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.