Wednesday, April 5, 2017

I Like Baltimore

In Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Lady Catherine de Bourgh observes
"This must be a most inconvenient sitting room for the evening, in summer; the windows are full west.''
I have only good things to report so far in this moving and settling experience for Family Member (FM). The apartment is eight stories up and on a hill. The apartment gets great light all day long without the heat of a full west exposure.

From the apartment windows, I can see the lovely pool area, Penn Station, at least 8 church steeples, (3 are Episcopal), and the University of Baltimore. Penn station is a 10-minute walk. Subway is a five-minute walk in other direction. The Light Rail station is across the street and down half a block.

Building security is very good. The electronic fob is used for entry and working the elevators. All doors in the building require a fob to gain access, plus keys for the apartments. Even if you follow someone into the building, you cannot just get an elevator. You need the fob. If they hit floor 9 and you want floor 6 you cannot go to 6 w/o the fob. If you have a guest you go down to the lobby to let them in. Guests can enter the elevator to leave the building without a fob as the elevator will return only to the lobby w/o fob. Security cameras are everywhere. The gym is all glass so no dark corners. Instead of a doorman, there is a concierge on duty in the lobby.

I am insect-phobic. In 10 days I never saw a single bug or evidence of such. In an apartment building, in a city . . . . of course there must be bugs, but this lack shows me how well this building is being cared for at this time.  Even the laundry and trash areas, at night, were free from signs of infestation.

We food shopped in Harris Teeter, Whole Foods, and Target. Harris Teeter veggies were subprime, imho. The various Starbucks in Baltimore do not offer stevia, yet.  The Starbucks by the waterfront has the new nitro cold-brew coffee. It was incredible.

There is only one movie theater downtown. Landmark theater. They sell whole bottles of wine and crab-stuffed hot pretzels. The amount of alcohol being consumed during Beauty and the Beast is . . . disturbing. People came into the theater quite late. Some families just sat on the floor, rather than find seats together. People got up half way through the movie and came back with more wine.

Except for this theater-in-need-of-a-recovery-program, it's all good. 

Finding nothing else lacking at this point, the transition has been smooth. I am returning home to face the afters . . . those feelings that have been kept in check by activity and denial.

Awareness helps.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Hello Baltimore . . .but I'm not staying.

A family member (FM) is moving to Baltimore's Inner Harbor and I have been busy, busy, busy helping out. Took a trip to apartment hunt and check out the city. Left 2 days before the storm. I put myself in charge of the moving process, which includes making reservations, packing, trucking it up to Maryland and then unpacking. I was financially able to hire professionals to unload the truck once there (thank you God). I took this upon myself to smooth the way for FM and I must be honest: I am friggin' exhausted and I am never, ever volunteering for this again. In fact, you couldn't pay me to do this again. 

I have enjoyed shopping for all the necessities that come with new households. My food has been pretty clean. I notice I have not been eating enough veggies and have not been drinking my 80oz of water every day. I corrected my water consumption when I noticed the drop. Winter weather does that to me. The unexpected cold weather in Florida last week caught me off guard and I stopped drinking. 

I'll share some Baltimore experiences soon. Still keeping the pounds off. Talk soon.


Monday, February 27, 2017

Quick response from Sugarboo@Co to the call out on their fat shaming plate! They responded on Sunday to my daughter's instagram and today to my posts: They are pulling the plate off their shelves and off their website store.

I appreciate their very quick response and decisive action. I will be checking in at the store tomorrow to make sure the plates have been removed.

This weekend I tried a vegan, soy free alternative butter replacement spread. Good taste but I think it is triggering. I woke up thinking about pancakes. Looks like I am better off without it.

Have a good week!


Saturday, February 25, 2017

Don't Buy Shame or Sugarboo

Sugarboo, a store at Disney Springs, is selling fat-shaming dishes. I have taken a few minutes to write their corporate office, Disney's guest services, and my clients for whom I shop. Now, I put this here: I will not purchase anything from Sugarboo while they sell this product. 

