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July 2009

THIS is Why Athletes Like Steroids…

Just kidding. Sort of. But since I’ve been taking prednisone for the damn poison oak that won’t go away, I’ve had such a crazy surge in energy it’s not even funny. Today I was working out with my trainer. Whatever he asked me to do, it was truly so easy, I was not remotely winded, out of breath, unable to do ANYthing. He started looking at me funny. This was weird to both of us since I have not been working out much in the past few weeks and logic would dictate that I would be LESS able to do things, not more. He was like, “Man, you are on a whole other PAGE. What IS this?!?” I was more flexible, stronger, with 100% more stamina than usual. After an hour workout I was barely damp from sweat. I said, “Is that ALL?” and then the lightbulb went off.

“Girl, you are ON STEROIDS!”

Oh. Yeah. The last time I took prednisone was 10 years ago when I finished my first (and only) marathon, and it had a similar effect. (ie, I ran the last mile or so of the 26.2 mile race I’d trained to WALK) It was for poison oak back then, too.

I know that steroids are really bad for you. They have made my blood glucose go crazy. I’ve had to up my diabetes medication and it still is way too high. And every day I get fresh new patches of itchy itchy rash. It’s insane.

But wow, does it feel good to be able to do stuff so… effortlessly. I can see why it’s addictive. I’m glad I am not a professional athlete and that my physical performance doesn’t really mean anything other than to my own ego.

I’m tapering down and it will be interesting to see if and how I get weaker. Meanwhile, it’s weird to feel like Superjock.

GrownUps’ Chicken Pot Pie

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WOW have I had a culinary experience tonight. First, let me back up and say that a month or so ago, I was contacted by the authors of a new cookbook, Almost Meatless, to see if I’d like to cook, photo and blog about a recipe from the book for an “Almost Meatless Blogger Potluck.” This sounded like great fun to me, and I really liked the premise of the book (using meat as more of a condiment than a heavy main ingredient) They assigned me (after I’d chosen a few from their table of contents) to “Chicken Biscuit Pot Pie.” This sounded yummy. I LOVE chicken pot pie, and have forever. But it’s generally not been either WW- or-diabetes friendly (mostly due to the pie crust) so I’d been resigned to not eating much of it in my future. I jumped at the chance to get a healthier version.

Well. Let me say. This cooking experience was memorable!

FIRST let me say that for a working mom, this recipe is neither cheap, nor easy nor quick. It is NOT something to whip up on a week night when one does not have all manner of ingredients in one’s pantry.

I left work at 5:15 pm. Went to store. Ended up having to buy almost $70 of ingredients because I didn’t HAVE a lot of this stuff. Whole wheat pastry flour. Wheat bran. Bottle of white wine. Leeks. Parsnips.  Etc. Here are my groceries.

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Got home at 6:15pm. Commenced cooking. Luckily, I had already bought several munchies which was a GOOD THING. The kids were not home. This was also a VERY GOOD THING. I had some friends coming over and they ended up being my very patient food-testing guinea pigs. Ditto, good thing.

I decided to follow the recipe as faithfully as possible, which I often don’t. But I wanted to be faithful to the original so I could give an honest assessment of both the process and the product.

It took me exactly TWO HOURS to make, start to finish. I had my mother chopping along as assistant. Without her, it could’ve been two and a half. Let me just say that was almost a deal breaker right there.

This could make a lovely, for-company, WEEKEND meal but no no no no no way could one sanely manage this on a school/work night. It was actually quite entertaining and laughable, and had there been offspring in the house, someone would have ordered pizza hours ago.

Anyway. I found the process not difficult, but VERY long. Very very long. It was an exercise in slow food. I kept thinking, this better be worth it.

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At 8:15, the timer went off (so did the smoke alarm, because it had bubbled over the top into the oven floor, causing a lot of smoke). I took pictures. I thought it was strikingly beautiful. We ladled it into bowls. There were 5 grownups in attendance. The comments were:

  • Needs more salt.
  • Delicious.
  • I would order this in a fancy gourmet comfort-food restaurant.
  • Complex.
  • It was okay, but it took so long.
  • The top was like a bran muffin.
  • The flavors and texture remind me of Thanksgiving and stuffing!
  • I couldn’t tell that the parsnips were not potatoes. This is probably a healthy substitution.
  • The broth is fantastic.
  • I would totally eat this. I AM eating this! Yum!

