Monday, December 27, 2010

Phlegm - the new trend in wedding wear

This morning, my sisters, my mom, and I will all be making our first trek to David's Bridal.

Why?  Well, my younger sister is getting married in April and my older sister and I are one of a few bridesmaids lucky enough to be in the wedding.

Am I happy for my sister?  Sure.

Am I excited about buying an itchy dress that I'll never wear again?  Not so much.

I wrote about this a few months ago, but initially, she wanted us to be wearing yellow dresses...which would mean that I would resemble an egg on fire.

The good news is that the dresses are no longer going to be yellow.

The bad news is that they're going to be the color of phlegm.

I'm not ordering my dress tomorrow because I still want to lose weight and tone up for the "big day."  When my older sister got married, we had the pictures displayed around both of my parents houses...and I really don't want to look worse than I did in hers.

Also?  I'm ready to get back into a regular exercise routine.  Tomorrow marks two months since the surgery...and without any complications in the last two weeks, I think I'm finally read to put the surgery and it's horrible post-surgical complications behind me.

Last Reminder!

This is the last reminder for the BlogHer/Laughing Cow contest over on my review blog.

For the low price of a comment, you can enter to win a $150 Visa gift card to spend on anything you want. 

This past month, I've seen more entries than any other month.  Someone's got to win - might as well be you, eh?

Contest runs through midnight tomorrow! :)

Friday, December 24, 2010

Intuitive Eater's Holiday Bill of Rights (part 4)

Happy Christmas Eve!

Are you ready for the last right from the Intuitive Eater's Holiday Bill of Rights by Evelyn Tribole?

Me too.

Right #7: You have the right to eat pumpkin pie for breakfast.

I love this one - even though I don't love pumpkin pie.

I know I may get some dissent from this right - and that some of you may attack this as a crazy idea.

But I say that I believe that we are all worthy of trust.  Even around pumpkin pie.

Food should taste good.  Food should be pleasurable.  As long as you're aware of what you're doing and you're okay with what you're doing, you'll inevitably be okay with the consequences.

Pumpkin pie is not the enemy. 

No one, except for you, knows how you feel, both emotionally and physically.  Only you can be the expert of your body, which requires inner attunement, rather than the external, well-meaning, suggestions from your friends and family.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Intuitive Eater's Holiday Bill of Rights (part 3)

Oooh...only two more days until Christmas!

On the off chance that someone is reading this looking for some clarity or support during the holidays, then I congratulate you!  You're turning to something other than food for support - and I know that's tough.

To go along with the last few posts about the Intuitive Eater's Bill of Rights (by Evelyn Tribole), I've decided to post some great ones.

Right #4: It is not your responsibility to make someone happy by overeating, even if it took hours to prepare a special holiday dish.

This one is hard for me.  I only visit my mom once a year.  And I can say that since arriving in El Paso, we're already going to have pies, cakes, chocolaty snacks, and great dips.  Stuff that I haven't had in over a year - stuff that I'm tempted to eat even if I'm not hungry - just because I won't have it for another year or so.

Moreover, I know my mom is making this stuff just for us.  And she's watching her weight - so she doesn't want tons of leftovers when we leave.

But guilt doesn't have to be a reason to eat.  In fact, I'm going to work hard to enjoy what I want - what my body is truly hungry for - and then pass on the rest.  I can always take containers home on the car ride back to Denver...I don't need to eat it then.


Right #5: You have the right to say "No thank you," without explanation, when offered more food.

I love this one.  I don't need to explain WHY I don't want more.  I don't need to apologize for honoring my hunger signals or my taste buds.  I've found that if I smile and say "no thank you" it's classier than giving a ton of "reasons" why I don't want to.  A simple "no thank you" will usually suffice.


Right #6: You have the right to stick to your original answer of "no," even if you are asked multiple times.  Just calmly repeat "no thank you, really."

If you have a Persistent Patty that's trying to push food on you, you can stick to your original answer.  You don't need to cave if you don't want to.  No time better to set boundaries than now, right?

THAT is a great gift you can give yourself for Christmas.  Your self respect, your self worth, and the knowledge that you (and your goals and your hunger levels) are worth respecting and listening to.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Intuitive Eater's Holiday Bill of Rights (part 2)

As you read this, I'll be on a 10-12 hour car ride from Denver to El Paso.  And if the past years are any indication, I'll probably be singing the Rent Soundtrack and the best of Madonna. 

You know what I won't be doing?  Snacking on gobs of unhealthy foods.  I've packed a cooler full of fruits, veggies, and healthy treats to keep me company when I'm hungry.

Last week, I wrote about the first right from The Intuitive Eater's Holiday Bill of Rights by Evelyn Tribole.  And I thought that I'd give you a second helping of it.


Right #2:  You have the right to enjoy second servings without apology.

That's right.  You don't have to go hungry if you don't want to.  Isn't that great?  That we live in a country and a place where the vast majority of us don't HAVE to go hungry?

But quickly on the heels of the second right, is the third...


Right #3: You have the right to honor your fullness, even if it means saying "no thank you" to dessert or a second helping of food.

Because really?  Who SHOULD care if you have a second helping or dessert?  No one.  You should be allowed to decide if you need more to feel satisfied - whatever the level that you want it to be.  And if someone tries to force seconds or thirds on you because that's what you've always done, YOU get to choose to say no.  If forced, you can take the additional helping or dessert home to enjoy later.  But it's your choice - and it's your right to not be over-full.

To me, these rules free me from old habits and old traditions.  Just because I pigged out last year, doesn't mean that I have to do that again this year.  Additionally, if I've always eaten like a bird in front of others (only to devour all my stocking treats in 5 minutes) I can eat as much as I need to feel satisfied. 

Why wait until 2011 to start new traditions and resolutions?  I say start now - with honoring yourself and your own satiety.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Monday reminder

It's Monday.  That means that I have to do a shameless plug for the review blog and it's contest to win $150.

So head on over there and do your thing.  Your reward?  Only ONE more reminder this year. :)  Next Monday...same bat time, same bat channel.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Intuitive Eater's Holiday Bill of Rights (part 1)

Last weekend, I went to another Mindful Eating/Mindful Body class here in Denver.  I've written about them before, but this group was one of the first ways that I was introduced to the idea and concept of mindful/intuitive eating.

Due to the timing of the workshop, the topic of how to eat over the holidays came up.

Are there rules to what you'll "allow" yourself to eat?

Are there guilt trips that you put on yourself when you "eat the wrong thing?"

Lastly, when was the last time that you truly had whatever you wanted - and didn't beat yourself up or negotiate anything?

The kind of holiday celebration I want to enjoy is one where I am in tune with my body.  When I'm in tune with it, I'm able to eat what I truly am hungry for - even if it's carrots and green beans.  And I can pass up the items that I'm not craving - even if they're cookies that look delicious.

I find that when I act on my true cravings, I'm able to feel completely satisfied and fulfilled.

At the workshop last weekend, we were given a list of basic rights that *everyone* should be allowed  - called the Intuitive Eater's Holiday Bill of Rights - by Evelyn Tribole.

The first? 

You have the right to savor your meal, without cajoling or judgment, and without discussion of calories eaten or the amount of exercise needed to burn off said calories.

To me, that's a powerful right.

I think oftentimes, women get into this calorie discussion because it's an approved topic.  Kind of like the weather, or small talk about what you do for a living.  It's a universal topic that brings people together.

And isn't that silly?  Rather than truly savoring the treat that is in front of us, rather than giving thanks for all the hands that it took to get this meal to it scrumptious state, and rather than enjoying each ingredient, we waste those moments by feeling guilty or feeling dread for the amount of exercise that it will take to "be good again."

If you're like me, it feels great to have not a rule to follow, but a right to be allowed.

I don't have to join in the discussion of how "bad" I'm being or how "bad" the food is.  I can enjoy as much as I want of whatever I want - without having to feel bad, to be judged, or having to confess what I'm going to do to work off the choices I made.

Sounds too good to be true, doesn't it?

The trick is, in my opinion, is to be in tune with myself enough so that if I don't want parts of my meal, I don't eat it.

For instance, when I was a kid, I loved Alfredo sauce.  What's not to love?  It's creamy, buttery, and not marinara sauce (which, in general, I'm not a huge fan of).  But then I began my DIET which lasted 20 or so years and it was bye bye cream sauces!

Recently, I ordered some pasta dish with Alfredo sauce because it sounded totally scrumptious.  Know what?  It wasn't.  It didn't taste as great as I remembered - or maybe it was just too rich for what I wanted right then.

All I know is that a year ago, had I ordered it, I would've eaten it all up - after all, I ordered it and I might as well indulge when I could!  When was the next chance I would have the courage to order cream sauce?  This time, I didn't.  I ate the other items on my plate and scraped off as much of the sauce as I wanted to so that I enjoyed the meal.

Maybe I don't actually LIKE Alfredo sauce any more.  Maybe I just don't like pasta.  Whatever it is, I know that if I want to try any sauce again, I can.  I'll have another chance - so it's okay to pass up what I don't really want right now.  I can always have it when I *do* want it.

Eat the meal you want.  Eat what you truly want.  If that's carrots and celery sticks, great!  If it's a rich food, that's okay too...because if you're really tuning in to what your body needs and wants you won't always want the rich foods.  You won't always fill up on cookies. 

When you take away the label of "forbidden" on foods, it's amazing how much less I actually want them.

And it's freeing to realize that I can enjoy - truly enjoy - the food that I'm eating.  I can focus on that, on the gratitude that I have for all of the steps that it took to make it, and on how full I am at the moment.  I don't need to be judged by anyone else...OR by myself.

