Tuesday, June 15, 2010

End of a journey

I promise to finish writing about Greece next week but first I need to write about the most significant event in my life this year, probably in five years: today I passed the RD exam-- I am at last a Registered Dietitian. This is HUGE for me-- let me explain.

In 2002 I was going into my Senior year of college, waiting to hear if I had been accepted into the theater major at UCLA. What I really loved was not so much the acting, but musical theater. I went to see that year's musical and realized that even if I was accepted into the major, I would never be as strong of a singer as the students in the play-- they had studied intensively since they were freshmen, and while I have a perfectly nice voice I do not have that big capacity to "belt" necessary for musical theater. I was unhappy in LA, homesick for Seattle and not excited about the additional year it would take me to finish my already 5 years of undergrad to do the theater major-- I didn't want to audition for a living and the pressure of being judged on my looks was already pushing me toward disordered eating. I was getting pretty interested in nutrition and natural health at that time and I remember one of my acting teachers saying to the class-- if there is ANYTHING you can see yourself happy doing besides acting you should do it because this business is too hard. Before the results were posted for major admissions, I walked into the theater department office and told them I wanted to withdraw from consideration-- it was one of the hardest things I have ever done.

I finished undergrad as a Philosophy major, a major I had chosen merely because it was not impacted so I could increase the likelihood of transfer admission to UCLA. I spent a miserable year taking confusing and sometimes crazy upper division Philosophy classes and then the day after my last final we packed up and moved to Seattle.

I had to wait a year to reestablish residency to start taking prerequisites-- the only year of my life I have not been in school since I started kindergarten. I started taking prerequisite science courses, one at a time at night while working full time. It took me nearly three years to finish all of them and start graduate school full time. I can not tell you how many times I had meltdowns from the stress of studying chemistry in every spare second-- at least once a quarter I completely lost it.

The first two quarters at Bastyr nearly killed me-- not coming from a science background the intensity of having a full-time load of almost all science courses was a lot to deal with. The last quarter at Bastyr and the internship application process wounded my spirit (as I wrote about extensively) so deeply it took months to heal. The internship had it's own challenges, including having to move away from my husband for several months.

I had only one last hurdle, the RD exam. This is the national exam that proves to the American Dietetic Association dietitians are ready to practice-- without this exam no prospective employers would even talk to me.

After I passed the test I cried all the way home-- it is such an unbelievable relief, I almost can't comprehend it-- I don't ever have to take any exams ever again. I am DONE with formal school for the rest of my LIFE (if I want it to be anyway).

I am overwhelmed, and grateful and happy.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Greece: Mykonos

Sorry I'm not telling this story as fast as I planned-- I am studying for the RD exam and it is taking over my life! Until I take it I'm going to have a hard time getting a job (it actually probably isn't going to be that easy even after I take it) so I've made it a high priority.

Anyway, Mykonos. This ended up being the nicest hotel in some ways, of our entire trip. It was right on the beach, had free internet (important for keeping my mom and Marc updated that we made it and were still alive) and it had breakfast included in the price of the room-- this turned out to be very helpful, especially since the breakfast was amazing! They had pretty much anything you could ever want-- fantastic thick greek yogurt, fruit, eggs, sausages, bacon, many kinds of bread and pastries, coffee tea etc. Food was pretty expensive on Mykonos so we usually tried to eat a big breakfast to make it as long as we could on that-- I had yogurt and fruit, sometimes an egg, a couple bites of something bread, and a lot of coffee both mornings.

As I mentioned our hotel was a ways out of town. Fortunately there was a bus that stopped right outside the hotel to take us into town. Mykonos is famous for it's narrow, white-washed streets, fancy stores and pretty harbor. It wasn't very busy-- between the volcano drama and the national strikes due to the Greek economy crashing a lot of people stayed away, plus it was still the off season-- it gets really busy in July and August apparently.

We spent a ridiculous amount of time looking for a pharmacy to get more contact solution (since the Athens airport confiscated it) and sunscreen, because there was no way we could bring enough given the airline liquid restrictions. When we finally did find one it was closed because of strikes-- apparently they all take turns being open for a couple hours at a time so we had to wander to find the one that was open, and kept getting lost because all those narrow alleys look the same. We got kind of sunburned while we were looking for a place to buy sunscreen (which was ASTRONOMICALLY expensive-- a regular sized bottle cost about 14 Euros which works out to almost $20!)

