Monday, December 19, 2011

Back above the weather

Last week I didn’t feel 100% but thought it was the added work from the holidays and my usual lack of sleep. But during my regular meeting with my pulmonary doctor, I discovered I have a respiratory infection, for which he prescribed an antibiotic and short-term asthma drugs.

After a few days on the medications I’m feeling much better. So this is what it’s like to breathe without coughing! I can sleep through the night without getting up to empty my lungs (and trigger the cats into thinking it’s morning and they need to be fed).

I tend to try to resolve my problems without seeking help. Maybe that stems from hanging out with the smart kids and feeling embarrassed to seek clarification when I didn’t understand something. Nowadays, I’ll search for solutions on the Internet and try to fix something myself. That often works, as when my daughter dropped her iPod touch in a puddle and it stopped working. A little scurrying around the Internet found a solution: hold down 2 buttons for 10 seconds or so, and the device reset and turned on.

But I’ve had respiratory problems my whole life, so it didn’t occur to me that anything was more wrong than usual. Note to self: wheezing and coughing up stuff isn’t normal.

As for eating, it’s been hit and miss. I’ve gone periods when I haven’t eating anything, or have consumed only low-fat, sugar-free lattes. And I’ve eaten some things that shouldn’t be on an eating plan for losing weight. I’m not going to beat myself up for that. Sometimes you have to do whatever will get you through a busy day. I haven’t weighed myself in several days, so when I finally get on the scale, I’ll either be disappointed or delighted. I can never be perfect, but at least I won’t get crazy.

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Back to normalish

Got sleep last night. It was still difficult waking up, but at least I got a good 7 hours. I might still be in bed if my daughter didn’t have our puppy jump on the bed and attack me awake.

The plan tonight is to get at least 7 hours. We’ll see.

I’ve often read of the link between not getting enough sleep and obesity. There’s probably some chemical reason, but I think we also self-treat by fueling our bodies in hopes of making us feel more awake. I believe I felt that effect during my sleepless day. I was so hungry yesterday that I ate too much, and felt worse for it. I tried to eat a breakfast burrito, but it came back up before I got to work. Lunch was OK, but I was hungry on the way home and got a couple of tacos. Same result. I was out of plastic bags in the car and had to pull over to take care of the pressure. I hate when that happens. As a result, today I have a sore throat and I bit my lip, so it’s swollen.

Oh, moderation, why are you so hard to practice? But I suppose if I could master that, I wouldn’t be in the predicament I’m in these days.

The result of my horrid couple of days is that I still lost some weight. I’m down 91.1 pounds. I’d rather lose a couple of ounces a day than go through what I did the past couple days. But a loss is a loss.

See you tomorrow.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Resetting the clock

I generally don’t get quite enough sleep. I often don’t get home from work until almost 9, sometimes later, and it takes me at least a few hours just to get chores done. I catch up on sleep on the weekend.

But last week, I had to be out of the house unusually early on Friday and Saturday. By Saturday night I was bushed, and I fell asleep several times on the couch while watching TV. I looked forward to Sunday, when I could finally sleep in.

I woke up Sunday in the dark, and the clock ready 5:10. I thought, “5:10 in the morning, not so bad, I can sleep a few more hours.” Then I remembered that I had gotten up around 9 a.m. to feed the cats, so it couldn’t possibly be 5:10 a.m. I checked the clock and saw that it was indeed 5:10 p.m., the latest I’ve ever slept. I got up to start my day with the newspaper and coffee.

I did my usual Sunday errands and added a few more trips because I was WIDE AWAKE. I was WIDE AWAKE at 2 a.m. and realized that I’d never get to sleep in time to wake at a decent hour for work, so I stayed up. I got to work about three hours earlier than I usually do, and boy did I get a great parking space. I’m still awake now about 20 hours later. Thanks to lots of strong coffee, I should be able to last until this evening. And I know I will sleep tonight.

I keep forgetting I’m not 20 years old anymore. This body doesn’t recover from lack of sleep like it used to, even though I’m 90 pounds lighter than I was two years ago. But I’ve never been good at moderation. I mean, that’s why I needed the weight-loss surgery.

See you tomorrow.

Friday, December 9, 2011

You’d think I’d know better by now

I had a real hankering for doughnuts today. I love doughnuts, almost as much as Homer Simpson does. But doughnuts and I don’t get along. Since my surgery, they’ve been a no-no because they’re so calorie dense, plus they get stuck.

Despite that, I grabbed a couple of doughnuts on the way to work. I had a doctor’s appointment first thing in the morning—nothing serious, just medication refills and routine blood work—so I didn’t have time for even coffee when I left the house. I even forgot my cell phone and had to stop at home on the way to work. After the doctor’s appointment, I bought my doughnuts and started nibbling in the car. I got an apple fritter and a chocolate old-fashioned, plus the counter girl tossed in a couple of holes. I ate the holes and started on the fritter. Before long, I’ve got that awful pressure in the chest. I hoped I could hold out until I could pull off the freeway, but this wasn’t going to wait. I grabbed the nearest bag and let the stuck doughnuts come back up. As it happened, I had grabbed the bag with the rest of the doughnuts in it, so I returned what I had eaten and ruined the rest.

I can only imagine that eating doughnuts is somehow associated with a simpler time of my life, but I can’t really remember when eating doughnuts corresponded with a good time. Perhaps I was seeking the comfort that binge eating used to confer—at least for a short time. Work has been busier lately and errands have kept me from home until almost 10 every night this week. I see some tasks in the future that have to get done. Next time, instead of doughnuts, I should get a bigger Starbucks drink. At least there’s calcium-rich milk in it.