No matter what your eating plan is, you have the right to eat the way you want - all carbs, no carbs, no fat, all grapefruit.  Whatever your plan is, you have the right to enjoy your holiday however you want.  No excuses, no explaining, and no trying to convince others that it's the right way.

You have the right to eat the way you want to.

A liberating thought, no?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Quick Reminder

Just a quick reminder to enter in the review blog's sixth month to win $150 from BlogHer and Laughing Cow if you haven't already.

Contest ends on the 28th...so you don't have much time left!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Another week off

Last Tuesday night, I was experiencing some HORRIBLE abdominal pain.  After taking a narcotic and 800 mg of Advil, I was still writhing in pain and Joe and I were minutes away from going to the ER to find out what was wrong. 

I had called my doctor earlier in the day with complaints of pain and he had his assistant call me back on Wednesday saying that pain is normal during this healing process...and that I shouldn't be alarmed.  I told the assistant what I had to take to make the pain go away and she said that I should mention that to the doctor when I saw him next.

In the middle of all of this, the case manager has been frustrated and indicating that she would turn down my claim to extend the leave unless I had a "real clinical reason to extend it this time."  I'm sorry... b!tch says WHAT?  Right, because the multiple infections and open wounds have been just FUN and not clinical issues...

This past weekend, I was talking with Joe and I said that I just didn't get the feeling that people understood that something was seriously wrong.  Sure, I had been on my period, but those weren't just normal cramps.  I mean, I had broken out in a sweat and was panting it hurt so badly!  I was crying and told him that I *knew* that I wasn't okay...and that I felt like people didn't get that or take me seriously...and that was so frustrating.  Especially this past weekend, I felt the anxiety and depression creep back up on me...which was doubly frustrating because I thought that I was done with all this crap.

So yesterday, I came in and explained to my doctor that although I was feeling better, I felt like something was significantly wrong.  He did a manual examination (hello, half his hand in my lady bits!) and then said that if it would make me feel better, I could get vaginal ultrasound.

Ah yes, vaginal ultrasounds always make a woman feel better - they're the gift that is truly memorable...perfect for Christmas, Valentine's Day, or even just to show that you're thinking about her.

So I get undressed again and while the tech is shoving this thing up my lady bits (which is still tender and healing) and then notes that I have an abnormally large cyst on my left ovary.

So probably that's what happened on Tuesday night - my cyst ruptured.

Truthfully, I felt good when she told me that that's what she was seeing - it means that the pain wasn't in my head and I felt vindicated that even though I've never had a cyst rupture before, I knew that something wasn't right in my body.

I've said it before, but this whole process helps me know that to be your own health advocate is a good thing.  I'm glad that I'd been practicing being in tune with my body for months before the surgery - because I believe that that has helped me to be alerted when things have gone awry.

So what now?  Well, I had to get up early to explain to my case manager (who seriously, sucks) that I would not be in for another week.  Truthfully?  I could've gone back to work today - I felt okay.  Maybe I was a bit sore from yesterdays manipulations, but I feel okay.  But the doctor said that I could take another week if I wanted it - and he encouraged me to try running and lifting and doing all the things that I had been doing for fun and enjoyment.

And...after bursting into tears for the umpteenth time yesterday (and for the third visit in a row), he offered me something he's offered the last two times.  "Are you sure you don't need something to relax?"

The sleepless nights and racing heart for the last few weeks came into my mind.  As did the almost constant worry.

So I took him up on his offer and went home with a prescription for 12 tiny little pills that I can take if things seem like too much on an as needed basis.  I feel better having them in my arsenal of things that I can do to calm myself or take care of myself.  I haven't taken one yet - and may never - but I feel so much better just for having access to them.

My eating has gone HORRIBLY down the tubes during the last week and a half.  I was doing great up until then - but not so swell since then. 

Today is a new day though - and for that, I'm thankful.

I feel validated, I feel proud, and I feel hopeful that the worst is (hopefully) behind me.

Friday, December 10, 2010

True craving

Since I've battled eating issues most of my life, I feel like I know a lot about cravings.  Sometimes I'd get the idea of something salty or sweet in my head and I couldn't get it out of my mind...my mouth would salivate at the thought of whatever I was jonesing for at that moment.

But yesterday, while in the car listening to some music that I usually run to, I realized that I am experiencing cravings of a whole other kind.

I want to run SO badly.  I miss it more than I can tell you.

I'm not really sure that I've ever experienced this kind of desire for something that usually has been in my control.  Sure, when I was single, I wanted a healthy relationship - sometimes so badly that I'd get depressed.  And of course, I've wanted the stability of a job or promotion, or something equally as professionally oriented.  Since all of these "wants" weren't solely in my control, I could usually release them a bit easier.

But me and my body?  Well, that's usually been the one thing I *could* control. 

This past weekend, Joe and I went out to eat to celebrate a friend's birthday.  Although the evening was continuing for the rest of the guests at a bowling alley, we opted to leave and go to a movie instead.  I'm sure I could get a ball that would be under 10 pounds (my post-surgical weight limit), but continually chucking that thing at the gutters (which is how I bowl), would undoubtedly take a toll on my body.  So a movie it was.  We had a great time and while we were on our way back to the car, another car was coming a bit quicker towards us than we had originally thought.  We jogged a few steps and that's when my night of fun and frivolity had a reality check.

It's not just bowling that I can't do right now.  It's jogging - even for a few steps.  The pain that my abdomen felt just from jogging those few steps has remained in my head for the past week.

And I know...there is at least one person who reads this blog that can't run either - due to her physical limitations.  So I probably shouldn't whine about this...I mean, someday I probably will be able to run again.

But right now I can't.  I haven't been able to for over two months.  And that makes me sad.

Yesterday I listened to a few songs on my iPod while driving down the road, I wanted to run so badly.  I wanted to just check out - to get away from the pain, the limitations, and the frustrations that this surgery and it's healing (or lack thereof).  When I was listening to the upbeat song that I love to run to, I could feel my heart pick up and my muscles wanting nothing more than a run.  Akin to the way my mouth would salivate at the thought of Phish Food by Ben and Jerry's, my muscles were craving the release of the stress that I'd been bottling up.  I want to move with intensity - walking doesn't come close to getting out the stress, worries, concerns, and fears I have.

When I run (okay, sometimes it's a limping jog), I tune out almost everything other than my breath, my stride, and obstacles in my path.  I match my pace with the beat of the song and just concentrate on that...on the emotions that come up while listening to it.  Because I'm not usually able to sing or talk at the same time as I run, I don't have to worry about striking up even pleasant conversation with someone else.  I realize that I'm able bodied - the reassuring slap of my shoes on the ground tells me so.  And even when I think that I can't possibly run another step, I do.  After that, somehow my problems don't seem so all consuming, so insurmountable. 

So when I say that I miss running, I mean it - my body and soul really misses the running.

Yesterday, I went ahead and bought Jillian Michael's 30 Day Shred for the second time in my life.  The first DVD was lost in an epic battle (2010's battle between Anne's DVD player and the 30 Day Shred DVD...the DVD player won).  I know I can't lift the weights.  And the jumping jacks probably aren't doable in their intended form.  But I can do SOMETHING on it - even if only the dips and lunges. 

It's sort of like settling for a sugar-free cocoa made with water when what you really crave is the full fat milk chocolate drink from your childhood.  But maybe it'll take the edge of the craving until I can actually do something about it.

Until then, those of you who CAN run now, run a teeny tiny bit for me, will you?

Thursday, December 9, 2010

There YOU go

When my sisters and I were in Chicago for Thanksgiving, we visited my grandmother a few times at her assisted living facility.  She has dementia so her floor of the building should maybe be called the VERY assisted living facility.  On this floor, they have to passcode protect the elevators so that a patient doesn't get on one and then get lost on another floor.  Sadly, even though this is one of the better nursing homes, there are still fewer staff than what it seems is necessary to give the patients the assistance they need.  My father has hired a 24/7 caretaker (her name is Gina) to make sure that my grandmother is cared for in the best way he can afford.

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but my grandmother liked me the least growing up - and she wasn't afraid to demonstrate that.  She's said some very unkind things over the years - including things that reinforced the belief that when you're fat, no one will love you. 

When my father asked her if she could remember the names of her grandchildren (she only has us three).  She remembered the names of my two sisters but couldn't remember mine.  Even when prompted, she said that she didn't know, shrugged her shoulders, and then burped.

Did that hurt?  Okay, yeah.  A little. 

On Thanksgiving Day after a visit with her, my family started to walk to the elevator to leave for the night.  My grandmother wanted to walk with us, so naturally, Gina was there too.

On the way to the elevator, we saw a little old lady with a walker looking lost.  I smiled and waved (because sometimes people just want a little friendliness, you know?  This also meant that I get older people to come up and pet my hair - which I'm not going to lie to you - is CREEPY).

She said, sweetly, "I don't know where I'm supposed to go.  I don't know where I am."

I looked around and there were no aides to help her anywhere in sight.  So I asked if she wanted to go back to her room.  She said yes.  I looked to Gina for help - asking if she knew where this lady's room was.  Gina said, "Rosemary, your room is at the end of this hall.  That's where you go."

She looked at me and I could tell that Gina's instructions didn't make much sense.  So I offered to walk her to her room.  My family was okay with waiting by the elevators.

Her face lit up, "You would really do that?"

"Well of course!" I said.

On the way to her room (with me checking each room placard for her name) we talked about whether she liked the place (she did, but some people were not very nice according to her) and what she did for fun.  Once we got to her door, I asked her if that was her room or not.

"Well, yes it is.  Oh.  So you're sending us all to our rooms now?"  She had such a sad and forlorn expression on her face.  I felt bad.

