A journey in words...

Welcome to my journey in words! A story about health, exercise, weight loss, food addiction, humor, size discrimination, sarcasm, social commentary and all the rest that’s rattling around inside my head...

I now twit, er... or tweet. Anyway, you can follow me on twitter @Aeon1202

Friday, October 26, 2012

Ten Years

I met Ted in a mutual friend’s dining room where I had come over to play a game.  He, being at the time the local comic book guy, had dropped by to deliver a couple of comics for my friends.  When introduced, I looked up and smiled – and according to Ted, he knew.

It wasn’t so simple for me, at first I was very unsure.  Hesitant to be with someone a tiny bit older than myself, hesitant to be with someone with “baggage”, hesitant to be with anyone at all.  At twenty five I’d experienced pain and was content having my own apartment, my own job, my own space, and my weekends all to myself.

Ted never gave up.  When our first date was a total disaster, he became my friend.  He took me to brunch, he listened to me endlessly, and he worked harder than I could have imagined anyone working to be a positive part of my life.

I knew I loved him the night he sat up awake all night long holding me in his arms while I was sick with the stomach flu, running back and forth to the bathroom with me to hold my hair every time I had to throw up.

It’s not Disney romance, but it’s extremely real and completely true.  It’s what matters more than flowers and poetry (although there is that as well).

My experience of true love hasn’t been a thunderbolt from above, it’s been a fire kindled by selfless acts of devotion and nurtured slowly over years to a conflagration that lights my way every single night and warms me through the coldest conditions that our world has to offer.  Every single year, it grows stronger until my heart feels like it could burst from loving him.

People have said they loved me before, but if actions don’t follow the words then the words have no meaning.  Everything that Ted does speaks to me of love; every laugh given, every thoughtful remark, every time he’s put me first.

Last night I lay beside him and he thanked me for being his wife and partner through this difficult world we live in.  He thanked me.

Thank you, Ted.  Your face is my most beautiful vision, your voice my favorite song, the life you’ve given me the greatest love story I could have ever imagined.

Thank you for ten years.  Thank you for many, many more.

All my love is yours, always.  Happy Anniversary.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Guest Post: Temporary Vegan

Guest blogger, Joanna, here.

I don’t think I’ll ever be totally vegetarian. I love seafood too much and I love tasting new and interesting foods.

However, I've wanted to add more vegan meals to my diet. I have a dairy sensitivity, I don’t digest meat terribly well, I should be eating more vegetables, and I hate the meat industry with a white hot passion. Yeah, I should be leaning more vegan.

Last month, The Physicians’ Committee for Responsible Medicine hosted a 21-Day Vegan Kickstart. I gave it a try. The September 3rd official start date seemed a little funny to me. I guess since it was a holiday here in the States, it was chosen as a good starting point. Instead, I started on the first of the month.

The biggest change to my routine was my weekly visit to the local diner. I'm a regular now and the waitresses know my usual order: coffee, 2 eggs over-easy, home fries & rye toast. Oh, well. That had to stop for a bit. 

Grocery shopping was a pain at first. I spent ages reading labels on the few processed foods I tend to buy. In some cases there were inexpensive vegan alternatives, in others, I decided to go without.  

Over the course of the month I tried new things. I bought some nutritional yeast to add to things for flavoring. I pressed and scrambled tofu. I baked things without using eggs. It's been great.

All in all Vegan September was a success. Out of the whole month only a few days had non-vegan moments. (Oddly enough, I think they all involved pancakes in diners.) Dining out is pretty rough when it comes to chain restaurants. I had to rely on vegan message boards discussing fast food restaurants. Fortunately, in the age of smartphones, I had the internet in my pocket at all times.

I have several vegetarian friends, and one vegan friend that I see regularly. I received only support from them. Also, many of my friends have other sorts of food allergies and special diets. So happily, the people around me were supportive. Online, I know several vegans including a vegan cookbook author. Again, nothing but support from the internet.

Only one person has given me any flack. At first they were dismissive, but now they're more pitying. "I'm sorry you can't eat this", they said of a sandwich the other day.

"Why do you say that?" I asked. "It's my decision to not eat that."

I guess it's a defensive reaction, but I'm not certain why since I don't criticize their food choices. It's strange, especially since we have vegetarian friends that this person doesn't pity at all.

It's October now, and my official vegan experiment is over. I haven't had any stomach problems all month. This is a wonderful thing. I even lost a few pounds.

For the first of the month I went to the diner and had two eggs over-easy. When the plate was brought out I found myself indifferent to my breakfast. I ate the eggs but they weren't special, and I even felt a little guilty about eating them. I realized I would have been just as happy in the diner with half a grapefruit and home fries.

My diner experience was telling. I've decided I'm going to stick with veganism a bit longer. I don't think I'll be perfect, especially when dining out, but vegan meals at home are easy and fun to make. Especially now that my pantry has been veganized.

My beloved diner coffee. Thank you for being vegan. (Let's not think about organic quite yet.)


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Wasting Food

Or why I just put a perfectly good buttermilk biscuit down the garbage disposal.

The two skinny males that I live with seem to have decided recently that Popeye’s chicken and biscuits are the best thing ever.  They are kind enough to indulge in this tempting food which I absolutely cannot have when I’m not home.

The problem is that they never eat all they buy, and so the leftovers wind up forgotten in my refrigerator for roughly two to three days before my willpower breaks and I consume them.  I then cry and rail against my poor, unsuspecting husband for sabotaging me.