We wandered in and out of shops, mostly just looking (I didn't want to spend a bunch of money on the very first day!) but Megs bought a pair of sandals and we bought a little jar of honey at an amazing honey store where they had probably 8 or 9 different types of honey which we got to taste and the man in told us all about the different healing qualities of each one.

In the evening, back at the hotel we read at the beach, had a good dinner with wine and we sat there so long the waiter brought us free ouzo (we came to find that most restaurants will eventually bring you a free something at the end of the meal). I don't usually like hard liquor but I actually quite liked ouzo-- Megs liked it too even though she hates licorice and to me it tastes exactly like licorice.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Greece, Day 1: the longest day ever

Sleeping at Heathrow

Passed out at the beach in Mykonos

On May 5th we were packed and ready, nervous because just days earlier flights from Seattle to Iceland (we were flying Iceland air) were canceled and a Greek strike was looming. Our flight was at 4pm and I was so keyed up that morning I took a drop in Bikram yoga class to calm my brain (and also to limber up before hours and hours of sitting on a plane). It was exactly what i needed-- I can never do much more than focus on yoga when I'm there.

I drove to pick up Megan in Wallingford and then picked up Marc at work, since he was coincidentally going to Montana for work that same day. Marc dropped Megs and I off at the terminal and since we were hours early, we had lunch at Seatac (did you know there is an Anthony's restaurant at Seatac?) The salad I had contained some kind of crunchy noodles most of which I picked off, but still caused me to cough for a couple hours afterward, making the later discovery of gluten eating abilities in Europe that much more strange.

Our first flight was 7 hours from Seattle to Iceland. We both took Homeopathic sleep aids which I combined with a half a dramamine in an attempt to sleep on the flight. Between the loud talking on the flight and the fact that it was only 4pm-10pm at home meant that despite my attempts I did not sleep more than an hour or so on the flight.

We had a quick 50 minute layover in Iceland (the airport looks like an Ikea!) where we got our passports stamped in and out of the country and went through security again -- I was selected for a random search of my person (not my bag just my body) which was hilarious because I was wearing leggings and a fitted t-shirt-- not sure where I could have been hiding something in that outfit but a nice security lady patted me down anyway and then we boarded another plane, this one a 3 hour flight, to London. I did manage to sleep another couple hours on the London leg of the flight as we arrived around 1am Seattle time. It was noon London time and our next flight, to Athens was not until 10pm. I had booked a late flight in case we wanted to actually try and go do something in London, but the lines at Customs were long, the tube takes an hour from the airport into downtown London and we were scared we'd miss our flight, so instead we spent 10 hours in Terminal one at Heathrow, which is one of the smallest and most boring. In a sleepy daze we paced up and down the length of the terminal. We went to the pharmacy 3 or 4 times for various reasons, ate two greasy meals (traditional English breakfast and then some kind of salad I've forgotten now later on). We found an empty corner and sort of slept awhile on hard benches, though every time I fell asleep another announcement over the intercom of flights coming and going woke me up.

We were so lucky we had booked the 10pm flight-- no flights were landing in Greece that day because of a strike-- ours the only flight to take off for Athens because we arrived at 4am-- technically the next day and after the end of the strike.

The flight to Athens was also loud and it was once again difficult to sleep. We arrived in Athens at 4am with another 5 hours to kill before our final flight to Mykonos. On the 4th trip through security that day they confiscated Megan's contact solution because even though it had a TSA approved symbol on it, apparently it was more than 100mL. The woman in charge of putting items through the scanner also yelled at us because apparently she likes to put things in the bin for you. Crazy how every airport and every security checker seems to make their own rules.

I had Greek yogurt with honey from a food cart in the airport-- the girl put almost more honey than yogurt on it but I decided at 4am it could be dessert or breakfast and I was much too tired to care so it didn't matter. There are lots of stores and things in the Athens airport as well as free email access. However, once you get past security there is absolutely nothing to do. It was much too loud, busy and chaotic for sleeping so we spent four hours sitting dazed, too tired to read, but unable to sleep either.

Finally we boarded our 30 minute flight to Mykonos, grabbed a cab and found our lovely hotel which was outside of town on the beach. We were very grateful for showers and then crashed at the beach (I completely passed out for about two hours). We spent a very leisurely day at the beach, ate a good dinner and then slept 11 hours that night. Finally, we had arrived and were ready to begin our vacation!

