Saturday, July 28, 2007

Touched by an Angel?

You ever wish that someone or something would suddenly appear and save you from yourself? Well, I've always thought, in my worst moments, that the only way I'd stop my downward spiral of eating the wrong foods and getting more and more unhealthy was for either a "guardian angel" to step in, or some horrible health crisis to hit me and shock me back to common sense.

Well, I had a taste of the health crisis this week. I've been slowly morphing to a vegetarian/raw diet, but not quickly enough. I'd been feeling tired, sleepy and generally icky for a while and finally went to the doctor, mainly because my nutritionist wanted bloodwork. While there I saw how high my BP had gotten, and the doctor said my breathing problems could be caused by both allergies and sleep apnea. I had the prescription for Allegra filled, but eschewed the sleep test.

I felt decent the next day- not sleepy or as bad as usual. What a nice break! But the following day was strange. I woke up feeling extra tired and knew it would be a bad day. I had to fast for the 10 a.m. blood test so I went to work with no breakfast. It may have been partly because of that and partly because of whatever has been going on with me, but I felt worse and worse with every hour. I felt a tightness in my chest that seemed related to my wheezing, had a headache, was exceptionally worn out, and even had a strange anxiety/panicky feeling and shakiness. I made sure to drink water, and then went to get my blood drawn. I told the folks at work I wouldn't be back that day.

After the clinic, I seriously considered going to the ER, but remembered that I hadn't eaten, so I went to 7-11 and bought a Naked Juice protein smoothie - I was actually going for the natural sugar and carbs for quick energy but saw the protein version (38 gms per bottle) and figured it couldn't hurt. I guzzled that thing down- all 500 calories of it (whew!). Within 15 minutes I felt about 60% better. The chest tightness and anxiety went away. I was still feeling I should go to the ER but I went home to relax instead. I napped for a few hours and when I woke up I wondered again if I should go to the ER because I still wasn't totally well. I decided to go to the grocery store and check my blood pressure. If it was in the danger zone I'd go to the ER. The machine read 154 over 89. Much higher than I've seen it, but, according to the pharmacist, not worthy of an ER visit.

I vowed right then to stop putzing around with the gradually-going-raw thing and jumped back into a high-raw diet. High raw for me is this: every day I will eat raw fruits and vegetables and drink lots of water with lemon or lime juice. In addition, I will include any of the following protein or fiber-rich foods (raw or cooked as appropriate to the item): fish, tofu, oatmeal, Eggbeaters, hemp seeds and whey protein. I have already begun to drink more water, and I brewed tea to give me a non-caffeinated, non-sugary alternative to water. I love diet Snapple, but I'll stay away from its faux-sugar tastiness for the time being. I'm drinking my remaining Pepsi Jazz this weekend, and will not buy any more colas. (I will try sparkling water, though!)

Today I bought some fruits and vegetables, a manual citrus juicer, and a couple of Whole Foods salad bar items. No cheese- that's a miracle, folks! I do love me some cheese, you know. I got parsley for my salads (more nutritious than lettuce) and some raw pecans.

I feel good today. I don't really know why I felt so horrible the other day - I actually imagined at one point that I might be a step away from dying. How could I feel so terrible one day and feel normal the next? All I know is I'm treating it as a wake-up call. A knock on the side of the head from my guardian angel, perhaps. She knows I have to learn everything the hard way.

Hey raw community- I'M BAAAAAACK!!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Date with a Doctor

I wasn't happy with my visit to the doctor; he thinks I may have sleep apnea. This is not surprising to me, as I've been feeling tired, very sleepy, and stressed lately. I didn't bother setting up the sleep test because I was diagnosed with sleep apnea pre-raw (2005), and since I've regained the weight after going off raw, it makes sense that I would have this problem again. It's just that my symptoms are worse this time. My blood pressure was not good either: 145 over 81. I will have the blood tests done shortly and that will reveal the rest of what my nutritionist wants to know about my current state of health. All of this information makes my work with the nutritionist that much more important this year so I can make the dramatic changes I need to improve my health. I'm thinking of going directly to a raw diet rather than doing the phase-in I was thinking of. With the nutritionist's help, I'll be avoiding the nutritional problems I had when I did raw without "professional" guidance before.

That's all for tonight!

