Saturday, December 22, 2012

Facebook, Christmas, Monsters Oh My!

People who know me know that I am absolutely ADDICTED to Facebook.  Yes, I'm one of those people who tends to post every thought that enters my pretty little head, and I'm not ashamed of it. First, because anyone who doesn't like it is free to unfriend, block or just stop following me.  But also because sometimes even the most trivial thoughts mean something to someone.

Case in point:  A few weeks ago my cousin posted asking if anyone had any ideas as to where she could take my uncle to see Christmas lights.  He's in a wheelchair, so it couldn't be anywhere he'd have to walk around.  Well I remembered that, and when I noticed that a park nearby was beautifully lit up and open to car traffic, I let her know and invited her to pick me up and we'd go together since it is so close to my house.

Well in the meantime, I had posted asking if anyone knew of a good place to take The Boy for dinner on Christmas Eve.  I mentioned that I would like to take him to the 100th Bomb Group but it was a bit steep for this single mom's budget.

So she brought my uncle over, still very much sound of mind but not of body, and we thoroughly enjoyed driving around looking at Christmas lights.  This experience, in and of itself, would have been something to thank Facebook for. Not only did the idea come from her Facebook post, but we re-connected through Facebook after years of not talking.  But as she dropped me back off at home, what does my cousin hand me but a gift card to the 100th Bomb Group!  It was a gift my uncle received years ago which had been sitting around unused.  For whatever reason they had no use for it, she saw my post and wanted me and The Boy to have a nice Christmas Eve dinner.

A little Christmas miracle, all thanks to Facebook.

I've been an avid Facebook user for (checking my timeline for confirmation) five years and 15 days and I could tell you story after story where Facebook has brightened my life in ways big and small.  I have reconnected with friends and family without whom my life would be far less rich and enjoyable.  These relationships, both in-person and online, have not only pulled me through some very dark times but have enriched my life, even in good times, beyond measure.

This is not to say that there haven't been times when I've been tempted to deactivate my account.  There are haters.  There are truly miserable people out there who enjoy nothing more than giving someone a piece of their mind at the slightest perceived provocation.  There are people who will truly believe they know you because of this tiny, digital open window into your life and will find ways to try to hurt you.  This is what the unfriend button is for.

And, of course, there was the time an ex boyfriend and "Facebook Friend", on the very evening I changed my status from "In a relationship" to "Single", hit me with the best pick-up line ever "He just made the biggest mistake of his life.  I know, I did the same thing 30 years ago". It's ok ladies, go ahead and swoon.  I did.  If you've been following me that long, you know him as "Texas".  Lesson learned...some of the relationships that can be rekindled via Facebook are better left for dead.

The last few months have brought more of these "I'd be better off without Facebook" moments than usual.  I don't think anyone who has any more than just a passing familiarity with Facebook will argue that the 2012 election was a time when most of us wanted to just shut it down.  Between the inevitable pre-election rants by people who I adore but with whom I strongly disagree politically, then the "we are all doomed" post-election posts by some, it was just a total bummer to be around.

But the worst of it was the recent apocalypse.  I may have been able to laugh off all of the mostly-joking end of the world posts if they didn't hit so close to home.

If you are a frequent visitor to Blog Over Lunch, you may know that I've been having a tough time.  I didn't really go into it except to say that I had a lot to worry about.  Now that the crisis is over, I am a bit more free to talk about it.

During the fall of 2011, The Boy had some friends over to have a bonfire.  I had brush to burn and he had been talking about having a fire so we killed two birds, so to speak.  The brush, and our fire pit, are in the way-back, near a creek, which is adjacent to a large empty field and some woods.  There is much wildlife back there.

Well while he and his friends were sitting around, late at night, drinking pop and making s'mores and basically acting younger than their 16 years (something I secretly wish happened more often) there was a noise in the dark. Probably an owl.  Someone asked what it was, The Boy said "That's the North Ridgeville Monster".  Some time later the NRM, or North Ridgeville Monsters, was born.  They call themselves a "Gang" which is unfortunate, because that brings images of kids going around bullying people and committing crimes, which can't be farther from the truth.  These are good-hearted kids.  Not especially interested in schoolwork, and maybe a bit more rebellious than some, but kids who wouldn't hurt a fly.

What most of these kids had in common was a firm belief that 12/21/12 would mark a new beginning for the Earth.  They believed that a chain of natural disasters would cause "The end of the world as we know it", because we, as a species, are not living in the way God intended, and that it would be really bad for quite some time, but this cleansing of the planet would give way to a more peaceful, harmonious, beautiful existence.

Now throughout history, people whose beliefs were outside of the mainstream have been vilified.  This group was no exception.  And it didn't help that they had chosen the name "Monsters".  The name itself didn't exactly project the innocence under which it was born.  It instilled fear, even in the hearts of this mother.  It wasn't until I sat down with The Boy and asked for an explanation as to the beliefs of the NRM that I learned that they saw themselves as a group that was warning people of this impending change, in the hopes that they would be prepared, and they hoped to help people once the change began.

Then someone stole some guns out of a house in my little town.  Soon after, someone called in a threat to the High School, indicating that something bad was going to happen on 12/21, that The Monsters and the missing guns were involved.  The members were all questioned by the police. I had a long talk with a police officer.  I don't have to tell you that I was scared out of my mind.

During this time I saw several Facebook posts, from other concerned parents, addressing the threats that had been made against the school.  Inevitably someone would say "It's the Monsters!".  And I just wanted to scream.  If you haven't had a child who has been wrongly accused of being somehow evil, you can't imagine the Mamma Bear this brings out.  I didn't act on my impulses to verbally lay into these people, because I was afraid it would draw attention to exactly WHO the monsters were made up of, and could possibly bring violence to my home.  If The Boy had any anonymity, I wanted to keep it in tact.

I can say with certainty that The Boy did not steal the guns.  I have personally turned his car and my house inside-out and upside-down and found not a single weapon except the ones which belong to me.  And he makes a valid point in his own defense: why would he have to steal guns from others when he could easily obtain an arsenal, including ammunition, just by breaking the glass in his father's gun cabinet or busting the lock on my gun case.  He knows how to shoot.  He is a hunter.  But he also has a respect for guns and knows they are not toys.

During the weeks since that phone call from the police I have been terrified.  Not that The Boy was going to do something bad, because I know my son and he is sweet and loving.  He sticks up for the underdog and has no patience for bullies.  He is respectful to me, other parents, teachers, faculty and police.  He loves his parents and his friends.  He enjoys life and understands its value.  But my fear was that some misinformed person would try to hurt him or his friends, or that the police would come crashing into my house and take him.  And yes, it occurred to me that he might not be the first basically good person who was manipulated into doing something horrible by mentally ill but intelligent individuals.  I was mildly suspicious, but mostly just worried sick.  And 12/22 couldn't come soon enough.

Then a crazy man went into a Connecticut elementary school and started shooting.  Of course there wasn't a parent in the country who wasn't affected by this tragedy in some way, but it raised my already off-the-charts anxiety to a dangerous level.  I developed a twitch in my right eye. I started crying at the drop of a hat. I had chest pains and insomnia.  What little sleep I was able to steal was riddled with nightmares.  

The Ex called me on the 19th and asked if I knew that the mother of one of The Monsters was the sister of a boy I dated in high school.  I didn't know. I reached out to her, you guessed it, on Facebook and was somewhat comforted to know that I wasn't alone in my anxiety, fear and feelings of helplessness.  I hope this connection remains strong even now that the crisis has passed.

I took the 21st off work.  I don't think I slept an hour the night before, and I was sure The Boy would be angry with me because I had no intention of letting him out of my sight until an hour after school let out.  I didn't believe he had any plans to hurt anyone, but if anyone did anything I wanted to be able to say honestly that he was with me all day.  He balked initially.  He wasn't angry, more he seemed hurt.  He felt that by keeping him home, away from his friends, I was punishing him when he hadn't done anything wrong.  But in his normal easy-going and ultimately respectful way, he made the best of it.  We went to lunch, and Christmas shopping.  What I was afraid would be a miserable day of him locking himself in his room, refusing to talk to me, turned out to be what any parent of a 17 year old can attest is a very rare occurrence; a nice day with my kid.   

