I’m Not Sorry…Anymore

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Plus, I can still bake cakes!

I still mourn over breakfast. I used to make elaborate breakfasts and invite family and friends over. I loved cooking early in the morning. It is a remarkable confidence boost to pull off a delicious breakfast. You have to time all the dishes so they are hot at the same time. You run back and forth with the flapjacks and coffee. It is a meal that I relate to showing love. Momma always makes a hearty breakfast. I come from a long line of people who work with their hands. Breakfast is a stick to your ribs type affair and Momma does it up. I used to too. Since I started getting fibro flares every morning, I wake up in severe pain. My feet and hands don’t want to move, and a lot of the time hubby has to massage them before I can walk or hold things in my hands. The rest of my body isn’t doing so well either, with the aching and stiff muscles and sometimes severe pain in my hips and shoulders. This really does not make me in the making breakfast mood.

My husband is the greatest in the entire world. He makes breakfast most of the time before going to work. For a while I felt intense shame, guilt and yes…mourning. I was sad I couldn’t entertain like I used too, I couldn’t show love like I used too. Luckily, husband isn’t here for my breakfasts. He loves me for my cuddles, my adoration, my conversation, and my wit. He loves me deeply and without breakfast. Every morning I was apologizing to him for not feeling well. He would say, “I know, but you are sick. I understand.”

There is only so many times you can wake up to feeling bad before depression sits in and you don’t want to do anything at all, all day. Also, saying you’re sorry over something you have no control over is also pretty debilitating. I say I am sorry for my body more times than I can count. I am sorry I am sick. I am sorry I didn’t clean today. I am sorry I am depressed. I am sorry I am emotional. I am sorry I don’t have enough energy to make breakfast. I am sorry I can’t walk there. I am sorry I can’t make that coffee date. I am sorry I can’t meet my volunteer commitment. I am sorry I can’t spend time or energy on this or that. Pain has no understanding of my schedule. Pain doesn’t care what I want and it sure as hell doesn’t care what anyone else wants.

So, I am not apologizing anymore. I’m done. I will say thank you, when my husband takes the reins on meals, when he does more than his share of chores, or applies his healing hands to my painful muscles. I will say thank you for understanding when my friend isn’t upset because I am going to miss a coffee date. I will say thank you when I have to beg off a call because the fibro fog has taken over and I just can’t deal. I will say thank you and value the people in my life who help me when I need it. I will continue to be a good friend and partner, but I will not…say…I am sorry…anymore.

I will not be sorry for my genetic makeup. I don’t believe anyone who has chronic pain, a disease or syndrome should. There is no cure. There are only treatments which slightly lessen my pain and even that seems random. I can’t fix it, you can’t fix it. Saying sorry makes me feel deficient, lacking. I don’t believe that anyone in my life would say that I am not a good friend or family member, even if I feel like it all the time. I am trying to break myself from feeling hopeless. I can’t continue to feel like I am inadequate.

To my friends and relatives: If you catch me feeling sorry for myself or saying sorry, call me on it. To my fellow fibro sufferers: You are enough. I hope you understand just being a human and friend is enough. You don’t have to bake the best cookies for your loved ones to love you. You don’t have to be at every event in their lives for them to care for you. You don’t have to show your love in the same ways you did before. The ones who truly love you, will still love you when you stop. Just find a new way to show love. Believe that you are worth being cared for when you need it, and taking a time out when you need. You are not alone.

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Also, my garlic bread is still the best in the world. Breakfast Smeakfast!!!!

“You are…fat?”

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“You are…fat??” she said with trepidation. I replied, “Yes, yes I am,” as calmly as I could muster. This new student at my ESL class seemed to be thinking of the right words after she witnessed me taking my blood sugar. Following that horrifying moment, another student made me proud by knowing enough English to scold her, “We no say fat. We say unhealthy.” Right after I got distracted by other students asking questions about how to say something or other. I think it might have been intentional. My students are some of the most polite humans I have ever met. I don’t know this student at all because she was new. I don’t even remember her name, but I can bet she didn’t mean to insult me. I would wager she was actually concerned about me.