Not to be melodramatic – but leaving that stuff in the fridge of a food addict is about the same as leaving an open bottle of Jack Daniels on the kitchen table when you live with a recovering alcoholic.  It is absolutely cruel and unfair, whether the person doing it realizes it or not.

Tonight I got home from class, and while going into the fridge for some water, I noticed the Popeye’s box.  I immediately picked it up and said: “Whatever is in here needs to be gone before tomorrow night, because I’ll be here alone and have to cook dinner for myself.”

To which my husband replied: “It’s just one biscuit.”

He’s right, it’s just one.  Here’s the nutritional information on that one:

Calories: 240
Fat: 14 grams
Sodium: 500 mg.
Carbohydrates: 25 grams

That’s just ONE.

He went to throw it in the trash and I took it away and put it down the garbage disposal just to be extra safe.  I’d like to think it’s utterly ridiculous to think that I’d have taken it back out of the garbage, but you can never be too safe.

It may seem crazy to some, but I’m important enough and this is important enough to me to warrant this kind of extreme.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Full Disclosure

As I’ve commented on before, about once a week I come across another news article screaming headlines about the “Obesity Epidemic” and how much of taxpayers money is being gobbled down by out of control fat people, causing an overwhelming drain on the health care system.

Almost daily, I come across posts on blogs from self important people boasting about their own socially acceptable clothing size and all the hard work they do to maintain it.  Repeatedly, they advise people of my own size to, “STOP EATING MCDONALDS AND GO EXERCISE!”

So, in the interest of full disclosure, I’m now going to strip for you.  I’m going far, far deeper than clothing and showing you what this 267 pound, 37 year old woman looks like on the inside.

Below are the real numbers from two health blood screenings I had performed about a week and a half apart.  I’ve arranged them into a handy chart for your convenience.

Type of Test
09/18/2012 Results
09/28/2012 Results
Ideal Range
Total Cholesterol
184 mg/dL
184 mg/dL
Less than 200
LDL Cholesterol
107 mg/dL
118 mg/dL
100 to 129
HDL Cholesterol
53 mg/dL
42 mg/dL
More than 60
118 mg/dL
121 mg/dL
Less than 150
Fasting Blood Sugar
110 mg/dL
95 mg/dL
Below 110
Hemoglobin A1C

4% to 5.9%
Blood Pressure
144 / 70
122 / 80
120 / 80

As you can see almost all of my numbers fall into the normal, healthy range.  The first blood pressure check was performed at work by our health screeners who tend to stress me out (also they tested it first thing in the morning immediately after I’d run up two flights of stairs).  When it was re-checked by my personal physician the second time it was right on target in the ideal range, which is where it’s been for me for all the six years I’ve been a patient there.

The hemoglobin A1C test was performed at my request because I didn’t like the borderline 110 number I got on September 18th.  The A1C doesn’t just look at a single day the way the standard test does, but gathers a three month overall picture of where your blood sugar tends to fall.  My normal score of 5.7% puts me inside the “low risk” category for adult onset diabetes.  Also, as you can see, on the second test my daily blood sugar result had fallen down into the normal range as well.

I was also informed that I have “excellent” liver and kidney functions, although they didn’t give me numbers for that.

My HDL (good) cholesterol score is a little too low.  This is a common problem for people trying to loose weight because we restrict calories and fats, even good fats.  Avocadoes, nuts and fatty fish are all good sources.  I eat avocado and nuts fairly regularly but I’ve been slacking on the fish.  If anyone else knows of another good source I’m very open to suggestions!

These results are not a fluke, and I am not a freak of nature.  This naked picture of the inside of my body is the direct result of the fact that I exercise about five times a week, I keep to a low meat diet, I restrict sugar and carbs, and (surprise surprise) I don’t eat fast food.  Most recently I’ve also cut artificial sweeteners from my diet and almost all caffeine, and I’m happily reaping the benefits of increased sleep because of it.

It’s difficult for me to fully convey how painful it is to be judged as inferior anyway, despite all this extremely hard work, based solely on the way I look.  The reason our health screeners stress me out so much, is because despite these numbers they still score me as a 72 (or a “C”) for health and label me high risk for everything, solely based on my BMI being too high for them.  They don’t acknowledge any of the work I do, they merely say, “TOO FAT!”

I watch videos where people call for the government to regulate what people are eating, because they shouldn’t have to pay for health costs generated by slobs like me.

I read article after article, and opinion after opinion on why people just can’t understand why the fatties can’t seem to stop chowing down on so much fast food, their smug and sanctimonious faces aimed squarely in my direction.

Make no mistake here, my journey is no longer health based.  I HAVE ACHIEVED good health already and I claim that prize as fully my own.  I carry it around inside my chest because it’s the only place I can.  It has to be enough because it’s a badge that no one else can see.

My remaining journey now is 100% aesthetic.  Maybe that’s shallow.  No, actually I’m sure it is shallow.  But it’s my choice and my journey to make should I choose to.  I am not a drain on anyone’s health care costs and I will no longer accept guilt and shame, or a lack of acknowledgement for all the work I have and continue to put in.  What I am going through is not the business of, nor the concern of the American Health Associates.  Period.

So I read and absorb all these things, strap my armor securely in place over my battered heart, and then I get up, crank up the music, and launch into yet another of a hundred thousand workouts.