Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Is Nuts

We're supposed to be grateful for gifts on Christmas, but I must be honest and say that I'd like to give the two people who sent over HUGE plates of cookies last week a punch in the nose.

It's been really hard to not lose my sense of perspective completely around here recently, because it is one party after another, and the free treats keep rollin' in. We had one huge lunch last week, and I managed to (just barely) hold myself back from demolishing the dessert. I ate a third.
As God is my witness, I will never gift anybody food for Christmas again. I know people just want to be caring and generous, but really...do they really think most officer workers need this sort of a treat? It. Does. Not. Help. Anyone!

Until recently, thank goodness, it's been warm enough to bike. See the rack below at Union Sq.
While on my bike I had to stop for a shot of Lincoln Center, all done up in Christmas lights.

And one of Columbus Circle, which is gorgeous! The good news is, these lights make me feel like walking around, so even when I don't bike or hit the gym, I've still be strolling as much as the neuroma will allow. Not that it's been enough to offset the crazy Christmas food damage!
Now that Christmas is in the air, weird Santa Claus types pop up everywhere. Behold this one on the subway last weekend.
Before I sign off for the holidays (rushing to visit the rellies later this week, gone for several days), I share with you this video of a steel drummer in the subway. You can't really tell from this grainy video, but he got the most amazing sounds out of his drum. He's playing Christmas songs and they sounded fantastic in person! I got a quick snippet and then stopped, but the video picks back up again. It's long, for those who really really love carols!

Happy Hannukah, and Merry Christmas!!!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

I'll Take It

Well, that's two pre-Christmas weekends down. One more to go.

Weekends are a bit looser for me, generally speaking, as it's often just running around to do errands and trying to convince myself that we do not need to stop at every corner shop for something to eat. The possibilities for damage are endless.

Made it to yoga Saturday, but whatever minimal calorie burn was achieved (have been gutted recently by two articles stating that yoga doesn't count as a significant workout) was immediately offset by lunch in a Chinese-food diner. It was the choice of my friend's 12-year-0ld daughter, who I was babysitting. She is as long and lanky as a bobcat, and eats whatever she wants.

Later that night, we had Indian with a group of friends. While I was able to keep from overeating at lunch, I had about 15 bites too many of the Indian food. My choice was a good one -- simple grilled chicken. But with the accompanying rice and the naan, drizzled with tamarind sauce...well, I got a little piggy.

Made the gym yesterday for a rowing workout, which was good, but allowed myself to pick up a container of dark chocolate covered almonds while shopping, which was bad. I ate several handfuls last night, and had some again this morning for breakfast (made my heart pound something fierce after I ate them with coffee).

Will I never learn that some items aren't worth touching? The minute they are in your hand, they're in the cart, and then inevitably they're in your mouth. Those almonds fit that description for me, without a doubt.

I'm now virtuously eating a lunch salad of mixed baby kale and arugula, with sliced squash, mushrooms, red peppers and broccoli with tuna packed in olive oil (but not the oil itself) and a smattering of sweet curry sunflower seeds for extra crunch.

No yoga or workout tonight, more's the pity, but I have time to trek up the 18 flights of stairs to the office this afternoon. Gasp.

I sound like a steam engine, I huff and puff so much. And yet, I still managed to startle a couple having an early morning make-out session in the stairwell last week. Ahh, love and fitness -- the movies make attaining both seem so damn easy!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Making Some Lists

It's so easy to forget that one good choice can often lead to another...
Small victories and triumphs, strung together, are often more important than one big win....

So far this week, I have:
  • worked out every day.
  • discovered I can walk the 18 flights up to my office anytime I want.
  • eaten to plan 95% of the time.
  • fed myself healthy meals and snacks when hungry.
  • resisted the pull of frustration and negativity the one night I ate off plan.
  • focused on being positive and loving myself, ie coaxing myself into the gym because it will make me feel better and banishing the voice that says, nastily, "You have to go to the gym because you're a big fat lardo."
  • reminded myself that above all else, I want to be strong and fit, no matter what I weigh.
Things I need to be aware of:
  • Just because I've pulled myself back on track, I am not magically going to drop a size.
  • When I start working out and eating right, I feel really good. I somehow expect that to immediately transform into my looking really good too.
  • If I catch a glimpse of my ample posterior in a mirror/window reflection, I should concentrate on how much firmer and muscular it looks than three years ago, NOT on how big it is, overall.
  • I don't have to go to every Christmas party that I'm invited to. It's ok to be choosy.

That's it from Ish-land today. Hope you are all having a good week!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Ask Me No Questions...

and I'll tell you no lies. Isn't that how the old saying goes?

In this case, however, I can happily tell the truth!

Fellow blogger Beej asked if I made good on my promise to myself yesterday to hit the gym and give myself a challenging workout on the rower.

I did!

However, it was not quite as challenging as it could have been, but it wasn't me wimping out, I promise.

On the way into work yesterday morning, a lady in a taxi cab (I will call her a lady but really in my head I think of her as an unconscionably oblivious dingbat) decided nobody in the world existed but her, and threw open her cab door without bothering to look out the window first.

You can guess who was passing by on her bicycle -- ME! The lady hit me hard with the door, right as I biked past the stationary cab, smashing my left thigh and knee (of course it would be the knee) and knocking me into the side of the city bus on my right (knocking my right knee hard against that).

I was more furious than hurt, and she was very apologetic, but really...I can't forgive such stupidity on a busy city street. Had that bus been on the move, things would have been very ugly. You would have to call me Squishmael instead of Ishmael!

Anyway, I biked into work, dutifully went to the gym as planned, and gave myself a decent workout. But being mindful of the knees, I didn't go all out. Still, worked up a nice sweat. That rower is effective -- getting the abs, legs and arms engaged all at once is a nice trifecta.

Later that night I went to yoga, and that hurt. It hurt bad. New note to self: don't bike, do 25 minutes on the rower AND go to yoga all in the same day. I could barely hold downward dog and I kept getting charley horse cramps, which make me squeal in pain and that does not go over well in a quiet yoga class.

My legs were so heavy I had a hard time getting up the stairs to my apartment last night. Today my knees are both sore, and I've got bruises on my left side where dingbat, er...the lady, smashed me with the door.

Aside from that , all went as planned. Thanks for asking, Beej!

Oh, guess who was on my train to work this morning? Mercury, the winged messenger of the Roman Gods (Hermes, if you're Greek). I guess this is what all the kids are wearing these days.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Experiments in Living

This is the day I take my lunch hour and go to the gym. I've been telling myself I'm going to do it for two weeks now and have yet to make that thought a reality.

Today's the day. At 1:45, I'll leave for my lunch hour, cross two blocks and go into my gym for a quick rowing session. I'm aiming for anywhere from 20 to 30 minutes. But I'm going to have to push myself -- it can't be a leisurely affair.

Finally got a picture of my breakfast of champions. It's not a great shot (bad lighting) but dang...that lox in the morning with tomato is goooooood!

Convinced M to come to beginner yoga with me on Saturday and he actually liked it! To celebrate he made one of his favorite (decadent) dinners that night. That's a plate of catfish, sweet potato, green peas and corn. I had to push it all together to get it into the shot (ignore the messy apartment in the background please). Looking at it the next morning made me realize that I still tend to over do the portions on "special" (ie moments when I feel like I'm cheating) occasions.

The next day we had to take a long walk to try and mitigate the damage.I call this picture, "How many cranes to hang the moon?"

Sunset on the Hudson River is gorgeous. These are the piers that are built up all along the west side, and people stroll, fish, jog, whatever.

This little guy caught my eye on the shoreline. How he got over there I don't know -- there are two lanes of major traffic to cross. But he looked pretty plump and happy.

He was hunting, too! He didn't pay any attention to us, but took off after some poor creature he saw in the rocks.

I'm not sure, but I think this is where Harry Potter stays when he comes to town.

I tried to catch the way the path looks as the sun goes down and the traffic streams along on the left, but my cell doesn't handle low light well enough to do it justice. Believe me, when the sun goes down this path is DARK, and if you don't have a bike light, coming home on it late at night is perilous! I speak from experience on that front.

By the time we got done, my feet were sore, my knee hurt and I was more than ready to call it a night. I really wish there were a way to magically just be 50 lbs lighter -- I don't want to whine, but damn! It takes so much effort just to not *gain* weight that sometimes losing weight seems like an impossible dream!

Bought a new yoga shirt yesterday to encourage myself (and, er, make the process a little easier on the teacher, who happens to be male and has to deal with the rather astounding amount of cleavage that pops out of my baggy t-shirts when I downward dog).

All the meals are planned for the week, salads are made in advance, snacks are planned. Fitness has been incorporated into the planned schedule, and the battle lines have been drawn. Let's see if I can be a good little soldier for five days in a row!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Must. Not. Succumb.

