Friday, March 30, 2007

Day 3, Wk. 4, C25k

I went for my run/walk this morning about 7:30 a.m. (Yes, it made me late for work. I called and left a message to let my boss know I'd be late. Not a big deal--I'm working all sorts of extra hours right now.) It was so cool that I felt a bit chilly until I got my blood pumping with my first run. I was definitely breathing easier with no early morning smokers in the park, no high-humidity/high-smog conditions, and the pollen having been slightly tamped down out of the air by a light mist. I managed to finish Day 3 with no problems: no cramping; no stitches; no being entirely, desperately out of breath.

However . . . I still feel like I need to strengthen my ability to do this level before I move on, so I'm going to continue the Week 4 routine (5-min. stretch, 5-min. warm-up walk, 3-min. run, 90-sec. walk, 5-min. run, 2.5-min. walk, 3-min. run, 90-sec. walk, 5-min. run, 5-min. cool-down walk--whew, that's complicated, good thing I have my mp3 timing it for me) for anywhere from an additional day to an additional week--until I feel more confident about my abilities at this level.

And I'm definitely going to try to go out in the mornings . . . albeit a bit earlier than today. I can't get going too early, because it won't be light outside, but 7 a.m. should work fine right now.

Oh, and I went shopping a couple of days ago for a couple of new work shirts, as the ones I own are getting too big for me. I bought two shirts and wore one of them yesterday. Our small office was abuzz with people asking me about my weight loss; apparently, it's very obvious when I wear stuff that's more fitted than my old clothes!

Thursday, March 29, 2007


I did Day 2 of Week 4 of C25k last night. I waited a half hour later than I have been going out, and that was a good idea; it was a bit cooler going out at 7:30. (I live in the Southern US, so 'sunset' technically is something like 8 p.m. right now, and it stays somewhat light until 8:30 or so. I exercise in the park, so road traffic is only a concern on my way there and back.)

Honestly, Day 2 of Week 4 was hard for me. I got a stitch in my side with my first 5-minute run--despite me running slowly and trying to breathe deeply-- and eventually I put my mp3 player on pause and walked/deep-breathed it off. Then I started running again. I did manage both 3-min. runs and the second 5-min. run with no stopping. I am going to try (*try*) exercising in the morning before work tomorrow to see if an earlier, cooler, less smoggy start (Atlanta has terrible smog when it gets hot/humid) helps me out. If tomorrow's run/walk is as difficult as yesterday's, then I'm going to do Week 4 over again. It is easy for me to feel anxious, frustrated, or competitive with myself for not being able to skip straight to Week 5. I am taking time to remind myself that this is a journey toward being able to run, not a competition!

Doing C25k is good for me in that way. I remind myself I'm learning to do something that I'm not good at. There are many things I won't be instantly good at that I want to try. This is the first one I can remember in a long while where I am recognizing I'm not good at it and gradually working toward the goal of doing it better without getting frustrated or flustered to the point of giving up. What will I try next? I'm not sure, but I guarantee you I'm on a roll.

For some reason, I have kept putting off getting a trainer for upper-body work. Now the end of the semester isn't terribly far away, and I can only buy sessions through the end of the semester at my husband's school. I'm considering not getting a trainer and buying resistance bands and a ball to use at home instead. I wanted a trainer to help me exercise in the park, but the heat and pollen (high pollen count = 120, pollen count in Atlanta yesterday =5300) are making being outside not terribly enjoyable. So now I think I would like to do stuff at home. I want to do things that don't require going to the gym at all, so I've been researching at-home, weight-less exercise. I'm thinking some plyometrics, some exercises that use my own weight and gravity (like push-ups), and some resistance work-outs would be a good upper-body combination. Until I get through C25k, I don't need any additional work-outs for my lower half. My core has been amazingly strengthened by running--I can't believe my hard obliques!--and will also be supplemental support for the upper-body stuff I'm looking at.

I have realized something important in this process of learning to run. Ladies, some of you will understand how major this is. I have realized that if I am going to be someone who works out regularly, if I am going to be some kind of athlete, I have to take care of my body to the point of giving up some of my shoes. During the workweek, it's not unusual for me to wear shoes that have stretched out to be slightly too big (I hold them in place by occasionally tensing my toes or some such--which I didn't even realize till recently) or that pinch my foot a little, or something like that. But if I go to exercise after wearing those shoes, my feet are, of course, still uncomfortable from the shoes I had on. That's not cool. It looks like I'll be purging my closet this weekend. This is not a small thing: we are talking about some of my most beloved shoes. My husband is in awe of the fact that I'm considering giving up my favorite red clog Doc Marten's, which are, these days, a smidge too big, and slide around on my feet a bit in a way that's not entirely comfy for much walking. But I'm thinking about giving up those shoes and probably half a dozen or a dozen others because part of this whole weight-loss thing, and part of this whole exercise thing, and part of this whole becoming-a-better-me thing is realizing that I want to take good care of myself in every way possible. I mean, really--I've recently started flossing every night, and I hate flossing. It's the same thing, at heart, the rest of this: I want to be a happy, healthy me, the me that is nurtured; and that means doing things that ultimately take good care of me even if they are not the easiest to do initially or in the short term or even if they change my life a bit or alter my relationships with some people or whatever. I'm taking time for me and making energy for me in a variety of ways, getting healthier as I go. No one else can nurture me if I don't nurture myself.

There are times in life when things are falling apart and you do what you can to hold them together. You cling for dear life. You grudgingly make whatever changes you have to make to keep going. It's all a struggle, and you are brave for just making it through the best you can. Then there are times in life when things are coming together for you, and you can either sit complacently or take those times for all they're worth. I'm in one of the latter times now: figuring out grad school plans, working on a great relationship with my husband, calming down my complex relationship with money (a subject due its own long post, whenever I manage to finish the one I've started), simplifying my life so that what is really important to me is in the forefront and what society tells me should be important isn't as prevalent in my mind. I want to take this time for all it's worth and make some big strides towards the person I want to be . . . even though it's not easy to do that.

When it got hard for me yesterday on my second 5-min. run, I pictured the little girl I was when I was three. When I was three, I loved my tricycle. I cycled my bright red tricycle everywhere I could: I was a tricycle speed demon. I was full of energy. I was full of possibility. "I'm coming home," I told the little girl in my head. "I'm getting back to the you you thought you'd be."

Monday, March 26, 2007

Weekly Weigh-In & C25K Update

I'm down another .8 pounds--woo hoo! I'm hoping maybe my drop will be slightly bigger this week. I'm itching to get down to my next goal (180) so that I can buy myself a new bathing suit. It'd be awfully handy to get to that weight in time to get my suit for the wedding I'll be attending on Florida's coast the first weekend of June.

