Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I'm Back

Kinda. I'm home in DC for this week, then back out to my family next week.

In terms of all the lifestyle stuff... I've actually been pretty good, and I'm proud that I've kept up my commitment in the midst of this ordeal. I know my Dad has been so proud of what I've been doing, and excited to help me along, so I'm fully invested in continuing this journey both for myself and for my Dad. He would want me to keep going, to keep achieving new goals and making myself healthier. It seems more important now than ever.

We've been eating so erratically, though. I totally understand now why people send fruit baskets and casseroles after a death in the family, because it's just too hard for the family to think about cooking or making any decisions about sometime as simple as what to eat for dinner. Having apples and pears and cheese and crackers and fancy spreads and candies got us through several meals where we couldn't think otherwise. And for the first several days, none of us barely ate at all. My appetite has come back a bit, but nothing like normal. I've lost about another 2 pounds, but it was even more 2 days ago before I started forcing myself to really eat 3 meals a day.

I didn't take my food journal with me, but I'm starting that up again today and will get back on track. I'm heading to the grocery store soon to try and get the fixin's for some good balanced meals.

I have to share with you all that I've thought about this blog a lot in the last few weeks, and not in an especially happy way. Because it hasn't been lost on me about how the universe gave me a giant punch in the face... that less than a week after I'd posted about feeling strong and happy and finally content about where I am in my life, I got dealt the worst blow of my life. Is it better that it happened while I'm feeling strong rather than when I've been in a bad place? Probably. But it's really hard not to feel like there was some degree of hubris there, and I'm just not over that yet.

But we're all picking up the pieces and trying to figure out a way to move on. My mom, my brother and I are all taking good care of each other, and we'll continue to need objective friends to help, too.

Thursday, June 25, 2009


It’s been hard trying to write anything about the health stuff. One thing I am learning more and more is how dependent I am to routine. When I was in Phoenix for a conference, my glucose level really fluctuated. While I was working out regularly, I wasn’t eating enough. I never was able to get a late night snack in. For those of you who don’t know, late night snacks are a key part of keep my blood sugar low. It was a great piece of advice my nutritionist aunt gave to me. What happens is if you don’t get a late night snack your body decides to dump even more sugar into your system while you are asleep. That’s definitely one thing The Biggest Loser has right – eating. I love the episodes where Bob or Jillian goes and see what they are making themselves on the ranch and get all preachy about the contestants needing to eat more. It’s totally true. I’m finding the eating part (as opposed to not eating) is as important as the cutting back. Eating means I will have enough energy to run 7 miles. I can’t do morning workouts any more because I need to run longer distances and I don’t have time to eat. It does mean I won’t be burning more calories or building muscle which burns more calories. My nutritionist set a floor of how many carbs I need to eat at minimum. When I’ve gone under it’s really been hell. So lesson learned.

As a tip, I offer up string cheese. It's a great snack to address mid afternoon munchies without going into a sugar crash.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The President's Challenge

It's been 6 weeks, and I've earned an award! The goal is to have at least 5 days a week of 30 minutes of exercise for 6 out of 8 weeks. I've been logging my time over the last 6 weeks, and while I should be doing more on my own... my daily commute accounts for a whole lot of walking time.

So I've managed to get in that minimum 5x30x6, and the Challenge website just told me I qualifed for an award! Since I'm all about tangible motivations, I went ahead and ordered my little patch and certificate (signed by BO, or at least designed that way), as well as a t-shirt. You better believe that certificate is going up on my refrigerator!

And now it just restarts again, so I've got another 6 weeks to go before another award. ;-)

Friday, June 12, 2009

Eyes on the Prize: A Testimonial

Change of pace for a moment, dear readers... as I want to share some of my very personal inner monologue.... It's all part of the lifestyle improvement, and this is an area in which I really think it's working.

I had a conversation today with a friend that went down a new road, as I really started articulating something that I've just been starting to realize over the last few months. This conversation was specifically about my single status - which is a topic that I both make jokes about and sometimes feel great pain about, but that's neither here nor there for the moment - but it led me to put it all together about just how important all these things I've been doing are, not just physically but emotionally too.