Am going to eke out a win today if it kills me, but afternoon sleepy-time/munchie-time is getting me down.

My eating was supposed to be a thing of beauty all day, given that I carefully planned my week's meals on Sunday, and then even stepped into the kitchen to pre-prep my lunch salad last night so I would have *no excuse* for eating off plan.

My delicious breakfast was scarfed before I remembered to snap a pic for posterity. But it was a slice of Swedish dark bread, a schmear of (full-fat, gasp!) cream cheese, a sliced tomato and a piece of smoked salmon (aka lox). I forgot to eat my nectarine.

I find the fattiness of the lox and cream cheese with the chewy bread gets me through the morning feeling just fine, thank you very much.

All was according to plan, including biking to work (hey, it's freakin' 60 degrees today!), and eating my pre-made lunch:

It doesn't look like much but I'd already decimated a good chunk before I snapped the pic. It has greens, carrots, mushrooms, guacamole and some turkey.

I was even able to get a bonus bike ride in (not much tho, just about 5 blocks for an errand), and am now anxiously waiting until 6pm when Yoga starts.

This is where things have veered just a little off plan.

My late afternoon snack was an apple and peanut butter. And I ate the apple, and then didn't stop eating the peanut butter. This bad boy just donated an additional 500 calories to the Ishmael Wide Hips Fund, I reckon. About 3 extra spoonfuls got into the gob before I came to my senses and shoved it away.

The good news is I am no longer hungry, and that snack has to get me through an hour of yoga and a solid 40-minute bike ride home.

This is one of those things that you have to balance out, a bit. On the one hand, a few extra spoonfuls is not the end of the world. On the other hand, it was peanut butter -- full-fat, high-caloried peanut butter! Couldn't I have overindulged with more fruit, for a change?!

I will not let that get me down. Soon I will be biking home, and I will feel totally different than I do right now. In the meantime, until I can get to Yoga, I'm going to go get myself a cup of tea, drink some more water, and annoy my colleague.

Last night we had a dusky walk around the reservoir -- this picture doesn't do the scene justice, but it was gorgeous.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Stress: What do we do without it?

Isn't it kind of nice to be stressed sometimes? It's like a thousand possible decisions have been taken out of our hands.

You can't commit to going to spin class on Thursday, because you're just so stressed out! You can't plan your meals for the next week because you are busy, busy, busy! How in the world can you know if you'll be free to run a 5k in March -- and train for it -- when you don't even know where your boss is going to send you on assignment next week? Right?

That used to be my life. Now I have a new job. What do I miss? My stress.

Stress is what kept me from feeling sad. Stress is what kept me from asking myself why I was eating too much. Stress kept a lot of feelings at bay.

This Thanksgiving, I experienced a real lack of stress. To tell you the truth, there was so little stress, it kind of stressed me out! What was I supposed to worry about...when there was nothing to worry about?

I can find a lot of things, of course. There's always cause for concern in this world, sadly.

But right now, my job is to focus on me. What have I been hiding under all my stress?

So I made one of these:

It's got apples, and brown sugar, and lemon, and a lot more brown sugar. I make it once a year, at M's special request. And we've been eating it, slowly, piece by piece, for the past three days.

And we are taking a lot of walks in Central Park, mainly because we can see this:

But I think my favorite might be this. It was taken with a crappy cell phone, but it was a beautiful Thanksgiving weekend day, and I don't think our walk could have been more perfect.

My goals are simple: walk as much as I can, eat small bites and even smaller portions, and find at least one reason to laugh each day.

Tomorrow is another chance for a good day. Probably won't be perfect, but I can make it a good day.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Still Kicking

Not literally, because of those darned neuromas, but... metaphorically, don't you know.

So, my bloggie friends, I have changed jobs. It's been brutal. Because change..well. You know. It's change. Not slow, bloody-takes-forever weight-loss change, but one-week-you-are-here-and-now-you-are-not change.

It's been hard. My job has dominated my life for the past five years and I will admit that without it I am somewhat...er, at loose ends. I wish I could say I'd filled that void with constant exercise, but that would not be the truth.

However, I have been forging ahead, in spite of myself. There is a great yoga studio just one block from my office. Now, I'll tell you a secret: I don't really like yoga. I like to say that I do, and I get great pleasure from thinking about yoga, and going online to look at yoga classes, and generally pretending to myself that I am a yoga lover.

But when I get to the classes, I'm always the biggest, sweatiest person present, and the poses f***ing hurt sometimes, and my arms and legs shake in the most embarrassing way.

But I'll be darned if I haven't developed an appreciation for the classes at Yoganesh, my sore knees aside. It's pretty darn awesome.

I'll try to come back soon. But if I'm MIA for awhile again, it's just because I'm trying desperately to forge a new path for myself outside my chosen profession. I'll adjust, but it will take a some time. Meanwhile, the damn neuromas are still making my life a misery. Can't stand 'em.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Long and Winding Road..

leads to the cupboard, apparently. I'm back after a crazy few weeks in which M and I did what was meant to be a brief vacation in Virginia with his family, then a brief vacation with my family near Miami, and then returned home in time for 9/11.

Due to factors beyond my control -- an older relative suffering a fall and breaking a hip -- things went topsy turvy and we've been running hither and yon for what feels like forever!

In the middle of this was 9/11 to negotiate -- always a bit tricky -- and the usual life choices and challenges.

I'm struggling to pick up the exercise where I left off, but am fairly deflated and depressed by ongoing irritation in both feet. Apparently my Morton's neuroma is not gone and likely will never be gone. It stopped bothering me for a long while -- but of course, I'd stopped walking/running almost entirely. Not my usual dashing around during the day, but my prolonged walks for, you know, weight loss and everything. But the minute I tried to do longer than a mile, BOOM, the pain and irritation came right back. Ditto when I tried a short run, and ditto on the elliptical, which despite being low-impact seems to bother my feets. Dammit all to Hades!

Am clinging to a mantra of "reframe, reframe, reframe" because otherwise I will slide down into a deep pit of despair. When really I shouldn't, because I've gotten through some really tough moments without throwing caution and good habit to the wind and chowing down.

I'll get more into details later, but let me just say I got invited to a down home BBQ in Virginia and it was everything you'd think it would be and I left marveling at the fact that there are ANY people down South who aren't 500 lbs.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Blink. That Was My Summer.

It's mid-August. How did that happen?

A quick recap of the last few weeks:
-a bashed thumbnail that is now black and disgusting
-a banged knee from tumbling in surf
-a wrenched back from a budget bus trip to Boston
-a cold from said trip to Boston
-one truly wicked bout of gallbladder distress caused by an epic night of red wine, boursin cheese, fruit tarts and ...you know it's coming... more cheese (manchego). I was sick for two days. Lesson learned.

But let's count many glorious NSV (non-scale victories) as well:

Nephew was dying to go to the beach, so we hit Ogunquit Maine (scenes from my childhood) and dang it all if I didn't put on my old bathing suit and enjoy myself in the water in all my flabulous wonder. Doesn't hurt that in Maine many people are generously built - there's no way you can swim in 60 degree water otherwise! But it was a wonderful day, and I determined that I wasn't going to waste one single second worrying how I looked. Nephew and I just laughed and swam and had a ball.

At Fenway Park, my fave ballpark of all, and I managed to tame the demons and not drink a huge beer or scarf hot dogs all night, or french fries. Held myself to one hot dog -- that was dinner, a planned treat, and (nails digging into my palms sometimes when vendors passed by) I made it through the night.

Can't explain it, but pants still loose. With nephew here, there was minimal gym time, no biking because he had a sprained ankle, and lots of treats not normally in the house. But... something was going right.

And one last thing, not really related to weight loss but relevant nonetheless, a job possibility is on the horizon. More money, better hours, but taking me into a different track of journalism. Scary choice, but maybe one I should pursue? Thinking deep on it.

I'll be back with a more complete post soon, just wanted to say I hope everyone is well and enjoying summer. Except for my epic binge, which was part of a French dinner party, I've been striving hard hard hard to hold on to my "small portions are everything" mantra. So far I think it is helping/working.

Two more quick notes -- I have a new follower. Hello and welcome A New Poison! And I won an award! Thank you Kirstin at Just Weighing in and Moving On. She gave me the versatile blogger award, which I've never gotten before. That means I should share 7 things about me you don't already know. Here goes:
1) I still have the guitar my parents bought me when I was 10, even though I only got 2 lessons and then my teacher developed meningitis. Ack! I can't play, but can't bring myself to throw it away.

2) Probably the happiest moment of my day is when I climb into bed and get ready to fall asleep -- I love that feeling of stretching out and drifting into slumber.

