Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Time for the big switcheroo!

The last few months have seen some major changes for me, especially concerning food.

Since January, I've been writing this blog and talking about my work towards eating heathfully most of the time and reasonably the rest of the time . . . about working through the various emotional and psychological issues I have around food . . . and then about working exercise into my life as well.

In June, I was diagnosed with food allergies to a large number of foods. A couple of weeks ago, I learned that instead of just allergies, I also have atypical celiac disease. Atypical because I have to give up cow dairy (which has casein, very similar to the gluten in wheat, barley, rye, etc.) in addition to gluten, and atypical because it's not necessarily my small intestine that's carrying the brunt of the effects of my consumption of gluten and dairy. . . .

Before this year, I had already cut out some foods while trying to deal with interstitial cystitis. Then I got on some amazing antihistamines that helped with that condition. More recently, cutting out my food allergens has dropped my IC to its lowest level since I first developed it.

In any case, over the past few months, I have not only appreciated the weight-loss blogging community but also the food allergy/intolerance community as well. Both have buoyed me as I have worked towards being a healthier me.

At some point I started thinking about combining my interest in the two in a blog. When you can't have dairy, tomatoes, wheat (or other gluten-containing grains), soy, almonds, eggs, and a few other foods, you realize you have lost the ability to eat about 90% of what most Americans eat. And as you start to figure out food, you want to be able to share that with others.

And honestly, the restrictions are not all bad. Trying to make foods unhealthy without any butter, wheat, soy, or eggs is not impossible, but it's more difficult--especially when you consider that I try to eat whole, organic foods and eschew artificial additives and preservatives. I walk into grocery stores and find myself untempted by a huge variety of foods that would have called to me two months, six months, or two years ago.

So I'm taking my weight loss public in a way that I have not done before now; my full name and photo will be attached to what I'm writing. (Of course, I do know my sleuthing Turkish reader found me out a while back!) I'm adding in doses of how I'm dealing with food allergies/intolerances for good measure on my new blog, including recipes that my friends who can eat all those foods say are genuinely good. (And plenty of those recipes are normal ones that just happen not to have any allergens in them.)

I have, in the last year, not spent time counting anything and have been able to lose weight that way; part of what I have been doing is trying to prove to myself that I can trust myself to make good decisions without strictly rationing what I eat. However, I do recognize that other people find it very important to count what they eat. So on my new blog, I'm plugging each recipe into a program I bought before I post it so that I can offer an approximation of calories per serving, and WW points as well.

My new blog is called "Aprovechar," and if you want to know why I picked such , you'll have to head over there and read the first post I wrote there. (Of course, I'd love it if you'd link up to me, too.)

As you can see on my new blog, I'll still be tracking my weight loss there, and I'll still be writing on the same topics. I'll just be adding more topics and trying to keep a focus on getting the most out of life every way I can.

Because of some posts I have written on here, I am not linking this blog to that one. I wrote on this blog with the intention of keeping it private and unattached to my name, and that remains. Please keep my privacy intact by not referring to this blog by name if you comment there. I won't, at least for now, be announcing the new blog to many people I know in my day-to-day life, but I'm sure I will tell some of them at some point.

In the meantime, I hope you will join me at my new blog and add a link to it in your blogroll. (Yes, right now! Won't you forget later? I often do. ;))

Oh, and I may still be posting comments to you from this blog, since some of you have Blogger-only comments enabled.

New site: http://aprovechar.danandsally.com

Thursday, October 11, 2007

One more post before I go

Jessica Seinfeld was apparently on Oprah recently talking about hiding veggies in kids' foods. I thought the ways to include veggies using purees were ones we could all put to good use, kids or not. I love what different vegetables and fruits add to meals; my chocolate zucchini bread is one of my favorite foods.

Anyway, check it out if you want to increase your veggie quotient easily.


I'm headed to my best friend's wedding in our hometown this afternoon, so it's unlikely I'll be blogging for a few days.

I'm fully expecting a small gain this week, as I will have greatly reduced control over my menu on the trip. And I'm okay with that.

I hope you all have a lovely week!

Saturday, October 6, 2007

Half-Way Mark!

177.4--down 1.6 pounds! And that's been my approximate weight every morning for the last 4 mornings, so I know it's real.

That also means that in this year's weight loss, I've reached the halfway point in my overall weight loss goal--26.2 pounds. (From my highest weight, I'm down over 45 pounds.)

Reaching the halfway point means I get to reward myself if I choose to. My husband and I set aside a small pot of money for my weight-loss rewards, so now I need to think if I want to spend any of it. . . .

Friday, October 5, 2007

C25K Update

I ran 29 minutes straight this morning, and honestly, it didn't even get hard until about 20 minutes in. It never got unbearable. (I don't do pain.)

The funny thing is, that run, even though it's the longest I've done, doesn't even feel miraculous anymore. But it is amazing if you compare my health and stamina now to what it was six or nine months ago.

I took a week off of running prior to today--first to recover from an overexertion injury (I also got a massage to help with that, mmmmm), and then because of rain. It actually did drizzle during part of my run today, too, but I ran on anyway.

I think taking a week off is good occasionally. Today, I felt much more rested and recovered when I started my run. The first 10 minutes or so were almost, well, easy, which is crazy.

This was my first day of using an iPod instead of my cute little former mp3 player, may it rest in peace. (The eulogy: it served me well.) Since my husband got an iPhone (his school bought him one), he uses that for music and everything else now, so I get to use his "old" iPod Nano and don't have to worry about buying a new one with the death of my old one. I got a red, wide armstrap from Nike (I don't care about brands, but I did not want a narrow thing that would feel like a tourniquet) to hold the iPod while I ran, and I have to say it served me well. It stayed in place, it was not too constricting, and it sheltered the iPod from the misty downpour. I think the earplugs on the iPhone (I borrowed my husband's) are great; they fit in my ears and block out other noise without hurting my ears like most in-ear headphones do.

I have two weeks until my first 5k (attempt 2, last spring's attempt having turned up to be up the side of a freaking mountain and back down). So I have about .75 mi to increase my run in two weeks for that 5k. Does anyone have any supportive words or stories for me about that kind of increase?

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Feeling better

Well, I don't know what happened to me yesterday, but it was just one day. I feel better today--slept a bit late and came into work a bit late, but now I feel better . . . just empty after all my tummy troubles!

One aspect of taking care of yourself is that, if you mess up for a day (purposefully or not), you don't have to punish yourself. You just have to go back to taking care of yourself. So today for breakfast, I ate an allergen-free pumpkin muffin (from a batch I made and froze this weekend), and for lunch, I brought several cans of organic soup to pick from to have something that will go easy on my stomach. I'm not beating myself up at all. That's quite a change from how I would have reacted a year ago. I love being in this process for the right reasons and in the right mindset!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007


Oh boy. Yuck.

Today has not been a good day for me with food.

I met the dietician at 9:30, and we had a great visit until about 11:15. However, due to a test she did on me, I was only allowed to have water before we met.

By the time I got to work at 11:45, I was ravenous. I heated up my lunch right away and ate about 2/3 of it.

But I felt weird--shaky, strange. And tired--I slept terribly last night.

For some reason I thought I wanted chocolate. So I had one ounce, and then another.

A couple of hours later, I got this euphoric idea to make macaroni and cheese for dinner--to figure out how to make mac'n'cheese that I can eat (that has no cow dairy in it). When I left work, I picked my husband up from his job and headed to Whole Foods. I asked the guy at the cheese counter what sheep and/or goat cheese he would recommend for mac'n'cheese, and he gave me a sample of one. It was delicious. I bought it and another kind.

When I got home and was ready to grate the cheese I had sampled, I noticed that--so random!--it contained egg whites. Egg whites in goat gouda? Yep. Eggs are my worst food allergy. I sent my husband back to exchange the cheese for another kind and fretted a bit over whether the sample I'd eaten would upset my stomach.

While he was gone, I ate bits of the other two kinds of cheese I used. Finally, I was concerned I wouldn't be hungry for dinner if I kept eating, so I stopped.

At one point while my husband was gone, I thought, Is mac and cheese what I really want? A wave of exhaustion hit, and I thought, No, what I want is sleep.

But I didn't listen to my body. I thought, Well, I have to make dinner anyway. I decided to make the mac and cheese with butternut squash soup and sage added so that it would be tasty but a bit healthier.

Then I decided I would drink a fruit-juice-sweetened soda from the fridge. Why? I don't really know. And after one sip, I didn't want more. But I kept drinking it. I didn't listen to myself. Why?

My husband and I invited over my best friend and her fiance; my best friend had asked for my help with something, and I was making a huge pan of macaroni, so I thought they could just eat with us. They brought a salad of greens, dried cranberries, dried banana slices, and sunflower seeds, and we ate poppyseed dressing on it. I ate a salad, and then I thought, Hmm, I don't really want very much mac and cheese now. So I took what seemed a moderate scoop of it--1/2 c. to 2/3 c. maybe (it was the main dish, right?)--and ate that. Everyone else ate seconds, which made me feel a bit ill just to watch. I felt so full of fat, so full of dairy, even though it wasn't the cow dairy I'm allergic to. It was so rich and . . . then I had to go to the bathroom.

My stomach got upset and is still upset. I didn't get to help my friend; I just went and lay down on the bed face-down. Her fiance stayed with my husband to wash dishes.

Was it the macaroni and cheese itself that made me sick? The amount of dairy fat I had? The sample of cheese I ate that had egg in it? What role did my exhaustion play? Who knows? But the rare times when I feel this way strongly reaffirm to me that when my body speaks, I should listen.

And now I'm listening by going to bed early.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

.6 pound loss

I'll take it! 179.0--it's the lowest number I've seen on a scale since probably my sophomore year of college. So yes ma'am, I will take it.

