Weight Loss Progress

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: 5k, 5k, Dizzy, Dizzy, Exercise, Half-Marathon, Health, No Whining, Vestibular Migraine, Weight Loss

Today I busted through a milestone weight. I honestly cannot remember the last time my weight was this low, no foolin’. It was definitely before Naughty Bear was born.

It’s been a lot of work and a big sacrifice since I started back up again in September. I had gained somewhere around 20 pounds back after I got hit with the vestibular migraines and the medication had me drugged and sleeping a lot. That on top of the now inherent fatigue kicked my ass. I still tried to eat healthy, but gave up on South Beach during that time because I felt like I was just eating and sleeping all the time.

While I still believe that the maintenance phase of South Beach is the best way to eat long term, I just couldn’t keep it up anymore with the slow creep of weight gain that was occurring.

I started eating carbs again, although not pigging out or going overboard. I know their effects on me. I get sluggish, puffy, sleepy and am quick to hunger again. But having them limited for so long, I dove straight into whole grain breads and pastas. Om to the nom!

I finally got fed up and started the Couch to 5k program again, which naturally led me to watching what I was eating. Eventually I made my way to Weight Watchers Online and haven’t looked back. Since I started that I’ve lost 24 pounds, surviving Thanksgiving, Christmas, birthdays and other excuses to gorge. I definitely did some backsliding, but have come pretty closely to finding a balance that works for me.

After successfully running an entire 5k on Thanksgiving, I felt amazing and motivated to do more. About a week after that, my medication changed and it literally knocked me on my ass. I was unable to really get moving again until January when I eased into walking again. My running started again with the Runkeeper training program that fellow runner Mur Lafferty told me about. I really love it, but will go into that in another post.

I’m now training for a 10k in June. It’s difficult because I never know from day to day if I’ll be able to run, since the migraines make it impossible. I’ve found I can run dizzy, but I can’t run with a migraine. So I’m registered now for two 5k’s and one 10k and I don’t know if I’ll be able to run all, or any of them when it comes to race day.

I am also prone to getting migraines after a tough run, but I figure I’d likely get one anyways so don’t let that deter me. I always am dizzy after a run, to varying degrees. And dizziness is less noticeable when I have a migraine, so there’s a silver lining, right?

I think my motivation is driven by being out of control of my life. I can’t control how I feel, at least not yet. My current doctor feels that if this treatment doesn’t improve things, short of tweaking dosages there is nothing else he can do for me. I’ll be seeking a new doctor after we move to an area with a wider pool of medical specialists. Not being able to control how I feel means that I can’t control if I can work. I already discovered that college coursework was nigh impossible due to memory and comprehension problems I’ve developed. I’m hoping these are due to medication, because it is very troubling.

I decided to embrace the things I can control – what I eat and whether or not I exercise. So I do what I need to in order to reach my goals, and so far it’s working. I’m not saying I’ll make it all the way to my goal, but I’m nine pounds from where the doctor wanted me to return to her for a health evaluation to see how much more, if any, I need to lose. My own goal is ten pounds more than that because as I look at myself I find it impossible to be only nine pounds away.

No, this isn’t bragging or lecturing or my telling you what to do to lose weight. I’m not that arrogant. This is just a post I wanted to write for my own blog, so that when I begin to slip I can remember how I felt at this moment in time. I’m not embarrassed to say that I’m humbly proud of myself. When I finally reach my own goal, I’ll have lost over a hundred pounds. I’ve grown tired of using my illness and near constant fatigue as an excuse. I feel more energized after a workout, and feel better emotionally afterward so it’s no longer an excuse, it’s a lie.

I did this. Me. No weird pills, no crash diet, no tricks.

Sweaty, breathless, aching, exhausted and sore, I did this.

Baking healthy desserts instead of the fat and sugar laden ones of my childhood.

Trying one bite, maybe two instead of a whole serving.

Tracking everything I eat and drink, and every calorie I burn during exercise.

Trying healthier alternatives and exploring vegan and vegetarian meals, thus bringing more and more variety into my life that keep me from getting bored and stopping at (gag) fast food restaurants. (More on this in another post.)

I. Did. This.

And I can keep going until I reach my goal, unless I get in my own way. I’m refraining from posting ‘before’ pictures until I reach my goal. It feel presumptuous otherwise, so that will be my reward. Well, one of them.

No more excuses, just forward motion.

Hard Work and Good Fortune

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Exercise, Family, Friends, Half-Marathon, Mom, No Whining, Soulful, Weight Loss

In these days of migraines, allergy symptoms, and tiles being blown from our roof it’s easy to get a bit saddened. Add to that financial issues from a now longish-term illness preventing me from making any real income and it’s a down-right downer of a time.

But take heart, dear reader, because you never know when fortune will befall you and hard work will pay off.

  • We have a fantastic week ahead full of fun, frolic and friendship that we’ll carry in our hearts for a long time.
  • I’ve hit the “lost 10% of my flab” goal. I’ve got a long way to go, but am damned encouraged.
  • My half-marathon training is coming along nicely. I will never win a race, but I will definitely finish it.
  • Today I’m submitting paperwork that will create our very own small business, teensy even, in the hopes of generating income at home since I can’t get traditional employment until I can hopefully get my health issues better managed.
  • And the best news of all? My father, sister and brother are 100% behind the publishing of my Mom’s short story. I’m giving myself two weeks to develop a good plan to move forward in the request for submissions, and will post details as soon as I have them. This is a passion project that I can’t wait to begin shaping.