3) I don't "collect" cats like some crazy cat ladies do, but I can't stand to see hungry or hurt felines (or any animals) on the street. (I think you all knew that tho already;-)

4) I can still bend over and keep my legs straight and put my palms on the floor. But I can no longer touch my big toe to my nose liked I once could. I regret that.

5) The Dalai Lama and I both contributed stories to the same book in 2002, so he and I are co-authors in a short story anthology.

6) I am famously short-tempered when tired or hungry.

7) I will let M get up and do the dishes on nights when he has cooked even though I feel very guilty about it, but on nights when I cook, I always remind him that it's his turn to do the dishes. Gosh, that makes me kinda awful when I write it out!

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Weighing In

Quick update: the wedding was a blast, my outfit was a hit. I was unable to avoid all cameras and saw some photos of myself. I could have zeroed in on a million flaws, but in the end I just kind of shut off the negative part of my mind and focused on how cool the bright tangerine color looked on the beach at sunset.

The drive up and back was wearing, the food was good but I ate too much. The tornado nephew is back (he sprained his ankle badly - requiring a cast -- on his SECOND night at camp. Sigh).

Am I on track with any weight loss? No. Am I holding on tight to as many good habits as I can? Yes. I have not -- so far -- gained back too much of the weight I lost while sick, but I do think I've gained back some. But that's to be expected, I suppose. When you don't really eat for six weeks, then start eating again... I guess there's a change no matter what.

More soon, once I get a minute to update.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Summer-Summer-Summer Time....

We're really feeling it today in NYC -- so sticky my super waterproof sunscreen wouldn't stay on.

The tornado nephew has gone to camp, so peace is restored for two weeks, and then he's here again for two weeks.

While he was here I ate, in no particular order, too much calamari, waaaaaaay too many cashews (seriously, about a week's worth of small servings, but over 24 hours), one burger with fries (I took the bread off, but ...er, the damage was done, and why can I never learn to leave some fries on my plate? Both the nephew and M did, but not me -- I shoveled every last one down my throat), and a small serving of ice cream with a wee bit of Sara Lee pound cake.

I did have the fortitude to have M toss the remaining ice cream this morning. We got back from the nephew's camp late last night and it's a miracle I didn't dive into the remaining dregs right then, but I held off. This morning M said, do we want this? And I had the strength of mind to say no, take it away!

Cashews are now officially off the menu for the rest of the summer. When the tornado nephew comes back, I'll have to limit the ice cream treats -- he loves to walk down to the corner at night for a snack.

Wedding this weekend, and I broke with my usual habit of buying a big floppy dress to hide my many, many sins. I have chosen a bright coral top that has one shoulder exposed (whoo hoo!) and is on trend with the "color blocking" style in fashion now (so I hear on the tee vee). The bottom half is a light skirt.

I hope that this will be slimming and exciting all at once, and that I won't look like a heifer rolling around on the beach. I'll report back and let you know how it goes!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Jersey Snore

I feel like I'm living a bizarre mash-up of crappy reality TV shows -- I'm equal parts Desperate Housewives and Jersey Shore.

It's gym, tan, laundry all the way, except I can never tan and actually spend more time avoiding the sun than bronzing in it... but yeah, aside from that I might as well be Mike "the Situation" Sorrentino, because my life is naught but a thoughtless series of bland, repetitive acts. It might be worth it if I had his abs, but I don't!

Gym, laundry, more gym. More laundry. Add in plentiful heaping doses of ennui, plus the fact that I recently got my hair done, and you have the Desperate Housewives angle.

Yawn. My summer so far has been boring. I am boring. At least I am getting some gym time, but it's in 20 minute spurts. I just can't work up the enthusiasm for long bouts anymore. I force myself to do 20 -- as hard as I can on the machine of my choice -- then I cut and run.

Things will change soon, whether I will it or no -- the tornado nephew arrives tonight!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Tour de Food, ...er, France

Read an interesting article this week in the WSJ -- an American cyclist is doing the grueling Tour de France bike race on a vegan diet.

Two factoids leaped out at me as I read: these bikers burn through an amazing 8,000 calories a day, and boy, do they protein load!

What I wouldn't give to burn 8,000 calories in a day... could my body even do that? I'd probably collapse.

The story caught my eye just because I'm still trying to find the right protein/veggie balance post-surgery. Morally speaking, I'd love to be a vegan -- I just can't stand how most animals are treated on industrial farms. But physically, my body seems determined to make me a meat-eater!

Whatever I eat, I'm trying to live by the golden rule -- it's not what you consume, it's how much you consume that really matters.

When I saw what the vegan bicycler eats as part of his Tour de France diet, I once again realized my sense of food portions is way, way, way off.

Yes, he eats a lot, but nowhere near as much as I would have thought. Of course, the portions aren't given in the article, but still..... doesn't seem like 8,000 calories to me!

Those who want to can read the whole article here, but below is a list of what he eats on his bike -- what do you guys think? Is it a lot of food? (I know it is a lot of food, but for an 8,000 calorie burn, I mean).


Oatmeal with black strap molasses; whole food optimizer; cacao nibs; nuts; cinnamon; two tablespoons of coconut butter; an apple; hemp seeds and flax seeds

On-the-Bike Snacks:

Six Clif Bar Z bars (vegan); two Clif Bar shot blocks (vegan); two Clif Bar gels (vegan); dates; six to eight bottles of special team race drink

On the Bus, Post-Race:

White rice with maple syrup and cinnamon; vegan protein shake;

two bottles of special team recovery protein drink; goji berries

Before Dinner:

Vegan protein shake


White rice or pasta; salad with leafy greens; vegetables —including broccoli, spinach, carrots and beets.


Fresh fruit and a vegan protein shake before bed

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Know Thine Enemy: Potato Chips

A new study from the New England Journal of Medicine finds that the quantity of food you eat is the biggest factor in weight gain, and nobody can eat just one potato chip. Ergo, the potato chip is making America fat. Behold the AP article below (emphasis added by me to my favorite line):

LOS ANGELES – Blame the potato chip. It's the biggest demon behind that pound-a-year weight creep that plagues many of us, a major diet study found. Bigger than soda, candy and ice cream.

And the reason is partly that old advertising cliche: You can't eat just one.

"They're very tasty and they have a very good texture. People generally don't take one or two chips. They have a whole bag," said obesity expert Dr. F. Xavier Pi-Sunyer of the St. Luke's-Roosevelt Hospital Center in New York.

What we eat and how much of it we consume has far more impact than exercise and most other habits do on long-term weight gain, according to the study by Harvard University scientists. It's the most comprehensive look yet at the effect of individual foods and lifestyle choices like sleep time and quitting smoking.

Weight problems are epidemic. Two-thirds of American adults are overweight or obese. Childhood obesity has tripled in the past three decades. Pounds often are packed on gradually over decades, and many people struggle to limit weight gain without realizing what's causing it.

The new study finds food choices are key. The message: Eat more fruits, vegetables, whole grains and nuts. Cut back on potatoes, red meat, sweets and soda.

"There is no magic bullet for weight control," said one study leader, Dr. Frank Hu. "Diet and exercise are important for preventing weight gain, but diet clearly plays a bigger role."

Doctors analyzed changes in diet and lifestyle habits of 120,877 people from three long-running medical studies. All were health professionals and not obese at the start. Their weight was measured every four years for up to two decades, and they detailed their diet on questionnaires.

On average, participants gained nearly 17 pounds over the 20-year period.

For each four-year period, food choices contributed nearly 4 pounds. Exercise, for those who did it, cut less than 2 pounds.

Potato chips were the biggest dietary offender. Each daily serving containing 1 ounce (about 15 chips and 160 calories) led to a 1.69-pound uptick over four years. That's compared to sweets and desserts, which added 0.41 pound.

For starchy potatoes other than chips, the gain was 1.28 pounds. Within the spud group, french fries were worse for the waist than boiled, baked or mashed potatoes. That's because a serving of large fries contains between 500 to 600 calories compared with a serving of a large baked potato at 280 calories.

Soda added a pound over four years. Eating more fruits and vegetables and other unprocessed foods led to less weight gain, probably because they are fiber-rich and make people feel fuller.

For each four-year period, these factors had these effects on weight:

• An alcoholic drink a day, 0.41-pound increase.

• Watching an hour of TV a day, 0.31-pound increase.

• Recently quitting smoking, 5-pound increase.

People who slept more or less than six to eight hours a night gained more weight.

The study was funded by the National Institutes of Health and a foundation. Several researchers reported receiving fees from drug and nutrition companies.

"Humans naturally like fat and sweet," said Dr. David Heber, director of the UCLA Center for Human Nutrition, who had no role in the study. "That's why we always tell people to eat their fruits and vegetables."