As we were leaving for our little outing we saw our next door neighbor pull into his driveway.  We've been friends for ten years and they've always been good to The Boy.  The dad owns a business and gave him his first job.  The daughter, three years younger, has always had a bit of a crush on The Boy.  He mentioned "They probably hate me now".  When I asked why he said that they were outside when the police came to question him about the missing guns, and they probably know that he's one of The Monsters, and blame him for the threats against the school.  He's probably right.  If not about the neighbors, then about many others in our community.  It makes me sad.  Even though nothing happened, there will be those who will blame him and the other boys for the fear they felt.  

I've never been a big fan of Christmas.  I've always approached it with a Bah Humbug attitude, less due to the true meaning of the holiday than just because of what it's turned into.  It's a time of stress, and this year it has been that and more.  Not until yesterday, when the snow began to fall and I was able to have a thought in my head that didn't revolve around my son's future, did it start to actually feel like Christmas.  My shopping and wrapping is done.  I'm off work until the 26th.  Maybe it's the contrast to the unbearable pressure I felt up until yesterday but I feel like, in this moment, I am truly at peace.

If you're reading this, it's most likely because you clicked the link on Facebook.  I'm not sure if anyone outside my circle of friends really follows Blog Over Lunch.  But even if you're not one of my friends, Facebook or otherwise, I wish you a peaceful, joyful, CALM holiday.

Edit:  If anyone reading this is in the group of people who posted about The Monsters on Facebook, I mean you no disrespect.  I just hope it gives you reason to reflect, and realize that not everything you hear is true, and when you repeat it on Facebook it can hurt people you don't even know.  The people you talk about behind their backs, people you often don't even know, are human beings with feelings.  Fear born from misinformation and ignorance only multiplies when it's shared online.  I pray you never feel the way you made me feel.  

Sunday, December 16, 2012

I Slept Through the Sunshine

This morning I slept in.  Yeah, shocking, I know.  I had my alarm set for 8:30 but when I was still awake coughing my fool head off at 1am I changed it to 9:30.  Then I hit snooze until 10.

It's December 16th.  And when I finally dragged my fat, lazy ass out of bed and put my dogs outside I realized it was unseasonably warm.  My handy-dandy thermometer said 59.  FIFTY-NINE and sunny in Northeast Ohio nine days before Christmas?  Wow.

Last night my mindset was "Yay! I can do anything I want tomorrow".  This morning it shifted to "Crap...what am I going to do today?"  Funny how a fitful night's sleep interspersed with coughing fits can mess with ones outlook.

So there I stood, in my jammies, in the opening of my patio door, basking in the sunshine, as the dogs ate at my feet, making a to-do list in my head.

1) Walk Boo, for sure.  This may be the last opportunity until spring to do so without risking windburn, slip and fall injury, frost bite and death.
2) Take The Pug to get her nails cut.  Boo got his cut at the vets this week, so only hers are going clickety-clack on the linoleum and scratching my legs as she jumps up to my lap.
3) Straighten up this house.  It's a mess.  Seriously.
4) Go to the gym.  If I go for a long enough walk I may not work out but the hot tub and steamroom may help my cold.
5) Redbox.  Return Lawless.  Don't forget, bonehead.
6) Make mini omelettes for next week's breakfast.  I have all the stuff and it's not going to keep forever.
7) Wrap presents
8) Blog

Yeah, so not necessarily in that order.

This is the kind of day I usually like.  Puttery days.  Days to not be running around trying to accomplish a million things that never seem to get caught up (like cleaning and laundry) but to do things that will make me feel like I actually accomplished something.  As I eat mini omelettes this week I will be glad I took time to make them on Sunday.  Seeing presents under my sad little 3 foot Wal Mart tree may make this place a bit less gloomy.  A trip to PetSmart, just me and my baby girl, is one of life's little pleasures.  She's an old broad now and who knows how many more of these she has in her.  A walk with Boo...The Pug doesn't do walks any more but he loves it and it clears my head. A little time to try not to turn over the problems of the day over and over and over again in my cluttered mind.

They say worrying is like rocking in a rocking chair.  It accomplishes nothing.  But when the problems are this big, they can't be ignored.  I don't know how to fix them.  So I rock.

But I slept too long, and I rocked and worried, and now it looks cold and gloomy out and the wind is making the patio door creek.  I went and slept through the damn sunshine.  Great.

This is the story of my life, as I planned, the moments passed.  As I made my to-do list, my opportunity TO DO passed on by.

So as strong as the pull is to go back to bed (I have been up for a whole two hours for crying out loud) I'm going to dig out the wrapping paper, put some presents under the tree and clean up this damn house.  I can't control the doom and gloom outside, but I can sure as hell brighten it up in here.

Be well my friends, hug your loved ones and pray for peace.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

The F Word

So to update since my last post:

Rheumatology thinks the problem in my shoulders, ankles and feet is all just tendinitis, just like my elbows.  She thinks my low weight/high reps workout routine, combined with too-much-weight-bearing exercises like push ups and planks, has pushed my biceps tendons from their usual state of chronic irritation to extreme inflammation and debilitating pain.

She did a few more blood tests and the results are pending.  She said the ANA results that brought me there would seem to indicate lupus but it's an unreliable test, she feels that was a false positive and is re-testing.

She prescribed physical therapy and a change in my anti-inflammatory medication.

So I went back to the miracle workers who helped me with my elbows.  After two years I was happy to learn that the same PT's are still there.  The one I saw remembered me, and her comment was "Ok so the shoulder pain had already started when you were here for your that's been going on for two years.  The shoulders and elbows are both bilateral issues.  As are the knees and ankles.  Your RH factor came back negative.  And why do they think it's not Fibromyalgia?"

My answer:  "Uhhhh...I dunno?"

Before that nobody (well nobody with a degree on their wall) had brought up the F word.  Has it occurred to me?  Sure.  Have well-meaning friends said "It sure sounds like Fibromyalgia to me"?  Yup.  And even though I know this would be a rough would be A DIAGNOSIS, which would be a relief, and would offer a path toward resolution, or at least management.

I mean yeah, tendinitis is a diagnosis.  And nobody is discounting or refuting it.  But why the hell does this keep happening?  Why are all of the tendons in my body flaring up?  And why the hell is tendon spelled with an O but tendinitis is spelled with an I?  It's all a mystery to me.

But of course my PT stresses that she's not a doctor and not qualified to make any diagnosis.  But she loaned me her personal copy of What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Fibromyalgia and urged me to do my own research.

So far I'm a couple of chapters in.  I'm not convinced either way.  I do have a good many of the symptoms.  But these are symptoms that I've always chalked up to being 47 and overweight.  Or to typing too much.  Or to poor form lifting weights.  Or to 'my shoulders have always been my weak spot'.  I mean what 47 year old woman doesn't have fatigue, nervousness, depression, apathy, listlessness, anxiety, insomnia, frequent waking, nonrestorative sleep, pain and generalized morning stiffness (the first 20 steps or so are agony), TMJ (this one surprised me...since my early teens), muscle twitches, feelings resembling electrical pulses in the muscles, leg and foot cramps (I haven't had 24 hours without a foot cramp in probably 20 years), undue sweating (I blame this one on being fat), eczema (since my early 30's), prickling of the skin, hypersensitivity to touch, gas, pain, bloating, constipation alternating with diarrhea (IBS, which I was pretty sure I had years ago but has subsided, is also called "fibro gut"), acid reflux (diagnosed 3 years ago), frequent urination (I'm up at least twice every night), poor balance (since childhood), dry eyes, blurred vision, post nasal drip and nasal congestion, late in life onset asthma (very mild, since last year) & hay fever (for the past 10 years), weight gain (duh), morning eyelid and hand swelling.

These are just the fibro-related symptoms I have.  There are half as many that I don't.  My point is that this is very general, so I'm not entirely convinced.  I'm still reading the book.

Meanwhile, I have been told I can not plank, up dog, down dog, do any exercise that strains or excessively stretches my shoulders for the next four months.  And for the foreseeable future I will meet with Israel the massage therapist for massage that I'm told will be closer to torture than relaxation on Mondays and I will have ultrasound therapy (which feels wonderful) and yet more painful massage from the PT on Thursdays.

Fa la la la la, la la la la.