"You don't have to go to your room right now.  Would you like to watch TV instead?" I asked.

Her face immediately lit up.  "Yes!"  Then it got dim again. "I don't know where the TV is."

"That's okay - I'll walk you there." After all, the TV room is basically where she was when I found her - right next to the elevators.  (facepalm!)

"Oh - you would do that for me?  You are so nice!" And with that, we made the return trip down the long hallway towards the TV room/elevators. We made small talk once more.  A few times she thanked me and told me how nice she thought I was.  The thing is?  She really meant it.  Genuine gratitude is easy to spot.

"Are you married?" she asked me.

I'll be honest.  I thought about saying yes, since it's just easier to explain than a boyfriend that I live with.  But I'm not married.  And I didn't want to lie to a little old lady - even though she's never going to remember this conversation.  So I told her that I wasn't.

Her face lit up again and she said proudly, "I have two very handsome sons.  You should meet one of them the next time you visit and if you hit it off, you could get married with my blessing."

Not knowing what else to say, I relied on a phrase that my family has been saying for ages when we need to stall: "Ah, well....there you go."  It was said in the same tone as 'okee-dokee' or something of the like.

She stopped, leaned on her walker, looked at me with a twinkle in her eye and said, "No.  There YOU go."  As if to say, 'Lady, my sons are fantastic - you'll see.'

We got her situated in the TV room and I said good-bye and wished her a great night, I said goodbye to my grandmother once more, and then we were on our way home.

I've laughed quite a bit when I remember Rosemary and how sweet, trusting, truly thankful, and kind she was.  My grandmother isn't quite as lucid as Rosemary was...so it was nice to be able to have a few conversations with someone who could remember the last thing they said.

And I guess during that conversation with Rosemary, I realized that all mothers or grandmothers want what's best for their kids or grandkids.  Even mine.

Because the thing is, that unkind, harsh woman that I've known my grandmother to be?  She's not that person anymore.  Instead, the person that's left LOOKS like my grandmother, but acts like a sweet little kid.  She smiles and hugs us.  She offers us her secret candy stash, and her face shows every emotion she has just as clearly and unmasked as a two-year old would.  

And how can I be mad at or resentful towards a two year old?  

That night, I started to realize that to hang on to the bitterness and hurt from my childhood only hurts me.  She can't remember it and what's more, she never will.

Somehow spending time with Rosemary helped me see how childlike these people really are.  And in the same way that I don't hold Rosemary to the promise that she would marry me off to her sons (who, let's face it, probably are already married with kids of their own), I can't exactly hold my grandmother accountable for decades of hurt.  Perhaps there was a time that I could've and should've told her about the hurt that she's caused me.  But that time has passed.
 I guess what I mean is that I can choose to hang on to the messages that I grew up with or I can release them.

On this past Thanksgiving Day, I was thankful for new chances, fresh starts, and forgiveness.  I felt lighter and more at peace after visiting that center than what I had in awhile.

I think it's starting to sink in that if I can forgive my grandmother for all the angst that she put me through, maybe I can forgive myself for all the pain and angst that I've put myself through.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tips for managing the holidays

Guess what today is?

It's the launch of the LAST MONTH of Laughing Cow/BlogHer's monthly contest.

That's right - this is the last month you can enter to win a $150 gift card for the low, low price of a comment.

Click on over to my review blog (which has been loading slowly this morning - so have patience!) to read about my plans on how I'm going to manage the barrage of treats this holiday season.

I can't wait to read your tips as well!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

A new set of goals

What feels like a million years ago, I signed up for the Hot 100 Challenge.  It started 100 days out from the end of the year - and the idea was to make the most of the last 100 days of 2010.  Pick a few goals and meet them. 

It sounded like a great idea.  But a few days after signing up for the challenge, I found out that I needed surgery.  And then, I found that running (my favorite way to burn energy) aggravated the uterine fibroid.  I think after that, I just sort of quit.  I put myself on hold and felt like I would tackle all the "hard stuff" after I was through surgery.

The last five weeks, I've been struggling to heal.  In fact, sometimes, I can't believe it's been five weeks.  Five LONG weeks of me whining.  :)

Monday, I saw my OB and he said that I was a few days from healing up completely.  Since last Tuesday when I wrote my "craptastic" post, my body has been healing in super mode.  I didn't want to mention it (for fear of jinxing it somehow), but it's been amazing to see the progress.  And today?  I'm still not healed, but I'm SO CLOSE.  So close, that I actually have been able to stop taping up my body and have been able to live life in a more normal way. 

I also was prescribed antibiotics (again) but this time for a sinus infection.  Yesterday was the first day since the surgery that I actually started feeling more like the old me. 

Know what I found?  I found that I'm the same exact size I was 5 weeks ago.  I weigh close to the same amount.  The only thing that's changed is that my hair is longer.  Seriously.  Everything else is pretty much the same.

So while I don't have 100 days left in 2010, I do have 31 days left.  31 days to make the most of this last year. 

My new goals?  They're not much different than what they were 70 days ago.

  • I want to take care of my skin - washing my face each night.
  • I want to continue to learn new things - I'll do this by watching educational shows and reading books.  I want to become more aware of where our food comes from and how to make better choices with food and exercise.
  • I want to run.  I originally wanted to run my first 10K, but after having not run in 8 weeks or so, that's probably not gonna happen.  My new goal is to just enjoy running again.  I want to be able to get back to where I was at the beginning of September - running a 5K without stopping.
  • I want to continue to practice gentleness with myself.  I want to start being kind to myself when I look at it in the mirror.  My abdomen is bigger than what it's been in a while (probably due a bit to surgery, but more to the lack of cardio and not the best food choices), although I'm not sure that it's not all in my head.  Even if it hasn't changed much since the surgery, I want the circumference of my waist to change, but I need to not have hatred at my reflection be the first thing on my mind. 
  • I want to be lighter.  Originally, I wanted to be in the lower range of weight.  I'm still in the 200's but I want the tens digit to be one less than what it has been for months.  That'd be 9 pounds right now.  And while 9 pounds in a month is doable, it's not very practical.  So, I'd like to be as close to the next digit down as possible.

Maybe it's these new antibiotics.  Maybe it's the fact that I can now move without searing pain.  Maybe it's that I'm not living in fear that my wound won't ever close up.  Whatever it is, I'm happy to be living live with more vitality and umph.  I'm glad I'm back to feeling better and more optimistic about my choices.  I can't tell you how good it feels.

I'm off to get caught up on some of your blogs!  YAY! :)

Monday, November 29, 2010

Me first

First, a quick update.  I still have an open wound but it is amazingly smaller than what it used to be.  I believe it should be closed up later this week for good - although I'll be going to the doctor later today to verify.  As luck would have it (or at least my luck would have it), I'm currently running a fever and am sick.  I either have the flu or or a super bad cold.  But I'm hoping it doesn't turn into a sinus infection - so I'm trying to stay on top of meds and supplements to make this shorter than what it has to be.

The Monday after I had my surgery, I went to a doctor to have my staples removed.  My mom was driving Joe's car and as she was going to get my prescriptions filled, I was dropped off to just go home and rest. 

On my way across the few blocks to the entrance to our building, I caught a lady's eye.  'I know that girl,' I thought.  By her expression, she recognized me too.  But as I was trying to place where I knew her from, she smiled and said hi.  Turns out she is from my old Weight Watchers group.

Immediate dread filled me.  I was fresh out of surgery, in pain, and dreading the few blocks that I had to walk to get home.  But I didn't say good-bye to anyone at my meeting when I quit.  No one knew why.  I realized that since I was still completely bloated from the surgery, it likely looked like I had gained back lots of weight.  I was sure that she had lots of questions.

I was right; she asked what was new, and why I had stopped coming. 

At that moment, I breathed in and realized that I didn't want to go through it all. So I didn't.

I put me first.

I explained to her that I had just had surgery and that I didn't feel well.  I said that I'd have to catch up with her later and wished her well.  The entire part of my conversation lasted about 10 seconds.  I mean, I said I'd catch up later when I didn't ask for her contact information.  She quickly nodded her agreement and wished me well.

A year ago, I definitely would've put her first, or at least what I thought that she needed and wanted.  I would've felt like I had to justify my choice and what kind of surgery I had just had.  I would've made sure that she felt good about whatever progress she had made.  And I would've been fatigued at the end of the conversation.

But now, I put me first.  I realized that I was already tired - and going into a long conversation with someone who I didn't even remember where I knew her from wasn't necessary.  Not going into everything with her was OKAY.  She is okay.  And I felt better about finally honoring ME.

As I get better, I'm looking for little ways that I can do that on a regular basis.  I believe that those small ways of putting yourself as a priority will build up to healthy habits and behaviors.

What about you - what have you done for YOU lately?

P.S.  It's Monday - so this is just a reminder to head over to my review blog and put in a great tip for the holidays.  One lucky person will win $150 from BlogHer and Laughing Cow.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Clarification and positive momentum

First, thanks so much to you all for the outpouring of support yesterday.  As I'm sure you could tell, I was in a not-so-happy place...and while I wasn't concerned about statistics droppings in my blog, I guess I was concerned about disappointing you all - especially after you all have been so supportive of me.  I feel like this is a bit of partnership - and when you comment, I feel so supported.  In this time when I feel so let down by my body, I guess it just sucks more knowing that I let you all down too.  That's what I meant by losing followers, etc.

I know what you all were thinking as far as diabetic concerns, but they ran all of my bloodwork at the end of September, and I'm healthy as a horse - stat wise - other than my weight.  So I'm not even pre-diabetic.  My blood pressure is 110/60 and I've got high HDL, low LDL, and great triglyceride levels.  I'm good.