Friday, May 28, 2010

Re-entry trouble...

That is not sorbet....

I promise over the next few weeks I'm going to tell you all about my amazing adventure in Greece in great detail. I took notes so I could blog properly about the whole experience when I got back (I didn't have a computer consistently or I would have just done it as I went along-- actually, no I wouldn't have because I didn't want to spend my vacation in front of the computer!).

But first I'm going to tell you that I'm having a hard time adjusting to being home.

For one thing I have a very strange lingering case of jet lag. When we got back on Monday it was 5pm in Seattle and approximately 3am in Greece-- we were exhausted and in bed by 8:30pm, and then not surprisingly, woke up at 4:30 am. Every single day this week my body has decided this is the routine we are going to stick to-- I can't stay awake past about 8:45 and by 4:30am I'm wide awake. It's ridiculous. If I could push it back an hour I wouldn't mind but there is no reason to go to bed before it gets dark in the summer time.

What doesn't help is that I have absolutely no structure in my days now. Marc went back to work immediately. I have no where I have to be-- I am so happy to be finished with my internship (SO HAPPY) but I don't do very well without structured time and I have a feeling it is going to take me a little while to find full time employment. I also need to start studying for the RD exam, which doesn't excite me terribly but my options for jobs are limited without having taken it and I need to hurry up and get it over with.

Today was the first day that I had any energy at all-- Monday through Thursday I pretty much just laid on the couch and caught up on all the TV shows I missed on hulu although almost every show seemed to end the season with violent murders/deaths (Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, Chuck, Brothers and Sisters)-- the Grey's season finale was so scary to my poor disoriented, jet lagged self that I had to keep taking breaks from watching it and finally went online and found out what happens at the end before I could finish watching it! Thank goodness for the cheerful non-violence of Glee to balance everything out.

Now I have to tell you the weirdest part of my whole trip. In Greece I had ZERO trouble with gluten (as in, I could eat it with no reaction) and very minimal reaction to dairy of any kind-- people, for the first time in three years I had pizza, ice cream and bread and was FINE (okay, the pizza didn't make me feel great, but it wasn't horrible). Now that I'm home both gluten and dairy are again giving me asthma, fatigue and headaches. WHY on Earth would these foods have such a dramatically different effect in Europe? I have no explanation. (BTW it started because the bread that came with dinner looked so good I had 1/4 of a piece. Nothing happened so the next meal I had 1/2, etc until I was easily eating a loaf of bread myself over the course of the day). I am stubbornly continuing to eat gluten even though it is giving me headaches and fatigue because I want to get a Celiac test before I go off it again (the antibodies only show up when you've been eating it) and because even though I feel like crap I'm not looking forward to having to be on a restricted diet again.

So you might think having the door open to any food (I had gelato almost every day!) that I would have had some problems maintaining my weight. At least until I told you that we probably walked 6-10 hours every single day. My feet hurt like hell because I didn't have supportive enough shoes (more on this later) but my legs are in good shape! And I lost 3-4 pounds-- the capri pants I took with me were falling off of me by the time we got home and a lot of jeans I have in my closet at home that were too tight to wear fit perfectly now! I'm holding my breath that I can maintain this now that I'm not walking as a full time job (at some point I'm going to have to get off the couch and get moving again!)

The day before I left for Greece I quit my gym-- they switched management companies right after I joined and I really did not like the changes they were making. So now I get to spend some time seeing how many free 7 day trials I can go through at all the gyms within a 5 mile radius before I join somewhere-- I'm hoping I can figure out where I'm going to be working before I make a commitment. But I'll tell you all about the gyms in Lynnwood/South Everett too in case someone is in the market for a new one.

So much blogging to catch up on-- I'll post again soon!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Skinny jeans

It is amazing how much self-torture women are able to inflict upon themselves because they feel they don't fit into some sort of "ideal" category. Almost every woman I know has or at least has had, issues with food in their lives. This is one reason I gave up on trying to be an actress-- I saw that to be successful I would have to be at a weight that was not healthy for me-- as it is I have been weight-conscious since the third grade when I remember being mortified when my mom told my friend's mom that I weighed 100 pounds. (Sad that third grade girls even 20 years ago had this issue-- that same friend later became anorexic).