Back when I thought I had IBS I did a lot of research on the subject.  Some doctors said IBS stood not for Irritable Bowel Syndrome but for I'm Basically Stumped. When they can't figure out why you always either have diarrhea or constipation, they call it IBS.  It's a diagnosis of exclusion.  Right now, so is Fibromyalgia.  And while I recognize that it is a real thing, I also think it is sometimes over-diagnosed.  Some doctors think they're getting closer to a test that will detect it, but we're not there yet.  So I can continue to push doctors to tell me why I have tendinitis but they will come back by telling me it's because I lift weights, because I type too much, because I sit too much, because I'm overweight, because I wear the wrong shoes.  But the bottom line is that it's because my body is not cooperating with what I expect it to do...and I want to know why.  I'm 47, not 87.  So I'm also on the hunt for a doctor who knows about fibromyalgia but who doesn't consider himself a fibro expert, for fear of ending up with a doc who puts everyone who has pain in the same box.

In happier news, this has been a nice weekend.  I spent the day yesterday with The Girl.  Remember her?  I love her lots.  Today I got a massage, the relaxing kind, and I'm spending the rest of the day paying bills, blogging, wasting time on Facebook, washing my slipcovers (it's like having new furniture!) and dabbling in a little payroll stuff.  I like this kind of day.  I like project surfing.  I don't even mind that it's rainy and gloomy.

Today's lunch...comfort food.  Nuf said.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012


The other day I went to see the movie Flight.  It was very good, thought provoking, NOT the feel-good movie of the year but if Denzel Washington and John Goodman don't at least get Oscar nominations for this film there is a real problem.  I walked away deeply touched by the acting and special effects.  And by one scene in particular.

I'm not saying anything you wouldn't see if you watched interviews that were done outside the premier when I tell you that this movie is largely about addiction.  And there was one scene in particular that really hit me in the face.

The main character is an alcoholic.  The audience knows it, everyone who knows him knows it, but he's in denial.  He is trying desperately hard to stay sober.  It's important.  He's away from home, and he's alone, and he opens a refrigerator and sees booze.  Lots and lots of booze.  The time he spends standing there looking into that refrigerator seems like forever to me, because it's a scene I've lived so many times.

Lately that scene plays out almost every night at my house, but it's not booze in that fridge.  It's food.

Since The Boy now has a job and an extensive social life, my every evening from 5:30 until his 10:30 curfew (11:30 on the weekends) is spent alone.

I am what I can only think to describe as a binge/grazer.  I have a friend who binges, in the true clinical sense.  She has been known to drive to the store, buy a big bag of groceries and consume the majority of it in the car.  With chocolate pudding in her hair, she will throw out the leftovers to hide her shame, then go home and be sick for days.  I don't do that.

Grazing isn't bad, if it's done correctly.  But binge grazing is awful.  It's more of an extended binge.  Never to the point where I'm sick, but just eating something every hour or so all evening addition to dinner.

No matter how resolute I am to only keep healthy foods in the house, I can always find something to eat.  Last night, barely an hour after I ate a large salad with pepperoni and walnuts and cheese and ranch dressing and I don't know what all non-healthy ingredients, I ate an apple with organic crunchy peanut butter on it.  I wasn't hungry.  Not at all.  But I ate it anyway.

Tonight it was Shakeology, with crunchy peanut butter and chocolate soy milk.  I had no business eating anything.  Not the least bit hungry.  And since that was a couple of hours ago I'm fighting the urge to get something now, even though I should have been in bed 40 minutes ago.

To anyone who says the secret to being thin is not in the quantity but in the quality of food you eat...I call bullshit.  I really do eat pretty healthy, and yet I'm overweight and expanding as I type this.  Because I just eat too damn much.

But here's the thing.  I've spent my life beating myself up over this.  My inner voice asks me how hard it is for crap sake?  Just DON'T you IDIOT!!  You SUCK!  You're a loser and a failure.

But you know what?  If someone starves themselves, and throws up what they eat, they're sick.  They have an eating disorder.  Nobody says to them (well nobody who isn't an ignorant ass) "Just cut it out...just eat, and stop throwing up.  It's not that difficult"

And nobody says to the alcoholic "Just don't drink. Duh.  It's that simple"

For either of those issues there is rehab, there is counseling, there are groups.  Hell there are things that insurance covers for crying out loud.

Too much booze will get you treatment, too much food won't.

Not enough food will get you treatment, too much won't.

Jesus even sex addicts get help.

But for food addicts there is only self-loathing and shame.

And really this isn't just me realizing I've been beating myself up.  This is me realizing I've been judging others as well.  I have been fairly vocal about the obese people taking up handicapped parking spaces and using the motorized wheelchairs at Wal Mart because they have no discernable disability except that their weak little legs can't haul their giant bodies up and down the isle.  Yeah, some of them got that way because they're lazy.  My mom was one of them.  Yeah, her overeating didn't help but the woman did nothing but sit and watch TV all day.  Her only exercise was to walk to the kitchen.  Toward the end she ate her meals in bed!  So I'm not saying EVERY obese person has an eating disorder.  But some....yeah.

This doesn't absolve me of my sins, my responsibility, or my hope.  Tomorrow morning I go to the doctor for what I hope will be the first step back to working out regularly.  I am not all that hopeful that I will walk out with answers but at least with scheduled testing which will help the doctor give me some recommendations as to what kind of exercise I can do without increasing my pain levels.  And if he can't help me, I have the name of a pain management specialist.  This is not going to get the best of me.

Next step, which I hope to take within the next few days, is to book myself in for some sort of counseling.  I'm obviously addicted to food and I'm abusing it.  I'm medicating with it and it has to stop.  I haven't eaten normally in....well I don't know if I ever have.  When my weight is on the upswing it's because I'm eating more than I need.  I'm eating not because I'm hungry but because it is a source of pleasure.  Often the only one I have available to me. It's my sex, my drugs, my booze, my massage, manicure & pedicure.  It's a hug or a kind word.  It's my friend and my companion.  And I need to make it a casual acquaintance.

When my weight is on the downswing it's because I have a death grip on my control, counting every calorie, weighing every morsel, timing and recording my exercise down to the minute.  During those times food is the enemy.  I am the cop and it (or maybe my appetite) is the criminal and it needs to be contained and punished.  I have to deny myself the one thing that brings me comfort.  That's obviously also not normal.  I don't think.  Even though I know a lot of physically healthy people who do it this way, I don't think it's how it's supposed to be.  I don't think it's how a person who has a healthy relationship with food has to live.  In the end it may turn out to be how I have to live...I may have to resign myself to that lifestyle once again.  But it sure would be nice to get healthy instead.

I'm going to try really hard now to shut down this computer, let the dogs out & back in, brush my teeth and head to bed without eating anything.  It really does sound so easy.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Snuggles With Extra Hot Fudge

I just spent three hours with two dogs on my lap.  I was warm and comfy.  Anyone who knows me knows that I love my dogs.  I don't love them to the point where I taken them everywhere, cook for them, dress them or let them sleep with me, but I love them.  Lots.  I'm a dog person.

But you know what?  Three hours with two dogs on my lap doesn't make me feel half as good as a half hour snuggled up against another human being.

People wonder "Why am I here?".  I'm telling you why.  It's all about human contact.  We're here to snuggle.  And hold hands, and kiss.  And, yaknow...other stuff, but let's focus on snuggling.  It's a family-friendly blog, eff-bombs not withstanding.

This theory is forming as I type here.  I could be full of shit.

I read an article not too long ago about obesity.  The theory is that poor people are, on average, fatter than thin people.  Not because they can't afford healthy food, not because they can't afford gym memberships, not because they're lazy, but because we all have a baseline of pleasure that we are wired to try to reach, and we will do it by whatever means we have.

The wealthy may be able to get their pleasure via leisure activities, massages, time with family, sleeping in, vacations, boffing the help, retail therapy.

The poor get their pleasure at Dairy Queen.

I'm not technically poor.  Struggling and in debt, sure, but gainfully employed with a home and a car...and a mortgage, and a second mortgage, and a car loan.  But I am suffering from a snuggling deficiency for which my dogs can't compensate.  In a given month my chiropractor may be the only person who touches me.  And I can't afford massages, my family is a typical 17 year old, meaning he only comes here when I make him.  I haven't been on vacation in two years.  You get my drift.

Taste is a sense. Just like touch. Yeah, food is supposed to be for survival but come on, sex is supposed to be for procreation so go ahead and frown on me for eating ice cream.

So yeah, I just ate ice cream.  Is it a coincidence that the only human being I've interacted with today in person, without cash changing hands, is my son?

And that interaction consisted of "Hey Bud, why does your bathroom smell like feet?"

FYI...they don't take kindly to snuggling up to your barista at Starbucks.  I'm a gold card holder but still.

So I went to DQ and got me an order of snuggling, with extra hot fudge.