I felt so relieved just by posting yesterday - that after I got done, I laid down for a nap - a three hour long nap (sort of like Gilligan's Island, but with fewer white hats) and woke up feeling so much lighter.

And then I got the call from my case manager for the short term disability company that my company hired for cases like mine.

She said that they extended my benefits another two weeks - and that she'd re-evaluate if they had to be extended after that time too.  It was a much needed answered prayer - and it felt so amazing.

Today, I'm excited to report that my incision site actually looks smaller.  Visibly smaller than what it was last Friday.  I can't tell you how happy that makes me.

It's progress...and although I still had to "air it out" earlier today for an hour or so after it getting goopy again, I'm doing better.  Maybe it's just that I got the emotional weight off my back about how sucky this situation is, but I feel better too.

I hope you all have a great Thanksgiving tomorrow. 

I even had a good idea for a blog post today - the first in weeks - and I feel glad that through the cloudiness that has been my attitude lately, that there is a ray of sunshine coming through.  It felt like a glimmer of myself - one that was positive, upbeat, and optimistic. 

For now, I'm praying that the healing will continue and that positive momentum is here to stay! 

Plug it in, plug it in

Whoops.  I missed Monday's prompt to enter in the BlogHer/Laughing Cow contest for $150.  Something about oozing wounds took precedence.

Go to my review blog if you're interested in a chance in winning a $150 gift card to spend on anything you choose.

Could be a great time to buy that Wii for Christmas - you know, because playing video games tones SOMETHING, right?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

New Craptastic Post (now with 25 percent more crap!)

(source)
My family keeps asking me what I want for Christmas.  I find it hard to give them an answer...mostly because at the end of September, when I found out that I had the uterine fibroid that needed to be removed via surgery, I started living in a countdown mode to the surgery date.

And then, I had every expectation that I would be in countdown mode again for when I would be better.

But the last four weeks since the surgery have been painful and, although I probably am getting better (in minuscule amounts), I'm still not healed.

It's hard for me to recognize that Thanksgiving is a few days away and that Christmas is just around the corner.  How can that be?  I'm not ready.  I'm not doing better.

I STILL have an infection and an open wound at the incision site.  I'm still on antibiotics and now have a fun yeast infection to add to the mix (due to being on all of these antibiotics).  Yogurt wasn't able to stave it off.

Last Wednesday, when I went in for my second appointment of the week, my OB looked at the wound and sighed and said "It's not any worse, but it's not getting better.  What is going on?"  I don't know.  She got the other doctor and nurse practitioner in the office to look at it.  They are stumped too.  My surgeon (that I saw on last Friday) said I'm the first patient with complications in over 7 years.  And I'm the first that had a wound that won't close up in longer than that.  No one gets why it's so slow to heal.  I don't have diabetes, my blood work is great.  I don't smoke and I eat healthfully.  My weight is the only contributing factor.

It's a wake up call, but one that I can't do anything about right now.

I feel helpless.

The wound (which is at the natural crease that everyone has from sitting - it's right in that bendy area) is starting to heal bit by bit (ever so slowly), but the best way to get it to heal is to have it exposed to air.  Know what that involves?  Taping up my stomach chub to the upper part of my body.  I can't tell you the mental toll that that action takes on me daily.  I have to pull up a part of my body that I think is disgusting and tape it to other parts of my body just so they won't touch.

It's completely humiliating.  I'm taping my extra skin and residual fat from 55 pounds ago.  Every day, I'm aware of what I did to myself by eating to numb.  And every day, I'm aware of how far I have to still go.

At first, it worked okay (no, the wound wasn't healing, but I was able to tape my chub and skin up to allow it to breathe).  But my fair skin (that in those parts have never seen the light of day), is pretty sensitive.  So everytime I take off the "no hurt" paper tape, I get a painful welt on my stomach.

Sunday, after two weeks of doing this to myself with little progress in the healing, my stomach decided to not take it any more,  when the tape was removed, it ended up tearing off the upper layers of my skin too - leaving a few raw spots (yes, those are now bloody and weeping) too.

So now I have to tape around those raw wounds...which means that I can't lift the sagging skin as well to air it.  Which (you guessed it) means that it won't heal as quickly as before.  And let's be clear, it's not like the healing was fast then.

Part of me wants to post about how thankful I am for life, for my life, and for all things.  I logically know that I have a blessed life and that I have so much to feel thankful for.

But the other part of me is tired of plastering this smile on my face.  That part of me just wants the complications to stop.  That part of me is tired of hobbling around, of being in pain, and of having another thing that is going wrong. 

What's more, I can't do much about it.  I can't make it better.  I can't will my body to heal faster.  I'm doing all I can and it's still not getting better - at least not noticeably better.  And I can't do much to dissipate the stress.  In fact, right now I'm visiting my dad and sisters in Chicago - and have already felt like I've had to referee two fights.  I arrived yesterday afternon.  They just starting getting into it downstairs so I left and came up to the room I'm staying in to try to get away from it.

A year ago, I would've turned to food.  But I'm proud that that hasn't been what I've been doing.  I won't say that I've only eaten when I was hungry every time since the surgery...but that's been my goal.

Six months ago, I would've turned to exercise via running or DVDs like the "30 Day Shred" in a stressful situation.  But I can't do that either.

And yet, I'm still down 6 pounds from my surgery day.  I know that means that I'm doing something right...even if I can't fit into anything other than sweatpants because I'm still swollen around my abdomen.

I'm tired.  I'm weary.  But I'm here. 

I miss catching up on your blogs.  But I'm realistic enough to realize that I'm just experiencing some situational depression.  I can't bring myself out of the fog enough to read your blogs and put a thoughtful or optimistic spin on your doings.  I hate that.  I hate that I can't be as good of a follower or friend as the kind and thoughtful women (you know who you are!) that have left faithful comments.  I feel guilty that I'm not giving back.

I'm just spent.  I'm at the point where I feel that if I lose a few followers or subscribers, so be it. 

I just can't do more than what I'm doing right now.  I'm treading water, but it's taking a lot of energy to do that.

I know.  This isn't a happy fun post.  I hate that too.  But I felt like I should give you guys SOMETHING to read since last week...even if just to say, I'm here and hanging in there.

Logically, I know I'm thankful.  And I know I will heal eventually.  

But in the meantime, I'm struggling with a positive attitude (gee, you think?) and that has to be okay too.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Soothing Without Food

I've been home for a little over two weeks after the surgery.  In that time, my mom stayed with me for a few days before returning to her home town.  Since then?  It's been just me.

Well, me and the pantry.

For the first week, moving was so painful that I didn't eat as much as I normally would.  But since then, I've felt the urge to eat more, to snack when I'm not hungry, and to make poor food choices.


Some of it is due to boredom.  Some of it is due to the pain.  But a lot of it is due to the fact that I just feel helpless.  I can do very few things for myself these days - and because of my most recent infection, most of my time is spend with my wound exposed to air (in the hopes that that will help it close up).   This means that I can't be around other people and I spend most of my day on the couch (with a sheet on top) bare-assed so that my abdomen can be exposed to air.  It's fun and oh-so sexy.

I can't type - because it's not like I can put my laptop on my abdomen and I can't sit because that causes the wound to not be open to air.  (I am currently sitting up in bed with my laptop on my right knee, but the incision site is not getting any air, so this isn't good).  I can't lift much and I can't be out in public. 

And there is only so much TV one person can watch.  In the two weeks since I've been out, I've read my way through the Harry Potter series and two other books.  I wish I could do something else.

I don't feel like I'm a help around the house for Joe and let's be honest - it's not like I can do any "girlfriend" type activities. 

Yes, I know that this isn't a permanent thing.  But for right now, it's not fun.

The thing is, I find myself wanting to eat anything and everything...to take me away from my own life right now. 

I'm surprised how often the thought of "just a little something" pops into my head.  And I constantly have to beat it back - telling myself that "a little something" to eat isn't going to make my life easier and it isn't going to make me more productive.  "A little something" is just going to make me into a bigger person...and don't I deserve more than that?

So today, I decided that in addition to trying to give thanks for where I'm at (yesterday's theme), I'm going to recognize that I should be looking for progress, not perfection.   I've been exposing myself (literally!) to air probably 23 hours out of the day - when I eat, when I sleep, and during the rest of the day.  But today, I decided that I'd to a little something for me - even if it means that my wound doesn't get as much air.  I've got a mud mask on my face (ooh! pampering!) and I'm typing out my feelings.  So maybe that means that my wound isn't aired out but 22 hours today.  WHO CARES?  It's still good.  And I feel a bit more taken care of.


Funny, but now I don't feel much like eating anything. 

And that?  That feels great.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Changes

First, I encourage you to hop over to my review blog and enter the contest there.  BlogHer and Laughing Cow have teamed up again (this is month 5 out of 6!) to give away $150 to one lucky commenter.  If you're like me and money would feel REAL good right about now, it's worth a shot.

I've given some thoughts to holiday celebrations recently.  I think that's because I've been in "Countdown to Surgery" mode the last month or two.  Since that's passed and I'm eversoslowly healing (I hope...I have another doctor appointment about this stupid infection later this morning), I think it's natural to think about what is next.

What's next is Thanksgiving - eating pies, turkey and stuffing and baking copious amounts of foods.  My sisters and I go to my dad's once a year - we swap off.. one year it's Christmas and the next, it's Thanksgiving.  So Thanksgiving this year, is at my dad's.  Which means we'll go to the grocery store and probably buy all the food ready-made.  My dad isn't much of a cook and if you read my recent post about our Christmas chile con queso last year, he's not much of a grocery shopper either.