In my early 20s I put on about 12 pounds-- the ironic result, actually, of rebound weight gain from over-exercising and depression. I beat myself up about it, would diet and over-exercise to try and get it down, only to lose 5 or 6 pounds and then regain it and maybe more. I have maintained this same weight, within about a 5 pound range for 6 or 7 years now-- despite the initial gain I am still well within a healthy weight range for my height. I beat myself up about a two pound range-- for some reason when my weight ends in a 2 or lower I'm comfortable, but when it ends in 4 or more I feel very fat. I mostly have recovered from my tendency to extremes with calorie counting and over exercising, but at the beginning of March I unwisely decided to follow the workout and calorie recommendations in Jillian Michael's "Making the Cut" but, being type-A and crazy, I also added extra cardio. And predictably, I had a very dizzy week and a half on 1400 calories before I slowly started overeating when poor body rebelled at being starved. I KNOW that's not enough calories for me. I have a #$*@!#$#*! Master's Degree in Nutrition! But sometimes the psychosis of being an over-achieving, self-judging woman takes over common sense and higher education.

I will say this-- though I haven't been as consistent with JM's workouts as I was last month, I have continued them and I have seen changes in my body, despite not really losing weight and in fact despite eating more sugar than is good for me. The circuits make me feel strong and tighter.

A few other things have happened lately that have changed the way I feel about my body-- the first is that in preparation for my Greece trip I found a swim suit that is flattering and I feel great in and covers my less than ideal areas.

Second, last weekend I attended a workout session sponsored by Dove Deodorant and hosted by my friend Stevie (it was an amazingly intense workout-- I could barely walk for two days afterwards!). There was something that really hit me running around that gym with a bunch of women, all of us about the same age, all different shapes and sizes but all at similar fitness levels when I kind of realized there is nothing wrong with me the way I am. I think particularly working out with my friend E, who has undergone an incredible amount of struggles in her life with her weight and has really beaten the odds and is in fantastic shape now even with a new baby that was powerful for me.

As for the jeans-- I actually hate wearing jeans because I always wear the boot cut, wide leg, Clinton and Stacy approved style which make me feel kind of dowdy. Due to my curvy shape I have never found a pair of skinny jeans or even straight leg that didn't look ridiculous on me or weren't too tight in the rear. But something changed-- I don't know if it's the workouts or just a shift in my own perception of my body, but I was trying on a pair of black leggings the other day intending to wear them under skirts and they actually looked good on their own. Then I was at the mall today and on a whim tried on a pair of skinny jeans at the Gap and they not only fit perfectly, but actually looked good.

I feel like in the aftermath of a self-abuse relapse I've found a place where I am feeling good about myself in the place where I am at. I would like to be in better shape, and losing a jeans size would be nice but I'm finding peace with being the size and shape I am right now, and that's an amazing feeling.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mental Discipline

The last couple weeks I've been working out really hard, trying to get in shape a bit before my trip in May. This evening I went to hot yoga for the first time in months. I expected to be pretty dizzy. One of the rules of Bikram yoga is you are not supposed to leave the room for the entire 90 minutes. Partly it's an issue of discipline-- you are getting used to the heat, even if all you do is lay on the floor. The other reason you aren't supposed to leave the room is if you go in the bathroom and pass out the instructor won't know. It was especially hot tonight and there were a lot of new students. I surprised myself by getting through the entire standing series without having to lay down. Usually that's the part of the class where I get dizzy or feel bad. I don't know why, but it seemed to get hotter as the class went on. People kept getting up and leaving the room-- less than half the class actually finished. I was so hot that toward the end I was fighting an anxiety attack-- but I kept breathing and focusing on each pose and made it through the entire class. (No laying around at the end though-- I got out of that room quick!) It was definitely an exercise in mental concentration. I was sitting near a group of teenage girls afterwards who had left the room talking about how they felt like they were going to DIE in there. I think sometimes we give up too soon on things because we think we can't do it. I'm sitting here watching the Biggest loser-- all of these people thought they couldn't do strenuous workouts, and here they are 9 weeks later working out 6 hours a day and having lost as much as 100 pounds already-- they have had to break down their own mental barriers and found that they actually could do more than they ever have before. What if we stopped setting up road blocks for ourselves and worked to our potential instead of to our expectations?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Dairy is a no-go

Last week I experimented with butter. I first had about a 1/2 tablespoon on a piece of gluten free toast and didn't notice any effect. Excited, I had another tablespoon or so on popcorn and many weird things happened. I was on the phone so I didn't notice at first that I was kind of hyper. My face got really hot (though not red) and I was very aware of my cheeks, as though my face was swollen, though I looked normal. I also had some breathing issues and a general feeling of unease-- all of these symptoms lasted until the next morning, as well as crushing fatigue that lasted a couple days. On Sunday night I had one tiny bite of Marc's pizza and though I'm not positive it's correlated, all day Monday I was absolutely exhausted. This does not bode well.

