Sunday, February 5, 2012

Update On The Blog

I'm writing this so readers won't worry about me:

I'm taking a little break from blogging. I'm fine. I'm still losing weight slowly, but it's coming off and I survived the holidays. Meantime, my last doctor's visit went very well and I am slowly going off the insulin. I'm now down to 7 units when I started at 25. Getting off the insulin is good news for many reasons, but it will also help me lose some more pounds because insulin makes you gain weight. The fact that I've managed to lose while taking it is a big deal.

Anyway, while I'm doing well-- at least physically -- the rest of my family is not. My husband's grandmother is on her death bed at the moment and we're all just waiting for her to pass. She has a growth on her lung that's pushing against her heart and other lung, and is making it difficult for her to breathe. She's lived a good life: she's 92 and until a few days ago, was relatively happy and capable, and had all f her faculties. She'd recently moved up to NY from Florida, so she's been surrounded by her family, all who live here. Still, it sucks that this is happening. Everyone is being kind of zen about it, but she's been my grandmother for the last 12 years that I've been married. We grew to be close and I hate the idea of losing her.

On top of that, my mom, who is not even close to being 92, has to go for a biopsy tomorrow to see if she has lung cancer. They found a very small spot on her lungs and want to make sure it's not malignant. It could just be a scar -- after all, she's smoked for 40-plus years -- but of course, we're all nervous. Even the biopsy is risky because her lung could collapse in the process. It's kind of weird that both situations have to do with lung health.

Friday was my birthday and I had a difficult time celebrating. I was depressed for most of the day and kind of felt as if I'd never be able to be happy again. I had a party last night, which I almost canceled, but am glad I didn't. My mom was there, as well as Jon's uncle (his grandmother's son) and they were both having a good time. I figured that if they could, I could to, and so I took my cue from them and enjoyed myself. We sang songs, I played my flute and my friend gave me a cool gift: a ukelele. So we all got to act silly for a few hours, which I really needed. I'm feeling a lot more positive today, though I'm, of course, still worried. And I thought my main source of stress would be worrying about my upcoming trip to Africa! Now I'm kind of anxious to hop on a plane and bail...

This is why I haven't been posting. I've been trying to process everything and keep myself from having a breakdown. I also needed some personal time that isn't on the page. I'll probably write again in the future, so thank you for your patience -- and for keeping me company throughout my journey.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Visit With The Nutritionist

On Thursday, I finally had my visit with the nutritionist who specializes in dealing with diabetic eating plans. I signed up to meet with her months ago, but she was so booked up, she couldn't see me until December. Happily, she was worth the wait.

First off, I'm down another three pounds, making it 13 altogether since I was weighed at the doctor's (this is what I'm counting from). I've been losing about 1- 1 1/2 lbs a week, which the nutritionist was pleased with. My old doctor probably would've been like, "You should be losing faster, here take some drugs." This woman was very non-judgmental and supporitve, and appreciated that I've been losing at a steady (if slow) rate. We talked it over and decided to cut one of my med doses (the glimiperide)in half. I'm now taking two pills instead of four. I also expressed my concerns about starting Victoza and she understood why I want to put that off. She didn't try to push it on me, which I like.

For the most part, she approved of my day-to-day menu. She was happy to see that I eat a lot of veggies and lean meats, and that I don't rely too much on "sugar free" versions of cakes and cookies. She did make a few tweaks, though:

According to her, I've been eating too many carbs at breakfast and too few at dinner, so she advised me to reverse that. She suggested that I have cereal OR toast at breakfast and then add in something like brown rice or quinoa to my evening meal.

She also suggested that I eat smaller meals, more often, to keep my blood sugar from dipping, as it's been. So she has me eating basically every two hours (main meals with snacks).

She liked that I eat a lot of Greek yogurt because it's so nutritious and has fewer carbs than regular yogurt. However, she told me that I'm better off buying fat-free plain Greek yogurt and then add in fruit. She says that the "fruit" that's in yogurts is basically syrup.

She also told me that I'm not getting enough good fats in my diet and should include more things like nuts, avocados and olive oil. She recommended that I eat Kind bars as a snack once a day. They're nut-based bars that are diabetes friendly. I had them at the diabetes walk and liked them. They sell them in our office cafeteria, too.