Happy Friday, indeed!

Road to Arkansas and Back ~ Final Thoughts

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Family, Friends, Kaylee, Mom, No Whining, Our Kids, Our Kids, Soulful, Twitter/Facebook, Vestibular Migraine, Weight Loss

Note: If you haven’t read the first five installments, plus the reason for this trip, you may want to start with the links below before reading this post. Also, know that this was stream of thought and confessional, therefore very long. I intended this to serve as my memory since the trip was as chaotic as attending Dragon*Con, and I didn’t want to forget a thing because of its importance to me.
Reason for the trip
Day One

Day Two
Day Three
Day Four
Day Five

Final Thoughts
It took me awhile to sort out how I was feeling after waking up on Friday. It was like a dark cloud settled over me, and I chalked it up to the migraine and extreme fatigue. But it was more than that. I realized the similarity between it and my Mom’s last Thanksgiving. Well, actually the day after her last Thanksgiving. She was near despondent, slept all day and just couldn’t be roused to do anything, including the physical therapy that she so loved and looked forward to. I was terrified, but my conversations with the staff and doctor said that they saw it with many of their patients after a holiday or celebration. They called it post-holiday letdown, where the patients would sort of pull inside themselves and grieve what their expectations had been versus what the reality and likely length of their life was.

Obviously, this was no where near as painful as that, but I did realize that after I initially bounded out of bed, planning to take on the world that I ended up back in bed with a migraine and licking my wounds, so to speak. There were many ups and downs during the trip, and a lot that I can’t say here for obvious reasons. But “let down” is definitely a key part to what I was feeling the day after my return.

The one thing that screams at me, is that I didn’t have more time with LT. Had I thought that Naughty Bear and I were capable of driving the entire way without stopping, I would have left a day later to have had more time with LT. Because reflecting back on the trip, I still just really ache for more time with him. Now, I knew this trip would be all about Naughty Bear’s move back, but I was sure that I would be able to spend one night with LT, just the two of us. The one night that would have been possible, I ended up facilitating the meeting with Roomie. My contribution there was huge and many prickly situations were soothed, so I’m glad I did it for Naughty Bear and the ex’s sake. That was followed by dinner with the ex and his family. It was a fantastically good time, so I don’t regret the trade-off. I just wish we had left a day later and planned on driving straight through the night. It’s entirely possible that we would have had to stop based on the migraine I had most of yesterday. I can’t imagine that I wouldn’t have had it had we stayed in the stressful environment. Still, I want more time with my son. Call me greedy, I don’t care.

I feel so guilty even saying that, because I have so much more time with my sons than Chooch has with his, but the dynamic is very different, like it or not. I’m working hard to ensure that at least Chooch will make a visit this Spring or Summer and that we’ll all four fly to California to visit him over Christmas. But that includes airfare, rental care, and this time we will likely have to stay in a hotel. Still, even with our financial chaos right now, it has to happen.

Happily, the migraine I had for most of Friday subsided after multiple doses of medication and I was able to attend Chooch’s band practice after all. The surprising warm glow of friendship and love with this group of amazing people was exactly what my battered psyche needed, and our overnight stay with friends was just as magical as last time. We enjoyed a wonderful Saturday morning being spoiled by dear friends and then spent the rest of the day day with other friends, some old and some new. At one point, after my very first Ethiopian meal, I made an utter fool of myself by being “that guy”, feeling so joyful and at peace for the first time in weeks that I thanked them for the random luck of having this already scheduled before my last minute trip was planned and said “I love you guys!”. No, I can’t even blame excessive alcohol. I was just that happy. And dammit, if I can complain loudly, I choose to also proclaim gratitude loudly.

I’m blessed and rich in friendship, and I refuse to deny it. I think that cheapens it, and I won’t tolerate that. So for the family and friends online, the friends I haven’t seen recently but have offered me support via Twitter, email, FB, WordFeud chat and also in person, I thank you sincerely. Although I didn’t have time to respond to all the support sent my way, I read each and every one and they truly helped me through what I was facing. I humbly thank you for the gestures of friendship.

I will always treasure the trip, because of the deeply satisfying conversations with Naughty Bear. I am so honored that he shared so much with me, of his personal and private hopes, experiences and dreams. Also, the time spent with my ex’s wife and their kids ended up very positively and I’m very grateful to have found peace there, finally.

As I’ve done throughout this series, I’m ending with the health aspect of the trip, this time the results of my activities: My Friday morning weigh-in showed that I was actually down one pound from the previous Friday. I’m very proud of this, as I usually gain when off my routine, especially when traveling. I didn’t even starve or deprive myself, as I allowed a waffle from the breakfast bar during the hotel stay, ate moderately at P.F. Chiang’s, ate modestly at El Chico’s (a fave mexican restaurant from my childhood in Texas that does not exist in our local area) and two nights with Blue Bell ice cream for dessert. I even negotiated three fast food restaurants successfully. I only got in two workouts, although two of the days were fairly physical with cleaning and packing. I carried bananas with me everywhere and since I was with my kids, had no alcohol. The lesson from this loss is one I hope to never forget – I can be healthy anywhere, regardless of the stress, and feel empowered by exerting control over how I react in relation to food.