Phase one of my great adventure is planned: my oldest and dearest friend Megan and I are going to Greece for 10 days in May. Megan and I have been friends for 24 years, since the first grade, and traveled many times together on school trips. In 24 years I only remember us ever even getting mildly annoyed with each other once (during a stressful History Day project in high school). She will be a really fun and easy travel companion.

During phase two of my adventure Marc is meeting me in Europe for another 10 days. We have not decided yet where we will go-- we have been talking about France/Spain/Italy along the Riviera, but we also might stay in Greece, since there are so many islands we could easily do another 10 days without repeating anything Megan and I do.

I am counting the days-- less than 9 weeks! until my internship is finally over and I get to go on this fantastic adventure with two of my favorite people.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Playing with fire

I have begun a testing period to try and determine a level of dairy exposure that I can live with and to see if perhaps I can develop a little more of a tolerance. The impetus for this is the likely possibility of some travel later this year to places where it would be very difficult and sad to completely avoid. (I promise to tell you all about my travel plans once they are for sure-- I don't want to jinx it!)

I intended to start with small amounts of butter, since butter has relatively less protein (which is usually what people react to when they have allergy) but to which I sadly am still allergic. While I was at the store buying very good butter yesterday I looked longingly at the yogurt and decided to try that too. I bought one single serve container of cream top plain yogurt. I have never liked plain yogurt without honey or fruit or something to make it sweeter, but let me tell you that first bite yesterday was fantastic. I haven't had yogurt in probably five years. I ate a couple bites, then waited a half hour, then a couple bites more. I think my tolerance level was at about half the container-- after I ate the whole thing I didn't have as severe of a reaction as I thought I would but my nose was running and my breathing was not good, due it seemed to a lot of mucus production in my esophagus. I woke up feeling kind of bloaty too. So test one-- 8 oz plain yogurt is too much, but not disastrous (though I imagine repeated exposures to that amount would be). After I get contamination in a restaurant I often develop a cough and I didn't get that so perhaps that's a gluten reaction.

Now I will wait a couple days and try again with small amounts of butter.

Monday, February 22, 2010

The last valentine

Above, my grandma and my step-grandpa on their wedding day.

Two weeks ago I spent some unexpected down time making a Valentine's day care package for my family in Oregon. I made candy, bought cards and a little pink bear for my cancer stricken grandmother. I mailed it off figuring it would arrive if not by Valentine's day by the following Tuesday. Unfortunately, my grandma never saw that little bear. On February 15th she succumbed to cancer-- her pain, ever constant for several years and agonizing for the last few days is at last over. I went through last week in a weird swing from a crying daze to completely fine and in denial. My brother does not have a phone right now and having to go physically track him down to tell him the news was tough. Even tougher, was when I arrived at her house on Friday after a 6 hour train ride. Something about being there and seeing her things without her there was overwhelming.

In the end, it was an incredibly cathartic weekend. I helped my mom go through grandma's closet-- I get my love of clothes from her. She always looked completely chic and put together. She also was incredibly tiny-- at 5'5, she never weighed more than 115lbs-- usually much less (in her later years she struggled to keep her weight above 90 pounds). Still, she had a strong presence and it wasn't until I held her clothes to me and tried on her rings that I fully understood how small she was. Many of her clothes, size extra-small she had modified to make the waist even smaller. She made many of her own clothes and though I myself am not at all large, most of her pants would only make it half way around me. She had a few shirts that were cut larger (she often wore things on the baggy side, perhaps to make herself appear larger) and those now belong to me, as well as a number of pieces of her jewelry-- I am now wearing her wedding ring from her second marriage on my pinky-- the only finger it fits (and it's snug).