Friday, September 28, 2007

True stamina

Do you ever read stories like this one and think, "Good Lord, that is a woman of strength"? How many people would have died not only from the injuries, but also just from giving up, if they were in her situation?

If people can withstand things like that, I think, surely I can manage to hold out on little things that require a bit more stamina than is comfortable. Our lives tend to be so physically comfortable that it knocks us for a loop when life requires fortitude and exertion that we aren't used to.

I think occasionally of a story one of my professors, who had worked in Haiti, told me when we were talking about the word "womanish" and how it means "strength" instead of "silly girlishness" in the Haitian creole. There was a woman she knew in Haiti who was very pregnant but needed to go to the market, which was about half a day's walk away. She walked about half the way to the market, but on the route she went into labor. She gave birth, cut the cord herself, rested a couple of hours, got up, and walked back home again. How anyone could have that strength, I don't know, but it sure is amazing to me.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

It's true!

The pants in size 14 fit me in several stores. I didn't love the fit of all of them, but I did love the fit of some of them. In fact, I bought two pairs of pants as a result, one of which I will wear tomorrow. How exciting!

I was also able to wear size M or 12 in every shirt I tried on. When I put on a smaller shirt and size 14 pants, I went, "Oh" when I looked in the mirror, because I could actually see how I've gotten smaller. I tried on a gorgeous silk size 12 dark blue slip dress that looked great, too--if only I had somewhere to wear one! I tried on another size 14 dress that was too big.

So hurrah! I am still shrinking even if the pounds aren't. It's nice to have confirmation.

Nutrition Calculations for Chipotle

I don't eat typical fast food anymore, and there are very few chain restaurants that hold appeal for me. One that does is Chipotle, but holy hell, if you eat the whole thing you order you are consuming a lot of calories and fat, even if you get a burrito bowl.

There's a great Chipotle nutrition calculator on the web that comes in handy for planning. Today for lunch, I went to Chipotle but told them I only wanted three (not the standard four) crispy tacos even if I paid for all four. Then I got chicken, lettuce, salsa, corn, and guac--but no cheese or sour cream (which I shouldn't eat anyway with my food allergies). As you can see in the sidebar, I ended up eating about 575 cal, which I consider a reasonable lunch since my dinner tonight will be a light one. (And it was so tasty!)

Getting a bit of help

There's a nutritionist/dietician I went to see after I was diagnosed with interstitial cystitis. She helped me figure out what I could eat that would be healthy and would avoid the various foods that I need to avoid. She's very skilled, reasonably priced, and also nice. She questions the wisdom of many things that the mass marketers tell you (like to eat a lot of dairy), just like I do. I really trust her.

I emailed her a couple of days ago to ask her whether she thinks my weight loss stagnation, which seems strange to me given my eating habits, could really just be because I am gaining so much muscle. We decided that I would meet up with her to do a test that measures my metabolic rate--that measures how many calories my body burns in a day. I offered to do a week's food diary as well so that she can see what I have been eating. Despite having purposefully not calculated the calories/fat/points/etc. of anything I have eaten in the last nine months, I think it makes sense to go in to visit the dietician with as much information as possible. So on my sidebar until she and I meet, I will be recording what I eat to the best of my ability.

After emailing her in frustration a few days ago, this morning I woke up and pulled on a pair of pants I've only worn 2 or 3 times since I bought them and had them altered. They are really big on me in the waist and are sliding down on my hips! In the last few days, too, everyone has suddenly been telling me I look smaller again--even people who see me regularly. My husband says he can definitely tell I'm smaller when he wraps his arms around me. So tonight, I'm taking him to the mall with me (getting him to agree to go clothes shopping is a big deal), and I'm going to try on some 14 pants in the mall. If they fit, I will know that I am on track even though my weight isn't dropping.

Honestly, I wish I had measured my various body parts--upper thigh, waist, etc.--a long time ago with a tape measure so that I could measure progress in inches as well as pounds. I would encourage any of you who are taking on an exercise regimen to consider measuring yourself once a month in addition to weighing in case you get at a weight loss stagnation point like I have. I guess I should start measuring myself now, anyway, since I can still see progress over the coming months!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Thanks for the inspiration, y'all

Today at lunch and yesterday before dinner, I read your various weight-loss blogs to keep myself on track with making good decisions. At lunch, it was reading your blogs (on my laptop at a restaurant) that prompted me to pay attention and push my platter-size serving away when I just reached the satisfaction point.

So thanks! I have to say the wl blogging community is an amazingly inspiring and supportive group.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

In the 170's--and a question for you


It's not an enormous loss, but I'll take it! Running is giving me awesome muscles (the leg ones are nice, but the ab ones are more impressive to me), so my husband pointed out that I may not be able to expect a big drop at a time when my muscle mass is visibly, palpably increasing pretty rapidly. I wish that weren't true, but maybe it will be--and I'd rather have the muscles than have a more quickly reduced weight. I will be thrilled if I can drop .6 pounds per week at this point, honestly. Doing that would still get me where I need to go.

Of course, I'd be thrilled with a good, old-fashioned 2-lb. drop in a week, too.

I had started doing upper-body exercises in our living room on the mornings I don't run. Then we had a friend from out of town sleep in our living room for a week, so that put that aside. But he's gone now, so it's time to get back on track with that!

Last night my husband, two friends, and I went out to dinner. At dinner, I got a side salad and split an appetizer order of homemade chips with blue cheese and bacon with a friend. (I'm not supposed to eat blue cheese but decided to do it anyway for once.) I was really excited about the chips, but after I ate one, I thought, "These aren't as good as I was hoping they would be." I ate a few more, and my nose started itching--my first allergic reaction to most foods. I ate a couple more, and then I thought, "These also really aren't worth the calories." Instead of just blue cheese, they had a gooey bechamel sauce on them--and not a very good one, honestly. The bacon was nearly nonexistent. So I mentally pushed the plate away from me and tucked my hands under the table--feeling mildly full but not stuffed, and glad I stopped. If they had been fabulous, they would have been worth the calories . . . but they weren't.

One very cool non-scale victory occurred last night. After dinner, the four of us were traveling down a busy street when we saw two dogs dart in and out of the road. I suggested that we stop and see if they had collars to call their owners. One had a collar--with no tag--and the other had no collar. But they were sweet, cute, well-behaved dogs who clearly belonged to someone and also clearly did not have street smarts. (Where I grew up, a wandering outdoor dog was common, but in Midtown Atlanta, it's definitely not.) We spent the rest of the night walking the dogs to a friend's fenced yard, walking all over the area to ask if anyone was missing a dog, and finally taking the dogs to a late-night vet to get checked for one of those subcutaneous tags people put in animals now. At that point, we got a call from another friend who had joined our search that while putting up posters, he had come across the dogs' owner. Apparently the guy had taken off one dog's collar to bathe her and let the other one outside as well. He went back inside for a few minutes, and someone opened his fence to let the dogs out. (Sadly, this doesn't surprise me.) But anyway, my point is this: I went all over the place on foot, sometimes gripping a very strong, big blond lab, sometimes running to catch up with someone--and I never got winded or tired. My body was just capable of doing it, as our bodies are meant to do. It's always exciting to realize that something that would have been a struggle for me previously is easy now!

Back to weight: I've lost 24 pounds this year and I'm 2 pounds from my halfway mark, because--unless I decide I want to stop before I get there--my weight goal is 150 pounds, which will mean a 53 pound loss from my recent high weight (and a 76 pound drop from the highest weight I measured--wow!). I am sure that my weight goal is a lot higher than many other people's goals, but I have no dreams or desires to be a size 4 or 6. A 10 would make me perfectly happy and would, I think, not leave me stressing over each bite I eat like trying to maintain a smaller size might.

I would also, next spring, love to be able to wear a bikini and feel good in it. Not a string thing--I can't imagine something skimpy holding up my boobs without hurting my neck and back--but something that shows my stomach without me feeling entirely self-conscious. (By the way, despite all the talk about her being fat, I think Britney Spears had a pretty awesome body at the VMAs. The outfit wasn't very flattering, but I think a small amount of belly on women is attractive. I would love to have a body like she had at the VMAs. I think holding someone up to the ideal of how she looked at 17, before two pregnancies, is crazy.)

What are your long-term goals? What do you envision for yourself six months or a year from now, health-wise, weight-wise, looks-wise? Are you already planning for a celebration of when you reach some goal you have? Are you saving money for the splurge you may do when you reach a certain milestone? I'd love to hear what you are thinking.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

170s, I'm coming back to you! And then I'm leaving you for the 160s!

I'm determined that I am going to lose weight this week and break this seemingly endless plateau. Going through the various w.l. bloggers I read to see their progress has inspired me. I have also gone back through the VP archives to read up on my previous efforts. All of those have combined to make for a back-to-basics week for me--the obvious stuff that it's easy to have slip away from me over time:

1.) I'm eating until I am just satisfied--basically, until I first feel the food hit my stomach. If I stop then, within 15-20 minutes, I'll feel very happy with the meal I've eaten, and generally I'll have consumed a reasonable number of calories. The bonus of eating this way is having lots of leftovers when we eat out!

2.) I'm exercising on a regular basis--both the hardcore kind and the lesser. By lesser, I mean that the little bits of exercise we do here and there add up, so I'm parking farther from the store, getting up from my desk at work more often to move around, grabbing my husband to dance in the kitchen while the green beans are steaming, carrying the few groceries around the store instead of putting them in a buggy. (The bonus with the last one is that it's much more difficult to impulse buy when you have to carry your impulsive purchase along with everything else.)