I am usually like Teflon when it comes to this stuff. I sizzle when it happens but then it slides right off. I usually bristle back at the asshole who thought he could comment on my health or most likely appearance, but this wasn’t an asshole. I have to say I ruminated on it all day, and four days later still thinking about it. I keep seeing her confused face, and hear her say it over and over, “You are…fat?”

I probably would have shrugged it off but I had a horrible health week. I found out I have kidney damage. My A1C was 6.5 which is barely diabetic but that puts me back in medicine territory. I told her I didn’t want to take meds because I am trying to do things more holistically and that is when the doctor told me I have kidney damage. That’s another phrase that’s been going around in my head, “KIDNEY DAMAGE.” She later called it “low grade kidney disease.”

So for those keeping score, I now have fibromyalgia, PCOS, fibroids, adenomyosis, pelvic inflammation, diabetes, and now KIDNEY DISEASE! I know she said low grade, but seriously kidney disease doesn’t sound good. I’ve been researching it and it isn’t. I can’t make this better. I can never make this better. I can’t heal my kidneys. The damage is done. This isn’t a car, it’s my body. It’s not like I lost that new car smell. I lost part of my kidney function. This is bullshit.

There are two reasons this could have happened to me – my high blood sugar, and my excessive Aleve use. Because of the pain, I have to take sometimes four Aleve a day. Now I have to stop all Aleve which so far has been the only thing keeping me sane during times of pain (other than yoga.) I also have to take some diabetic pills and I have to monitor my blood sugar closely again.

So basically I’ve damaged a part of my body, I can’t repair it, and it’s only going to get worse unless I seriously turn it around. Which should be so easy right? Since, I’ve done it before. Okay…so I haven’t done it ever. So this week has felt pretty hopeless.

After yoga yesterday I just thought. I can only do what I can do. Ya know?

Have you received bad health news in the past? How did you deal with it?

The Ocean is Worth It

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We were right there in the sea! 

Have you ever gotten off the wagon? It’s not easy getting back on. Hubby and I went to Cozumel, Mexico for our honeymoon. While there we enjoyed the snorkeling. It was the most beautiful, serene, exiting time of my life. If you have never been, what you do is basically float with your head in the water and have a tube in which you breathe into the open air. The minute I put my mask into the water, I was in another world. A world with no sound, beautiful shades of muted blue and sand, and exotic fish I would have never had the chance to see: It was akin, in reverence, to walking on the moon. Had I the capability to talk I would probably have gasped audibly but I had no medium to express my awe.

We floated all the way out to the buoy before we came up out of the water and then swam slowly back. When we both popped up near the ladder to go back up to our hotel my husband said, “I think we were made for this!”

I giggled and said, “Two chubby people floating in the ocean, who would have thought!” The only downfall from this blissful foray into the ocean was climbing out of the water onto dry land.

I had the flippers still on, and I had to climb up this steel ladder, much like a ladder out of one of those above ground pools. Except, this ladder is halfway in the ocean and covered with slime.  It took several attempts to get up the three steps to finally reach the platform. My legs were a particular form of Jello that made it gut wrenchingly hard to get out of the water at all. My feet kept sliding off and I would plop down into the ocean time and time again. I would then have to collect my breath and then lift myself out of the ocean again and again.

The platform was half out of the ocean. The waves hit the large cement platform most of the time, so it too was covered in slime, but this didn’t stop me from laying down like a beached whale to catch my breath from the physical exertion of pulling myself out of the ocean.

That is how getting back on the wagon feels. The exertion of overcoming the doubt in my belly, the stiffness in my muscles and the weakness in my pallet can sometimes leave me beached on my bed with doubts of my success. I came back from vacation and was sick so my eating habits were atrocious and I didn’t exercise for two weeks because I was extremely sick.