Pi-Sunyer, who also wasn't involved in the research, said the study gives useful advice.

"It's hard to lose weight once you gain it," he said. "Anything that will give people a clue about what might prevent weight gain if they follow through with it is helpful."

The federal government earlier this year issued new dietary guidelines advising people to eat smarter. This month, it ditched the food pyramid — the longtime symbol of healthy eating — in favor of a dinner plate divided into four sections containing fruits, vegetables, protein and grains.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Close Encounter of the Bear Kind

It's been a busy few weeks full of adventures!

Apologies to my 37 followers and (hopefully) other readers for disappearing -- have been caught in a whirlwind of work and fun, pretty much in that order.

After a sudden trip to Atlantic City for work (I won ZERO money at the blackjack table), it was off to upstate NY for a trip to check out my nephew's summer camp, and then back for another rapid-fire week of work, and then back up to upstate NY for a weekend at our friend's beautiful Catskills cabin.

Sandwiched in between there have been bike rides aplenty, and one scary bout of food poisoning that almost had me back in the hospital (luckily I rebounded and the ER doc decided to send me home).

I was healthy enough this weekend to travel to beautiful Fleischmann's in the Catskills. I had perused several hiking books in advance and was really excited to try a 4-mile hike to an old farm way up in the mountains. Driving out there M and I both commented on the area's extreme remoteness....

We should have paid heed to our instincts, because not 30 minutes into our hike, who did we meet? Momma Bear and her two cubs.
Haines Photos

These are not the bruins we met (I grabbed this pic from TripAdvisor) but the cubs were just about this size. We had been moving silently up the trail when we heard a sudden rush of movement about 30 feet to our left -- it was Momma Bear sending her cubs up a tree to escape us. We were obviously a dire threat to them, in her mind.

It. Was. Scary. O..M...G. She stared us down and growled about three times -- short, panting, angry blasts. M started to run up the hill but I grabbed him and said, sotto voce, "Do. Not. Move."

Thank the Ursula Goddesses, she decided we were harmless and looked away. We chose that moment to melt backwards down the trail. If she had charged at us, we would have been goners. There was a stream about 10 feet behind us, and I whispered to M that if she ran at us, we would sprint to the stream and try to pelt her with rocks.

After viewing this, I realize we would never have made it to the stream -- those bears can move.

It only took this one encounter with the wilder side of Mother Nature to send us mewling back to our fancy cabin, complete with hot tub. We stayed there for the rest of the weekend!

All is well otherwise, health is good. Check in with you all soon.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Zen and the Art of Bicycling

Long bike rides are the best therapy in the world (sore bum excluded, of course). Today I took a long one after work, all the way up to the George Washington Bridge that crosses the Hudson into NJ.

There's a pedestrian path to go over the bridge, and from there you can bike up the highway to upstate NY. I have a friend who goes as far as Nyack. I can't do it though -- I have too much vertigo to make it across that span on foot.

Here it is, in the distance, and as I approach up Riverside Park and into Washington Heights.

Got there at last! Phew. Quite a ride. I tried to just be zen, not stress about work, and enjoy the moment. I came home and wiped out the rest of the cashew nut butter. Thank goodness it's gone, and thank goodness I was at least self-aware enough to buy a very small jar -- I knew, deep down inside, it was going to cause me problems. Now it's gone, and it's going to be a very long time before I get more.

I'm still on my upped protein intake and, funnily enough, I think it's helping me lose weight. !

Even M said to me this morning, as I was bending over to pick up something the cat knocked over (that is NOT my most flattering angle), "You look like you've lost some more weight."

For now, if eating more protein (in smaller but more frequent meals during the day) is working for my body, I'll keep rocking it. The more weight I lose, the faster I can be at the "Dodge the Boss" game I play at work everyday!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Toxic Shock

What does one do when there is a person in one's life -- not a close contact, yet someone who wields considerable power over one's daily life, (i.e. a boss) -- who is really toxic?

Does one -- and that one would be me, obviously -- chuck all sense and practicality and march out the door in righteous indignation? (The most appealing option to my non-pragmatic side).

Does one recall the recent, unexpected medical situation that would have bankrupted her if it had not been for the insurance provided by the job she currently holds? (The job that brings her into contact with the toxic avenger?)

Seriously folks, I can't deny that the difficult work situation is only becoming more difficult. I have a supervisor who is full of anger, in general, and prone to viewing everything as a personal challenge to his authority, and it makes for an unbearable work environment at times.

It's really time to try and move on, and I have to achieve this ... life's too short, and all that. It's a cliche, but it doesn't mean it's not true.

The stress makes me eat. Today I bought a small jar of cashew nut butter, knowing as I did it that it would be an epic mistake. I just got it home and it's already almost half way gone. Bad, bad judgment.

I did a long bike ride today, and I'm trying desperately to keep myself from going way way out of control. I can't let one Toxic Avenger in my life throw me off track. But wow....I'm not kidding when I say this person is really, really sick, and I struggle to not let his disease take over my working life.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


Every summer on certain dates the sun lines up perfectly with some of the city's biggest, widest boulevards as it sets over the Hudson River. It makes for same darned purty evenings.

This is not my picture, to be fair, but I would have snapped one if I could have gotten my hands free. I was biking home in all this glory last night. I'm trying to get off my derriere and get moving more, and so far so good with the bike. It's such a joy to be on it again, and pushing myself to regain some fitness.

I really huff and puff a lot, but I think I can feel my strength returning with every ride I take. I am also trying to lay off the wine, which is not easy for me because a friend of mine recently returned from Spain with a truly delicious bottle of Rioja that he gave me...one taste, and I was hooked.

Naturally, I tracked down a wine store in Manhattan that carries it and have been indulging all too frequently. Must battle down the wine demons!

Next Manhattanhenge: July 12.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hiking Tomorrow

Here I am, podgy as usual, but still drain free and healthy!

Something important I've learned in the last 10 days: raw veggies and I are no longer friends.

The split looks to be long-term, I'm afraid. Last week I ate some cauliflower with my lunch salad, along with my daily apple, and oh lordy, did I pay for it.

It seems, looking back, that whatever underlying condition was giving me difficulty in January and February -- sending me to the doctor -- still exists. In between times, we found out that my gall bladder was faulty. But not, it would appear, at fault for my dicey digestion!

So no raw veggies for me. Isn't it funny that when I could eat raw veggies with impunity (in my wild youth) I hated them. Now that I love them, I can't eat them! It's back to proteins, bready carbs and thoroughly cooked veggies in small doses.

Aside from my adventures in digestion, I'm doing fine. Fatty foods (naturally) don't bother me in the least, so I can consume all I want of fried calamari. I just can't eat the garnishes!

Tomorrow we will go for a hike. My first since the surgery. Also hit the gym today for my first real workout. It was a slow and gentle 45 minutes on the stationary bike.

I'm working hard to control my eating and hold on to the smaller portions that became comfy while I was sick. Not easy, but doable.

A friend of mine has been doing WW and it's really starting to show. She looks great. That, in turn, makes me jealous. She's in the honeymoon phase of weight loss, when it all seems to make sense and it happens fairly easily. Every week her clothes fit better and her face/hips look slimmer. It's making me green with envy. I admit it: jealousy is currently my motivation. Let's see how it works.

Back soon with pics if our hike tomorrow is photo-worthy.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Gone, Daddy, Gone

The drain is gone.

Two days with no drains and I have not collapsed in a sudden rush of built up bile pain, nor has my stomach undergone an alarming swelling. So far, so good!

The drain removal wound up being a non-event, mostly because I accidentally caught the tube on the corner of a small table as I put my gown on in a changing room, moments before being called to the radiology room for removal.

I didn't realize it was caught and boy, I gave it one heck of an accidental yank. When I hobbled into the procedure room, the doc flipped up my gown, raised his eyebrows and said, "This drain is pretty much out already."

A couple of snips, snips on scar tissue and sutures, and that puppy was history!

Now must go back to exercise. Someone kindly sent home a box of chocolates with M last night. I heaved a sigh of relief when I saw they were some weird kind of German pralines with brandy inside. Not to my taste at all...or so I thought.

By the time the Office was over, I'd figured out how to gnaw a corner of a chocolate, drain the brandy out (gag -- it was like 100 proof, I swear) and eat the rest of the dark good stuff. I ate the whole box, which luckily (being European) was fairly small. Still, I'd say it was a good 8 or 9 bite-size pieces. Aaarrrrrgh!!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Could the End Be Near?

Today is the day I go in for what I'm 99.999999999 percent sure will be my final drain assessment. If it's not yanked out tomorrow at the latest, well... I'll eat my favorite Boston Red Sox cap.