Usually my sisters and dad lounge around the house, checking and updating Facebook, watching TV, and playing with the cat.  Usually, I'm running around the block.  I used to have an early morning routine which would involve waking up early and running before anyone else was up and about.  I returned home when people started to stir, and I was ready for any arguments or drama headed my way.

Last year, when we were at my mom's, we started a new tradition of running a 5K on Thanksgiving morning.  My dad lives in a suburban subdivision that is no where close to races.  And he wouldn't drive us to one.  And we can't exactly rent a car.  So I know that even if I were healthy, I couldn't run an official race on Thanksgiving morning.

But this year, I can't run any race.  I can't even go for the morning run.

And that makes me sad.

While I was reflecting on the sad feeling I have about that, I remembered Katy's comment on a post a while back...it was something like "stop wishing to be someplace you're not."

So, I'll adapt it this year, I'll bundle up in an old ski coat of my dad's and go for a walk around the block instead - to clear my head and get away from the house.

And as I walk around the block, I'll think of all the things I can, should, and am thankful for.  I'll think of the strength and clarity of mind that I'll be getting while walking.  I'll take time to appreciate my body for where it's at now - healing, getting stronger, and adapting.

This week I want to focus on being thankful for where I'm at now.  I want to focus on living in the now.  Next year?  I'll probably run Thanksgiving morning.  Next year I could be engaged, married, pregnant, or single again.  Who knows what a year will bring?

I'm sure I'll be running again before the year is out.  And when I'm able to do that again, I'll probably feel more like "me."

But until then, I can change and make room for the healing me too.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Quick Post

I should know better.

When I complained about the complications from my last post, somehow the universe thought that I was asking for more complications.

I have an infection on my incision.  The good news is that it's superficial - meaning only on the top - it doesn't go through the whole site and (hopefully) doesn't indicate an internal infection.

But good grief!

In other news, the winner was picked for last month's Laughing Cow contest.  Although the new post isn't up yet for this month, did you know that there is a chance to win $100 weekly at their hub?  True story.

Click here and enter.  It's like the easiest way to earn $100.  Okay...it's the easiest way to earn $100 LEGALLY. :)

Monday, November 8, 2010

Things I don't want to repeat

Well, hello there!

I'm not going to lie to you, it feels good to be back.  What's more, it feels good to be back and to be better than the last time I posted.

In case you're new here, on the 28th of October, I had open surgery performed on me to get a grapefruit sized uterine fibroid removed.

Can I just say that I never want to go through that again?  Okay then.

My mom, when asked how I was doing, said it best I believe: Anne had the fibroid removed.  The great news is that the surgery went well and it wasn't cancerous.  That is most important.  But having said that?  Boy does she have bad luck.

For the record?  That last sentence pretty much sums up many parts of my life.

What could be so bad you ask?  Well, we're all friends here, so here's a list:

1) The urine catheter that they put in during surgery somehow managed to move positions during my first night in the hospital.  The balloon blocked the orifice out of my bladder - which meant that my bladder filled up and then became overly filled... let's just say that after a dose of Dilodid and a deep sleep, I woke up in immense amounts of pain at my over-filled bladder (which was undoubtedly pushing on my recently beaten up uterus).  Since I've never had that sensation before, I didn't know hot to describe it to my nurse other than "Ohmigosh I think my bladder is going to explode" and she was all "Nope.  You have a catheter silly.  Just go back to sleep."  Then she fiddled with the hose of the catheter and it blissfully started draining again.  First night horror?  Check.

2) Upon returning home, I realized that this burning feeling on the right side of my abdomen felt like someone was ripping me apart every time I moved.  Those were lessened greatly by the removal of my stitches, but for the first few days, I actually wondered how I was ever going to heal when I never wanted to get out of bed for fear of the pain.

3) Went to see the doctor to remove the staples.  He said I had a yeast infection at the site...the site being the crease of my dunlap.  You know, where my pooch of fat "done laps" over my my lower abdomen.  Seeing as how my pooch is so plentiful, it's a great crease that bacteria loves to grow... which is fun.  Basically, not a huge deal - I've just had to slather green gel on my incision line to knock out the infection.  It stings, but it's not too big of a deal.  Unless you count the cost of it.  $184.99.  I'm NOT kidding.  The pharmacist had to order it specially for me and she was insistent that I pay the full amount.  An argument with her and her manager later, and we found that she didn't actually attribute my insurance savings to it.  Heart attack?  Check.

4) So after my last post, where I was all, "Hey, I'm wiped - I'm going to go and take a nap!" I did indeed take a few hour nap.  Then something very strange started happening.  I was bleeding out my urethra.  Oops...probably should've warned someone that that was coming.  It FREAKED me out to say the least.  Only it was after 6 PM.  The GYN office was closed and I'm several blocks away from the nearest After Hours Medical place.  I freaked out more. 

Sobbing, I called Joe who said he would leave work right away and then take the train home...putting his ETA at NO WHERE NEAR EARLY ENOUGH.  In a panic, I called my dad (who is a retired doctor) and told him my story.  His reaction? "Calm down and call the answering service at your doctor's office.  Someone should be on call.  Have them call in a urinary tract infection medication."  Oh.  I did, and the doc on call called me back.  He told me to coat my urethra and clitoris in Vaseline (OH NO.  I'M NOT KIDDING) and then go and pick up the script that he was going to call into my local pharmacy.  I did exactly what he asked and here are my tips to you:

  • If you get done with surgery, your doctor's office has a doctor that is on call.  You can call him free of charge.  And if he can diagnose you over the phone, you just saved a co-pay and a trip to the hospital.  This was huge for me as I had no idea this could even happen.  My doc's office just said at the end of their "our office is closed" message that if I wanted to be transferred to the answering service to press 2.  I had no idea that this service was offered.  
  • Coating parts of your lady bits with Vaseline feels naughty.  But it does soothe.
  • When you're near hysterical with pain and worry, don't worry about walking to a pharmacy in downtown Denver.  Your mutterings, clutching of your abdomen and shuffling around in fuzzy-lined Crocs and sweatpants blend right in.  In fact, I was offered a promotional CD by a budding rapper on my return trip to my building. 
In the end, I had to have a second round of antibiotics called in just to be sure.  This whatever-the-hell-it-is didn't cause burning while peeing, so my doc thinks that I could've passed a blod clot from my bladder that was caused by the catheter mishap.  Yeah.  I gasped too.

5) So it's Wednesday and I'm in pain in my bed and my phone rings.  Knowing it's my case manager for the short term disability company, I put on my big girl pad and answer the phone.  "Great news!  You're claim has been approved through November 24th.  Please report back to work then."  WHAT?  I thought I was getting six weeks off for the disability - that's what my doctor approved!  I thought of the vast amounts of pain I was still in and just started crying.   I didn't know what to do.  The case manager wasn't helpful...she stated that 4 weeks was all they were going to pay.  When I asked what would happen if my doctor said that I couldn't go back then, she said that they would deny that portion of the claim and if my doctor wanted to fight it, he would have to go before a board and blahblahblahblahblah.

Feeling completely overwhelmed, I called Joe and it went straight to voicemail.  I called my mom, who said that the battery was dying on her phone and could I please call her on her work phone - the number being 915- CLICK...her phone went dead.  I called my sisters for my mom's number and they didn't answer.

Y'all, I was about to lose it.  I didn't know my way around the disability claims.  All I knew is that walking to Walgreen's (a block away) to get my prescription took it completely out of me.  Hell, showering takes it out of me.  And she wanted me to go back to work in three weeks time?  To quote Whitney Houston, HELL TO THE NO!

So I called our receptionist at work.  The busy body, unfriendly, puffed up receptionist who resembles (in intonation, looks, and humor capability) Roz from Monsters Inc.  And folks, I LOST MY SHIZZLE.  I started crying so hard I was hiccuping and GASPING for breath.  She started saying loudly into the earpiece "Anne (and then my last name)!  You need to calm down right now.  You're only hurting yourself more.  STOP CRYING!"  Soothing, no?  And, seeing as how our office has her and 8 other co-workers, I'm pretty sure every one of them heard.  Mortifying, yes?  Nothing says "I'm ready for that raise, Mr. Boss." as calling up your workplace sobbing.  I cried even harder because I knew that this was not working out the way I had intended.

She started telling me how I needed to get a handle on my emotions and that I should go and get a big glass of milk, light a candle, and put some relaxing music on.  I'm not sure if she thought that I was calling about how to coat my lady bits in Vaseline or not, but let's just say that 1) I can't get out of bed because I'm hurting so badly and 2) if I DID manger to get out of bed, I'm lactose intolerant...so a big glass of milk would likely make things a whole lotta' worse and 3) I already passed on the budding rapper's entry CD...what was I going to listen to at a time like this?

I eventually stopped crying long enough (but the gasps and weird noises that follow a significant crying jag interrupted me often) to explain my problem and to ask what she had done to get two sets of 16 weeks off at time the previous year.  She explained that our company won't let you back to work if the doctor doesn't sign off on you being able to come back to work - it's a liability issue.  And that's when it became clear to me that the case worker from the disability company isn't my advocate or someone to help teach me the process.  She's the Anti-Christ whose company doesn't want to pay for my disability a moment longer than they can get away with.  I felt stupid and drained - and I hung up the phone and slept for 4 hours.

Here's where I'd like to let you know a little known fact.  My mom told it to me before she left (i.e. before this incident): After surgery where you're going under anesthesia, you will, at some point during that week, cry a lot for no reason at all.  It's one of the ways the body gets rid of the anesthesia for good - and it's completely normal.  When I hung up with the receptionist, I remembered her words and felt even stupider for not heeding them.  So tuck that gem in your back pocket for future use, will you?

