eat, move, think, feel


March 2009

Sugar Coma

I used to be one of those people who honestly believed that food did not affect how I felt. I thought that people who really felt that food affected their physical selves (other than, like, stuffing themselves on Thanksgiving) were kind of neurotic and somehow making it up.

I am sooooo not that person anymore. Yesterday I had to take a glucose tolerance test in preparation for my endocrinologist appointment tomorrow. I’ve been putting this off for weeks, and yesterday was the last possible day. So I went into the lab on an empty stomach, got my fasting blood sugar drawn, then proceeded to drink a bottle of orange syrup. I tried not to think about it too much but it was pretty awful. Luckily, I kept it down (have not always in the past). Then I went to a waiting room to sit and wait for an hour, get my blood drawn again, wait another hour, get it drawn again.

I didn’t feel so bad while I was there. I had my computer, and free Wi-Fi, and I kept myself fairly amused while I waited. But then I tried to go to work. And then I tried to go to my trainer to workout. NO.

I was a total space cadet at work, even for a brief few hours. I couldn’t think. I went to the gym and said, “All you’re gonna get out of me is an hour of Dead Man’s Pose.” He laughed. I did a bunch of stretching and some verrrrrrry gentle conditioning stuff. I felt totally dizzy and ill.

I felt as if I did not get some protein in me, namely a turkey sandwich, I would die. I went to the little sandwich shop near my house and inhaled a turkey and cheese sandwich. (no, it was not slow eating by any stretch) It didn’t really help.

Went home. Passed out for several hours. Didn’t really feel capable of preparing or eating dinner. Told my family “you’re on your own.” (we call this YOYO dinner) They scraped something together. I slept.  Much later, I got up, had a bowl of tomato soup, put on my jammies and watched Rachel Getting Married. (which, by the way, I LOVED on so many levels) But I was hopeless. Completely hopeless and helpless all evening. I couldn’t wait to go to bed and have it be over.

So yeah. This was the worst case of postprandial fatigue I’d ever experienced. This was taking “sleepiness after lunch” to extreme degrees.  It was the first time I’d ingested so much sugar since January- I’d had one piece of lemon tart, and a piece of birthday cake, but those were smaller amounts of sugar on a full stomach.  This was a huge quantity of glucose on an empty stomach. IT KILLED ME. I haven’t felt this bad unless I’ve been really, really ill.

I’m worried that my severe reaction means that maybe in spite of everything, I do have diabetes. But maybe not. I really have no idea. I guess  I’ll find out tomorrow.

I feel one thousand percent better today. So, the lesson for the week is, yes, the food I eat DOES affect how I feel. I feel like I don’t want to eat carbs or sugar for a very, very long time.

Whoa: Slooooow Down, Nelly!!

I’m sitting in the hospital lab, on the 2nd hour of my glucose tolerance test. I’m very happy that I have a nice waiting room with free Wi-Fi in which to pass the time. The glucose drink was nasty but not as awful as I’d remembered. I survived it.

I thought I’d review some parts of the Beck Diet Solution book that I was raving about so much when I first started. I haven’t looked at it much lately, and thought it would be worthwhile.

One thing I have just not gotten really good at is eating slowly, which hinders my ability to guage my fullness etc. I just happened to open to the “Eat Slowly” chapter in the Beck book. Which is a good thing.

When the relatives were here for that nice dinner over the weekend, I noticed that my husband and I both finished our plates WAYYYY before his cousin and her husband. I kept staring at her, wondering, how does she do that? I just got used to absolutely snarfing down my food at some point (maybe when the kids were little??) and haven’t been able to break that habit. But here are the things that Beck suggests to help with this issue. I’m going to give it a shot.

  • Change something in your eating environment: cloth napkins instead of paper, a little vase of flowers, different colored plates, whatever. Every time you notice that changed thing, think to yourself, Oh yeah, I’m supposed to be eating more slowly.
  • Set a timer to beep every 1-3 minutes. Every time it beeps, put down your tableware and count to 10. When you pick the fork or spoon up again, remind self to eat slowly. (note: I can bet that one minute will seem as long as the 60 seconds I’m running during Couch to 5k!!)
  • Take a sip of water after every bite.
  • Eat something very hot, like soup. Which will force you to slow down.
  • Pay attention to bodily sensations. Notice sensations of fullness
  • Look at the clock. Notice what time it is when dinner begins and ends. Try and stretch that time out by a few minuets every meal.