And as I'm shoveling it in, I berate myself for being overweight, and tell myself this is why I'm alone.

This leads to feelings of self-loathing and hopelessness....which lowers the pleasure level, which makes me want (but, thankfully, deny myself) pizza.

Who devised this system?  Colonel Sanders?  It's a death spiral I tellya!

It's Sunday.  I go to the doctor on Wednesday.  I swear if he doesn't tell me I can start working out again I'm going ask for a referral to get my jaw wired shut.  I either need exercise-induced endorphins or a man.

Or one of these, and a gun.

And with enough of the first, maybe I can get the second and never ever have to think about the creepy pillow thing again.

For's 9:45 on Saturday night and I'm going to bed.  Yes, alone.  In my big comfy bed where I actually do still appreciate the luxury of having the whole thing to myself, even as I miss sharing it.  And really I'm not feeling sorry for myself for spending Saturday night alone.  Friday night was spent in the company of one of my favorite people, and tonight I did enjoy relaxing.  Tomorrow I'm meeting a dear friend for brunch and a movie.  I'm really blessed to have wonderful people in my life.  I'm spending Thanksgiving with the sister I never had.  And I'll jump off the Christmas bridge when I come to it.

Live in the moment.  Enjoy the snuggles.  Don't overthink.  Back away from the ice cream.  Be all zen & shit.  Ohmmmmm.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

All is not lost. I just don't know where it all is at the moment.

Yesterday turned out to be a good day.  I did some gathering and burning of yard waste, and followed it with some time with good friends.  I actually slept well, with few disturbing dreams.  A little physical activity and friendship goes a long way.

Of all the various yard chores I've learned to perform over the last year, I think my favorite (the one I hate the least) is burning things.

Fire! Fire! Fire!! 

Because I'm a responsible neighbor and citizen, I limit my burning to organisms which have tried to take over my flowerbeds or house (they started it!).  And this year there was a crapton of it.  A guy I was seeing devoted a miserable 95 degree day to my yard a few months ago. With loppers and chainsaw, he helped me try to whip this mess into shape.  It still has a long way to go, but we can now actually see the house.

But since it WAS a 95 degree day, and by the time it was done we were both exhausted, I gave an ill-formed directive to The Boy: Just drag it all out to the way-back.

Yeah...the way-back, or the west 40, is where I put things I don't want to deal with.

If you look real close you can see my eating disorder.
Well what is supposed to be a straight line of railroad tie (why do men so enjoy edging with railroad ties?), beyond which nature is allowed to take over, had over the course of two summers turned into a blurred boundary of dead grasses, bamboo, tree branches and heaven knows what-all.  And it was starting to spread onto the neighbors' property.

So about two months ago I started burning stuff.  Every weekend, weather permitting, I pile the fire pit as high as I can and burn it down.  This is a LOT of work, digging the dead out of the live stuff beyond the railroad ties, and loading and hauling wheelbarrow after wheelbarrow of this crap from the dumping areas on both sides of the way back into the fire pit.  And every weekend I think 'next weekend I should be able to finish up'...but I swear the stuff multiplies!

But each weekend I unearth more of that straight and orderly railroad-tie boundary.  Each weekend I reduce a pile of what was just too much for me to deal with at some point to a pile of ash.  Each weekend I come that much closer to having my shit together.

In 5% of the yard anyway.

As much as I DO NOT enjoy devoting the better part of every weekend to maintaining Hell's Acre and a Half, I've been a little worried about what will happen to my state of mind when the snow flies.  This time last year I thought I was in love.  I was in the middle of making plans to visit him over Thanksgiving and discussing what it would be like when he moved here, planning my family's visit here over Christmas.  There was tangible promise and hope and I actually looked forward to a reprieve from the yard work so that I could focus on all of the things in my life that held hope and promise.  I'm not entirely without hope for my future, that's not what I'm saying, but it is less tangible at this point.  All is not lost.  I just don't know where it all is at the moment.  Maybe it's in the way back.

Here is where some would say I shouldn't worry about what will happen next week or next month or next year.  But hey, I gotta be me.  I do not live well in the moment.

But as I look around this house, or what I can see of it from my kitchen table, it all looks fairly neat, sort of like the foreground of that picture up there.  But what I can't see...the basement, the closets, the cupboards, are overflowing with the indoor equivalent of lawn clippings and dead branches, stashed away until the day I feel up to dealing with them.  I had a hysterectomy almost two years ago for God's sake and I still have tampons in my bathroom closet!  And right this second I sort of thank God I have all of that...because each of those closets and cupboards represents weekend project that will keep me from losing my ever loving mind when the snow is flying but the driveway has been blown clean.

The Man always criticized me for never throwing anything away.  Who's the smart one now?

But for now it's Sunny and 63 on November 11th.  I'm afraid it's a little windy for burning but the Goddamned ornamental grasses need cut down before winter and I can stack them in the fire pit and let them start to dry for next weekend's fire.

Cut it down, throw it in the way back, deal with it another day.

Happy Veterans day!  And thank you to those who have served and are currently serving to protect this great country.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Caution: Whining Ahead

Brace Yourself.

I blogged the other day.  But I didn't put put it on my Facebook page, and I didn't add a picture and put it on my Pinterest page, basically I didn't promote it.  I wrote it and folded it up and put it in a dark corner where someone might stumble across it but most likely not.  And I did this for two reasons...

1) Because I didn't want to deal with the comments that would come of it.
2) Because it wasn't a happy post with a cutsie ending, moral or message.

What the hell kind of bullshit is that??

As far as the comments go, my opinions are my opinions and as sick and tired as I am of getting criticized, belittled or shunned by so-called friends because of them, to hide my opinions is to devalue them and...well...the terrorists win.  While shutting the hell up is obviously the path of least resistance and it makes those around me happier, it leaves me feeling like I don't deserve to HAVE an opinion.  It turns me into my worst enemy.  I need to cowgirl up and either defend my beliefs or disassociate myself from those who wish to belittle or devalue me because of them.

And my life is just not a happy, cutsie, moral-and-message-filled place right now.  It kinda sucks to be me.  And I don't want to be one of these people who just whines online about how hard their life is to get attention.  I don't want pity. But writing makes me feel better and part of the process is to share it.  I don't have a huge audience but more than once I've been told that something I wrote touched someone.  Who am I to assume that only the happy posts can do that?  Maybe someone else's life sucks a little less than mine right now and I can make them feel better.  Maybe someone else is just as miserable as me and I can help them feel less alone.  Maybe someone who has it far worse than me (and yes, I know there are millions) can slap some sense into me.  Who knows.  The gift or curse that I give to the world is my writing, humble as it is.  And I don't feel entirely whole when I don't write.

The difficulty will be in balancing honesty with privacy, all while not turning Blog over Lunch into a whine-fest.  Trust me, there is likely to be whining...but I'll try to keep it to a minimum.  And as for the balance, all I can do is give it a shot and hope you all will forgive me if I fall on my face once in a while, as I am prone.

Today is likely to be one of the last two yard-work worthy days of this year.  It's 11:03 am and it's 54 and sunny in Northeast Ohio.  There are twigs and branches and leaves and grass cuttings a-plenty to be stacked in the fire pit to dry today so that I may burn them tomorrow...but instead I stayed in bed 'till 10am, and here I sit in my jammies drinking coffee and writing.

Note that I say I "stayed in bed" 'till 10am...I was awake at 8:30 from a night of fitfull sleep.  I spent a total of 11 1/2 hours in bed and maybe slept five.  This is typical.  I am plagued with sad, scary, bizarre dreams and I am in a lot of pain.  I'm hoping the former is the result of the latter.

Right now, as I sit in my comfy chair, a chair whose cushions are stuffed with fluffy down, with my feet up on an ottoman bearing a down stuffed topper, every part of my body resting on any surface...from my heels to my upper back, hurts. This "contact-pain", as I have come to call it until I can get to a doctor and get a clinical term, combined with the fact that I have a bad back which prohibits me from sleeping on my back or stomach, and tendinitis in my shoulders causing pain when I sleep on my sides...well as you can imagine, bedtime is not my friend.

You would think this kind of misery in bed would cause me to get my ass up earlier in the morning, but depression has taken hold.  At least that's where I think the thoughts of "I don't want to get up because everything I have to do today sucks" come from.  So on Saturday and Sunday mornings I hit snooze and reset the alarm and basically doze until 10...because somehow in my head anything before 9am is respectable, between 9 and 10 is lazy and starting at 10:01 am I'm lumped in with the 300 pound women who grocery shop from the motorized wheelchair as they buy donuts with food stamps.

