Sunday, January 25, 2009

Recommitting AGAIN

It's been a rough week or so, here. Yeah, I know, I always say that, but... well, it has been. It's been just over a week since Michael's last bout of whatever-the-hell-it-is weakness and edema and whatever. This one has been worse but considerably shorter. As of today, he's stronger, though not back to where he was, and the edema is going, and he's acting a LOT more like himself. The conversation that we've had approximately 10,000 times over the last ten days is, was this a reaction to drugs (his theory) or was this round 3 (at least) of the same thing (my theory). Either way, (1) I am sick to death of talking about it because I just don't know, and (2) we have a doctor's appointment on Wednesday, and maybe he'll be able to think of some new tests.

Anyway, as I've said about a billion times, Michael gets sick, and I stop taking care of myself. Mainly, although I still eat low carb since it's such a habit, I eat way too much and the wrong food balance, and I don't exercise. Sigh. This is a pattern that just has to stop. So yesterday I went and played racquetball with my students for a while, which was just great, and today I'm menu-planning and class-planning for the week, and hoping to get myself reorganized and back on focus. And tomorrow I will weigh myself, which I haven't done in a week, either... and this is never a good thing.

So let's see where I'm at in a week, whether I can actually balance ME with everything everyone else need from me. At some point, I really have to learn to do that. And then, too, maybe I can post something more entertaining than this constant complaining about how I'm not doing what I should.

I think that I need to set some goal for the week... but I'm not sure what, yet, so I'll think about it and write it out tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Taking Care

When I was a kid, no one talked about things like emotional intelligence in terms of life skills. Of course, I was kind of raised by wolves.... my father is so introverted that he wouldn't know a life skill if it bit him (actually, his idea of a life skill is, if you drink enough, you can talk to people). My mother... I loved my mother, I miss my mother deeply and painfully every day, but we didn't have the greatest relationship. It was a funny thing, really... everyone loved my mother, because she was wonderful to people. Kind and generous and giving and accepting and genuinely interested in other people... except that when it came to her daughters, me especially, most of that went out the window. It's not that she didn't genuinely love me or try her best, but her best, when it came to me, was more often the absolute worst thing you could do. And what she taught me in terms of emotional skills.... how to manipulate people emotionally. How to put everyone else's interests ahead of your own and then resent them for it. That the world will come to an end if everyone is not happy with you. Things like that. Sorry, Mom. Really. But it's the truth.

Some days I feel like we spend the rest of our lives unlearning the stuff we learned as kids. I know that's not true for everyone; that some people grow up functional and healthy and understanding the important things... but I guess I know way more people who wouldn't describe themselves that way.

Being healthy is hard for me. As soon as things get a little off balance, all of my "healthy" habits go out the window, and that happens remarkably fast. But I'm working on it. And it gets easier. A little.

And then I look at my son, and I think, what are the things that he needs that I'm not giving him? How could I teach him the emotional intelligence, the balance, that has been so hard for me to learn? I always argue that he's the most balanced person I know, and always has been... but that doesn't mean that he doesn't need help with these things. And one answer, of course, is that you need to model the behavior that you want children to learn.

His father and I didn't do a terribly good job of that. We were never hostile, but our marriage disintegrated into polite roommates nearly as soon as he was born. And that doesn't teach you anything about relationships, interpersonal skills, etc. I thought that Michael and I might be better role models, but it hasn't exactly worked out that way... mostly because there have been so real hardships, mostly medical, ever since we've been married, that a lot of the time we seem to live in this fraught, anxious atmosphere... not the way that it should be. And maybe it won't always be that way... I hope not... but it's the way things are a lot these days, and it doesn't leave a lot of room for my son and what he needs. I wonder sometimes if thirty years from now, he'll be typing these things into his blog... or whatever we do in thirty years. And he'll say the same sort of thing... my mother, I know she loved me, but she could not give me what I needed. I seriously hope not. But you never know.

So it's a good question. How do you teach these kinds of life skills, emotional sanity, appropriate boundaries?

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Kicking and Screaming

It's just one of those days.

I can't find something I really, really need; my new semester starts tomorrow, and I have no energy, plus I'm buried in tons of little stupid things that I need to do. It's been a hell of a few days, spending every day trying to decide whether this is the day that Michael's breathing problems will be bad enough to go to the hospital. And endlessly going over the symptoms again and again, trying to figure out what the hell the problem is, because no one else seems able to do that.