Last week I was getting back to my yoga, walking and veggies. Before my fall off the wagon I had only been vegetarian for about two months. Grocery buying and recipes weren’t cemented in my mind so I again had to reacquaint myself with what to buy and how to cook it. I only walked a mile that first day, and I was up to three miles before. So my one mile left me aching and sore like someone had beaten me with a baseball bat. I was a whining wimp.

I was disheartened but Brad pointed out that I was just getting over being sick and having my “Aunt Irma.” These assurances made me feel better, but I also realized that I had gotten back on the wagon almost like it was second nature. I didn’t think about it as if it were a choice. I just did it. I never stopped doing yoga except when I was sick, and even then I did it once. After I got better, I got the right groceries, and I started walking. Done. No hemming or hawing. I didn’t have to think about whether or not I was going to exercise or eat right. I just did it.

I guess I am just gonna have to remind my body that this is the way life is now. I am a healthy person, who does healthy things. That is who I am now. I climb up the ladder. I will probably be climbing that ladder my whole life, but more time in the ocean is worth it.

Treats for Me!

I bought the one in the upper right hand corner. I took this picture from their facebook. I hope they don’t mind.

My emotional attachment to food sometimes hits me in the smallest and most rare ways sometimes. I live only about three blocks from Reading Terminal Market. It is filled with delicacies and some of the best food in Philadelphia. If I stayed there a week- eating all day- I couldn’t eat all of the deliciousness there. It is number four on trip advisors best restaurants, and one of the restaurants – a donut shop – is number one. That shop, Beiler’s Bakery, is the first place I went Thursday.

“Oh, no Danielle! Don’t eat donuts,” you say.

I give you a discerning look.

“Donut’s are fattening and you are trying to lose weight,” you gently remind me.

If anyone said that to me a year ago, I would have said, “Whatever.” Then I would have gone back to Beiler’s and eaten a box of twelve in self deluded retaliation. However, I understand certain things about myself that I didn’t before. Losing weight can’t be about deprivation for me, more like allocation. I need to be able to eat a donut if I want, especially the apparent best donuts on the planet. In other words, if I say no donuts to myself eventually I will be down at that counter ordering up as many as I can afford. Last time I bought donuts a couple of months ago, I bought at least three for myself. Thursday I went to Beiler’s and ordered one, only one. I took it and a coffee and sat down at a metal table and took about thirty minutes enjoying it. Bite by bite I savored it and my surroundings. The fact that I didn’t go back and order two more is the success. I also remember it’s richness as well, and don’t believe I will need another one any time soon.

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The Magic Elixer

Small decadent treats I believe are going to be my secret weapon in the battle of the bulge. In this spirit I bought another treat on my shopping trip. Along with the wise vegetables and meats in my cooler, a very special honey rolled home with me. When I was little, my Grandma used to serve this type of honey with breakfast. It is the raw light honey that you can spread over toast. I have bought it since, and time and time again it has turned out not to be the honey I remembered. Either it wasn’t sweet in the right way or it was so hard I couldn’t spread it. Finally at the market I found it. This morning for breakfast I tried it finally. I had made a frittata and cut up fruit (very healthy.) Then to add the finishing touches on our leisurely Saturday morning, we had a nice whole wheat toast with the holy grail of honey. As I bit into the pale golden elixir, I was transported back to the round hard table in my grandma’s kitchen, looking at her sweet rosy face and kind blue eyes. The electric coffee pot is gurgling in the corner, when I remember watching my Grandpa break up his poached eggs with his fork. Each bite solidified those memories down to the smell of the bacon left over on the stove.

This honey, while not great for my waist line, has brought me back to one of the most pleasant memories I have. While not probably the most scientific of theories, I believe a small treat now and again will really go a long way towards not feeling like I am depriving myself. I also believe it will provide normalcy to this new life where I am eating differently and overhauling my entire life. A spoon full of sugar…

I have some good news.