I get food amnesia sometimes. I have never been able to eat a doughnut since my surgery. I don’t know why I thought I would do it today. The doughnuts only cost a couple bucks, but made me feel awful for several hours. Note to self: leave the doughnuts to Homer.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

At least it’s warming up

Mad props to those of you who live in cold climates. We had a cold spell the past few days and I thought I was going to freeze to death. Thankfully, it’s warmer today.

I was OK last night going to see my husband. The nursing home is warm. But then I had to get gas for the car and stand in the breezy cold for 5 minutes or so while I pumped. Could not warm up after that. Shivered while watching TV, and turned up the heater. I even put my nightgown and sweatpants in the dryer to warm them, plus a towel to warm up the sheets. And I even had a real dinner last night: katsu pork leftover from Saturday dinner. Breaded pork cutlets that I softened up with port gravy, accompanied by stewed mushrooms and artichoke hearts. Went down easy and stayed down.

I always get cold when I lose a layer or two of body fat. These days, I’m making an effort to eat everything I’m supposed to, to keep the motor running. Had a protein shake on the way to work this morning. Lunch was cottage cheese with bacon and sunflower seeds. Midafternoon snack was Greek yogurt and for the drive home I’ll have cheese. Dinner will be the rest of the leftover pork. I’m really hankering for a gooey chocolate dessert, but I don’t think I could eat a small enough piece to not mess up my eating plan.

I finally warmed up last night a few hours before the alarm went off. That’s when my cat Kevin came in and informed me that I could feed him now. I told him that if he won’t sleep with me, he’ll have to wait for his food. Wait, that came out wrong.

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I’ll stop this slide right now

I missed a work meeting today. I thought it was in the afternoon, but it was early-ish in the morning. Luckily, I was forgiven, but I was angry at myself.

Lately I’ve been late to many things and forgetful of others. I periodically slide into ditziness and I hate when that happens.

Because of my lap-band, it’s harder to get ditzy on my eating. Oh, it’s possible to gain weight with the band, and I’ve done it. There are certain foods that aren’t that good for you that will go down easy, like candy and ice cream. They’re called “sliders,” and not those cute little hamburgers. But luckily I can’t do the bulk as I’ve done in my binging past. I won’t be downing whole cheesecakes in an evening or finish off a package of cookies.

I’ve gotten a little sloppy in my eating. Lately I’ve been tired when I get up, so I’ve skipped my breakfast protein shake in favor of coffee and held off eating until lunch. I’ve had my regular lunch and then I’ve been hungry the rest of the day and maybe snacked on some sunflower seeds, or made a dinner of brie and blue cheese on crackers. I don’t think I’ve been getting enough protein, and when that happens, no matter how little you eat, you still don’t lose weight.

Well, one of the reasons I started this blog was to confess my “sins” and keep on the straight and narrow. Readers, forgive me, for I have strayed.

Starting tomorrow, it’s back to the shakes for breakfast, no matter how cold it is in the morning. (Note: I’m a native Southern Californian, so my cold is a Midwesterner’s brisk. When it gets down to the 40s, we panic.) That’s why cars have heaters. And when I’m at work, I can have all the coffee I can drink.

There, I’ve put it out there. Now I just gotta do it.

See you tomorrow.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Back to my life

I took a tiny break because for once I had nothing to say. No revelations, no problems, just a life that’s going smoothly. Conflict is the engine that drives stories, and I had none going on.  And boy did I feel guilty that I didn't write something.

At least there’s no conflict in regards to my eating. We do have an animal situation. We’re fostering a kitten for an animal-rescue group. The kitten, a feral, was trapped and neutered, and is now undergoing socialization with humans. So far, she’s in a cage in the bathroom in the master bedroom and our two cats want nothing to do with her. In fact, our boy cat, Kevin, has become aggressive toward our girl cat, Charlotte. Luckily, she can climb the cat tree faster and higher and escapes. He’s usually the mellow one, and he’s been hissing and growling at her. He usually sleeps on my bed, but now he won’t even go into the bedroom. Both the cats are on diets, so I’m sure that hasn’t helped the situation. Don’t tell my daughter, but I gave them a little extra food last night when she was on a sleepover.

I guess that’s what’s gotten me in trouble all these years: using food as the answer to everything. Food is always an easy answer: cheap, plentiful, and it doesn’t talk back. Except it lingers WAY too long on the body and is reluctant to leave. Come to think of it, food is a terrible answer. I’m never eating food again. Oops. If only it were that easy.

See you tomorrow.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Holy moly, 90 pounds

Stepped on my scale this morning and got a nice surprise: a new low weight, 189.4. I even stepped off and back on, to confirm the number. Down 2 pounds from yesterday. This means I’ve lost 90.1 pounds and have 59.4 to go.

I don’t think I could life 90 pounds without help. How was I walking around with all that weight? The answer: not very well. I was taking the maximum dose of a couple of diabetes medications and they were barely keeping my blood sugar in good ranges. Now I’ve been able to cut out both of them. I still take blood pressure medications, but I’m going to look into eliminating those at my next doctor’s visit. We live halfway up a hill, and I have to park at the bottom and make that walk every day. At my top weight, it used to take me the longest time, and I’d have to stop a couple of times to catch my breath. At one point, a neighbor even stopped his car and asked me if I was OK. Now, I don’t run up the hill, but I can make it in pretty good time, without stopping.