Lookit, I’m growing!

The Road to Arkansas and Back – Part 5

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Chooch, Family, Health, No Whining, Our Kids, Soulful, Weight Loss

I fell asleep sometime after midnight, and the day is a chaotic blur to me. I’ll start with tweets to kind of set the tone. I don’t remember typing the second one, so I guess I have to add “sleep tweeter” to my resume.

“Soon passing Knoxville, going strong. Not sure where we’ll lay our heads but may make it into NC.”
~ Thursday, February 24, 2011 1:18:53 AM

“I’ve been napping. Naughty Bear is wide awake with coffee & corndog in hand. Still in TN. He wants me to go back to sleep. G’night.”
~ Thursday, February 24, 2011 2:47:49 AM

I took over driving around 5 am-ish, feeling very rested. What I Learned: Using the “White Noise” app on my Droid at a high volume with headphones made all the difference on the quality of sleep while passengering. While NB drove, he listened to music and held a lengthy phone conversation with his girlfriend and I didn’t hear a thing. Road noise was also completely blocked out and I was tremendously rested after only a few hours of quality sleep. When I took over, NB used my trick and also slept very deeply for several hours. I’m so glad I saw the icon as I was flipping through for “DoubleTwist” to start playing music. I’m going to use it for plane trips, train rides and any other time I need to sleep in less-than quiet locations.

I’m thrilled that I was driving at sunrise, because the mountain views were stunning. I was completely invigorated and inspired by the glory before me and even stupidly snapped some photos while I was driving. They are crappy, poorly focused and poorly aimed since I was more worried about steering than photo composition, but I just wanted to capture the beauty in any way I could.

Naughty Bear was awake for a few moments when I stopped at a scenic overlook near Staunton, Virginia that I was familiar with. I was shocked that he remembered our only other stop there together, which was about twelve years ago. I felt compelled to stop and take in the view. With the mountains in the distance and mists in the valley it was inexplicably beautiful. I took a few snapshots with my camera phone, once again forgetting to get my fancy camera out of the car. My heart was pounding and I had that connection to the bigger world that I so craved the night before. As I stood overlooking the valley, NB stayed in the car, talking to his girlfriend on the phone. I was completely alone for a few serene moments.

Then a car pulled up and three men quickly climbed out. I saw NB tense up through the windshield as his protectiveness of me kicked in. I couldn’t blame him after what he went through in Atlanta a few months ago, but smiled at him to soothe him. These men were dressed and had the swagger of typical street thugs, but I learned on a road trip years before never to judge people by appearances. I smiled at the first guy as he approached me, and he grinned hugely when I said “Good morning” to him. He said something along the lines of, “It’s a blessed morning to be able to see such a beautiful view, don’t you think?” I agreed whole-heartedly, and his friends finally caught up with him as he had literally bolted out of his car to stand at the edge of the overlook and take in the view. We greeted each other and shared our marvel at the hugeness and beauty of the valley and mountains, then stood in quiet awe of the view. Getting cold, we shared cheery farewells and blessings as I got back in the car to head the rest of the way home.

As I started the car, I felt utterly in awe and invigorated after what my mind and spirit absorbed from the ten minute stop. Beauty in nature and humanity, all at once. Honestly, what more could you ask for?

Naughty Bear and I started the trip with a general goal of making it to Knoxville, Tennessee but also agreed to stop whenever either of us felt the need to. Since I was so well rested, I drove until we were about two hours from home. We then realized that the GPS route had us passing within a half-hour of where he lives with his grandparents, so we detoured there and unloaded. Our original on-the-fly plan had been to go to my place first and grab some sleep and then he’d drive down and unload alone. This seemed smarter.

We called his grandparent’s and let them know we were an hour away, got there and the two of us unloaded the car quickly. The mild headache I’d been fighting since the night before turned into a migraine for obvious reasons, and by the time we left the house I was dizzy, trembly, nauseous and very weak. I was very thrilled, however, to see the dog that used to be a part of my old family. A basset hound/beagle mix that we got about 3 months before my first marriage ended. She’s pretty old now, and from the way she greeted me, I like to think she remembered that me since we were inseparable for those three months.

Naughty Bear drove the hour or so home, and I have to admit that we were finally feeling ragged. The unload was exhausting and we were a bit cranky with each other. Not excessively so, and we kept apologizing when one of us snapped fully well aware of why it was.

Naughty Bear immediately went up to nap for a few hours before heading out to see his girlfriend, and I hopped in my bed as well. Chooch snuggled up with me, and as usual I had trouble changing gears. I’ve never been able to just stop and go to sleep, I need transition time. So I worked on another blog post before I could forget anything. I finally slept, but I’m not sure for how long. I woke a few times from weird dreams, and tweeted this:

“Confused. Dozing off and on, not sure what’s real except that I’m starved. Granola bar at 5 am isn’t holding me. Did I get a polar bear cub?”
~Thursday, February 24, 2011, 5:54 pm

After my nap, I grabbed a bowl of old-fashioned oatmeal, something I missed on the trip as it is a comforting daily ritual for this former carb-shunner. It ended up being dinner. We caught up on favorite TV shows that the DVR recorded while I was gone, snuggled up on the couch.