3.) I'm giving myself a smaller serving at meals and then waiting 15-20 minutes to see if I want more. This is partly a home-eating corollary to #1. If it's already on my plate at home, I'm more tempted to eat it; somehow, putting aside food for later if it has been on my plate at home never occurs to me, even though it's no different than getting a to-go box at a restaurant. At home, it's easier if I just put less on my plate to start with.

4.) I'm keeping desserts as an occasional, once-or-twice-a-week treat instead of indulging regularly. Indulging regularly in desserts can be a total downfall for me. And quite honestly, since I discovered my various food allergies, this has been an area where I have really struggled. I haven't gone completely nuts like I would have 1-2 years ago, but I have eaten dessert more often than I was earlier this year . . . emotionally/mentally as some sort of, "Well, if I can't have that, I can have this" thing. Ultimately, it doesn't make me happy to indulge too often; it takes much of the pleasure out of it.

5) When I eat dessert, I'm starting with a small portion and then waiting to see if that satisfies my craving for something sweet. Often, that's all I want; the first two bites are heavenly, and the rest are just so-so. So one cookie may be the perfect treat. If I want a second or third one after that, fine. But starting with one cookie (or one very small slice of cake, or whatever) seems to be helping me out. I keep the cookies I make in the freezer now to keep me from the on-the-counter snacking syndrome. Out of sight, out of mind? Not exactly . . . but I'm back to telling myself, "It will be a real treat when I eat it--if I only eat it a couple of times a week."

6) When my first thought is that I'm hungry (like right now, for instance!), I ask myself, Do I really want food, or am I actually thirsty? It's amazing how often my body gets those two confused. I don't set any particular water goals for myself these days as I know I get plenty of water, but I definitely feel less tempted to snack if I try out water before eating.

7) I have recently officially been diagnosed as being hypoglycemic--a mild case, I think? I've guessed I was for a long time. If I start to feel that anxious hungry feeling that comes with hypoglycemia, I eat a small snack (a granola bar, or 2 T of nuts) when I first start to feel it coming on. (Also, I find avoiding corn syrup, honey, and sugar early in the day helps me to avoid the hypoglycemia in general.) If I wait until my blood sugar has dropped really low to eat something, I feel panicky in my shakiness and will gobble down way more than I need to fix the problem.

8) I'm planning my meals a week at a time--which I always do--but I'm back to including only one starch at each meal. Serving potatoes? Don't need bread then. Having burgers on buns? Grilled, herbed squash is a great side item. I grew up in what was definitely a 2-starch-per-meal household (bread and one starchy veggie or pasta), and when I eat that way, I definitely consume more calories than I would otherwise.

9) I'm trying to make our meals 2/3 vegetables. This was easier to do with vegetarian eating than it is now that I am allergic to so much vegetarian protein, but I'm keeping it in my mind as I plan meals.

10) I'm focusing on how much oil I use when I'm cooking. It's all too easy to add an extra tablespoon (or two or three) when a food really doesn't need it. With my great Calphalon nonstick pans, I only need to use a little bit of fat for flavor in most recipes.

I'm going to get back into the 170s I so briefly visited, dammit. If it doesn't happen by this coming weekend, it will happen by the next one.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Just a bit farther

As I just emailed one of my friends, I really love running in the early mornings. I hate getting up in the early mornings, as I have never been an early morning person. But there are several factors that make me run in the morning: there's a lower amount of smog then, the weather is cooler, and my stomach is empty or nearly empty without me making any special schedule arrangements for it to be that way. (Running on a half-full or full stomach equals bad cramping problems for me.) When the alarm goes off and I make myself roll out of bed, I usually haven't slept well, and I always think, "I am too tired to do this." But by the time I fasten up my awesome sports bra for women with big boobs and lace up my shoes, I am awake. By the time I am done stretching, I have pumped myself up to go. I get out to the park when it's still dark outside--I can even see a few stars, or, more likely, satellites--but in my first few minutes out there, the bands of gorgeous, muted color that signal sunrise form on the horizon. It's a glorious thing to be outside moving my body through the darkened trees while the sun pulls itself above the horizon.

Yesterday morning when I was running, I decided to push myself to run faster (and therefore farther in my alloted 25 minutes). I was trying to balance pushing myself with not making myself miserable and not pushing myself so hard that I had to walk part of the way. When I got home, I was really excited because of the extra distance that I had traveled. I got my husband to look at Google Earth with me to measure my distance.

And then I was a bit disappointed. I hadn't run as far as I had thought I had. All the curves in the path are tricky, and I'm not good at guessing distances anyway.

My husband was a bit surprised when we discussed it last night over dinner. "But you nearly ran two miles! That's amazing!"

"But I should be running 2.25 now to be on track."

After he asked me how I felt on the run and afterward, I admitted that I feel like I could have pushed myself a bit harder. The problem was, I was afraid of having to switch to walking at some point and then feeling disheartened because of that. But after the run, I was barely sore. (You know, really sore is bad, but a little sore is good indicator of growth.) And today, I can barely tell I ran that hard yesterday.

So tomorrow morning, I am going to push myself a bit harder again and see what happens. I'll still be one of the slowest (if not THE slowest) runner in the park, and that's okay. But I'm going to see if I can do the whole 25 minutes at the pace I started with yesterday. If I have to stop to walk, that's okay; it's a day when I'm testing my limits. If I succeed, I'll know I can get that much of a better workout and get that much closer to my 5k length.

It's one month until my 5k, too! I'm so pumped about that.

In other news, we may move my blog location soon. I've been ruminating on that for a few months. My husband has had two major papers he's been working on for his Ph.D. thesis, but those are both due today, and we may pursue the change once he finishes those.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Back to the bootcamp issue

Apparently I should clarify my post from earlier today.

I was talking to my best friend about the bootcamp issue. She--who runs in the park as I do, though on opposite days--doesn't get the same feel from the bootcampers as I do. She tends to think people are having a more positive experience with it than I do.

Maybe they are.

I asked her, "So how many people do you know who have had success with bootcamp getting them on a roll to get in shape?"

Answer: None.

"What good do you think it does in their lives then?"

She thinks it could put certain people on a path towards exercising regularly by jolting them into it. And if it does, hallelujah--more power to them. If it sets them on a path that they can then cling to, that's great!

But no one I know, and know one she knows, has had that experience. I know several people who have bootcamped at one point or another. What has happened to each and every one of them is that they are in constant pain while they are bootcamping. They aren't a bit sore; they are really, constantly sore. They hate the exercise while they are doing it. They hate getting up in the mornings to go. But they think they should do it because they think "someone has to get my lazy ass out there." I am not making up that statement; I've heard it before from someone in boot camp. "I don't have enough will power to do it on my own." That's another. They think someone has to be yelling at them for them to keep going.

What happens when bootcamp ends? Well, the external controls have evaporated. They haven't found exercise they enjoy. They are tired of early mornings. They are tired of being sore. It drops off immediately or fades out. Some of them do it all over again six months later.

Melissa, in the comments from the last post, thinks I am being unsympathetic or unempathetic to people who are doing bootcamp, and sardonically wants me to know that I am "not more self-actualized" than the people who are doing the bootcamp.

Far be it for me to say that I am more self-actualized than anyone else. As these unnamed people are not living my life, and I am not living theirs, I could not say. But I can say this: I am more self-actualized than I was when I thought that getting my life in order required someone else to play the adult in my life. I am the adult. I had to get my money in order, and that took me a couple of years. I am getting my weight and health right, and that is also taking a couple of years. I am further along in the process of living a good, solid, inwardly rich life than I was when I thought that Weight Watchers or my boyfriend or anyone else was better at knowing what was good for me than I could figure out with my own research, experimentation, and self-knowledge.

Melissa thinks I am not empathetic to others on their weight loss journeys. But I am--boy am I. I have been overweight since about the 4th grade, and I know what it's like to struggle and struggle and struggle.

The truth is, I'm so empathetic that if people are wondering if struggling and struggling is all there is, I want to say, "Maybe that's not all there is."

Since 2005, I've lost over 45 pounds in a slow, gradual process. It has not been painful; it's been joyful.

What I want to share, along with my own struggles (of which there have been plenty), is what I have learned, and that is that we can do this weight loss thing and this getting healthy thing and not have it be such a frustrating struggle where we feel bad about ourselves whenever we make an 'off the plan' decision. We can make this whole process about taking control of our lives in a purely positive fashion and not let it be something that belittles us in any way. I want all of us to come out of this process feeling stronger and more capable--not more controlled by outside rules and forces but more able to take on the world knowing we can take it on successfully.

So let me say: if bootcamp does that for you somehow, have at it, and I hope you enjoy it--really! But if you have tried bootcamp or if you have tried other methods and feel like a failure, you are not a failure. You just haven't found the way that offers you your power back yet. You are a wonderful person who is still searching for a way to take control of her own health. And it is in you to do so in a long, gradual, possibly lifelong process.

Living like I have respect for myself

"I told myself I needed to eat like someone who respected himself." That's a statement that HalfMan made in a recent blog post when he was talking about his weight loss.

So true, isn't it? We don't need to eat like we're ashamed, and we don't need to eat like we have no respect for what food does in our bodies, like we have no respect for who we are and what our years of life are worth. We need to eat like we have self respect.

We also need to exercise like we have self respect.

We're hitting the time of year when it's cool enough in the mornings for those crazy fitness bootcamps to go on in the park where I run. So when I walk into the park these days, I hear fitness instructors yelling, "Come ON! Come ON! Come ON!" I see huddled groups of exercisers trying to hold themselves in push-up position, and then dropping one knee down when they can't hold it, looking around embarrassed or keeping their faces down. I see grimaces. I see bodies covered in work-out pants and long-sleeve t's, with short-sleeve t's over them. Why such coverage for a work-out? I'm out there in shorts, a sports bra, and a sports tank, and I know they have to be getting at least as steamy as I do.