These are my non-skinny jeans.
These are my non-skinny jeans.
  1. Things are going slow but they are going in the right direction. I bought a size down in pants about six months ago and they were tight but now I am able to wear them loose. Brad and I accidently left our scale in Boise so I haven’t been able to weigh myself, but this tells me I am losing inches. Also, I went down two inches in my bra size which reaffirms that. I practically skipped out of Lane Bryant after finding that out!
  2. I am walking up to two miles without having to do nothing the next day.
  3. I bought boots!!! I finally got my calves small enough to buy a two pair of knee high boots! This has been a lifelong goal. I know it sounds shallow to have a goal for a pair of boots, but I have always had large calves. Even when I was in the single digit sizes my calves were abnormally huge. I am built like a tree and I have shied away from shorts, boots, or ankle bracelets. Moving to Philly was like the last straw. I have been living in Boise, Idaho and, while some people wear boots there, sneakers, Tevas, and Birkenstocks are common place. It is a land of exclusiveness and mountain people. Here I have only run into one person on the street wearing tennis shoes. It only intensified my need for boots. I felt like the only one who didn’t have them. So I finally had the guts to measure my calves and they finally allowed me to order boots from Torrid! Thank you Torrid!
  4. With that ballsy move, I also order a pair of “skinny” jeans. I confessed to my long time best friend Brandi, who is also plus size, how nervous I was to try them on. I didn’t want to look like humpty dumpty. She didn’t know if they would look good. She too had never bought any because she figured they would look bad on her. So we both thought skinny jeans were only for skinny people. If you look me in my regular boot cut and my new skinny jeans I think that I look just as good in them. I would go even further to say that I look slimmer in the skinny jeans.
  5. I am getting back into my yoga practice which is good for my muscles. I have been having headaches and when I wake up my right arm has been going numb when I wake up. These things I am hoping to fix these problems with the yoga practice. I am just proud to keep it up, even though I am not feeling so well.
Me, in my skinny jeans.
Me, in my skinny jeans.

Because I met some of these goals I have to set new ones now.

  1. Get down to the next size at Lane Bryant and Torrid.
  2. Cook at least all our weeknight meals. Brad and I have been eating out too much due to the excitement of being in a new city with new tastes.
  3. Double my yoga practice, right now I am only doing it about twice a week. Slow and steady is the way I am choosing to go.
  4. Get up to three miles of walking.
  5. Eat more consistently during the day, with protein and carbohydrates. I have had a couple of close calls with low blood sugar, which means I need to be testing more.

Reaching a few of my short term goals has made me feel more confident. When I think about losing inches in my bra size I get giddy with pride. Things don’t work that way normally for me. This is the first time I have ever lost a size. I hope this sense of accomplishment will push me forward into more accomplishments and more weight loss.

Cooking as Meditation?