I’ve noticed that we can usually polish off dinner in less than 10 minutes, usually an average of six. That’s probably really bad. We are Hoovers! I know I need to make a conscious effort to try all of these exercises because I know that the speed of my eating has really caused me to gain weight.

Beautiful Guiltfree Dinner

I soooo enjoyed my dinner last night.  We had company over – my husband’s cousin and her hubby – they are wonderful people, and I was really looking forward to hanging out with them. I decided to make our family favorite teriyaki/wasabi salmon, this asparagus and brown/wild rice salad someone pointed out to me on Twitter (I love Twitter! It’s like a recipe box at your fingertips!), a big mache salad with avocados and feta, and a lemon tart with real whipped cream. YAY. Oh, and they brought some amazing wine they’d procured during their weeklong trip through Napa.

I didn’t worry about the points or calories of any of these items. I had had a good run/walk in the morning. I had gone to Weight Watchers and had lost 2.6 lbs since last week. I knew that everything I was eating was super healthy (except maybe the lemon tart!).

I enjoyed every single bite of my dinner. I didn’t overeat, I didn’t obsess over “going over” (which, had I counted, I probably did) I know that today I’m doing another Couch to 5k AND I’m going to be rowing in a “parent row” for my daughter’s crew team. THAT should be interesting!! And I’m going to resume my regular good eating today. It’s all good.

Is it possible that I’ll gain weight from this one dinner, at the end of this week? Somehow I really don’t think so.

Off the Couch

OK, so due to semi-popular demand (thanks MizFit!) I am going to write about my extremely nascent running experience, specifically with Couch-to-5k, which I began… yesterday!

Earlier in the week, I did an actual 5k (walk/run combo) around the wonderful Lake Merritt. I have not circled Lake Merritt in wayyyy too long, despite its proximity to my house, and I wonder why I stayed away so long. (umm, maybe because I was on the couch) Anyway, it is a great training ground because its perimeter (I just looked it up: on the walking path, NOT the sidewalk) is exactly 5k, which is perfect.

Lake Merritt is called “the jewel of Oakland” and for good reason. It’s beautiful. It has a totally awesome bird sanctuary. It is incredibly diverse in terms of race, age, gender and socioeconomics. You see EVERYone going around the path on Lake Merritt. It made me feel so happy to be there. There were couples, and girlfriends, and tottering little old people, and babies and dogs (even though they are really not allowed) and super fit young athletes, and lots of people huffing and puffing, and just EVERYone. I went around sundown and got to see the pretty “circle of lights” light up, along with the gorgeous historical streetlamps. So it was great to be there.  I took my iPod and it took me exactly 41 minutes to go around the lake, I’d say probably 40-50% running. Not bad.

So I thought I was in FINE shape to do this Couch to 5k training, and even contemplated (HA HA HA HA!) skipping ahead to week 2 or 3 because I was feeling so ridiculously overconfident. I posted a notice on Facebook and a bunch of friends said they wanted to do it with me! (now THAT is one of the absolute COOLEST and best things about FB!)

My friend M happens to do some work in the same office as me. We met up in the office yesterday and at first we were going to go to the Lake, but realized we both were squeezed timewise b/c we had to pick up our kids at a certain time. So instead we went to one of Oakland’s OTHER jewels, ie. Mountain View Cemetery. This is where my trainer often takes me and runs me up and down the steps and ramps. It’s a beautiful and intense outdoor gym!

The first 3 sessions of Couch-to-5k consists of this: warmup walk for 5 minutes, then 60 second run, 90 second walk, 60 second run, 90 second walk. Keep going for 20 minutes.

Now. I scoffed at this workout. I was like, that is too easy! HA HA HA HA. I did come to eat those words. I was nervous. We walked from the office to the cemetery, which was more than five minutes. When we got into the gates, M set her very cool sports watch (she is a very accomplished gadget geek, which is one of the things which makes her an excellent running partner!) so that it would beep at 60 seconds, 90, 60, etc.