Whenever I am passing one of these groups, I get this overwhelming sense of negativity. What are they thinking about my body, about this pudgy girl who's walking (if I'm warming up) or running through the park? What do the instructors think of me--that I need to have my ass worked over like these people in their boot camps?

I work on letting it go. Every single time I pass them, I doubt myself: doubt my ability to take care of myself, doubt the appeal of my appearance, doubt my methodology.

And quite frankly, I realized today, that's absurd.

I am sure there are dieters who have found bootcamps helpful. But when I see those people crouched on the ground or huffing through plyometrics while instructors blow whistles at them, I realized today that I feel it is the opposite of everything I am trying to do with my weight loss and fitness goals. I want to take care of myself. I want to nurture myself. I want to feel good in my skin and good in my life. I want to feel alive and happy and hard-working. I want to set up my life so that I am happily in my life's driver's seat, knowing I'm a competent driver.

I do not want to feel ashamed or belittled or punished. And when I'm passing the people in the bootcamp, with the instructors standing still screaming and the overweight people all in motion, I feel like that is what those overweight people are doing to themselves. They are saying that they do not have the skills, the willpower, the stamina to create a better life for themselves without being punished or controlled by someone else. They are saying, "Here, take my power, because I don't know what to do with it, and you must know better than me."

Is that really sustainable in the long run? How can we succeed at having a healthy, long life if we won't take control of our own actions within that life? If the only controls upon us are external ones of what a bootcamp instructor says during a workout or what a spouse thinks of us taking another bite? What happens is we rebel against those controls at some point. We don't show up for exercise. We sneak food. We eat a potato, and because it's not 'on the plan,' it throws us off entirely.

You have the power within you to lose this weight, to flip the magnet of your life so that instead of being repelled from what you want to be come, you stick to it. I have that power, too. It's not about making any huge sacrifices, giving up entire food groups because we can't 'manage' to eat them without going crazy or having someone force us to exercise until we are in pain. It's about a gradual approach toward taking care of ourselves, toward believing we really are smart enough and capable enough to learn to run our own lives and really, truly love ourselves. That doesn't mean we won't need guidance and inspiration from bloggers, personal trainers, friends, dietitians, or anyone else, because most of us will. But it means we need to take that information and support to empower ourselves, not give that power away.

Way to go, Kim!

I just have to say I am so proud of Kim at Kim Under Construction, who recently ran her first 5k. When my alarm went off so early this morning for me to run, the first thing I pictured was the photo of Kim running in that 5k! It was great motivation.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Another one for the wl blogging world

My friend Lesley has decided to go public with her weight-loss challenge for herself, so please pop over to her blog and show her some support. In addition to her main blogging page, she has a separate page for her weight loss work. Lesley's a marvelous person, and if she embraces the baby steps that can bring on the health, I know she can do this!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Busy and RUNNING

I promise I'm not avoiding you! Really!

It's just that I feel like I've been working 90% of the time and trying to recover the other 10%. I felt the pricks of tears forming in my eyes as I told someone yesterday that I will be less busy by January--and then went on to say that what I mean is, if I am not less busy by January, something will have to give. I'm doing what I have to do at work to get things done right now, and some of those are exciting things that are my creations. (And I'm not really working 90% of the time--just feel like it.) But this is unsustainable in the long run.

However--however--I have been determined not to lose my focus on exercising during this period of stress. I ran 25 minutes straight this morning (plus stretching, a 10-min. walking warm-up, and a cool-down walking period), so I am definitely back on track with that! It makes me feel so much better all day when I have gone out and busted my ass with exercise by 7:30 a.m.

My weight has spiked this week with the early arrival of my period. EARLY, for the second month in a row! Not okay. I plan to go to the doctor when it ends, because with the symptoms I get, having a period every third week is unacceptable. I'm going to see if I can use Seasonale without getting depressed. (Most b.c. makes me depressed.) Anyway, my weight spike is not a big one--about 1.5 pounds. It will go away when my hormones calm down. And already my body fat percentage is decreasing again with my runs. I am going to see if I can get up at 6:15 not just to run but also 2-3 other days a week (nearly all 7, then) to work out in my living room before going to work. I want to do arm/chest/upper body stuff to work on more than my legs and core. (Honestly, though, I am surprised by how much I get changes all OVER from running.)

I hope you are all doing well. I need to go take a stroll through some of your blogs.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

I'm running again!

Trying to give my life a sense of balance, I created a calendar of things I want to do over the next 16 months. I made the calendar several weeks ago and put "Start running again" under the first week of September. Today was my deadline to start.

Several days ago, I went through the Couch to 5k plan to see where I thought I should try to pick up. I decided to start with week 6--close to where it's running only, but still with intermittent walks in the runs. I wasn't sure how much stamina I had lost since I stopped running in the July heat. I set up my mp3 player with the music and beeps for Run 6A.

Yesterday, in anticipation of the run this morning, I set out my running clothes and shoes on my dresser. I put my mp3 player on top of them. Whenever I saw them, I mentally psyched myself up about going for a run today, and I could feel it working. I felt excited about getting back to that part of my life.

I woke up at 6:30 a.m. The room was dark, and I was disoriented about why the alarm was going off when it was still dark outside. Then I remembered the exercise, and I inwardly groaned. Luckily, my husband has decided he's going to work out at the gym when I run this fall, so as soon as I rolled out of bed, he did too. He turned on the lights and made the bed while I was in the bathroom, so when I got back to put my running clothes on, I felt less tempted to crawl back in bed.

I worked on pumping myself up with positive thoughts this morning. That might sound silly, but I find the frame of mind around exercise can be just as important as the physical elements. "I can do this." "I'm up this morning taking care of myself." Things like those statements were going through my head as I turned on my mp3 player and began stretching.

Ten minutes later, I went outside. I had been worried about the dark, but with streetlights, there was enough light, and there were other people exercising in the park. There was never a time when I couldn't see someone else exercising near me, which was good for safety reasons. A number of homeless people were also present in the park; living in Midtown Atlanta gets me hit up for money regularly, but people leave me alone when I'm running. And anyway, it was early enough that the homeless people were mostly (sadly) stretched out on benches sleeping.

I walked my 10-minute warm-up and then started a slow jog for my first run. After the 5 minutes of the first run were up and my mp3 player beeped for me to switch to a walk, I was amazed at how good I still felt. "I could run more!" I thought excitedly. But I stuck to the program. At the end of my exercise, I actually kept running for a couple of extra minutes and increased my speed a bit.

I'm definitely a bit sore now, but not painfully so. I'm very excited about getting back on track with my running! I am aiming for a 5k at the end of October now to give myself plenty of time to get ready.

For those of you who have been thinking about doing C25k, if you are in the US, you would be hard-pressed to find a better time to start than with the temperature drop of fall. (Atlanta is not cool right now--it's 90 degrees at the moment--and it's very humid. But it's much more comfy than it was even a week ago.) I walked daily for a couple of months before I started C25k, and that gave me a decent base level to start from. I'm excited about finishing the program this time, and with winter in GA being mild, I should be able to keep running through the year. (Until NEXT July, maybe--we'll see.) As I get more fit from running, I also have other fun stuff in my schedule for later, like hiking, weight lifting, rock-climbing, and kayaking. I plan to keep at this program--even if I have to take intermittent breaks for whatever reason--until I am comfortable in my body like I was as a child.

Sunday, September 2, 2007

Zero sum game

Well, I haven't lost any weight this month--0 net loss for the month of August.


0 net gain for the month of August.

And sometimes that's what we can hope for. My clothes are not tighter; in fact, it seems my smaller clothes fit me better even without an additional loss. I'm buying 12s in tops and dresses, 14s in pants.

I've been holding tight at 180-point-something.

I've been dealing with a lot adjusting to my food allergies, and now I'm being tested for celiac disease as well. And I have not been exercising, as I mentioned before.

So I'll take holding on to my current weight. This week is when I begin to run again, and even if that doesn't make my actual weight lower, it will make me feel better, be healthier, and look better. I'm pleased--if a little nervous--to get back on track with the running. I know I can do it, since I was doing it just a couple of months ago.

Yay for cooler weather!

What I'm hoping for is to average 5 pounds a month still. That's a much slower loss per month than most people are going for, but I'm finding slow and steady is what works for me. And to think about being 20 pounds smaller by Christmas is amazing.

However, seriously, I will take 5 pounds smaller by Christmas, or 10 pounds. Or 5 pounds with a 4% drop in body fat. (It's dropped 5-6% since January, after all.) Or if I have to, I'll take maintenance while my body and brain figure out better how to deal with these food allergies/intolerances.

It's been about three years since I was at my highest weight--almost exactly, actually. I tipped the scales at 223 at one point, and then I got bigger--but I refused to weigh myself past that point. I was miserable in so many ways, and it took breaking up with my first fiance for me to shake me up to start dealing honestly with my life. Financially, professionally, personally--I had a lot of work to do.

After I met my husband, I started eating healthier and working out regularly. I got my weight down to about 187. After we got married, though, I stopped working out and started eating lots of sweets. Seriously, lots of them. And eating until I didn't feel good on a pretty regular basis.

By last Christmas, I weighed in at 203. Since January 1, I've lost--and kept off--23 pounds, and this time I am not planning to let that weight start creeping back up. Barring something terrible like an illness that keeps me bedridden for months, I am going to keep this weight off, keep the level of health I have attained.

One of my friends was laughing recently about another friend of ours who gained 5 pounds and was dieting to get it off. This dieting girl is thin. I laughed too for a second but then grew quiet. "Well," I said, "I guess that's how you keep the weight gain from becoming a real problem." If you deal with it while it's 5 pounds, you're doing a whole lot better than if you wait until it's 20 or 40 or 100. So if I'm maintaining for a while, that's my goal. If I'm losing, even better. I just don't want to lose heart, period. I and my health are too important for that.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Stepping away

I've been absent three weeks! That is a long time.

