Sunday, April 26, 2009


Three years.

220 pounds.

Yay, Michael!

The interesting thing, for whatever it's worth... I have tons of data on all of this, because I've been keeping spreadsheets for the last few years... low calorie, food-pyramid-style, "ordinary" carb sort of regime... total loss, about 70 lbs in about a year and 3/4. Low-carb... and he doesn't eat ultra-low carb, because he eats a fair amount of fruit... year and 1/4, 150 lbs. And his blood sugar is almost normal, without medication or insulin.

Friday, April 24, 2009

The world at the moment...

I just haven't had the heart to post lately, when you get right down to it. Things have not been very happy here, to say the least. And I am not happy with my response to not being happy, which is, you guessed it, a combination of eating too much and just making myself incredibly miserable.

But it has to stop here. It has to stop now. I realized this last night when Michael went to bed, and I sat here and basically ate everything I could get my hands on in 15 minutes (hey, you can eat really low carb, and still stuff your face! Great....). And then felt sick as anything, and just... I don't know. Not so much angry at myself, but awash in that nauseating sea of familiarity, that knowledge that I've done this a thousand times, and here I am again. Everything I've done, everything I've learned, and still, you get the right combination of stress and unhappiness, and I'm right back at square one.

What can you do, though, but try again, try to do something differently, try not to lose heart?

The situation here is... well, hard to explain, I guess. On the weight side, Michael continues to lose, and with luck will actually be below 400 lbs. this week. Very exciting, very good. But he is so uncomfortable, so depressed, and in so much pain that it is almost meaningless. He has lost nearly 220 lbs. now, and he arguably feels worse than he did before he started. I don't really know why that is. That is, I understand some of the reasons, and I think most of them have to do with a combination of his hernia and the weird collection of symptoms that he gets from time to time, but I have no idea what causes this. Plus I think that his overall level of depression plus just how long this has all gone on contribute to everything.

And then there's the chair saga, which is the only remotely funny part of all of this.

When Michael first came here, I bought a lift chair for him... he was 620 lbs then, and getting up was a huge issue. There wasn't much available then... three years ago... all very expensive. I bought... oh, I've forgotten the brand now, but it was the only company that made really large lift chairs (which are mostly made for tiny grandmothers, I think). It was huge and terribly uncomfortable, and it cost about $1,500. So, after 2 years of it getting more and more uncomfortable, last summer we bought a new chair.

The new chair was a LaZBoy... normally pretty good chairs. They didn't have a floor model, so we had to order one, but the smaller one was almost ok, so we thought, fine, it's a LaZBoy, it will be great. Well, to make a long story short, it is not great. I don't know who this chair is designed for, but not really for someone with a human body, let's say. No one is comfortable in it. No combination of padding and such can make it comfortable. It is just structurally all wrong. Oh, and it cost about $1,500, too. So now we're $3,000 into the chair saga.

Fast forward to something like October. Chair is becoming intolerable. So in a flash of... well, not exactly brilliance, as it turns out... I go out and buy another chair. Beautiful leather recliner, very comfortable... or so I thought. $1200. Very comfortable for a week or two... and then it's clear that this isn't working, either, the size of the chair isn't quite right, plus it doesn't lift. Back to the horrible lift chair.

And back to being incredibly uncomfortable. He's in a lot of pain a lot of the time anyway, so this discomfort thing isn't just a matter of not the perfect chair or something; it's never being comfortable, and being tempted to just go to bed and stay there (which is the last thing I want to see). So last week, I can't stand it any more, and I go buy another chair. $900, and I sat in EVERY chair in the store, I think. (No, I couldn't get him to go pick one out.)

So this chair is wonderfully comfortable until he tries to get up from it, and then it becomes clear that he's not going to be able to actually get out of this chair, because it's too low, and it rocks, so it's tippy. So we put it up on concrete blocks to get it a little higher and keep it from rocking. Which, after about 3 tries, is maybe going to be ok. So now we're $5,100 into the chair saga, and I'm still not sure that we have a chair that is workable. If I even say the word "chair" to my son, he runs screaming because he figures he's going to be dragged into more furniture moving.

I wrote all of the above a few days ago, and then I just stalled out, kind of at a loss for where to go from there.

But since then, things have actually gotten a little better. Michael is on an antidepressant, and, miraculously, it has made a HUGE difference in just a couple of days. And when his mood brightens, the whole world seems like a different place. And he has agreed to see about hernia surgery... maybe still not possible, but just thinking about it is a step in the right direction.

So... well, no brilliant wrap-up, just restart, try again, see what happens.

Tomorrow will be our third anniversary.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Sunday wrap

I just don't seem to be doing that well lately, not with my fitness goals, not with the rest of my life.

And there are explanations... the obvious one is just that Michael has been so continually unwell and depressed about it and generally testy and unhappy, and I can separate myself from this for a while, but eventually, it wears on me. I try very hard to separate my mood from his, and I try to stay up... but the problem is that, well, it does just wear on me, plus his withdrawal kind of sets off all the needy junk that I tend to revert to under stress, and he can't handle that, and... oh, ugh, it all turns into this vicious circle of unhappy things.

I know this, and I've gotten better at it, but it takes a lot of mental effort for me.