I finished Week 3 of C25k and did Day 1 of Week 4 yesterday. I think I am going to try switching to mornings (pre-breakfast, pre-work) for my runs as apparently in spring our city's largest park turns into an mj haven in the evenings. Combine clouds of smoke, smog, high heat, and humidity, and you get one gaspy veggie paparazzo. Still, I made it through the first day of Week 4 . . . until the last 30 seconds. I got a stitch in my side that didn't want to leave, and I walked the last 30 seconds of my last run. I was a bit disappointed and had to remind myself I'm really doing well.

Because really . . . REALLY . . . I still ran HALF A FREAKING MILE at a time.

And tomorrow, I plan to run every bit of the running part.

I CAN do this. And that's pretty damn awesome.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Fruity Curried Tofu Salad, Version 2.0

I liked my initial attempt at curried tofu salad, but I didn’t love it. I went back to the drawing board, using this recipe as a base. Here’s the end result, which is delicious. Even one of our friends, who claims he does not like tofu, enjoyed this salad.

We served the salad in pita bread (warmed and brushed with melted butter) with avocado and butter lettuce in the pita, and with sliced melon and steamed, garlicky broccoli as the side dishes.

Fruity Curried Tofu Salad

Serves about 6

1/2 c. cooked wild rice (I cooked mine in veggie broth)
1/4 c. walnut pieces
1 pckg. extra-firm tofu, drained and cubed
1 T. olive oil or canola oil
1 tsp. honey
1 T. curry powder
1 c. grapes, halved
1/2 c. dried cranberries (Craisin-style)
1 celery stalk, finely chopped
2 stalks green onion, finely chopped (green and white parts)
1 c. Greek yogurt
the juice of one lime
~1 additional T curry powder
1-2 additional tsp. honey or cane syrup
salt and pepper to taste

Chop, drain, etc., everything that needs it, tossing the rice, fruits and veggies together in a large bowl as you go.

Heat a large, dry pan on medium heat. Toss the walnuts in the pan, and toast 2-3 minutes, flipping once. Remove the walnuts and put them in the large bowl with the other ingredients.

Add the oil to the pan and let it heat a couple of minutes (not until smoking). Add the tofu, 1 tsp. of honey, and 1 T. of curry powder. Cook until the tofu is no longer very wet (4-5 min.) but not browned. (You can make the tofu a day ahead and keep, covered, in the fridge.)

Add the cooked tofu to the bowl. Toss well. Add the remaining ingredients, using additional salt, pepper, curry powder, and honey or some cane syrup (I used some cane syrup because we got it in our CSA order) until the taste is to your pleasure.

Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour. The yogurt may separate if left overnight.



Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Weekly weigh-in

Well, it's been a bit longer than a week--oops. I'm down .8 pounds, which is fine by me given that a) I ate a lot of unhealthy foods last week, b) my period just started, and c) I am down FOUR PERCENT in my body fat measurement since Jan. 1st. FOUR PERCENT! I think that rocks. My percent of body fat was horrifyingly high and now it's just really freaking high, but I'm getting it down.

I really think the charts and graphs you can get at are very interesting. Here's a chart of my weight loss since the year started. I think it's fascinating how it's a nearly linear loss even when it doesn't feel like it.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Tasty, light salad

This weekend I was having one of my times of anxiety that come up occasionally as I eat healthfully without trying to count anything in the process. I was back to the Can I really actually do this? train of thought for a couple of days there. I went a bit overboard last week/over the weekend with what I ate, because we ate out a lot. It's okay to eat out and choose whatever you feel like occasionally--to eat what sounds tasty to you without any regard for how it will affect your healthfulness. But if you want to lose weight, it's not okay to do that three or four nights in a week!

But that was a different week, and I'm back in the zone this week with a variety of tasty, healthy meals planned.

I had had a rather rich, high-calorie lunch today, and I knew I was going to make a late dinner because I was going to do my second day of Week 3 on C25k, and I need to wait at least three hours after eating anything for me to do the running parts. I felt very worn out today, as it's the first day of my period. I spent the morning at work with cramps; by the afternoon, I was just tired. My husband (bless his heart--he's pretty clueless about grocery shopping) went to the store for me to buy our weekly groceries, and I geared up to do my C25k outing even though I was tired. I knew if I could go out and do it today, it was making a statement about me progressing towards a goal even when it's not easy. And I did it! I even realized I could have (if I'd had to) run a bit farther than I did. As it is, I'm up to over 1/4 mi on my 3-minute runs. To some of you, I'm sure that sounds like nothing, but for me, it's huge! Huge and not even horrendously hard.

In any case, I decided to make us a light dinner of a salad. If you're eating dinner at 8:30 at night and tend to go to bed around 10 p.m., you don't need a heavy meal. Here's what I made.

First, I made our dressing so that the flavors had time to meld a bit. As I believe I've mentioned on here, I'm recovering from a really bad case of interstitial cystitis, and while I have healed a good bit, I am still not able to eat normal vinaigrettes and may never be. Fortunately, I've actually discovered that you can make great dressings with no vinegar, so if you are someone who has a stomach or bladder or other body part that doesn't agree with highly acidic foods, you may want to try some of my dressings. They are acidic, but much more mildly so than normal dressings (especially 'light' dressings, which usually means they've cut the amount of oil and jacked up the acid). I couldn't have eaten even this dressing six months ago without a lot of pain, but I am happy to say I can now.

So--the dressing: we have a thyme plant in our tiny little interior herb garden (no sense in paying lots of money for small amounts of herbs that are easy to grow indoors), so I pulled off maybe a teaspoon of leaves, washed them, and sauteed them for about a minute with a few tablespoons of olive and canola oil. Then I turned off the burner and let that sit for a while to let the thyme release its flavor into the oil. I took a break to wash the salad leaves and prepare the other salad parts. Then I combined a handful of raspberries, 1 heaping tsp. of dijon mustard (with seeds in it), 1 tsp. honey, and the thyme-y oil in the blender. I threw in a little bit of red grapefruit juice fresh from the grapefruit I was tearing up. I blended it all together until the ingredients were well-mixed and foamy. My husband commented that the color reminded him of a milkshake or smoothy, but the taste, as he agreed with an "Mmmmm," was all dressing. When I make it again, I'll add just a dash of salt to the mix. I poured that into an old, washed-out jar I'd saved; I keep dressing in the fridge, with a lid on it, for up to a week after I make it.

