Thursday, December 13, 2012

Epic Fail


This is what I type when I stare at a blank screen and have no idea what to write. Especially when it's been so long since I have written anything. For a while, I felt I had failed this blog. Then I simply waited for it to disappear. Un-lucky me, it didn't. I guess I can start with a few updates and life changes. So, here we go.

First off, I got engaged six months ago. It has been the most amazing time of my life and know there is so much more to come. Typically with a life change such as this follows an immediate worry or need to fit into that sweet tux. That idea I kept putting off since we set a date for a year-and-a-half later. I'm staring at 10 months until go-time and I'm just now tackling that fear.

Health update: Not much has changed. I'm still over-weight and totally out of shape. It was such a good start but I think my expectations and goals were set way too high. I'm a big dreamer so what can I say. The biggest news is the fact I have a new doctor and the homeopathic NP that had me taking vitamins and boiled pineapple/artichoke juice is gone. The first issue we tackled was my Fatty Liver Disease, which my new doctor told me was blown way out of proportion. From the results she read, she said I just have an elevated fat content of my liver, which should not have been diagnosed as FLD. That's good. The bad, my BP over the course of the year skyrocketed. 160/110. And my weight increased by about 10 pounds so in my docotor's opinion, that should have been tackled first, not my not-so-fat liver. It's been three months back and forth and it's finally down to 126/72, which is still slightly elevated but if you've ever tried to get your BP down, that's a hell of a change. It was managed via medication, which I have tried so hard not to be on but looking at 30, whatever I need to do to not stroke out and die I'm game for; life is worth it in the long run.

Now that the BP is under control, we're trying a new diet regime. Phentermine. *GASP* The room just got quiet. I know, it's an easy out, but the 20-30 pounds that it could help me lose is supposedly a jump-start to better improve my overall heart health and to get me off of my ass again. See, the gym and I have not had the best relationship over the past few months. After trying so hard, and remaining pretty active over the summer, I just gave up. Well, time to go back. I started my first dose today. Just have to seriously portion control, calorie count and work twice as hard at the gym. Hopefully this will help me from running out of gas.

Just for the record, the reason I am writing on my blog again is not to hold myself accountable as before. I'm also not going to promise how often I post. I tried to promise myself I'd tweet at least twice a day for a week and that was a month ago. I've posted twice since then. I just plain forget; work gets in the way and we had a busy as hell fall. Now that things are slacking off, maybe I can at least try. One character trait I do have that I am proud of is the idea of "if at first you don't succeed, try, try again." So, in retrospect, I wanted to do something to inspire and hold myself accountable. Instead, I'm going to simply write; document and detail. I'm not going to set myself obsurd goals and high expectations. But I'm also not going to call it baby steps. This is a battle; I'm waging a war. I'm going to lose by doing nothing. I pulled out all of the big guns to start and just ran out of amunition. So, I'm back, throwing stones. Pebble by pebble I'm going to try and break down that wall. In the long run if I don't break it down, then at least maybe I'll have thrown enough rocks that I can just climb over.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

The Pits

I woke up this morning and realized that it has almost been two weeks since I have been to the gym. I’ve had a string of bad luck over the past couple of weeks and I’ve noticed something about losing your grove. It is hard to get back.

Last week, I fell ill and was out of commission for a number of days. The sinus infection I had was one of the most miserable I’ve ever had in my life. Even though I didn’t have the flu or a cold, I felt like I just wanted to die. There is something very strange and unnerving about not being able to breath out of your nose for five days straight. There were times where you’d think I had lost a family member because my eyes would randomly begin to water so much it appeared as if I were sobbing.

On top of this, we had a Mardi Gras weekend. Leighanne was missing her heritage and roots very badly so I decided to do something to lighten her spirits since she couldn’t be there to celebrate. We made boudin and gumbo that weekend, and took a trip to the farmer’s market downtown to look around. Also, more specifically, to eat at Nooley’s which is the closest to the real Cajun deal as we can get this far north. When it was all said and done, I can assure you I didn’t even want to know the amount of calories I consumed and trust me, the pity and self loathing followed suit in a big way on Monday. I was in the pits, for sure.