SO. I think the reviews (including my own) were generally VERY enthusiastic, but overall, this was all overshadowed by the insane amount of time and work that went into producing this dish.

When I make Chicken Pot Pie for my family, it’s five minutes of prep and five ingredients: a rotisserie chicken, Pillsbury pie crust, a bag of frozen vegies and two cans of Healthy Choice cream of chicken soup. Voila. My family loves it. (I actually got this recipe from the WW site, I think) I KNOW my kids would not be wild about the Grownup Version. But I would definitely make it for company. I would definitely make a leisurely afternoon of preparing it.

But this cookbook was not advertised to be quick, easy OR cheap. Just healthier, and delicious, which it delivered on in both areas.

Have a few hours to kill and a desire for some yummy healthy food? Recipe below the break!! Continue reading “GrownUps’ Chicken Pot Pie”

Just Musing

Are people who are overweight and then lose weight perceived as being more attractive than people who just ARE at normal weight?  I’ve been meeting up with people I haven’t seen in months and so many of them seem to be shocked by how FANTASTIC I look. And although it is nice (but somewhat squirmy too, I never know what to say other than a sheepish “thanks”) I wonder if they are really thinking, “OMG you used to be such a fat frumpy cow, I can’t believe you actually wear zipped up pants now!”

I wonder if people meeting me for the first time now think there is anything at all remarkable about my appearance, or if I just seem like a regular, average-ish kind of person.

Or is it that people expect people to kind of get worse looking, and in worse shape as they get older, so when somebody reverses that trend it’s really like WOW?

I know that in the past couple of years, I attributed many things to being “old.” Like I had these big fat pads on my knees. I had never had fat knees before and I thought, this is because I’m getting old. Um NO. It was because I was FAT!  I had all kinds of aches and pains that I attributed to age. Guess what? THOSE aches are gone, and the aches I have now are only because of exercise and running crooked (still working on that!).

I’m not sure where I’m going with all of this, just some foggy thoughts on a (happily) foggy morning. I love exercising in chilly weather!

Numbers, Numbers

It’s been a strange week. Interestingly, the week in which I pigged out on macaroni and cheese AND brownies, was the week that I also had one of the biggest weigh-in losses ever (4.3 lbs) AND reached my current all-time low weight. What do I attribute this to? Well, I got back on the exercise wagon. AND… (duh) I didn’t eat very much. I really do think the medication I’m taking has done funny, paradoxical things to my appetite. So if I wasn’t hungry, I didn’t eat. Which boiled down pretty much to dinners only for the past 3 days, and not a lot of dinner.

For a while, I’ve been toying with the idea of trying out this “system” I found on Twitter, called EatStopEat, which was put together by this guy named Brad. The basic idea is to do intermittent fasting for like one day out of a week. I’ve pretty much been doing a version of this, this week. I don’t think I could ever do a long (like more than 24 hours!) fast, or a “cleanse” as they call them. I’m just not into it. But I think I could get behind the idea of just not eating for one day out of a week. I’m going to think about it.  I haven’t bought the guy’s E-book but I think I pretty much get the picture. It’s pretty simple. Don’t eat one day out of a week, and exercise. I think I can do that. Of course, this might not be so easy once I get my APPETITE back, but how hard could it be? Is there a point to it? I actually enjoyed not having to eat or think about food this week.  So, I don’t know. I’m going to consider trying this out for the rest of the summer and see how it goes.

So this morning I went to a weigh-in, had a nice big number, a nice low all-time weight, AND a 21 lb reward (which translates into 31 lbs of actual weight, since I rejoined WW after losing my first 10). Yay! Then later in the afternoon I attended a 3 hour training session for their brand new all-computerized system.