Finally I have some good news to share: since last Tuesday my drain output has dwindled down to essentially nothing. I collect a teeny tiny amount in the bottom of the bag -- like 2 ccs -- in the morning and at night. It's such a small amount it doesn't even bear writing down in my drain log (and yet, as I recently discovered, even 2 ccs of yucky bile makes one heck of a stain on beige pants!).

My first week back at work went pretty well. I bore up to most of the strain without difficulty, but I found myself getting tired and overwrought a few times. It's funny, but some of my body signals are still out of whack -- when I'm hungry I don't get hunger pains, I start to feel tired. When I'm tired, I get super cranky and emotional in a way that I usually do not.

Friday night an ugly scenario loomed when my two bosses -- who had showered me with promises of easing back into work and letting me set the pace when trying to lure me back -- apparently had forgotten all about our deal and were hounding me terribly over some copy (that I had not even written). Long story short, I got so angry at how quickly they had pushed aside their promises to me (as soon as they became inconvenient for them) and I could feel tears welling as I sat at my desk....and I suddenly just had an epiphany right there: "You need to go home, right now," said a voice inside my head. "Go home and take care of yourself."

I am still angry at their selfishness and willful obtuseness, but I'm proud of myself for pulling the plug on the whole nasty situation and getting myself out of there.

Anyway, my strength generally is good, and with the drain output down to nothing and no discomfort elsewhere in my stomach, I think it's time to yank this sucker!

I also really need to get back to more exercise. I don't want to ride my bike with a long dangling drain (scary!) but since my food intake has soared of late, and I've discovered that I can easily tolerate all sorts of formerly forbidden foods (chocolate, avocado, olive oil, even small portions of fried food) I really need to get my butt moving a lot more!

By the way, can I just say that this story, which happened to another NYC-based weight loss blogger, is my worst nightmare?

One of my worst fears when I was heavier was how I was going to navigate seating on airline flights. I am SO GLAD, even if I'm still far from svelte, that flying is no longer one long dance with humiliation for me.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Power of Protein

Nothing terribly exciting to share from the sick bed -- except I think I no longer qualify as sick and I no longer stay in bed all day.

Am swallowing as much protein as I can without overdoing it, and it's making a tremendous difference. Within 48 hours of upping my intake, I felt my strength increase significantly.

The bile output to my remaining drain is dwindling, but not as consistently as I would like. But hey, at least it seems to be heading in the right direction. Healing is not always a linear path, I guess.

I'm reaching the danger zone of becoming just a lazy slug-a-bed instead of a recuperating patient. It may be time to gradually ease back into my job, and try to resume some of my normal activities, even with this annoying drain poking out of my side.

If I keep limiting myself to slow walks and afternoon naps, well.... I think it won't help me regain what's still missing of my strength. At the same time, I still get a bit tired after too much activity.

I'm going to talk to my boss and see if we can find a way for me to go back to work but take it easy for a week or two. Nothing dramatic, just that I can leave early sometimes if I need to, and avoid some of the crazier assignments that would have me running around.

Otherwise, I know that I'll start to get bored and depressed at home now that my mind is not constantly focused on feeling better. I am feeling better, thankfully! So... time to stage a return to the real world, methinks. Plus...I'm scared that if I continue to hang out at home, I'll gain back a ton of weight. I'm eating well...so that danger is very real. Is it sick of me to be thinking of that when I should be focused on eating enough to heal? I have twin worries in my head about it -- I want to get 100 percent better, but don't want to pack on the pounds.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Cloud, Meet Silver Lining

Scene: Me, in my messy bedroom, attempting to clean up the chaos of six weeks inattention. Suddenly I spot my heretofore still-too-tight skinny jeans in a bag of clean laundry. I gasp. Against all my wishes, they've been washed!

These are the jeans that I wore over and over for the longest time (far too long to admit publicly) because I was scared they'd be incredibly tight once out of the dryer. But M, being the doll that he is, made sure I came home to clean clothes when I left the hospital.

Overcome by compulsion. Must. Try. On.

Fear holds me back.

Compulsion wins over fear.

Jeans slide on. Easily. I take them off, check label, make sure they're right pair.

Yup. Will the magic hold if I slide them on again? Yup.

It's not worth the pain and suffering I've been through these past weeks.... but hey, at least this damn gall bladder disaster got me something!

Now I just have to make sure I don't eat myself back out of them while I'm recuperating at home, banned from the gym by Dr. No.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Dr. No

Here's the good news: the most irritating drain was removed on Tuesday. Yay!

That means I can bend over again and do all manner of things I couldn't do before because the nasty thing pinched so terribly.

The bad news: the other drain remains, and tests show that the hole in my bile duct does too. Drat the little bugger, it's being so stubborn about closing up.

After the procedures I went home and soon developed a nasty temperature that turned into a 101.5 degree fever. Very uncomfortable night. I gave myself a break the next day and just rested. I felt like a sloth, but I also felt like my body needed it. I was white as a sheet all day. Feeling better now.

The doctor who performed the drain analysis on Tuesday (not my surgeon) casually said that since the hole wasn't closing and the drain was still collecting a lot of loose bile, the next step would be to run a long needle through my liver and attach a new drain from a different angle.

I cannot believe how easily doctors throw out these things like it's no big deal. I know they do a million procedures a day and most go just fine, but as my present situation shows, things can go wrong at anytime.

When my surgeon called me that night to see how I was feeling, he told me that he was going to line up a liver catheter (what they call it) for this Monday if my situation doesn't improve.

I really couldn't believe he was signing off on another semi-invasive procedure for me. Not a week has gone by since the surgery that they haven't done something to me. I decided I had to put up a fight on this one.

It's not always easy for me to remember that I have some control over what goes on in this process. Although I've gotten wiser over the years, I'm still your classic "good girl," the one who does what she's told. It's not innate for me to challenge authority, especially the type that comes packaged in the (mostly) male world of medicine. For me, doctors have always been vaguely menacing, not to mention dispiriting and soul-sucking, with their constant emphasis on weight, weight, weight over all else.

But I pushed those old reactions aside, took a deep breath, and simply said "No." He was a bit taken aback, but he handled it well. I told him I wanted a break, and felt that I needed some time to rest.

He launched into a discussion about how they do that procedure all the time, it's really nothing to worry about, it sounds worse that it really is, nothing would go wrong, etc etc. When he was finished I very politely reminded him that he had told me the exact same thing about gall bladder surgery. That shut him right up -- but to be fair, he was very cool about it.

So, out of this has come some very interesting information. I think I mentioned earlier that the docs were worried about my protein levels, which they said were very low. Protein is essential for healing, and since I'm not healing as I should, this is a key element, I think.

Doc revealed that the lowest number on the protein scale that would be considered normal is 13. Anything under that suggests malnourishment or starvation. My number was .... a bloody 5. I couldn't believe it when he told me. I had no idea it was so low.

I'm now eating some protein every 3 hours, whether I'm hungry or not. Even if it's just a few bites of turkey, it's better than nothing. And I have more protein drinks to choke down.

I wonder if that lack of protein was part of the reason I hit a bit of a weight loss plateau...? It's true that I like to pretend I'm a vegan/vegetarian, because it helps me focus on fruits and veggies, and over the past few years I've stopped eating a lot of meat. But I do eat it sometimes, so I wouldn't think I am that deficient. It's a bit of a catch-22 for me, because I feel like when I eat a lot of meat, my cholesterol goes up. But it probably would help my weight loss if I added more lean protein to my diet.

So, live and learn, and consume protein. That's my lesson for the day. I hope to someday soon have good news to share, and be able to get off this broken record of gall bladder despair. I'd much rather be writing about running 5K races, gorgeous hikes and rocking it out in the gym. Some day soon, if my luck finally changes for the better!

Friday, April 22, 2011

Not Quite Drained ... Yet

My visit to the doc did not go as planned Thursday.

I had high hopes that both drains would be removed and I would be free of the little monsters clinging to my insides and banging their stupid bulbous heads against my legs when I walk.

Doc said no. Apparently I am not sufficiently drained. Funny. Doesn't feel that way to me -- I feel like an empty juice box that someone keeps sucking on.

I try to eat, but very little appeals to me. I know, I know... six weeks ago I'd have been overjoyed by that. Now it feels strange and unhealthy. I eat one small yogurt and am stuffed for hours. I don't get hungry again after I have breakfast, but I know I need to eat regular meals. It's a chore to eat when you have zero desire for food.

Yet I am slowly getting stronger, I think. The stairs don't wipe me out as they did last week. I can walk a little longer, and I don't need to take a massive nap after every outside foray.

But I still sleep an incredible amount -- like 12 hours a night, with a few interruptions, and a good 2 hours again every mid-day.