To start, let's go back to almost exactly one year ago today. In fact, this coming Tuesday is a great marker, cuz it's the one-year anniversary of me moving into my great new apartment.

So, one year ago... I was pretty unhappy. Work stuff is excluded from this conversation, cuz that's the one area of my life in which I always feel pretty confident and in control of my place in life. Personally, not so much.

Last year, and for the FOUR years before that, I was living in an apartment that I had grown to hate. It had major issues over the years - roaches, mice, maggots, mold, horrible management, a fire, renovations in my own place while I was living there, you name it - and I really was not happy there. I didn't invite friends over, and I didn't want people to see the conditions in which I was living. Frankly, I let that apartment defeat me and I just gave up trying to make it better. It got to the point where one time after visiting my parents and staying in their nice clean comfortable house, I actually dreaded going back to my place. As I talked with my Mom about it, that was the moment that I *knew* I had to move. I finally was at a place financially where I could do it, and inertia was no longer a good excuse. So I did it, I moved out of that crap building that had a lot of crap memories to it.

And I ended up in my dream place. Really, I had visited this building years ago - before moving into the craphole - and loved it but I couldn't afford it then. When I knew I wanted to move, I came straight here. I didn't look around and comparison shop, cuz I think this building represented something for me -- the life I *wanted* to lead. So I set an appointment, asked if there were vacancies, and signed the lease right then and there. Done!

Going back again... this time to about a year and a half ago. I had made a New Year's resolution for myself for 2008 that may sound crazy to some of you out there, but it's indicative of the point I'd reached. I resolved to get over my crazy anxiety and start driving again. You see, I had sold my car in 2004 for financial reasons, and I still say that was one of the best decisions I ever made. I signed up for Zipcar (car sharing) and rented a car a few times in that first year or so. But then, months went by... and suddenly years went by... and I hadn't driven in nearly 2 years. At all. And I found that whenever I started to think about it, I got really anxious and afraid that somehow I wouldn't be able to do it again - that I'd suddenly be a nervous driver and a danger on the road or something. I don't know where this came from, truly, but there it was. In my mind, I somehow went from "I don't drive" to "I won't drive" to "I can't drive."

And in the summer of 2007, there was a major health crisis in my family... and that's when I realized that I had to change. Because if they had needed me to come home (which it turns out they didn't, and everything turned out okay thank goodness), I would have been more of a burden than a help. I'd worked myself up into thinking I *couldn't* drive, and that I would then be unable to provide the kind of support my loved ones might need. I felt both helpless and ashamed, all inside my head. That's when I realized I was being ridiculous. I remember saying to myself "you are a strong, confident, accomplished, independent woman. Get over yourself!" So, I made that resolution and I did indeed start renting cars again and... guess what? I can still drive just fine. And that whole mental block is gone, and hopefully I've learned enough about myself to keep something like that from cropping up again.

Okay... last time we're going back in time... but back to a year ago, I was also finally (FINALLY my friends would say) realizing that I had wasted way too much time believing and hoping that a certain relationship I had was or would ever be more than it was... and that what it actually was was really not very good at all. How much time? Five years, off and on. Egad. Again, with a moment of "this is ridiculous!" clarity, I put an end to it... almost exactly around the same time I moved into this apartment, which was a nice clean break all around.

So... all of this is to bring us back to my realization that over the past year, while I have been working hard to try to improve my lifestyle in the physical sense, I have also made great strides in improving my mental and emotional health as well. And this year has been great for me! I *love* my apartment. I love having friends over. I love just sitting here spending time on my own, puttering around in the kitchen or on the balcony. I cook! I garden! I love this neighborhood, and I feel so much safer than at my old place.

I've really spent all this time slowly bringing the focus back to me, and deciding that I no longer need to settle for anything less than what I deserve. I AM a strong, confident, accomplished and independent woman! And while the permanently single status does get to me sometimes, I tell you honestly that I would not trade for the world any of my strength, confidence, accomplishments, or independence just to be in *some* relationship...rather than the *right* relationship. And I truly believe that someday I'll find someone who completely agrees... but until then, I'm content being happy on my own, and finding new ways to explore who I am.