The good news is, he really seems better today, and I think that we're going to avoid the hospital this time. The bad news is... well, the bad news part 1 is that there's still no way of knowing what leads to this collection of symptoms... extreme weakness followed by breathing problems associated with rapid heart rate and so on. They've checked out all the ordinary stuff. Doesn't seem to be any of those things. But this is the third time this has happened, this time possibly kicked off by 10 days of antibiotics although I'm not sure how that could be, and every time it is more severe, more scary, more frustrating.

The bad news part 2 is that I really don't deal with this well. I'm great in a crisis. Fabulous. But in the aftermath, I'm exhausted and whiny, and I just want someone to fix it all for me, and little things kick off all the spoiled child in me... not being able to find the data CD that I desperately need is making me want to kick and scream until someone fixes it all for me. And Michael, though better, is nowhere near well, and still needs me to be pretty much doing everything for him. This isn't exactly the moment to be coping badly.

So, the question is, how do you learn to take care of yourself when there's no one to take care of you? In a healthy way? I know loads of unhealthy ways, but I also know that, these days, they really wouldn't make me feel any better.

Monday, January 19, 2009

All the Wrong Messages Part 2.... Oprah's Pictures

Back in October, I posted about those irritating Electrolux ads with Kelly Ripa and the misguided messages that they send. My candidate for today is Oprah's magazine or, more specifically, the cover photos.

Now, don't get me wrong; I'm a big Oprah fan. She's smart, she's kind, and she seems like a real person. Plus she's done a lot to get people reading some great books, always a good thing in my mind. And her magazine is pretty good, in the ranks of women's magazines.

But unless you've been living under a rock for the last month or so, you have to have heard her confession that she's gained 40 lbs.

So why is her picture on the magazine cover this month (February) exactly the same as every other one? Heavily air-brushed and photoshopped, looking exactly like she looks at her lowest weight. I was trying to find an online copy of this, and the best I can do is direct you to the magazine site, which is here, and note that it's the pic that's on the bottom of the page where it says Hormones 101, the picture where she's dressed in yellow and holding cards (probably this direction won't work after a week or so). Small, but you get the idea.

It's not like I don't have some sympathy about this. I mean, if I were going to be on a magazine cover, I'm sure that I'd like to be as beautiful as possible (although being on the cover every month might lessen that desire a little). But the problem is, I think this just sends all the wrong messages. Primarily the message that you can't be seen in public unless you're thin. That being fat makes you less socially acceptable.

I'm not a fat of the idea of embracing your fat, of fat acceptance, particularly because too much body weight is, in general, not that great for you, and we should all be striving to be more healthy. But that's different from having to look like some ideal, and of hating yourself or finding yourself somehow socially unacceptable because you've put on some pounds. All of that just leads to the same wrong messages, the same self-esteem issues, the same social problems that so many of us have battled. And maybe I'm wrong or too idealistic, but it seems to me that someone like Oprah, someone who has been through these battles herself, should be the poster child for loving yourself at whatever weight you're at, not at airbrushing it away.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

And Here We Are Again....

Michael is having another recurrence of his breathing/weight gain/fever/weakness symptoms. Almost right on schedule, about every six weeks. Except that I'm not absolutely positive that this is the same thing all over again, because it comes on the tail of 10 days of a very strong antibiotic which might have interacted with his diabetes meds, and it's all a little different... so, very worrisome, unclear whether he should go to the hospital or not (he's a little better today, and the hospital so far has not done anything except monitor him, so we're leaning toward wait until tomorrow and see), and everything in life is on hold again.

And so I'm worried to death, and I wish that someone would sort this stuff out once and for all, and that he would get well and stay well, but what I really wanted to talk about today is how hard it is to take care of yourself when you're taking care of someone else.

I look at my lack of weight loss or fitness increase over the last year, and I get irritated with myself, and then I remember that most of what I've been doing for the last year is taking care of him. Or my mother, earlier. And it is just so difficult to focus on me when everyone else needs me to focus on them. I get some period of stability, and I start working on things, and I think about making plans to head back to the gym, and I start practicing new habits... and then everything falls apart, because it's easy to nibble on the cheese instead of eating properly when you're in a hurry. I don't "cheat" exactly... I hate that word... because I'm so used to eating in this particular way that it's not a nose dive into ice cream or something, but I eat too much and too often. And, surprise, I end up right back where I started.

