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Posts Tagged ‘motivation’

  1. Day 1 all over again

    June 10, 2011 by Laura

    Well, I’ve been away to deal with some family “issues” which themselves could be a whole other blog. I had most of this post written, and sadly it’s still relevant a month later. Here it is, finished. But after this I’m working on a righteous tirade on our food supply.

    When I started this endeavor, the scale said I was in the 170’s. I am now flirting with 140’s, but keep bouncing back to 151. Damn damn damn. So now I have to re-dedicate myself to this, because in addition to trying to be Excruciatingly Healthy, I have joined The Biggest Loser at work — a friendly competition with a small wager. One thing I am not is excruciatingly competitive. I tend to say, “The hell with it, I’m taking my checkers and going home. I don’t need the aggravation.” Don’t get me wrong, I like to win–who doesn’t? But I’m one of those, “Hey, good game, if it couldn’t be me, I’m glad it was you” types. Also, in a passive – aggressive move, I might just forfeit. You win. Smirk. Does that make me a quitter? hmmmm…

    What was I talking about?

    Right, so the scale is stuck at 150.8. Also, I notice the toxic hunger sensation creeping in, because I’ve been snacking on whole wheat pita & hummus in non-nutritarian proportions. This stuff is real, people. Suddenly, I’m thinking, “Oh my God I’m STARVING!!” Which I haven’t thought for a while. So with a fridge full of kale and chard and cheez, I’m going to start from Day 1 again.

    What was Day 1? It probably wasn’t the weird hamburger helper type meal I just made in an effort to empty the freezer of all ingredients that had taken up a long term lease on the shelf space. Let’s see, shall we? (Cue the blurry flashback effect here):

    Breakfast: Quick Banana Breakfast to Go

    Lunch: Raw Vegetables (broccoli, carrots, and red pepper), Russian Fig Dressing/Dip, Black Bean Lettuce Bundles, Melon

    Dinner: Quinoa Bean Salad, High Cruciferous Vegetable Stew, Apple Surprise or fresh fruit.

    Oh, man, really? I have strayed far.

    So the banana breakfast is this: 2 cups frozen blueberries, 1/2 cup old fashioned rolled oats, 1/3 cup pomegranate juice, 2 tablespoons dried currants, 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts, 1 tablespoon raw sunflower seeds, 2 bananas sliced.

    Combine it all & heat in a microwave for 3 minutes. Serves 2.

    I don’t think I ever made this, so I am going to put it together tonight so it’s ready to go in the a.m. Wish me luck! Again!





  2. OPP (Other People’s Plates)

    March 24, 2011 by Laura

    Now that I’m on a health kick, I really notice what other people are eating. Last night we went out on a date (!) to hear some live music (!!), and the guy sitting next to us was having steak and potatoes and gravy. He was a big guy. It was when he got the ice cream for dessert that I went into one of those critical care nurse reveries of him becoming diaphoretic and clutching his chest, and me needing to yell, “YOU! Call 9-1-1 and get the AED!!” and then going through the whole CPR thing. As it turned out he survived the show. I can’t tell you how relieved I was. Nothing can ruin a date like an MI.

    And maybe it’s none of my business, right? It’s not like he was smoking and blowing it my way. Besides, my nose is so stuffy I couldn’t smell the steak. Why would I care? Because he’s the guy I take care of after the CPR keeps him going long enough to get to the ICU. And he’s the guy driving up the cost of health care with his MI and subsequent years of compromised cardiovascular health. OK, that sounds really cynical. I don’t really look at my patients and think, “Oh great, there go my premiums!” I see my patients and their families as people who are suffering. What’s sadder, is that they often accept that suffering (and it is considerable) as their fate.

    Not all of the illness I see is avoidable, but much of it is. I tell you this, and simultaneously remind myself, because we have a tendency to blithely follow our habits as though we are powerless to do otherwise. I want to tell you that as long as you are on this side of the hospital bed, you are not powerless.