I’m lucky in that the tightness of my band is exactly right. I’m in the green zone. I can eat what I need and not be ravenously hungry, as I’ve felt in the past. I’m making sure that I’m following the rules: no liquids with meals, and waiting a half-hour after eating before resuming drinking. Sometimes I’m counting the seconds until me next cup of coffee, but that’s my new reality.

I want to remember this feeling for when I’m tempted to overdo foods that get me in trouble, like chocolate. Oh, I’ll have my sugar-free mochas, but I’m deliberately walking the other way from the giant bag of Ghirardelli chocolates someone has placed atop the filing cabinets. It’s hard for me to eat just one, so I won’t eat any, at least today.

And tomorrow, if I eat one or more, the world won’t end. I’ll just have to work harder to get past it. That’s what I love about weight-loss surgery: I’m not sweating out the weekly weigh-ins that can determine how the rest of my week will be.

I hope the rest of your week is good. See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Making the best of it

My daughter had her heart set on eating at The Old Spaghetti Factory last night. We used to eat there literally every Friday. You get a full meal, with salad, entrée, drink, and dessert. I was a little worried because pasta isn’t my ideal meal—may my Italian ancestors forgive me!—because of all the carbs.

Well, we started with salad, which I usually can’t handle too well. I get stuck on lettuce, of all things. I ate a bit of a salad with the creamy pesto dressing—it’s to die for. I made sure to put dressing only on parts I was going to immediately eat, and saved the rest of the salad for my guinea pigs. For my entrée, I ordered crab-stuffed ravioli in pesto-alfredo sauce. I got about 8 huge pillows of pasta and ate a couple of them. Actually, at about 1 too many and had to make a dash to the restroom. The rest will be dinner tonight. Both of us were so stuffed that we declined dessert of spumoni, and OSF has great spumoni.

The upshot is that I dropped a little weight last night. Yesterday I had a shake for breakfast—a 28g protein shake, smaller than my usual—and a half-can of chili for lunch. Greek yogurt for midafternoon snack and skinny Starbucks mocha for the drive home. Then pasta for dinner. A few mixed nuts after I got home. Now that’s a “diet” I could stay on.

I was pleased to see this morning that my fasting blood sugar was even lower, 94, than earlier this week. That tells me I’m going the right direction.

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Change is good, but it's scary

I’ve been shrinking in the oddest places.

The other day, my wedding band fell off. Just plain slipped off my finger as I let my hand dangle. I tried it on another finger, but it wouldn’t fit very well. So I’ve had to put it in a jewelry box drawer until I can find a nice chain and wear it around my neck. I plan to get it and my engagement ring resized, but I still have about 60 pounds to lose and no telling how skinny my fingers will be. I found my high school class of 1973 ring the other day and it barely fit on my little finger.

I do feel sort of naked without my wedding band. Not that I get hit on in real life. On Facebook, all the time. By guys who can’t read the word “Married” in my profile.

So why can’t my ass catch up with my fingers? I suppose if I were working out I’d have better luck down there. I type most of the day, so my fingers are probably the fittest part of my body.

I have been able to stop the last of my diabetes medications. I was taking Actos every evening. My last A1C reading a few months ago was still high, but much lower than before surgery. I’ve been waking up shaky in the morning. I stopped taking it a week ago and have been checking my blood sugar readings in the morning. I’m right around 100, which is acceptable. I do feel better in the morning, although I never wake up full of sunshine. However, after a few cups of coffee, I’m my cheerful self.

I hope you all can find your cheerful selves so easily. See you tomorrow.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Are you still thankful?

By now you’ve probably answered the dreaded “How was your Thanksgiving?” question a million times back at work. Well, how was it?

Mine was fine. I spent half the day cooking. Since we weren’t expecting guests, I didn’t start until the afternoon. It was fun, because I love to cook and I don’t get to do it too often. We had ham, so that only involved warming in the oven for 40 minutes. My daughter made cornbread muffins from a mix. I also made mashed potatoes, baked one sweet potato, steamed asparagus, made Hollandaise sauce from a mix, warmed up canned gravy, microwaved Trader Joe’s stuffing, and made sugar-free cranberry sauce from scratch.

The spread was gorgeous, but I was too hungry to take pictures. Of course, I made enough food for probably 8 people, and there were only the two of us. I had a little bit of everything and we have a ton of food left over.

After dinner, we built a bedframe with bookcase for my daughter that we bought a few weeks ago but I was too lazy to start. We got that sucker built, and except for a crucial missing part that prevented completion of one drawer, we finished.

The next morning, I had lost 2 pounds. I guess moving wood around the floor really burns the calories.

We celebrated the bed completion by buying a new dining room table at IKEA. It’s still in a couple of boxes in the hallway. We decided a round table would fit our dining area better and leave more room to move around. The table also has a built-in leaf that expands the table to an oval for more seating. Our current dining room chairs—purchased with our current table at IKEA in 1999—will still work. Maybe I’ll tackle it tonight. It’ll be my third building project in 10 days. Have Allen wrench will travel.

See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Thankful for everything

One thing I’ve learned in the past few years is to be thankful for what you have.

I often bitch and moan that I don’t have enough, but I do have just enough. I’m thankful for my job and my excellent health insurance that has made the horror of my husband’s illness easier to handle. I’m thankful I’m able to pay the bills and keep the mortgage current on one income.

I’m thankful my daughter is a good kid, although I sometimes wonder if she’ll EVER go to college. Ah, those pesky deadlines. And, sweetie, we don’t need any more pets. Well, maybe just one …

I’m thankful my surgery lets me eat more rationally, and that I no longer feel like a vast empty cavern that must be filled. Maybe I’m not so thankful that so many foods get stuck and make a return trip. No, random lady in the restroom, I’m not bulimic.