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Lately, I think of cooking as a chore. I don’t know what has changed in my perception. What I used to love most was to get up on Sunday mornings and make my husband blueberry whole wheat pancakes, French toast, or my own special blend of omelet. There is something about the breakfast meal that my particular brand of multitasking is meant for; trying to get eggs, bacon, and hash browns all out and hot at once is a challenge that I used to enjoy. Not to mention, the look on my husband’s face -like he was the luckiest man to walk the earth- was worth a million breakfasts.
However, mornings have been kind of cloudy affairs lately. I wake up excruciatingly slow and only truly feel like myself after I have had something to eat. Thanks for that hurdle, Diabetes. So I wake up and sort of dry heave a little until I have something to eat. Even after that I feel out of sorts for about thirty minutes. Brad has been taking over breakfast, mostly because of my nausea. I don’t even cook it on the weekends. No, I am not pregnant.
Brad does the other cooking because he is applying for jobs and working from home. However, I feel like I am not contributing enough. I really do need to get back in the kitchen on the weekends in some form, even if it is just to show husband he is appreciated.
Studies also show that the best way to lose weight is prepare your food at home and control what goes into it. I just haven’t ever enjoyed cooking dinner or lunch in the same way as breakfast. It is sort of slow and boring. The chopping, standing, sweating, and with me the breaking things and burning the fingers.
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However, I just read an article in Yoga Journal called, “The Power of the Pan.” They were interviewing the brilliant Michael Pollan, who is the author of many books relating to food. He said something that really hit home with my new plan to slow down and be mindful.
“I was hasty in the kitchen, hasty chopping onions—mine were always chunky and I didn’t sauté’ them long enough to get them sweet and caramelized. Samin Nosrat, my cooking teacher, who was a serious student of yoga, was always trying to get me to slow down. She said the key to great cooking was patience, practice, and presence. And this was a very hard thing for me to learn. It involved basically paying much greater attention to what I was doing. Learning how to just be there is the hardest thing of all.”
Sing it brother! I am telling you, focusing on only one task is the hardest thing for me to do, but I want to be more mindful. I want to teach my mind to enjoy doing things fully. I want to learn to focus on the task at hand and just enjoy it, and I also want to eat healthy. That makes two birds but with one stone, yeah?
So this weekend I will be cooking a nice dinner for my lovely, long-suffering husband and I hope to knock his socks off.
Pollan enjoys cooking now, so maybe I will too. He says, “Once you do, it’s this beautiful process that absorbs all your senses in a way that checking your email or watching television does not.”
I am going to try this way of cooking and tell you how it goes. If you have experienced this sort of bliss, please share it here on the blog site. I would love to hear about it.

Envy as Motivation

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See, beautiful and a beautiful Christmas dinner

I have this gorgeous Aunt Nicole that I idolize. She is a lean, curvaceous redhead with spunk and charisma. She is one of those women who you wish you could hate because she does everything perfectly. She is a sharp dresser, maintains a beautiful home, and is so good at cooking that she is a caterer. Her fluency in the kitchen I totally envy. A normal dinner at Nicole’s is like spending time with a confident beautiful chef. She times the meals perfectly and only serves the most fresh and desirable food. She does all this while making sure your glass is full and effortlessly entertaining her guests with jokes and stories. She accomplishes all of this without breaking a sweat. When all is said and done, the kitchen is clean, she kicks her feet up, and still has the same make up on that she started with and not one hair out of place. See what I mean? If she wasn’t so nice, loving, funny and congenial, we would all hate her.

While I am not too shabby at making certain meals people rave about, dining at my house is an experience of a different color. You may be met at the door by my husband or me, or you might just hear a panicked “COME IN!” When you make your way to my kitchen you will see me running around frantically opening and closing the oven, or dumping pasta, and all while trying to get drinks all at once. The entire time I am sweating, breathing heavy, and my hair (that I perfectly curled only an hour before) is pasted to my forehead. I rarely entertain anymore because I just don’t seem to pull it off without being a puddle of a human before I have even laid the dishes on the table.

Red faced, clammy and slightly smelly, I sit down to a meal with my guests and try to catch my breath. Mostly the conversation is held by my guests with only an occasional word from me, and there is no doing the dishes while I talk to other people. That would turn into a wet t-shirt contest.

One morning I managed to pull off a beautiful breakfast for my writing group. I made pancakes and eggs. They were the whole wheat kind, some with blueberries. The coffee and tea flowed. I even managed to fill people’s glasses as soon as they were done, and hopped to it in order to bring my guests warm flapjacks when their plate was empty. I was calm, cool and collected. This meal was so unusual that I remember it seven years later. We joke that I was channeling Aunt Nicole that day. We believe that at some point in the morning she must have fallen asleep because that is when I accidentally spilled hot tea all over myself.

I want to lose this weight so that I can entertain without melting down. I want to be able to cook and entertain while being effortlessly pretty. This cause can only be helped by losing weight and getting in shape. I think exercising is the only way to improve my coordination, agility, and my ability to be cool under pressure. I want to glide into my dining room with beautiful food and laugh and gab with my friends. I want people to say, the way I remark on my aunt, “How does she make it all look so effortless?

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Nicole and I at my wedding, which see catered! It was so delicious