If shame worked, no one would be (1) fat, or (2) drunk. . . or (3) stupid. If the buyer or designer for this company does not see how shame does not work for the first two, they won't be smart enough to realize they suffer from the third. To quote the writing on the small size plate. They have made a "Big mistake." 

Tweet #Sugarboofail 

Thursday, February 2, 2017

February 2nd Again

I watched Punxsutawney Phil this morning. They had him prognosticate in verse. Here is my response.

Punxsutawney Phil shadow sees
Six more weeks before the bees
sniff the pollen of buds in trees
Woe to my arthritic knees

In other news, I was able to do two sessions on the treadmill today for a total of 30 minutes.


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Bad Feet and Legs

There are no other words for it. I have bad feet. Not bad like my grandmothers and mom had to deal with. They had toes that grew wrong and bunions and outright deformed feet by the time they were in their 50s. My feet just hurt. For a whole six months they hurt as I gained weight. (duh). I thought as I lost weight the pains would go away, the way my knees got better when I lost all my weight and exercised to strengthen my legs. Nope.

The worse pain has been the front of my ankle, where foot meets leg. Agony in both legs if I stand still for too long and painful if I walk more than half a mile. I have a current first diagnois of severe tendonitis. I was ordered to stay off my feet for two weeks. Keep them elevated, take anti-inflamatories, rub them with Aspercreme and ice them on and off. Two weeks. Who has two weeks to sit with their legs elevated and do nothing? I sure didn't but the pain was such that I chucked everything else and planted myself in a recliner for two weeks, feet up, on meds, used ice. It did NOTHING.

I go back to the doctor on February 6th and I will be seeing a specialist after that. Enough of this.

Now, back to keeping the pounds off:

I lost 5 pounds over Christmas. Then I spent two weeks doing absolutely nothing. The only change in my food plan was to take out the daily protein bar. Two weeks of nothing: I lost another pound!

I truely thought I would gain. Seeing a loss was a big bonus.

Back to feet/legs:

I alternated between asprin and Advil. I detest taking drugs for anything but I can tolerate asprin well so I take that for headaches but it did not help with the inflamation. Advil helped a tiny bit so I stuck with that. Aleve does not do anything for me. Don't you love the warnings on these products?
Taking this medication may produce a greater risk of heart attack or stroke than existed before taking the medication. WTF??

Enough, let's go back to keeping the pounds off:
Pain or not, I am back to work and trying for gentle exercise. I am trying not to be depressed that I cannot just go out and walk without worry that I won't be able to make it back home. With any luck I can lose some more weight with the gentle exericse. No changes in my food. I am still sugar, milk fat and binge free and hope to celebrate six months in less than three weeks.

One day at a time

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

How are you Caring for You this Final Week of 2016?

I am taking care of me. My family had their traditional lasagna and meatballs. I had my own mini lasagna made with sausage, fat free ricotta, corn tortilla and Daiya vegan mozzarella. Next time I will make it without the Daiya. I don't really like the taste anymore and believe it or not, lasagna can taste fine without mozzarella.

My youngest daughter
delights us all with her
creative gift wraps! 
My family had their Christmas cookies. I had dates and figs rolled in crushed almonds, unsweetened cocoa powder and almond meal. I added a little stevia and bourbon and it tasted great. The dates and figs would set me off if I ate them often so I do not know if I will do that again next year.

There were a few too many substitutions going on for my comfort. Rather than try to mold my food to fit other people's festivities I wanted to eat the vegetables, quinoa and grilled chicken I enjoy the other 51 weeks of the year. Still, I found myself making an unsweetened semi-paleo egg nog (adding stevia). I kept my breakfasts and most lunchtimes normal and made sure I had three regular meals each day, not meals without end or reason. For this reason I feel pretty good physically.

My emotions are strong today. The day my oldest goes back north from her Christmas visit is always a hard old for me. To take care of myself I have reached out to share it with others, made a meal plan for the day and kept to my other routines. I am sad she is 1200 miles away again and to quote the anonymous quote of the day: I love her, I bless her and I release her to her to the care of her indwelling God. I am not the director of this lifetime production.  I guess that covers my spiritual side today, too.

