Thursday, September 24, 2009

Could the wheel be turning at last?

I did a courtesy weigh-in tonight -- doesn't count as my monthly weigh-in, just a way to keep me on track. And much to my delight, I'm far closer this time to where I need to be than I was last month at this time, or the month before. This gives me hope that next week, when I weigh in (Friday morning; I'll be at the PostSecret lecture Thursday night at the Peace Center --- WAHOO!) I won't be crossing my fingers and praying and exercising like a dog and getting up early Saturday to weigh in and not having that work either and then waiting until Tuesday night and stopping by ............. ah. I just want a good weigh-in next week. And I'm working hard to ensure that maintenance doesn't seem such a struggle.

In good news, the weather is nice enough to go walking again on my lunch hour or after I get home from work. I just hope the rain that is being predicted for Saturday will hold off long enough for the Race for the Cure to be good!! The temperature is supposed to be pretty good! I just have to remember to pack my knee braces..... oy!!!!

In more good news, I had some labwork done last week, and I got my results back: Everything is in at-least-normal ranges, with a couple bordering on fantastic! :-)
* Cholesterol: 132.
* HDL is 56 (according to the lab results, anything above 59 is a negative risk for CHD.... I was just 3 points away!).
* LDL is 64 ("optimal" is below 100).
* LDL/HDL Ratio: 1.1
* Triglycerides: 58.
* Glucose: 86.

My family doctor said that he knew I'd gone a long way to working on keeping my heart in good shape. I am so glad the numbers bear that out!

And in the last bit of fantastic news: A VERY HEARTY CONGRATULATIONS to my friend Russell, who hit the 75-pounds-gone mark this week. WAHOO!!!!!!!!!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Gone domestic, be back later......

I worked a WW meeting this morning, and planned a trip to a local orchard with my parents after the meeting. The orchard is not too far over the state line into North Carolina.

After stopping for lunch, it was onto the orchard. It's called Sky Top Orchard and believe you me, it is. We got 3 half-peck bags of different varieties -- Mom loves Red Delicious (which is my very least favorite; too soft for me!). Dad & I picked out Jonagold (for eating) and Winesap (for cooking). They had plenty of others: Cortland, Ida Red, Golden Delicious, Mutsu (a green apple), and I think even a couple of others. The only kind of apple the orchard didn't have was Honeycrisp -- which is my 2nd favorite kind, and had already been fully harvested for the season. Luckily, my VERY favorite variety (Pink Lady) won't be ready until mid-October. You better believe that in 3 weeks, I'm going back for some! They will also have Arkansas Black, which also are good for cooking/baking. Now we just have to figure out how to freeze the apples we don't eat right away. Mom has found her old Betty Crocker cookbook (red & black & white gingham-like cover) from the '60s and it offers suggestions. We also got a half-gallon of cider; yummo, because there's nothing I love more than hot cider!

The other thing that made me sad was that their "picking table" online had Asian pears listed for September..... but no AP's to be found. I purely LOVE Asian pears, and they're getting harder to find. I may have to just pay the piper at the supermarket for a whole bunch and hang on for dear life!

From the orchard, we went on to the Asheville Farmer's Market. Dad wanted to find some figs for preserves before they're totally out of season. He found 3 pints; that was IT. There are apples galore there too -- quite a few from the nearby orchards, but it was more fun to go to the actual orchard itself to get them. And they had my Honeycrisps. I got a few -- and then got them home and weighed them. Holy God, these EACH weigh 12 oz. A three-quarter pound single apple? SHEESH! And I picked some of the smaller ones in the box. Yow.

I also went looking for a butternut squash to cube and use for soup, etc. Found one that was fairly large, and on sale: 89c a pound. The guy rings me up and says, "That's $5.80-something." Yeah, I bought a flipping SIX-POUND squash. Good Lord!!! So needless to say, I'm looking up butternut squash recipes online -- other than soup; got one for that. I just found a good one for .... ready? Butternut Squash and Apple Bake. I'm so there!!! I already have everything I need..............

Tomorrow, I'm making a crock-pot minestrone for dinner and hopefully will have some left over for work this week. I have some pumpkin soup that I made last week that's in the freezer, so that will be put to good use, too.

Suzy Homemaker Strikes Again


Now, one of the things I have discovered about myself of late is that I really do enjoy cooking, and even larger-batch cooking for freezing and keeping for meals all week. I enjoy meals out -- after all, any meal you don't have to cook is a good one, right? Still, after a while, it gets old.

For years, a friend and I have joked about my "control issues." But you know, cooking my own food, making my own meals, and setting my own portions gives me the control I desire over what fuels my body and my life. And I am finding that I truly enjoy the kitchen.

Cooking connects you to the very essence of life on earth -- how we get sustenance from the land, how we need to properly nurture things, and how we enhance what goes into us, and what comes forth from us. It makes you realize how fragile the web is, and yet how very strong too. It shows how tightly our life and the world and the environment and our bodies are interwoven, and need to be connected to each other. There's an element of sacrifice and giving for something greater -- the soil sacrifices its nutrients to help grow the food. The food sacrifices itself to fuel us..... what are we sacrificing to give back to this process?