I pulled sections out of a grapefruit we'd gotten from our CSA. I toasted walnut pieces in a dry pan with a small bit of brown sugar tossed in to stick to the nuts right at the end. I tossed together two types of lettuce from our CSA with the grapefruit, the toasted walnuts, the raspberries I hadn't used in the dressing, and a bit of feta cheese.

I put the dressing on it at the end and tossed it together as I served it into our individual bowls. We had exactly two servings of it (go me), though my husband loved it so much he said he would have liked another helping. The sweet/salty/tangy combination of flavors was really wonderful together.

Monday, March 19, 2007

Still trucking along

Ah, I'm so busy right now! . . . but I want to get back to posting daily, so I'm going to try to start making that a priority again over the next couple of days. Posting daily keeps me accountable, as does reading all y'all's blogs.

I can tell you that, YES! I finished week 2 of C25K, and I have also finished Day 1 of Week 3! Very exciting. I never thought I would be able to jog 1/4 of a mile, but hell, look at me go! I'm loving what this is teaching me about my ability to develop new skills over time.

Sunday was my first anniversary with my husband, and we had a lovely day. Off to bed now.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Autumn Harvest Stew (a tasty, easy vegan meal)

Autumn Harvest Stew (or Winter Harvest Stew these days)

This slow-cooker/crockpot recipe was adapted from a Publix Greenwise recipe from last fall. I added a couple of bitter vegetables because using only sweet ones made a very sweet meal the same day, and it made leftovers that were nearly unbearably sweet. Depending on how mild or spiced you like your meals, you may want to slighty decrease or increase the spices. There's no heat in these spices, though--I don't mean to imply that there is.

2 chopped sweet potatoes
2 medium chopped, peeled parsnips
2 medium chopped, peeled carrots
2 small chopped, peeled apples
1 chopped, peeled turnip
1 chopped, peeled rutabaga
1 chopped onion
2 pckgs. regular seitan (28 oz.? or so--it's strange how similar to meat this stuff can seem; just look at the photo!)
1 tsp. crushed, dried thyme
1 1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. salt
few grinds of salt
1 1/2-2 c. veggie broth
1 c. organic apple juice

In a 3.5-4 q. slow cooker place your veggies and seitan. Sprinkle with the seasonings. (You can also use ~three times as much fresh seasonings, tie them together with twine, and tuck them in the food. That's how I originally made this dish.)

Pour broth and apple juice over all.

Cover and cook on low heat for 7-8 hours or on high heat for 3.5-4 hours. (I've always used low heat.)

I serve the stew over couscous. As you can see in the photo, I like to serve it with sauteed, tender-crisp garlicky green beans as a foil to the sweetness of the stew.

Still trucking along

I did Day 2 of Week 2 of Couch-t0-5k yesterday. It was hard work, but I was very proud when I finished. I have realized that if it is this warm outside (it's not even THAT hot, but in the low 70's) I have to take water with me. Otherwise, I'll end up parched several times during any training and just feel miserable. If you start out doing C25K, I would encourage you to take a bottle of water as well. I'm not normally terribly thirsty at any given time--I drink water regularly throughout the day--but the running portions in even moderate heat really dry out my throat and mouth.

Tomorrow is the day my husband takes his big mid-Ph.D.-point quals test. It's potentially a test over an enormous variety of subjects in the history of computer science research--drawing older studies in with the future of computer science. He's been studying for it for around a year, and he's been intensely studying for it--reading for about six hours a day--for the past few months. I feel confident he will do well, but it will be a lot of work; he has 8 hours to answer four essay questions. He can use any books, papers, studies, etc. that he wants; he can use the internet; he can use whatever information he has compiled. He just can't use other people. He's loading up our dining room table with books he may want to use as I type. The upcoming quals have been hanging over us as he has tried to recover from his accident, and I will be very happy when it's over!

I hope he will come out of it tomorrow afternoon feeling that he was well-prepared. Three weeks later, he does a presentation and an oral defense of the answers he put on the written test. If he feels he did well tomorrow when it's done, he can relax until the orals; if he feels shaky about an answer, he has to spend the time between the written and the oral tests figuring out what he should have said.

That's been a big thing on our plates lately. And I've been very busy with work; I feel like tonight is the first night this week I can catch my breath, and really, I'm holding my breath till he takes this test.

Next week, we get our settlement check from the insurance company; then the bank will put a hold on it, and finally the money will be released the following week. I have been meaning to write a post on here about finances, because I think they have played a fairly large role in my ability to relax into trusting myself about weight loss. I have had a major shift in how I feel about and treat money in the past couple of years. Maybe I'll write that one tomorrow if I have the energy!

This weekend, once quals are over, my husband and I can start focusing on creating the details of our vacation to Oregon that is coming up in April. Although we have traveled a pretty good bit together (three cities in Japan, Boston, London, Helsinki, Tallinn, Vermont, and other smaller trips), my husband is usually working at least part of the time when we travel. (I fly with ff miles 1-2 trips a year. He gets a lot of ff miles with all of the travel he usually does. None since his accident, though, of course.) It's going to be so wonderful to take a trip where he has nothing to do but enjoy what we decide to go do. And we've saved up for this trip for half a year, so everything will be paid in cash. We don't charge things anymore unless we are paying them off literally as soon as they show up on the card online. But that belongs in my financial post!

I still owe y'all a tasty vegan recipe I made last week. I will see if I can get it on here before the husband-imposed deadline of being in bed relaxing by 9:30 this evening so that he is very rested tomorrow.

And now I'd just like to take this random moment to say that I love the weight-loss/exercise/intuitive eating blogs that I read. They are all a source of support and comfort to me as I work away from my perfectionistic ways, learn to trust myself with food, and get into a healthier lifestyle. I cherish all of you and your takes on life. I haven't had as much time to read blogs in the last couple of days, and I've really missed them.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Another couple of non-scale victories

I visited the allergist today. I was curious how my measurements would come out there. The nurse didn't measure my weight, but I was able to (proudly! since it's dropping!) tell her what it was when she asked. My blood pressure was 118 over 65--"enviable," the nurse said. She also said my pulse, at 64 beats per minute, was strong.

My pulse has had about a drop of about 10 beats per minute from when I was at my highest weight and not really exercising a couple of years ago. My blood pressure has been in a great range since I started eating mostly vegetarian (no meat at home, and very little meat not at home) a little over a year ago.

These are the kinds of victories that matter immensely but can be hard to consider important. High blood pressure, heart disease, strokes: all of those run in my family on my dad's side. Taking care of myself now--should I continue to do so, which is definitely the plan--will pay off in the short-term through things like looking cuter in jeans, but it will also pay off in the long term when it comes to quality of life for me and my husband as we grow older.

