope your dreams mean something to you, too. 

Apr 16, 2010

Things Change

More than a month ago, I wrote my last post bemoaning my life.  I really am a drama queen.

Except, that time, it was for real.  Life sucked.  SUCKED.  In big, bold, all caps.  In order to fix my body, I had to limit what I gave it.  No more "this," no more "that."  Fine.  But then my body began to give out.  Wear out.  Wear thin.  Along with it, my patience, my tolerance for life, my energy and my will to do anything other than breathe in and out (and barely that).  I had no idea how I was supposed to live like that.  I kept asking myself did it make sense to make my body healthy at the expense of the ability to enjoy my life?

So back to the doctor I went.  I actually had to go back because I was still bleeding.  (That's the subplot to the bigger story.  I haven't stopped bleeding, daily, for more than a month now.)  He examined me, took more blood, and asked how I was doing.  I was honest and told him everything.  Plus, he could see I looked like shit.  I'm paraphrasing here, but you get the point.  Something had to change.

So he changed it.  He said we were going to start over, that we'd toss out the No-No List of Food.  Everything was back on the table, pun intended.  But I had five months.  Five months to get my tail in gear and do the right thing and lose as much weight--safely, sanely--as I possibly could.  Because it's a backwards domino effect: lose the weight, reverse the diabetes; reverse the diabetes, insulin stops flooding my body; stop the insulin, chill out the PCOS; chill the PCOS, get off the meds, keep my uterus and maybe even be able to get pregnant. 

And here we are.  In a much better place than before, and a place where I hope to stay.  I feel awake again, and no longer have the urge to stay in bed and never, ever move.  I can breathe, in and out, and even manage more than that.  I'm grateful.

In the spirit of that gratitude, I've vowed to do everything I can to make this work this time.  No more excuses, no more bullshit.  I've joined Weight Watchers (for the weekly accountability) and purchased the BodyBugg (to track exactly how many calories I'm burning every day).  I've compiled a list of recipes that taste good and are reasonably healthy.  I say reasonably because I can't live on dry oats and lettuce, so an occasional slice of pizza is necessary to ensure that the rubber band of my willpower grows instead of stretches.  Stretching, you see, just means it'll snap back into its former shape.  Growth means change.

My good news: Dr. Weinstein called me last Thursday to tell me that my hemoglobin was down from 6.3 to 6.1 (under 6 means no diabetes); my triglycerides are down from 149 to 127 (proof that I've really cut my carb intake) and, best of all, my cholesterol is down from 240 to 185 (under 200 is very good). 

Boo-ya, baby.  I'm back on track.

Mar 12, 2010

I'm Fine

I'm such a drama queen.  To all my loved ones: I'm sorry.  I'm sorry I worried you and sorry I allowed myself to sink so low into the muck.  I promise I'm out of it now, cleaned off and ready to move forward.

I've lost 5 pounds in 5 days.  For the first time in a dozen years I weigh 190 pounds.  It's a good start.

And that's what I'm focusing on from now on: the good things.  And they do exist.  I realized last night during a major meltdown that my attitude was defeating the purpose of all of this.  If I was set to live miserably for the rest of my life, which life was now going to be much longer because I'm actually taking care of myself, then that meant that my changes were only setting me up for a lifetime of being miserable.  What's the point of that?  Plus, my misery was making my family miserable, too, and enough was enough. 

It's still hard, unbelievably so.  I can't feel a little without wanting to feel it all, so every day is focused on just getting through it.  Food is no longer a joy in life, it's just fuel.  But I'm determined to find the energy to go out and do the things that other people (and me in the past) find fun.  We're going rollerskating tonight.  Sunday, we're taking the boy to the park in Bowie so he can spend time with his friends.  I'd like to see the new Alice in Wonderland movie.  I have my Don Maass conference next month and still have some work to do for that.  All good things.  That's where my focus is.  That, and breaking the 190-pound mark over the weekend.


Oatmeal, banana 79
365 organic macaroni and beef micro meal 159
Cheerios 111


Out of bed 98
Oatmeal, banana (will fill in later)
Amy's organic micro meal (will fill in later)
Cheerios (will fill in later)

Mar 11, 2010

Define Happiness and Health

My last post was two days ago and it feels like months. 

I'm not being dramatic, at least not intentionally.  Tuesday, Wednesday and today I have lived the "good" life, one of low-fat, low-sugar and low-cholesterol.  I call it the Low Life Diet.  I barely have the energy to write this post.  I'm not kidding.

I've been thinking nonstop these past few days about what it really means to be healthy, and what it means to be happy.  Is it healthy to not care if the world blew up tomorrow?  Is it wrong to be happy surrounded by fun food?  It all feels mixed up in my head.

I know how I'm supposed to feel.  I'm supposed to love eating cardboard and feel refreshed and alert every morning and be full of energy to go out and bike ride all day long and clean my house from top to bottom and still have time and energy to be President of the PTA.  I'm supposed to want to be so thin that my collarbone looks like it belongs to a chicken and the only curves on my body are the rounded ones of my head.  When I'm happy, I'm supposed to celebrate by going for a hike, and when I'm depressed, I'm supposed to cheer myself up by writing a list of all the good things in my life.