Basically...if I'm still in bed at 10:01 I become my mom...and I haven't quite sunk that low yet.

I went to the doctor a couple of weeks ago and out of five blood tests, only the Anti-Nuclear Antibody test came back out of whack.  I'm told that this result simply indicates that I have inflammation in my body, which I could have told them without spilling a drop of blood but apparently I'm not a reliable witness.  Apparently this is not a very reliable test and if I were to turn around and take it again today it could come back drastically different.  But the result means that the next step is to visit a Rheumatologist on 11/21.  Apparently it might be  Rheumatoid Arthritis.  And a couple of people (not doctors) have said it sounds like Fibromayalgia or Lupus.  None of these potential diagnoses scare me.  I just want to know what it is so they can do something about it and so I can find out how best to help myself, or just not hurt myself any more.

I stopped working out a few weeks ago when I hurt my foot (fucking tendinitis again) and during what should have been a 2 or 3 day break for my foot to heal I realized that my shoulders and elbows felt better.  As much as I thought weightlifting was going to be my savior, I may have to rethink that.  My knees and ankles can't take lots of jumping around so most cardio workouts aren't an option, but my lower body does seem to respond well to squats.  I felt like I was actually having some success in isolating my abs with Les Mills Pump's ab tracks and was even making some progress with my old nemesis, lunges, until I hurt my foot.  But the chest presses and curls hurt my elbows and holding the weights on my shoulders for lunges & squats hurts my shoulders.  Doing the clean & back and shoulders were not pleased.  I pushed through for two months thinking I just needed to build strength to support the tendons and my spine, but while some things seemed to get better, others got worse.

Guys, I'm just a mess.

So a couple days' break so my foot could heal has turned into, I don't know, maybe a month of not working out.  I've tried to do yoga but again, the tendons just scream at the stretching.  And I don't know if I'm doing further damage.

Obviously working out helps keep the depression at bay.

And of course what's the best way to deal with depression?  Food!


It's a spiral into a bad place for sure.

But I'm trying to just look forward.  If the doctor says I need to just get back to exercising and ignore the pain, that's what I'll do.  If he tells me I need to do a different kind of exercise, I'll do that.  I'm hoping he doesn't tell me I need to swim because I can't afford a gym membership, but I'll jump off that diving board when I come to it.  If he tells me I can't exercise I'll find a different doctor.  One thing this has taught me is that I need to work out.  It's imperative to my emotional well-being.

So it's now 11:40.  I feel a little better for having written, even if it helps nobody but me.  Now I'm off to the grocery store.

Insert cutsie ending, moral or message here.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

When I start talking to people I just get confused.

I haven't posted anything here in months.  I've been at a loss for written words.  There hasn't been that much going on. I try to keep things here in the BOL positive and to be perfectly honest I'm not feeling so positive lately.

Today I'm downright pissy.  And you know what?  It's my blog, and I'll be pissy if I want to.

It's election day.  Or as I call it...erection day.  Pick a dick, any dick.  I voted for Obama in 2008. I'm not ashamed of that fact.  I wholeheartedly believe it was the right thing to do given the options (McCain/Palin? Seriously?).  And my gut still tells me (and please, for the love of God don't try to convert me.  I'm just not up to it.) Romney...well I'm not a fan of the Republican platform on the whole and him in particular....I believe that if he had his way (and I am not of the belief that he would have his way even if he was President) it would be devastating for women's rights, women's health issues, gay rights, etc.

But with all of that said, 2016: Obama's America was pretty freaking unsettling.  My president whispering in the Russian president's ear is a bit of a concern.  And at least one person who is pretty important to me, who I believe to be one of the smartest people in most rooms, believes he is the worst thing that has ever happened to this country.

And please don't try explain away any of that stuff there /\ either...because I just can't process any more political mumbo jumbo today.  My head hurts for the third evening in a row and it wouldn't be beyond the realm of possibility that I could throw my computer or phone through a window.  I can't afford a new computer or phone.  So let's just agree to disagree, mnkay?

The truth lies somewhere between the two viewpoints, I'm sure.  But given the information I have taken the time to review (which, I admit, isn't all that much) considered opinion is....I have no freaking clue.

So yaknow what?  I'm not voting and you can't make me.   Don't even try.  People have been trying all day, as I sat in my office 7 miles from home wearing shoes and a bra, and they were not successful.  So trust me when I tell you that as I sit at home in my jammies with my dog on my lap, short of coming at me with a burning stake (and I have feared just that at various points of today) you are not getting my ass out of this overstuffed chair.

I just honestly don't feel that I'm qualified to choose the person who will lead this country for the next four years.  I'm not claiming that the information isn't available to me.  There is no conspiracy to keep me ignorant.  I'm not even claiming it's because I work too much or because I'm a single mom or because I have to take care of this Godforsaken yard and house because, let's face it, I've seen every episode of Long Island Medium and I haven't seen 8am on a Saturday in months.  I just know that lots of people who are far smarter than me with far more time on their hands, some of whom are actually PAID to figure this shit out, some of them even THINK they have it all figured out...are flat out wrong.  Think about it!!  Of all of the people who go on TV and say that this candidate or that candidate is absolutely, positively the right least half of them have to be WRONG!  Am I to assume they're all idiots?  No!  Am I to assume that one candidate is evil and the other is our nation's savior?  Nah.  It's all a matter of perspective.

I don't know enough to have a perspective of my own, and when I start talking to people I just get confused.

Wow...that's the blondest thing I've said in years...but it's true.  One person will make valid points and I'll start to lean one way, then I'll talk to someone else and think "Hmm....maybe I was wrong".  

So if right now you want to tell me that I'm a bad American because I didn't vote today, don't bother.  It's been done.  If you want to tell I have no cause to be confused because CLEARLY (insert your candidate's name here) is the right choice, again don't bother.  I've heard from your people already and I didn't like them.  Don't make me not like you.

While we're at it if you want to tell me that I'm a slacker and a loser because I watch TV, don't read enough, don't eat enough vegetables, am neither vegetarian nor vegan, do not keep kosher, do not eat entirely organic, don't exercise enough, don't volunteer enough, don't drive a hybrid or electric car, spend too much money at Starbucks, don't give enough to charity, work too much, work too little, am too strict with The Boy or not strict enough, or anything else you don't like about me....don't bother.  All of your people have been up my ass in the last few days...there is no more room up there.

Why can't people just accept each other??  Why does everyone have to try to convert everyone else to their way of thinking?  Why do people have to try to belittle people who think or act or dress or look or feel different than they do?  Thousands of years on this planet and we still, as a race, haven't learned that we're all different and that's ok?  Better than's awesome.  It's how it's supposed to be, so stop fighting it!

Ok I'm done ranting.  Now I have to go try to figure out how to turn off comments on this thing before everyone starts trying to tell me how wrong I am.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Be Careful What You Wish For

When I was a kid I ate whatever Mom made for dinner.  Like it or not.  Mostly she was a pretty good cook but there were things she made that even I wouldn't eat today.  The Boy?  Forget it!  I remember the year Dad's garden produced a bumper crop of eggplant.  We had eggplant parmesan, fried eggplant, baked eggplant, we had eggplant in cake.  It was freaking everywhere and to this day I will not touch eggplant.

There was the "Salad Phase".  Dad was on a health kick and he mandated that salad shall be served for dinner several times a week.  Not being one for, yaknow, actually DOING stuff, Mom made a HUGE bowl of salad...every Monday.  Into this salad were such nutritional items as iceburg lettuce, tomatoes, shredded carrots, cucumbers, and cheese.  Not just any cheese, mind you.  Good ol' Kraft American Cheese, sliced and cut into cubes.  So she would make this huge bowl of salad on Monday and any time she didn't feel like cooking during the week, out came the big bowl.  I clearly remember eating salad for dinner on a Friday night, before going out with friends.  If you've never had the pleasure of consuming a four day old salad containing american cheese, I will tell you that the cheese liquifies.  It's not pleasant.  That salad was unceremoniously deposited, half digested, in the bowling alley parking lot that evening when I was out with friends.

Good times.

But there were things she made that I hated back then but I love today.  Stuffed green peppers are one.  I would beg her to let me eat only the stuffing and leave the pepper.  If she was in a good mood I could get away with this.  More often, not.  Back then I would have wished for the day I would never have to see stuffed pepers again.  But now I LOVE them.  Same with salads, but of course I eat them fresh.