6) All these pain meds I'd been taking has a slowing-down-type effect when it comes to your bowel movements.  As in they slow down to a stop.  Since "straining" doesn't pair well with a healing abdomen, the medical staff encouraged me to take stool softeners at night and in the morning.  Know what that did to my body?  Nothing.  That's right.  I was impacted.  I'll save you the details, but let's just say that another trip to Walgreens cured it and That Which Shall Not Be Mentioned is the new title for this line item.

It's been one hell of a week.  I'm feeling MUCH better now (in all senses of the word) and have many new blog post ideas that have been thinking about.

I'm glad to be back.  I'm still having pain and weird sensations (not Vaseline related thankyouverymuch) that I'll talk to my doctor about at our two week post-op appointment on Wednesday.  And at that appointment, I'll talk to my doctor about how he handles the insurance companies trying to hurry us back to work.  But for now?  I'm better.

After the week and a half I've had, I'll take it.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Epilogue *Guest Post*

I'm not going to lie to you. I've been dreading today. Not because it's the last guest post. If I know me, you know I'm probably ready to get back to blogging.

But because today means that Krissie from questionsfordessert is not posting any more.

Sure, she now has a different outlet, but it's not the same.  I suppose that's the point.

When I started blogging a few years back, I found Krissie's blog through Fat Bridesmaid's blog (someone who I did not have the courage to ask to guest post. I'll explore that at a later time I guess). But I found Krissie's and I really loved it. First, she's a great writer. But she tells it like it is and explains how she feels - whether I've agreed with it or not.

She's a strong woman who has had a few blows thrown her way. She ducks, she swerves, but she perseveres.

I know this sounds creepy, but Krissie is one of those bloggers that when you read her words, you think "I could be friends with that person." And a part of me knows that this is so.

Maybe that's why I'm so bummed to see her go from the blog-o-sphere. I feel like I'm losing a buddy - someone who gets the wonder when looking at themself and realizing that they are a RUNNER! I'll never listen to Outkast's "Hey Ya" without thinking of her shaking it on a race course.


Krissie - you will be missed. And I hope you find a way to stay in contact with those of us whose lives your words have touched.

I know I should end this preface. But I don't want to. I feel like I've got a neighborhood friend that's getting ready to move out of our block. The car is running in the driveway. And after I get done embracing her, she'll be on her way.

Is it any wonder I don't want to release the hug?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In my first career, I was a therapist. I used to work in settings with graduations. Inpatient substance abuse treatment. A home for teenage moms. An after school program with little kids. Where goals were set, goals were met, and clients were given teary and encouraging graduation ceremonies. And then the cute little client went out into the world, spread her wings, and lived her life.

I feel like that’s where I am.

I’ve been blogging for a long time. I dabbled in a few successful pounds lost here and there over the first few years. But I never really made a solid commitment.

But then everything changed. My grandfather was battling cancer. It did not take him quickly or peacefully. As I felt my emotions spinning out of control, I somehow made the connection to how my body had felt for years. I felt out of control in all areas of my health. I wasn’t eating well, I wasn’t moving, and I was terribly unhappy. I remember sitting in the bedroom I grew up in – on Thanksgiving 2008 – and making a promise to myself. I told myself that as soon as my life was back in anything that resembled normalcy, I was getting my health together. I made that commitment. I recognized that beginning a new lifestyle within that season of my life was setting myself up for failure. So I planned.

And I did it.

I was very focused for a year. I counted calories. I fell in love with running. We ran a half-marathon. I hit my stride. I finally moved out of obese and into overweight. I felt like the me I always wanted to be. And I blogged through it all. I wrote about the emotional toll of being overweight. About changing my self-talk. 98% of my processing along this journey? I blogged about it. The triumphs. The struggles. Almost daily. I put it all out there for everybody to see, hoping that someone would be encouraged and empowered.

But then everything changed again.

I learned a few weeks later that within the week of the half marathon, we got pregnant. After years of thinking it wasn’t a possibility. And shortly after I figured out that pregnancy was the reason for all my bizarre symptoms, suddenly we weren’t pregnant anymore.

The miscarriage changed my life. Totally changed my perspective on everything. It was a horrible thing to blog through, but I did. I have several unpublished posts – that remained unpublished because I don’t want the people that love me to know just how much pain I was in – but I hashed out most of my emotions there.

And I am incredibly proud of that. I don’t know if I’ll ever go back and read the posts from this summer. But they’re there.

This summer, I gained back 20 pounds. And I understood why. But I didn’t understand how to pull myself out of that. I thought that when I started feeling better, I’d be able to make better choices. When my emotions stabilized, I’d get back on the healthy train. Like I had when my grandfather died. But it just wasn’t happening.

But one night, putting dishes in the dishwasher, I decided I’d had enough. I wasn’t going to say terrible things about myself anymore. The miscarriage was not my fault. I decided to be proactive. I was taking charge of my life. I was going to fix me.

The very next day, my thankful project was born.

I feel like my thankful blog is a tribute to my baby. I’m finally letting go of all the horrible feelings I had all wrapped up with her. I’m choosing to feel thankful. Not shame over not being able to keep her. Not doubt in my body’s ability to do what it was made to do. Not embarrassment over gaining some weight back. That’s not what Gnomie means to me. Gnomie made me thankful.

I recently decided to stop blogging on questionsfordessert. I feel like it was time. I want to spend more time with people. I want to make phone calls and write letters and bake. I want to think about something other than me. I want to live without being so focused on what I am doing and feeling. I’m not letting go of my health. Not at all. I’m just approaching it in a different, less dissected way.

I’m learning to love myself for what I am instead of what I hope to be one day. I want to enjoy running and food because I naturally love them, not because I think they will help me shrink. I want to be more present in my life and less focused on recording it and trying to figure everything out. And I want what I do document to have a different focus. I want to keep track of the good, the happy, the joyful. And that’s what my thankful blog is helping me do.

The decision to stop blogging was a very difficult one. The blogging community has been very good to me. But, as a dear friend said in my comments, I’m not leaving. I’m just moving. I cannot express enough gratitude to my blog friends. The support, the tears, the hugs, the prayers. They were all felt. I wrapped myself up in them.

I’m not leaving.

I turn 33 next month. My husband and I are running 2 half-marathons, one on each of the weekends surrounding my birthday. I’m excited for where my life is going, even though I have no idea where that is.

I feel like I’m graduating from therapy. Like I’ve worked through so much crap to emerge with a clean attitude and outlook. Like my world is new and fresh laid out before me. For me to make of it whatever I wish. I wish for contentment. I wish for joy. I wish for deeper connections with the people I love. I wish for gratitude and forgiveness.

And if there’s one thing I’ve learned, it’s that I control my life by the decisions that I make. By what I do in each minute of each day. I control my health. I control my outlook. And if I want joy, contentment, connections, gratitude, and forgiveness? Then I have to go out and make it happen.

I’m doing exactly that. One thankful picture at a time.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Five Important Things I've Learned So Far: *Guest Post*

By the time you read this, it will have been one week since I had the surgery to have a giant uterine fibroid removed. Hopefully by now I've posted something other than "I'm alive...but barely. Please send more pain meds."  As a reminder, I'll be back posting regularly this coming Monday.

Today's blogger is Debbie from "Becoming An Ex Yo-Yo Dieter." I can't remember how I found her blog - but it was months ago...when I wasn't even really considering moving from Weight Watchers into intuitive eating. I've never met Debbie - as her time is split between Russia and Florida - but I wish I could. She blogs openly about her issues with food and has the courage to delve into the "why" when she overeats. Sure, just like the rest of us she may struggle, but she always triumphs.


Since transitioning to Intuitive Eating, I've come to realize that her blog is a rare gem - one that grows, learns, grieves, and celebrates.  As they say in the south, she's my people.

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Hello there! My name is Debbie and I’m on a journey to Becoming An Ex Yo-Yo Dieter. Ms. Happy Fun Pants for asking me guest post on her blog (my first one!) while she addresses her Deficit situation. I am certainly thinking of her and sending healthy thoughts her way.

So…

In my journey to becoming an ex yo-yo dieter ( and I’m still on this journey, by the way), I have learned a few important lessons. Perhaps they only apply to me but I highly doubt it…my struggle is not unique. There are many, many other emotional eaters out there who’ve fallen into the habit of numbing themselves with food (in my case, specifically sugar and fat…donut, anyone?). If something feels uncomfortable – frustration, sadness, anxiety, loneliness - you name it, if it felt bad I wanted to stuff it all down with food. Being physically present, while being emotionally zoned-out. Autopilot. When I’ve felt that I couldn’t cope, food immediately called my name. Before I knew it, all that was left were the empty containers and crumbs…and a feeling of defeated self-disgust.

I’m working really hard to change that deeply-seated, misdirected, knee-jerk response to discomfort. It is not a quick process by any means, changing how I handle my feelings and food. I’ve had setbacks and bumpy times along the way, yet the most valuable lessons have come from those stumbles along my journey.

So, what have I learned so far?

1. Change is possible. I was never really certain if I’d ever start to escape from the grip of emotional overeating. Oh yes, I know how to diet, but to change from within, getting to the point when I don’t immediately turn to food if I feel uncomfortable? I was never really sure it was possible. Well, surprise! It is - the habit of craving food to numb out is slowly, slowly disappearing within me.

2. You can feel bad feelings and not implode/explode/go stark-raving mad. Although it’s scary, you don’t have to do anything with the feelings, but just acknowledge that you don’t feel good. That’s it. It will pass, and you will be okay without the food. Sometimes I’ll try to figure out what I really need, like a hug or to chat with someone or take a nap (!), and sometimes I don’t know what I need to feel okay. Either way, usually food is not going to solve anything except hunger.