I don't know how people live like that.

Don't get me wrong.  I never wanted to be enormous and gross and waddle around wheezing from lack of oxygen to my fat-crushed lungs.  I never had a goal of not being able to walk up a flight of stairs without having to stop a dozen times (once for each step).  I've always wanted to be healthy, but in a sane way that would also allow me to eat my fucking macaroni and cheese every once in a while.  Is that too much to ask?

Alas, according to my chemical makeup, it is.  So now, instead of looking forward to dinner with my family, I rush home, shovel down a serving of Cheerios and run upstairs so I don't have to watch or smell them cooking the food I love.  The kitchen used to be my home-within-a-home, the place where I was always happiest (next to the bedroom, wink wink), and now I feel like it's No Man's Land, somewhere I don't dare stay for too long for fear of what I'll do.

I'm not ready to "cook" my "healthy" "food" in there yet.  In fact, there's nothing TO cook.  And I'm not strong enough to watch anyone else use my pots and pans and stand where I always stood between stove and cutting boards and make some meal that I can't eat.  A meal for MY family, for whom cooking was my major household contribution.  Now I just try to stay out of everyone's way, including my own, and sleep as much as I can to escape from this "healthy" new lifestyle.

I really hope the happy part starts soon.


Green Lemonade, banana 100
Organic waffles without syrup, Kashi microwavable meal 95
Handful of unsalted pistacios
Cheerios with 2% milk

Out of bed 94
Green Lemonade, banana, plain instant organic oatmeal 104
Kashi microwavable meal 111
Cheerios with 2% milk

Green Lemonade, banana, plain instant organic oatmeal 79

Mar 9, 2010

Shades of Grey

Let me tell you a story.  It's a little graphic and angry, just so you're warned.  It will include words like "menstrual cycle" and "blood clots" so read ahead at your discretion.

I began my new drug, Januvia, on Thursday.  Coincidentally, my menstrual cycle had started a day or two earlier.  My period takes its sweet time getting here, even after it's made the annoucement that it's on its way, so I wasn't bleeding much yet.  By Sunday night, the heavy day stage had arrived.  I anticipated the usual pattern of 24-36 hours of bleeding like a stuck pig. 

I always bleed a lot.  I also clot, big dark-red blobs the size of my palm two or three times during a cycle.  Big deal.  Been doing it for twenty-five years now and it's nothing scary or even gross anymore.  It is what it is.  But by Monday morning, I'd racked up at least half a dozen clots and they'd doubled to the size of my whole hand.  And I was bleeding even more than usual.  By the time I got to work, I'd lost the usual amount of blood in two hours that I normally lose within a full day-and-a-half.  At work, I went through two full days' worth of pads and tampons in two hours.  Sometimes I had to change again before I even left the restroom.  Then, at around 11:00 a.m., I bled through my clothes.  The stain was a six-inch-square patch of red surprise.  I called my doctor.

Have you ever had to call your doctor for anything other than an appointment?  There's no feeling like the one you get when you briefly tell the receptionist why you're calling and instead of the usual, "Thank you, Ms. Baumann, I'll leave the message for the doctor and he'll call you back as soon as he can." you instead get, "Please hold on a moment," and less than a minute later the doctor is on the line.  That's way fucking scarier than a whole bucket of blood, I swear it is.

So I told Dr. Weinstein everything and he said, "You need to come in.  Can you come now?"  I work in D.C. and he's sixty miles away in Baltimore so, in a nutshell, no I couldn't come now.  We agreed to meet at 4:00.

In his office, he reviewed my blood sugar log (and praised me for the great work I was doing).  Then he told me I need to be on cholesterol meds and the birth control pill in order to regulate my period.  I told him I didn't want more pills, that I wanted to fix things through weight loss and diet, and he was understanding but adamant.  "That's great," he said, "but if you're learning to tightrope walk, your first step shouldn't be to remove the safety net.  If you want to lose the weight and then come off the meds and see how your body does, that'd be fine."

Then he said we could talk about it more after he'd examined me.  (We always talk first and examine second.)  Even though my bleeding had slowed considerably by that point, apparently I was still pretty bad off because he had to use extra pads and kept saying softly, "Wow, there's just so much blood."  He asked me if I was dizzy and I admitted I was.  This is normal, it seems, because as I asked him later, you actually can bleed to death through your period.  Your own blood vessels "wash away" the lining of your uterus, and my blood vessels just wouldn't stop washing.  Those clots, which I'd thought were actual pieces of the lining, were actually huge amounts of compressed blood.  That's when he insisted that, for this month at least, I go on the pill at least to stop the bleeding.  (The estrogen in the pill apparently heals the vessels and makes them stop pouring out blood.)