Two Minute Media Review: Big Bang Theory and Modern Family had me in stitches, as always. Castle was utterly compelling with the cliff-hangering storyline, but the repeated near-misses of Rick and Kate confessing their feelings for each other is getting old. It’s starting to resemble the overused “Ross and Rachel” plot device from “Friends” and I hope they address it quickly.

Snuggle time with Kaylee was supreme. She clearly smelled the three other dogs on me: Not My, the ex’s old and affectionate dog, and the dog that was formerly mine. Kaylee is such a loving and snuggly pup, between her periods of shadow staring and tail chasing. And I’m so grateful to have such an affection sponge with no kids living with us.

After climbing into our super awesomely comfortable bed, we talked for a long time. I didn’t have much time to call and chat while I was gone, so we had a lot to share. I knew how much I missed my man while I was gone, but as we lay there in the dark, sharing, snuggling and laughing in the dark, I began to reflect on just how much I need him. The simple touch of his hand around mine filled me with such peace, and my heart containers were once again filled. Miraculous.

Food and exercise for the day: I had a granola bar and a small bag of Smart Food white cheddar popcorn and a diet coke when I took over driving. I forgot about eating until after my long nap in bed, and then hadoatmeal and some tortilla chips. I was too tired for anything else, period.

The Road to Arkansas and Back, Part 3

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Dizzy, Family, No Whining, Our Kids, Pets, Vestibular Migraine, Weight Loss

I groggily woke at 8:30 to grab the free breakfast before it closed down at nine and fixed a plate for Naughty Bear since he was moving too slowly to get it himself. I’m nothing if not thrifty and didn’t want to pay for breakfast that was freely provided.

I threw on sweats and headed to the “gym” which included an elliptical, treadmill and recumbent bike. I did my running program on the treadmill, and while it was a pain in the ass doing the intervals that way, I’m really glad I did it. I was dizzy afterward, but also supremely energized for the rest of the day. Since I knew NB would be driving, the dizziness was not going to be an issue.

I was able to verify that the treadmill workout is not as efficient as a road workout, at least not for me. I was simply unable to hit my usual heart rate (using my usual HR monitor from home) without increasing the incline to 2 and running faster than I would normal do on the road. The program I use insists on avoiding overexertion, preferring endurance to speed. I threw that out the window because I decided to see if I would be able to hit my usual HR. I did, but it was an all-out run. Still, I’m glad to know I was able to replicate it and I’m no worse for wear. I’ll continue my roadwork, but still want access to an elliptical so that I can follow my program when the weather is too nasty. All in all, I burned a little over 600 calories, which is lower than what I do at home for a workout of that length, but I was happy to have done it.

I returned and we showered and headed back to Naughty Bear’s apartment to finish up and turn off the utilities in his name in time to pick up LT at 3 pm from school. We were shocked upon arrival because the roomie had cleaned the living room. Even the missing kitchen trashcan was returned! It was quite remarkable.

I played with Not My and took him out back to go potty and whatnot, and I fell even more in love with him After a good long playtime and frolicking, we put him in the roomie’s room so that we could get to work and load up the car to take stuff to the hotel for the last night.

On a heartbreaking note, when we arrived Naughty Bear noticed his door was open and that Not My had gotten the stuffed animal that I’d sent him for Valentine’s Day off his bed. He was utterly shocked because Not My had NEVER chewed on anything other than the dog toys. It’s the only thing he’d ever taken that wasn’t his, and Naughty Bear decided that he took it because it had my scent on it. My heart broke at just the thought of it, and I wanted to bring him home even more. The roomie is less than financially stable, like many of us, and I couldn’t help but hope that if he couldn’t keep him that we’d be able to get him. Isn’t that terrible?!?!

We loaded up the car and dropped everything off at the hotel and went to pick up LT. I’m saddened to say that we still had to shut off the utilities, so didn’t have a free chill out afternoon with LT on our last evening together. It really couldn’t be helped, and he seemed fine with it since we were all together. After those errands, I plunked down at my ex’s computer to pull all the financial information together for what was expected to be a very unpleasant discussion with the roomie. He was expecting to get stuck holding the bag because of my son moving out a month early, but Naughty Bear had no intention of doing that. The meeting was to sort out who owed what for the last month of the six month lease, and to reassure the roomie that he wasn’t leaving him in the lurch. NB is committed to honoring his verbal contract and to continue paying his half of the expenses for their agreed upon lease term of six months.

Once I finished the financial document, I offered to go with them since I didn’t think I could explain everything involved for the meeting starting in a few minutes. My ex didn’t happy about it, reportedly because he didn’t want me dragged into unpleasantness with the roomie, who is also the drummer in his band. I told him I didn’t care if the roomie hated me or blamed me or got mad at me because I didn’t expect to ever see him again. I had nothing to lose in explaining the facts that they had trouble sorting out from the spreadsheet I made. (My ex reports for work at 4 am and the meeting was at 6 pm, a very long day indeed.) His wife, M, felt pretty strongly that I should go to make sure there was no confusion and because, like me, she thought he might be more amenable with someone he didn’t know there. Naughty Bear agreed and ex did to, so the three of us left for the meeting.