R.I.P Carrie Fisher: In my career as a pixie I have pixie dusted more people than I can count. It is hard to remember any particular 'one.' However, in 2009 I was fortunate to attend the Broadway run of Carrie Fisher's one woman show "Wistful Drinking." Mom and I had front row seats. Carrie started the show by coming down from the stage into the audience. She stopped in front of me and my mom, reached into a bag and pixie dusted us both. I will always remember that Pixie Dust Occasion.
As the week continues I will continue to reach out for the help I need to complete some important activities on Friday and I am reasonably ready for 2017.  I am looking forward to a beautiful year. Life continues. Events happen. As my surrounding families age (along with me), we are all aware that there will be loss and sadness even in the best of years. I know whatever is in the plan for 2017, I do not have to eat over it. I might want to, but I don't have to.

That's the best thing I got out of 2016.


Saturday, December 10, 2016

It was Ugly but the Swan is Coming

I tried and failed, tried and fell, pretended to try but really just wanted an easier, softer way. . .  In the end, I had to give up some things and some attitudes but in return, I received more than I could imagine. 

My regain reached 277 lbs this August. Exactly half of the 224 pounds I had lost were back on and my body was 10 years older. Those pounds did not find a hospitable home in my body. I was often in pain, unable to walk comfortably and basically felt like a slug with limbs. My recovery program teaches me I have to have a firm base before I can recover and that firm base starts with honestly hitting bottom. I was about as low as I could imagine: physically, emotionally and physically. 

I am not blessed with a writing talent that can convey the amazing feelings that came when I accepted and let go. Rapture sounds a bit over the top but honestly, that about sums it up. No one should judge the feelings of someone else. You will just have to believe it or not believe it. It is up to you. 

All I can tell you that as of August 19th I have not consumed food or beverages with added sugars (or any type), milk fat, artificial sweeteners, fried potatoes (or any type) or wheat. I weigh and measure my food. I keep track in writing. I have not had cravings. I have not had any struggle with food at all. It is an amazing difference. This food sobriety includes a vacation to the mountains, our anniversary, my birthday, Halloween, and a week-long cruise over Thanksgiving. In fact, I lost two pounds on the cruise even though I never exercised or did anything to break a sweat the whole week. 

I just weigh myself on Saturdays now. Last time I weighed I was down 40 lbs, to 237. That was November 26th. I could not weigh on December 3rd. 

On November 30th I was rushed to the ER with intense upper abdominal pain. What could cause that? I had my gallbladder out 32 years ago so it couldn't be stones, right? Wrong! Stones can form and block the common bile duct in the liver and block the liver (and I think pancreas). Back when I had the gall bladder the incision was 8 inches long. To get into my liver the surgeon went through my mouth, esophagus, stomach, bile duct and into the liver. No outside incision, no outside stitches. 

Do you know what can cause stones to form this long after gall bladder surgery? Weight regain. Oh, you know what else causes stones? Losing weight too quickly. Here's a pun: We are damned if we lose and damned if we gain. 

Keeping my food sobriety in the hospital was a challenge. I was on a clear liquid diet and they kept trying to get me to eat jello, sweetened juice, and ice pops. When I explained I didn't eat sugar you would have thought (from the looks I received) that I had two heads. When I said no to the artificially sweetened jello and ices they acted like I had three heads. "You have to eat!" said the doctor. "Then give me food I can eat! I can have chicken broth and unsweetened juice, please." Sugar is not medically necessary. When they moved me to full liquids they tried to tempt me with ice creams and puddings.   I realized I am the only one that can defend my food sobriety. Both were tossed in the garbage. I got skim milk, almond milk, and unsweetened apple sauce. I think I got well faster without the sugar and crap. That is my opinion. 

I have been home from the hospital for 6 days and today was back at work in the parks for a short event. I'll probably see a loss this week. 

That is the update. I am finally doing well and am still well despite a trip to the hospital. 