Thursday, September 17, 2009

38 days.....

Note: this isn't exactly about weight loss, but it's still important.

In 38 days, I will hit the Big 4-0. I am actually very, very excited about this birthday. The x-5 and x-zero birthdays from 20 on were tough -- until I hit 35, which was fabulous by comparison! It was as if a light bulb came on in my head on a number of things, and that I was comfortable enough in my own skin to do some things I needed to do. I wasn't quite perfect at first, but I was making progress and getting there. The last five years (almost) since then have been amazing. There are the obvious changes, but there's so much more that people don't see. I'm not a new me, I'm not a different person -- I'm a BETTER version of the old me.

So, with all that in mind, I visited my doctor this week. I think in my main blog, I've touched on family medical history before, so I won't rehash the details. Suffice to say that it isn't good on either side for cardiovascular stuff. I have worked so hard to get healthy by 40 that I want a barometer of what I've done, if there are still trouble areas to watch for, etc. So after talking with me, and doing a brief exam, my doctor said he thinks I've done quite a bit to help my own cause with heart disease. He ordered some labwork (Comprehensive Metabolic, Lipid with HDL/LDL ratio, Hepatic Function, and CBC with Differential Panels) and a mammogram -- because I begged for that. I had that done today as well ..... that's a different post for later. Anyway, I can't wait to get the results back and see where I am at this stage, look for any potential problems, and get cracking on a way to head things off or keep on the right tracks.

This is fuel for the rest of my life. Lately, I can't stop reading enough about nutrition, exercise, childhood obesity (a special pet project of mine), school lunch programs, our food supply, etc. Our nation has got to do something to make preventive medicines and examinations a priority. I forget where I read it but it was profound: our healthcare system is far more interested and invested in treating the diseases instead of preventing them. I don't get it. At all.

38 days until 40. I'm excited and happy and hopeful and ready to fuel the next stage of my life. I'm so glad I am in a better place at 40 than I was at 35, 30, 25, 20........... I just hate that it took so long for my body and brain and heart to all work together to get me here.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Holding my own....

I made a very interesting discovery this week at my meeting. One of the other members and I were discussing our weight stalls and holding patterns. She's been stuck in one for nearly 6 months. Hey, it's been happening to a lot of folks I know, including myself. Even my leader remarked to some ladies from the earlier meeting (at some introductions) that I have actually been in maintenance for about 6 months.

It gave me an idea -- I went back through my weight record in the Guide Book and realized that she was absolutely right. On March 26, I hit a certain weight point, and with a couple of exceptions (like the week I made goal, the week I hit lifetime, one really odd week where I had a massive unexplained gain), I have held right around that number since..... oddly enough, guess where it is?

Yeah: My upper limit for "freedom" each month. It may be time to consider changing my final goal weight -- which I can do by sending a note to Corporate. At least changing it until I finally get rid of some of this excess skin.

It's strange, isn't it? My body apparently has decided its happy point is exactly 2 pounds above what my idea of "happy point" is, and what my official goal weight is. Big heaving le sigh.

But you know, I am doing fine. I am continuing to make good food choices. I am pretty creative in the kitchen. I'm reading labels even more closely, especially watching the sodium (the water retention thing). And I am way more proactive with my health than I ever was before. I avoided doctors' offices because they always focused on "the weight" ..... and now I realize, they had a valid point. The weight made a difference in my health. And now, I'm doing one massive cleanup effort. EPA's Superfund has NOTHING on cleaning up my radioactive mess!


Speaking of health things, I will go to my family doctor next week for a consultation -- I want to talk with him about family history, the lymphedema, trying to get him to send information to the plastic surgeon's, talking to him about what kind of tests I should have done now that I'm about to see the big 4-0, etc. And I want to discuss my headaches with him.

Since I was a child, I've always had headaches. Back in the day, we all thought they were just sinus headaches. I mean, holy mackerel, I am the poster child for chronic sinusitis. My entire life, it seems, I have awakened with stuffy nose and gone to bed the same way. Faceaches, and pressure around the eyes, and everything that points to perpetually inflamed sinus cavities. Yuck, yuck, yuck.

Only..... a few years ago, I read an article on WebMD about this. And the old conventional wisdom was wrong. It's one thing to have an active sinus infection and a headache, but these are actually a type of migraine. I mentioned it to the PCP (I was seeing another doctor in that practice) and he said, "Oh yeah.... how about...?" He put me on a calcium channel blocker not for hypertension but for an "off-label" use of helping prevent migraines. And it worked -- worked so well I weaned myself off and didn't have too many problems for a long time.