I’ll admit that I had one of my silent panic attacks on the way, and told them I’d stay quiet unless explanation was needed or take the lead, whichever NB and his dad wanted. They suggested hanging back unless something needed explaining, but once we got there it was pure silence, awkwardness and testosterone. So I did what I’ve done my whole life as a middle-child diplomat – I started chattering to smooth the ruffled feathers. I introduced myself and just then Not My came running up to me to play as we’d been doing the last two days. He apologized for the dog’s exuberance and I told him no worries and explained how smitten I was with the dog. (I had to be careful to call him Bricktop instead of Not My.) He seemed surprised at this, because most people complain how wild the dog is, which it wasn’t with me because I exerted my dominance over him immediately, so he knew how to behave. I told him how he reminded me of my Kaylee and we talked dogs for a few minutes while NB and his dad hung back. By the time we sat down to go over the spreadsheet, Roomie seemed very comfortable and at ease. I felt good about this, because I felt bad for him and didn’t want him to feel ambushed or put on the defensive. I could empathize with his feeling that he was going to get screwed because as a younger woman I had a roomie move out and had gotten stuck me with a financial mess to sort out.

NB reassured him that he was sticking with their agreement and then I started explaining the spreadsheet. He was appreciative at the effort I took and at NB’s maturity and morals and agreed down the line. I expected this, as I carefully documented everything factually and honestly, so there was nothing to dispute. In honesty, I didn’t expect him to do so as quickly as he did. It was left on such good terms that we ended up inviting him to join us for dinner at the Chinese buffet where I had been invited to join my ex’s family the night before.

Dinner was much like it is when we have gatherings with local friends in DC/MD/VA at DFH and the like. My ex and M (his wife) have a rambunctious and hilarious 5 year old son (Wild G), an adorable, sweet and thoughtfully intelligent 8 year old daughter (Tranquil M) and ex’s wife has a very friendly and kind 11 year old son from her previous marriage (Charming C). Add me, Naughty Bear, LT and Roomie and it was a par-tay. We took over the joint, as the kids told stories, laughed and entertained us all. The adults joined in as well, and it was a much better time than I’d anticipated. In truth, I was absolutely anxiety-ridden as there has been … difficulty … in the past.

I think there were some great in-roads made, and that has made the trip even more valuable than I’d hoped. As the check arrived, I reached for my wallet and was immediately told by my ex’s wife “Don’t even think about it, this is our treat.” I naturally tried to argue at this unexpected kindness and was laughingly warned by others at the table not to argue with her. I offered my sincere thanks, as I was truly appreciative. We’ve come a long way, baby!

I especially enjoyed getting to know the kids better, as it was really the first chance I’ve ever had to do so. I took time with each of them, and they are each endearing in their own ways. It’s easy to see why my sons love them so much, beyond the sibling bond.

We said our farewells, and I made a point of reminding the Roomie what I had said earlier in the night, which was that if he ever found himself in the position of having to find another home for Not My, to contact me and I’d try to come and get him immediately. He refused the offer, saying he’d never get rid of him but I made sure he knew I was sincere. He’d be a perfect fit for our family and a great friend for Kaylee.

After we all said farewells, Naughty Bear and LT and I ran to Wal-Mart to try the Cherry Cheesecake Blue Bell as a farewell dessert. All I can say is, after 35 years I think that Cookies and Cream is no longer my fave Blue Bell ice cream.

We left the rest for the family to enjoy and then said our final goodbyes. Naughty Bear and I were both sad at leaving LT, but he had additional sadness at leaving the other kids, his dad and M. Things were finally becoming very real for him, I think.

Upon return to the hotel, in typical fashion I have trouble changing gears and started working on my blog posts before I could forget the events of the chaotic days. NB spent some time on Skype with his girlfriend and then went to sleep, utterly exhausted.

Things you don’t expect to say to your first born: “It’s cool, keep driving. I got a picture of the blue balls.” <3 my life.

Diet progress: Being more cautious. Had cheerios, banana, hard boiled egg and 2 cups of decaff tea. 2 more bananas during the day due to very late lunch at 3 pm of a tendergrill sandwich with no mayo at Burger King. (Yes, I’d sworn off fast food but had literally no choices not having a kitchen available to me.) Chinese buffet for dinner as planned by ex and his wife, I had a small amount of hot and sour soup, loads of fruit, 4 veggie sushi rolls and one chicken on a stick. All the veggies were sauteed in oil, nothing was steamed except the white rice and I skipped both. Afterward we had more Blue Bell ice cream. With the Runkeeper program that I did in the morning, plus all the physical exertion of packing, cleaning and loading up the car I feel like I did “okay” for the day.

As in the two previous posts, if you click on the flickr album you will be able to read my descriptions of what you’re viewing, so they’ll make much more sense. In today’s photos, you’ll even learn why I tweeted “Things you don’t expect to say to your first born: “It’s cool, keep driving. I got a picture of the blue balls.” <3 my life."
If this post interested you at all, you should check out Part 1 and Part 2.