Pretty good stuff, eh? :-)

Monday, June 8, 2009


I was going to respond in the comments stef but this warrants a full post. I am right there will your nutritionist on watching the carbs. Once again, don't go all Atkins about it because that's just crazy-talk. But making sure you have enough carbs but not too much is a good thing.

For most people, they should have around 180 grams of carbs per day. 45 per meal for 3 meals and 15 per snack for two snacks. So what does 45 grams of carbs look like?

1 cup of white rice or pasta
3 cups of yogurt
3 apples
3 cups of berries
1/2 cup of flour
1/4 cup of white sugar
1 slices of whole wheat bread.
3 corn tortillas
2 flour tortillas (not burrito sized)
1 cup of beans

Looking at the list for me, I've come to love vegetables, yogurt, and corn tortillas. On top of that, whole wheat is awesome because you subtract the fiber content form the number of carbs. What has been surprising to me (and to J) is how easily 1 cup of pasta can fill you up. The thing is, vegetables (aside from root style vegetables like butternut squash) have negligible carb content. When you do a fried rice and even do 2/3 a cup of brown rice but with chopped carrots, tofu, shredded chicken or shrimp, onions, red peppers and bean sprouts, that's a meal that will make you loosen your belt. Last night, I made a great pasta dish from leftover turkey cutlets that I simmered in a tomato sauce. I did 2 cups of cavatappi (2 servings of the dish) and sauteed spinach, carrots and onions and added about four cutlets worth of lean turkey. That was a filling to the brim pasta bowl serving of pasta. With a salad, that was a filling meal.

Like stef's nutritionist said, do eliminate carbs. They are good. But It's useful to be conscious about how much. While I monitor my carb intake through grams of carbs, other diabetics I know do it through glycemic index numbers. If anyone has any advice on how that works, feel free to chime in.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


One of the things my nutritionist said I should work on is cutting down on the starches. This isn't Atkins, she's very clear about that, but again it's all about trying to eat the right things at the right times to improve my nutrition and overall health. And the truth is I was eating way too much starch, and that was a major factor in putting on and keeping the pounds.

I used to eat large servings of pasta-based dishes probably 3-5 times a week. And lots of bready sandwiches for lunch, with cookies and chips. Pretty much every meal I had included some starchy element.

So I've been working on this, and I've been making some real improvements. When I am eating pasta, I'm eating less of it and bulking up the sauce with more veggies or adding a side salad to fill me up.

And, I've been making a lot of meals that just don't need a carb at all. That stir fry I make with the beef and sugar snap peas? No rice needed, it's perfectly tasty and filling on its own. One of my usual old dishes - spinach sauteed in olive oil with cannellini beans all over pasta, sometimes with chicken - actually is even better as a soup made with low-sodium chicken broth, no pasta needed.

Tonight, I made a fantastic dinner - a grilled steak with DCFB's recommended sauteed asparagus as a side. In the past, I would've made a potato to go with it, or a boxed version of parmesan couscous or noodles. But the starch is totally not needed, cuz it was a satisfying meal all on its own.

It's all about trying new things, and I'm enjoying these new, less-starchy meals. So is my waistline.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Pic of me in my Bay to Breakers Costume

I was hoping to see if one of the race photographers caught a pic of me but it appears not. Here's a pi of my in my Bay to Breakers outfit. It's 6:00 am. Not a bad rendition of a Nickelodeon cartoon character. A

The Spa Staycation

I'm nothing if not a trend followerer and in this economy the staycation makes a lot of sense. Stef, in her other blog asked her readers about what they would do for a staycation in DC. The idea of a weeklong staycation sounds awesome. So I am giving stef my idea of a spa staycation in DC.