Change requires application. Change requires doing things in a different way until they become habit. And when they become habit, it is not so easy to dislodge them when life unravels. The things I eat... food types and groups... are like this. Low carb is autopilot. But exercise and portion control are not, and neither are the thousand things that would help to make me feel better and less stressed.

I'm trying, though, in simple silly ways that seem to get derailed half the time. Yesterday I went to the store for a minute, and instead of going straight home, went to Starbucks for a coffee. Ordered a grande sugar free vanilla whole milk latté... waited a really long time, sitting in the drive through and noticing all the bird nests that you can see this time of year, with all the leaves gone... and they eventually arrived with a size smaller. Should have just taken that, but said so.... and the barrista came back remarkably quickly with a larger one. So I drove around to the parking lot and sat in "our" space... where we used to go to cool off and take a break when it was a little easier for Michael to get in and out of the car... had a sip of the coffee, realized that they'd just dumped more milk in the original coffee, decided I didn't need the carbs anyway and tossed it. Alternated between feeling smug and irritated that even when I try to do something simple to get a break, it tends to backfire!

Ah, well.... reset, start over again.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Food Anxiety

It's a beautiful, sunny-but-frigid day in upstate NY. My poor son, who has been betting on (and praying for) a snow day all week, in light of the bone-chilling temperatures, evidently isn't going to get one. I kind of miss the wonder of being a kid in this part of the world... it's always possible that every winter day just might bring the magic of a snow day. A totally free and unexpected day off. We should all get snow days, really.

Michael is napping in a chair, dappled with sunshine. And "dappled" always makes me think of this poem that my mother loved. My quiche is in the oven, and I'm sitting here doing what I always do, thinking.

And I'm thinking about food, which unfortunately is not a rare thing around here.

I've come to a conclusion lately, which really is a no-brainer, I suppose, but still... at this point, if I am ever going to get my weight down, I have to actively work on the behavioral things. At this point in my life, the reality is that I eat very well from a nutrition point of view, I don't do a lot of things that I used to do (like binge eat), and I am reasonably active, even though I'm still not back to the gym. But I don't lose weight. Barring something physically wrong with me (which seems unlikely), it's all about eating too much and too often. But it doesn't seem to me that I eat too much and too often because, well, it's the way I've always eaten (yeah, that really should tell me something, shouldn't it?).

So I started reading Judith Beck's book, which is really about congitive therapy and diet, and while I haven't gotten that far in it (partly because I'm in the middle of three books at the moment), it's made me think about just paying attention to eating. Paying attention to the difference between hunger and boredom, and all that stuff that you've heard a thousand times on every list of diet tips.

But here is the thing that I really noticed since I have been trying to be more mindful about eating. Eating makes me really anxious. I wolf food like someone is going to take it away from me, and I don't notice what I'm eating, and at the same time, I am profoundly anxious. Which, when you think about it, is the strangest thing ever. I mean, if you look at the things that cause eating disorders (of the overeating sort, that is), it's usually said to be about the calming effects of food, food as comfort, etc. And there is some aspect of rapid eating that genuinely is comforting, I think... it lets you shut off and zone out. But this shovel-it-in-your mouth, fast eating neither lets you enjoy food nor is... peaceful, I guess, for lack of a better word. And when I slow down and really think about food, I feel this lessening of tension, this release of anxiety.

It's all very strange really, and I'm not sure how to put this together with anything just yet.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Quiche. Yum. Low-Carb Quiche

It's the low-carb breakfast problem... cereal is pretty much out, fruit is hard, and sure you can have leftover dinner food... but mostly it leaves you with bacon and eggs. I think this is why there's this huge myth that Atkins is all about eating bacon and eggs and nothing else. Anyway, we've been fighting the egg battle here for a long time, because I (the not-picky person!) don't mind eggs in any form and bacon or sausage is fine, too. Michael, on the other hand, is not an egg person really. So I started making quiche... and, yeah, I know that quiche is bacon and eggs in disguise, but for some reason, the disguise works. Michael doesn't complain about it, it's a perfect thing to eat in the morning, and for the two of us, a quiche lasts 4 days, so that's breakfast taken care of, just reheating rather than cooking.