And with the summer heat, I know I tend to have more headaches. But I had a couple of weird ones lately that really concerned me. Last Friday evening, I came home from work, hit my exercise bike for 25 minutes, and 2 hours later, had a hellacious headache unlike any other I've ever experienced. All the face pain of a "sinus headache" with the nausea of a migraine. My migraines tend to come up the right side of my neck and settle right behind my eyes. I can feel it coming on. I don't get auras (thank you God for that!) but I get the "march of the headache soldiers" .... it really is almost like I can feel it making its way up from my back to my neck and into my head. This was like getting gobsmacked in the face and punched in the gut. And it happened in a heartbeat. I went from feeling fine to WHAMMO. Okay, I chalked it up to heat, a crazy week, etc.

Monday, I went to the Y with my family (they are all current members, I went as "guest"). Did 25 minutes on the elliptical (and dang, it felt GOOOOD!) and another 10 as a cool-down on the bike. I would have gotten in the pool but I didn't bring a swimsuit. Got home and started feeling sleepy and headache-y. Not the migraine place, and not a full-on faceache either. Kind of a 1-2 on a 10-scale of pain. Just enough to make me go, you know I'm not going to be 100%. Took a couple of Excedrin Migraine and a short nap. And I kept that level 2 feeling the rest of the night. I didn't get nausea, but just the sense that things were not quite right.

I mentioned this to some friends who are medical professionals and fitness trainers. They all said, "Stop the heavy exercise until your doctor clears you." I finally went for a short walk last night because I didn't do anything Tuesday through Thursday -- and would go bonkers otherwise. I also waited until it was nearly dark and much cooler. It turned out fine.

I enjoy the cycling and I don't want to stop it. I like the idea of making my body work harder to strengthen it. God help me, there are days I even think of taking up running -- once I get this extra flab excised and I heal up fully from that, I just may. The idea of stopping all that progress makes me nutsoid.

I have thought of every possibility -- did I drink too much water and throw my electrolytes off (I bought some low-cal Gatorade to have on hand for that)? is it possible I'm hypoglycemic and that threw me off? maybe exercising on a nearly empty stomach? (I don't like to eat before a workout but now I may have to). There are so many possibilities and I want to make sure I'm in the best shape and condition I can be in for this next stage of my life.

Lots and lots of things to consider in the next few weeks.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Deep sighs of relief.....

I worked a meeting this morning -- which I really enjoyed doing! It's been a while, and I forgot how much fun it is! Hopefully, I'll get to do a few more in the upcoming weeks and months. I hate that for the time being, I can pretty much only work on weekend meetings. But such is life.

Today, the moment of truth arrived: my monthly weigh-in --- not just my monthly weigh-in for Lifetime status, but Corporate weigh-in as well. If you aren't aware, WW employees are not only Lifetime members, we also have to turn in our weights to our territory management team each month. These last couple of months have been a real struggle for me. I've been within the acceptable range, but I hate being on that plus side of goal and having to cross my fingers and hope. It's almost as if my body has said, "You know, I really don't like that number, so I'm going to put you right here. I like you here. I know you don't like it but I don't care. Your wants are so cute, aren't they? Nope, I'm good. right. here."

So "here" I am on a Saturday morning........ I didn't eat breakfast before the meeting but took a suitable portable breakfast with me for after weigh-in. Right before time to open up for weigh-in, I changed into my magical weigh-in outfit, took a very deep breath, pushed it right on out and stepped up to meet my doom.

You see, when I stepped on the scale just before getting into the shower, it read "XXX.4" ..... yes, a lousy 0.4 above that threshold number. But I figure it was better than a week earlier when it had been a whole 8.2 up..... don't ask, I don't know either. But in the words of Coach John Fox, "It is what it is." So I figured I would turn in the weight as it was, and maybe get a little note back saying, "Okay, you're over threshold for this month, you have X time to get back within guidelines." The leader took the weight slip, and wrote down the number: XXX.0 ...... Right. At. Threshold. Holy maroley, thank you sweet baby Jesus in the manger, all 8 pounds 6 ounces of pure heavenly light.

I changed back into my regular clothes, began weighing people in, and have had a really awesome day since...... but let me tell you, this part is nerve-wracking. Praise be, I have another 4 weeks or so to keep myself in check, and so I'm not really freaking out anymore. What drives me crazy is the timing: I hate for things to be so near the edge, especially so close to deadline (we have X days to weigh and get it turned in). The really insane part is knowing that I'm following plan and yet am still struggling with water retention and hormonal balances and having to watch this-that-and-the-other ----- JUST to hit my range each month. It's almost like the old Don Williams song, "Lord I Hope This Day Is Good."

Yet....... in spite of all that, I feel so amazed and happy to have this new lease on life. I don't want to consider where I might be had I not started this process three years or so ago. I mean, really: I shudder to think about it. I might not be here at all. I might be here, in a cardiac rehab program because of a major heart scare, and with a big ol' scar or several from neck to navel. There are days it's been easy, but I'm more grateful for the times it hasn't been so easy; that's where I have learned about the depths of strength that I didn't know I possessed. I'm proud of what I've accomplished, but even more awed by what I've learned along the way -- not just about food and my relationship to it, but myself and what my soul has contained.

Those are the lessons I want to pass on.... how to look deep within yourself for reserves of strength and determination and power you never knew you possessed.