He asked if my uterus had been contracting, and I said it was.  Then he said he's have to do another biopsy, just like the first one of months and months ago.  I wasn't worried.  I can deal pretty well with pain and I'd been through it before so I knew what to expect.  First came the needle to my cervix to numb things.  Then the little brush-wand through the cervix and which would then bend at a 90-degree angle in order to do a 360-degree sweep of my uterine walls.  Last time it was rather uncomfortable.  This time it felt like someone was dragging their nails inside me.  And then punched me for good measure.

When it was over, my sweaty hands let go their grip on the paper gown and I tried not to cry on the table.  Dr. Weinstein was as kind as ever and the pain was through no fault of his.  My insides were so traumatized by the bleeding and whatever else was happening that it was as if every nerve was a live wire. 

Al helped me to the bathroom and held me while I kept trying not to cry.  I knew what this all meant.  A blind idiot could see it.  Things were steadily getting worse.  In his office, after the biopsy, Dr. W told me gently and plainly that we had to get this under control or I would get uterine cancer.  He didn't mince words, though he spoke kindly.  There was no other option.  Either it gets fixed or else.  And there's only one way to fix it.


Of course.

No more candy, ice cream or sweets (except the occasionaly dark chocolate piece)
No more potatoes, period
Very little carbs of any kind including the whole wheat variety, because of my cholesterol
Limited dairy and red meat, also because of my cholesterol
No fried foods
No fast foods
No foods cooked in butter

Here's the bounty of what I can have:

A few fruits and all the non-starchy vegetables that I can choke down
Skinless baked chicken the size of a deck of cards, 2 or 3 times a week
Fish (which I don't eat) 2 or 3 times a week
Dry beans
Olive oil
Nuts (no peanuts), 1 serving a day

Lucky fucking me.

It's taken me over two hours to write all of this because I have to keep stopping to compose myself.  I am at work, after all. 

Not many people understand why this is so hard.  Allow me to explain.

If I told you that you had a serious health concern, a really serious one, and that you needed to fix this health issue immediately, would you do whatever was necessary to make things right with your body?  What if I told you that the only fix for your health issue was to be rendered completely color-blind?  Not the usual kind where blues and greens get mixed up.  I mean completely unable to discern any kind of color at all.  Would you be okay with the idea that you'd be a perfectly healthy person who could only see in shades of grey?  That you'd never again see the beautiful blue of your lover's eyes, or the golden red of your son's hair?  When other people ooh and aah over the gorgeous cherry blossoms or spectacular fireworks, would you be able to stand there and smile politely, having only a memory of those things?

This is what it's like for me.  To everyone who doesn't have a food relationship like I do, this may sound dramatic and extreme, and maybe it's both, but it's still the truth.  This type of dietary restriction severs huge parts of my life.  No more dinners out.  Why?  Because I'm not strong enough to sit there and have a good time eating my salad and broccoli while everyone else is enjoying a steak and a baked potato.  And no, I can't ask or expect--I won't ask or expect--my friends to limit themselves just because of my stupid health issues.  It also means no fairs or outdoor (or indoor) events where they sell food.  A cokehead wouldn't be expected to walk through a maze of cut Columbian Gold, would they?  No luches with friends, no eating out at all, unless it's at some miraculous place that sells only what I can eat.  No family dinners, because why in the hell would I subject anyone else to this shit.  Maybe, if I'm a really good girl, I can still do Thanksgiving.   There, something to look forward to.

So my stress is still at the same level--my job is nothing but a paycheck that I can't give up, my workdays are 12 hours long thanks to my commute, I have no time for family or writing career thanks to my full-time health regime, I'm nowhere near where I want to be in life--yet my one and only affordable stress reliever is gone.  Now what?

Seriously.  Now what?

And if I read one more article where someone recommends replacing food with working out, I'm hunting the author down and taking a dumbbell to their head.  I fucking mean it.

And the worst part of it all is that I'm not supposed to feel anything about this.  Can't feel sad, because then I'm just feeling sorry for myself.  Can't feel angry, because it's my own damn fault.  Can't cry, because that's just plain wussy.  Having to swallow this and pretend that it's just another day in the neighborhood is killing me faster than potatoes were.

This is my life now.

Mar 4, 2010

Keeping Up

March is a new month, and I always fall into the idea that a new month or a new week (or a new year) can change things, erase the past and give me a clean slate.  As if starting a diet or exercise program on a Tuesday would be less effective.  But it's all driven by the heart, and the heart can't always steer well.

I start my new meds today.  Januvia.  Dr. Weinstein says that I'm already pretty close to getting a handle on things, and might even still be able to reverse the whole Diabetes issue someday, but that the Januvia will give me another little leg up.  I still don't trust drugs, never have, but I'm trusting his knowledge and, frankly, I'm ready to admit that I'm human and need all the help I can get.  I want this to be over.  Someday, I want this blog to be about my writing career and less about my dietary struggles.

Someday.  But not today.