So I've been experimenting... doing what I almost never do with recipes, trying them again and again, fine-tuning the proportions, fine-tuning the taste, and so what I have for you is what I think is the perfect low-carb quiche recipe.... and it's easy to fiddle with or substitute things depending on how you want your quiche to come out.

This is a crustless quiche... that's the low-carb part... which takes a little getting used to, but once you do, it's hard to imagine why you would want a crust. Takes a LOT less time, too.

And best of all, it takes about 5-10 minutes prep time, and then you can go drink tea until it's done.

You will need...
2 eggs
2 egg yolks (or you could use them whole; see below)
1 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk (any kind)
about 2 oz. Jarlsberg cheese, grated (can substitute an ordinary Swiss)
about 1 oz. Gruyere cheese, grated (can substitute more ordinary Swiss, but better if you don't)
2 leeks, white parts only (can substitute onion)
3 slices bacon, preferably thick-cut pepper bacon (but you can use anything. Use a little more if it's regular slices.)
salt and pepper to taste; a little grated nutmeg if desired

Preheat oven to 350 F. Use a 9-10" pie plate, preferably ceramic or Pyrex. Spray with a nonstick spray like Pam (this is not essential but makes cleanup easier.)

Finely chop the leeks. Snip the bacon into small pieces using kitchen shears, or dice small. Sauté the bacon until it releases some fat, and then add the leeks. Sauté until bacon is browned and leeks are soft. Drain on a paper towel.

While the bacon and leeks are cooking, mix everything else in a bowl. You probably don't need salt, because the bacon is salty enough. Put the leek/bacon mixture into the pie plate (spread it out), pour everything else over it, and bake for 30 minutes. Allow to cool slightly before cutting.

Refrigerate leftovers... this will keep well for at least 3 or 4 days (we've never had one last longer); reheat about 1 minute in the microwave (for 2 slices).

There are lots of ways that you can substitute... onions for leeks in the beginning of the recipe is an easy one. You can also add mushrooms (be sure to cook them pretty well, though, because otherwise, they release a lot of water when baking and make the quiche soggy). You can use 4 eggs instead of the eggs/yolks combo... this will make a quiche that is firmer and less custard-y... we don't like the texture as much that way. You can use diced ham (or turkey ham) instead of the bacon. You could use more cream instead of the milk, which would give you a few less carbs, but I was trying to cut the fat content a little. I don't recommend using less cream, because it makes the quiche watery, which is an issue if you don't have a crust.

And I experimented a lot with cheese. I had two goals, great taste and NOT buying a lot of really expensive cheese for something that I cook about every 3-4 days. So... tried all generic store Swiss cheese. Awful. No taste. (But this is the cheapest option. Also, buy block cheese and grate it; it only takes a minute and is a lot cheaper.) Then I tried a really expensive Swiss variant that we had leftover from the Christmas Cheese Indulgence (moment of insanity when I bought about 8 very expensive cheese varieties at the gourmet cheese counter) plus Gruyere... fantastic. But really expensive, because both cheeses are in the range of $16/lb. After some fiddling around and compromise, I've found that the best thing is to use about 2 oz. Jarlsberg... which has more taste than Swiss but much the same consistency, is easily available, and is not that expensive, plus 1 oz. Gruyere, which IS expensive but you don't have to use that much. Other suggestions welcomed.

As written, this recipe is about 200 calories for 1/8 pie, and maybe 4 carbs if that. The carbs come mainly from the leeks or onions... and you could omit them... and from the milk. Definitely induction-friendly if you're an Atkins person. And not so bad on the calories, for a breakfast choice. Although a slice looks small, it's got a lot of fat from the cheese and cream, so it makes you feel full (for a loooong time), and all ready to start the day!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Resolution Wrap-Up

Not like I've actually done all these things... hahahaha, you must be kidding! Just that I've realized that trying to do a post about each of these things is totally stalling out, so I'm wrapping the rest of them plus some updates into this post.