Monday, July 23, 2007

Just What the Doctor Ordered

I had the most wonderful weekend, hanging out with my friend Cindy. She made a great dinner, of course, grilling mahi mahi and shrimp (see photo), and preparing a healthy coleslaw, couscous, and corn on the cob. The next day we went fishing- one of the items on my "one day I'd like to do this" list. You can't really call what I did "fishing" since I spent most of the time bugging Cindy about how to do this or that, and getting the line caught in the rocks under the water. But I did learn how to cast the line and reel it back in. We didn't catch anything because a storm blew in, but I hope we'll go fishing again and actually catch dinner.

Today I started my new nutritional plan. Following my nutritionist's suggestions, I created meals balanced in protein, starches, vegetables, carbs and fruits. I had 2% cottage cheese with fruit for breakfast. For lunch I made a salad with 2 oz of grilled salmon, tofu, 1/2 oz. of Stilton, and veggies. For dinner I had 4 oz of salmon, some brown rice, and I grilled some bell pepper slices. (Whenever I eat healthfully I feel like an adult. I don't know if that's good or bad...

The longer I stay overweight and less active, the more I worry about high cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes. I've taken a giant step by making a doctor's appointment for this week. I'm getting bloodwork done, and also checking to make sure I don't have blood sugar problems. I know that seeing the numbers will motivate me to do improve them. I love to compare and contrast my "before" results with the consequences of changing my diet for the better.

I may start my journey back to raw very simply, starting with one raw meal + two less-than-100% raw meals a day. That is easily done by eating a salad as my raw meal. My raw diet this time around won't be like my previous one. I've probably mentioned before that I'm not really into the faux-cooked foods made with raw ingredients, except as a treat (like an occasional meal at a raw restaurant). I don't plan on making raw "burgers" and fake tortilla chips, etc. Those can be fun to do, but the more I process foods into semblances of cooked ones, the more I get away from the reasons I'm turning to a raw diet again. I want to separate myself from the processed foods mentality. Over time I'll be giving up even my beloved sodas and will probably drink only water and teas. I think the only "mechanical" processing I'll do is use the dehydrator to make flaxseed crackers and dried fruit, and use a food processor/vitamix to make smoothies and cold soups.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Worked on the Outside of Me; Tomorrow I Start Work on the Inside!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketWhat a wonderful vacation I had! But now it's back to reality. Of course I completely blew away any idea of a food plan during my vacation. I had Mexican food from a taco shop, ice cream, fried fish, fattening breakfasts, Starbucks frappucinos, Pepsi... I'm sure I've gained 5 pounds, even though I did get some walking in. I don't care, though. It was fun! And now I can get down to business, set some health goals, and go shopping to stock up my kitchen with the good stuff. Since I'm going to continue eating fish even after I start eating a mostly raw diet, I bought an indoor grill. I love grilled salmon fillets! I'll probably even grill veggies from time to time.

My new haircut and clothes made their debut at my job today, where I got some compliments. I thought I looked great compared to my usual lackluster, slouching, "don't look at me" appearance. Feeling good in nice clothing, a chic hairstyle and polished toenails and fingernails is having a positive effect on my self esteem. Appearance isn't everything, but since mine has been a reflection of my lack of self confidence, putting more attention on looking good is helpful to me. So now that I've given some attention to my outsides, I'll be giving nutritional attention to my insides. I see the nutritionist tomorrow!

Saturday, July 14, 2007

A Surprise in California

San Diego has been great so far. Of course it helps that my friend here treated me- surprise, surprise- to a full body massage, manicure, pedicure, facial and hair cut!! I feel great. She knows about my hair falling out from the poorly-balanced raw diet I did last year but she gave me a pixie-ish hairdo that minimizes the appearance of thinning so well you'd have to look closely to tell there's a problem. It's also an easy hairdo to put together. I love it! And the spa was a very nice experience. I kept telling myself to not get self-conscious about my size and weight and to enjoy the treatments, and I did manage to enjoy it. If I budgeted for these things and made them a regular part of taking care of myself, I would probably develop better feelings about my body and my appearance. Something to consider...

I have never seen the ocean- we are going to see that tomorrow. But I did see the bay, and saw the Seaworld fireworks show they have on the bay at night. That was fun. As for food, I had an iced mocha slide and a chocolate muffin for breakfast, 2 slices of pizza for lunch, and sushi for dinner. Really not that bad, except for the breakfast. Tomorrow will be a high-fat day - we're having a Mexican dinner!

Whew- I'm sleepy. Let me take myself and my cute new hairdo to bed.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Off to My Vacation!