I did have a minor breakthrough this afternoon.  I'd had a naughty but filling breakfast of pancakes and bacon.  There's this greasy spoon behind my job called Ferdinands, a tiny little pickup place that makes food like fried chicken wings, cheesesteaks and macaroni and cheese. 

Side Note: I can smell mac and cheese within a 5-mile radius.  I even found some at Au Bon Pain.  If there's a pasta noodle sitting within an inch of some melted cheese, I will find it, rest assured.  If I were a dog, I'd be an AKC-registered M&C Bloodhound.  Purebred.

Back to the breakthrough.  After my delightful breakfast, I tested my b.s. and found it far above my doctor's recently-lowered b.s. cap of 130.  It was over 160.  Bad girl.  Bad pancakes.  Gooood pancakes.  But baaaad pancakes.  So no more pancakes.  Damn it all. 

Now, since breakfast was at 9:00 a.m. and I have to eat every 3 hours--a very difficult thing for me to do since I normally eat every 6 hours--I had to eat again at noon.  And I did.  I assembled my sandwich and popped open a bag of 100-calorie Cheetos.  I brewed some Berry Beauty tea and got a glass of water.  I brought everything back to my office and began to eat. 

After almost an hour, I'd only managed to get down half the sandwich and half the chips.  I wasn't the least bit hungry after my big breakfast.  In fact, I felt exactly as I always do after eating a big meal: I didn't even want to look at food.  That's why I only eat every 6 hours.  And why I'm positively ravenous when I do finally eat again.

I finally threw away the majority of the second half of the sandwich.  I kept my other 100-calorie snack bag for now, 4:00 p.m., so I don't end up starving by dinnertime, when I'm supposed to have my lightest meal of the day.  My Pauper meal. 

And it all made sense.  I guess I knew these things somewhere in my pseudo-educated brain, but the reptilian part of my brain always gets in the way.  We'll see how it all pans out, but so far it looks rather promising.

I logged today's food and b.s. in my last entry so I won't repeat it here.  But I will say that my doctor warned me that I MUST be vigilant about checking my b.s. after every single meal once I begin taking the Januvia.  It always freaks me out when drugs that are supposed to help have potentially nasty side effects, like death.  Christ.

Mar 2, 2010

A Hundred Different Titles

I've written this blog post in my head over and over these past few weeks, never managing to actually write it down on virtual paper.  Probably because I've fallen off the wagon so hard I bruised my ass...and gained three pounds.

I went to the endocrinologist on February 22nd for my follow-up.  I told him I wanted to fast for a few days, get myself back on track.  He was adamant that that wasn't a good idea, that I would be running too high a risk of bingeing as soon as my fast was done, thereby undoing all of the work.  He was right and I was happy to hear it.  So we moved on to other topics--namely, when I eat.

"What do you normally eat for breakfast?" Dr. Weinstein asked.

Thinking to impress him, I replied, "My Green Lemonade and maybe some fruit.  Just like the Raw Foods Diet book says."

"Oh," he said.  His grandfatherly face creased with concern.  "That's not good."

"It's just that I'm not hungry in the morning," I stammered.  "In fact, sometimes I don't even want to drink a glass of water.  It's like my stomach is closed for business." 

"But you eat a large dinner?" he asked.

I nodded.

He smiled gently.  "You are definitely true to your kind."

My "kind" are other women with Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS).  Seems we have a habit--a need, one might say--to eat the bulk of our food at the end of the day, close to when we sleep, and that's not a good thing.

So my newest doctor-prescribed goal: eat a good breakfast and a very light dinner.

"Like the saying, 'Eat like a king at breakfast, a prince at lunch and a pauper at dinner'?" I asked.

He smiled like I'd given him a new toy.  "Is that how they're describing it now?"

It's harder than you think.  At least, it's harder than I thought it would be.  When I told Dr. Weinstein that due to my commute I didn't get home most nights until 7:30--90 minutes before my bedtime--he suggested that if I couldn't "walk in the door and eat something light" that I should instead just have a bowl of cereal.


Cheerios, anyone?

That was the 22nd.  Since then I've avoided logging what I eat, I haven't taken my b.s., and I've gained steadily.  I'm now at 198 pounds, which is dangerously close to the dreaded 200-pound mark.  I refuse--REFUSE--to cross that line ever again.

So here I am, trying to write it all down like I promised.  Trying to clean up the mess I've made out of my goals and ambition and salvage what I can.  I can still feel the ink on my back, reminding me that I can do this, that all I need is to remember that I'm worth it, that not feeding the need for heavy, processed foods isn't giving up something good in my life, it's allowing room for change and a chance to exercise my will. 

It's so hard.  I don't want to sound whiney--and forgive me if I do--but it's like pulling a chunk out of my skin every time I force myself to choose a carrot over a piece of fried chicken, or a bowl of cereal over a bowl of creamy mac and cheese.  It feels like punishment.

I can remember when I was pregnant and I lost weight.  Having a baby grow inside me distracted me enough that food didn't take front row in my head for once.  I'm still trying to find something like that today, but haven't managed to yet.  Everything costs money and I can't very well replace food with things that drain my bank account.   Although I'd love to take dance lessons.  Someday.