Here's what I've got left to talk about...
5. Get my finances in order
Eek. This one is the "I have no clue where to start" one. I think we're going to have to shelve this until summer. By then, a lot of things should be more clear. But as sort of a backup resolution... I'm keeping meticulous receipts. Usually it occurs to me when we finally do our taxes (as in, October 14th, the day before the extension runs out...) that I should have kept better records. It's too late for 2008, but let's start 2009 by being methodical and organized about this from Day One. (Then maybe I can get an accountant this year; it's hard to do that when you're piecing a lot of things together at the last second.)

6. Get some more social relationships into my isolated, pathetic life.
This one is hard, too. I'm honestly not sure how to do it. But maybe I could start by being less defensive and less tied in to being resentful about what people are not doing for me. Maybe instead of being eternally annoyed that my aunt forwards me junk all the time instead of sending me a real email, I could just tell her that. Maybe instead of resenting that my best friend doesn't call me, I could just call her. Maybe I could start by being a little braver and a little less protective of myself.

This is hard.

7. Go back to the gym.
This is hard, too. Not so much because it's intrinsically difficult, but because Michael is still not able to do this, and I feel bad leaving him home. He says, go. He says, I will come with you and watch, if you want. But he says this when he's feeling ok. When he's not, it's all really frustrating, and it's even more frustrating when you have to watch someone doing something that you want to be doing. So I don't know. But I think that somehow I have to do this.

I have to think about how to make this work. I will get back to this.

8. Get the house organized.
I did something about this. I hired someone to come help for about 2 hours every week. I think... hope anyway... that this will help a lot. Just having someone else to do a few things once a week will take a lot of pressure off of me.

I feel very guilty, on some level, about hiring someone to do something that I think that I should be doing myself. I still have a hard time realizing that I truly can't do everything. I still think that if I just work hard enough, I can... and that it's some sort of failure if I don't.

And some updates.

It looks like my insurance company is probably not going to approve the antidepressant that I was willing to take... since it's the one that my smart psychiatrist sister recommended... unless my doctor can work some magic. I don't think that's going to happen. So... I think I'm on my own with this. But maybe that's not such a bad thing, or at least I'm hoping I'll think so after I get done being irritated and upset; I think I was kind of hanging on to the idea that a magic pill would make me feel better (and in the process, I forgot all the reasons that I don't really want to work on this through medication).

But long-term solutions come better to me through thought and cognitive strategies than through medication, anyway.

I got my hip x-rayed and so far no one has told me that my leg is about to fall off, so I guess that's good, and I need to think physical therapy. Which will also get me back to the gym.

Oh, and I've discovered that an average day is about 3,000 steps for me, the magic of the pedometer (although I don't think it's perfectly accurate). So I need to be tripling my motion, essentially, if I've shooting for 10,000 steps. Some of that will come when the semester starts.

Ok, enough dull introspection and problems. It's time to figure out the solutions.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

One Year of Low Carb, and Eight Lessons

It occurred to me today, as I was out battling all the stupid people in Wal-Mart who insist on leaving their carts in the middle of the aisle like they are the only person in the universe.... ok, that has nothing to do with anything, really... it occured to me today that it's been about a year since we really started eating low-carb.

It's been a hell of a year, with everything else that's happened. In some ways, I feel like I'm not exactly the poster child for a low carb way of life, because in the last year, I've lost (and kept off) only about 20 lbs... but on the other hand, Michael lost nearly 100 lbs. last year. And a way of life is just that... the way that you eat all the time, when you're "dieting" (a word I never use these days) and the rest of the time, too. It's long-term changes in eating habits that really change weight, not temporary things.

Anyway, I was thinking about what I've learned, and it's a LOT.

1. There is NO food group you "can't give up"....
People used to say to me that you get used to eating very low salt or low fat diets, and I kind of never believed them. And I hear people say all the time, "I could never give up bread." Or potatoes. Or pasta. I used to be a pasta junkie; these days I never eat it (maybe the occasional ounce of Dreamfields every other month or so), and I don't miss it at all. Same thing with bread and rice. When I started low carb, I used to salivate at the idea of potatoes... really, literally. We each had six tiny baby potatoes, the size of your thumb, the other night with dinner, and we both thought that was was too many potatoes, and we just weren't that interested. After a while, these just seem like things you don't eat. You get really, really used to it.