If you're curious about what blood pressures can mean, look at this interesting chart. And if you are curious how your current habits are potentially affecting your lifespan, visit this website and fill out the info. If I continue my current healthy habits--vegetarian eating, vigorous exercise nearly daily, no smoking, positive relationships, etc.--I am projected to have a natural lifespan of 98 years! I would have had a very different result with my habits several months ago.

For the love of tomato paste

Given the improvements in the condition of my medical problems, my doctor has me decreasing my medicine and trying out foods that have been forbidden for about two years. I drank some mango green tea two nights ago and found it immensely pleasurable . . . though it also kept me up extremely late given that I have mostly ridded myself of a caffeine tolerance.

Earlier in the evening, I made a quick chili topped with cornbread. It was incredibly delicious. I could have eaten four bowls of it (could have, but didn't). It was so tasty to me because, well, it was good (my husband ate two helpings), but also because I have so sincerely missed being able to consume things that contain the rich-tasting, cancer-fighting goodness of tomato paste. I’ll be thrilled to eat all the leftovers. I do have to be careful, though; while my body can take small amounts of formerly forbidden foods in occasional meals, it is easy to overload myself and make myself sick.

For the chili I made, I just used Bear Creek Damn Good Chili Mix. (Amusingly, they have different packaging with “Darn Good” on it in Kroger these days.) It’s so simple, healthy, and delicious; you just add 2 jars of tomato paste and 7 cups of water, boil it, and you’re good to go. I also add about a tablespoon of dark brown sugar when I make it. The only problems with it? 1) it has animal fat in it, so even if you make it without meat it’s not truly vegetarian (which doesn’t really bother me, but I know it would bother some of my completely vegetarian readers); and 2) the beans are cooked from dehydration, so whatever nitrogen they are kicking out stays in the final product, potentially causing you to have gas after the meal. (That’s why you normally soak dried beans, dump the water, and then cook them in fresh water.)

I love that chili mix and it’s easy, so I used it. I made the cornbread topping by heavily modifying a recipe I found on I loved the final product, though I’ll use less sugar when I make it again and have reflected that in the recipe I’m giving you.

A note on this cornbread: it is not Southern cornbread; it is sweet rather than savory. Southern cornbread has its place, but I think a strongly flavored chili works better with a sweet cornbread than a savory one. Yum.

Soooo Tasty Sweet Cornbread

2/3 cup regular flour (I use a mix of 2/3 whole-wheat and 1/3 white in everything I do)

1 1/3 cup cornmeal (I used some very grainy cornmeal from our CSA–YUM.)

1/8 c. sugar

3 1/2 tsp. baking powder

1 tsp. salt

1/4 c. honey

1 egg

3/4 c. milk

1/3 c. vegetable oil

1 c. corn kernels (thawed from frozen, cooked 3 min. from store-bought fresh, or straight off the cob from garden-fresh)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, salt, and baking powder. Stir in honey, egg, milk, and vegetable oil until combined.

Fold in corn kernels.

What I did then was pour most of the chili into a very large, deep casserole dish, sprinkle a layer of cheddar cheese on, and drop the cornbread mix by large spoonfuls into the chili mix. Then I let out an expletive: my cornbread topping was sinking into my chili! I baked it anyway for about 25 minutes, and luckily, the cornbread surfaced and baked up nicely . . . as you can see below.

I intended to serve the chili and cornbread with a salad, but I had had a crazy day and was short on time, so we just ate it by itself. I figure an unbalanced meal once in a blue moon won’t kill us.


Monday, March 12, 2007

Local or organic? Why not both?

Time Magazine’s cover story this past week was Forget Organic–Eat Local. The title is a bit of a misnomer for what the article contains; I didn’t want to buy the magazine but was interested to read the article online. It’s really the story of one man considering the dilemma of whether organic trumps local or vice versa for his habits and desires. In the end, locally grown food that was grown without pesticides (whether certified organic or not) wins. But that doesn’t surprise you, does it? It certainly doesn’t surprise me.

One amusing moment in the article is the author wondering whether people actually could survive on what, say, the Northeastern US could produce through the winter. Um, yeah. How do you think your ancestors survived for you to exist? They weren’t shipping apples from New Zealand to your forebearers in the 1800’s. Perhaps our palates now would find entirely local eating (or nearly entirely local eating, as spices and specialty foods have long been shipped at intervals) boring, but of course it can be done.

My husband and I have spent the last year learning to eat mostly locally grown foods that do not rely on artificial pesticides, and learning what the Southeastern US grows has been fascinating. The food is of amazingly high quality since it reaches us mostly within 24 hours of picking. I will be sad when our CSA stops giving us the absolutely delicious butter lettuce that apparently thrives in GA in winter. But I am also looking forward to what spring brings us in our produce. I’ve always loved the changing of seasons, and it’s very homey to have our diet shift (to some extent–we do buy some stuff at Whole Foods) based on what the earth is able to produce around us at any given time.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

I Did It! Vol. II, Issue 1 ;)

I did the first day of week 2 of C25k today! I ran NINETY SECONDS at a time, and that is so freaking awesome! After my fourth 90-sec run, I got the strange cramps in my lower abdomen again (though not as severely), so I put my mp3 player on pause and walked pretty slowly for a couple of minutes until they had subsided. Then I picked up where I'd left off and finished that sucker.

It definitely was hard. And I had taken medicine last night that was giving me cotton mouth today (like what happens when you're on morphine, if you've ever had surgery--though the med I was on is nothing like morphine!), so I spent nearly the whole time with a painfully dry mouth and dry throat. (Note to self: bring water just in case from now on.) I thought about quitting today with the dry mouth, the cramps, and the unusually hot day we were having that was making me feel uncomfortably warm. But then I thought about coming back and how it would feel not to have finished--about telling my husband, about telling y'all--and I got my butt in gear and just did it. It wasn't impossible, just hard.

The other issue for me today was that the park was absolutely packed . . . truly, absolutely packed. I had to get over the idea of hundreds or thousands of people throughout the park chilling on blankets while watching me huff and puff (though already my huffing and puffing is less than it was last week). I just did it. Kept my head up, concentrated on my form, and just did it. You can never be an athlete if you don't take the steps athletes take. And I do want to be an athlete.

I used new songs this week and had my husband show me how to set up the beeps in the program he wrote so I would know when to start and stop running. I put U2's "Beautiful Day" as the song in the very middle of my run/walk, thinking I might need some propping up then. And it did the job beautifully. I love that song.