Sometimes, it's really hard to know how to be true to yourself while doing the best for others. And the corollary is, it's hard to know what the best thing for others really is. It's easy to guess, easy to think what you would want in the same situation. But everyone is different.

I know what would be best for me. Or at least I think I do.

I don't know what is best for Michael. I like to think that I do, but the fact of the matter is that I don't.

I spend a lot of time trying to cushion him from things, both literally and figuratively. I'm not at all sure that's the best thing to do. There's a lot on my shoulders, too, but there's no one else to carry it right now, so that's ok, and it's just the way it is.

I need to put some hard thinking into figuring out how to take care of myself better in some way that can be sustained when everything just goes to hell like this.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Monkfish with Curried Lentils and Brown Butter Cauliflower

This recipe is based on a Bon Appetit recipe that I got via Epicurious, but I modified it to (1) reduce the carb level, (2) deal with some of the blandness issues that the commenters complained about, and (3) correct the very wrong cooking times.

Monkfish with Curried Lentils and Brown Butter Cauliflower

  • 1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 4 garlic cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg (use fresh nutmeg and grate it yourself)
  • salt and white pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped peeled carrots
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup French green lentils
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1-1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • chicken or other stock as desired
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tablespoons (1/4 stick) butter
  • 1 small head cauliflower, cut into small florets
  • salt to taste
  • 4 6-ounce monkfish fillets (each about 1 inch thick), skin removed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • fresh lemon

This recipe is really three (or four) parts, and they can all be done separately. (And, yes, there are supposed to be 2 heads of cauliflower; you use them in different parts.)

1. The cauliflower purée "sauce"

Bring first 4 ingredients to boil in medium saucepan. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until cauliflower is very tender, about 17 minutes. Cool slightly. Transfer mixture to blender (or food processor, or just use an immersion blender); puree until smooth. Season with salt and white pepper. This can be made far ahead of time and reheated.

2. Lentils/cauliflower

Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium heat. Add onion, carrots, and celery; sauté until just soft. Add lentils, curry, paprika; and cayenne pepper; stir. Add 1 1/4 cups water and wine; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally. The original recipe says that this this will take 30 minutes. I think this depends entirely on the type of lentils that you use, and the wonderful French green ones take quite a bit longer than that... more like 45 or 50 minutes. So start this way ahead of time, and don't start the cauliflower step until the lentils

Meanwhile (see note above), cook butter in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until browned, about 2 minutes. Add cauliflower; sauté until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add 1/4 cup water; cover and cook until cauliflower is crisp-tender and water evaporates, about 10 minutes longer (at least). Stir in lentil mixture. Season with salt and pepper.

This can be made ahead and rewarmed, too. In fact, if you were making this for something like a dinner party, you could make everything except the fish earlier and just reheat.

Finally.... sprinkle monkfish with salt and pepper. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add fish; sauté until just opaque in center, about 6 minutes per side. Squeeze fresh lemon onto the fish. (You could use any firm white fish).

Divide sauce among 4 plates. Spoon lentil mixture alongside. Place fish atop lentils.

The original recipe, which you can find here, had a gremoulata for the top of the fish, but I didn't have any parsley, so I skipped it, and I really don't think it's necessary.

The main carb source in this dish is the lentils. I cut them in half (relative to the original recipe), so if this recipe serves 4, it's about 15 net carbs from the lentils (and a little more from the cauliflower). Not induction-friendly, but not excessive.

The vegetable mixture in this is great without the fish, too, just as a side dish for anything. It has a nice curried kick to it. It's also really easy after you do it once; it looks complicated, but it's not.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The hard thing... taking whatever comes with grace and generosity of spirit.

The hard thing is understanding that not everything is about you.

The hard thing is allowing there to be things that are about you, some of the time, because you can't have a life without conflict. People don't work that way. People have different needs, and sometimes they crash right into each other.

The hard thing is stepping back and giving time to let things sort out. The hard thing is not trying to control the outcome of things that make you unhappy.

The hard thing is not letting things that belong to other people affect how you feel about yourself.

Today, for me, everything is a hard thing, I think. But these things do pass, if you let them.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


I haven't been posting much lately because I just kind of don't know what to say. Nothing much is happening. I seem to be consistently failing to keep track of what I'm eating, not because I really object but because I just... I don't know. I just haven't been doing it.

I think it's mostly because Michael has been so low lately. The hardest thing I know, on a day-to-day basis, is to stay positive and happy when the person you spend all your time with is visibly unhappy and negative. I really don't blame him; I know that things for him have been unbelievably difficult lately, but this part is hard for me. Some part of me thinks that I should be able to fix it. Some part of me thinks that I should be spending a lot of time in a pretty futile attempt to help make things better. Some part of me thinks that if he's not happy, I shouldn't get to be happy, either (yes, I know, I know...). And then I find it hard to focus on taking care of myself.

I think that both of my sisters believe that this is some unhealthy codependent thing, and it's a natural thing to think, in part because we all watched my mother in a not-so-different sort of situation. But let's just say, it's not like I'm unaware of the potential. It's not like, in a larger sense, I'm not taking care of myself. It's just that some days are a lot harder than others.