She said, “Go!” We set off on our first sixty. Can I just say that these were some of the LONGEST sixty seconds EVER? (dwarfed only perhaps by sixty seconds of being in active labor) I was rather stunned when it was over and I was so happy to be walking. For some reason, the 90 seconds went by quicker than the 60 – how is that? 🙂

I think we did 8 or 9 circuits of each, which was definitely more than 20 minutes, because we were late leaving and I was late picking up my kid and she TOTALLY let me have it. And I was beet red and sweaty. It had kicked my butt – the easy one! Ack!!

We do our 2nd set of this tomorrow, down at the Lake. My friend C is doing it “in tandem” on her treadmill. And I am meeting my other friend K on Sunday in San Francisco, since she was so eager to join in as well. I am happy to have all this company. But I am still chagrined that the first set of this workout was not as easy as I had imagined it would be.

Only one way to go from here, right? Onward!

Upcoming Blog Topics

Ooh, there is too much I want to blog about, a LOT on my mind lately, and not enough time. But I want to write about the following in the next few days:

  • people who have successfully lost weight/kept it off without counting calories or points
  • blaming one’s weight gain on others (entities, people, situations, etc)
  • my first run/walk around the local lake AND my first Couch-to-5k session (done!)
  • what people are talking about when they say “dealing with your issues” re food/emotions and why this year might be the first year in my life it might actually happen
  • this week’s episode of the Biggest Loser
  • changing up trainers/exercises/workouts

SO — that’s what’s been on my mind this week! I want to write about it all eventually. What would YOU vote for, for me to write about first?

My Pattern (it seems)

Now that I’ve be At This for about ten weeks, I am beginning to see a distinct pattern. I lose weight. I’m happy. Then I sort of “relax” in one way or another. I plateau or gain weight. I get bummed out. I re-double efforts. I lose weight.

Lather, rinse, repeat.

Part of me says, wow, won’t you ever learn? and part of me thinks that this is just a natural ebb and flow of things, that I can’t be super ON all the time. So I’m on for a couple of weeks, get a little slacky for a week, see the results of being slacky, then get back on track.

It’s also about trying different approaches. I feel like, for now, the Mindful approach is good but NOT ALONE, and that it has to be in conjunction with some sort of Math approach (ie, counting points or calories). I just got a little too loose when I thought I was being mindful last week. Part of it was the inordinant amount of Eating Out that happened, and I think that is always a bit of a slippery slope. Part of it was that I had stopped counting in the interet of being more “mindful” but I think I don’t know my body OR the true content of various foods, for this to really allow me to lose weight right now.

I gained .8 lb at my Weight Watchers meeting yesterday. BOY do I hate seeing that little “plus” sign!  It wasn’t even a full pound, but still, it irked me. I went directly to my meeting to the gym where I proceeded to spend one hour on the elliptical. At the end of the hour, I had burned 600 calories and “traveled” 5.2 miles. Plus I was sweating rivers. And I wasn’t totally burnt out or exhausted, I just felt like I’d done what I needed to do.

I am getting more into this idea of running a 5k. Does ellipticaling a 5.2 MILE mean that I can run a 5K? Next time I go to the gym I am going to do the treadmill instead of the elliptical. My feet do not particularly like the pounding that running takes, but I want to see what happens.

A few people have told me about this Couch-to-5K (isn’t that a great name??) program that has worked for them. It sounds completely do-able and sane. I just downloaded their podcasts so I can start it. And I actually registered for an actual 5K run! I have been so run-o-phobic for SO LONG (in spite of being on my high school track team, that was back in the stone age) that this is nothing short of a miracle! I feel pretty confident that I should be able to do this by May.

So my commitments for this week are to:

  • eat breakfast every day
  • bring lunch to work every day
  • only go out to eat maximum of 2x
  • exercise 45 minutes x 3 days, and 60 minutes x 3 days

I Am Ungrateful.