I'm tired.  Literally tired.  And I'm fighting back tears even as I write this.  I'm grossly disappointed in myself.  I know all the right things to say to reassure my inner child that I'm not a failure, but the fact remains that I technically am a failure.  I set out to do something and I didn't do it, and for no other reason than I didn't have enough willpower.  It's why I delayed writing this for so long.  I promised I'd be honest, and I will continue to be, no matter what.  But it's hard to describe the extent of my lapse without feeling shame.  Yes, I know it's only me putting such a large burden on myself; no one I love does that to me.  I'm grateful for you all.  Sometimes I'm not my own best friend.

I named this entry A Hundred Different Titles because about that many went through my brain before I finally composed this entry.  It's easy to tell where my head was at different times this month when you hear the draft titles:

And The Doctor Said...
What Are We Actually Worth To Ourselves?
[Insert Expletives Here]
The Definition of Failure

I settled on A Hundred Different Titles because it shows best where my head is lately: in a hundred different places.

But I'm not giving up.

I'm NOT giving up.

* * *
Out of Bed: 104
Pork, mac and cheese, mushrooms and asparagus: 103
Sandwich (ham, salami, bologna, cheese...1 slice of each on wheat), 2 100-calorie bags of baked Cheetos 115
Chicken noodle soup

Out of Bed 88
Green Lemonade 83 
Pancakes and bacon (forgot to check)

Out of Bed 89
Pancakes and bacon (didn't forget to check this time...and regretted it 167) more pancakes and bacon.  Big surprise.
Sandwich (same as Tuesday) 118

Feb 17, 2010

I Will Follow the Ink

I got a tattoo during the blizzard.  Actually, during a 6-hour break in the blizzard, on the afternoon of February 9th.  As soon as our street was plowed I hauled ass to the Baltimore Tattoo Museum.  I'd been thinking about getting some ink for years but couldn't decide what, couldn't decide where, couldn't decide if I really should.  It is, after all, a permanent thing.  And I hate most permanent things.

So I gave it some thought--because thinking is what I do most in life--and finally settled on something that I knew I'd appreciate forever, even after menopause. 

There's a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt: "You gain strength, courage and confidence every time you stop to truly look fear in the face.  You must do the thing you think you cannot do."  It's a message upon which I have leaned and relied for over a dozen years.  Every time I recite the last line in my head, it makes my heart stop racing and helps me bypass the endless parade of excuses I make whenever I want to avoid something that's hard or confrontational.  That line actually gives me courage.  So I had it inked onto my back, behind my heart, along with wings of flame for energy of the body and a pentacle that connects it all to my spirit.

And what does this have to do with my diabetes, or my weight loss struggle? 

Simply this: since I got it, I haven't lived a single day by the tattoo's message. 

I thought that if I got it inked onto me--into me--then the message would become a permanent part of me, too.  But skin peels, sunlight fades ink, and nothing becomes a part of you without time and effort.  It's easy to be courageous about things that don't frighten you.  But real courage is when you do that thing you honestly, truly, to your core believe that you can't.  And I don't yet believe that I can lose this weight.

I can write a thousand times that I won't let the excuses drag me down anymore, that I'll do the right thing from now on, that I will persevere and meet my goal of 50 Pounds Down in Five Months (just came up with that name), but none of it matters if I don't have the strength, the courage, to see it through.

Eleanor, I wish I'd known you.  In the meantime, I can only listen and hope that the artist's needle reached my bones.  At least I'm still writing about it.  For better or worse, I will continue that.

* * *


Out of Bed: 104 (Probably due to the mac and cheese I ate the night before.)
Green Lemonade
2 slices of Ezekiel bread with unsalted organic butter
Raw salad (spring mix, green pepper, tomato) with light ranch dressing
Organic dark chocolate with almonds
Pistacios (unfortunately salted, but they were cheap at Sam's club)

Feb 5, 2010

It's All About the B.S.

I've been doing the raw thing pretty well.  Having my Green Lemonade every morning and whatnot.  But my period hit me on Tuesday and along with it came the usual truckload of raging emotions and the desire to eat everything that even resembles food.  (Pictures of food will sometimes do in a pinch.)

So I cheated by going to McDonald's.  Now let me tell you, the golden arches used to be the treat place when I was a kid, the best place to get a burger and great fries.  I was really looking forward to those fries.  Too bad they sucked righteous asshole.  Never again.  I'll stick to Chik Fil A.

But here's the kicker.  I ate McDonald's for dinner and my blood sugar the next morning was 95.


Not 170, not even 100...ninety-five.  Which begged the question, what exactly is affecting my b.s.? 

So I'm doing an experiment.  I'm making sure to test my b.s. two hours after every meal and logging what the number is and what I ate.  I'm curious, you see, what I can get away with.  I'm just being honest.  Because let's face it, if something I love can be on the list of acceptable food, you can damn well bet I'll be more likely to survive this whole ordeal. 