Latest target for drain removal: Tuesday. But only one drain will come out, Doc says. The other will be "repositioned." At this point, it's been in my body over 2 weeks. I predict a lot of pain with this procedure. Ugh.

Happy Easter weekend everybody.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Just Call Me Homer

Because my hospital odyssey is finally over, and I'm back home.

Apologies for leaving you all hanging, but I just couldn't summon the energy to update from my hospital bed.

I was there for 10 nights and 11 days, and it was almost too much for me to handle. I think that was the loneliest experience I've ever had -- and it wasn't from lack of visitors. It's just hard to be far away from your family and be sick -- and I mean really, really sick. Like wake up at night and wonder if you're ever going to be yourself again sick. Wondering if you'll ever be able to eat again, or walk normally again, or have normal "plumbing" again. It was a very scary ordeal.

I'm not out of the woods yet. I am home with two disgusting and painful drains in my stomach. I hope they will come out soon, but don't know when it will happen.

The docs kept me in the hospital because I kept spiking huge temperatures overnight. I'd be up in the day and be fine, then as soon as I went to sleep -- zoom! My temperature would pop right up to 101 and higher. They finally decided -- even though I had two drains pulling old, leaked bile from my stomach -- that I needed more pumping, and various torture procedures involving sharp needles and tender parts of my belly followed. There's nothing grosser than watching a doctor pump nasty liquid from your stomach while you are (not sedated) under orders to hold completely still.

Finally they sucked enough of the old bile that was rife with bacteria from me, the temperatures stopped, and I was allowed to leave. I was sent home armed with yet another round of antibiotics -- I've been on them for the past two weeks -- but promptly broke out in a terrible itchy rash, so the doc said I could ditch them (thankfully!). The rash is awful; it mostly bothers me at night, of course.

I am so wiped out from three weeks of not being able to sleep or eat that all I do is snooze. If I walk 4 blocks, I will sleep two hours. I try to eat, but I can't get enough in me to get my protein levels back up to where they should be. Docs sent me home loaded with special nutrient drinks.

In between naps and snacks, I try to baby talk my damaged bile duct into healing so I don't need another surgery. I hope it's listening!

Somehow in all this I did gain weight -- but I still hope it's just weird hospital water weight. My legs are so wasted compared to how they were before I went into the hospital. I think I lost about two inches of muscle from my calves! I don't see how I can be heavier, but I am. It's the most bizarre thing.

Who knew such a simple surgery would come so close to killing me? Twix, I gather you had a rough time too. It's been awful. I just have to hope that now that I am home I can mend myself and gain back my strength. Otherwise, a very uncomfortable surgery looms in my future.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Updating from the Hospital

The wall calendar across from my hospital bed says it's Saturday, April 9. I guess it must be, but how we got here from March 29, I don't remember at all.

You know that .00001 percent chance that a lapro gallbladder removal won't be successful?

Well, blog world, that's me. I'm your nearly zero percent chance of failure.

Before I start dishing out the drama, let me say I do believe I will be fine .... hopefully soon.

But yes, right now I am in the hospital, I have been for several days (this is also my second admission since the original surgery) and I'll be here for at least a couple of more days. If any of you have spent time in a hospital, you know it's just not fun. In some ways, I'm glad I've been too sick to notice anything for most of my stay. Now I'm finally getting more alert and .... well, it's not pretty.

So, to the good stuff! What happened, you ask? When last I left you I was on my way to the doctor's office Friday, March 25, a few days after what we all thought was a successful gallbladder removal and a fairly normal recovery. My biggest worry was how the gas they use in the procedure had bloated up my belly.

Doc said I was healing nicely, told me to keep moving, sent me home. I did as he said, didn't go to work Saturday, but felt like I would be ready by that coming Tuesday, the 29th.

Slowly, over the weekend, I noticed a gradual shift in my recovery. Things seemed to be headed in reverse, in a way. Where I'd had less and less bloating, I started noting more and more. By Monday, I was fighting intermittent but very definitive waves of nausea. I'd only barely started nibbling solid food Friday, and by Monday night I'd stopped eating again.

Monday night, sitting on my bed reading with the cat beside me, I suddenly felt a small little furl of heat up my belly. That was my only warning, and then the flare was an inferno. A raging, searing pain hit me in my whole stomach, and I shot off the bed, eyes wild, and started pacing, figuring, wow, I must have the most awful post-surgery gas in the world.

Twenty minutes of that, with no abatement, and I thought, I'll take pain pills.

Promptly threw them up. OK, I figured, stomach can't handle those right now. Don't panic. Keep walking.

It finally eased after about an hour, and I collapsed, grateful, on the chair. Thank God it's over, I thought. Hah.

The same thing happened, again and again and again all night long, roughly every few hours, and the vomiting grew more severe, as did the pain. It was like someone was running a blowtorch over the inside of my stomach, burning me from the inside. I couldn't keep down any pain meds, and by morning I was a mess. M bundled me into a cab, and weeping and grimacing, we got to the doc's.

He said it would likely clear up, was some loose bile, gave me different pain pills I could keep down, and told me to drink gatorade and call him in the morning. The pain pills knocked me out, blisffully, and if I timed things right I could keep down about 1/2 of what I drank. But Wed the 30th, I was thinking I couldn't handle another day of this.

The doc thought so too. Come back in, he said. That meant I had to get myself back there again alone, since M had left for work already. Thankfully he'd laid out clothes for me, and what I couldn't get on (socks, bra), I left.

Back in his office, sweaty, stinky, numb from painkillers but with the agony clenching away at my gut, the doc sent me for a radiology exam. You know... the one where you have to drink six cups of disgusting barium.

Let's just say it was a terribly experience for everyone involved, me and the tech staff, who were incredibly helpful and understanding. Once they felt I'd kept enough down, they did the test quickly and as painlessly as possible, but I was still barely able to stay on my feet after all was over.

I'll fast forward here, there are so many terrible details to note -- some as commentary on our medical system --but this will take hours if I don't move along.

I was admitted to the hospital once the test showed a definitive leak of bile from the damaged duct. I spent a horrible night undergoing surgeries for another procedure, and the next day was under general anesthesia again for a stent placement. Another night to recover, then I was discharged Friday April 1. Yes, what a fool was I.

We all thought the problem was solved and things would resolve gradually. I did start to feel better as the weekend progressed. But by Sunday night, things were headed South again. I still couldn't eat anything, and then I got diarrhea, and more pain, and .... oh, just awful distress. I was exhausted, and still recovering from the last bout, so my body gave out very quickly. Also, my stomach seemed to be swelling -- it was so tender and distended. By Monday, my knees were buckling briefly before going steady everytime I got up from the chair or bed. I couldn't bear to have anyone touch my stomach. I called the doc, he said take Immodium AD, and call me in the morning.

I said ok, popped another pain pill, laid down to find a comfy position, and a few hours later (needing the bathroom), realized I couldn't get up from the bed on my own. I had to wait for M to get home from work to help me sit up.

Tuesday, I went into the doc's office. I don't know how I got there, I really don't. I hobbled like a 90 yr old. Octogenarians held doors for me when I tried to get into the facility I needed.

The doc looked at me, called for a wheel chair, and send me down for ANOTHER barium exam. The only way to know for sure what's going on, he said.

More torture later, and we had our answer: stent repair didn't stop leak, and the belly was dangerously full of fluid.

I was back in the hospital. This was April 5 (I think). But before I was even wheeled to my room, my doc sent me to an imaging center where two docs laid me out like a sixth-grade frog dissection project and implanted two drains -- one on other side of me. They're in there still, drawing and sucking.

Incredibly weird to be awake but numb (ish) while they push really, really, really long tubes into you. Weird and gross and kind of miraculous too.

Once that was down, without pause, I was wheeled into another room, put under general anesthesia, and a second stent repair attempt was made. We shall see if it holds.

So, while this went on the lab guys ran my blood and found elevated white count (sign of poss infection) and I came out with a temp/fever and a "tacky" heart rate, so I was stuck in special sort of recovery room. I vaguely recall young residents appearing in the wee hours, whispering and scribbling about peritoneal cavities and sepsis and fevers.

Two days later, I'm mobile but limited because of the drains, and the painful areas where they are still stuck in, but I'm a normal temp, a normal white count, and am moving on to more and more solid food. Only a few more days will tell if the second stent repair worked -- the drain closest to the damaged duct is still producing a lot of fluid every few hours. That's either a sign there was a huge build up there (likely) or that the leak is still a problem (time will verify).

I have to wait, relax, and be patient. Hopsitals are hard places to be when you no longer really feel sick. But I need to heal, so I'm holding on and trying to stay busy. I'm still very tired, not quite myself.