This is really interesting: she noted that insulin can actually make you GAIN weight and therefore it's really important for diabetics to keep things even and pay attention to what we eat, when. Her plan is helping me space out the carbs so I don't hit those highs and lows -- and will help me lose weight, too.

Finally, she suggested that I try the 20 percent challenge. The idea is to increase your movemement 20 percent over a period of time until you're taking about five miles worth of steps A DAY. That's a lot, but if you walk around the office the long way, you can get in a few hundred steps. I've ordered a pedometer and per her advice, am going to start doing 2000 steps a day and then work my way up.

Overall, it was a really good visit. It felt good to know that I've been eating correctly, but she also gave me a lot of new, useful information. I'm looking forward to getting my pedometer next week and starting this new challenge. I like the idea of having something that keeps track all day ... it satisfies the obsessive in me, LOL.

If any readers want to join me in this challenge, let me know in the comments. It will be interesting to compare our journeys.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

10 Pounds Down!

My new scale arrived today and according to it, I've lost 10 lbs since I was last weighed a few weeks ago. Of course, I wish it were more; I'm very close to being in the 200s now, so this is frustrating. Still, I'll take it, especially since I managed to lose over Thanksgiving -- even after having attended three celebrations. Right now, I'm counting down my weight from when I was last weighed at my doctor's. I know that I lost a lot before then, but I have no idea what I weighed, say, eight months ago. I'm guessing in the upper 300s, which is so, so scary. It's kind of sad that I'm feeling "thin" these days just because I can do normal things like sit in a chair with arms and well, walk, but I refuse to hate on myself.

Bodies are weird because the last time I crossed over 300, I could barely move and was bursting out of my fat clothes. Now that I'm on my way down the scale, though, I guess I'm carrying it differently, because I can walk pretty easily and had to buy smaller clothing. I don't really get it, but hey, if I'm shrinking in any capacity, I won't argue!

Now that I know where I'm at, I'm prepared to make some more changes to my eating plan. I've been doing pretty well and generally eat non-processed foods, a lot of veggies, fruits and whole grains. But I know that I can still cut back on some stuff. I'm still eating a lot of bread. Granted, it's whole wheat, but I'm going to limit myself to two slices a day. The same goes for hummus. I LOVE hummus, but know that I need to watch the servings. I'm also going to switch over to only using low-fat dressings on my salads. I always keep the dressing on the side and only use a small amount, but I'm going to improve my salads by using oil and vinegar, or a fat free vinaigrette.

Part of my challenge as a diabetic is to make sure that I eat at regular intervals, so I'm going to keep low-fat, filling snacks like string cheese and wheat crackers or a pear on hand. I'm also going to drink more water.

Finally, I know I need to exercise more. I've been walking several times a week, but I need to do something more vigorous like the BowFlex or the elliptical at the gym.

I've been feeling really good and am so much more active than I was earlier this year. If I'm feeling light on my feet now, it's going to seem lik I'm FLYING as I lose more pounds. This is something to look forward to.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Salad Snob

Since I've been eating more salads and vegetable dishes, I've become rather "snobby" about my food.

In NYC we're very lucky because about half the restaurants and delis have a make your own salad option. For me, the perfect salad has a spinach or mixed greens base; a few different types of veggies in different colors, i.e. carrots, beets, cauliflower, cucumbers; a bit of fruit, usually orange segments or apple slices; some type of protein, usually chickpeas or cheese; a couple of olives; dressing on the side. I never bog down my salad with pastas or crunchy bits or croutonsand I use the dressing sparingly because I like to experience the taste of the veggies.

When traveling, though, you have to depend on the restaurant's idea of a salad, and even with a salad bar present, this can be disappointing. While upstate a few weeks ago, I often ordered salads and it was almost the same thing every time: a slab of iceberg lettuce, some tomatoes and croutons. Since I don't like large tomato slices (but I like salsa and tomato sauce and tomato soup, and yes, I'm weird in my pickiness) and can't eat croutons, my salad would end up being ... lettuce. Even when we went to a salad bar, all they had was lettuce and then hardly any veggies! There were some sliced carrots and tomatoes, but then everything else offered was some variant of a "salad" drenched in mayo, like potato salad, chicken salad, tuna salad ... you get the idea. I don't know if this is an upstate thing, a way to keep the cost down on ingredients, or if we're just very spoiled in NYC. But I couldn't wait to get home to have my REAL salads!