This week has been better, but the two weeks before that were pretty awful. I'm not talking about my weight, though that did pop up a pound; I'm talking about my outlook on life in general.

I started sublingual allergy drop treatments for seasonal/environmental allergies, and they made me sick at first (as happens with a minority of patients). Trying to figure out how to avoid food allergens while still feeling the full effect of allergies (while not feeling any better from the effort) was extremely frustrating. Then I got my period; it came with bad cramps and a nearly unprecedented (for me) level of sudden despair. Simultaneously, I was working full-time and then staying until late at night 2-3 days a week while learning my new job and training my new employee. Let me tell you that all of that is a bad combination.

I wanted to hide from life. I was scared--as I get when I feel really down--that I was headed into a new bout of deep depression instead of just having a mini-phase.

Instead of entirely hiding from life, I backed away from the social part of my life and only accomplished what I needed to at first. Then I focused on what I could change to make my life feel more right again. That involved some compromises with how I normally try to live.

I am someone who seeks out local, whole foods whenever I can. I like to eat foods close to their natural state, knowing they are better for our bodies in the forms they take when they are closest to the earth. That's also better for the Earth because eating whole foods avoids packaging, shipment, waste from additives, etc.

But when I am adjusting to these food allergies, I can't suddenly make everything from scratch with my new restraints as easily as I could before them. I also can't eat your typical packaged food because, besides not being very tasty to me now, it almost all contains things I can't have.

What I realized I could do is find well-reviewed sources for allergen-free foods on the web and buy some mixes--cookie mixes, bread mixes, etc. A bad gluten-free, egg-free mix bakes up to be something you would only feed a significant other that you want to get rid of. But a good gluten-free, egg-free mix can make food that is tasty, sometimes very tasty. I read up on the internet to find ones that were well-rated, and then I ordered $100 worth of those mixes.

I decided that this week at work, I would leave by 5 p.m. each day--and I stuck to it.

I postponed a doctor's appt. that I was supposed to have this week that was making me feel overwhelmed with visits to doctors.

My period ended, of course, and that helped me get on a more even keel hormonally.

I cut back (just temporarily) on the amount of local foods I am buying to give me time to adjust to the allergen-free recipes I am starting to use. I am still serving 1-2 local foods per night for dinner, but I'm not, at this point, striving anymore to get as many local foods as I can. I'll pick that up again when I feel more adjusted to my food restrictions.

I made a schedule of things (only one thing per month and one other thing per season) that I want to do and try in the next sixteen months--to keep myself from trying to jump into too many things at once, but also to remind myself that the feeling like my life is in a bad place is only a temporary emotional locale that will pass. Now I'm excited about the various things I am going to try. I put them all in my Google calendar with reminders that will get emailed to me to keep me on track.

I increased how often someone is coming to clean our apartment. Having a housekeeper come for vacuuming, bathroom-cleaning, etc., is a splurge that my husband and I agreed to after our apartment got really dirty after my husband was hit by a car last year. We pay the housekeeper well (she makes more per hour than I do!), but we have the money, and it's well worth it right now for her to come in with her all-natural products and clean once a week instead of once every two weeks as we were having her do. That will continue until my husband finishes the two experiments/papers he is currently working on for his thesis at the end of next month.

I have also been trying to take the time to calm myself down emotionally, to talk myself down from the ledges that I can climb to when I begin to get worked up over how X is going in my life. It's so easy to think things are dire when really they just need a few adjustments.

I grew frustrated two weeks ago when I gained 1 1/2 pounds (at the start of my period) and then could not seem to get it off. Then I realized that I have been exercising very little (even incidental exercise, like parking far from a store) because of how hot it is outside. I also, due to the food allergy frustrating, have been eating more at a sitting than I was doing. I have been eating until I'm full, occasionally until I'm unpleasantly full, instead of stopping eating when I first feel the food hitting my stomach (which I find usually means I will be satisfied after a few minutes). That weight is gone now except for .2 pounds because I reminded myself to pay attention to how I feel when I'm eating. I am trying to remind myself, as I often say and mean when I say, that I am in this weight-loss thing for the long haul and not a short fix.

(Meanwhile, I realized two days ago that a pair of my size-16 dress pants are now certifiably too big. I saw my reflection in a mirror by chance and thought, These look horribly droopy on me! A bad realization when you can't change out of them at that moment, but a good realization overall.)

When you feel bad, it's not good to shrink away from your systems of accountability and care, and both of those are part of what this blog is to me. But I do think I needed a short break from doing anything beyond what I needed to do. I'm back to posting now, and while I am going to be taking it a bit easier, I will try to post at least once a week and get some of my new, allergen-free recipes up here. I still love reading your blogs and having you read mine.

Monday, August 6, 2007

14 pants!

My husband and I have been visiting his parents in VA for several days now. Today, we popped over to the mall, and I decided to try on a pair of size-14 pants to see if they fit me at all. They fit great--perfectly, in fact! I was so excited at how cute they were that I decided to buy them despite the $60 price tag that would normally make me say, "Um, no." They are dressy and they are a nice brand (Ann Taylor Loft), so I know they will be useful and last a long time. I'm so excited! I haven't worn a 14 in pants since my junior year of college, perhaps my sophomore year even. That's . . . 6-7 years ago now!

Usually these days, I weigh myself every couple of days. I don't write it down; I just like to keep a general check on what is happening. I haven't been able to do that since we've been here, and it will be interesting to see what my weight is when we get home. It could be down or stagnant--I really have no idea. I guess it could also be up a pound. One thing about never counting anything is that it works as long as I trust myself and keep the idea of taking care of myself in mind. But I can never be 100 percent certain that I'll have a drop at any time, so I do like to weigh myself often enough to keep in mind that I can't eat loads of potato chips or things like that that make me feel gross and make my weight pop up.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

I'm in the 170's!

I've been terrible about posting lately, but I have NOT been terrible about being conscientious about what I'm eating. I am officially (just barely) in the 170s today! This is a land I have not visited for many years. I am soooooo excited!

In other happy weight news, when I was at a thrift store a few days ago (where they had crazy bargains on nice stuff--I haven't been in years), I fit into size 14 jeans. I wouldn't have bought them (they were too tight--I'm sure my husband would have loved them on me), but I could zip them without feeling like I was dying, and that's awesome! As you may remember, I mentioned that I wore a size 12 dress to a wedding recently; when things are A-line cut, I can wear a smaller size over my hips and thighs. But with pants, I am still a size or two up. Last night, I got inspired to try on my last remaining just-barely-too-small pants at home, and one pair now fits me well. The others just don't look great, but I ordered them off the internet, and they may just not be cut for me. We'll see how I'm feeling when I'm down five more pounds!

I met my goal of 5 pounds in July (slow and steady wins the race, right?), and I am just thrilled with how the weight loss is going lately. I think I am going to set another 4- or 5-lb. goal for August.

Some days when I weigh myself, my weight will suddenly show a brief upswing or will not be lower when I am expecting it to be lower. I just remind myself it's an off day and don't let it throw me off track. That's one major way this round of weight loss has been different from previous attempts. (Then, I would have gotten stressed and angry and given up; I was 'restricting myself' for nothing. But now that I have flipped the mental/emotional switch so that I am taking care of myself instead of restricting myself, it doesn't make sense to eat myself into misery if my weight happens to be up or flat.

Since I learned about my food allergies, I have been terrible about exercising. There is only so much energy to go around in a given day, and I have spent a lot of mine on figuring out what to eat. Now that I am beginning to get the hang of dealing with that issue, though, I am going to make it a priority to start back with regular exercise this month.

Sunday, July 22, 2007

Happy weight loss times

As you can see from my tickers, I've lost four pounds this month toward my five-pound month goal. It's going to be crazy if I have a weight of 180-point-something by the end of the month. If it happens, I will be so close to--just a week or two away from!--the 170s, a land I haven't visited since perhaps my sophomore year of college.

My husband pointed out that if I continue to average about 1 lb. a week (which has been close to my average this year), by the end of the year I will be a couple of pounds away from my goal weight. Isn't that a crazy idea? "I want to lose 50 pounds in a year" isn't a goal I have said, and when you break it down by the weeks, it doesn't even sound like much per week. But it sure adds up. Will it happen? I don't know, especially with all my food juggling that I'm doing with the food allergy issues now. But what an exciting thought it is! I told him it would be like moving even further back in time to my 10th grade or so weight. (I thought I was fat then in a size 10. Boy, how wrong I was!)

One thing that has been interesting lately is that I find myself feeling my face with my hands, noticing how strange it feels to have my facial bones emerging from the veil of fat they had been hidden behind. My husband has noticed the same thing about my knees, ribs, and other various bones. Not that I'm suddenly super-skinny--nor would I want to be, really--but now we can feel bones that before were so cushioned that they weren't able to be easily felt.

In the spring, I tried on sundresses at Ann Taylor. None of the sizes fit just right, and the dresses were about $150, so I didn't buy one. I tried on one of those dresses again this week, on clearance for $60, and got a size 12! It's going to be perfect for the wedding we are attending next weekend. (I still wear a 16 in pants, though I think I might be in some 14s if I tried them now. My top and bottom used to always be the same size, but that ended when I had abdominal surgery a few years ago.)