I hope all of you can have a good holiday and that your family members don’t drive you too crazy. This year, it’s me and my daughter, and we’re having ham, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, asparagus with hollandaise, cornbread, and pecan pie. Sure, I’ll have about a tablespoon of each item, but it’ll be a great meal. And we’ll eat great for the next week.  

I probably won’t post the rest of the week, so see you next week.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

And I’m still sore

I was AWOL yesterday. I spent the weekend in Los Angeles with my sister for my birthday Saturday. I didn’t eat so well—I had several stuck episodes and saw the inside of many public restrooms. But we walked and walked and walked, even in the rare pouring rain (more about that later).

On Saturday, we went to the Los Angeles Zoo, fueled on a couple of sugar-free mochas. We saw every animal that poked its head from its lair. The zoo is adjacent to Griffith Park, which is hilly, so the majority of our walking was either uphill or down. We didn’t eat much during the day, only some seasoned hot almonds sold at the zoo. At the zoo, it was snow weekend, so some of the animals had (trucked-in) snow filling their enclosures. Most of them seemed to like it, except the black bear. He stumbled out of his caved and seemed to be saying “If I wanted snow, I wouldn’t have moved to L.A.!”

After the zoo, we checked into our hotel and cleaned up. We planned dinner at Olive Garden (my sister got a great deal on a gift card, and I love great deals). After a short wait at the Olive Garden, we got our table. I ordered the stuffed rigatoni with Italian sausage. It weighed in at more than 1,000 calories, but since I would eat it over at least 2 meals, I didn’t worry about that. Since it was my birthday, I got a glass of wine recommended by the menu.  The wine wasn’t to my liking, though. I generally like red, but this one was a bit thin and too sweet. Waste of calories. I should have ordered something more familiar.

The next day, we traveled to the Huntington Library in nearby San Marino. The library is in the former mansion of Henry Huntington, who pretty much owned public transportation in L.A.’s early days. His library and dining room likely served as models for movie mansions. Other buildings hold priceless art, including Blue Boy and Pinky, who face each other across the gallery room. The library holds a Guttenberg Bible, ancient manuscripts and typewritten pages from more recent authors, with editor’s notes in the margin. Can you tell I loved the art? But the immense property also has 120 acres of botanical gardens that have plants from every temperate zone. We saw most of it from under umbrellas, but for a couple of desert natives, walking in the rain in a green paradise is a treat. I think my sister and I hiked every trail, then hit the tea room for tea, finger sandwiches, scones and desserts.

Not everything I ate on the trip agreed with me and I spent a lot of time in restrooms. But everything I saw at the zoo and library was worth it. Can’t wait to go back. And spending time with my sister was priceless.

See you next time.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A little pizza misery

The great pizza experiment is over and results were not good.

The Atkins mix numbers.
I made a crust with the Atkins All-Purpose Baking Mix. The directions call for 2 cups of baking mix, 1 1/8 cup of water, 3 tablespoons of oil, plus baking powder, Splenda, and salt. I mixed it in my daughter’s KitchenAid stand mixer. So far so good. I pinched off about a quarter of the dough for my pizza. The recipe makes 8 servings, so I decided I’d have 2. I could always save the leftovers.

First you make the crust and roll it out for the pans. It bakes for 10 minutes, then you remove it, add the toppings, and return to the oven for 10-15 minutes. I made one big pizza for my daughter with pesto and cheese. I made mine with a little tomato pizza sauce, cheese, and low-fat Italian salami.

The crust bakes up rather puffy, but still thin enough for pizza, although I prefer a thinner, New York style over a thick Chicago style.

Pizza from the oven and sliced in half.
The result was a not-bad-looking pizza, I cut mine in quarters and ate 2 slices.  The crust had a slightly sweet, eggy flavor, a bit on the dry side. I could envision it as a syrup-covered waffle or pancake, for which there are recipes on the back of the package.

Unfortunately, it didn’t sit well in my stomach and I had a mad dash to the bathroom and thoroughly lost every bit of it.

Looks like I won’t be making pizza from this mix again. My daughter enjoyed her pizza and consumed a few slices with no problems.

A lot of weight-loss surgery people make pizzas on low-carb tortilla or flatbread. I tried making a grilled-turkey sandwich on one once and it didn’t agree with me. Perhaps all the moist pizza ingredients will make the difference. It’s not that I need pizza, but now and then I get a real jonesing for a slice.

I’m not sure how much I’ll be writing next week; probably at least a few days. I’m firming up my Thanksgiving menu and will probably write about that at least. But if you’re taking an Internet vacation next week, I hope you have a nice Thanksgiving with a minimum of episodes of getting stuck.

See you next week.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Oops, no pizza

After combing the Internet for pizza dough recipes using Atkins all-purpose baking mix, then shopping for a few needed ingredients, I got home too late to make the pizza. So that’s on the menu for tonight.

My sister is visiting this weekend, so I had to make sure the convertible sofa was clean enough. Sometimes we forget to take off the sheets, but luckily we didn’t forget last time and they’re washed and ready to go. Our cat Charlotte sometimes “marks” the couch. I had to ensure there weren’t any yellow spots, and we were pee-free.

My sofa really sucks. It saw better days a decade ago, but it has great sentimental value. I was a contestant on “Jeopardy!” in 1985, the first season it returned, and back then the second- and third-place people won merchandise prizes. My queen-size La-Z-Boy sleeper sofa was my second-place prize. I filmed my appearance in October ’84, but it didn’t air until January ’85, and the prizes didn’t start arriving for a few months after that. It’s been a good couch, and not bad for sleeping. I slept on it for about a week when I had pneumonia in 1991.