Sometimed a prepared salad will surprise me -- in a good way. The other night, we went to a cute pub near us that we frequent. I usually order some type of chicken, but this evening I felt like having something less filling. I ordered that night's special salad, which had spinach, onions, oranges, goat cheese and cranberries (I guess because it was Thanksgiving weekend). It was SO good -- just a little sweet, but not over the top.

At home, we make some great salads, too. Jon's sister gave him a Moroccan cookbook for his birthday and one of our favorite recipes is a zucchini apple orange and mint salad. The juices mix together to make a "dressing" and it's amazing. We brought it to our Thanksgiving dinner and everyone loved it. Last year, I put together a tropical-style salad consisting of baby spinach, hearts of palm, mangoes and goat cheese. I then served it with a fat-free raspberry dressing. I'm no cook, but it was delicious!

I'm still finding it kind of funny that I'm actually CRAVING salads and vegetables, enough so that I have favorite ingredients and preparations. If you're trying to lose weight and think that you have to live on "rabbit food," think again. If you experiment a bit, you might just put together a great salad that's healthy and is a main event at your meal.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Important Decision

Well, I survived the weekend of three Thanksgivings relatively unscathed. I had a great time seeing friends and relatives and didn't go crazy with my eating at all. I was a little worried beforehand that I'd feel left out when it came to avoiding huge mounds of mashed potatoes and sugary desserts, but food was just one part of the weekend. Most of my time was spent catching up with my loved ones, which is how it should be. The food was yummy, but was more of an afterthought.

It's been unseasonably warm in NY this holiday so I've done a lot of walking. I was feeling tired yesterday, but forced myself to get outside for a few hours because it was so beautiful out. I'm glad that I did! Jon noted that I'm having to stop fewer times when we walk and that my stride is getting quicker. I can almost keep up with him at this point.

Though I've lost enough weight to have dropped a full size in the past few months, I still think of myself as being a much bigger person. I recently ordered new clothes in sizes 4X and 5X ... and they're huge on me to the point that they look ridiculous. I ended up buying some other outfits in 3x, which look better and are more comfortable because they're not hanging off of me. Jon says that I look thinner in the fitted clothing, as well.

Because I am still very overweight, I'm at a stage where I'm a bit surprised when people notice the weight loss -- even though the compliments are much appreciated, of course. When I was decorating my friends' tree on Friday, my friend's husband was watching me hang ornaments and asked, "Have you weighed yourself lately? I can see from the side that you've lost a lot since we last saw each other." I explained how my scale won't register me yet and it's a goal of mine to get to a point where it does. He was like, "But that's stupid. My digital scale says 'error' all of the time. Just buy a regular scale!" He's right, of course. I'm seeing a nutritionist in a few days, though, so I'll get a very accurate reading there. It'll be an awesome way to end the year if I finally make it back into the 200s. And yes, I know, I need a new scale. I'm ordering one today, in fact.

Meanwhile, I've made an important decision: I'm going to hold off a little longer in starting the Victoza injections. Victoza is prescribed to Type II diabetics because it lowers blood sugar, but it also aids with weight loss. Now you may be thinking, "Is she crazy? Why is she not jumping at the chance to take this miracle cure?" However, I've put a lot of thought into this decision and feel that it's the right one -- for now, anyway.

1. My blood sugar does not need to be lowered at the moment. If anything, it's been dipping TOO low rather frequently. Next time I see my doctor I'm going to talk to her about lowering my insulin because I've had a couple of scares with my bs suddenly dropping. Victoza seems to work for people whose bs is high, even with insulin. I'm nervous that I could end up making myself seriously ill if I take it on top of insulin and Metformin.

2. Victoza makes many people feel queasy and ill, at least for a while. I have too much to do and can't afford being sick right now. It also curbs your appetite to the point where many people need to remind themselves to eat. Since I'm already having to do this as I'm getting full so easily these days, again, this seems like it could be dangerous. I need to remind myself to eat frequently so that my bs doesn't drop ... and the last thing I need is for me to be vomiting up my food as my bs drops even more.

3. Victoza is a relatively new drug. It's only been on the market as an FDA approved substance for about two years and the longterm side effects are unknown. Studies have also shown that it can cause thyroid cancer. The unknown aspect of it makes me a bit nervous. I'd like to know how it might affect me down the road.