I had to remind myself that two days of cheating isn’t that bad and it isn’t that hard to catch the band-wagon, especially since I had been doing so well for nearly two months. But then the two day migraine that literally knocked me on my ass hit. It has been since before Leighanne and I started dating since I have had an extreme migraine and this one hit with the force of a dump-truck traveling at high speed and running head-on into a brick wall. I was wiped out. So that took the first two days of the week from going to the gym. Then, last night, I’m leaving work and my car wouldn’t start. After fiddling around with the battery for a while, I finally had a nice older gentleman stop to ask if I needed a jump start. It was after seven by the time I got home and at that point it was time to start dinner and get my juice made for the evening and morning. Tonight, unfortunately, I have late meetings so the gym isn’t looking that great either. It’s a good thing my Friday, Saturday and Sunday are wide open because I’m hitting it up like Wal Mart on the first of the month. Cue Bone Thugs n Harmony "First of tha Month."

Diet wise, this week has been really good. I’ve stuck to my calories, had a night of vegetarian style dinner (which I’ve come to not like tofu as much as I thought; just burned out I guess), chose wisely for dinner on Tuesday at Subway and am still staying within my calorie goals. However, my weigh in next Tuesday is DREADED!!! I am deathly afraid one weekend of not-so-good-for-me food and a week-and-a-half of no gym time is going to pack on a few pounds. I am praying I haven’t ruined everything I worked so hard for this year.

What I am seeing though is what I like to call fitness remorse. I am thinking I have reached a new level in my healthy lifestyle that instead of loving the fact I have not been to the gym as I would have in the past and not feeling guilty about what I eat, it is KILLING me that I haven’t been as strong as I can be and am ready to get back in my habit. I have also come to the conclusion, and though this is not an accurate diagnosis based on any medical findings, I am telling myself the migraine was brought on by eating poorly, no exercise and not having had fresh juice in three days. Now that I have had several days of juice in me and have been eating right I feel back to normal. Therefore, I am going to keep telling myself that the weekend of bad decisions nearly leveled me so that in the future if it ever looks enticing to jump off that band-wagon again, I’ll suffer dire consequences and writher in pain like I did on Monday and Tuesday.

Another good reason for getting back on track is that my ultrasound results came back today. In direct contrast to what the nurse told me, I do have Fatty Liver Disease. It isn't drastic enough to require a perscription and my cholesterol isn't high enough to require medication either. However they did find what they beleive to be a polyp in my gallblader lining, which they beleive to be Cholesterolosis. It is very mild and as long as it doesn't cause me any pain (which I have never had any) in my upper right abdomen, it is perfectly fine. It is a buildup of cholesterol in the lining of the gallbladder and is harmless. It only occurs in about 5% of the population and everything I've been told is that they are very common. However if you were to compare this to, say, 5% of students passing a test or if you had a 5% chance of rain over the weekend, I'd have to argue against the commonality of these results. But hey, I'm not the doctor. If it becomes painful then it is a simple removal of the gallbladder, which in this day and age is a couple of key sized incisions with a machine. Very Star Trek-ish if you ask me. But as long as that doesn't happen and as long as I get back on track with my healthy eating habbits and excercise, the Fatty Liver Disease is completely reversable. That should be motivation enough!! Cheers to catching back up to that wagon and hopping back on!

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Take a Number

There are pros and cons when it comes to growing up in a small town versus a bigger city. One of the pros is when you go the doctor, he knows you by name. Especially mine since I was good friends with his son. It was nice to be able to walk in, chat a bit, talk about what’s bothering you, get a shot or prescription and then walk out in less than an hour. This isn’t so in the city. Today my appointment was at 8:30am, wasn’t in the room until 9:30 and wasn’t out until almost 11:00. No one likes to wait around, but I feel like what should have been a 20 minute procedure today took the majority of my morning and precious time out of the office.

In small towns, not only do you get that one-on-one interaction with a doctor that knows you well, but you also get top notch service. If you have a question you can call in, ask it and have an answer in 10 minutes. Not so in the city. It took almost three weeks to schedule my ultra sound today. I also had to call multiple times to get my first and second round of blood work results, and I had to call twice to request the appointment for my ultra sound they said they would schedule for me. I would think they’d have your information readily available instead of putting you on hold for 20 minutes to find your file. They must still use cuneiform on stone tablets or else they don't know how to opperate a computer. Having said that, I envision monkeys poking and prodding a comuter with a stick.

The good thing is when the doctor called to inform me I have a scheduled appointment, they have an opening the next morning and I am able to get in quicker than I expected. I just had to wait, and wait, and wait once I got there. After ages pass in the waiting room, they move you into another, drastically smaller room and make you wait just as long. I wonder if they recieved the memo that TV’s are small enough these days that they can fit nicely in that little cell of a consultation room they stuff you into while you wait for the doctor to show up.