I realize this has nothing to do with weight-loss surgery, but sometimes I get distracted by shiny things. Even non-shiny things.

Tonight, for sure, I’m making pizza, and I’ll let you know how it looked.

See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A refreshing day without drama

For once I got up at a decent time today and was able to spend time on the couch with a big cup of coffee while my daughter harassed the animals. For once it was nice to drive to work and not fall asleep at stoplights because you’re not awake yet.

Charlotte and Kevin don't know they're going on a diet.
My daughter shot this picture on her cell phone.
We’ve decided our bigger cat, Kevin, needs to cut back on the eating. When we first got him several months ago, we kept him in the bathroom for a few days to get him acclimated to the scents in the house and our first cat, Charlotte. After we let him roam the house, we kept his bowl in the bathroom so he would know what food was his. He follows whoever goes in there and begs, and if his bowl is empty, we fill it. Well, he was getting his bowl filled a few times a day, and eating all of it. We’ve noticed he can’t climb the cat tree so easily, so now he’s allowed only a half-cup of food per day until he’s back to his climbing weight. And while he’s dieting, perhaps our other cat can lose a little of the chub she developed after being spayed last year.

It’s easy to think that you’re loving someone by feeding them. I love to watch people enjoying what I’ve cooked. Even if I just scoop it from a canister to a cat dish.  

Tonight I’m trying a new recipe for the humans in the house. I have a bag of Atkins All Purpose Baking Mix, a low-carb, high-protein version of Bisquick. I plan to make a pizza crust, and top it with tomato sauce, cheese and light Italian salami. The pizza makes 8 servings, and each serving of crust has 20g of protein and only 5g net carbs. I’ve been hankering for pizza for a while but didn’t want the heavy crust. Well, I want it, but I don’t want to waste the calories on bread that could have gone to protein. If it turns out pretty, I’ll post a picture.

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

What a difference a day makes

Woke up today feeling 100 percent better than the weekend. It wasn't the big fluffy cat leaning on me. Didn’t get extra sleep or better food. In fact, I ate the last sliver of cheesecake. I think part of my better mood is due to several people posting me encouraging messages here and on my Facebook. I was feeling very alone, and you folks came through. Thanks, everyone.

I have partially solved my morning shake dilemma. I found Hershey’s sugar-free chocolate syrup at the supermarket. I don’t often look at sugar-free sweets because while they doesn’t have sugar, they do have other stuff that has lots of calories, plus they can have a laxative effect. However, this chocolate syrup has only 16 calories in 2 tablespoons. I added that much to my morning vanilla shake and omigod it was finally something I wouldn’t mind drinking. Even thickened it up a bit. It takes me most of my 40-minute morning drive to drink it all. I’m usually not very hungry in the morning, and my band seems tighter so it’s harder to eat. On the weekends, I slack off with sugar-free lattes all morning.

This afternoon at lunch, I actually measured out what I was eating, and my eye-balled amount was 3/4 of a cup of cottage cheese, about what I’d figured. I’ve been eating Alta Dena 2%, and it has 15g of protein per half-cup, so that’s about 22g of protein.

 I have decided to cut back on the pistachios and goat cheese. While they aren’t as fat-laden as a lot of other foods, it’s easy to overdo them. I eat enough cheese as it is, and even the act of shelling the pistachios doesn’t use up the energy their calories generate. So for now, bye-bye!

See you tomorrow.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sort of a meltdown, but I’m better now

Saturday turned out to be a harder day than I expected. As I’ve written a few times, it was my 23rd wedding anniversary, but my husband is in a nursing home and can’t speak, eat, or walk, so any celebration is low-key.

My day started with my weight up almost 2.5 pounds, for no apparent reason. Well, I’m sure there was a reason, but I just didn’t know it. I went to my Romance Writers of America meeting feeling fat and unsuccessful. I did perk up when I chatted with longtime friends, and I’m in charge of coffee and that operation went smoothly. Then, our president asked if anyone had a laptop, and I raised my hand. Our speaker brought the wrong connection for her Mac to the projector and couldn’t give her PowerPoint. Not only did I have a PC, but I also have PowerPoint, so the meeting was sort of saved. I felt good about that.

When I got home, though, that’s when the blues settled in. Tom and I have been together since 1984 and have had some wonderful times on our anniversary. On our 10th, we were able to return to the same San Francisco Fairmont Hotel room where we had our honeymoon, plus we got second-row seats to “Phantom of the Opera,” and while we were waiting for a cab to the theater, a limo pulls up and Tony Bennett steps out. After the show we celebrated in the bathtub with a Merlot bottled the same year we got married. Other anniversaries have been memorable dinners in cool restaurants and pricey champagne that we decided didn’t taste much better than the $12 Korbel we usually drank.

A lot of that ended with my husband’s stroke in April 2010. He seems to remember some things, and he usually understands me when I ask him yes/no questions. He still enjoys watching football on TV—thank you, Green Bay Packers for kicking butt! But the best part of our relationship was the banter and joking, and now he can’t even speak.

I visited him the evening of our anniversary and became sadder as time went on. He fell asleep just before I left.

I wanted to hold my own celebration. I wanted a tiny chocolate cake and a split of champagne. I found neither, so I settled on 4 slices of various flavors of cheesecake. I ate 3 of them in front of the TV in my pajamas, and saved one for breakfast. Wow, flashback to my binging days. I think I consumed about 600 calories of cheesecake. Plus the last of my pistachio and goat cheese stash. I have a bottle of champagne in the fridge, but I didn’t want to open it for just one glass. I went to bed feeling pretty low. My daughter was on a sleepover, so it was just me and the critters, and they didn’t have a shoulder to cry on.