For instance, I had a wonderful lunch of chicken breast and risotto at Circa at Dupont yesterday and two hours later my b.s. was 146.  That's awesome.  Chicken and risotto, here I come!  And it was damn good risotto, too.  However, my b.s. was sky-high after a breakfast of raw fruit.  After a breakfast of only Green Lemonade this morning, it was perfect.  Than after a bagel with cream cheese it was 161.  (Safe to say, bagels with cream cheese are out.)

So that's my goal for the next week.  To track the relationship between food and b.s.  Maybe I don't have to do an all-raw diet, or a low-carb diet, or any freaking diet.  Maybe I can just watch what I eat and be careful.  It all sounds so much better that way, doesn't it?

* * *


Out of Bed: 101
2 small whole wheat burritos with Amy's organic chili and sour cream
Green Lemonade
Filet and rice from Moby Dicks: 157
10 chicken McNuggets, 1/2 large french fries


Out of Bed: 95
3 bananas: 170
Chicken and risotto with carrots: 146
No dinner


Out of Bed: 97
Green Lemonade: 103
Bagel with cream cheese: 161

Feb 2, 2010

Is It About Weight, Or About Health?

Last night was HARD.  Really hard.  The kind of hard that makes me want to fill a whole line with nothing but curse words.  THAT kind of hard.  Jesus effing Christ.

My old nemesis, Stress, paid a visit.  That silly bitch is always bugging me, mostly because she lives with me and has since childhood.  Whenever I'm really on track with something, ducking and dodging the usual bullets of lack of time, lack of money, or lack of energy, along comes Stress who, with a single pluck of her twisted Tales from the Crypt bow, can send me reeling backwards in time to a place where the pursuit of health, wealth and success can be summed up in two words: "Fuck it."

But I didn't give in.  Goddamn it, I didn't give in.  Fuck you, Stress.  Hateful bitch.  No, no, I love you.  You help me get things done.  But sometimes you go too far.  You need to learn boundaries.

I was so proud of myself.  And then I woke up this morning and checked my blood sugar.

Time out.

A Note For Those Lucky Enough To Not Have To Track Their Blood Sugar 

Here's how it goes.  You're supposed to track it several times a day.  Once before you eat anything or move around a lot (we call it "Out of Bed"), and then again two hours after meals.  Your doctor or your health condition with determine if it has to be checked after every meal or just one.  For me, I have to check it at least twice a day; out of bed and after one of my meals, preferably dinner because that's my hardest meal of the day to choose the right foods. 

Out of Bed, my sugar should be between 80-90, no higher than 100.  After meals, it should be below 140.

Time in.

I got up and checked my blood sugar.  Before embarking on this more strict food regimen, my levels had consistently been between 85-95 every morning.  That's very good.  In fact, the only time it had popped above 100 was the morning after I'd eaten candy, actual candy, two pieces I think.

This morning's out of bed reading was 105.  And all I could think was, What the ever-loving fuck??  I didn't even have chocolate last night!

Then I got on the scale.  (Do you really want to read this?  Stop now, I'm serious.)  It hadn't budged.  Not a pound.  Not a half pound. 

Al's right.  This is hell.

On the way to the train station this morning, I asked Al, "Is it about weight, or about health?" to which she responded sanely, "You know the answer to that."  She's right, I do.  Or at least I thought I did.  But is it so wrong to want both?  I want to be rewarded, damn it.  If I'm giving up my mashed potatoes (and Patrick says I can't even cheat once a week yet, so my Saturday mornings are looking grim) and mac and cheese, and substituting soft Wonder for crunchy Ezekiel, and dragging my comatose butt to Lynn Brick's Gym at 5:30 a.m., then I want to get something out of it that I can see and touch.  Is that too much to ask?  Where the hell is the carrot at the end of the stick?  Did some other health nut eat it?

I couldn't help remembering that just the other day I'd said to Allison that if I had to choose between being 195 pounds and healthy or 120 pounds and a walking heart attack, I'd choose to be a curvier me.  I guess the Universe heard me, but the message didn't apparently come through all the way because otherwise my blood sugar would be down, not up.  If the scale must hold the numbers 1-9-5 in a death grip, so be it, but could my freaking glucometer please show me something that will make all of this worthwhile? 

Machines will either save us or kill us.  There will be no half-measures.

So.  The saga continues.  And mine isn't the only one.  There's a link to the right somewhere that will take you to Allison's blog where you'll be able to read about her goal to stop smoking.  Nicotine, sugar, heroin--it's all the same, trust me.  And somewhere out there (specifically, 5 blocks from me at the moment), Patrick has agreed to write 1,000 words a day for the entire month of February.  They're doing it to help themselves, but it started as a way to support me.  For every day that I don't cheat, he writes and Al doesn't smoke.  Can you believe that?  I'm the luckiest girl ever to have you all love me so much. 

Maybe this isn't hell after all.