I remember when I was first married, The Ex would go hunting or a week.  I remember dreading that week as it approached, and being so sad and lonely while he was gone.  And I remember when The Man first moved out, I thought rattling around in this empty house during The Boy's summer weeks with his dad would drive me right out of my head.  But as I come to the end today of the second summer where I have been truly alone during those four weeks when he's with his dad, I miss him for sure but the empty house hasn't bothered me.  I was talking to a friend last night who said that he hates to be alone because the silence gets to him.  I suppose I have an advantage in a pug that snores and a cavachon who still thinks he's a puppy as he approaches the ripe old age of three.  I always have someone to talk to (no, I do not believe they talk back) and as I sit here listening to the pug snore I appreciate the silences between her breaths.  I'll be glad when The Boy comes home today, but I can appreciate the time alone now like I never could.

I used to have a Weight Watchers group leader who told the story of how she used to have subscriptions to several magazines and she never had time to read them, so they just piled up.  Her husband asked her one day why she was collecting all of these magazines and she told him "I'm hoping some day I will contract a debilitating illness which will force me to lay in bed all day and read magazines".  Then she had a stroke, and she had to do just that for several months.

Today I can't help but think back to the time when I wanted nothing more than time to sit down and put my feet up.  I remember it as though it was last week.  Because it was.  When The Boy isn't here it's not unusual for my TV to stay off and my living room to be uninhabited from Sunday evening 'till Friday night.  I just don't have time.  A typical day has me up at 7:30 (yeah, I know, I'm a slacker), at work by 8:30 (ok...sometimes 8:32), home around 5:30.  Make dinner, work out, then back in front of the computer at the kitchen table to work until bedtime.

Yesterday, being Saturday, I slept later than I should have.  Worked out, showered and headed to the office for a few hours.  Came home, made a big salad for dinner.  But then I did indulge in a few hours of TV.  I'm addicted to Love it or List It on HGTV and I have quite the backup on DVR. I had lots to do around the house but since I didn't plan to work today I figured I could procrastinate last night and then hit the housework hard this morning.

As I headed up to bed I noticed some pain in my left ankle.  I have mild arthritis in my feet, ankles & knees and figured this was just stiffening from sitting too long.  I have come to expect the first few steps after sitting for an hour, and the first 5 minutes or so in the morning to bring some stiffness, but it passes.  I went to bed without a care in the world.

This morning I can barely walk.  The only way I can bear weight on my left foot is to put it all in my heel.  Any time I try to put weight in the ball of my foot or toes I have a stabbing pain from the outside of my ankle to my toes.  It feels very similar to when I cracked a bone in my ankle years ago.

I am not pleased.

So I sit here with my feet up.  Ice on for 20 minutes, then ice off for 20 minutes.  I am not able to resign myself to a complete day of rest.  Today's workout is Hard Core Abs, which I can do no problem.  But I'm also supposed to walk for 40 minutes and that's just not happening.  I have laundry to do. Gathering it up and dragging it all downstairs was pretty painful but now that it's all down here I think I'm ok.  I'm meeting a friend for dinner at 5 so there will be time on my feet to get ready for that.  But all in all once I take the walking and most of the housework out of my day I will be able to follow the orders of my former EMT cousin to keep it up and ice it.

But mostly I'm frustrated about my workout.  I re-started Les Mills Pump on 8/1 after quitting when I was working so 60 hours a week.  I've been doing really well and staying on schedule.  If I have some sort of miraculous recovery I can make up the walk tomorrow...but it sure doesn't feel right now like that's going to happen.

So I just need to think back to when all I wanted to do was put my feet up and try to enjoy it.  Easier said than done.  Be careful what you wish for.

Today's lunch:  AB&AF.  Healthy version of PB&J.  Almond butter & blueberry all fruit on whole wheat bread.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Universe....are you listening?

You guys it's been a hell of a week.  Sunday morning I boarded a plane to DC (National Harbor Maryland to be exact) for the annual Ceridian Insights conference.  I don't go every year.  The last time was in 2010 in Miami.  This conference is always a nice mix of fun and education and I was really looking forward to five days of not having to look around my house and think about everything that needs to be painted, pulled, killed, weeded, mowed, mulched, fixed or replaced.

My plan was to enjoy an afternoon by the pool before the welcome reception Sunday night.  Instead, I took a nap.  But I did make it to the reception.  They provide drink tickets, I think to make sure we show up.  This strategy works.

Monday afternoon I was in my third training session of the day and I got a text from my dear friend and house/dog sitter, Dee..."Your door is locked to get in the house from the garage.  Any ideas how to get in?".


Six years ago I was in North Carolina with the ex boyfriend for a wedding and we got a panicked call from the next door neighbors who were tending to the dogs.  I had only given them the code for the garage, as we don't typically lock the door between the house and garage.  Well the garage code thingy wasn't working.  I don't remember how they got in, but I think my ex husband came over and helped them break in.

After that I stashed a set of spare keys where they would never be found unless you knew where they were (not that difficult on an acre and a half).  These keys open the back man-door to the garage.  Surely this will prevent this from ever happening again....

Or not...

So the garage door was open, rendering the spare keys which open the back man door useless.  I don't even think I HAVE a key to the door between the house & garage and the spare keys opened only the deadbolt to the front door, not the knob.  I, of course, have keys to the front door.  But I'm, yaknow, 400 miles away, and The Boy has no keys..he's 17 and I'm lucky he hasn't lost the garage door opener which is in his car.  A key wouldn't last ten minutes.


As convenient as it would have been for the NRPD to come over and break in for me on the basis of "Trust me, I live there", they were understandably reluctant.  They did, however, agree to see what they could do if The Boy was there with his driver's license proving that this was indeed his primary residence.

When I called The Boy I asked him to go over, explained all of the details including the fact that Dee was able to open the deadbolt on the front door but not the knob and he said "Oh that's no problem, I can get that open"

I didn't ask.

A few minutes later I had a text from Dee stating that The Boy got the front door open. I replied "I'm a little curious as to how he knows how to do that".  Her response "So was the police officer"


Thankfully the rest of the conference went off without a hitch.   I saw monuments, I learned a ton of stuff, I made a new friend, I won $64 in one of those phone booth full of flying money things, I made $50 giving my opinion of Ceridian on video, I had some really good meals (too many, too good, unfortunately), I walked my ass off (not literally, again unfortunately).

The trip home was brutal.  Long story short I got to the airport at 12:45 and didn't get home until 10:45.  We boarded, we deplaned, we waited, we watched the weather, and after hearing that several flights to Chicago and one flight to Cleveland was cancelled due to a really big storm, we were told to board.

I was less than confident in our chances of making it to Cleveland alive.

It was supposed to be a 1 hour & 20 minute flight, it took nearly 3 hours.  We mostly went around the storm.  We could see sunshine and clear skies on the left of the plane and big black clouds on the right.  It was freaky and scary and rough.  The pilot said it was the worse weather he had ever flown in.

It was not fun.  I prayed a lot.

Then, after four nights of very little sleep, seven hours at the airport in a terminal with malfunctioning air conditioning on a 100 degree day, I arrived at home and climbed into bed at 11:30, knowing I had to work the next morning...and got on the phone to receive what I saw coming a mile away.  The old "It's not you, it's me" conversation.

I'm awesome, you see.  He's just not ready for a serious relationship.


It's the right call.  Totally.  It sounds like completely overused BS, and he may THINK he's handing me BS (I don't think so..but I'm also fairly naive).  But it's the truth.  We're in very different places.  I'm six years out of my marriage, and well over a year out of my last serious relationship (which was long dead before he left)...he's less than a year out of his marriage.  So if he's just letting me down easy, he's doing a good job of it.

And it really looks like we may even pull off the whole friends thing...we'll see.

So now what?  Back to kissing frogs or a break from the whole dating thing?  Kinda both.  I think I'm going to stay off the online dating thing for a bit.  It's exhausting.  You really have to kiss A LOT of frogs to find someone with even any minimal amount of prince potential.  I honestly don't know any other way to date but maybe if I'm just open to the universe throwing a great guy at me it will happen on its own.

Universe....are you listening?

Maybe he's already here.