I have a couple of great meals to post for y'all tomorrow--one of which is vegan--so be on the look-out if you're recipe-hunting.

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Weekly Weigh-In & Exercise Explanation

I'm down 15 pounds total now since Jan. 1st! Woo-hoo! That also means that I'm over halfway towards my first goal of 28 pounds by May 28--a goal that was intended as a guideline, not something to fixate on . . . but which may turn out to be attainable! I ordered a bridesmaid dress for a June wedding in a 14, and it should at least fit me well now, if not be a little big. I'm certainly not going to complain if I have to get it taken in.

I have a new shirt in a size medium that fits me. Yes, it's a fluke--I would normally be in the large size range, especially given my 36DDD boobs. But I'll take it. It's a cute shirt, anyway, and I've gotten lots of compliments on it. (I gotta tell you I think a company could make a lot of money selling clothes that were sized a bit larger. If a woman who's normally in a 12 can fit in a 10, I'm guessing she's more likely to buy.) I also tried on a pair of 16 jeans that I possibly could have pulled off of me--they were that loose zipped and buttoned. I found another pair of 16's that are a lot smaller and fit me well; I bought those. (I was at a discount store, so things are entirely hit-and-miss size-wise. I got a pair of Michael Kors jeans for I think $30.)

Someone emailed me to ask about the Couch-to-5k program. As I believe I've mentioned before, I tried a similar plan when I was in college and failed to do it. But this time, there have been a few differences: I was already getting cardio for at least half an hour almost daily with my long walks, I bothered to go to a running store and get expensive shoes that actually fit my gait and foot pecularities, and I have my mp3 player--thanks to my husband's computer-geeky ways--set up to beep when I need to switch from running to walking and back to running again. Those three things have all made a big difference. Thanks to the global warming of the past 20 years or so, Atlanta is much more pleasant for exercise in February and March than it was when I was a kid (nice for me right now, bad for everyone in the long term), so exercising outdoors now is easy. About the middle of May, it will suddenly be up in the 90's with very high humidity, and I will constantly feel like I'm melting into a puddle.

I tried out my new Enell sports bra that I bought from Two Roads Fitness (an online store for women's fitness products--my stuff shipped very quickly with great customer service). That sports bra kicks ass. It keeps my boobs strapped in, comfortably, even with running. It's pricey but I highly recommend it. It's awesome.

I use Cool Running's Couch-to-5k program. I'm working on adding in appropriate stretching. If you don't have a computer-geeky husband, I would encourage you to utilize a podcast that tells you when to switch from walking to running and back. If you want me to send you my version with the beeps in place, email me at veggiepaparazzo at gmail dot com.

Week 2 starts tomorrow, and I'm really excited! I've also signed up to have a personal trainer create upper body exercises I can do at the park to supplement my work-outs on my not-running days. I need to go pay the fee and then I should have someone helping me!

Friday, March 9, 2007

I Did it, Vol. III, and a tasty lunch

Ladies (and the occasional gentleman), I did it, I did it! I did my third run/walk of Week 1 of C25k--AND it didn't even get difficult to do until I got to the sixth section of my run. I'm so excited! Week 2, here I come.

I told my husband's sister--who has recently worked up to running a 10k--and she asked me what 5k I'm going to do. I said, I guess I should pick one that's right after the last week of my training! So I'll be checking up on that now.

I got home from my run/walk psyched to eat a healthy lunch, too, so I ate some leftover curry tofu salad.

After having a lovely curried chicken salad at West Egg (we were there so that I could sample their tasty–but not perfect–cupcakes) last weekend, I decided that I would try to make a curried tofu salad at home this past week.

I froze a block of extra-firm tofu and then thawed it in the microwave. That process firms up tofu for some reason. Then I pressed the tofu with our giant bamboo cutting board for a while to get out more of the moisture.

I sliced purple organic grapes in half; chopped two very large, not very strong green onions (from our CSA–the biggest green onions I’ve ever seen); toasted some walnut pieces; and tossed all of that together with lots of curry powder, some Greek yogurt, a little Lawry’s seasoning salt, a few grinds of pepper, a tiny bit of sugar, and a small amount of light mayonnaise.

I sliced up the tofu and stirred it in. Then I realized I needed lots more yogurt and curry powder, so I tossed more in . . . twice.

After leaving the salad in the fridge for an hour or so, I stuffed some pitas (slightly warmed in the microwave to prevent breakage) with some CSA butter lettuce, sliced tomatoes, and the tofu salad.

In the end, I really liked the flavors, especially today after they’d melded a bit. But I don’t love the consistency of the tofu I used . . . not sure if I should have cooked it, shouldn’t have frozen it, or what.

We also ate oranges that came in our CSA order; our CSA is low on their late-winter produce and is waiting for their spring produce to be ready, so they had to supplement with some organic produce from Florida. The juice oranges we got were absolutely incredible.


There's my mp3 player in the picture after I finished my work-out.

Feel free to share any suggestions for alterations to the salad.

Thursday, March 8, 2007

Roasted Winter Vegetable Pesto Pizza

When I roasted winter vegetables (onion, turnip, rutabaga, and sweet potaotes, I think) with apple chunks and herbes de provence last week, I roasted wayyyy too many veggies/apples total. So I had my husband, who cleans up after dinner since I plan and make dinner, put the leftover roasted veggies in a baggie in the freezer.

Two nights ago when we were hungry and in a hurry, I preheated the oven to 450 degrees F while I defrosted the veggies/apples and defrosted an already-made & baked whole-grain pizza crust. I spread pesto on the pizza crust, then tossed sundried tomatoes (which I always have in the fridge, stored in oil) on top. I sprinkled on a little leftover mozzarella on there with a few pine nuts for good protein. Then I dumped on the roasted veggies and chopped up some soft goat cheese into bits to fling here and there on the pizza. I love goat cheese bits on pizza because they provide a very rich flavor without the pizza being entirely coated in cheese.

I baked the pizza for about seven minutes, and we were ready to eat!

We loved the end result of the slightly bitter veggies with the sweet apples and sweet potatoes, the savory flavor of the cheeses, onion, and pine nuts, and the intensely rich, sweet bits of sun-dried tomato.

It’s a meal too high in fat and calories to eat regularly, but a meal similar to this is a great occasional treat. I used to make us personal-pan style pizzas, but I realized we eat less if we are slicing pieces off of a large pizza than we do when we eat have a “mini” pizza of our own.


Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Guilty as hell

. . . which we all knew. But it's sure nice to have a judge say it. I just got home from work (it's 9:30 p.m.), and my husband wants to go to sleep already, poor exhausted guy, so I'm going to keep this as short as I can while providing a few details.