I am so excited about this. The pencil-and-paper-and-calculator method that receptionists have to deal with has been terrifying me. I hate it. It takes me forever and I am just feeling like this is way beyond me. So I’m tickled to death that now EVERYthing is going to be on this system and I think is going to make this job 100x more pleasant and easy. They will still use the paper method at “at work” meetings but I think I can deal. Anyway, I felt very geeky and excited about this new change. And it all starts next week! YAY.

Back in the (Itchy) Saddle

IMG_0543I went running this morning for the first time since the poison oak struck. It didn’t go too badly – about 2.5? miles in 40ish minutes. I was running a lot faster than usual, spurred on by my happiness at seeing GOATS near my running track. Every year when the grass is tall and dry in the summer, a goatherd travels around my area with his herd of goats, and they act as live lawnmowers. It is SO SO SO awesome. Every time I passed the goats (once per lap) I got really happy and yelled “HI GOATS!” and they gazed at me with sweet and startled expressions and then resumed munching. I just wanted to keep going and going so I could pass them again.

So I did 9 laps? maybe 10. But a few of them I walked because I was receiving calls from my endocrinologist (to advise me on blood glucose control while I am on steroids) and had to walk while speaking. And I needed the walking breaks, believe me. I started experimenting with a different kind of gait – higher and faster and bouncier, instead of my usual shuffling old-lady jog. It definitely wore me out more quickly – I was a LOT more short of breath than I ever have been, but in a good? way.

I have to rememer this. I like running! It makes me feel good! Even when I am struggling and have various aches and things. I was all endorphined up afterward which was partly due to seeing the goats as well. In addition to the hundreds of adorable creatures, there was the goatherd, whom I did not see, but who was standing at the back door of his little trailer (with solar panels!) on the hill, playing jazz saxophone into the hills. Now what could be more perfect or surreal? The whole thing was just too great for words, and a perfect re-entry into runnerdom.

My friend K (hi nutellamama!) invited me to run a 5k this Sunday but I do not quite feel ready for that. Too many weeks of nonrunning have passed. But I do hope I can find a good one to do in late August or maybe September.

My stupid poison oak really flared up after my run. I think maybe due to heat and sweat. But I had big new welts on my face, neck, back, stomach, hip. I came home and took a hot shower (which I really needed) but that only made the PO worse. Itch itch itch!

The prednisone (which I think I would be insane without) has definitely helped things, but it hasn’t gone away completely and does have periods of worsening. It also is making me sleepless and sort of manic. Last night I stayed up until 3am, working on making two books on Blurb.com.  I have been reading a lot about prednisone AND poison oak and I see that this could go on for weeks (please, no). Weirdly, it seems that a common side effect of steroids is weight gain and appetite increase, but I have had the opposite (thank you!). I’ve barely eaten.

So it’s weird. I don’t feel like myself at ALL.  I feel manic and jumpy and sleepless and odd. But also a little euphoric and very goat-happy. And glad to be running again.

Did you know that the last time I had poison was 10 years ago, the week that I completed my first and only marathon? My dog had gone for a walk in the woods (with dog walker) and come back to sit on my lap and kiss my face. That was brutal. I took steroids then and my racewalking partner was convinced that it helped me really pump it up for that marathon because I ended up running the last mile, something I’d never done before. So. Who knows. Don’t anybody report me to the sports authorities, please.

Momentum, Lost

I was worried this would happen – that during this time of year I would be so stressed from coordinating my big family camp, that I would just lose my momentum altogether. And at one point I was all determined that it would NOT happen. But, well, it did, sort of. Not completely. I didn’t go totally off the deep end and eat myself into a stress coma, but I DID lose an entire week of exercise, maybe more. (almost 2 weeks?) I knew in that week before camp that at least a WALK would have done me so much good, but I just… didn’t.  Every day I told myself I’d at least try to get in a walk or a 30 minute Jillian video, but neither of those things happened. Which sort of perplexes me and bums me  out. With ALL that I know about how good and helpful exercise is, I still had this inner resistance. With this voice that said, loudly, I’m too busy. And yes, I WAS busy, but I could have taken 20 or 30 minutes a day and it would have helped. But I didn’t. However, I did continue to make decent food choices during that time.