We spent hours going through old photo albums-- at one point grandma must have just decided to put everything in albums quickly-- there were several albums that were a complete mishmash-- a picture of my mom in high school, followed by three pictures of her second husband's family, followed by pictures of me when I was a baby followed by pictures of my grandfather, who died before I was born. My dad made a slide show of pictures from her life for the funeral, from which I learned so much more about who she was when she as young-- she was a baton twirler in high school, very outdoorsy as a young mother (they took lots of backpacking trips) and always, always looked put together. She wore things that would look absolutely ridiculous on someone else but that completely worked on her. She liked large substantial necklaces, asian art and high waisted, wide leg pants with short boxy tops.

The funeral was an exercise in self-restraint-- it wouldn't have been appropriate for me to cry hysterically through it, though I kind of wanted to. It was a little more formal than we're used to, due to the unavailability of the Presbyterian church (all it's staff were on retreat all week) it was held in the Episcopal church. It was a nice service, but what had me in tears was so many of her friends and family telling me how much she had talked about me and what a wonderful lady she was. Grandma loved cats and had tons of kitty trinkets around her house. Mom and I each wore one of her cat pins to the funeral, and I think she would have loved that.

When I came home Marc asked me if I had been close with my grandma. In the last 10 years or so I have only seen her a couple times a year and so perhaps not. But when I was a little girl she lived with us and she read to me every day and took me for walks all over Eugene. We had some kind of connection that I can't quite explain that was different than with anyone else I know-- I loved her very much and I wish she had lived closer so I could have spent more time with her.

So though I will miss her, going to her funeral, seeing that my mom and uncle are going to be okay and being able to say goodbye in that way gave me a sense of closure and peace about her death that I don't think I would have had if I had stayed home. I still get teary if I think about her (like in writing this post) but I truly feel she has gone to a better place.

And today the sun is shining and I feel more at peace than I have in quite a while....

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Outside my comfort zone

I've been in kind of a rut lately. I don't do very well with too much time on my hands-- I need structure and plans-- I've been spending too much unstructured time sitting around doing nothing.

Last week's attempt at going from sedentary to super active backfired the way it always does-- by Thursday I was so exhausted I couldn't move-- partly I think because 7 hours of sleep a night wasn't enough to recover. So other than a walk around Greenlake this weekend I haven't gotten much exercise since last Wednesday. Tonight I return to my beloved kickboxing and will try to combine a more moderate approach with appropriate rest. The problem is that the exercise does my brain a world of good, but my body can't keep up with the amount of exercise my brain needs. (Story of my type A life-- which actually should be the title of this blog, no?)

I also have been losing my sugar battle. The combination of too much unstructured time, fear of unemployment (I don't know where all these rising healthcare jobs are, but they aren't in dietetics in Seattle that's for sure), and sadness over my grandmother's failing health all combined into me once again, turning to my old abusive friend sugar to comfort me. This has only made me more depressed, moody and sad, creating a vicious emotional cycle and tightening pants. So it's time for sugar and I to take a break. The only way it ever works for me to get off it is to go cold turkey and make no excuses, so that's what I'm doing-- starting NOW.

I'm also pushing my own boundaries in other ways-- trying to meet new people and find new projects. Marc and I are tentatively signed up for a co-ed soccer team that starts in March. I have not played soccer since I was 6 years old, I am not a good runner and I have absolutely no coordination, but trying to be more social outside and getting some exercise, plus an activity we can do together all sound like good things. I was inspired by a really weird movie we saw a few weeks ago, where Jennifer Aniston's character's outlet was playing indoor soccer and I thought-- that sounds fun, where can I play soccer?

We are also in the early stages of planning a big trip for May after I finish my internship and I'm starting to get excited about the possibilities.

Spring is coming... thank God for that.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The Refuge

(The title of this post is a little shout out to fellow newsies fans...)

Despite many resolutions at the beginning of the year I had a really hard time getting motivated to go to the gym. Sometimes I would walk and jog around my neighborhood (not terribly pedestrian friendly) or do exercise videos on demand on cable, but I wasn't really working that hard or often enough but I couldn't get inspired to go-- the gym I was going to was crazy busy after about 3:30 in the afternoon, and I really don't like getting up before 5am to work out (soooo not a morning person!)

I started looking into other options, and found that a new gym opened about four miles away so I went to go check it out. The new gym is the same company as a gym I used to work out at downtown before I started going to 24 hour fitness, and it opened in a building that used to be Marc's favorite 24 hour fitness branch until 24 hour opened another branch that cost extra to use (which is why the Lynnwood branch got so busy, because no one wanted to pay extra to use the new gym!) I always hated the Everett branch because the equipment always seemed to be broken and it was really dark (probably because they knew they were opening a new one and didn't keep it up).