I decided recently that if I started blogging again I would bring different voice to this blog. I've learned more about myself these past few years. Where I can, I will liken that to keeping the pounds off. Let's see what happens. 


Saturday, June 18, 2016

Resilient in Orlando

Yes, Saturday night was humanity at its lowest, but humanity at its BEST is exemplified in how Orlando has reacted to the crisis. Thousands of people lined up for hours and hours to give blood. People donated sunscreen, tents, food, water, burial plots, counseling services, comfort animal services, services, services. . . . 

Respect, dignity, compassion and acceptance of our fellow citizens, no matter color, religion or sexual identity has been the mantra in O-town. For the very first time in the 24 years I have lived here, I am proud to say I live in Orlando. It is because of the people. We, as a community of peoples who, for the most part, were all born and raised somewhere else, have grown up. 

You know about WBC? They protest and interrupt funerals for gays and military personnel? They hold up horrible signs and scream protests at people in pain beyond the imaginable. So far, they are staying out of the area. Just in case they show up, there are whole groups blocking off their access during the funerals. People using sheets, blankets, large theater angel wings - anything that will protect mourners from dealing with that insanity.

Orlando IS the City Beautiful. Resilient, life goes on.  

Talk to you soon.


Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Orlando is Hurt but not Broken

Three horrible, horrible events in Orlando in less than a week.  
The outpouring of support is beautiful. Orlando stands strong.

Not going to post anything else this week. Maybe next week. 


Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Day 1 Non-Stop Means NON-STOP

The trip to the United Kingdom and France was wonderful beyond my expectations. I had never traveled to Europe before. It is hard to know what to write here or what to include in the way of photos. I have 1,800 photos and 85 video clips. I narrowed these down to 300 of the better photos to show slow moving targets,  to show my friends. For the blog, I am trying to keep it under 75 except when the photo tells the better story than the first 1000 words.

The Players:
Myself and my "bestest" best friend, my partner in crime: Joyce. We booked our plane tickets 11 months ago. Joyce was in charge. She has traveled around the world numerous times. It was good to travel with an experienced best friend. 

Today I will write about Day One and a half.

We traveled on the red eye from Orlando non-stop to Gatwick Airport in London, UK. I avoided caffeine for the three days prior to the trip. I woke at 4AM on the morning of the evening flight and got in a 5-mile walk before noon in an effort to be tired on the flight. I wanted to be able to sleep and arrive reasonably human-like. 

Entering the plane from the front cabin we walked through the First Class/Business Class cabins: They have seats that recline completely and become 76 inch long beds, each with a dividing wall to give the passenger privacy. In business/first class they also hand out lovely 100% cotton pajamas and slippers. Stewards were standing by with tasers to make we did not linger in this cabin too long so, alas, we continued on to the next cabin: Premium World Coach.

Three weeks prior to the trip we had to opportunity to upgrade from teeny-tiny benches, I mean regular coach seats to Premium World Coach Seats - (two across instead of 3). These include deeper recline, footrests, eye masks and stepped up services on board. I thought this would mean a wider seat - it DOES NOT. This is annoying to me, a lady with saddle bag thighs and hips: Due to the molded form of the seat, it was narrower than the regular coach seats by about 2 inches. I gained weight gained this past year and mourned every missing fraction of an inch. 

On this airline, in all cabins, all alcohol and movies are free. However in Premium we also got warm socks so we can take off our shoes, noise canceling headphones, upscale toiletry kit, pillows, blanket and eye mask, Orange juice and water are passed out every hour - even before I reached my seat they were encouraging hydration and its opposite cousin: urination, by walking through the cabin with trays, offering glasses of either/both. I usually travel with my own noise canceling headphones but these are included with the premium seat, so I left mine home. These were fine. 

Now it was time for wine and snacks. The first wine we had was from Chile and it was superb. The wine with dinner was from Argentina. The wine from Chile was better.  After water, orange juice, wine and a snack of salty-cheesy pretzels, we are handed the menu for dinner (also a heads-up menu regarding breakfast). I had the fillet of beef. Everything was tasty with the exception of the dinner roll, which I did not eat. 