Green Lemonade (kale instead of spinach makes it a little...chewy, so I'm sticking to spinach once the kale runs out)
Fruit for breakfast
Leftover whole wheat spaghetti and marinara
2 pieces of Ezekiel and unsalted organic butter
Handful of almonds and pistacios
Baked pasta parm (whole wheat pasta, marinara, browned ground beef, topped with fresh mozzerella)

30 minutes weights (biceps, triceps)
25 minutes cardio

Blood sugar:
Out of bed, before gym or food: 115
After lunch or dinner: you know I forgot again


Green Lemonade
Fruit (bananas fill me better than most anything, but watermelon really helps quench my constant thirst.  And grapes are just fun.)
Herbal tea (Fruta Bomba and Apple Something Pomegranate from Teavana)

30 minutes weights (legs. ouch.)
30 minutes cardio (broke a real sweat; need to find a way to get in a full 30 minutes every day)

Blood sugar:
Out of bed: 105
After lunch: 109 (YES!)
After dinner: (I've set my phone alarm and will come back and fill this in later)

Jan 31, 2010

Would This Hurt My Family?

Stress and aggravation are two of my triggers.  Boy, are they ever.  In fact, it's almost a foregone conclusion that if someone or something pisses me off badly enough, I'll head straight for the fridge or fast food line to soothe myself.

Friday was the beginning.  I'd drunk my Green Lemonade before going to the gym.  I felt well enough to do both weights and cardio, and that made me feel good.  Nothing beats strapping on the loud music and walking to nowhere.  I can walk through almost any emotion, provided I have the proper tunes as accompaniment.  So I was feeling good.  Got to work and ate my breakfast of fresh fruit, my snack of Ezekiel bread and my lunch of raw salad and whole grain pasta (no cheese, thank you).  Just before I left the office I popped some pistachios--always a great food for keeping my hand-to-mouth syndrome quiet--and didn't feel at all hungry.

And then.  Somewhere between the office and smelling those fucking McDonald's bags on the damn train and being aggravated at some little thing, that ugly bastard beast in my belly starting turning the screws and demanding macaroni and cheese for dinner.  Of course I gave in.

But it didn't end there.

The guilt drum started hammering in my head immediately.  Allison kept asking, "You're going to blog about this, right?  You promised you'd be honest."  And I said yes, again and again, thinking that I might as well hold off blogging until Sunday because I knew full well that I was going to cheat again the very next morning.

Saturday mornings are Eating Out Breakfast time in my household.  We used to all go to the Towson Diner but they started to suck and couldn't get my french fries with mozzarella cheese and gravy order right so we switched to the Amish Market.  Real comfort food made from scratch.  My favorite: chicken tenders with mashed potatoes and gravy.  At 9:00 a.m.

So right there, with barely any effort, I'd cheated twice and eaten my two biggest addictions, all within twenty-four hours.  In this book I'm following (at the advice of my doctor), The Raw Food Detox Diet by Natalia Rose, the author emphasizes that this isn't a make-or-break food plan, that you're allowed to "cheat" on occasion and that the main idea is to give your body as much of a break as possible without making it feel deprived.

She's obviously never met me.

I can't do things halfway.  At least not at first.  Later, when I've broken free from the pull of potatoes, cheese and heavy foods in general, then I can fudge a little and treat myself.  But not now.  Not yet.  I'm climbing a really steep hill and the bottoms of my shoes are still covered in the oil of all the french fries I've eaten over the years.  I need a clean break.

On the way to the Amish Market, I started telling Allison a story about how people who engage in self-destructive behavior are full of shit when they say they're only hurting themselves.  "They're hurting everyone who's close to them," I shouted.  "Everyone who loves them is made to feel pain and helplessness because they're watching their loved one fuck themselves up and usually there isn't a damn thing they can do about it."

We had been talking about her brother, how she couldn't interfere in his life and the mistakes he's making, no matter how shitty and protective it made her feel.  It sucks, that feeling, especially when you're a giant mother hen in human clothing.  It got me thinking and remembering all the times I'd felt it. I tried to remember a time when I'd been the self-destructive one hurting my loved ones with my behavior.

What came up wasn't the past but the present.  My loved ones know my health struggles and what it means if I don't do some heavy work on them.  They try to be supportive, and are, but in the end there's nothing at all that they can do.  It's all up to me.  I realized that I was causing them pain every time I started melting cheese in a pan.  Allison was even driving me to the Amish Market restaurant, knowing full well what I was going to order.  She wasn't being an enabler; none of my family was.  I am an adult. If I choose to do what I know is wrong, that's on me.  She's not going to hide the car keys or render me unconscious until the cravings pass.  If I want Amish Market, then Amish Market I shall have.  And it would hurt her heart with every bite I took.

I still ate my comfort food, but the rest of the day was better and cheat-free, as is this morning so far.  Everything is logged below, including our gym time and my (lack of) blood sugar tracking.  Really need to get better at that.  One thing at a time.  For now, I'm going to ask myself when I'm tempted to cheat, "Would it hurt my family to see me eat this?"  That may sound extreme, but let's face it, I care more about others than I do about myself.  It's a harsh thing, but a true thing, and that's what I need right now, the boot in the ass not the warm and fuzzy.  Not yet.