3. Learning to not automatically reach for food requires practice. This ability starts off feeling very weak…you feel bad, trying not to binge…you might just delay the binge, but a delayed binge is still progress. The more you practice delaying eating while feeling uncomfortable feelings, the easier it gets. With time, you slowly start to develop a self-assurance that you can get through it and not eat for the wrong reasons. You really can. Practice, practice, practice… it’s like a muscle – the more you work it, the stronger it becomes.

4. You will have setbacks. You will not do everything perfectly all of the time. Setbacks create opportunities to learn something new. Changing a behavior such as this (I’ve been a yo-yo dieter for 25 years, so it really was a way of life) requires time and patience. Perseverance. Two steps forward, one step back. (Or even one step forward, four steps back.) I have a ring that has Confucius’s famous saying on it, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”. I just constantly focus on that single step. Eventually, I can see that I am going in the right direction. Change is slow, but so worth it.

5. The most important lesson I’ve learned so far? When you do go off track (because you will…), no matter what has happened or how far you’ve fallen, just get right back up, and keep going forward. Don’t waste time lamenting what you’ve done wrong or how much you regained…all that matters is what you do now. When tempted to stay stuck, I’ve asked myself, “If not now, then when?” That usually jolts me back to reality that all I have is the present moment. I become what I do. It is incredibly hard to start again (I’ve lost count how many times …sometimes several times in one day!), but the sooner you pick yourself up and take a step forward, the stronger you feel. At any given moment, no matter how far and for how long you’ve been off the path, you have the opportunity to get back on. And just like trying to push and roll something really heavy, getting it going is the hardest part…after that, momentum keeps you going with less effort. Really.

In closing, it may be of value to add that I used to think I could lose the weight and then deal with the emotional issues once I was thinner. I have been at my goal weight numerous times, and was disillusioned that it doesn’t work like that. Wasn’t I supposed to be happy when I reached goal??? All I had learned was how to diet, and when things got a bit rocky, I’d dive into the food again. I never addressed WHY I was eating, only what I was eating. The “why” always seemed too elusive, too messy. I just wanted to distract myself with a diet and hope my emotional eating disappeared…it doesn’t work that way. It seems that you have to work on the feelings and why you eat while losing the weight.

No matter how much I wish it were otherwise, food and emotions have been twisted up together in my head for a long, long time. My mission is to unravel the two, so that food and feelings can take their proper, mostly separate places in my life. I truly believe that when this happens, I will finally be an ex yo-yo dieter. Feel free to come on over to my blog, Becoming An Ex Yo-Yo Dieter and watch my journey unfold!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Update

Hi all,

First, thank you so much for your emails and comments of warm wishes and speedy recoveries.

I actually didn't get taken into surgery until almost 3 PM on Thursday and due to pain, I didn't get out of the hospital until Saturday afternoon.

The great news?  I came out of it alive and with all my bits.  The bad news?  Recovery sucks.  No wait, it really sucks.

One of the staples just happened to pinch a nerve in a horrible way - causing the sensation of burning and ripping every time I made a few different moves.  It was HORRIBLE.  And we didn't get that figured out (what was causing the intense pain) until I got my staples removed on Monday morning. 

My mom left yesterday morning - and while it was such a comfort to have her here, I felt okay about starting my own healing process at home. 

The healing is slow.  I'm in lots of pain some moments and others when I feel like nothing has ever happened.

A horrible coughing fit last night left me in many tears and has taken it's toll on me today...which is why this is going to be so short.

Just wanted you all to know that I'm thinking of you.  I'm so blessed to have had a great surgeon and wonderful recovery nurses - both in the hospital and via Joe and my mom at home.  I'm blessed to have your support and can't wait to catch up on your lives as soon as I can.

XO,
Anne

Food is a four-letter word *Guest Post*

A few years ago, I thought that I had met the man of my dreams. It turned out that that wasn't the case. While that relationship blew, I believe that I still have the best thing out of it.

My friend, The Bariatric Babe.

I've written about my feelings about our reconnection before, but I think she's fabulous.


She writes at "Scribbling in the Margin" and she's got more talent with words in her pinky finger than I have in my whole body.  When she wrote, in January, about WHY she wanted to lose weight, I knew that I had found a kindred spirit - a person who got it. She gets obesity. She gets the shame. She gets my struggle with food and weight loss.

She's the real deal, y'all.  And she's my friend.  How'd I get so lucky?

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As I was perusing the local hippie-granola grocery, I saw a flyer with the picture of a woman eating her granola cereal and a heading that said "Food is not the enemy." Immediately the snark in me thought, "Yea, right. And I live in the middle of the land of fairies, where unicorns fly around and fart rainbows."

Perhaps some background, since we are just getting to know one another, is in order.

I have never been thin. I was chubby in-utero, and chubby I remained until after college when the combo of stress, new jobs, and failure at relationships blew me up into the size of a small planet. An adorable, witty planet, but a planet non-the-less. I was absolutely in despair, and saw no hope to get my weight down and my life back. And being the radical chick that I am, I opted for a radical solution. Gastric bypass. And no, it's not the easy way out, but more on that later.

So anyway, I now weigh about 130 lbs. less than I did in January. And I was almost never hungry, just like they promised, for the first 6 months. Now here I am, still only 9 months out, and my hunger has definitely returned. And my weight loss has slowed to a crawl. And suddenly, the food demons are back, with a vengeance and I'm trying to find a healthy way to deal with them. So that's a brief bit of history for you...back to our regularly scheduled posting...

Food is not my friend. It never has been. One day the enemy was fat. Then carbs. Then sugar. I tried starving, I tried Optifast (i.e., medically supervised starving), I tried Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem. But anything I lost soon came back--with lots of new friends. And I've always thought that food is the enemy--that alluring cookie or piece of bread lured me into it! It's not my fault! And I'm terrified that I will "not my fault" all the way back to 350+ pounds. Heck--addicts and drunks can physically survive without having drugs or alcohol for the rest of their lives. Those of us addicted and conflicted with food have to face our enemy every single day, on every billboard, every commercial, family gathering, break table at work, etc. It's hard for anyone, including those of us that took the radical step to have our stomachs surgically shrunk. So the idea that "Food is not the enemy" is completely foreign to me, and it begs the question:

"If food isn't the enemy, then what on earth IS?" And I've come to a startling conclusion.

It's my mind that is the enemy. This wonderful piece of machinery that is enabling me to write this very post is my worst saboteur. There is the, "But I've been so good all day and deserve a treat!" and the "One bite won't matter" and the "Screw them...I'm going to eat whatever I want!" all wreaking havoc on my brain, every day. I have so many different voices in my brain telling me why I can or can't eat that it's getting a little crowded (and, frankly, there is no adult supervision up in there). My biggest struggle, my life challenge, has become taming my very own mind.

That's why I read Happy Fun Pant's blog. It's not a catalog of what she should and shouldn't eat. It's not condemning carbs, or how many miles she has to run to work off the fudgsicle she ate. It's about struggling with everything that goes on in her head, and it strangely reflects my own thoughts more often than not. Apparently, it's not just me (the narcissist in me just had a fainting spell).

So to take a page from her, I'm focusing on my own brain and my own thinking. Why is food so important to me? Why does that voice that demands another piece of french bread sound like a bratty, spoiled child? Why do I eat when I'm bored? Those are the real questions for all of us that struggle with food--surgically modified stomachs or not.

I have a new goal. Not just the one to lose another 60-70 lbs. Not just the one to be able to ride a horse, do yoga, go dancing, wear a skirt, buy clothes that fit from the Gap, meet my soul-mate. But a new one--to call a detente on food. Perhaps it isn't the enemy after all. I'm not so sure still--we are currently in negotiations and it's entirely possible that Henry Kissinger is going to be called in as a ringer--but there are high hopes.

If that intrigues you, I'd like to invite you to my own blog, where I post as the Bariatric Babe. It's often silly, and sometimes insightful, and hopefully entertaining.

Thanks, HFP, for the chance to share the stage and for sharing all your own personal struggles. We are not alone in this after all.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Perfection *Guest Post*

Today's guest blogger is Val, from Balancing Val. I found her blog recently and have really enjoyed reading about her successes while practicing Intuitive Eating.

I wanted to feature another blogger who is practicing Intuitive Eating and is proof that you don't have to be perfect to be successful. And I know what you're thinking...isn't Intuitive Eating what got you to be as fat as you are?

No. Not listening to my body's signals is what got me to be as fat as I was/am.

You can see from Val's picture below - she looks great. Her optimism is refreshing as is her drive to become a chef. Even though she's younger, she's a lot of how I want to be when I grow up.  And she's right, cheesy though it may sound, loving yourself seems to be the key to shrinking yourself. 


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Helloooo Smaller Fun Pants Readers! I am Val, the mastermind behind Balancing Val where I blog about my crazed adventures trying to find a healthy balance in my life.


Anne asked me to do a guest post while she is recovering and I hope she is doing well!

I have been battling disordered eating for many years. I was COMPLETLEY obsessed with dieting, my weight and swore that being thin would solve ALL my problems and make me PERFECT!

NOT!

I've been through the ringer and I can tell you that I am still at the very beginning of my journey and the ONLY thing that has shown me the light has been . . .

Intuitive Eating

Intuitive eating is a way in which you completely trust in the wisdom of your body and not your mind to let it tell you what to eat and when to eat it. Sounds scary huh?

I promise you . . . IT IS!