After dinner, wine was offered again. Then the lights dimmed, the AC seemed to get cooler and the water/OJ brigade took a break so passengers could get some sleep. I got up to walk behind, to the middle of the plane, to use the restroom. That was my first chance to see the cattle car, I mean the normal coach class section. The faces I saw all looked miserable. By then we were 3 hours into a 7.5-hour flight and I think most of the people in coach had the look of sardines in the can. I silently said a prayer of thanks for the means and opportunity to upgrade and when I returned to my seat I put on the eye mask and concentrated on willing myself to get to sleep.  Joyce sleeps about 3 hours. I slept for about two hours. Not bad for someone with a fear of flying! 

When awake, I was careful to stretch, get up and walk around and drink more water. Before going to sleep I reset my iPhone for UK time. It was "now" about 5AM. the lights were starting to come back on in the cabin. Orange juice brigade came around followed by our 'breakfast snack' and a nice cup of tea. The breakfast consisted of a multigrain croissant, jam, cereal bar, butter, and  box of raisins.The cereal bar contained corn syrup - a substance not permitted in France and I do not think in the UK. I don't eat cereal bars anyway so I tossed it out along with the rest of the food. I was still digesting dinner. I got a kick out of reading the ingredients label and seeing that the raisins have ingredients beyond 'dried grapes.' 

We landed at 6:25am, London time, sailed through customs and border patrol and walked from one side of Gatwick Airport to the other to get the train to London's St Pancras station. We buy Oyster Cards - this is the equivilent of a NY metro card for mass transit. We also had our advance-purchase tickets for the Eurostar high-speed rail to Paris later that morning.  

St Pancras Station is lovely. If you take the best of Grand Central Terminal in NYC and combine it with a good shopping mall you have St Pancras. 

The Eurostar is a great way to get to Paris quickly.   If you don't pay attention to the fact that if we hit a wall, we will all disintegrate into dust. . .  .Once I stopped concentrating on how fast we were traveling I could concentrate of enjoying myself. Opps, forgot about the underwater part.  I do not like to travel under water. I hate tunnels of a mile or less and EEK, the Chunnel is under the English Channel for 22+ miles!

We emerge in the beautiful French countryside on a lovely spring day. We were in a four-seater with a 12 year-old boy who was born in New York, raised in Paris and now lives in London. His mother is from Medellin, his father is from Baltimore and his siblings go to schools in the US, studying engineering. His mother, glued to her phone the whole trip, sat across the aisle, keeping the empty seat next to her for herself and dumped her boy with us. Nice, huh? Nothing against the kid- he was a fascinating young man. In fact, I enjoyed talking with him and I know he was thrilled that we did not hide in our books and ignore him. He even helped my download an ap on my iphone so that I could hold it up to anything written in French and it would show it to me in English, all using the camera function. 

London to Paris in 2.5 hours, plus we lost another hour due to traveling east. We arrive it Paris at 1:30pm Paris time - which is 6:30am back home in Florida. 

We arrive at Gard du Nord and take a taxi to our hotel in Montmartre on the Boulevard Montmartre. Our room is on the 4th floor, overlooking Boulevard Montmartre and facing in the direction of the Lourvre, a 20 minute walk away. Some windows in the hotel overlook the hill upon which sits Sacré-Cœur: The Basilica of the Sacred Heart of Paris. 
The Basilica - This photo was NOT taken from our hotel room,
it was taken the day we climbed to the church. 

Our hotel windows overlook Boulevard Montmartre - a bustling street crammed full of museums, cafes, restaurants, theaters and shops. 
View outside the French doors in our room
Before leaving the USA, Joyce and I agreed that when we arrived in Paris we would eat a meal and then retire for the day so we could wean over to the new time zone, perhaps getting up at 4am the first day and a normal 6am by Friday. That was the plan. . . . 