The driver came in late, literally as the judge was calling his name as one of the names to be given bench warrants for not appearing. The driver, AC, refused to look me or my husband in the eye the entire time we were in there.

Let's see. The short version. The solicitor--who had told us she'd meet with us at 1:30, but did not--called my husband and AC back to a separate room. I could not be in there. Apparently AC announced he would like to plead no lo, as he hadn't realized he could plead that previously since he had pled no lo to something else in the last four years. What he had pled no lo on was a different offense, so he could plead it again . . . potentially. But my husband told the attorney he did not want AC to be allowed to plead no lo. She asked why, and he showed her photos of what his body and face looked like in the hospital while he described his injuries. I had had him blow these photos up to 8x10" for effect, and it worked. She refused to agree to the no lo plea.

AC did not have representation (our attorney for the civil matter said, "What a dumbass."), and his one question of my husband during cross-examination was, "Uh, did you look both ways before you crossed the street?" This is an especially funny question given that the street my husband was hit on is a one-way street. My husband managed to just say simply, "Yes," and with that one word convey what, yes, a dumbass this guy was.

So . . . AC's defense was . . . basically non-existent. "There were cars parked on both sides of the street, your honor." Yes, he said, my husband was in the crosswalk. Yes, he said, he did hit my husband.

Well, there you go. That's all you need in the state of GA. The rest is just details.

The prosecutor asked that my husband be allowed to give a victim's statement, and he did. He described his injuries, said he'd had to be in Grady Hospital for 10 days and that he imagined the court might understand what that meant, told them his wife had experienced a lot of mental anguish as she dealt with what happened, informed them his family had had to travel from VA to help care for him. He told the judge he is still in PT and will be until his strength has improved.

The judge then, I kid you not, must have said some variety of, "You're lucky this guy didn't die," and "It's amazing this isn't being tried in Superior Court. You have permanently injured this man" a dozen times.

He put off sentencing until he could get AC's driving record.

When he got the driving record a few minutes later, he asked the solicitor what punishment she wanted. She said, "A $500 fine and driving school." My husband and I both thought, That's all? The judge asked AC what AC thought of that. "Well, your honor, I'd be happy to go to driving school."

"Yeah, I bet you would," the judge replied. "But you're going to do a lot more than that."

The thing is, AC was in a car accident two months before he hit my husband. Then he hit my husband. Then he got a ticket for making an illegal left-hand turn NINE DAYS LATER. That combination really grated on the judge.

So the judge informed AC that he would have his license suspended for three months, would do 40 hours community service, would pay $1500 in fines and fees, would attend driving school to get his license back after three months, and--this is the kicker--that he would be on probation until November 19 of this year ("a date that is not a coincidence, I would like to point out," he said--the anniversary of the accident) , at which time, if the judge finds that AC has gotten any vehicle-related violations of any sort between now and then, AC will go to jail. "And now," the judge concluded, "you can go sit on the front row for a while. You are going to need to call someone to pick you up, because you don't have a driver's license anymore."

And that--that is awesome.

My husband says that if at any point AC had said to him, "You know, I just want you to know I'm really sorry for what I did. It really weighs on me," my husband would have seriously considered supporting the no lo plea. But AC never spoke to him and never looked at him. He showed no remorse. So he gets what he deserves.

And seriously? Seriously, when we left the courtroom, one of the other guys who had been in there was with us took the elevator with us. "That guy doesn't need to be allowed to drive nothin'," he said of AC. "He don't even need to be driving a bicycle!"

A loving spouse

Today is the court day for the guy who hit my husband; for those of you who missed the earlier post, this is the guy who hit my husband with his car going about 35 mph (about 55 km/hr) when my husband was crossing the street in a crosswalk, breaking my husband's pelvis in three places, pushing his collarbone permanently out of place, shifting the front part of his skull, etc. The guy pled NOT GUILTY to "failure to yield to a pedestrian." Um, right.

Our attorney--who has been representing us in the civil matter but has no say in the criminal matter--warned Dan that if the guy brings an attorney to represent him, that guy may try to ream Dan. My poor husband--the victim of this matter. I wonder what the guy's attorney could ask him that would be so rude? Needless to say, I'm feeling a little anxious today. I was also feeling a little anxious last night. I convinced my husband to go with me to a bookstore to get the book I need to read for this weekend's book club meeting. I thought I wanted dessert. But I was too tired to make dessert, so I pondered getting a piece of mudslide cheesecake at the bookstore. Then I pondered a milkshake. Once I had dragged him out of the house, my husband wanted to wander the books for a while, but I told him I felt like I would eat something if we stayed in the bookstore (with its cafe).

"Well, use your sympathetic mind thing that you've been doing." He put his arms around me.

"What do you mean?" I was somewhat just being purposefully obtuse. My eyes felt heavy.

"I mean, do you really want dessert? If not, what is it that your body really wants?"

I put my head on his chest and closed my eyes. "I want to go to sleep. That's what I want. I'm very tired." Just saying it, I felt like I could have fallen asleep leaning against him.

So he agreed to go ahead and leave the store. I bought my book. We went home and were asleep by 10 p.m., and I still struggled to wake up this morning at 7. I was seriously worn out last night.

I'm very grateful my husband is the kind of guy who will do what's best for my needs even if it isn't convenient for what he wants.

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

I Did It, Vol. II

Week I, Run/Walk 2 of C25k completed!

In my sixth walk after my sixth run, I got a stitch in my side. I put my mp3 player on pause and walked while breathing deeply until the stitch evaporated. I started to feel disappointed in myself at that turn of events, but I reminded myself that the point of all of this is to get healthier, not to hold myself up to some ridiculous standard. I'm always telling you guys to be positive about steps you take, even if they aren't perfect (because when are we perfect, really?), so I applied it to myself and felt better.

Right as I was done, I felt like I might be about to get the low pelvic cramps I mentioned, so I sat down on a bench for a couple of minutes and breathed deeply before walking home.

But I did it!

I'm going to take two days off, I think (though I will do some sort of exercise), and finish the run/walks this week on Saturday. We'll see how sore I am tomorrow.

When I got home and stripped for my loving husband to go wash my sweaty clothes for me, I had him feel my outer thigh while I flexed it, and he was so impressed at how hard it is getting.

Monday, March 5, 2007

Non-menstrual menstrual-like cramps while running

Okay, I've been doing a little research, and I guess I'm going to try taking an Alleve before I go out to exercise tomorrow or Thurs. (depending on how my legs feel tomorrow) in addition to trying to stretch my pelvis out. We'll hope for the best.