I woke up the next day feeling different. The sun was shining, and my canary was singing his heart out. I hopped on the scale, and not only did I lose what I’d gained, but I hit a new low. And suddenly I was in better cheer. I left the cheesecake in the fridge and made a big nonfat latte to accompany the weekend paper.

I have resigned to the fact that certain things won’t change. I still love my husband, and I do get the sense that he loves me. We still own our memories. And I lost weight! How great is that?

See you tomorrow. 

Friday, November 11, 2011

Running on empty

So some idiot (me) forgot to set the alarm clock last night and woke up late. Not as late as I’ve slept in at times. I can sleep 12 hours if I have nowhere to go. I jumped out of bed, threw on my clothes, grabbed my lunch, and ran to the car. No time to make a shake this morning, but I did grab a sugar-free, fat-free latte. Only later did I realize that if I had time to grab the latte, I had time to make a shake. Duh!

Of course that shoved my day off kilter. To compensate, I had lunch promptly at noon. I finally opened the Trader Joe’s tapas cheese sampler of three Spanish cheeses I can’t pronounce, accompanied by low-fat salami. Quite tasty. The cheese is very bold, and I like a full-flavored cheese. But I only managed 2 triangles of cheese and 2 salami slices before everything got stuck. No need to tell you what happened next.

While my food consumption hasn’t been ideal today, I’m glad that nothing inappropriate to losing weight has passed my lips. I’ll just hold off snack time with lots of coffee.

This weekend has me setting up the coffee for my writers group and putting it all away, including hauling big containers into the garage. That’s always good for burning off calories.

Saturday is also my wedding anniversary, and I’ll be spending that at my husband’s bedside in the nursing home. I had hoped to sneak in some champagne, but lately he’s been having some stomach issues, so I don’t want to risk it. Twenty-three years ago we had a kick-ass honeymoon in San Francisco, and we’ll remember that.

See you next week.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

My kitchen is looking like a café

I now have more syrup than Starbucks. It’s true. I found a new source for Torani sugar-free syrup and went a little crazy. These syrups are great for many things, including making my morning protein shake a little more tolerable, and for flavoring my Tassimo lattes and cappuccinos.

Cost Plus World Market usually carries a pretty decent selection, and sometimes they’re on sale for less than $6 a bottle. Over the past few months I’ve purchased chocolate, French vanilla, pumpkin spice, caramel, raspberry, hazelnut, cinnamon-brown sugar, peppermint, and English toffee. And each one has a pump installed, just like the coffeehouses. Recently I added peach and lime, but haven’t used them in shakes or lattes yet.

I use the chocolate syrup a lot because, well, it’s chocolate. I bought a 3-pack at Amazon and it’s almost gone.

Torani’s site showed me that the bottles are available at Smart & Final, and there’s one just down the street. I stopped in after work and was amazed to find the sugar-free syrup available in just about every flavor Torani offers. Not only that, but if you buy 6 bottles, they’re only $3.99 each. I picked up more chocolate and raspberry, plus coffee, almond, mango, and black cherry.

I put the coffee flavor to work in my morning shake. Four pumps (1 ounce), plus about a tablespoon of instant espresso in my 50g protein vanilla shake gave it a nice latte flavor. I have some rum extract used for baking, and I think a few drops of that might give the shake a Kahlua flavor. I have a mango-peach flavored protein powder that will be augmented by my mango and peach syrups in coming days.

I make my own sugar-free pumpkin lattes that you can’t get at Starbucks. An ounce of syrup, a double latte, a dollop of whipped cream, and a sprinkling of pumpkin pie spice.

I make a similar one with chocolate instead, and I sprinkle grated baker’s chocolate on top. Another great topping is one from Trader Joe’s that has sugar crystals, coffee beans, and chocolate in a container that grinds it over your drink.

My daughter pours a little half-and-half and a little syrup into a glass and tops it with sparking water to make Italian-style sodas like they serve at the Old Spaghetti Factory.  

I will be quite the mad scientist in the kitchen as I perfect my morning shake recipes. And you can bet that I’ll write about them.

See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Sometimes you just have to get dirty

My bathroom sink was stopped up for a couple of days. What I really needed to do was remove the trap and clean it out, but that seemed too hard. I have all the tools, but I’d have to clean out the cabinet, find a bucket, unhook the trap, and clean. I wanted to fix it without getting dirty.

So first I tried the plunger. All I got was air shooting through the overflow holes and the water just taunting me with its stillness.

Next up, I snapped off a long piece from a plastic clothes hanger. The stiff plastic slid down the drain, but when it hit the bend in the sink trap, it stopped.

Another stoppage remedy I’ve heard of is pouring baking soda down the drain, then pouring in vinegar. The chemical reaction is supposed to loosen up clogs and dissolve them down the drain. So into the kitchen for our industrial size baking soda. I poured about a cup down the drain, which was now full of baking soda. I suspect it’s not supposed to have that much. Then I went for the vinegar, and saw that I have all kinds of fancy vinegars—balsamic, rice, wine—that no way was I going to pour down the sink. I discovered a bottle of cleaning vinegar I got a Target some time ago. I had expected the cleaning vinegar to be extra strength, but in fact it’s weaker than the stuff for cooking. I poured the whole bottle down the drain and got a spectacular foam show, but the sink was as stuck as ever—actually worse, because it had all that baking soda in it.