Edit: Can’t believe I forgot to share this, remembered when recapping trip with Chooch last night and he reminded me that I tweeted about it. @cwseidman and I were tweeting about how gross motherhood can be as she was dealing with her daughter’s excessively runny nose. My response was “@CWSeidman I’ll let you know when the gross outs end. Dinner was punctuated by NB dropping a semen joke, so we aren’t quite there yet.” The joke was from a conversation between LT and his dad at the Chinese buffet. His dad asked if he tried any of the sushi, and LT said he doesn’t like seafood. His dad said, “Did you like the tacos I made the other night, because those were seafood?” Before LT could reply, Naughty Bear said, in a very quiet voice so the kids wouldn’t hear, “That wasn’t seafood, that was semen.” Roomie, NB, LT and I erupted in laughter, and explained the joke to my ex and his wife when the little ones were out of ear-shot. Hi-larious!

The Road to Arkansas and Back, Part 1

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Family, No Whining, Our Kids, Vestibular Migraine, Weight Loss

On Sunday morning Chooch and I got off nice and early for my 11:30 flight, arriving at the airport sometime at 9:30-ish. We shared a long and difficult farewell at curbside as I contemplated making this physically difficult and extremely emotional trip without him, my touch-stone.

I was dealing with my now-usual morning zombie brain thanks to the new meds I got on Wednesday (I’ll blog about that later) and had forgotten my wedding band at home. I don’t wear it unless I’m leaving the house because it’s very loose from recent weight loss, and with the diamonds I’m terrified to lose it. I had accidentally left it at home, and Chooch tried to give me his to wear. It is also too big, so we discussed me finally buying a cheap plain band to wear all the time.

Heading into the airport, I discovered that the flight was delayed 30 minutes. Since I still had a little over an hour to make my connection I just crossed my fingers and hoped for the best. As I was walking to security, there was a store with sparklies and since I had a bunch of time to kill I took a peek to see if they had plain bands. I really wanted a wedding band while in Arkansas, for reasons I won’t go into here.

Low and behold they had a sweet little band with marcasite stones circling it, for only $30 and it fit my now slimmer finger! I happily made my way to security with my bleary brain filled with joy and peace over the purchase now on my finger.

In the security line, I did my usual gathering of boarding pass and I.D., removing shoes and putting everything into the buckets and waiting like a good little cow to be herded along, mildly anxious about being groped and hoping the groper had warm hands. No grope or xray needed, I waited for my bag after xray. They pulled my back pack for a bag search, much to my surprise. It seems I had left a bottle of water. (Derr!) and hubby’s MacBook in the backpack, which we all know is a no-no.

In my defense, it’s the first time I’ve taken a laptop through security and had forgotten it was in there. When we travel, Chooch always lugs it around. As for the water, I have no excuse. That was just a dumb-ass move on my part.

I then made my way to the gate, grabbed a fruit cup and Chooch’s copy of Ender’s Shadow and hunkered down for the wait. They changed the gate, but otherwise left with only the aforementioned half hour delay.

I sat next to a very nice gentleman on the way to Memphis, and a silent woman reading a book. I had a migraine fire up, so medicated and closed my eyes for most of the 2.5 hour flight.

Arriving at Memphis, I learned there was a half hour delay on that flight. I was tempted to get food, but had already promised the boys dinner and the flight is only 1 hour long. I grabbed a bottle of water and settled in for what ended up being a half hour delay, boarding, de-boarding because they couldn’t get the plane door shut, and another hour wait before re-boarding and taking off. Hoo boy, migraine was back big time so I popped another pill and slept.

I finally arrived two hours later than expected. The boys had been waiting for two hours, since Naughty Bear didn’t want to risk me waiting for them and they waited it out listening to music in his car. We were excited to see each other, with them trying to hide from sight and sneak out at me. I love them for these little pranks of theirs.

We went to PF Chang’s for dinner, and introduced LT to the glory of lettuce wraps and Kung Pao Chicken. It was late, and we were over an hour from his house so we headed back, laughing and talking all the way.

We arrived and they insisted we go in, which I was nervous about. Things are … interesting with my ex and his wife. For many reasons I won’t go in to. On top of all that, I know they aren’t happy Naughty Bear is moving away, and I certainly don’t want to intrude on their time with him, but I’m also trying to spend as much time as I can with LT before we leave.

I ended up in their living room playing with their dog as me and the boys planning LT’s school project due on Tuesday. That led to trying to print his document and the discovery that their new computer was unable to print. I then spent the next hour searching for the print driver disk, calling Chooch to verify my plan, downloading the print driver, installing it and doing a test print. Their dad was home during this whole thing, and I also explained the likely culprit they were having was likely due to the too low amount of RAM they had. My dear friend, Thomas Gideon, should be EXTREMELY proud of me, as I seemed to know more than I thought I did. Especially empowered with confirmation by hubby’s big brain over the phone. My ex stated he was so fed up he was ready to box up the new computer and return it. Ta Da! I saved the day!

During this time, the ex’s wife returned home exhausted from a very long day of her own. She did not seem happy at all, and I’m unsure of how much had to do with me seated at her new computer in her living room. It was extremely awkward and I felt like a turd on a wedding cake. Luckily, I was almost done and we left shortly thereafter, having made plans to pick up LT the next day.

Mark came back to the hotel with me where we did a brief stint in the workout room before he returned to his place to talk with his roommate about finances and sleep there one last night. I collapsed after a much needed conversation with Chooch, catching up on the events of the day and slept long and deeply.