Longing for the days when I coudl walk in and walk out of a doctor's office, I finally leave today knowing that my liver, gall bladder and pancreas are healthy. It is good to know that my college days didn't take as much of a toll as I feared. yet the nurse did point out that although my liver appears to be in great shape, it doesn't explain why my enzyme levels are elevated. She stopped short of saying whether or not I actually have Fatty Liver Disease, but she is only allowed to say so much since she isn't the rediologist or the doctor. Even with the great news, it doesn't answer the questions my doctors are asking, so I have a feeling more test are in my future. I have always prided myself on how patient I can be, but I'm really over this waiting game. On second thought, maybe I'm actually becoming a pro. Either way it isn't a fun game to play. I guess I need to hurry up and take my number and get in line.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dog Days

I don’t have a fever but my sinuses are clogged more than the Hoover Dam. I’ve felt more run down in the past two days than I have in my life and yet just three days out of the gym I feel like I’ve skipped class and missed a crucially important pop test. It is funny how when you finally find a groove and get your body used to being active or when you put it through a sudden change your body begins to fight back.

It isn’t the so called wall I keep hearing about. It is different. Humans, like most other animals on this planet, are habit forming beings. Whether they are good habits or bad habits, when you are used to doing the same thing for so long if you suddenly diverge from the norm your body will fight back. I am wondering if this is the case for me. My diet has changed dramatically and my activities have drastically increased and I wonder if my body is screaming “HEY! Sloooooow down and let me catch up!”

How in the hell do you stick to your goals when you’re sick?! I guess in order to get healthy, I need to heal first. But as I nurse myself back to my normal self and attempt to get back into my routine, I wonder if there is a way to stick to my program while being down and out? I have tried my best to eat healthy but when nothing has a taste and you go from not being hungry to starving, and from being cold to hot and finally to being bored with loads of energy to being exhausted, it is extremely hard to think about a diet and workout routine. And when it comes to juicing fresh fruits and vegetables (which has become a calming routine to me much like cooking) I find that the last thing I want to do is stand in front of a screaming food processor even though I know the juice would help more than hurt my current situation. When all you want to do is sleep all day, it is hard to motivate yourself to get up and do something, especially after having worked all day feeling the way I do. This is going to suck. One day out of the gym feels like it sets me back almost a week and I am going on day four of not working out.

I have done NOTHING but rest and take tons of cold medications and vitamins. I have also had soup every meal every day. Some of the soup is good for me and some not so good and of course the crackers are definitely not on my foods-I-should-eat-to-lose-weight list, but my main goal has been to recover so I can jump back on the horse, right? Even though it is common sense, everything I read says to get well before pushing yourself again. Unfortunately that means that today will not be a weigh day. It also means I will probably have to work twice as hard before my next weigh in and I am not even sure how long I am going to be out of the saddle. Therefore if I am going to be sickly, I guess I’ll go ahead and enjoy this little break, do my best to eat right and once I get over this crud get my butt back in the gym. Wish me luck because I never even considered the “what if” portion of my program. I wasn’t prepared for this but such is life. So it goes…

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Quorn not Corn, Korn or Quran

I’ve discovered something amazing and as you read this blog it will most likely cause the same look on your face as would the smell of 10-day-old trash. But do not let that mislead you. I have grown to love this food and I have incorporated it into my diet about two to three nights a week. It is a product called Quorn and its main ingredient was discovered in 1970 by scientist who erroneously believed the world’s protein and meat supply was near depletion.

Almost two decades after the failure of the scientific hypothesis that Earth was almost out of meat, in 1989 a study proved that a large number of British men and women were not eating as much meat and nearly 1/5th of the English population had become, to one extent or another, vegetarians. Marlow Foods began to distribute it under the brand name Quorn (pronounced kworn) as a meat substitute. It has grown considerably in popularity throughout Europe as a protein replacement for the vegetarian diet and since the early 2000’s, has seen steady growth in the United States. Brace yourself for what is about to follow: Quorn is considered a ‘mycoprotein’ and it is grown by scientist in large vats in England. Myco is greek for… you go it, FUNGUS!! I do enjoy saying the word fungus. It has quite the phonetic ring for being something that grows on mostly dead stuff.

Wikipedia defines fungus as, ‘…a member of a large group of eukaryotic organisms that includes microorganisms such as yeasts and molds, as well as the more familiar mushrooms.’ To be exact, it was created from the fungi strand known as Fusarium Venenatum. However, DO NOT call it a mushroom because all of your pompous, too-good-for-a-steak-every-now-and-then vegetarians and those crazy, over zealous and woefully misled Vegans will throw sticks and stones and gnash their teeth in anger for misrepresentation. A few of the American vegetarian companies have even sued Quorn to remove the word ‘mushroom’ from the product advertisement all together.