By the way, SOD says I gained 20 lbs in past week here -- that's from all the fluids they shoved into me. Slowly going down (I hope!).

More later -- must rest now.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Must Share

Today I got an accurate sense of just. how. awfully. bloated. I am.

A few months ago I ran into a store to buy a jacket because it was unexpectedly cold and I wasn't adequately dressed, and I saw one on sale for $14.

Naturally, the jacket was in a size smaller than I usually wear, but I got it anyway, because just a few days earlier I'd found a different style jacket in the same size and it fit fine.

The new coat did not fit. Well...to be clear, it fit my shoulders and waist. It did not properly fit my pear-shaped lower half. I could zip it, but across the hips it was uncomfortably tight.

Fast forward to recent times, when I've been on a severe low-fat diet and kind of not eating much, thanks to the gall bladder. At least once a week I've taken that jacket out and tried it on. It's gotten bigger and bigger on the shoulders and waist -- and slightly, yes, slightly, looser around the wide hips.

On Monday, the day before my gall bladder surgery, I tried it on again.

It fit! It was the loosest it has ever been around the hips (with clothes on underneath) and I could have worn it out that day and nobody would have raised an eyebrow. I'd like it to be just a little bit looser, but even I recognized that it fit me better than it had.

Now then. What do you think I tried on this morning? And do you think it still fit?

No it did not!!! I couldn't even get the zipper to meet! I measured a three-inch distance from one side to the other across my lower belly. OMG!

The puffiness will be gone soon, my doctor assures me. But until then, just call me Puff, the magic non-dragon.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Made It

Gallbladder surgery was exactly as advertised = quick (to me) and pain free.

Recovery, not so much. Surprising amount of pain from the gas they pumped into my stomach to separate organs. The better to see them, doc said. That's fine by me, but Oh Lordy! The last thing I expected to wake up with was a massively distended, swollen belly.

Am surviving. Thank Goodness M was there and took the next day off too. I was really shocked by the pain, and the gobs of percocet the docs lobbed at me. The cure for the gas is to get up and walk, yet the more percocet one takes, the less one feels like getting up to do anything (and the more constipated one gets, as well).

In any case, I am decidedly on the mend. Now I am in my warm apartment, wrapped in a frowzy bathrobe pacing the floor like some modern day Mrs. Rochester. (I'm dying to see the new Jane Eyre movie.) It's impossible to get outside (two flights of stairs plus nasty weather) so I pace, pace, pace, nap, nap, nap, pace, pace, pace in an effort to rest and get the gas and anesthesia moving out of my system. Suspect I will feel very good indeed once the worst of the gas is gone.

Worst moment of the whole thing? Cab ride home from hospital. Delusional being that I am, I somehow thought I'd float out in minor discomfort and just hop in a cab. Instead, I hobbled out, bent over in pain, fighting the urge to vomit everywhere, and was treated to your usual 20-minutes of cabbie hell in NYC rush hour traffic. Start, stop, swerve, brakes, pot hole. I finally had to cry to the driver to please take it easy.

M said I was the whitest he'd seen me all day when I finally got out at our house. He grabbed my elbow because he thought for sure I was going to keel over. He wanted to take me back to the hospital, but no way was I getting back in another cab!

Learning moment in all -- do not send your friends flowers when they are recovering from an operation. It's a very, very nice gesture.... but who do you think has to get up to answer the door?

Thanks everyone for all the good wishes and for checking in. I'm ok, or I will be, once these next few days are over.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Casual Sunday

T minus two days and counting! Soon the gallbladder will be no more (and hopefully the weird stomach problems I've been experiencing will be gone too).

I've had a good weekend, but not enough working out. Saturday is my "rest day" officially, since I go to work early and am home late.

Sunday I *should* have gone to the gym, but we went to see a Korean documentary on WWII comfort women used by the Japanese Army .

(Believe me, that was not my first choice for a sunny Sunday afternoon, but M loves Korea and its history, so I dutifully went along, and in exchange he'll go to La Boheme with me later this year).

The filmmaker, a 72-year-old self-described "grandma" was there, and she did a Q&A after the showing that was even better than the film. Lovely to see strong and powerful women of all ages flexing their creative muscle. I found her quite inspiring.

I left the film thinking how much I would like to nosh on some delicious Korean BBQ (sigh -- anything can set off a craving, can't it? ). We settled for a light snack of Thai food, with me being very mindful of the fat content.

This place, Regional Thai, was right around the corner from the theater.
Cute, isn't it? This is what it looked like yesterday, although the front windows were closed because it was a touch brisk for full open-air dining.

Inside, it's lovely and calm.
As a bonus, we both remembered part way through our meal that this is where we had our second date, over nine years ago! Wow. Amazing that both our relationship and this restaurant have lasted!

We were able to navigate the lunch/snack pretty easily. I had decided to stick to the small, steamed appetizers, and M was leaning toward a small rice and shrimp dish. Then I saw the lunch special, for $6.95, was two appetizers and a rice dish with shrimp -- and I thought, "I don't care if we do look cheap and the waiter rolls his eyes at us, we'll just get the lunch special and split it."

That's what we did, and the waiter didn't sneer at us (to our faces, at least) and we didn't get Thai coffee even though it's gorgeous and sweet (too much fatty cream) and we split our very light lunch in quiet contentment.

It truly was small -- the appetizer portion that I got was one steamed vegetable dumpling (and only one) and a steamed spring roll full of flavorful fresh greens.

M's shrimp and rice was also good, albeit a touch greasy. I had a few spoonfuls but was scared about the potential for gallbladder rage later once the grease worked through my system. That helped me put the spoon down after my few bites. (And yes, I did feel some irritation later from the dang GB).

Then we grabbed the subway to meet some friends at the Museum of Design. There was a so-so display called Global Africa Project that had some interesting pieces, but if I'd had to pay the $15 entry fee I'd have felt ripped off (the city generously allows poor ink-stained wretches like me free access to local museums).

It was off for coffee and conversation then (only I had green tea) and a short trot to the subway station to come home for 7pm and dinner (roast chicken, rice pilaf, broc and peas). A great day, in all, but zero work out.

******We interrupt this blog to make an important announcement: the doctor's office has just called and they are pushing my surgery up a day, so I go tomorrow!!! OMG, now I'm nervous/excited and just want this to be over fast. Wish me luck!!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Paddy's!

No green beer for me today, or green bagels, but NYC is feeling very Irish today! I ran out for a brief second this afternoon -- it's almost 60 degrees -- and this is what I saw

Nothing like a NYC parade. (These people are not in the parade, by the way, just pedestrians leaving after its completion.) Dont' have time to say much else, but hope you're all lucky like leprechauns today!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Downward Trend At Last

It's a sick day in the Ish household. I am feeling ok (just slightly queasy) but M is sick as a young pup. He's got some kind of stomach bug which I desperately hope I do not catch. Probably waaaay too late for that. I guess I'll find out tomorrow, won't I?

OK, enough with the bad news. Here is some good news: I put on my skinny jeans this week and they are finally, finally, finally almost as loose as I remember them being many months ago.

I say almost because I still feel that at one point they were a bit looser -- but it could be the mind playing tricks on me. In anycase, there's a ... smallness (for me, anyway) on some of my body parts that I haven't seen in a long time. My legs look better, my shoulders are straighter and slimmer, even the dreaded pear-shaped hips seem just a wee, wee bit less wide.

I have decided that next Tuesday, the day before my surgery, I will weigh-in and get an official tally of where I am at in relation to my second-lowest known adult weight ever. If I hit that milestone, I need to drop another 25 pounds to get to my lowest adult weight ever.

Er... let me clarify those definitions for you here. When I say lowest adult weight ever, I'm referring to the least I've weighed as an adult since I crossed the 200 mark (on the way up, obviously). So, on previous weight-loss efforts, I've hit these points, only to lose focus and rapidly leap back up to my most bloated state. Now I'm battling to get DOWN to those points again, and hopefully this time stay there and even go lower. Of course, 200 is my Rubicon. Once I cross it, I ain't ever going back.

Having my gallbladder refuse all fatty foods has left me bored and uninterested in eating. It is a new and weird feeling for me to be able to shut the craving door so easily these days. I think it's because my body remembers the pain of my last gallbladder attack (which I thought was acid reflux).

Sunday we were in the store and as we walked by the frozen pizzas I got a rush of "omygosh I would KILL for a piece of pizza right now." (I'm still eating lowfat cottage cheese for breakfast lunch and dinner these days)

Quick flashback to the night I spent curled up in our big brown chair, whimpering, as M said "like a wet dog that's been beaten." Guess what? Craving gone. Right out of my head. In a heartbeat, my interest in that pizza disappeared.