Here's some guidelines. That money you were going to spend on hotel and travel, use a tiny chunk of it and get someone to clean your apartment. No, seriously. The first time I had Shirley, my cleaning woman, clean my apartment with J, I giggled at the sight of a spotless apartment that I had no hand in cleaning. One assumption I am making is that you will have an easy morning and nothign really will be happening until 11:00 am at the earliest.

Here's the schedule:

Friday - Get the house cleaned!

Saturday - Get provisions: fruit from the farmer's market. Some good fresh bread from Marvelous Market. Hummus, tzatziki, carrots, and grape tomatoes. A small bottle of good olive oil.

Sunday - The fun begins
Sleep in and informal breakfast
Lunch at Teaism
Walk from Teaism to Dunbarton Oaks and look at the most beautiful garden in DC
Dinner at Dino (they have a great prix fixe for $25)

Monday - Spa day. Take advantage of the fact you'll get an appointment because everyone else will be working
Sleep in and brunch at home
Half day at Serenity Day Spa in Tenleytown (since it's affiliated with Sport and Health Club, you all get a one day pass there)
1 hour of exercise at Sport and Health
Dinner at Lebanese Taverna

Tuesday - Veg out day
Grocery run for snacks
Stay in during the day and watch one season of Buffy
Beginning modern dance improv class at Joy of Motion Dance studio
Take out sushi from Spices (also the Wafu salad is to die for!)
More Buffy

Wednesday - Feeding your mind
Lunch at the Museum of the American Indian Food court (avoid the Fry Bread!)
Look up at http://www.si.edu/events/onetime.htm the Smithsonian one time events. they have tons of stuff going on every day
Dinner in - perhaps broiled tilapia and roasted asparagus?
After dinner: Take the bus up to Politics and Prose and go browsing

Thursday - back to Nature
Morning walk into Rock Creek park (there's a trailhead right in between Van Ness and Cleveland Park)
Lunch at home
The National Zoo
Dinner at home - Salad with a lemon vinaigrette and sauteed shrimp. With bread on the side.

Friday - Day of Beauty
Lunch at home
Spa day at Elizabeth Arden in Friendship Heights
Dinner at Central

Saturday - Yum!
Ok Stef. It's time to step up to the plate and do some entertaining! But I'll make sure you are well supplied and give you a menu where the only cooking is slicing some tomatoes and cooking a steak!

A visit to the Cheverly Farmer's market in the morning to get provisions for a dinner for four
- bread
- salad greens
- grape tomatoes
- cucumbers
- sugar snap peas
- red onions
- fresh fruit in season
- cheese for a cheese plate
Stop by Eastern Market to get a nice flank steak (1 1/2 pounds)
Lunch at Cafe Atlantico where you will get their Latin Dim Sum
Chill out for the afternoon and recover form the enormous lunch
Dinner at home
- cheese plate with bread, grape tomatoes and cheeses (I'd suggest a nice aged gouda, stilton, and a goat cheese
- steak salad (salt and pepper the flank steak, grill in a super hot pan for 4 minutes on either side, let rest under foil and slice as thinly as possible agaisnt the grain). Salad with a balsamic vinaigrette, salad greens, cucumber and sugar snap peas.
- sliced fruit over ice cream for dessert.

Sunday - Feel refreshed yet?

Monday, June 1, 2009

Pretty As a Picture

I decided to use some of that asparagus from the farmers' market tonight for this interesting tilapia recipe I found... it's one of those recipes where you cook everything in a foil packet. Fun! Here is the recipe from HungryGirl.

And here it is on my plate - surviving an easy transfer from the oven foil packet to plate with a nice big spatula. This was really tasty, and even though it looks as fancy as a restaurant meal it was very easy to make. One note, though: this needs more than 15 minutes to cook. Give it 20 and check.

Yesterday I dug into some more of my farmers' market finds - here's a gorgeous big salad I had for lunch, topped with cucumbers and tomatoes and a bit of goat cheese. I made my own vinaigrette, with fresh dill, scallions, olive oil, red wine vinegar, garlic powder, and black pepper. Delicious, and so fresh it all just made me happy.