As for diet watch, I ate great all day long, well below my allowed calories. Until we got to PF Chang’s, but even then I didn’t pig out. Since it was lunch and dinner I felt no guilt over what I ate.

It was the longest day ever… until Monday.

Edit: For background on why I made this trip, check out the “Great” section of my post “The Great, The Meh and the *So* Not Cute”

Nutella Day (Don’t Judge Me)

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Anti-Health, Cooking, Cool Links / Clicky Linky, Weight Loss

I love Nutella. It’s a recent favorite, as I first tasted the insanely delicious chocolate and hazlenut spread about 6 or 7 years ago. If you haven’t tried it, think peanut butter, but sweeter and deeply chocolatey. In fact, it’s typically stocked next to peanut butter in the grocery store. It’s also pretty close calorie and fat-wise, but the sugar is much higher in Nutella than in peanut butter.

I occasionally buy a jar, but it’s a dangerous purchase since I’m the only one that likes it. Because I’m focusing on eating healthier I haven’t had it for awhile, and the craving has grown to obsession. Did I say obsession? I meant to say OBSESSION.

I’ve decided the only solution to purge this frantic desire is to have a Nutella free-for-all. One day where I can have as much Nutella as I want until I’m sickened at the sight of it. What? It could happen.

I’ve chosen this Saturday since my regular weigh-in day is Friday. That allows almost a week to undo all the damage a 20 ton vat of Nutella will do to my weight loss efforts.

I was debating writing this post in order to proclaim Saturday, February 5th as Viv’s Nutella Day and invite folks to indulge as I am. But I hesitated because big girls don’t like to trumpet their fatty-fatty-bo-batty indulgences. On a lark, I did a search and discovered that there is already an established Nutella Day. In fact, the 5th World Nutella Day is … wait for it … Saturday, February 5th! The same day I’m doing mine! How could I not post and encourage folks to join me?

So if you’re interested in this foolishness, you may enjoy the links I’m providing below:

World Nutella Day Website – includes links to 400 Nutella recipes and information.

World Nutella Day Twitter Account

World Nutella Day Facebook Page

Let me know in the comments if you’ll be indulging in any way on Saturday, as I’m curious to see who else is a fan of the sticky, dark deliciousness that *is* Nutella.

Now, does anyone know where I can find a 20 ton vat of Nutella?

Cipro Concerns for Runners

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: 5k, 5k, Exercise, Health, No Whining, Weight Loss

In December, I was diagnosed with a sinus infection and was prescribed the antibiotic Cipro in order to knock it out. I didn’t find out until later that it is a medication that has some cause for concern for folks that enjoy high impact activities, such as running. There is evidence that tendon damage can occur after taking it, which caused me great concern as a runner. In fact, in 2008 the FDA told “companies that the drugs must now carry “black box” warnings alerting doctors and patients that the drugs can increase risk of tendinitis and tendon rupture in some patients.” Black box warnings are the sternest warning issued by the FDA, and it covered the entire class of fluoroquinolones (cipro included).

Digging in and researching, there are the typical conflicting reports. Running forums detail every degree of injury and nearly all suggested waiting out activities until anywhere from 2 weeks to six months after cessation of the medication. The greatest concerns were for those that were on the six week treatment duration. My treatment was only ten days, but I was still very concerned about rushing back into running after having not run for a month at that point.

I decided to give myself a month before hitting the pavement again, just to ensure that I don’t add to my list of injuries and health problems. I’m paying for it now, as the total of two months break from running has me huffing and puffing on short distances. Still, I am confident that I did the right thing, and am being cautious and gentle as I ramp up to longer distances. I’m not concerned about my performance having decreased, with what I learned that I’m capable of last year.

There is a lot of information out there, so if you are prescribed the medication you should do your own research to see the newest information and to make the best informed decision you can. I just wanted to let you know of the concern in case, like me, you weren’t told when it was prescribed to have the option of requesting another antibiotic. Corticosteroids may provide protection, but I’m not interested in taking steroids because of other issues that may arise from them.

I have big goals for 2011, and I think being cautious while pushing myself to reach them is the best way for me to proceed.

Happy trails!

Heart Health and Cancer Prevention

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Breast Cancer, Cooking, Family, Health, Weight Loss

Like many people, I’ve spent the last few years avoiding bread and other carb-heavy or high glycemic-index  foods. This year however, other health issues presented themselves that put my focus more on wellness and disease prevention rather than just losing weight. Those issues also remind me that my family history is something I need to really pay attention to as I am getting older. One side of the family is laden with breast cancer victims while the other side of the family has heart disease as the prevailing cause of illness and death. Being 41, I cannot ignore either issue. *tick*tock*

Dietary fiber has long been believed to be extremely valuable in the fight against many cancers as well as heart disease, and I never intended to avoid it for so long. It just kind of happened. I really chose South Beach again because its final “maintenance” phase is pretty damned healthy with whole grains, fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Having to avoid the whole grains while on the road to maintenance is the problem for me.

So in the last six months or so, I’ve gone off the weight loss phase South Beach and have been enjoying fruits, vegetables and, almost exclusively, carbohydrates in the form of whole grains. I haven’t had a weight gain as a result, as the weight I’ve gained happened before I added them back in.