Today's lunch...PB & J, the healthy way.  Whole wheat bread, organic peanut butter, strawberry all-fruit.  I have a lot of making up to do after last week's food-fest.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Pretty Darn Good Imitation of a Chipotle Chicken Salad

Confession time.  Since I finished The Ultimate Reset I haven't done as well as I had hoped.  I have a firm grip on a couple of victories, being complete abstinence from Diet Coke and caffeinated coffee, and these were two of my favorite vices.  I have done what I feel to be a pretty good job of staying away from artificial sweeteners, largely due to cutting out Diet Coke but also because I haven't been making my beloved iced coffee every morning.  I've continued to have fruit smoothies for breakfast and have been very good about sticking to Shakeology with almond milk and PB2 for lunch...on the days I'm at work.

What about when I'm not at work?  Um.....look!  A squirrel!!!

One of the dinners I indulged in over the weekend, telling myself it's ok because the vegetables are organic and the chicken is farmed locally, was a chicken salad from Chipotle.  I seriously love this salad.  Now the Chipotle chicken salad is what you make of it, because you tell them what to put on it, but I like mine with corn, mild salsa, sour cream and guac.  Yes for the love of GOD I know guac is an extra charge....still they ask me.  EVERY. SINGLE. TIME.

And they give you a TON of guac & sour cream (which is, of course, a big part of what makes it awesome).

This salad runs around $8 I think, which is crazy in my book.

So on my way home today I was trying to figure out what I was going to make for dinner.  I had asked The Boy to thaw out a couple of chicken breasts, thinking I'd make chicken sandwiches, but that wasn't sounding so good.  I knew I had leftover corn from last night's dinner in the fridge.....wait....corn.....hmmm...

A quick stop for guac and I was in business.

I started with this stuff....I LOVE this lettuce.

I get it at Aldi and I don't know if it's because it's little baby leaves or if it's because it's still on the head but it seems to stay fresh longer than most.  If you look real close you can see that it was "best if used by" day before yesterday (I'm eating alone here, don't judge me) but it still looked really nice.

Standing at my counter, I tried to remember the line behind the counter at Chipotle....what do they ask me first?  BEANS!!!

In the back of the cupboard I found a can of Goya black beans left over from The Reset.  No, they don't have the same spices as the Chipotle ones but they have the same protein, so I added about 1/3 of the can (good thing I sleep alone).  I threw on some shredded cheddar (yes Chipotle uses...I don't know?  Mozzarella?  Some sort of white cheese but I had cheddar GET OFF MY BACK I'm hungry!!), some Tostitos mild salsa, squirted on some guac (far less than Chipotle but still plenty), threw on some corn, chopped onion and sliced tomato and....wait...where's the chicken???

SOMEBODY forgot to thaw out the chicken.  I was not pleased.

I am immune to the sad eyes.

So I dug out some cooked chicken I had in the freezer. It wasn't as good.

But here is where I took a leap of faith.  I keep hearing about plain greek yogurt.  I had some during The Reset with fresh fruit and honey, but I keep hearing about it as a substitute for sour cream.  Now I LOOOOOVEEE sour cream.  But alas I had none, and that was intentional.  I had greek yogurt.

Now let me tell you I REALLY don't like yogurt.  I will use it in smoothies, or I will eat it if it's mixed with a toxic amount of sweetener (artificial or natural, matters not) and fruit or, better yet, whipped full of air and made to taste like some sort of pie, but to just put a few spoonfuls on this salad? I was seriously risking ruining the salad...and not even being able to blame it on The Boy's chicken amnesia.  Ugh...ok fine.  But it better be good.

And that left one final ingredient....vinaigrette.  

Chipotle has this awesome's a little spicy (which I could do without) a little sweet (which I love) I commenced to Googlin' and found this website...and adapted the recipe for what I had in the house, making a smaller batch in case it was gross.

Sorta Kinda Chipotle Dressing
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/6 cup agave nectar
1 t dijon mustard
1/4 t salt
1/4 t paprika
1/8 t garlic powder
a couple slivers of fresh onion
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Mix all but the olive oil in the blender until mixed (because of the fresh onion I put it on high for about 20 seconds), then add the olive oil on low.  It said to refrigerate an hour...I put it on my salad right out of the blender and it was really good.

It called for chipotle powder but I didn't have any and I don't like spicy anyway, and I didn't have any limes or lime juice.

So picture it with good chicken.

I cut and stirred and mushed it all up like I always do at Chipotle and yaknow what?  It was a pretty darn good imitation of a Chipotle chicken salad if I do say so myself.  The vinaigrette was really nice, just sweet enough without the kick that I could do without anyway, and dang if the yogurt didn't taste just like sour cream once it was mixed in with the guac & dressing and salsa & corn & stuff.  I don't know if I'm ready to go using it on a baked potato, but for this is it worked really well.

Now if I could only come up with a pretty darn good imitation of a McDonald's frappe without the caffeine and THAT would be something!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Life After The Ultimate Reset

You guys I went to bed last night feeling awful.  And I woke up during the night feeling just as bad.  But I got up feeling fine and I was careful not to screw it up.  I had a nice kiwi/orange/pear/cherry smoothie for breakfast, no time for a morning snack, Shakeology with half almond milk & half water/ice for lunch, oatmeal with natural peanut butter for afternoon snack, and a nice salad with VERY little grilled chicken and homemade creamy garlic dressing for dinner, followed by veggies and hummus for an evening snack.

Because I can, not because I have to.

And I feel good.  I was pretty hungry between breakfast and lunch but other than that I was fine.  But I also didn't work out.  I know I would have been hungrier if I had.

I had a brief period on my way home from getting my hair cut where I could have totally pulled into McDonald's and ordered a milk shake, but it passed.  

I got my bloodwork this morning and they are supposed to mail me my results, so in then next week or two I should know how much my cholesterol dropped.  I'm very interested in that.  When I went to pick up my order they tried to push cholesterol meds on me again.  Not havin' it.

The next few days are going to be extremely challenging foodwise.  Tomorrow is one of the two days a week when I force the boy to dine with me.  I bought steak before I started feeling truly horrible yesterday.  I really think the ickiness was more from the sugar and/or the dairy but I will still go very light on my portion tomorrow and have a side of veggies.  No potato, no bread.  Then Wednesday night there is a work dinner at a very nice local seafood place, Thursday we're having italian food brought in for lunch and then Thursday night is another work dinner at a very nice steak place.  Oh yeah and then Friday I think my guy and I are going out to dinner. 

Thank goodness for smoothies and Shakeology.  

But I need to keep reminding myself of two things:

1) None of these meals will be my 'last chance for good food', as I often convince myself is the case and...

2) I am not paying for any of this, so I can avoid the "If I have to pay for it I'm getting something I REALLY like" trap.  

It is not an opportunity to pig out and eat food that will put weight on me and leave me feeling like crap.  Instead, it is an opportunity to have HEALTHY food without the prep and cleanup.  

Yeah, that's the ticket.

One thing I do know is that I am EXHAUSTED.  I don't know if it's from being up late then getting up early to go to the bloodletting, if it's from yesterday's poor food choices or if it's from this gosh darned sore throat that is creeping up on me for the THIRD DAMN TIME in as many months...but I am fixin' to hit the sack.

In the morning, I shall lift weights.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Ultimate Reset Wrap-Up - Did I Always Feel Like Poo?

So I'm done.  21 days of clean eating.  21 days without refined sugar, caffeine or alcohol.  21 days without red meat. 19 days without chicken or fish.  14 days without dairy.  I feel very accomplished.  I'm proud of myself for sticking with it.

I've lost 14 lbs, 2 1/2 inches off my waist and a combined 7 1/4 inches all over.  I've gained a clearer complexion, increased energy, better sleep, increased mental clarity, better focus.  I've gained an appreciation for kale, collard greens, jicama, cumin, toasted sesame oil and coconut milk.  I've learned that I can exist on fruit and vegetables without being hungry or feeling deprived.  I've broken my addiction to caffeine and sugar.  And folks I was addicted.  BAD.

Today I met my cousin for breakfast.  For my first post-reset meal I had decaf coffee (I still like coffee but I have no desire to become addicted to caffeine again), a veggie & cheese omelet and I asked to replace my toast or biscuit choice with a potato pancake.  This place has AMAZING potato pancakes.  

I expected the omelet to either be out of this world amazing or repulsive.  It was neither.  It was good.  

I expected to feel crappy after eating it.  I did not.

So about an hour later, on my way out to visit my guy, I stopped & got a frappe.  I'm not gonna lie.  It made me a little queasy.

For an early dinner I got a steak salad from Panera.  And a flower cookie.  And I got A LOT queasy.