Well the new gym is still kind of dark and has yucky fluorescent lighting, but it is very uncrowded which is great, has good classes and, how to describe this? It has much better energy. Excuse me for getting metaphysical for a moment but my old gym always had a very frantic, loud frenzied sort of energy that I found exhausting. The new gym feels very laid back and community oriented. Plus, I've been going to this class called "Ultimate Kickboxing" and I think I'm addicted. I don't really like aerobics because I'm not coordinated enough, but I used to do tae-bo in college. This new class involves kickboxing with the big heavy punching bags and OH MY do I love it. It's a killer work out-- the first day I nearly vomited, but it is SO FUN!! Other days I do weight circuits and run, and as soon as I post this I'm off to try the yoga class. Instead of dreading the gym I look forward to it-- I've been going two out of every three days. It also helps that my schedule right now allows me to come home, eat something and relax a little before going to the gym. I'm tired and sore a lot as I get used to this routine but I'm enjoying it and hope I can keep it up!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What if your your dietitian is fat?

About a year ago I was having a conversation with one of my friends, also a nutritionist, about how we both wanted to lose a few pounds and get in better shape before we finished school because we felt that as healthcare professionals it is important for us to practice what we preach and project the right image. Another classmate, trying to be helpful but actually was kind of insulting by telling me that I was better off as I was because overweight people would be less likely to trust someone who was super skinny because they would feel I wouldn't know what they were going through. Just like a hairdresser with bad hair, or a personal trainer who is out of shape, I think people in the health industry should be an advertisement for their services before they ever open their mouths.

Lately I have been noticing a lot of people who are health and fitness professionals who clearly are struggling with their own health. For example, yesterday I went to an all day workshop on Renal dietetics put on by the dietitians at a major dialysis center in Seattle. It was a great workshop and they were all very knowledgeable about what they do, but I couldn't help but notice several of the dietitians were overweight, one of whom was bordering on obese. Last year when my school was reviewed by a committee of dietitians from the ADA the lead dietitian was one of the largest women I've ever seen. Then, today I went and toured a new gym near my house and the very sweet man who showed me around was enormous-- probably 6'6 and over 300lbs.

I have long struggled to keep my weight under control and while there is a bitchy part of my brain that snaps to judgment of these people (I will admit it!) my heart breaks for them-- it is a sign of our broken healthcare and food system that even the people who are highly educated in health can't seem to follow their own advice (myself included sometimes!)

In fact, the reason I went to check out this new gym is that I can't seem to make myself go to the gym lately-- I'm hoping that a change in scenery and a less crowded facility might get me more inspired to show up more regularly-- so maybe I can start following my own advice!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Ode to my Grandma

I am fortunate at 30 years old to have had both my grandmothers still living. My grandfathers died before I was born, and in fact my mom's stepdad and the only man I knew as grandfather also passed away a few years ago. When I was a baby, until I was three my maternal grandmother Frances lived with us and took care of me. I remember her being a fantastic story reader. She is an avid reader, passionately liberal, and, until recently a wonderful gourmet cook. My brother and I would go spend a week every summer staying with my grandparents and my grandma would make us all this fancy food we wouldn't eat. To grandma, simple mashed potatoes were red potatoes mashed with the skin, cream, green onions and tons of spices. She also was great at sewing and knitting-- until I was about 6 she made all of my clothes and made (and mended repeatedly) the baby blanket I carried everywhere with me as a toddler. She and my grandpa traveled a lot and she brought me dolls from everywhere they went, and then made tons of doll clothes for them all. As her only grandchildren, my brother and I were very spoiled and loved. In college when I was scraping by paying my own way through undergrad, my grandma sent me $100 every month to help pay my rent. She has always supported me in any way she could.

My grandma has unfortunately been in poor health for several years. She has arthritis which has lead to the degradation of cartilage in one of her shoulders-- she literally has none left and has bone on bone causing pain so severe she has been on high dose narcotics for years because she is not strong enough to withstand surgery. Narcotics have severe side-effects including loss of appetite and constipation. For the past few years she has had a hard time keeping her weight above 90 pounds (when she was younger she was 5'5-- despite some height shrinkage and being very small framed 90 pounds is definitely too thin).