These are happy weight loss times. Even as I am feeling down about food and stressing over the food allergies, I am trying--trying--to keep in mind that I should eat reasonable portions, watch my sugar intake, and eat lots of veggies. Fortunately, those actions have at least partly become habit these days. I'm still not counting or tracking anything specific, and I feel good about that.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Delicious Cuban Rice & Beans

One of our friends emailed me today to ask for the recipe for the Cuban rice and beans I served at our last simplicity meeting. Nearly simultaneously, Dan IMed me, “I’m so in love with these beans and rice you made.” I took those two things as a hint to post the recipe. The recipe comes from the wonderful (milk-free, egg-free, wheat-free, soy-free, peanut-free, tree nut-free, fish-free, and shell fish-free) cookbook The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook. I’ve modified it a bit.

Cuban Rice And Beans

(Serves 8)

1 large Vidalia onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, pressed/minced
2 bay leaves
4 T olive oil
2 tsp. oregano
1 T cumin
4 15-oz. cans black beans (about 6 c. of beans)
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1/4 c. cider vinegar
1 T honey
2 cans of veggie broth

2 c. white rice or brown rice
enough water to cook the rice
salt to taste

Saute onion, garlic, and bay leaf in olive oil over med. heat until onion is soft. Add oregano and cumin. Cook about 2 minutes. Add black beans through veggie broth; cook 30 minutes at a simmer.

In the meantime, cook rice in water according to bag or cooker directions (30-50 min., depending on rice).

Toss the rice and beans together thoroughly. Add more salt and pepper to taste. Let the flavors combine for 5 minutes, and serve.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

80% of my energy is taken up with figuring out food--but not dieting

Yesterday, I hit a low. I got a phone call from my allergist that my new round of allergy tests came back . . . with low-level allergies to crab, pork, beef, lobster, lamb, avocado, peppers, pecans, grapefruit, pine nuts, walnuts, and eggplant, and slighly higher-level allergies to almonds and oysters. (Oysters?? I don’t even eat oysters.)

I hung up the phone and started crying. Adding those allergies to gluten, dairy, soy, corn, tomatoes, apples, eggs, and peanuts overwhelmed me. When those tests came back, it became apparent to me that I am one of the small minority of people with food allergies who develop allergies to nearly any food they eat regularly (and some they don’t). I called Dan and cried and cried. “I can’t eat anything,” I sobbed. I heard him zipping up his bookbag, and he told me he was coming home.

Dan found out the contact info for a doctor in Chattanooga, TN (US) who uses sublingual immunotherapy to treat food allergies. It’s Krys Alimurka with Allergycare of Chattanooga. My insurance won’t cover part of the cost, but I’m going to go see her to get on food allergy treatments. They are no panacea, but they can make allergies better over a long period of time (sometimes somewhat better over a short period of time), and having hope with food allergies is a big deal.

(Some people on message boards find these drops very controversial. I say let’s try them and see if they work. What harm comes if they don’t? The people who are completely opposed to them simply because a doctor told them to be remind me of the people on the IC chat boards who lament that nothing works to fix IC yet never stick to any of the remedies long enough to find out.)

In the meantime, I’m going to have to rotate through foods, continuing to eat ones that give me only a mild allergic reaction or no reaction. I spent 15 hours this weekend–really, no joke–planning my breakfast, lunch, and dinner for each day this week. It was frustrating. I sighed a lot. I keep feeling guilty for feeling frustrated, and then feeling frustrated for feeling guilty when this situation does suck. I’m dealing with it, but it sucks, okay? Always having a good attitude is not possible for most of us, and I’m certainly no exception. Sometimes the glass seems half empty, and sometimes it seems half full. Right now I’m torn about which way it is, but it depends on the moment you talk to me.

There have been bright spots, of course, and some big ones. I feel better. That’s huge. It would be difficult to overstate it. My skin is also clearer.

Several people–friends in my ‘real’ life and people who read my blog–have contacted me to offer suggestions on foods they have found that they think I can eat. A few of them: my friend Nikki left me a voicemail about a flour mix she saw that might work; I just bought some of it. My friend Margaret managed to make cookies with none of my allergens (well, the known ones, anyway). Another blogger sent me a link to a company that sells gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free chocolate cake mix that’s also organic and fair-trade. (I bought two boxes, and two batches of their frosting, for my birthday party next weekend, and they were nice enough to ship it to arrive more quickly than it would otherwise–and the proprietor sent me a nice email with other icing suggestions.) My friend Lesley has sent me a lot of links to allergen-free blogs and websites she has found. A professor at my husband's school who has children with allergies met with me to talk about how to handle them. I could keep listing the people who have sent me helpful suggestions for a while, and there have also been a lot of people who have emailed or commented just to offer support.

I have found local, sustainable sources for beef, lamb, pork, chicken, turkey, duck, and possibly bison now, as well as the usual organic vegetables, fruits, grains, and goat cheese I buy locally. Dan and I are planning to purchase a small (7 c.ft.), energy-efficient chest freezer so that I can put away additional allergen-free meals and always know that there are things at home I can eat; that will help keep anxiety at bay. We bought a small, very well-reviewed gas grill–a Weber BabyQ 100 grill that I got at Sears (where I got excellent customer service–props to Sears)–that has made us able to make tasty foods fairly quickly without using allergen-containing sauces. Pattypan squash and zucchini slices on the grill with salt and smoked paprika on them were delicious.

So what am I eating? I have gotten a lot of questions about that from people who realize that if you cut out all foods that have proteins in them from corn, soy, dairy, eggs, wheat, and tomatoes, you have just cut out 90% of what Americans today typically consume. Our reliance on a few foods is a bit scary, really. What I have realized is that, for the most part, I have to stick to whole foods–foods in forms that are close to how nature created them.

But to answer the question, let’s see. . . . Recently for dinner, we had grilled chicken breasts, grilled squash and zucchini, roasted garlicky potatoes, and cantaloupe. For a light lunch recently, I combined salad greens, nasturtium blossoms, feta, olives, and pistachios with a dressing of lemon, olive oil, and a variety of Italian herbs from our little porch herb garden.


For lunch, I tend to be eating leftovers, though I am going to have to be careful about eating leftovers of the same foods multiple days in a row. For the simplicity meeting (another great meeting!) on Sunday night, I made slow-cooker mojito pork with Cuban beans and rice, and other people supplied side dishes, drinks, and desserts. The directions for grilling pork chops here made for absolutely incredible pork that was not at all leathery; we ate the pork chops with mashed sweet potatoes and Indian spiced butterbeans.

For breakfast, I’m having gluten-free muffins I made, or granola (have to careful about what kind), or amaranth flake cereal, or other random things.

It’s still a juggling act. And when I get home and am hungry and want a snack, I have been struggling with what to eat. At restaurants, I have found that unless I order things completely plain, there will be an allergen snuck in there somewhere (not intentionally, just because one of them is in something). I’m determined to figure this out because my health is incredibly important. But it is taking an enormous amount of energy to avoid lots of foods and to try to strictly rotate others.

Friday, July 6, 2007

Working my way through this allergy thing

In a way, I guess this gluten-free thing can (at least at times) be a back-to-basics kind of meal planning system. After all, it has only been in relatively recent history that people have relied on regularly having flours—and wheat flour specifically—to get them through meals. If I just rely on alternate flours, which can be as good as wheat or more authentic than wheat in a recipe . . . but not commonly, I can have as flour-y a life as ever, but there are catches to that:

1. If I consistently rely on the same flours over and over on a day-to-day basis, I’m likely to develop an allergy to those flours as well. It’s much better for the sake of allergies to eat a diverse diet that does not include the same foods day after day. (I have a book coming from Amazon that delves into this topic in greater depth–this process is called having a rotation diet.)

2. I’m likely to be disappointed, often, with the quality of previously-consumed-with-wheat-flour baked goods, as they will not resemble my memory of what they should be like.

3. A lot of gluten-free flours are low in fiber. I eat a lot of vegetables, so fiber is not my biggest concern, but I don’t want to be eating nutritionally bankrupt foods very often either.

4. If I eat good-for-me whole grains, like millet, that are gluten-free, I will get fiber and learn to eat something new without delving into previous expectations of how that food should taste and what the texture of the food should be.

All of that said, of course I don’t intend to give up baked goods entirely. It’s going to be a balancing act. I think ‘balancing act’ is my favorite phrase lately to describe everything–my job, exercise, healthy lifestyle, simplifying, healthy eating, and now gluten-free eating, as well.

I came home half a day early on Tuesday. I’ve been working too much and was antsy to be away from there long enough to make today count, especially since I worked last Saturday and will be working this coming Sunday.

I came home after going back to the salad restaurant Dressed for another meal. I had intended to eat soup at work—Dan looked at the ingredients and thought the soup I packed was fine for my allergies—but it turned out to be tomato-based. Oops. (I HATE that I found out I’m allergic to tomatoes right as the tomato season kicks in. Tomatoes are one of my favorite foods!) I went to Dressed for lunch, ate a Cobb salad with no egg, and came home . . . where I was pleasantly surprised to find that I did not want to go to sleep. Last week, I went to my primary care physician and said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but something is. I am getting headaches every day, and all I want to do is sleep.” I also told her that my balance was off, that I had scared myself falling down the stairs, and that I wanted to be certain nothing was really wrong. She ran a bunch of tests, but she told me she thought maybe my years of sleep problems were just finally catching up with me. This is my third day with no headache, though, and it was so miraculous to get home yesterday and not climb in to bed to take a three-hour nap and wake up still tired. (Yes, I know taking naps can sometimes make you more tired, but in the last couple of months, I have come home so tired I can do nothing but sleep.) I don’t know if all of this is attributable to allergies, but from what I’ve read, all of those symptoms can be—including my sleep problems! Someone from the town where I grew up who has the same allergies emailed me to say that, among other issues, her nightmares had stopped when she did an elimination diet. Isn’t it strange that food allergies could cause such diverse reactions in our bodies?