When I was at camp itself, I wore my pedometer and was walking a minimum of 4 miles a day, just running around doing camp stuff. In addition, I took one good (steep) hike and did one ill-fated run. (more on that later) So I felt good about that. The food at camp… well, it was overall fairly bad but they did have a good salad bar. So that often saved me. But on the last day or two I felt myself sliding a bit. I had a couple cookies. I ate some Cream of Wheat and other stuff I normally wouldn’t. But it wasn’t an all out disaster.

When I got home, I was up a pound or two (I had lost those 2 lbs before I left, so I wasn’t panicking). But the all out disaster came the day after I got home. I had been itching a little at camp. But the day after I got home (yesterday?) I had a huge, terrible outbreak of poison oak. Remember that run I did? Well I was about a mile from camp and had to go to the bathroom REALLY BAD. And you know how uncomfortable it is to run when you have to go. So I went in the woods. And… yeah, I got it THERE.

I have never known such horrible, insane, burning itching! Welts! I couldn’t open one eye. My lips were enormous and weeping fluid. On my face, chest, back, arms, legs… and yeah, THERE. Ugh ugh ugh ugh. I tried to go to my trainer yesterday morning but he took one look, would not come NEAR me and told me to go get a cortisone shot ASAP. I didn’t do that, but I did start taking prednisone. Which has my blood sugars all whacked. But I can’t not do this.

So, I’m stressed. I was so uncomfortable yesterday I didn’t want to MOVE but today I am feeling like things are calming down a bit. I might go for a walk later on.

The worst part? Yesterday I had the worst “food” day ever since January. I was scheduled to make lunch for 30 kids in my daughter’s theater group (they are in all day rehearsals now). She requested homemade mac and cheese (MY NEMESIS). And I think the combination of stress, the poison oak, totally losing my healthy mojo, and I just lost it. Two plates of mac and cheese (don’t even ask how many “portions” that may have been) and two brownies. BROWNIES. Wahh!

What was going through my head? (“Well, my blood sugars are already up from the prednisone, let’s make it even worse! or let’s disguise it.”) Or I don’t even know. I think my head was not working. Did you know that steroids can also make one emotionally and mentally whacked? Let’s blame it on the steroids!

Well, it had to happen sooner or later. And what did I learn from it? I learned that the mac and cheese was not as incredibly awesome as I’d dreamed. In fact, I think the reason I ate so much of it was I was chasing that elusive high, waiting for it to transport me into ecstasy, when it really didn’t. (the brownies, however, were darn good)

So I’ve learned. It’s been a humbling experience. I am ready to get back on the horse or the wagon or the donkey. I know it feels 100x better to act and be healthy than it does to make the unfortunate choices I’ve been making.

I’m glad that there wasn’t HUGE harm done – in the past this period has been much worse and lasted much longer and meant 10-15 lbs gain instead of the two or four that it probably is.

This post is getting really long but I wanted to say another that I learned. You know that quote, “You are what you repeatedly do.” That is so so so true. When I didn’t Tweet for a week, I also lost the momentum of that community and what it does for me. I came back, and I felt…. out of it. It would be so easy to fall away. But I don’t want to. I know that my blogging friends  are still out there, and I really need y’all.

I need a hand up on the wagon. Circle back round for me, will ya?

Monday Monday!

So it’s official. I now have a regular meeting where I am officially working as a receptionist for WW. My mentoring period is ‘officially’ over! I have to say that the amount of paperwork and MATH (gulp) is super daunting. But each time I learn something and I am hoping it will become easier and more automatic over time. And in a few weeks the whole system is moving to computer-only which I think (hope) will be easier. But still, there is a LOT to keep track of behind the scenes which of course I never had any clue about. Last night was a pretty big crowd and I felt like I was juggling eggs AND chickens. But I survived, and I think it all went well.

I like my leader very much. He’s (yes it’s a he!) very inspiring, upbeat, FUNNY and uses the word “mindful” a lot. Which I love.

I was so tempted to hop on the scale last night “just to see” but I didn’t.