I gave up that night in favor of buying a sink snake. On the way home from work the next day, I stopped in Target and realized that Target shoppers never have complicated stopped-up sinks, because Target carries as many sink snakes as it does cold-blooded ones—none. I did find a liquid drain cleaner that came with a puny toothed strip to jam down the drain to catch the clog. I’ve used these before and they work great. This one, though, went as far as the bend in the trap and stopped. I poured in the glop and waited the half-hour for it to work. It released a few bubbles, but the water level remained the same.

By now it was almost 9 p.m. and I wanted to get to Lowes before it closed at 9:30. We drove to Lowes to discover that it now closed at 9 and was locked up tight. That sent us to the 24-hour Walmart where we bought both a toothed strip—this one longer, harder, and straighter—and a quasi-snake with a brush on the end.

In the end, neither tool worked, and I had to clean out the cabinet, dissemble the sink trap and clear it out. I found tweezers, hair clips, elastic bands, and some nasty unidentified junk in there. They were stuck so firmly that even a plumbers snake probably wouldn’t have dislodged it.  I ended up wasting time and money for a problem that could have been cleared up the day before. As a bonus, I now have a clean cabinet and a new mesh guard to keep the tweezers and hair clips out of the drain.

So next time I’m encounter a problem, I’m going to think of how I can solve it right then, maybe getting a little dirty, but without driving all over and shopping past my bedtime.

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Sometimes weight happens

I’m not sure why, but my weight went up slightly. It’s just 1.8 pounds, but it’s annoying. My eating has been about the same and my exercise has been about the same.

The key word is “about.” I don’t keep strict records of what I eat and what exercise I get. I eat about the same thing every day: a 50g protein shake for breakfast, cottage cheese/bacon/sunflower seeds for lunch, Greek yogurt for afternoon snack, cheese sticks for early evening snack and a variable dinner. Sometimes I have a real meal, other times just soup. Last night I had low-fat goat cheese smeared on flatbread crackers with artichoke/red pepper tapenade dribbled on top (Trader Joe's, I love you). And I often top off dinner with pistachios. But I’m sure I’ve added a little more here and there, enough to add up to 1.8 pounds.

I’ve relied on weekend shopping/walking to take up the slack, but the last couple of weekends I’ve eaten things I shouldn’t. At the mall, anything that comes from Sweet Factory or Godiva shouldn’t go into my mouth.

Sometimes you just stray off the path. Lose a bit of focus. It’s not the end of the world. My goal is to eat like a normal person, except maybe spaced throughout the day since my surgically enhanced stomach is so small. A lot of people without eating/food/weight issues will naturally compensate for overeating by eating less later. That doesn’t mean to do what I did when I went to diet doctors or commercial weight-loss programs, where I paid for failure. I’d often use the weigh-in day as a free pass to binging, then starve myself for the rest of the week to show a loss. The binging periods got longer and the starving periods got shorter and harder until everything went to hell.

These days my body seems to crave protein-packed dishes, for which I’m grateful. Sweets don’t seem to be such a priority, especially when I can whip up a sugar-free chocolate latte on my coffee machine at home and satisfy my sweet tooth.

My lap-band isn’t going to lose the weight for me. I have to work it, and sometimes I need to work a little harder.

See you tomorrow.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Where’d all this cold come from?

I live in Southern California. I grew up in the desert. The farthest east I’ve lived is Las Vegas. All this geography information is to let you know I have thin blood. It gets down into the 40s and I’m ready to break out the arctic wear. We finally got autumnal weather out here and I haven’t been warm since.

I guess it’s a matter of physics. Drop 85 or so pounds of insulating fat and the core is going to shiver. I’ve resorted to wearing sweatpants to bed and sleeping under three blankets. Luckily the cats cuddle next to me for added warmth. I’m wearing the same sweatpants I wore at my heaviest. The difference is that they used to fit tight and now they fit like MC Hammer parachute pants. The other night I even added a sweatshirt to the ensemble.

We do run the central heating at night, and I slept cozily last night, but woke up cold. Turns out the daughter sprayed too much air freshener early this morning, so she turned off the heater and opened all the windows to air out the place. It was freakin’ 49 degrees out! It was REALLY hard to get out of bed this morning. I snuggled next to our larger cat, Kevin, and listened to him purr while I sucked away his warmth. Once I dragged myself from my warm bed, I threw my clothes in the dryer to heat them up. Getting dressed wasn’t so bad then. I donned my newly purchased gloves and my too-big L.A. Lakers jacket and headed into the cold morning. I had a commuter mug with strong coffee in one hand and my chilled protein shake in the other. Thank God for car heaters.

As you can see, I’m a weather wimp. A creature of modern conveniences. My dad used to tell stories of growing up in Upstate New York during the Depression. No central heating, and if you left a glass of water next to your bed, it would be frozen in the morning. I guess that’s one reason that after he went out on his own, he moved as far away from the frost as possible and landed near Death Valley, where he met the woman who would become his wife and my mom.

I’ve done a lot of complaining about being cold, but given the choice between extra sweatpants and 85 pounds of fat, I’ll take the sweatpants any day.
See you tomorrow.

Friday, November 4, 2011

It wasn’t my fault—this time

I spent most of yesterday with the odd feeling that my timing was off. Last night I discovered why.

My alarm clock has a feature to automatically reset the clock when daylight saving time begins and ends. A great feature, except the government keeps changing the dates, so my clock is confused. Thursday morning at 2, my clock reset to 1 a.m., so when I got out of bed at 8:30 it was really 9:30. I discovered the time differential when I got under the covers long after Jay Leno’s monologue, but my clock read 11:30. Mystery solved!