If any of you experience cramps that feel like menstrual cramps during exercise, you might find these pages interesting:

an message board thread (although the guy who's named John on this thread needs to get a life--he seems obsessed with shutting down a discussion of a women's issue)

an "ask the coach" question

I'm sore today, but not close to unbearably so. . . . That's a good sign, right?

Lazy Sunday Dinner: Soyloaf and veggies

Guess I just wanted comfort food--last week was a very stressful one for me. I called my mother when I was planning meals Saturday and asked her how she makes her meatloaf. I love the veggieloaf generator over at The Vegan Lunchbox and intend to try one of the combinations eventually. But my mother’s meatloaf isn’t like most people’s meatloaf, because it’s mostly meat and isn’t tomato-y or mushy. I wanted to try to make it vegetarian–a soyloaf. She happily obliged me with the simple recipe.

To round out the Sunday evening meal, I slow-roasted organic tomatoes (again, yes–I’m in love with them, poor tomato-averse husband); cooked vegetarian CSA collard greens using the recipe I have posted previously; and toasted a couple of Hawaiian rolls. (The rolls are outside our usual eating habits, but I went to Kroger–a very rare thing for me–with a friend and was entranced by the idea of slightly sweet rolls . . . and they sold a pack that only had 4 rolls in it, so I got it.)

I also wanted to cook carrots to go with dinner . . . sweet carrots, to complement the salty soyloaf and slightly bitter greens. My husband loves carrots, too, so they were a nice balance to the tomatoes he would eat but wouldn’t like. For whatever reason, though, I’m not a giant carrot fan, so I wasn’t terribly excited about making them. For a change in consistency and to perk up the idea of carrots in my mind, I decided to try using our nifty new-ish immersion blender to whip the carrots in their pot. It was a very successful experiment.

And speaking of experiments, I’m now testing whether I can manage to add red wine back to my diet without pain. I did have a few twinges of pain after the meal, so perhaps the tomatoes and wine were too much acid together. But it was nice to have a small amount of wine with dinner. (We had tried a wine from Four Vines called Anarchy and loved it, so we decided to try a couple of other types from them. The Zinfandel was good–not great like the Anarchy, but good.)

My husband is trying out new photography equipment, so this picture’s a bit stark. (See the photographer’s umbrella reflected in the glass of wine?)


Hearty Onion Soyloaf

I must admit I cringed when I saw the ingredients in the Lipton onion soup mix I used in this recipe. Partially hydrogenated fat? MSG? Yuck. I’m hoping to find a better onion soup mix made entirely from natural ingredients when I retry this recipe. But I did have very pleasant childhood memories from the scent of the soyloaf as I mixed and baked it.

~2 lbs. ground soy (similar to ground beef–I used two tubes of sausage-style soy, and they were a little too pork tasting–with thyme, I think?–and very salty. The end result was good and will be great in sandwiches, but I’ll try a different variety next time)

Note: This soyloaf is pretty similar in texture to hamburgers. It's firm. It would probably work well to make into patties for burgers, actually. It's not in the least mushy, so if a soft loaf is what you're going for, this one isn't it.

one egg (two eggs–or add some milk or soymilk or whatever–if the consistency seems too dry when you mix it all together)

1/8-1/4 c. Italian bread crumbs (amount depending on desired consistency)

one packet of onion soup mix

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Mix all the ingredients together in a big bowl. The easiest way to mix it is to use your (clean!) hands.

Shape the mixture into a loaf, and spray a baking dish with a little non-stick spray. (This may not be necessary, but I was worried my loaf would stick to my dish.) Put the loaf in the dish.

Bake 40-55 minutes–until your loaf is firm and turning brown on the outside.

“Wow, these are carrots?” Carrots

Put a large pot of water on to boil. Toss a bit of small bit of salt in it.

Unless you have carrots fresh from the earth, peel your carrots. I used three bunches of organic (much smaller than ‘conventional’) carrots in two shades of orange. I think parsnips would make a lovely addition, though I don’t think they’d need to boil quite as long.

Cut your carrots into ~1″ sections. When your water is boiling, add the carrots to it. Partially cover your pot. Boil your carrots for ~20 minutes.

When the carrots are done, turn off the eye, drain the carrots in a collander, and return them to the pot while they are still steaming hot.

I had about three servings of carrots. I added 2 tsp. butter, 2 tsp. heavy cream, three dashes of ginger, two dashes of nutmeg, a dash of salt, and about 2 tsp. of dark brown sugar (the organic kind, which is redolent of molasses). I used my immersion blender to mash most–but not all–of the carrots into a puree with the flavorings. If you don’t have an immersion blender, get one. I’m just kidding, though really, I do love ours and am very glad we got one. If you don’t have an immersion blender, you could try using your regular blender (melt the butter if you do that), your food processor, or (for a chunkier consistency) your potato masher. My husband and I both loved these carrots. They were flavorful but not overpowering.

Oh, and the rolls didn’t seem nearly as exciting once I had a flavorful meal put together. Good lesson to learn.

Sunday, March 4, 2007

I Did It!

I did it, and one of the only ways I got through it was to think how I could go home and write to all of you with a post title exclaiming that I did it.

I did the first day of the Couch-to-5k. It was hard, but it didn't kill me. My new running shoes definitely helped.

I told my husband that I was really impressed by the podcast of music for the Couch-to-5k that Robert Ullreys put together, but that I didn't love the music (electronica/techno-type stuff). So my sweet husband wrote a little program to create a version of it just for me: an mp3 of songs I picked with a little high tone going off each time I should switch from walking to running and a low tone going off when I should switch back to walking. It's great to have music I love and not have to try to keep up with when I should make the switch from 60-second runs to 90-second walks this week. Now my best friend wants a copy of it so she can do C25k herself! In line with my eclectic music tastes, I have on my set Rascall Flatts, Jewel, Jimmy's Chicken Shack, Lauryn Hill, Mary Chapin Carpenter, Ice Cube, Indigo Girls, REO Speedwagon, and a song from the musical Rent. I used old mp3's I finished downloading several years ago. I just wanted fairly fast-tempo songs to keep me going.

The runs were hard--no lie, they were. But I thought, "I can do this, I can do this," and got some endorphins going that way. As I mentioned previously, I psyched myself up by picturing coming home and being able to tell y'all I'd done it. And I thought about the little girl who turned into me--the girl who loved to ride her bike everywhere, who played outside all the time, who kicked ass in basketball, but who got chubby and then got no support at PE in school even when she beat nearly all the boys in a running competition. . . . I thought of that little girl and who she expected to be when she grew up, and I ran to become more like that person. Someone still in love with her body's capabilities. Someone I am becoming.