We unpacked and rested on the beds for about 45 minutes before going down to find a place to have lunch. One expensive bottle of mineral water and a salmon salad later, we decided to take a walk to stretch our legs before returning to the room to call it a day. . . . . But this is PARIS and it was my first time, and so we walked for six hours. 
One of 4 bridges we walked
that afternoon/evening
We started down the street you see from the hotel window. At the end of the horizon in this perspective , we reached the Louvre. Then we crossed over the Seine on the Pont de Carrousel (bridge) and walked along the Seine to the Champs Elysees Place de la Concorde (that's where they guillotined, once upon a revolution). Night approached. The Effiel tower, still a few blocks away, was magnificent in its night-bling. We crossed over several avenues, passed many museums, parks, sites of interest . . . gobbling it all up. It did not matter that it rained on and off. It certainly did not matter that my legs were getting tired. Paris was the remedy to every problem that afternoon/evening. I was in Paris and I could not get enough. 

After three hours we stopped to have something to drink. It was close to 7:00pm. Vaugely we thought about dinner. We walked into a restaurant through a park across the grand expanse of the Avenue des Champs Elysees. We sat at a lovely table and read the menu but decided we weren't really hungry, just thirsty. I had a bottle of water, a glass of wine and a cup of coffee. With glasses of wine, they brought us a small plate of 3 tiny cheese crackers. Joyce and I both felt that these were the finest crackers we ever had in our lives. Each was just a single bite and heavenly. To give you an idea of how perfect they were:  they asked if they could bring us more and WE declined because we both felt we had experienced perfection - and it was enough.

We did not even eat dinner that night. These were not miracle diet-crackers. We were just too tired. 
Love the heart that formed during the pour 
The coffee was presented with a small block of dark chocolate. I licked a corner of the block but left it on the plate. Milk/cream, sugar are not offered with coffee in France. You want milk, you must order a 'white coffee.' However, the coffee in France is soooo good, I do not need to add milk. Yes, I did visit Starbucks in several locations: more on that later. 

After finishing the water, wine and coffee we continued our walk: the Paris Eye, Jardin des Tuileries and back to the Louvre for a night photo with the Pyramid. 

We finally returned to the hotel around 10pm that evening. Our room is tiny but the bathroom is(according to my well-traveled roommate) 'the largest hotel bathroom she ever had in Europe.' We finally get to bed around 11pm, Paris time. In was late March and 49 degrees outside, but we left the french doors open all night and stayed warm under fluffy down duvets. We must have slept well because the next thing  I knew, the sun was poking through the drapes and Joyce was poking me and saying "Hey, it's

Next up~
Day 2 - Have Faith and Keep Climbing! 


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Not a Good Silence - But Getting Better

I was food sober and doing the happy dance. My weight remained steady - no loss but no gain. Then I was not okay. The positive attitude was replaced by depression and healthy repetitive behaviors were mocked by unhealthy repetitive habits. Perhaps you will recognize or identify with some of these:  dressing to exercise and then not doing it. Filling the fridge with healthy fresh food and then throwing most of it out as it rots because you didn't eat the fresh food because you ordered in; because you filled up on pints of ice cream?

Starting over tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow and feeling more and more like a failure. I fell away from my recovery program. I felt powerless as my world got smaller and smaller and my body got bigger and bigger. It was agony. My body reabsorbed pounds like a sponge in water. I regained a total of 70 pounds and have lost 20 of the little b@$t@rd$, so far.

Professional help for my emotions coupled with a continued effort in my recovery program is again leading to healthier actions, behaviors, patterns. Good repetition is so important in keeping the pounds off. I've tried all the other options and they don't work for me. I hope that I am done with the weight gain research.

Today I leave on the trip of a lifetime. I am off to Paris and London with a fellow friend who is keeping the pounds off she supports my recovery. I am looking forward to energizing my head, feeding my soul and returning home and returning to blogging.

Photos of the trip when I return.

Thank you to everyone who reached out during the silence. I was not in the headspace to respond but I want you to know I appreciates your  trying to make contact over these past few months.