4. In reading reviews, several people have complained that it was a "miracle" drug at first because it curbed their appetites and they lost weight quickly. But after a few months went by, it stopped working, they felt hungrier than ever and the weight came back.

5. My doctor stressed that I don't really NEED Victoza, that it's just a possible weight loss aid worth checking out. If I needed it, I'd be on it already. I mean, I didn't question having to inject insulin because I knew it was necessary, and I haven't hesitated before taking any of the other NECESSARY pills that I'm on. I'm already taking about a dozen different things and I'd rather not take anything extra if I don't have to.

That said, I'm not against taking Victoza in the future. If I'm weaned off insulin and my blood sugar starts rising again, this seems like it could be a useful medication. If my weight loss continues to be glacially slow and my thyroid meds stop working, again, Victoza seems like it could help. But for now, I believe that it has the potential to hurt me more than help me so I'm waiting to use it. It's easy to just grab any "miracle" cure that's out there, but I also think it's very important to do research and weigh (no pun intended) the pros and cons. I'm open to changing my program, but for now what I'm doing is working.

P.S. I just ordered my new scale! It weighs up to 440lbs, so I should be set. Hopefully, it will arrive within the next few days.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and this year, in particular, I have many things to be thankful for.

1. My health. It's been a trying year in terms of that, but I'm feeling good and am taking steps to be even healthier. I'm very grateful for my team of doctors, who've been amazing.

2. My husband. For the past two years, Jon has had to care for me after I broke my leg and then as I dealt with having diabetes. He's cheered me on the whole way and has been patient with me during the tougher times. I'm very lucky to have a wonderful man in my life.

3. My family. I've had my ups and downs with my parents, but they're basically good people who have raised me to be an interesting person. We've been in a better place lately, too. I also have fantastic in-laws. Our Thanksgiving today was so much fun and it only reinforced what a wonderful family I have. And I have an awesome cat, too!!!

4. My friends. I have so many close friends who are like family and who've gone out of their way for me. Sometimes I doubt my friendships, which is a bad habit on my part, so I need to remind myself that I have some great people in my life.

5. My weight loss (so far). I'm now a size smaller than I was a couple of months ago. I've gone from a 4X to a 3X, so I'm still huge, but less so. It's been fun digging out stuff from my closet and wearing it as if it's new. I found a pink cashmere sweater that I'd purchased last year. They didn't have my size, but I ordered it anyway, hoping I'd shrink into it. I finally have! I'd love to be a 2X by January -- and I'd love to finally be at a weight that my scale will register. That's a goal in itself.

6. Being able to walk again. Between my surgery and extreme weight gain, I could barely walk a block last winter. Now I can walk a few miles and actually enjoy it! I've also begun wearing cute shoes again. Up until recently, I was wearing nothing but sneakers, but I'm back to wearing dressier footwear. I like looking polished.

I'm also lucky because I get three Thanksgivings this year! Last night, my friend invited me over for a pre-holiday dinner; then tomorrow, we're going to a friend for a post-holiday brunch/tree decorating session. It's been fun, but dealing with holiday food has been a bit of a challenge. I think I'm doing okay, though.

My friend made a point to keep the pre-holiday dinner light. I brought hummus, cheese and grapes and she then served veggie soup with blue corn chips and salad. Nothing was too heavy or unhealthy and the dinner was a nice way to kick off the holiday weekend.

Today was a bit tougher because we went to Jon's aunt and uncle. His aunt is an amazing cook and always serves a ton of food. I was careful; I didn't overindulge on appetizers (even though she served this amazing striped five-flavored cheese!) and took little bits of the dishes. There was turkey, of course, plus a broccoli/spinach casserole, meatballs and zucchini/apple salad that Jon made. I stayed away from the potatoes, stuffing and bread. I took seconds of the spinach/broccoli and turkey, but ended up leaving most over. For dessert, I took one gluten-free cranberry chocolate cookie. And then this is where it gets tricky: Jon's aunt presented me with a box of sugar free pastries: a mini cheesecake, Napoleon and mini cream puff. She wanted me to feel like I could fit in since I'm diabetic and I didn't have the heart to tell her that I just don't keep sweets in the house. My dessert is usually Greek yogurt.