Speaking of which, other than the typical symptoms of allergies like nasal congestion, here is a list of some of the symptoms that allergies (some environmental, some food) may cause:

  • headaches and migraines,
  • abdominal bloating or cramps,
  • frequent diarrhea or constipation,
  • eczema or other skin problems,
  • painful swelling of joints,
  • unexplained mood swings,
  • depression or anxiety,
  • swollen hands, ankles, feet, eyes, face,
  • unexplained weight gain or loss,
  • constant fatigue.

Fascinating, I think.

Oh, and because there is a doctor at our church who swears by gluten-free diets for the treatment of a whole range of illnesses (gluten increasingly being a problem due to the enormous increase in gluten that is found in the strain of altered wheat grown 90% of the time these days), here are the symptoms of gluten intolerance and/or celiac disease:

  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Nutritional deficiencies due to malabsorbtion e.g. low iron levels
  • Gastro-intestinal problems (bloating, pain, gas, constipation, diarrhea)
  • Fat in the stools
  • Aching joints
  • Depression
  • Eczema
  • Head aches
  • Exhaustion
  • Irritability and behavioural changes
  • Infertility, irregular menstrual cycle and miscarriage
  • Cramps, tingling and numbness
  • Slow infant and child growth
  • Decline in dental health

Undiagnosed for long periods of time, food intolerances have been found to contribute to diabetes, bowel cancer, anemia and osteoporosis.

As far as allergies go, you have to find a doctor who will do a blood test for IgG (not just IgE) if you want to find out whether you have latent/delayed food allergies. And you have to find a doctor who uses a good laboratory that is careful about their food samples and runs tests to replicate findings.

The tests for gluten intolerance may be a bit more complicated. The doctor at our church sends off stool samples to a particular lab for testing.

Now that I’ve brought up stool samples, I think I’ll write about food in a separate post. On to that now. . . .

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

20 pounds down: a photo!

I did a 10-pounds-down photo, so here's a 20-pounds-down photo.

Of course, I have the advantage of a great photographer for a husband. He showed me how many Hollywood portraits are taken like this one--a bit overexposed--to get rid of the appearance of fine lines, pores, and flaws. Women just look luminous like that. Here's another, less exposed one.

He took about 100 photos of me--no joke, really--when we were messing around with his camera yesterday. It's interesting to see what I look like in photos and how that is different from what I look like in my own head. Occasionally when I catch a glimpse of myself reflected in a mirror, I'm surprised to see myself looking thinner. On other days, I can be feeling thin and catch a glimpse or see a photo and think, Ugh! It's funny I can be that judgmental about my fat, because I sure don't feel that way about my family and friends!

Thursday, June 28, 2007

This really sucks

I just got a phone call from my new otolaryngologist’s office. (Wendy Smith in Blairsville, GA, is the doctor, and she is GREAT–which I rarely say that about any doctors.) It turns out I have regular and/or latent food allergies to eggs, dairy, tomatoes, soy, corn, and wheat . . . among other foods. If I remember correctly, she (the nurse) said my egg, wheat, and soy allergies were the worst food ones. She told me that I was very unusual in that I tested positive for everything she tested.

I know I’ll figure this out, but the question right now is . . . what the hell am I going to eat? And yes, I do realize, practically speaking, that I have options like rice, oats, etc. I think Dan and I are going to have to start eating meat at home again– meat from well-treated, no-hormones-added animals from sustainably practicing local organic farms, but meat nonetheless–because I don’t see a way around it. I have a tendency toward anemia as it is, so I don’t know what else to do for adequate protein if dairy, soy, and eggs are out.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Doing It the Bob Greene Way

You know, it's funny. I was getting pretty frustrated with myself about this whole weight-loss thing lately. Then I realized a few things:

1. Despite a pretty large stress load lately, the way I have been eating, I have been maintaining my weight loss, which is about 20 pounds lower than I was in December and about 40 pounds lower than my highest weight.

2. I tell everyone else that sometimes you have so much going on in your life that you can't expect yourself to exert a large amount of energy on weight loss as well as handle the other stuff--and I need to accept that I get into that same place sometimes (not long-term, just for now!).

3. Although running has been great for my body in terms of how I feel and how I look (even Dan's Ph.D. advisor, who is normally rather oblivious to me, recently commented, "Your training is really looking great on you"), when I started training for running a 5k, I went from exercising 30-45 minutes daily to exercising 30-45 minutes every other day. If you look at people who keep weight off long-term (according to the National Weight Loss Registry), over 80 percent of them exercise about an hour a day. I'm definitely not there at this point. Moreover, that's okay! Running has been moving me into a better appreciation of my body and its abilities. It's also done a lot for my self-esteem. But if I'm going to gear up for long-term weight loss and weight-loss maintenance, I will have to keep moving forwards into being more active in the long term.

I'm the kind of person who likes to act quickly. Sometimes I jump head-long into things just to realize they aren't right for me or won't work with me/for me. When I realized that I need to be exercising more to jump-start my weight loss, my first idea was to figure out something RIGHT NOW and start on it RIGHT AWAY.

Then I checked myself. The reason this post is entitled "Doing It the Bob Greene Way" is that in The Best Life Diet (the last diet book I read--in January--and the last one I intend to read for a long time unless I'm researching exercise), Bob says that one problem with many diets is that they have us jump into dieting in exactly the way I often respond to things (the way I have tried not to do it this time). We get really gung-ho, we go at the diet and/or exercise passionately for a short while, and then we start slipping up. We start slipping up because the diet/exercise we are doing isn't really sustainable in our lives; it's too restrictive, or too hard-core. When we slip up, we feel like we are failing, and when we feel like we are failing, we give up--either gradually or quickly. For us to create sustainable weight loss, he says, we need to ease into the process of losing weight instead of trying to jump-start it. Make a few changes, he says, and watch the weight start to come off slowly. Once you are used to those changes, make a few more. Work your way into being someone who exercises regularly. Work your way into being someone who eats meals that are high in veggies, fruits, and whole grains. Treat yourself gently and lovingly, not as someone who needs to be beaten or whipped into shape at a frenzied pace.

It works--it's just not a quick fix, and that's hard for people. But think about it: would you rather be 20 pounds lighter at the end of this year, or would you rather stay where you are now? Would you rather lose 15 pounds in three weeks, but then gain it back six months later? Would you rather be reliant on a diet or exercise plan that makes you miserable?

I sometimes think to myself that if I had lost something like 5 pounds a year from the time I was originally overweight, I would have hit my goal weight by now. Even now, I'm like, But 5 pounds?? That's tiny! And I am not suggesting that it's a huge loss. But a slow loss of 5 or 20 or 40 pounds in a year is a much better situation to be in than sitting somewhere, miserably thinking how you have failed at yet another extreme or odd diet (or how you have gained back that weight yet again).

I remember when one of my close friends was 185 pounds and trying to lose weight. I was somewhere like 215 and trying to lose weight. 185 seemed like a distant, nearly impossible dream. Now I'm the girl at 185! That is NOT a bad feeling.

My life right now is like this: I was promoted recently and am learning that job as well as taking on the stress and responsibility of being the head of my department. There are people who clearly think I should not have the position I have at 26 years of age--I don't let them stress me out, but I know they are there waiting to see what happens. I am working two jobs until I find the replacement for my previous job, which means I am juggling the paperwork, the office visits, the phone calls, the questions from homeowners, etc., that two people normally handle. I am interviewing for that previous job I held. I have worked a pretty decent number of late nights lately, and even when I get home from work at a normal time, I am completely exhausted--completely exhausted. I, who normally enjoy cooking, have come home too tired to cook or do anything day after day. I have gone to bed at 8 p.m. several nights, 9 p.m. on others--and still have felt too tired to get up to run some days, choosing instead to sleep 10 or 11 hours a night.

So is now the time to try to push myself to a new level of exercising to make sure my weight loss shoots up? No, it's not. I can--and have been trying to--be aware of what I eat on a regular basis, continuing to keep sweets in check as an occasional treat, not using enormous levels of fat in foods, not eating fried foods too often, focusing on having at least 5 fruit and veggie servings a day. In other words, I can and have been trying to maintain my current level of commitment to my health. But that's the limit of my energy when it comes to weight loss right now. I'd still like to lose weight by my birthday (a month from today), so I have changed my ticker from 10 pounds (which ain't happenin', honey) to 5 pounds. If it happens, great. If not, but I maintain or lose a bit before my birthday, I will certainly consider that a success. Sometimes maintaining your pace is an enormous success; I know that all too well from the times I've dieted and given up! . . . I know all too well that feeling of anxiety and sadness when the weight starts creeping back up and you go, "Oh, here it goes" and don't feel the energy to stop the upward change. If I maintain or lose just a bit now, I'll be doing very well. It's going against my personality to think that way, but it's true.

In a few weeks, I will have hired my replacement for my previous position. I will train her (all the final candidates are women), she will start to attend some of the evening/weekend meetings I currently attend, and my stress will ease. Some of the stress will ease in the coming month, and the rest of it should ease up some in 2-3 months. If I have to wait a month or two to gear up my exercise to a higher level and start seeing a regular drop on the scales, that is okay.

Sunday, June 24, 2007

C25K Update and a Party!

First of all: last weekend's 5k. The course was advertised as easy, but it turned out to be up the side of a mountain! (I'm not joking--my running shoes were sliding on the steep inclines.) I made it halfway before I--while very upset--gave up. But my mother, husband, and hard-core-runner sister-in-law all told me that running half of that course was an awesome accomplishment. Still, I'm ready to finish a 5k now. That will be this coming week!

I have a-whole-nother post to write about my life and stress and food and exercise lately. But before that . . .

Last night, my husband and I hosted a “Summer Harvest” party. Each guest was asked to bring a dish or drink that featured locally produced foods. I had asked Dan to take photos, but he was too busy helping me host. We all had a great time, though, eating dinner–slowly working our way through appetizers, then soup, then drinks, then the main course, then dessert–and playing a couple of rounds of Apples to Apples, a very fun party game when people get into it.