At first, it's incredibly difficult to give up the notion of dieting, to feel like you deserve carbs, to feel like you can eat at midnight, to gnaw at the feelings that have been buried but it is COMPLETELY worth it! I recommend it to ANYONE struggling with any type of disordered eating.

Of the many lessons I learned in the past few months I want to share with you the most important one . . .

THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS A PERFECT EATER!

Yep, that's right. When you listen to your body or even listen to a diet . . . You will screw up! You will get knocked off the path, I guarantee it! But you know what?

THATS OK!

Seriously, life is not perfect and so you can expect your eating to be all the time also. It is so important to focus on not being guilty rather than how much weight you will gain.

If you are habitually over eating then stop and think of WHY? It's never about the food, I promise. Take your mistakes as lessons always and try your to be kind to yourself even in your worst moments. YOU WILL LEARN SOMETHING EVENTUALLY.

You have to want to love yourself MORE then you love the thought of losing weight. Once you start believing this and taking the steps you need to take, you will realize things are perfect NOW the way they are already. :)

I know all of this sounds scary and its not easy to achieve by any means! If anyone has any questions or would like me to guide them to some wonderful information on Intuitive Eating please feel free to drop me a comment on my blog or email me at Valerie@allstewart.com

Thank you Anne for this opportunity :)!

Monday, November 1, 2010

The fat girl's guide to the flop sweat *Guest Post*

Today's post is from my IRL friend Katy from Project - Look Good Naked. The thing is, six months ago, I didn't even know Katy...we met through our blogs. I posted about selling my house (and put up pictures of my place) and she commented that it looked like places in Denver.  I thought she was one of those crazy stalker type chicks that you read about in chain emails.  She probably felt the same.

But we met for dinner anyway.  I spilled my guts about something that was going on behind the scenes of my blog within about 5 minutes of meeting her.  Clearly, that's her fault.  She's a good listener.  And a great photographer.  But that's another story altogether. 


We've hung out a few times since (not enough as far a I'm concerned) and I was pleased to find that she is just as fantastic as she seems. She's frank, funny, bold, and yet still genuine. A rare combination, to be sure.

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I'm not the most socially outgoing person, but I'm also not a hermit. I play nice with others and am generally pretty interested in what others have to say. But sometimes you'd think I have a very severe case of social anxiety disorder. Why? Two words, flop sweat.

Flop Sweat: The time in which a person starts to sweat uncontrollably and must ask one simple question. Do I own it, or pretend it's not happening?

I wish it wasn't so, but unfortunately I seem to find myself in a flop sweat scenario fairly often. The worst is when you're meeting new people. Like I said, I don't believe I have any diagnosed social issues, but that doesn't mean I don't get a little nervous meeting new people. I'm not sure if I'm nervous about meeting new people, or nervous that the flop sweats are going to start.

Take for instance last month. I was going to a social gathering...ALONE. Meaning, I'd have no wing man. Strike one. The venue was indoors. Strike two. Cocktail hour...alcohol makes me hotter. Strike three. You get the point. The event was one where I'd be meeting fellow women business owners and we'd talk about ourselves and puff up our chests and try and “network.” Does the word network send chills up your spine like it does mine? I think of networking as a big giant popularity contest and let me tell you, when you grow up husky, tall, and with huge pink & purple plastic coke bottle glasses, popular isn't the word that comes to mind. Part of my brain automatically digresses back to a 10 year old, when in social networking groups and well...I can't help but just sweat it out.

So I'm at this networking group and start talking to some ladies and I feel it coming on. Tiny beads of sweat forming right at my hair line. Easily disguised, I tell myself. No one will notice...you're glowing and in fact you may look prettier! It's at this point, I tell myself to calm down because once the sweat starts, if I obsess about it, it only gets uglier. The hairline sweat starts to creep down a little bit. Not like, dripping, but you know...forming. So I'm talking and stuff trying to ignore it and praying to sweet baby jesus that no one can see it. Then I do the familiar “I have an itch” move. God I hope I'm not the only one who's done this, but you know...it's where you pretend to sort of itch your forehead to assess the damage. Am I sweating as bad as I think? Worse? This is a critical time in the flop sweat process. It's here you either decide to A) own it and just blatantly wipe the brow, B) Continue to ignore it and hope to God it stops, or C) Excuse yourself to the restroom. My modus operandi is to gingerly excuse myself to the bathroom so I can sweat/cool down in private. If all goes well, the bathroom will be a few degrees cooler and you can preform some triage on yourself. Including, but not limited to the paper towel under the armpit trick. Tried and true.

Hopefully after a few minutes in the bathroom you can return your body temperature to normal and go out and re-join your crowd and in my experience you usually have at least 30-40 minutes before it starts again. Sometimes one good sweat is all that's in me, sometimes it goes all night. Back patios and outdoor spaces can be a fat girl with a flop sweat problem's best friend. I'm just sayin'. Sometimes there's no one outside though and in these cases I say go forth and forge your own path. You'll be surprised at how many people follow suit and join you to cooler climates.

Look, flop sweat isn't cute. But sometimes it just happens. Us overweight dames and gents carry an internal space heater wherever we go so really it's just a matter of time before we're in a sticky situation. My experience has taught me to own it, not ignore it, but don't own it so much that you're wiping sweat away in front of someone else. Do it in private whenever possible and please please seek an outdoor space. Even a hot breeze in the summer is circulating air and that's better than nothing, know what I'm sayin'?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Healthy Fast Food? *Guest Post*

I'm not going to lie to you.  Even I'm a bit shocked that THE Charlie Hills is going to post on my blog today.  I started reading Charlie's blog "Back to the Fridge" THREE years ago when I started blogging.  Roni recommended him, and since at the time I thought she was the gatekeeper to all things weight loss, I checked him out.

Turns out, she was on to something.  

Charlie Hills is a wonderfully witty guy.  If you like Jack Sh*t, you'll love Charlie.  He's the only *actual* person I know (ish?) who's written a book. 



He's delightfully funny, wonderfully entertaining, while still sharing his weight loss struggles.  And oh my word, he knows how to make a grilled PB&J that I still salivate thinking about.  It *may* not be weight loss friendly, but you can look at the pictures and drool for 0 calories.  Trust me, it's worth the click.
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Healthy Fast Food?

I realize that putting these particular words in this particular order immediately forms an oxymoron. You remember oxymorons, right? Words or short phrases containing contradictory terms: like jumbo shrimp, authentic replica, or delicious rice cakes. When one thinks of fast food, "healthy" typically isn't one of the top adjectives that springs to mind. (In fact, many probably think "fast food" all by itself is an oxymoron.)

So imagine my surprise when Health.com publishes, "America's Top 10 Healthiest Fast Food Restaurants." This sounds intriguing. I'll bite. (Heck, I'll bite just about anything, which is probably the root of this weight problem of mine.)

They kick off the list with Panera Bread. First, let me say I love Panera Bread. When I want to spend fourteen bucks for a bagel and a smoothie, I know it's the first place I go. So to find out that it's also healthy it like icing on the cake. (Mmmm . . . cake.) The judges loved the fact that you can buy soup and sandwiches there. Oh, if only more restaurants served soup and sandwiches! Think how healthy the whole world would be!

They zeroed in on a "Turkey Artichoke on Focaccia" with "Black Bean Soup" as one example of their healthful offerings, qualifying that they did mean the half sized sandwich. I've never been one to assume that cutting something in half automatically makes it good for you. I can't count the number of times I've eaten half a deep dish pepperoni pizza and didn't feel the least bit healthy for it. Anyway, I checked out the nutrition information for this combo: about 500 calories. A cheeseburger and small fries at McDonald's is 530 calories and probably carries one-third the price tag. While most of you cry "gross!" at the mere mention of McFood, the point is when it comes to weight loss, your body, at its lowest functional level, really doesn't care where the stuff comes from.

But that's fine. The article has officially sucked me in. I'll move on to the second item on the list.

Oh no. It's Jason's Deli.

Everybody knows how I feel about Jason's Deli: the home of the 42-ounce, 2,300-calorie "Plain Jane" baked potato. They immediately declare that Jason's bags the number two spot due to its heavy "organic" bent but then proudly states that one-fifth of its ingredients are organic. I'm no mathematician, but to me that looks like eighty percent of its menu is not organic. They then say that the judges applauded Jason's for offering reduced portion sizes for $1 less (specifically calling out the aforementioned potato, no less).

I'm sorry, but I simply can't applaud the fact that for $6.19 I can buy 2,300 calories but oh, if I'm really concerned about my caloric intake, then they'll be gracious enough to put only 1,150 calories on my plate for $5.19. Call me old school, but when someone gives me half the food, I think it should be half the price. Just do yourself a favor folks: spend the extra dollar and then spread the potato out across four or five meals. That way your body and your wallet will both be happier.

And the judges' highest compliment? "Being able to build any sandwich on an organic whole-wheat wrap." Ah yes! I forgot all about that! All you have to do is put something in a freaking tortilla and it magically becomes health food. How silly of me. So I checked out a few of their wraps: about the same number of calories as a McDonald's double quarter pounder with cheese. Yes, I'm serious.

At that point I had to put the web site down and take a walk around the block. It suddenly hit me that this wasn't "America's Top 10 Healthiest Fast Food Restaurants" but more likely "Ten Fast Food Restaurants Who Paid Us For This Advertisement Disguised as Journalism." It made me depressed that people who try so hard to "eat healthy" and make the right choices can be so easily led astray by the very industry they turn to for help and advice.

In fact, I think I'm just going to head back to the fridge, pull out the second half of that deep dish pepperoni pizza and throw it in the microwave. But don't worry, I'll put it it a whole-wheat wrap first.