2. ... but it will take your head a long time to get used to this idea.
When I get very hungry or very low, I crave things that I no longer eat. It's all in my head. I still think of these things as the "good" things, on some weird level. It takes a lot longer to adjust your head than it does to adjust your tastebuds/stomach.

3. Fat is not your enemy...
I still have an awfully hard time convincing Michael of this... and it really is hard to wrap our head around, after years of being indoctrined in a low-fat, food pyramid world. But it's not fat that makes you fat; it's the interaction of fat and carbs when you have too many calories. And fat is satiety. When we at low fat, we were hungry all the time, even when we ate a ton of vegetables and such. Now we're never hungry... and we almost never fight about food.

4. ... but fat is not your friend, either.
Not your best friend, anyway. You can eat a lot of calories on a low-carb diet, but if you want to lose weight, you still have to create a calorie deficit on some level. I think that I am the most dramatic proof of this that there is. I have, as we all know, not lost a lot of weight this last year. Why? I eat too much. I eat too many calories to lose weight. But I haven't gained weight, either, despite having spent nearly all of the last year paying no attention to portion size or fat quantity or whatever. But now that I'm starting to do that, I'm losing weight. You can eat a diet that is not low fat without piling on the excess fat. Moderation, balance... these are good things in every phase of life.

5. People who haven't tried a low carb diet don't know what it is. Some people who have tried a low carb diet don't know what it is...
No, you don't eat only meat on the Atkins diet. Or bacon and eggs. Or no vegetables. Or no fruit, ever. Yes, vegetables do have carbs in them. Yes, some fruits are laden with sugar and are not that great for you even though they are fruit. And so on. One of my students told me that her roommate had gone on the Atkins diet and ate only peanut butter. What??? The misconceptions about the Atkins diet and low carb diets in general are do huge that it becomes tiresome at best to even mention that you eat this way.

6. ... and there's more than one way of eating low carb.
More accurately, there's a billion ways of eating low carb. I've read about every low carb book that there is, plus a lot of blogs, plus a lot of forums. I recommend Protein Power when asked, but when you get right down to it, everyone is different, and there's no perfect way of eating that works for everyone. It is easier for me to think of guidelines rather than absolute rules... and in doing that, we've adapted a way of eating that works well for both of us. There are things that we virtually never eat... bread, pasta, rice, potatoes, sugar, tropical fruits or grapes, and just about any processed food. But we do eat legumes in great moderation; Michael eats a lot of apples and berries, and I don't freak out if he has the occasional Starbucks biscotti. We don't worry too much about condiments used in very small amounts, and mostly we don't count carbs. After a while, you don't need to.

7. Junk is junk, low carb or high...
This is my particular soapbox, but if you want to feel healthy, you have to eat well. Eating well does not include a diet heavy in processed food, especially things like Atkins bars and substitutes for high-carb food. There's lots of fake stuff out there. None of it is good for your body. Even though I have a guilty love for Splenda in my tea, I'm pretty much totally with all the people who say, if it wasn't something that people ate 500 years ago, it's probably not good for you now.

8. ... and so life is better if you cook.
I know not everyone is a cook or wants to be a cook or whatever. I know that there are time issues, and I know that sometimes the last thing you want is to spend any time at all putting together a meal. But cooking is a skill like any other, and if you practice, you get better and faster at it. I cook 2-3 meals from scratch every day. I am lucky enough to have a flexible work schedule much of the time, and I've been doing this all the time for nearly 3 years now, so I've gotten pretty good and very fast at it. And it is a lot easier to eat low carb when you cook. It is hard and frustrating to eat low carb if you are trying to do it out of the frozen dinner section, because there's just about nothing suitable.

The one other thing that seems profoundly true to me is that, for me, this way of eating has been better than anything else that I've done. Although I've lost little weight, I look better... my body has reshaped considerably... and I have more energy than I've had in years. This is probably not for everyone, but it's a forever change for me, for medical reasons, scientific reasons, and because it just works with the way that I prefer to eat.