Here were our locally inspired items:

Sweetwater Road Trip (Atlanta microbrewery beer)

Mojitos with AL cane syrup (in lieu of simple syrup) and local organic mint leaves

Bruschetta with local organic tomatoes and herbs from our kitchen (windowsill) garden with French bread and Bulger Creek chevre

Sweet Grass Dairy Green Hill cheese with my mother’s triple-berry jam and whole-wheat crackers

Koinonia (South GA) cinnamon/sugar pecans

Yellow pepper soup (a pureed soup with yellow peppers, potatoes, and other ingredients I can’t remember–delicious!)–I forgot to ask my friend Becky which of her ingredients were local

Tofu quiche with local organic broccoli, tomatoes, and herbs and crust made from local buckwheat flour

Tomato/cucumber salad with local organic tomatoes and cucumbers (from the Saturday farmers' market in the town where I grew up!)

A zucchini/squash/garlic medley from my friend Melissa’s garden

Cheesecake with a raspberry sauce

And peach cobbler made with Georgia peaches and a local flour mix crust

We certainly did not feel deprived by eating locally derived foods!

Did you know that food in the US, on average, has traveled over 1500 miles to reach us? That means that the foods we buy in the grocery store have used a lot of gas, created a lot of pollution, and often have required a lot of long-term refrigeration to reach us. Locally produced vegetables and fruits are often higher in vitamin content when they reach us, their short trip times are far less polluting, and their freshness makes them taste a lot better!

If you are interested in finding local food sources near you and you are in the US, I encourage you to visit Local Harvest to check out CSAs (Community Supported Agriculture) and farmers’ markets in your area.

Then you can host the next harvest party. . . .

Friday, June 22, 2007

Blah! So busy! (And local foods)

I promise I will write a real post this weekend. I have been working so hard, and I'm so tired when I'm not working. I went to bed at 8 p.m. last night and slept over 11 hours!

Back to work now, but in the meantime, here's an article about the benefits of eating local foods.

Monday, June 11, 2007

C25K--5k registration!

Back for another crazy workweek, but . . . I registered for my first 5k today! It will be next Saturday in Blairsville, GA (up in the mountains where my mother lives). I felt a little thrill registering for it!

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Happy low-fat cookbook times

As a way of enjoying the season and having a bit of peace, I sat down with Julee Rosso's cookbook Great Good Food on Thursday night and Saturday morning. It might sound a bit odd to many people for me to sit down to read a cookbook for pleasure, and it's not something that I usually do except the day I first get a cookbook. But Rosso's cookbook--which is divided up by seasons and holidays--is full of anecdotes, quotations about food and the seasons, edifying blurbs about healthy eating, and lots of food/plant/kitchen-related pen drawings. It's a beautiful book, relaxing to read. It reminds me of the relationship I am trying to develop with food--a celebration of healthy, seasonal eating. Seriously, go look through it at the link I gave, and you will see what I mean.

I've made a few recipes from the cookbook but have never made the cookbook a staple. That may be changing! After looking at it on those two days recently, I decided to cook recipes out of that cookbook all week. Because I shop in the farmer's market here on Saturdays, using a cookbook that's divided by the seasons works well for me. Rosso and I don't have exactly the same produce in season at the same time--she's in MI, I'm in GA--but there's enough overlap to make our seasons and produce match up well enough. (You could also just use the index to search for the ingredient you need.) I was also intrigued by some of Rosso's ideas for healthy eating, like using what she calls her "low-fat blend" as a staple. The low-fat blend is just equal parts nonfat yogurt and nonfat cottage cheese put in a blender (not a food processor), but Rosso uses it as the low-fat basis for a variety of dressings, sauces, and recipes in her book. I wasn't at all sure I would like it--I'm not a yogurt person--but I decided to try it out anyway. The first low-fat blend recipe I made was a reduced-fat blue cheese recipe. I wanted a blue cheese recipe but did not want to drown my salad in gobs of fat. Here's what I made (altering her recipe a bit):

Reduced-Fat Blue Cheese Dressing

1/2 c. non-fat cottage cheese
1/2 c. non-fat plain yogurt
1/4 c. Roquefort or other strong blue
2 tsp. grainy dijon mustard
few grinds of salt and pepper

Blend it all together in a blender. Store in a closed jar in the fridge for up to a week.

Two tablespoons of dressing, tossed in well, was plenty in our meal-size salads (butter lettuce, onion, tomato, and cucumber with garlic toast on the side). My husband and I were both really impressed by how blue-cheesy the dressing was without being overwhelming.

Last night, preparing to take a dessert to a party tonight, I mixed together some GA-grown berries I picked up at the farmer's market yesterday morning with a bit of raspberry wine and honey. Then I put together this low-fat blend mix for a topping, per the book's suggestion:

Maple Cream

1 c. nonfat yogurt
1 c. nonfat cottage cheese
2 T. maple butter or maple syrup

Blend in blender until well-mixed. Store in a covered container in the fridge until you are ready to use it.

I was concerned the mixture would taste too yogurty for me, but I was very pleased by the only slightly tangy, sweet, rich-but-not-overwhelming combination that was so tasty my husband and I just couldn't resist trying out on the berries once I'd made it. Delicious!

This morning, we tried a third recipe for a peasant tortilla--a layer of pan-fried potatoes topped with beaten eggs and vegetables, baked until firm, and then flipped over. It was also great.

So right now, I'd say I highly recommend this cookbook.

The only caveat with it is that you do have to look at the intended serving sizes, which we find to be on the small side sometimes. Nutrition info is given, though, so it's easy to figure out the new calculations.

Saturday, June 9, 2007

What a long week this has been. Twice, I came home from work and went to bed by 8 p.m. The first night, I tried that thinking that maybe exhaustion was the real reason behind me thinking I wanted chocolate even when I wasn't hungry. I went to sleep almost immediately. . . .

Today, I am taking the day to just enjoy life and not think about work one bit. My husband and I are going to see Knocked Up now, and maybe tonight I'll actually have time to do a real post! I'm also going to make us a vegetable plate for dinner--delicious.

I've added a new ticker to my blog to count down until my birthday. My weight has been fluctuating--yet hovering around 185--since early April! It's time to move past that stage, although from a positive standpoint, I'd much rather hover around 185 than shoot back up to 200 or higher.

Off to the movie now. . . .

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Brief Update

I got the promotion.

Oh, and while my weight fluctuation is driving me a bit mad, my body fat is down 2% more.

Good times.

Back to doing 2 people's jobs now. . . .

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Crazy Days

These times, they have been a'crazy.

I decided to launch my wedding planning blog. Great! So much hard work, but so much fun.

Then my boss put in her notice within the week.

So I've been learning my boss's job--as well as doing mine--and trying to juggle normal life and still commit enough time to my wedding blog. Then I realized my wedding blog can be cut back for a few days where the other two cannot. I tend to be a go-hard-or-don't-go person, but I can post every 2 or 3 days for a couple of weeks--it's not the end of the world.

Then our internet went out at home for a few days--a router problem--so I wasn't writing anywhere at all.

I told the director of my organization last week that I want my boss's job. I was very proud of myself. I made a list of the things I have accomplished at my job that are above and beyond the requirements. It was quite a list. I sat him down, gave him the list, and told him honestly that I wanted the job, that I was told that I would move into that position when I was hired (should it be vacated), and that if I did not get the promotion, it would 'put me in an awkward position here.' Clear enough, right?

He told me he would get back to me today but did not. I asked him about it again this afternoon, and he told me that he would get back to me by the end of the week and that he hadn't had time to think through it yet.

But tomorrow afternoon, we'll be driving to Pensacola, FL, for a wedding I'm in. So I asked him if he can talk to me about it before the workday ends tomorrow. He told me he didn't know because he's been so busy. So we'll see.

I deserve that job. I wasn't even nervous about it until today when he put me off again.

Last weekend I hosted a Pampered Chef party. I served a cheesecake that I bought at the weekend farmer's market down the street. This week, I proceeded to eat two more pieces of cheesecake after the party. Cheesecake=lots of calories. Oh, I also ate two of the chocolate raspberry 'muffins' (icing-less cupcakes) I made. Other than that, this past week I have been eating too much cheese; eating past when I am just comfortable into when I am really full; snacking at times I haven't been terribly hungry; and having wine or beer almost every evening.

I haven't been sleeping well. I wake up thrashing my arms as if I'm fighting through cobwebs. My allergies are terrible, despite our best efforts to fix offending elements in our apartment. (I found out how bad they could be when we went somewhere that was not clean last night, though. I couldn't breathe at all, and my eyes kept tearing up.)

I think I have been trying to feed away my overwhelmed feeling that I have right now. Yesterday I thought, What am I doing? I'm not paying attention to myself even though that's what I preach. I mean, I haven't gone completely nuts, but three pieces of cheesecake in one week (with caramel and nuts and marshmallow cream added twice, too) is too much--it's a sign of either avoiding something or taking on too much. I also think that eating dessert daily on my vacation threw me off, reminded my body what that was like (sugarsugarsugar), and I'm still recovering from that.

So this morning, I took the leftover cheesecake to work, along with the leftover chocolate muffins. No alcohol tonight. I ate a big salad with a very small portion of mac'n'cheese for lunch We had a healthy dinner. I am going to eat dessert once this weekend, or have 2 bites of dessert twice--not eat dessert after several meals.

Small diversions from the path don't kill you if you correct yourself. They only throw you off long-term if you let them. And I'm not going to let that happen this time, because this has been the most sensible, gentle, exciting, empowering weight loss I've ever experienced.