After increasing abdominal pain over the past several weeks she had a scan that revealed masses on her pancreas and liver. Though the results are not back from the lab yet, she most likely has pancreatic cancer that is spreading. Her doctor is guessing she has at best maybe six months left to live. Given the grim prognosis of pancreatic cancer, plus her age and her delicate state, there is nothing they can do but keep her comfortable.

I don't really know what to do with this information. She has been so unwell the past couple of years that my parents moved to Oregon to be near her (and my uncle and other grandmother who all have health issues) and my mom has been a nearly full time care taker for a year and a half. Cancer at 84 years old is sad but not the same tragedy as cancer in the young. I am glad that her pain will come to an end and that she will get to be with my grandfather, who I never got to meet but who was the love of her life and her soulmate. On the other hand, I love her so much and I hate that she has to go through this and hate it even more that she is leaving the rest of us behind. I have never been very good at goodbyes.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Holiday Recap

The delinquent blogger returns! I did find enough Christmas spirit to put up my tree and get my gifts in order. We had a nice quiet Christmas with Marc's family the weekend before Christmas and then we went to Oregon for actual Christmas where I watched my mom get very stressed trying to get a very complicated dinner on the table and vowed that next year I'm either doing the cooking or not going-- no one should be so stressed on Christmas! On our way home we stopped and had dinner with my Aunt, Uncle and Cousins in Portland which was really fun (although bless their hearts they got a birthday cake for my mom and me since we both had big birthdays this year and I didn't have the heart to tell them I couldn't eat it, so I made Marc "share" mine with me and didn't actually eat any.)

Last Wednesday was Marc & my 9th wedding anniversary. I realized yesterday he has now been my husband for three times longer than he was my boyfriend. Craziness. He had to work that day, but we did go out to dinner at a new Indian place in Mill Creek. I told him I didn't feel like we needed to make a big deal out of it-- I am grateful to have him in my life every day. Maybe next year we'll be able to afford to go somewhere to celebrate a decade together.

I didn't really get my energy back until New Year's Day. I'm not sure what possessed me but about 4 in the afternoon I suddenly felt inspired to do all of the cleaning and organizing projects that have been haunting me for weeks and I cleaned like mad for about 9 hours. My house is cleaner than it has been in years-- I only have one last organization task of taking out everything in my kitchen cabinets and the freezer and reorganizing left to do.

I got together with some of my oldest and dearest friends on Saturday-- two of them have children now, one only two months old (born on my birthday!) and the other about 18 months. Both are the cutest little boys you have ever seen. I realized two things: 1. I really really want a baby and 2. It has been a very long time since I actually even held a baby and might need some lessons or something before I have my own because I have no idea what I'm doing!! At any rate career is going to have to take precedence for a bit longer before I go down that road.

My energy has mostly been better the last few days (compared to the first two weeks of break where I couldn't hardly get off the couch) although yesterday Marc and I went shopping for clothes for him (not a fun prospect) and I was overwhelmingly exhausted. I've been trying to figure out if it's just finally getting caught up on sleep, having eaten more iron lately (I seem to have chronic deficiency) or something else that is helping.

I'm lucky that since I'm on semesters I am off for one more week. I have granola bars to hand out at Whole Foods stores later today (my oh so glamorous job) and tomorrow my parents are coming to visit for a few days, since we didn't get much time together in our whirlwind trip to Oregon (between having to sleep on the floor and Marc's cat allergies we really can't stand to stay longer than a couple days).

Marc and I also committed to give up all sugar and processed foods for a month starting next Saturday after my family leaves. We've had a couple holiday months of a bit more sugar and crappy stuff than I care to admit to and we could both use a healthy detox. I'm also trying to get him to eliminate dairy and gluten for that time to test for sensitivity-- I'm almost certain he has lactose intolerance but I want to see if it's more than that. He's not terribly enthusiastic about it, but then I make 90% of his food anyway.

I have been very engrossed in reading a book called "The UltraMind Solution" by Mark Hyman, MD. It is very much a culmination of what I learned in my Functional Medicine class, and though I disagree with Dr. Hyman on a point or two, overall it is exactly what I would write if I were going to write a book. When I finish reading I'll post a summary and tell you all about it-- I'm also in talks to design a nutrition class based on the book for a Wellness Center in Kirkland-- more on that later too.