Now, if this next year can bring some real weight loss and fitness increase, I'll be really happy.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Resolution Days, Day 4, Hip

4. Figure out what's actually wrong with my hip and what I need to do to fix it.

My hip/thigh/whatever has been occasionally just beyond painful since last June when I pulled something playing racquetball... although there have been bits of this problem for some time. It kicks off when I do certain kinds of things... push a grocery cart is the biggest one that clearly does it, but sometimes just moving around a lot, and certainly anything that twists it kicks it off. Very, very painful. I've been to the doctor about this a bunch of times; he moves my leg around and says, there is nothing structurally wrong here, go to physical therapy.

And I was going to do that... but you know, it's a time thing... yes, and that's an excuse thing, but true.

So Monday we went through this again, and he said, let's get it x-rayed, and Go To Physical Therapy. So, ok. I will try to get the x-ray done next week. I will. Really. And I guess that I will check out the physical therapy. Ugh. I am reluctant about this, not so much because I am reluctant to do it in general, but (1) I hate to make phone calls; I am stupidly phobic about this if I give myself a chance to be, and (2) there's a long boring story here about the physical therapy place up the street and how much Michael hates everyone there. But I need to do it. So... I guess I need to put some accountability timeline on this.

Try to get the x-ray next Monday since we have to go to Rochester anyway.
See what happens with that.
Call about physical therapy on Tuesday.


Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Resolution Days, Day3, Feet

3. Get a pedometer and shoot for 10,000 steps.

This is the easy one... well, the pedometer part. I got one from Amazon, and it came yesterday... I have to say that this thing is pretty cool... much smaller than the last pedometer I had, and the neat thing is that it will register in your pocket or purse or whatever, doesn't have to be clipped to your waist. So we'll see, first, what my average daily walking is, and then I guess we'll see how hard it would be to make 10,000 steps, which is the real goal.

I'm not entirely sure how dead serious I am about this... I mean, I kind of hate walking as a form of exercise... but I'm thinking that if I just try to go for upping my number of steps, then I have some incentive to do the little things like park farther away and take the stairs and so on.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Resolution Days, Day 2, Food

"2. Focus on thinking about what and why I'm eating."

This is the other hard one. I am not losing weight. I don't keep a food diary these days, so it's hard for me to know exactly what I'm eating from a calorie point of view, but I stay very low carb, and it doesn't seem to me that I'm eating a lot. So, why don't I lose weight?

I've been spending a lot of time over the last weekend watching fat shows. You know, it's the beginning of the year when everyone is stoked on the idea of losing weight, so every channel runs all the weight programs it can find (and, I suspect, gyms top out on members who will be there for a month and never appear again). Anyway, Discovery Heath has been running all its morbid obesity programming.... something I find a combination of bizarrely fascinating, inspiring, and depressing as hell. Michael and I have been there with a lot of the indignities that come with super obesity, and it is not a good or kind thing, but that's a whole different topic. My real point is that it is staggering how many really fat people say, "but I don't eat that much!" And then you see what they do eat, and you think, wow, you are kidding yourself. And, paragon of virtue though I am, at some point I have to say, maybe that's exactly what I'm doing.

The low carb way of life has been a great blessing for me... I feel better, I look better, I don't really gain weight... but at the end of the day, you still have to create enough of a calorie deficit to lose weight, and either there is something physically wrong with me, or I'm just not doing that.

Also, bad habit creep is coming back. Nibbling on things because they're in your hand. Licking the spoon. Eating the leftovers rather than putting them away (or making the dog happy!). And eating at night. Yes, I do get hungry at night. But I would probably survive just fine without that extra piece of cheese, wouldn't I?

So... what am I going to do about this. 1.5 things... the 0.5 is because I am not exactly sure that I'm committed to the first thing. The first thing is start keeping a food diary again. I have very mixed feeling about this because I tend to get a little compulsive about this, and stopping doing it was incredibly freeing. But maybe I need to do it again. Possibly with a camera. The second thing is, I've sent for the Judith Beck behavioral books that I've seen recommended a lot lately. And I'm going to have a shot at really working on some of the cognitive things.

I quit smoking years ago, and I mostly did it by learning to think of myself as "not a smoker." I think that same kind of cognitive trick might help a lot here. We'll see. I'll report back.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Resolution Days... Day1, Happiness

The trouble with resolutions is that you can't just make them, not if you really want them to happen. You have to have a plan, some way that you're going to put some structure in place to make sure that there's some chance that it will happen. Otherwise, it's not a resolution, it's a wish.