I am going to try and hold on to this new mystery gift, even post-surgery when the doc clears me to begin eating fatty food again! Maybe this should be my new system -- trick my body into thinking of pain in relation to fattening foods!

This week has been light on workouts because of the irritated neuroma nerves in the feet. They just can't seem to quit me, dammit.

But I discovered a neat set of stairs carved into the small rocky cliff in my neighborhood park. They are awesome for running up and down. I've gone several times now. Here's a pic of the circular staircase I start off with:

My workout consists of running up these steps, a walk/jog/shuffle about 100 feet to another set, down those, then back up them to return here and go down these again. That's one set, and I try to do as many as I can without really stopping (just a few seconds at the bottom to catch my breath so I don't get hurt).

I'm up to six sets. Sometimes I stop and do some wall push ups at the top. Doing wall pushups with my elbows out is fine -- I can bang out a decent amount. Woe to me when I tried to do one with my elbows at my side!! Damn, my triceps are WEAK! I could barely do one. It's much much harder.

This doesn't hurt my neuroma, despite the pressure stair running puts on the ball of the foot. I try to go carefully and use my leg muscles to power me up, not momentum. Man, does it get the quads and hammies burning!

It's funny, but 20 minutes of that is more exhausting for me than an hour at the gym on the elliptical. It takes so much more energy to actually haul your body somewhere than to use a machine (not that I am dissing the machines -- it's good to mix it all up, I think). I could feel my abs engaging in a completely new way as I ran up the stairs -- not like it feels when I pump on the elliptical.

Another little challenge that came my way this weekend -- this guy:

Sorry he's sideways -- can't get it to rotate. Yes, Saturday morning I woke up and he was on my third-story fire escape. How he got there, I do not know. He couldn't have gotten up from the ground below -- it's too high. So he must have gotten out of someone's apartment above.

He cried and cried and wanted to come in but M refused. Said he'd go back up to his home soon enough. I did slip him some food, but he didn't eat. I hate to leave any animal in distress, but it looks like M was right. We came home and he was gone -- probably someone upstairs accidentally shut the window not realizing he was on the fire escape and he went wandering. What a cutie!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011


Had to wear some "nice" shoes yesterday (ie, ones with slight heels). Oohhhhhhhhh, my neuroma is killing me today, in both feet!

If I could pick between gallbladder removal and neuroma, I'd take the gall bladder, even though it requires surgery. It really hurts to have these darned pinched nerves in my feet, and it means no running, and -- for at least a few days -- no walking either. I've got to calm these inflamed nerves down.

I don't know what I did to deserve this rash of bad luck (and yet, things could be far, far worse, so I won't whine too much) but I'm definitely in a phase of things going wrong that make it harder to lose weight.

My plan was to walk to work today since I won't get a workout tonight, but as I sit here -- having taken no more than few steps at home in my nice, supportive Japanese flip flops -- my left foot is throbbing. No 3.5 mile walk today.

It may be time to revisit the foot doc and see if my orthotics need adjusting. Crap! This is not the result I wanted from my fancy new inserts.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Fed Up

Am very tired of cottage cheese and non-fat yogurt. I'm still pouring it down the ol' gullet these days, but it has gotten old. Very old.

Surgery is the 23rd. In brief, I am happy with my surgeon, my second opinion doc (who I also love) gave it to me no-nonsense and straight between the eyes ..("You won't make it another 60 years with this gall bladder, I guarantee it, so do it now while you are relatively young and healthy..) and he was very impressed when I told him my surgeon's name. So, all things considered, I'm doing ok.

I had to go shopping today for clothes, however, and dragged M along for a critical eye. Folks... despite losing about 60 lbs, shopping is still a horror.

We saw a really cool blue sweater with a white stripe down it (sounds weird, but it looks good), but when I put it on... it was kind of small and it seemed to show an extra bulge in my upper stomach. Not my lower stomach, which is... well, what it is. But my UPPER stomach too. In short, I was a roll factory.

Depression ensued, with much stomping of feet and frustration. Boyfriend calmly pointed out that I was being unreasonable to expect a major shift of weight from just a few weeks of eating cottage cheese (especially when I hadn't worked out a lot and I am still consuming a healthy amount of calories). Damn, I hate it when he is right.

To the gym I went, to lift weights and -- finally -- return to running. It hurt my neuroma, sad to say. I had to quit after 20 minutes. But in that 20 minutes, I ran my little heart out and it felt good.

Earlier in the week I'd made time to go to my nearby park and run up and down the stairs (about 40 steps, not too steep) six times, and do a set of push ups at the top for four out of the six tries.

I'll keep doing it. I was sore for several days after.

Goal: lose 5 lbs a month. Doesn't sound like much, but I counted up. If I can stick to that, I'll be very close to goal by the end of this year. That means getting back on the scale. Oh lordy... not sure I'm ready for that, but if not now, when?

Sunday, February 27, 2011

Gall Blabber

Hmmm, it's been rather quiet around here on the Onederland blog front. For anyone wondering what they might have been missing this week in my life, here's a snapshot of what I've been talking about:

gall bladdergall bladdergall bladdergall bladdergall bladdergall bladdergall bladdergall bladdergall bladdergall bladdergall bladdergall bladdergall bladdergall bladdergall bladdergall bladdergall bladder.

Gall. Bladder.

In an effort to spare you all redundancies, I've avoided my blog this week. I am boring.

I sleep, dream, and eat gall bladder these days -- and that last one you can take literally, as I'm on the weirdest food intake plan of my life in an attempt to soothe the riled bile beast in my stomach.

Good news is -- you can't eat any fat when your gall bladder is angry. Bad news is, I probably still have to have surgery.

I'm subsisting on zero fat yogurt (with blueberries for breakkie, and cinnamon and nutmeg, delicious) and low-fat cottage cheese for lunch and dinner, with a few veggies and fruit bits thrown in for good measure.

I eat the same amount of calories as before the G.B. went ballistic, so I'm not drastically dropping weight. (You know that I secretly fantasized that I would, even tho the gallbladder has NOTHING to do with weight control/loss.)

The other positive in all this is that wine, thank the Ambrosia Goodness, has no fat. Praise be.

If it weren't for a few glasses of tannin and resin now and then, I'm pretty sure I'd be a calcified calcium deposit by now.

Doctor's appointment for Tuesday, with the surgeon, in which I fully expect to be told that we are on like bacon for a Da Vinci style laproscopic removal of the G.B. Will see if I can possibly milk a week off work for this.... another possible upside to this situation.

Truth is, even though I can seemingly control the worst of the tummy pain by avoiding fat as much as possible, that seems to be taking quite a toll. I am so tired all the time, and get fuzzy headed at the end of the day.

I have always read that healthy fats are truly essential for the body -- now I really understand what that means! Without them, the body just gets extremely tired ... I've suddenly sprouted insanely dark circles under my eyes.

Thanks everyone for the information, good cheer and good wishes! I'll be back soon.

Saturday, February 19, 2011


Against my heartfelt wishes, it looks like I'll be going under the knife.

After proving myself a miserable failure at a HIDA exam this Thursday (despite THREE attempts at getting radioactive dye into my gallbladder), my doctor decreed that there's a blockage in the duct between my liver and gallbladder.

A sonogram shows nothing, but the HIDA test was conclusive: the gallbladder is not getting any bile from the liver (meaning it's backing up and slowly giving me jaundice, which makes me feel like I'm a W. Somerset Maugham short story).

The docs want to rip my poor, inoffensive, and otherwise un-inflamed gallbladder out because this one nasty duct has gone rogue. I don't quite see the point, but also realize it would be unwise to continue to irritate my liver.

I'm very unhappy at having this situation imposed upon me; I'll admit to being vain over my general heartiness and good health. This makes me feel like I've failed in some way.

It would be nice to ignore the doctors and symptoms and pretend this is nothing, but I'm in near-constant pain on my right side. Not bad, but .... ever-present. It will only get worse, I know.

There's nothing for it but to grit my teeth, get a second-opinion out of general common sense, and then submit to the obvious. I am feeling rundown in a way I've never felt before, tired and draggy. My skin is dull, my hair kind of flat. In short, I'm far from my normal self.

I hate the idea of surgery, even laproscopic, and really hate that I'm still so big and having to deal with doctors. ( I feel like they are all judging me and blaming me for my health problem because I'm overweight, even if they don't say anything directly to me).

Eating is all kinds of weird b/c of the gallbladder situation, but I'd say it's .... well, it's ok. I probably am eating a bit more than I should (the ache increases when I get hungry, to very painful levels), but am making good choices. Still, it's calories at the end of the day that count.

I've been warned by my docs about a low-fat diet, which I bristled at because really, how do they know I don't already follow a low-fat diet? I get quite paranoid and touchy around doctors, don't I?