A note to all of my wonderful, beautiful family who are reading this (and you are family to me if I've personally asked you to read my struggles): if you have something you'd like to change about yourself or your life and need others to "watch" you in order to help keep you on track, maybe think about starting a blog of your own.  I've already hinted strongly to a friend who's going through very similar food struggles that she might want to keep her own accounting, and Allison has mentioned that she might blog through her decision to quit smoking on February 1st.  I don't want to call anyone out, but I know many of you are in the middle right now of life-changing thoughts or choices and I would love to read about them.  Let's help each other.  Why not?  Isn't that why we're here?  No pressure.  (Joking aside, really, none.)

Love to you all for reading and helping.  Please believe that you are helping, in big huge ways.



Green Lemonade (juiced kale, spinach, cucumber, apples and a lemon; it's not as bad as it sounds)
2 pieces of Fruit (I forget what kind)
2 slices of Ezekiel bread with unsalted organic butter
1 cup whole wheat pasta with organic marinara and steamed broccoli
2 cups macaroni and cheese
Dark chocolate (allowed!)

30 minutes weights (abs, ass and hips)
30 minutes treadmill

Forgot to check my blood sugar


Green Lemonade
Chicken tenders and mashed potatoes
Avocado sandwich
Dark chocolate
Veggie lasagna with whole wheat noodles and goat cheese
Dark chocolate

Day off from the gym

Forgot to check my blood sugar...again


Green Lemonade
Strawberries, watermelon and kiwi
Herbal tea
Leftover lasagna
Steak and rice with veggies (no soy sauce)
More chocolate

Day off from the gym (we only go M-F, or do special things on the weekends; at least that's the plan)

I swear I'll check my blood sugar today.

Updated to admit that I didn't check my blood sugar today.  Sigh.

Jan 29, 2010

The Raw Food Life

When your doctor makes it known that you have a choice--change or die early--one tends to take a long, hard look at one's life.  I've done this so many times it's become a point of amusement bordering on ridicule.  I've changed, I've suffered, I've bitched, and here I am, better than before but looking at a whole new mountain to climb.

This time, though, there's a game-changer in play.  Diebetes.  My grandmother had Type I, and being the kind of steel-spined woman she was, she controlled it purely through diet and without the aid of a single insulin needle.  She also raised thirteen children through the Depression, which makes the Diabetes thing seem almost wimpy by comparison, but that's a story for another blog. 

Fact is, I'm not my grandmother.  I try to be, but we don't get to choose what gets passed down to us.  Genetics is a bitch.  I got the Diabetes, but not the willpower to saddle and ride it like my grandmother did.  It rides me at the moment and my back is starting to hurt.  So is my liver, which brings me to my current situation.

My endocrinologist is a wonderful man, very kind without being the least condescending.  He laid it all out for me in simple terms I could understand and remember: major change would only come with major change.  If I wanted the Diabetes to stop screwing with my internal organs, I would have to stop giving it the weapons it needed to do so.  That meant, in short:

No more white potatoes ("They're death," he told me.)
No white flour
No refined sugar
No cow's milk cheese
No fried foods

To those who are already healthy, this might not sound like a big deal.  But my two all-time, hands-down, childhood comfort foods are mashed potatoes and macaroni and cheese.  To me, this list translated seamlessly into, "Die Die Die, Your Life Sucks So Much Worse Now, Resign Yourself to Never Feeling Pleasure Again".

And then I cried like a little girl.  I think, at that moment, I was.  Or maybe I was crying for the little girl, the one who remembers when mac and cheese was the decadent treat dinner my mom made for me when I'd had a really shitty day, and that mashed potatoes with gravy was, and is still, the only food my mom can eat at a restaurant that doesn't draw attention to the fact that she doesn't have any teeth.  These foods were my friends, a part of my family as much as my cousins were, and I was being asked to say goodbye to them after all they'd done for me.

They say life is about the future.  If that's true, and if I'm lucky enough to live to seventy, I'm already middle-aged.  That means there's just as much future as past to think about, and I have to choose between them.  So I choose to look ahead, if for no other reason than it's where my son will be, and where I hope to be once I get my act together.  Mac and cheese and mashed potatoes may be in my past, but Mas's college graduation is in my future, and that's worth working for.

Now that that's decided, here's my challenge: to eat more raw foods--fruits and green things with leaves, weird shit called Green Lemonade, pasta that's brown and not white, and potatoes that are sweet and not eaten with gravy.  I will eat nuts instead of Snickers bars and take care of my digestive system.  And all of this will clean my brain, clean my liver, and clean my blood and give me more energy and more time and more pretty clothes, because mama's gonna be shopping if the dress size keeps dropping.  Bank on that.  And here is where I'll come to bitch and crow and cry through words. 

But it won't be all bad.  I still get to eat chocolate.