I am looking forward to my California vacation. I will be enjoying Mexican food, sushi and I think a visit to the Cheesecake Factory. I am not going to worry about my eating plan while on vacation, but enjoying activities such as walking on the beach, dancing and sightseeing will be helping me to burn calories. When I return I will head for the grocery store with my list of groceries and will seriously embark on the plan my nutritionist has set up for me. One thing I will do on vacation that she recommended is take the antioxidant vitamins she gave me. She also wants me to drink water with two tablespoons of lemon or lime juice every morning. I will probably forget to do that while on vacation, but I'm gonna try to remember it. It's supposed to help your body rid itself of toxins.

See you next week!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Yay- I like My Nutritionist!!

My visit to the nutritionist felt pretty good. I am optimistic about her supporting a gradual switch from my current diet to a vegetarian one, then to a mostly raw one. My personal goal is to lose 50 lbs before the end of the year (she thinks I can do it before Thanksgiving) and then to focus more on feeling better physically and emotionally as I get healthier. The nutritionist's goal is to support me in doing this as healthfully as possible, both from a physical and emotional standpoint.

Today the nutritionist weighed and measured me (yuck, and yuck). She gave me quite a few handouts to read about particular nutrients, healthful foods, the dangers of Pepsi (sigh...) and other things based on my diet history and our discussion about my current health. She wants me to go get my bloodwork done as soon as possible so she can use that as a guide for a food plan. I could tell that I was baffling her with my lack of visible enthusiasm but I've been kinda depressed these days. She handled it pretty well. I like her and think she'll be good to talk to about topics like emotional eating, eating disorders, frustrations with weight loss, low self esteem, etc. It's kinda like having a therapist dealing with the main problem I have: using food for everything. I've tried therapy before and although I liked the therapist, I think counseling about eating habits might be a better way for me to approach the issues that lead me to overeat. On the other hand, I know from my raw days that when I'm eating raw, I don't have the cravings and compulsions I deal with now, so....? Is the problem emotional or physical? I believe it's mostly physical but that I've been brainwashed to believe it's mostly emotional (hence the mental self-flagellation). At any rate, I'm not going to confuse her with an actual therapist, but I know she'll be pushing some emotional buttons as we work together. How can she not?

Based on the foods I told her I'm eating right now we came up with menus for breakfasts, lunches and dinners, which she made sure were balanced with the right proportions of protein, starches, vegetables, and fruits. Stuff like coffee with creamer will go into an "Other" category, although I'll try to keep that category to a minimum (even my beloved Pepsi can go into the Other). I don't count calories- she does that. You know, even though I'm paying an arm and a leg for this service, it still feels like a luxury to have someone else put my meals together and count the calories and nutrients. All I do is say, "no" or "yes" as she rattles off food suggestions, and she writes up the menu and totals the nutrients. She even made a grocery list for me. I love it. Maybe this is what Oprah feels like!

So I've got a whole folder of stuff to read before I see her again next week. I'll be able to contact her for assistance via the internet daily if I need information or emotional support. I'm to email my food journal to her online regularly and then we'll go over it weekly in person. She'll weigh and measure me to ensure I am not losing "lean" rather than the "adipose tissue" (fat) I'm trying to get rid of. I told her that this weekend I'm on vacation in California and that I do not intend to follow a food plan. She pretty much laughed that one off and showed me how I really could follow the plan pretty easily and possibly even lose weight this weekend. I'm still not planning to follow the plan- so who's got the last laugh now, Ms. Nutritionist? Huh? Oh, you do?
Never mind.


1) If I don't lose weight this month she'll be right there advising me; I won't feel so alone in this struggle.
2) She's knowledgeable, has a good sense of humor, lots of patience, and much enthusiasm
3) Supports my whole/raw food plans
4) Is practical and realistic about my making lifestyle changes, not "weight-loss changes"

1) Sure costs a lot of money
2) Really expensive
3) Did I mention I pay a lot for this?

Monday, July 09, 2007

Gearing Up for the Big Day

I'm acting like seeing my nutritionist is like Christmas morning or something, but I really am excited about it. I am much more likely to spend money on things that are bad for me than are good, so I am giving myself a pat on the back for investing in my health. Of course, leading up to the visit I've been eating like a madwoman. I can tell, however, that I'm not fully in junk food mode because most of the foods I've been buying I can barely eat. When I eat mostly vegetables, as with Chinese vegetable stir fry, or when I get sushi, I can eat the whole order. Probably psychological- but I'll take advantage of it!