So, in my continued quest for healthy and yummy food, today I paid a visit to the (in)famous Cafe Gratitude. I first learned of this place when a friend of mine wrote about it in her novel, and I swear I thought she had made it up, it was sooooo crazy. But no, it is quite real.

There are so many aspects of this place that are really laudable, but really it like some bizarro New Age raw food experiment gone completely, completely awry. Just click through their website if you think I am kidding. But I did that before going, and it was nothing like the real experience. Believe me, I did this today so that none of you ever, ever have to.

First, the hostess. “Find where you want to sit, and I’ll follow you around and give you your menu.” She can’t just HAND me the menu and let me find a table. So I wandered through the front room, the back room and almost out to the patio and she’s trailing me like a puppy dog. Finally after perusing the entire place I decide I want to go back to the front room, which is quieter, less crowded and has smaller tables. She gave me my menu with an annoyed look like, “It sure took you long enough, and why didn’t you sit here the first time you saw it?”

The menu. Not only do they give everything a faux-New Age cutesy name like “I Am Satisfied,” rather than “small green salad” or “I am Sensational” for a bogus “pizza” (with no crust and no cheese) made with hemp seed – not only that, but they FORCE YOU to SAY “I’d like “I am Sensational,” or they will not bring you your food. You can’t just mumble, “Hemp seed pizza, please.” I AM NOT KIDDING. I had already learned this from reading some Yelp reviews, and I did not want to get into a whole power struggle with my server, so I just sucked it up and said, trying to snort back my laughter, “I Am Satisfied, I am Thriving, I am Refreshed.” (translation: small salad, small mushroom soup, small lemonade with agave syrup)

I could tell they were getting their hemp panties in a twist because I was Twittering into my iPhone rather than doing seated yoga while I waited for my food, but I did not care.

Finally it arrived. The mushroom soup, while pretty tasty, was only lukewarm. I should add that 90% of the food at Cafe Gratitude is raw, ie. uncooked. Even the pizza. (whyyyyyyyyyy do they even bother to call it pizza? I suspect just to completely enrage people. A buckwheat “flatbread” (ie cracker) topped with “cashew parmesan” (It’s crumbled nuts!!!! It’s NOT CHEESE!) and cold tomato sauce is not, by any stretch of any imagination, pizza.

I think they really believe that to heat a food is to mortally harm it. Thus, my soup was borderline room temperature. I really like my hot food hot and my cold food cold, so this was annoying. Then my salad came. It was no more than a handful of greens with some shredded carrots, oil and vinegar, more nut “cheese” and two delicately placed “teriyaki almonds” on top, as decoration. Almonds are very key ingredients over at Cafe Gratitude. All dairy products, like milk shakes and ice cream, are made with almond milk. What, they think almonds don’t hurt when you milk them? They think almonds don’t have SOULS just because they don’t have eyeballs, or footprints? Please.  My lemonade was the favorite part- lemony, sparkly, sweetened with agave which I have been curious to taste (one of the very few natural sweeteners with a low glycemic index) with a nice sprig of mint. Mmm! It WAS refreshing!

I happened to be sitting nearby the barista, who would prepare a drink, and then bellow out, “MARISAAA! YOU ARE REJUVENATED! (wheatgrass cocktail)” or “AMY! YOU ARE ECSTATIC! (vanilla latte)” It was actually too surreal for words.

This place takes Mindful Eating and shoves it down your throat. After I ate, my server took my dishes and said, “Our question of the day (QUESTION OF THE DAY?!?) is, ‘What makes your heart open?'” My jaw almost dropped to the ground. But again, not wanting to get into a scuffle or accumulate too much bad karma, I said, with a straight face, “My daughter.” (which happens to be true) She said, “Awww!! Great answer!” and glided (glid?) away.

She returned with my bill. I glanced at it. Then I took another look and my eyeballs almost popped out of my head. Unfortunately, I had not paid close attention to the pricing on the menu, so distracted I was by all the “I am Blissful” menu items.

My bill for a “small cup” of lukewarm soup, a “small salad,” and a Very Small Lemonade, however refreshing, came to $23.

I was like, not amused.