However, I ended up "needing" the desserts. Lately, my blood sugar has been dropping really low, right into a dangerous zone. I need to speak with my doctor about adjusting my insulin, but obviously, I wasn't going to reach her today. Anyway, when I tested after dinner, my sugar was in a good place: 122. But when I came home a couple of hours later, it had dipped down to 60 and I was getting the shakes. So I ended up eating the cream puff and some cereal to get it back to normal. Even though it was sugar free, it still had a carb-y cake shell and it did the trick. Sometimes diabetes is very weird. Most of the time, I stick with low-sugar, low-carb fare, but a carb-y treat sometimes helps knock me back to normal. It's a constant balancing act. I should probably keep a carton of orange juice in the house.

Tomorrow, we're going to the diner for breakfast, so I'll be in good shape. I'll get an omelet and whole wheat toast, which should keep me going for a few hours. I've come to appreciate diners because they have so many options for me.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Catching Up And Still Losing

Whew! November has been a really busy month, but everything is going well. I've been on the thyroid meds for a few weeks now and am definitely feeling the difference in my weight; I now feel a lot lighter on my feet and all of my clothes are hanging on me. Even getting off the couch is a lot easier as I no longer have to heave myself up. More and more people are noticing the change. I still have such a long way to go, but for now, I'll be thrilled when I hit the 200s again. If I think too far ahead, it feels like I'll never lose, so I have to celebrate how far I've come in just a few months.

We just got back from a short vacation in upstate NY and I'm very proud of how I did in terms of eating and exercising. We didn't do tons of walking because we were up there for a friend's wedding, but we did do some: we explored Rochester -- which is a really nice city, by the way -- and went up to Niagara Falls. I especially enjoyed walking along the river in Rochester. We did about two miles, but it was relaxing. In the past, I would've been complaining about back troubles, but I didn't have any this time around, which was a relief.

As for eating, I indulged a little bit, but didn't follow my typical pattern where I go a little crazy on vacation. I had some great food, like barbecue in Rochester, but watched my portions and frequently checked my blood sugar. I "cheated" one time when I had a couple of spoonfuls of Jon's chocolate Oreo cake (and boy, was it worth it!), but didn't overdo it -- and managed to keep my blood sugar stable. Even at the wedding, I mainly ate vegetable crudite and fruit. I gave myself permission to have a small piece of wedding cake, but after taking two bites, I didn't even want any.

It's been wonderful to feel so much better physically, but I'm also feeling good mentally these days, which I think is equally as important. I've been trying to figure out what's changed in my life; I think it's important to keep track of the things that are positive so that I can keep up with that behavior. I'm pleased that I seem to finally be moving away from using food as a means to fill an emotional hole and I want to continue with that. Anyway, here are some of the good changes I've made:

1. I'm seeing doctors more often. I still have a fear of them, but getting a proper diagnosis and the correct meds has made a HUGE difference in my life. To other overweight people out there -- don't be scared to see your doctor. I know that it can be trying, especially when a doctor is judgmental, but it's worth it to find a compassionate, capable doctor who understands what an obese patient has to deal with.

2. I see a therapist. Yes, taking care of your mental health is important. I was a little resistant to the idea at first, but it does help to have someone to talk to. She helps me put things in perspective and find a new way to view problems. I'm still a worrier, but not like I was a year ago.

3. I found something new to do that I enjoy. While I was out with my broken leg, I began making jewelry -- and fell in love with it. Most of us work really hard at our jobs, but having an outside interest is a way for me to escape from the stress of work.

4. That said, I'm enjoying my job again. I came very close to quitting last year, but am glad that I stuck it out. This was out of my control, but the change of office helped, I think. I've made some new, good friends and look forward to going to work each day. Even though the job can be stressful, I'm trying to concentrate on the things that I like about it.

5. I'm trying to foster closer relationships with my friends and family. I've been working harder than ever to keep in touch with the important people in my life. It's hard when we're all busy, but having good friends is what keeps me sane!

6. I'm exercising. Not nearly as much as I should be, but walking is great for my body and mind.

7. I cut out most junk food. I eat a lot of veggies, lean meats, yogurts, fruits -- but almost no processed foods or sweets. This is something I plan to do for the rest of my life.

As I've said before, food is only one part of my life. I'm glad that I'm learning to love the other parts again.