Hey Chubbiegirl- thanks for the comment. I really am baffled about my inability to lose weight last month- that's never happened to me before. It was like I had hit a plateau before I'd even begun! I will indeed look up insulin resistance, as well as the positive influence that cinnamon may have on that condition. Maybe I'll remember to ask the nutritionist if she's ever heard of using cinnamon for that. It would be nice if she were into natural remedies.

This weekend I tried on some clothes at Lane Bryant and The Avenue and actually took pictures of myself in them precisely because I can't stand the way I look after this weight gain. I'm trying to get past my negative body image. To that end I've also been doing some digital art, using it as a kind of therapy to desensitize myself to my appearance. If I spend enough time taking photos of myself and drawing sketches of myself, maybe I'll stop being so concerned with whether I look "bad" to others and start to see what my body has in common with other bodies. Art and photography used to be a couple of my many hobbies, but I haven't drawn in ages. This project could be a fun way to pick it up again.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Raw Food Community

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I've been slowly reconnecting with members of the raw food community not only through this blog, but through MySpace groups and other raw food blogs and sites. That saying that you don't know what you've got until it's gone is really true when it comes to the raw food community. Although I'm not spiritual or political about raw food (and therefore tend to relate less easily to raw foodists who are motivated primarily by those ideas), the raw foodists I've met tend to be kind, decent, down-to-earth folks who want to make their lives and the lives of others better. It's generally a nice community to belong to and I've missed you all!

The closer I get in my mindset to returning to the kind of thinking that made aspects of my raw plan successful last year, the more excited I get about experiencing that sense of community again. I'm more optimistic this time that I'll avoid the hair-loss problem because I'll be seeing the nutritionist, and because I've learned from my past experience. Last year, having no personal knowledge to draw from, I had to rely on other people's personal experiences and beliefs about eating raw. This year I've got a lot of reading under my belt about nutrition, and I think getting a nutritionist was a smart thing to do. My raw odyssey this time around will be better informed by what I've learned about my own needs, likes/dislikes and lifestyle.

If any of you raw foodists have MySpace pages, feel free to look me up at It's always reassuring to see so many of us in one spot, even if it is "virtual!" Although I'm better informed these days, I still turn to other raw foodists for motivation, inspiration and different kinds of information. See you there!

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Clothing Therapy

I've taken a little break from my healthy menu and workouts to indulge in my naughty little food treats (you saw that coming, didn't you?) It was fun but, as usual, it's always more fun eating fast food and junk than dealing with the aftermath- the stomach aches, etc. I probably wouldn't have bothered to eat those foods if I hadn't had the nutritionist appointment coming up! Fortunately, I know that next week I will be rejuvenated in my quest for health and fitness because of my new, personalized health plan. I will be meeting with the nutritionist THREE DAYS A WEEK in July. If things go well and I can afford it, I will sign up for August as well.

The nutritionist sent me a packet of documents to fill out. It asks for your measurements and weight, a basic health history, your nutritional goals, as well as questions regarding past/present eating disorders. They recommend you see a doctor before starting their program. They have a personal trainer who does a weight routine, but I can't cough up an extra $150 for him right now. I definitely want to start weight training soon, though.

Next weekend I'm spending time with a friend in California who is going to go clothes shopping with me. I really need clothing therapy! Because I hate shopping for clothes I tend to grab from the rack whatever is in my size. If it fits, great. If it's a tad too big that's great, too. If it's too small I might hang on to it or I might return it. But I never try on a series of outfits (and I never buy feminine-looking clothes because I'd really have to try those on!) Nope, I'm all slacks, t-shirts and button-down blouses. I have one dressy shirt, one pair of dress slacks, and one boxy jacket. The rest is all sporty casual and definitely not me.

My friend will help me to buy some stylish clothes, sizes 26/28, that look best on the body I've got right now. This is therapy for me because I hate to acknowledge that I've gained so much weight. To me, clothes shopping is nothing but a reminder of what I've done to myself. However, I know that when I feel good about my clothes, I have more self-confidence and a much more positive attitude throughout the day. I remember fondly the nice outfits I used to put together before I gained all of this weight. Nothing expensive, or trendy- just quality clothes that were tailored, had some personality, and fit me nicely. These days my fashion statement is "don't notice me, please." So I'm gonna work on changing that. I don't think I should wait until I get smaller to start dressing better, although I must say that spending money on clothes when I'm losing weight is very hard for me to do. I hate wasting hard-earned money. I have to rethink that attitude: spending money on something that makes me feel better about myself shouldn't be considered a waste!