So I wrote down my eight resolutions, and now the question is, what can I do to make these things happen?

The first one, "work on happiness", is actually the hardest and most painful one. I was going to do it last. But it's probably the most important one... and so, well, let's be brave, I guess.

I have been, lately, just beyond unhappy. I have been crushingly, overwhelmingly sad in a way that I just don't know how to deal with (and I've had a lifetime of dealing with depression and so forth). It is becoming incapacitating. I get up every morning and spend two or three hours just getting to the point where I can do something besides cry. I think it's fair to say that this is not normal.

Michael says, well, what do you expect? Your mother died last summer. The process of grief takes time. And so on. But it's not that. I mean, it is that in a way... I miss my mother every day, and I am still filled with anger at the unfairness of it all. In some ways, it's hard for me to imagine that there will ever be a day when I say, "I'm over this now." Some losses you never get over. But I understand this. It's not my first loss. It's part of life. I can deal with it. If it were only this, I think I would be all right. But it's the proliferation of a thousand small things, not so much this one big thing.

It's been nearly a year since Michael has been really well and mobile. It's hard on him; it's hard on me, and it hasn't gotten easier. There's little to break up the endless medical problem after medical problem; we can hardly go anywhere, and when we have, it's most been a mistake. And I do everything. This is not a complaint... just a fact, and over the last year, nearly everything has become my responsibility, and it wears on me. I am afraid that these things will never get better... although I believe that they will.... and at the same time, I have to try to be the optimistic and encouraging one. And the weight of all of it... I don't know. I mean, I am not a complainer. But I have so little time to do anything that might make me feel better, and I'm so isolated, in a way, and the combination of all of it has, I think, tipped me into a kind of depression that's beyond anything I've experienced before.

And I have to do something about this. I've been trying to wait it out, but it's getting worse rather than better. So I think that this is taking me back to the place I've been trying to avoid, going back on antidepressants. Don't get me wrong here... I am not at all anti-medication; I was on them for years, and they are lifesavers for a lot of people. But let's just say that the end of my antidepressant experience was a lot worse than the beginning, and left me with considerable reluctance to try this again unless absolutely necessary. I haven't wanted to deal with the whole adjustment and side effects thing... and in some silly way, to whatever extent this is all about grief, I wanted to feel it, not have it numbed (even though I know that it's not the way that it works). As some bizarre sort of tribute, I suppose. And because I just think that I should be able to cope with everything in the universe.

But this is wrong. It's wrong partly because I keep telling Michael that he has to try medications that might help him even if he doesn't want to, so it's just flat-out hypocritical for me to be unwilling to do the same thing. And my state of mind affects him as well as me. I've started to call my doctor about this five or six times over the last few months... and every time I talk myself out of it. And that's the point of talking about it here, really, to make that commitment to actually doing that. Monday.

Things are not supposed to be like this. And so maybe if I could deal with the biochemical bits of it, maybe some of the other things that will help... the rest of my resolutions... will be possible.

Friday, January 2, 2009

The Inevitable Resolution Post

I've been putting this off.

My adorable son, when asked about New Year's resolutions, either says, "I don't do that because there's got to be one holiday you ignore", or "I don't do that because if you're going to resolve something, you should just do it whenever." And, ok, he's right about the last bit.

But it's a little hard not to see the old year ending and the new year starting as a moment to assess and evaluate and plan.

Goodbye, 2008. You were an awful year for me. Probably the worst ever. If we could just get through 2009 without anyone getting sick or dying, it would pretty much be an improvement. It's hard not to be bitter, looking back. Very few bright spots. Probably the only one is that Michael ends the year having lost 102 lbs. in 2008 (173 overall). Impressive... though I have to say that even this has a dark side. He was actually more mobile at this time last year, which is just another of those endlessly ironic things.

And roll on, 2009.

There are so many things I want for this year. And I'm just going to write these down and think more about each of them later.

1. Work on happiness.
2. Focus on thinking about what and why I'm eating.
3. Get a pedometer and shoot for 10,000 steps.
4. Figure out what's actually wrong with my hip and what I need to do to fix it.
5. Get my finances in order.
6. Get some more social relationships into my isolated, pathetic life.
7. Go back to the gym.
8. Get the house organized.

I think just writing these things down is enough for the moment.