I feel lucky and glad that I was offered a regular position the day after I became “official.” Many people have to spend a long time just working as vacation fillers or substitutes. It will be good to have a regular place and time, and to get to know people who are regulars. I will probably be going for Leader training sometime in the fall but at this point I am not in any huge hurry. I feel like I still have a lot to learn. Anyway, if any of y’all are loooking for a great meeting, come on over to Oakland 6pm Monday eves. Here I go!

Yikes.

I went to get weighed in today, and I didn’t take my usual “precautions” – ie., I wore more clothing than usual. I didn’t go in empty – ie without breakfast. It’s a hormonal time. But I knew I wouldn’t be able to go this week, so I thought, I might as well.

Up 2.7.

WOW. I haven’t been up that much since before I began. THAT was sort of alarming. There are all sorts of explanations. If I hadn’t had breakfast, had worn my usual WI outfit, I’d probably be within the 2 lb range. My leader’s face was like, “Whoa.”

I’m not completely freaked or anything, but that was… not fun.

Yesterday I had an all-day training for this big work event. I was in a big rush. I’d ordered bagels and coffee and sandwiches for them. I didn’t bring my Own Food, I just ate what everyone else did. Including the cookie. (OOPS)

So. There IS an explanation.

Minor pity party as I once again mourn the fact that I can’t just eat what “everyone else” is eating.  Ah well.

Second lesson of the week! (#1 was the rice) I think I can safely say I am ready to be done with these Lessons.

I Just Wanted To Taste It Again

White rice, that is. I haven’t had white rice (other than half-bites of sushi) since I began this blog in January. It was a terrible drugged fatigue after a lunchtime rice bowl that led me to finally agree to get my blood tested and I got my (pre)diabetes diagnosis. So it’s been a long time. Ever since then, my live-in mother has cooked white rice virtually every night (she’s Asian, and that’s Just the Way It Is) and I have stayed away from it.

But tonight, I weakened. I’d say it was a perfect storm of many things: it’s the highest intensity work week of my entire year, so mega stress; I didn’t have time to exercise; my husband is away for five days and I miss him; I have too much to do (did I say that already??); oh, and I’ve been doing really well with my maintenance (so hey! what a great time to sabotage myself); I did great at my doctors’ appointments last week (ditto) AND I’ve been focusing a lot more on weight loss stuff and less on my diabetes. In fact, I had not tested my blood since my medical visit. LAST WEEK.

I had been religiously testing myself like 5 times a day, and then 3, and then once, and then… oops, where’s my meter? I think once I got a good A1C test, (average of past 3 months of blood glucose levels) I felt like, HEY, I’ve got this down! I know what I’m doing! What a good time to blow it!

I didn’t have time to shop or cook tonight. I was semi-frantic from my brain working super overdrive. I got Indian food takeout. Now, I’ve done this a DOZEN times since January, and have done so well with a bit of grilled tandoori chicken, and some spinach and yogurt raita, but this time…  😦

It wasn’t the world’s biggest pigout, but compared to the way I’ve been eating since January, it was. I had two scoops of rice, probably about a cup total. AND a half piece of naan. AND several trips back to the chicken tikka masala and the vegi creamy stuff. It was all really good. But a combination of too much quantity, and too many white carbs.

After dinner, I had that falling-asleep drugged feeling again. I knew this was not good. I tested my blood. It was not disastrous by any means, but it wasn’t the lovely stellar numbers I’d been seeing for months.

So, it wasn’t a huge crash. It could’ve been the first step down a slippery slope. But I’m not going to let it. I tasted the rice. It was really delicious. But that feeling afterward? And the number on my meter? And the number that’s going to show up on the scale? None of that was worth it.

I think it was almost necessary to have this happen. I’ve been so “good.” For so long. I had to do a little experiment. The results were what I could’ve expected. Now I know that’s not going to happen again for a long while.

My body still can’t deal with carbs, can’t deal with that quantity of food. Sigh. Oh well. (but this is probably a good thing)

NEXT MORNING: Blood glucose STILL up. Weight up. OK, where’s that wagon? I am jumping back on and QUICK…!

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