Now that we have come to grips with the fact it is a fungus, let’s examine why it is so popular and why I have grown to love it so much. I have to applaud whoever was brave enough to say ‘HEY! I bet it taste good!’ And yet it does. On a cellular level, it has an almost identical cellular structure as meat. Therefore unlike soy products such as tofu, it has a very similar texture to that of chicken or turkey. It actually pushes against your teeth in the manner in which meat does as you bite into it and being to chew. Other than flavor, this has always been the downside to tofu for many pretenda-vegetarians. Yet, the flavor also very much resembles that of chicken. I know everyone says everything taste like chicken but I could honestly cook this stuff for you, not telling you what it is, and you’d think I grilled or baked you a chicken breast.

To give you an idea of the nutrition facts, the Quorn brand Turk’y Roast  only has 90 calories per one 90 gram serving, 1.5 grams of fat, 10 mg of cholesterol, 9 grams of carbohydrates, 5 grams of dietary fiber and 14 grams of protein. For comparison, lists one, 86 gram serving of roasted, boneless and skinless chicken breast has 142 calories, 3 grams of fat, 73 mg of cholesterol, 0 grams of carbohydrates, 0 grams of dietary fiber and 27 grams of protein. Trying to reduce my weight and lower my cholesterol, I think I may have found my fountain of youth.

You have to be careful though. They make a wide array of chicken products, such as the gruyere breaded chicken breast that has jacked up calories, fat and cholesterol due to the cheese. They also have faux chicken nuggets (yum and not so bad on the calories and fat), grilled chicken cutlets and faux burgers. I have yet to try the burgers and am hoping that they may help me get over my fat-burger cravings. I also find it funny that vegetarians have to buy foods that are shaped, cooked and taste like actual meat, even though they don’t like meat.

So far we have tried the Quorn Turk'y Roast, Chick'n Nuggets breaded chicken cutlets and Meatless Meatballs. However, I am not sure if was the way we cooked the meatballs in sugar free grape jelly to serve as a healthy alternative to the poopular Super Bowl, tooth-pick dish or if they were already pre-seasoned and didn't blend well with the jelly, but they were awful. Maybe I'll try them again cooked with spaghetti when we do spaghetti squash but as of right now I can do with out them in my life. Again, a lot of this is trial and error and so far we have been pleasantly surprised with the majority of our discoveries and have found some new, healthy and wonderful new foods. Here's to looking foward to our next big culinary discovery. Cheers!

The recipe for the above Turk'y Roast is as follows:
1) 1 Tuk'y Roast. It comes frozen and wrapped in plastic. To cook you just poke a couple of  holes in the plastic and roast for an hour.
2) 1 Chopped Red Bell Pepper
3) 1 Diced Celery Stalk
4) 1 and 1/2 Chopped Carrot
5) 4 Diced Green Onions
6) 1 Packet of dry Au Jus Gravy Mix
7) 1 Packet of dry, fat free Italian Dressing
8) 4 Cups pre-cooked Brown Rice
9) 2 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
10) 2-3 Cups of Water

Pre-heat oven to 425. Put all vegetables in a baking dish, pour Au Jus gravy mix, Fat Free Italian Dressing mix, EVOO and water and mix in pan. Poke several holes in the plastic wrapped around the Turk'y Roast and place roast on top of vegetable mix and cover with foil. Put in oven for one hour. After first hour, carefully remove from the oven, remove foil and remove the Turk'y Roast. Remove the plastic from the turkey roast and slice into 10 slices. Put back in baking dish with vegetables and Au Jus sauce and cook for antoher 20 minutes. Cook brown rice and set aside. Remove the Turk'y Roast from the oven, turn over roast slices and place back in oven and broil for 5-10 miutes to brown the roast slices. Leave the oven cracked and monitor to prevent burning. Remove and let stand for 5 minutes. Serves 5.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Great Expectations

I am starting to regard Tuesdays as either the scariest day of the week or one of the most exciting, all depending on how strict I was over the weekend. One of the hardest things about weighing at the beginning of the week is the chance of failure during the weekend. Especially the weekend of Super Bowl Sunday.