So I spent a lot of time yesterday thinking that getting up too late was my fault, when it really wasn’t. I’m willing to take the blame when something’s my fault. Admit it, get past it, forget it.

Perception is a funny thing. Today I’m wearing a new pair of jeans in the same size that I recently shrunk into. The other jeans fit comfortably, but these, the same size and brand, are almost uncomfortably tight. A few times today I caught myself thinking, “These jeans are too tight because I’m too fat,” forgetting that I couldn’t even look at this size a few weeks ago. So today I’m telling myself that the jeans are just tight and they’ll be looser soon. Besides, the jeans are so tight that they’re keeping me from wanting to eat between meals for fear I’ll have a “food baby” that keeps the zipper from raising. (If you don’t know, a “food baby” is the phenomenon that a skinny actress can look pregnant if you photograph her right after lunch. I remember a message board arguing over whether a particular TV actress was expecting, but someone connected with the show pointed out that the scenes were shot after lunch.)

Have a great weekend, everyone. Don’t forget to turn your clocks back at 2 a.m. Sunday. This time for reals.

See you next week.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

My mojo went on vacation

I think the world changed while I was asleep, because I keep missing bits of time here and there.

I woke up late today. I must have hit the snooze bar a few more times than I remember, because I got up, fed the critters and started getting dressed and realized it was an hour later than I thought it was. No time to make my shake this morning. I brewed up a sugar-free pumpkin spice latte while I loaded up my work stuff and picked up a meal-replacement bar. My surgeon’s office frowns on these bars unless you’re far along in your weight loss. Since I’m better than halfway done, I figure it’s OK occasionally. This bar had 32g of protein and wasn't too bad in the fat and carb department.  It was a nice complement to the latte.

Since I got in late, I felt behind all day, even though I wasn’t. I got my work done, and my meetings out of the way. Even had time for a flu shot at the on-campus clinic.

The daughter wants take-out Italian tonight, which I’ll probably get for her. I’m craving serious protein, so I’ll have some Trader Joe’s Apricot Rosemary Chicken salad that’s waiting for me in the fridge.

At least tomorrow is another day, and maybe I can start that one on time. Sunday morning we get back the hour lost to Daylight Saving Time.

See you tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Getting used to new flavors

This morning I made a shake with new protein powder I bought: Isopure Zero Carb Protein Creamy Vanilla. It calls for 12 ounces of water, but I used 10 and added an ounce of Torani sugar-free syrup, in French vanilla. I whipped it up with my immersion blender and took a sip.

And realized I’m not a big fan of vanilla.

But that’s OK. I usually get chocolate powder, but I got vanilla because I can use it for a base for other flavors. Tomorrow I may add some frozen fruit and a nut flavoring. My daughter bakes, so we have plenty of extracts around the house. In addition, I have many sugar-free syrup flavors: peach, raspberry, lime, English toffee, caramel, hazelnut, cinnamon-brown sugar, pumpkin spice, plus chocolate and vanilla. I have a regular syrup in blood orange, and using that would add about 70 calories.  

I’ve heard of other people boosting the shake flavor by adding a teaspoon or two of sugar-free pudding powder in a corresponding flavor. I haven’t tried this yet, but it sounds like something that would work well.

I like getting the protein in early. My shake has about 50g of protein, then lunch has 15g-30g and the afternoon snack adds 15g. If I have string cheese on the drive home, that’s at least 12g more. So by dinnertime, I can have 100g of protein eaten. Dinner doesn’t matter as much, so I can have something light, or nothing, if I don’t feel like eating. Or if I want a nice glass of wine for dinner.

On a side note, I just discovered that the insurance company my employer is switching to doesn’t cover my bariatric surgeon, who adjusts my band periodically. So now I’ll probably have to pay for them, and get reimbursed. I’m not looking forward to that. My next appointment is right after the new year, so the new insurance will be in effect. Can’t wait to see what happens.

See you tomorrow.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Half-price candy is twice as dangerous

November 1 used to be a big holiday in my world, as was February 15 and the days after Easter and Mother’s Day. Half-price candy. Twice as much for the same price! Nope, cheaper doesn’t make it better.

I feel fortunate that the only Halloween candy I had this year was at a party in early October and one fun-size bag of M&M’s. Around the office, I saw a few piles of leftover candy, but I made sure to steer clear of those areas. Out of sight will keep me from going out of my mind. Because of a morning dental appointment, I didn’t get my usual shake for breakfast today. Instead I had a grande sugar-free, fat-free triple-espresso latte for the drive to work. Then I had my regular lunch and plenty of coffee and water in between.

November usually is a big party month for me. My 23rd anniversary is on the 12th, birthday on the 19th and hubby’s birthday on the 27th. This year I’m sneaking a champagne split into the nursing home to have with hubby. My sister is taking me to the L.A. Zoo and Huntington Library, so we’ll be walking a LOT. Hubby’s birthday won’t be on Thanksgiving this year, so we’ll have a low-key celebration. And of course, there’s Thanksgiving, but I’m making lots of weight-loss surgery-friendly dishes for that.

I’m sure I’ll be tempted between now and the holidays. If I eat a piece or two of candy, the world won’t end. The important thing is to savor those treats. Don’t just pop a truffle in your mouth. Bite it. Taste it. Savor it. Let it melt in your mouth. Wring all the taste out of that sucker.

If you’re going to eat it, you might as well enjoy it.

See you tomorrow.