Monday, July 02, 2007

Found a Nutritionist

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketA few people at my job love a particular nutritionist and have been seeing her for awhile. I've been watching my pennies since I first learned of her and have rearranged my budget so that I will have enough money to see her this month- I'm very excited about this. This woman is well versed on vegetarian foods and just wrote a book about vegetarianism. One of my coworkers who started seeing her this year looks awesome- he has lost weight and looks generally healthier- he's a walking billboard for healthy eating. He speaks enthusiastically about how his life has changed since learning about eating properly. Well, he's singing to the choir. I know from my experiences with my raw diet last year how wonderful the right diet plan can be. I plan to ask her about vegetarian, vegan and raw diets, and especially about weight loss.

I like the idea of seeing a nutritionist (who asks you a bunch of questions and creates a personalized plan) much more than seeing the personal trainer with a sports nutrition education who gave me a generic plan meant for athletes. Nothing against her personally (she's very nice) but I'm not in training to become an athlete. I'm just an ordinary Jane who wants to be fit enough to live a healthy life doing things like racquetball, biking, dancing, riding in an airplane comfortably, wearing clothes I actually like, riding roller coasters, etc. I also want to have energy and stamina because not only can my job be intense, my doctoral studies require hours upon hours of research. I don't like drinking coffee or energy drinks in an attempt to keep myself awake (doesn't work anyway).

Because my Sunday weigh-in still shows no weight loss I made a concerted effort to eat less today. I ended up getting only about 1200 calories. I took some nonfat cottage cheese and melon chunks to work for a "late" breakfast, and a couple of hours later had a Cedarlane lowfat burrito for the fiber. For lunch I had Campbell's ham and bean soup - the whole, big can! For dinner I had some broiled cod, a small sweet potato (baked) and broccoli. Today wasn't a workout day, which is good because I'm still nursing my calves from the stint on the elliptical trainer.

I'm feeling good about the healthy foods I've been eating, and the way I've stuck to my 45-minute workouts, which are increasing in intensity every week. I'm amazed that so quickly, 2.5 mph on the treadmill became too slow! I'm also happy about saving for the nutritionist; I'm hoping this will be a major turning point for me in putting me on the path back to raw (and jump-starting my weight loss).

One thing I learned through my Raw Odyssey last year was that the journey to health can be just as fun as reaching the final weight and fitness goal numbers. I tend to envision the future and want to be there already, so I get frustrated. But if I keep in mind how well I've been doing overall - while not aiming for perfection- I can really enjoy the odyssey and have much to be proud of along the way.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

I'm Obsessed with Pizza Hut

I don't know what it is. For the past few days I've been thinking about getting a deep dish double cheese pizza from Pizza Hut! Or, I could do KFC. I could really go for a salty fried chicken breast about now!! But I shall take my little cravings one hour at a time. I went to the gym this afternoon rather than drive out to the fast food restaurants. I did 2.38 miles in 45 minutes on the treadmill - that's about a 19 minute mile- a nice improvement from where I started. I didn't look at the clock until I'd completed 38 minutes; that means I had really good music today. When I'm bored, it's all I can do to keep from looking at the minutes ticking by. My calves and ankles hurt a bit because I was on the elliptical trainer yesterday, but they didn't hurt enough to make me slow down.

I found a very interesting website that helps you calculate your calories burned based on personal info you input, such as your height, weight, gender, age and resting pulse rate. I used the site to enter a hypothetical 5- mile urban walk done at a slow pace (2 1/2 hours to complete it). It said I would burn over 700 calories! I can't wait until Fall when the temperature drops because I live 5 miles from my job right now and it would be nice to start walking to work like I used to in the Midwest. Here in the southwest it's way too hot. I'd be walking home in 110 degrees! Although I like the site, I was annoyed during the actual mapping of my route- it was a pain to create the path, but then again I'm one of those people who won't read directions. It wasn't difficult to create the map, just a nuisance until I got the hang of picking up/dropping the little nodes. Once you are done with your route you can save it and make it public or private. You can give it a try yourself at A fun feature is the export of your route to Google Earth.



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