Five weeks in, I have been expecting that invisible wall to rear its head and stop my forward momentum. Though it takes about a month of continuous gym visits before your body becomes accustomed to the change, a lot of the time I feel just as exhausted and sore as the first day I ever went. I kept expecting my legs to get weak and to pass out when I leave the gym. At least that is how I feel everyday. It is getting frustrating not reaching that stride you hear about when you're working out and suddenly you begin to feel like Superman and your legs are no longer aching and you're never out of breath. Knowing how I've treated goals in the past, I keep expecting myself to decide I don't need to go to the gym today. Every day I expect myself to gorge on anything around me. Every day I expect to flat give up because normally I wouldn't have a problem saying enough is enough.

Many times throughout our lives some of the greatest of expectations are placed on our shoulders.  For some it is to be the fastest on the field or to be the best shot on the court. For others it is to have the highest grade in the class. For a lot of us adults, it is to get that promotion we've worked so hard for and deserve or to provide for our families when you've lost your job during these tough times. Some expectations are pressed upon us by others while a lot are brought on by ourselves. Suddenly when you least expect it, when you feel you've worked harder than ever to exceed those expectations, the ugly wall appears out of nowhere hindering any forward progress you've made.

Today has been one of my most anxiously anticipated days of the year so far for me. I have had several weeks of positive momentum but after the weekend of party invites, finger foods and football my greatest expectation was disappointment. Lucky for me, I exceeded them. I can now say I am four pounds from my first 20 pound goal. Losing 5 pounds in a week may be a bit more unhealthy than the doctor's orders, but I'll take it and I'm not giving it back. So far I have lost 16 pounds since the beginning of the year. On top of that, I exceeded another one of my expectations today. I broke through the barrier of the sore legs and being short of breath. Every now and then I'll have a dream that I am jogging and I can go for miles without getting winded and though tonight I wasn't jogging, I OWNED that elliptical. It felt amazing with every stride being able to go faster, longer and yet I wasn't panting and sucking in air like a fish out of water. The puny punk next to me even tried to keep up only to quit after the first few minutes and ended up disappearing all together.

Ironically, whatever TV show Leighanne is watching while I type this just said, 'Without passion, you can't succeed." I see now that a healthy lifestyle has to become a passion for me if I am going to keep reaching my goals each week. I am sure I have a few failures down the road and a couple of walls I'll have to break through, but right now I'm going to keep a steady pace and carry a sledge hammer just in case.

Friday, February 3, 2012

Super Bowl Fatties

Fact number 1: the Super Bowl is the second largest day for eating in the USA.

Fact number 2: Chicken wings are the most popular food item, with nearly 1.25 billion wings eaten and nearly 14,500 tons of potato chips.

One wing averages about 81 calories, 5.4 grams of fat and 23mg of cholesterol. Potato chips average about 155 calories, 10.6 grams of fat and 0 mg of cholesterol per 1 oz serving. With the information provided, I’m going to do a bit of math for you. Hold on to your lunch…

On Super Bowl Sunday, America consumes 101.25 BILLION calories, 6.75 BILLION grams of fat and 28.75 BILLION mg’s of cholesterol on chicken wings alone. On top of that, we’ll also consume 4.96 MILLION calories and 339.2 THOUSAND grams of fat of potato chips. Not to mention the amount of pizza, chip dips, sauces and beer that will be consumed and all served in an “all-you-can-eat” buffet style manner. It has been estimated that the average person will spend about $60 on food and merchandise in one day, coming in at about $18 BILLION total while the highly coveted advertising spots only ring in at about $1.25 billion over the past 20 years!!

Granted the $18 billion also includes the merchandise, with the above facts it is quite obvious why we are the most over weight country in the world. And yet right now my mouth is starting to water just thinking about it all. Pavlov didn’t realize when he trained his dog to salivate at the ring of a bell that American’s are the same way when it comes to the NFL theme song…

To combat the pending Super Bowl food onslaught, I've been trying to determine what I can fool my over-active saliva glands with while still sticking to my own game-plan. So far we have discussed turkey burgers, our own healthy versions of pizza with little to no cheese and Quorn chicken nuggets. However, the turkey burgers still have fat, the healthy pizzas are good but not as filling as the real thing and as awesome as the Quorn chicken nuggets are, (pronounced 'kworn' and is going to receive it's own blog posting since it is an extremely healthy and unique food called micro-protein) there just aren't very many options out there. At least I have a few tricks up my sleeve I can use to combat my typical Super Bowl cravings and get me through one of the fattest day in America, second only to Thanksgiving. At least Thanksgiving involves some vegetables. Damn you Pavlov!!!