The only problem, really, was that at the end of it, I got terrible cramps in the area of my bladder and/or uterus. Strange problem, right? It happens to me sometimes after a lot of physical exertion, and I think it's related to oxygen, because if I sit still and breathe deeply for a few minutes, the cramps stop. While they are going on, they are really horrible and make me feel like I am going to either pass out or throw up--but they are not a side stitch or stomach cramps. I feel light-headed and shaky. Then I stop, sit, and breathe, and they pass. I think they may be related to the fact that I've had two major surgeries in that area of my body; I know I had some complications from surgery (as many people do), and I'm wondering if oxygen flow to that area doesn't function particularly well when I am highly exerting myself. I'm not sure what to do about it except hope it doesn't happen until I'm done with a workout and have my cell phone to call my husband to pick me up if it gets unbearable.

But in any case, I'm proud of myself for getting it done today!

A Dinner-Worthy Salad

Ha. If only my former-chef ex-fiance could see me now. I guess he could, actually; I know he’s visited my other blog before. (Ahh, the power of statcounter.)

But that’s not really my point. My point is that my cooking has come a lonnng way since he and I were together. Then, I was the occasional baker, and he was the experimental cook. I even once found a tape of him interviewing someone for the local newspaper–for a column he briefly wrote–and telling her that I couldn’t really cook but that I was a great baker.

Of course, I’m still not skilled like he was, practically speaking. I don’t chop my vegetables efficiently and perfectly or anything like that. But I do have good kitchen utensils (I told him he couldn’t take the cats; I should have added he couldn’t take the expensive knives I paid for), and I’m willing and ready to experiment. I’m a lot more comfortable trying things out now than I used to be.

A few nights ago, I was planning on us having a big salad and some refrigerated soup from Whole Foods. It turned out the soup was sour–the 5th (FIFTH!) thing I’ve gotten from Whole Foods that’s turned out to be bad/rotten/moldy in the last couple of months. (Whole Foods, I am always recommending you guys, but I have a bone to pick with you. Seriously. Update: I actually just sent Whole Foods an email to complain.) So our salad had to get more elaborate–with some protein thrown in–to accommodate being the only food in the meal.

I chopped and threw together a mix of winter vegetables–a turnip, a rutabaga, some sweet potatoes, an onion–with a couple of peeled and chopped apples. I tossed those with a little high-quality fruity-tasting olive oil, some herbes de provence, and a smidge of salt. I roasted that mix at 400 for about 40 minutes, tossing them twice during cooking. It wouldn’t have hurt some of the veggies to roast a little longer.

I tore up some butter lettuce from our weekly CSA load and tossed it with my usual-these-days lemon salad dressing: shaken together well in a lidded jar–the juice of one Meyer lemon; three times as much olive oil as lemon juice; Mrs. Dash garlic-and-herbs seasoning; a bit of Lawry’s seasoning salt; and a teaspoon or so of honey.

I toasted a handful of walnut pieces in a dry pan on medium heat for 3-4 minutes, tossing them once. I set them aside.

Then I sliced a small log of goat cheese into ~1/2″ rounds. I beat an egg in a small bowl, and I poured some Italian-seasoned bread crumbs in another bowl. I covered a plate with waxed paper. I dipped the goat cheese slices in the egg wash and then in the bread crumbs to thoroughly coat them. I put the breaded goat cheese slices on the covered plate and put them in the refrigerator for 15 minutes. Then I heated up a small amount of olive oil on medium heat using the same pan I’d used for the walnuts, and I pan-fried the goat cheese for about 30-45 seconds on each side. I tossed the goat cheese on the salad, and we sat down to eat!

The salad was fantastic. The winter vegetables were slightly bitter and very aromatic from the herbes de provence. The apple bits provided small notes of sweetness. The goat cheese was easy to slice into warm gooey pieces, and the savory flavor of the cheese cut the bitterness of the vegetables. The slightly sweet, slightly sour flavor of the salad and dressing, and the saltiness of the toasted walnuts, were a nice foil to the rest. Delicious–and healthy.


Friday, March 2, 2007

A hard day's week

I am so worn out. Besides having my mega-cold this week, I worked 13-hour days on Tuesday and Wednesday--on top of my normal 40-hour workweek, I mean.

I haven't been sleeping well because of my cold. I'm either stuffed-up or dehydrated at any time.

Thursday, I took half of a day off to go to a neurologist with one of my friends; due to my extensive experiences with medical crap, I'm the go-to person with my friends when they need someone to go with them and make sure they're heard. Unfortunately, the doctor did not hear her or me, really, though he did at least agree to run tests that he thinks are unnecessary. Why is dealing with medical crap so hard to do? I absorb the emotions of people around me--something I have to be careful about--and my friend was so, so incredibly upset. Today she got worse news: basically, her job wants her to go on disability or get fired. But it's difficult for her to do disability unless she gets a diagnosis (all she has is short-term d., anyway), so again I talked to her while she sobbed and sobbed. We feel certain she has MS, but she doesn't have clear enough brain markers yet, I guess. She and her husband cannot afford for her not to have any income, so this is a bad situation.

Last night, we had crazy bad weather, and I was worried about my mother, who was having worse weather where she lives.

Then this morning, I was in traffic on the other side of the interstate from the accident in Atlanta where a bus of college students went over a bridge and killed six people. I'm sure you've heard about it today if you look at national news. Something like that is always horrifying and terribly sad, but anything related to car accidents gets me worse since my husband's accident (he was hit by a car) in November. This afternoon, I drove over where the bus landed--it created grooves in the road--and I literally got chills down my spine.

While I was at work, I had to deal with a very rude person who doesn't understand the purpose of my organization. Nothing major, just irritating on top of everything else.

A major ex-boyfriend--my first love--dropped by to drop off something I need to plan our high-school reunion. That wasn't a bad thing, just strange. "See you in four more years," he joked as he left. He says he never sees me even though we live in the same city--which is true, pretty much. And we were friends for years before we dated. But it's a bit strange for your husband if you're terribly close to the first guy you slept with and whom you dated for longer than you've known your husband.

I drove home with a collective tension headache pounding in my temples.

So I got home and cancelled our evening plans to attend a party. I laced up my new running shoes . . . but my husband wanted to go with me (and he can't run with his injuries) . . . so we went on a walk. But it was a good, fast walk, and I feel somewhat better now.

Tomorrow I will feel more rested and more able to take on the world.