It was too much too soon.  But the thing is this would have been a very typical Sunday of eating for me a month ago.  Hell back in the day (a year ago) that veggie omelet would have been fried eggs and french toast and the steak salad would have been a big mac.  And I would have felt ....  well I was going to say I would have felt fine...but it would be more accurate to say I would have felt normal.

Tonight, even with a good six hours between me and any refined sugar, caffeine or red meat, even after a Shakeology to try to equalize things, I don't mind saying I feel like poo.  

Did I always feel like poo & didn't know it?

So the plan....fruit for breakfast.  I like it.  That's another thing I've gained from this.  I've dispelled the myth that I couldn't feel satisfied with fruit or that I would be hungry an hour later.  And it makes me I'm doing something good for myself.  I may add a little yogurt but it will be mostly fruit.

Shakeology for lunch.  I'm taking my shiny new (yet ugly green) Ninja to work and will have Shakeology with half water and half almond milk for lunch.  I will be able to accomplish things other than eating (like...yaknow...blogging, over lunch, what a concept) at lunchtime and won't have to be bothered with packing lunches.

I will go back to snacking.  I miss my afternoon oatmeal.  And I do get hungry in the afternoon.  If I feel like I need a morning snack it will be veggies and hummus.  Healthy snacks.  But that's never been a problem.  Daytime eating has never been a problem.

I will not pick up my two diet coke a day (at least) habit.  I have no desire.  I don't miss it, and I don't crave it.  I can't say I am going to completely stay away from artificial sweeteners, but they will not be a daily staple of my diet.  

And I will not start up my daily iced coffee habit again.  I missed it BAD when I started, but even with decaf coffee it's basically a big cup of chemicals and skim milk.  MAYBE, if I can find a way to make it without so many chemicals, I may have it as an occasional treat.  But I dumped my sugar free pudding mix (the secret ingredient) down the drain and will not buy more.

So that brings me to dinner.  I'm going to shoot for meat no more than three times a week.  That includes red meat, poultry and fish.  You guys for me this is HUGE.  I have always included some animal protein source with lunch and dinner.  But The Reset has shown me that I don't need it.  I like it, but I can't say I've really craved or missed it. I will absolutely incorporate some of the Reset recipes, but I hope to collect some more.  I've started perusing vegetarian and vegan websites.  

And if I snack in the evenings, it will be along the lines of what I snacked on during The Reset.  Jicama, baby carrots & hummus, an apple & peanut butter.

This will be more calories overall than I've had on The Reset, but having lost 14 lbs over 3 weeks is not a pace it would be wise to keep.  It's great for a cleanse and a jump start but to be honest I felt kind of weak yesterday working in the yard.  Yes the 97 degree heat had something to do with it but I think part of it was just too few calories.  They tell you not to exercise on The Reset for a reason.  

So I'm going to be working out.  I'm going to start Les Mills Pump again'm thinking Tuesday.  Tomorrow morning I have to go for bloodwork before work (to find out how much my cholesterol dropped) and I have a hair appointment in the evening (priorities people) so Tuesday morning I shall pump iron and earn those snacks and the occasional steak or chicken breast.

But now, I'm going to bed.  Because frankly, I still feel like poo.

To order The Ultimate Reset or any other Beachbody product, go HERE.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

The Ultimate Reset - Day 17...and 16, and umm..15 and....

Ok yeah I haven't blogged in a few days.  I've been super crazy busy but I haven't wavered in my resolve to see this through.  And trust me when I tell you that there were times when nothing would  have tasted better than a glass of wine instead of water, nothing would have felt better than to sit down and eat something someone else prepared, or something I just peeled open and nuked.  Heck just today, in the midst of a monsoon (well Ohio's version of one) everyone in the office decided to order pizza.  From my favorite pizza place.  But I ate my reset lunch.  So there.

Kicking this reset's ass, that's what I'm doing!

So backing up.  Some of what I've eaten the last few days, leaving out stuff I've already shown you..yaknow, fruit for breakfast every day, a few microgreen salads, they're delicious but you've seen all that so I haven't been taking pictures of everything anymore.

Day 14 I repeated day 13's dinner...because it was THAT good.  But I put the sauce on the squash after I cooked it, which was even better.

Acorn squash with garlic tahini filling.  This filling is amazing.  To think I almost didn't buy tahini because it's kind of pricey.  SO glad I did.

Tahini is our friend.  

Day 15 was weigh-in day.  Progress after two full weeks...ten pounds down!  Those are some amazing results for not working out at all and not starving myself.  At the end I'll measure, which should be very interesting.

Day 15's lunch was really good.  Asian cabbage salad & miso soup.

I felt like I should have been using chopsticks.

Dinner, by comparison, was fairly domestic.  Well mostly. Baked sweet potato, garlic veggies and quinoa.

Who knew sweet potato is good without 
a ton of brown sugar and marshmallows? 

Day 16 I made a try to be open-minded here

If you look closely you will see a kiwi.  With the skin on.  Yes, I was a little grossed out at first too but according to this article kiwi skin is not only edible but downright good for you.  This doesn't mean I'm about to just bite into one without peeling it, but mixed in with nectarines and some frozen cherries, it didn't taste fuzzy at all.

Yesterday's dinner, I'm not gonna lie, wasn't my favorite.  Curried cauliflower, lemon pepper kale and brown rice.  I went very easy on the curry because I had never had it before and it left the cauliflower a bit on the bland side.  But I went a little overboard on the lemon juice on the kale.  The rice was, well, it was rice.  Not awful by any means, and I ate it all, but just not the WOW dinner I've become used to.

And that brings us to today.  Whew.  All caught up

Breakfast was cherries, grapes and blueberries.  I really like this breakfast.  Really easy to eat on the run.  I didn't take a picture.

Lunch...I'll be honest I was not at all excited about this lunch. But oh my gosh it was awesome.  Super flavorful.  The combination of spices made the carrots more flavorful and satisfying than I could have ever imagined.  Will DEFINITELY make this again.

Moroccan carrot salad.  

Now one might think I would have learned a lesson with that one...the lesson being that even if a dish doesn't seem especially appealing, I should try it anyway because it might be amazing.

Yes one might think that, but one would be wrong.

Dinner tonight was supposed to be roasted squash, green beans with lemon and toasted millet.  All perfectly respectable dishes and probably quite easy since there are no sauces and very few spices, but I don't have to work tomorrow (ok..I don't have to GO TO THE OFFICE tomorrow) so I don't have to pack my lunch tonight, I have vowed to not work tonight, I had time to cook something a little more involved and felt like a little more flavor than roasted squash.  So I flipped ahead in the book and found THIS!!

Mediterranean Roasted Beets, 
Baked Tempeh, Coconut Collard Greens.

The coconut collard greens are by far my favorite reset recipe, and baked tempeh is probably my second favorite.  And the beets...they're pretty darn good, especially considering that I used to think I HATED beets.  One of the cool things about this program is that you can swap out any meal for the same meal within the same week.  So any dinner in week 3 can be swapped out for any other dinner in week 3.  So if there's something you're allergic to, something you can't find in the store, or something you absolutely, positively can't stomach even trying, you're covered.  

Crap, that reminds me, I still need to go find a goshdarned fennel bulb.


So that's what I've been eating.

I have started exercising a little bit.  First, in hopes of nudging my weight loss numbers a little higher for the third week, but also so it won't be a complete shock to my body when I start lifting weights again next week.  So I've been walking a little and doing a little yoga.  And it feels good to get moving.  Physically, I feel really good.  Light.  Smaller.  My stomach definitely seems smaller and my pants are big.

My skin is still pretty clear, and I'm hoping that trend continues.  Some people have reported rashes and breakouts in weeks 2 and 3 as the body gets rid of the toxins but I haven't experienced that, knock formica.

Mentally is where the big change has taken place in the past few days.  I'm clearer and far more focused.  At work I've been more productive than I've been in months, which is saying something because...not to toot my own horn but...I typically get a buttload done.  But I feel like I'm knocking projects off the list with increased speed and focus.  I'm not easily distracted.

Hey look, a chicken.

Tomorrow is 4th of July and I shall neither host nor attend a cookout.  I'm going to a baseball game in the evening with my guy and his kids and I will have neither peanuts nor crackerjack.  I will take water with me.  I will behave.

I see a light at the end of the tunnel.  It's the orange glow of a charcoal grill.  And there is a steak on it.  A small one.  Organic, grass fed beef.  With a side salad topped with homemade creamy garlic dressing.

And there is a glass of wine.