Nor were the blue-haired grannies who were sitting near me. They had been escorted into CG by their two ratty-haired twenty something granddaughters. They looked absolutely bewildered, appalled and frightened by the place (and rightly so). After getting a long-winded orientation to the menu by the server, I heard one of the granddaughters say, “Grandma, it’s ALL VEGETABLES.” And no, they don’t really cook them either. It’s going to be a long luncheon, ladies.

What could I do? I paid. I left. I went home and looked up the menu for world-renowned Chez Panisse, which is just a block or two down the street. Guess what? Their salads and soups (for the DINNER menu!) was the exact same price as this vegan nuthouse.

Mindful: I “checked in” with my stomach about 45 minutes after lunch, and I was a ravenous, gaping cavern of hunger. I was So. Not. Satisfied.

Went home and had some nice Irish Cheddar with Guinness Stout. (the stout is cooked into the cheese; it’s awesome) Felt better immediately.

The Dreaded “Before” Picture

I’ve been looking around for something to use for my “before” picture, and boy did I find it. Last spring we were in Hawaii and my daughter took a picture of me from the beach, while I was bouncing around in the beautiful turquoise water. In the photo, I am a little speck and didn’t think much of it. But we happen to have a very powerful camera and when I cropped myself and zoomed in, I was… stunned.

You know how anorexics who weigh 85 lbs look in the mirror and see themselves as fat? I feel like I’ve had an opposite sort of distorted body image; I looked in the mirror and thought, “That’s not so bad.” I bought bigger and bigger clothes and as long as they were baggy and I was sort of swimming around in them, I felt comfortable because they were loose. I really had NO CONCEPT of how fat I had gotten.

I’m actually dying to show these two photos side by side: one of me, a week or so before giving birth. My face is pretty slender, my arms and legs are skinny but I have this huge bowling-ball belly. Then the one of me in the water in Hawaii. SAME EXACT WEIGHT, except in the second one, those extra pounds are in my face, my chin(s), my hamhock arms, and my torso. Aghhh!

It is really interesting to me, how I managed to get so overweight and didn’t really know it. On one level. Of course on another level I totally knew it and it made me miserable. But I tried to say “I don’t care.” Like this interesting post I read today.

Anyway, for now I am just using the Before pic as a personal reminder. When I look at it, Fleetwood Mac’s “Never Going Back Again” pops into my head, very Pavlovian like. No, no, no, no…

Because My Mouth Wants It

I may have been a little overconfident with that St. Patrick’s Day post. Last night I realized that it’s easy to stop eating foods I don’t particularly like. But what if it’s food that I really, really like? That’s a different story.

Last night I had to go find dinner out because my daughter was at a school play and it was just wasting gas to drive allllllll the way home and back. Plus, the theater was about two blocks from the famed Gourmet Ghetto. It took me a while to decide where to eat but settled on Saul’s Deli, which I love but haven’t gone to in years.

I ordered the falafel platter, which was a yummy combo of baba ganouj, hummus, tabouleh, three crispy falafels and fresh, hot pita bread. Mmmmm!! My PLAN was to eat slowly, mindfully, in very small amounts. But I was hungry. Probably way too hungry. That didn’t help.

Then: everything was SO GOOD. There was nothing on that plate that wasn’t absolutely wonderful.

I tried to eat slowly. But I did pretty much have a death-grip on that fork. I tried to close my eyes and breathe and think of olive groves and sunshine. But you know, it all came down to, that food was so good. And I did not want the experience of having that yummy goodness to stop.

I tried mentally dividing up my plate. I tried many tricks. But it was really like trying to hold back the tide. I think I finally stopped when the plate had about 1/3 left.

That’s when I sorta noticed that I was full. REALLY full. I remembered one of the comments from an earlier post, and grabbed the sugar dispenser. I poured sugar over the last remaining falafel, the lovely puddle of hummus and tabouleh (the baba ganouj was GONE) and the nice warm pita. I pushed the plate away. The waitress came by, gave me a quizzical look and asked if I wanted a box to take it home. I shook my head. I was weirdly sad.

I was sad because I’d not been able to stop myself, slow down earlier, and I was sad because that lovely food was going away.

And I’m just beginning to see that this is no simple thing (ha).

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