It has been an insane couple of months, heading into and enjoying all the wonderful fruits available during summer. My palate has completely changed, and many things that I enjoyed while on the low-GI diet I cannot stand after eating foods that are sweetened by nature. Heading into fall I’m saddened by the pathetic state of the fruit department but excited to try new dishes with fall produce offerings.

For the sake of weight loss history, I attempted to review posts I’d written in a “community weight loss support group” that was started in January of 2008 but that died off shortly thereafter. I continued to use the site as my weight loss blog site until I got sick last fall.  Sadly, the blogs I wrote during this time are lost due to a change at Ning that led to it being available only by paid subscription and I am unable to do so with my permissions. I am therefore unable to retrieve the information that I posted there on what I was doing, both in nutrition and exercise. Bummer, but such is life. I was able to gather what is essentially a near monthly weigh-in record dating back to January 2008. In examining the fluctuation, I really didn’t do that much better on South Beach than in traditional “eat fewer calories and exercise more” tactics.

While I truly feel better eating only low carbohydrate/glycemic index foods, I will not go back to eating that way again. And I am having too great a time altering recipes to my whole grain preferences. It may take me longer to lose the weight that I have gained back since my illness started, but I will make that sacrifice for an improvement in my overall health. Looks aren’t everything, after all, and we’re only given one body to carry us through this life. So we’d best take good care of it. *tick*tock*

Here are a few informative links to explain some of the wellness steps we’re taking. (Yes, there is controversy on some of these as to whether or not you get cancer prevention benefits. Since the foods are beneficial in other ways, I’m going to continue eating them.)

  • Healthy cooking oils –  I typically use olive oil when I want that flavor boost, and canola oil for everything else.

Keep in mind that nearly every health regimen or recommendation for wellness includes a minimum of 30 minutes a day of exercise. Many claim that it does not have to be done in one 30 minute session, either. Breaking it up into smaller sessions work, just get moving.

Nutritional Information

Author: Vivid Muse  //  Category: Cool Links / Clicky Linky, Health, Kids, Weight Loss

I’m exploring new possibilities for weight loss and exercise that I’m able to maintain with what is going on with my health. I’ve been doing South Beach’s Phase 1 for too long, considering how important I feel fruits, vegetables and high grains are to a healthy diet. I still believe in a low glycemic-index eating and continue to avoid white flour, white rice, and white potatoes. I am allowing myself any fruit and vegetable my little heart desires, and after excluding most fruits from my diet for a long time, I find fresh pineapple, apples and grapes to be absolutely heavenly. I am not drinking fruit juices, or eating dried fruits as they are too high in sugar for my goals. I’d generally call what I’m doing South Beach Phase 3, which is the maintenance phase.

While on this path, as well as banishing high fructose corn syrup from my diet, I’ve been looking at a lot of food labels. I’ve also been checking out nutritional information from restaurants since that is where my real problem lies. At this point, I have my “at home” food under control because I don’t buy what I shouldn’t eat. Navigating a menu at a restaurant is treacherous because, except in rare cases, you cannot find calories/fat/sugar information once you’re in the restaurant.

This leads to my newest obsession, which is the nutrition lists prepared by David Zinczenko, with Matt Goulding. They both write for Men’s Life magazine, and Matt is also the co-author of the book “Eat This, Not That” which is why you will find an alternative to the unhealthy item listed. The main link will take you to some very interesting links, and I think the first thing I’ve learned is to never go to a restaurant without a pick list of what is not ridiculously high in calories and sugar. When the Cheesecake Factory lists no fewer than ten single-portion menu items over 2,000 calories. Several more came were only slightly below 2,000. And yes, you can split it and take half home, but that is still over 1,000 calories in one sitting and not an insignificant number. They don’t list their nutritional information on their site, but I was able to find it elsewhere, but I have no idea if it matches their current offerings.

The main site also will show you just how unhealthy some of the foods in our pantries are, such as the “Unhealthiest Juices in America” and “Best and Worst Breakfast Cereals“. Due to the latter, I actually threw a box away straight from my pantry and I’m no dummy when it comes to nutritional information.

The lists don’t require a huge time investment, and are broken out into short bursts of information. As I’ve said many times recently, I’m absolutely shocked at the high level of unhealthy food that has become the standard rather than the indulgence. I’m wondering when corporate America will realize that killing off their customers with fat, sodium and sugar laden foods is detrimental to their bottom line. If they truly wanted to prove the “it’s the customers choice”, then why not put the nutritional information on the menu? Ruby Tuesday’s did it for awhile, but if memory serves this information has been stripped out. Applebee’s provides it for some of their dishes, but I don’t believe for the entire menu.

Yes, it is absolutely the responsibility of the diner for what they put in their mouth and the mouths of their children. That is why I research so much, and try to learn from my mistakes. As someone with heart disease and diabetes on one side of the family, and multi-generational breast cancer on the other, these issues are in my face and cannot be ignored. I worry about those that aren’t faced with these ticking time bombs and may think “Just this one indulgence”, which may be more of a recurring habit on closer inspection.

If it sounds as if this fat girl is trying to preach skinny dining on you, please know that I get the irony. I’m just trying to share the information I’ve found in the hopes of saving you extra time on the treadmill.

Please feel free to comment, as I’m interested in others’ experiences and thoughts.