    Last week I had a patient who was in terrible pain because his left foot was dead; that is, no blood supply to it. His peripheral arteries were so blocked, that he was awaiting the amputation of his foot. Arterial disease is about inflammation, and smoking causes inflammation. When I reminded him of this, he told me to quit nagging. When I told him he still had one foot left to save, he rolled his eyes. He would rather lose his legs that lose the cigarettes. Sound crazy? I don’t know. I don’t know how to assimilate that in a way that does justice to an entire person, rather than just throwing around catchy phrases about personal responsibility. I like to believe that we’re all doing the best we can with what we’re given, while still believing that there’s always room to grow.

    What I do know is that our bodies are, in general, extremely resilient. We have built-in healing processes that we can enhance in myriad ways. The best methods do not require us to seek specialized practitioners, expensive  supplements, or exotic treatment plans. Eat right (and by “right” I mean tons of vegetables), exercise daily, enjoy quality time with people you like and have a hobby. The tricky thing here is that all of these require us to assume some measure of control over our own health and lives. We can’t look to the medication or the herb or the retreat or the trainer to save us from ourselves. We have to trust that we can provide for ourselves adequately. I presume that just about my entire audience is capable of this. If you grew up eating nothing but convenience store foods and have no idea what to do with broccoli well, welcome! I hope I can help.

    I hope we can all help each other, actually.


  3. Sabotage!

    February 26, 2011 by Laura

    Oh the parties, the potlucks, the dinners out! Alas the 12 hour shift! Life is conspiring to undo all my good work! Why? Why? WHYYY???

    Actually it’s not that bad. But man, we had four, FOUR birthday parties this week: three kiddie parties & one grown-up dinner. Plus a potluck dinner. And by “we” I really mean the household; no one of us has had to attend all of them. I’ve been quite the Nutritarian even under pressure, bowing only to the temptation of a pupusa with refried beans. It was a fundraiser, ok, and Maria Cañas is a difficult woman to turn down.

    Dale, however, spiralled waayy out. Check this out: Wednesday night, birthday party #1: lasagna! Princess cake! Thursday, dinner at Angeline’s: Hush Puppies! Crawfish etouffee! Chocolate cake! Beer! Friday night, potluck: A couple of chips & a pupusa–not such a big deal. But of course, it’s not what he ate, but what he didn’t– where was the kale, my dear? Where was the kale? Me? I’m just over here nibbling on some romaine & sipping some mineral water. No thank you, I’ll pass. Lalala.

    But boy, six hours into a 12 hour shift with nothing but a banana & cashew butter sandwich on board, I was wishing that I’d packed a better lunch (or any lunch). It’s like that stupid aphorism: Failing to plan is planning to fail. Who made that up? I want to smack that person. It’s so smug. So what if it’s true? It’s smug.

    There are a million ways to sabotage a good thing. The one we ran into frequently this week is the “Permission Giver.” You know, it’s the “friend” who sees you going for the deep fried Twinkie, and instead of saying, “Hey, those are not part of the plan!” says, “Go ahead, it’s not going to kill you.” Nice. If you were going to eat wood chips, wouldn’t you want someone to say, “Stop! That’s not good for you!” Ok, ok, it’s not anyone else’s problem, but if I didn’t think I needed a little support, I wouldn’t be out here asking you to hold me accountable, right? If you have always made the right choice and never looked back, never wished someone had been there to drag you back to the dorm before you drank just one more Fuzzy Navel, go read someone else’s blog, because you’re giving me the creeps. And to everyone whom I have ever encouraged to cheat a little, or do something they might regret later, sorry ’bout that. My bad too.

    The hardest part for me is some sense that I should be entitled to eat whatever I want and still be thin. I call this misplaced sense of entitlement the “J. Crew Catalog Phenomenon.” Some part of me long ago fell for the idea that those gangly, Madras shorts-wearing preppies, who are really only one stray bocce ball toss away from turning into Labrador Retrievers, are normal. It’s sick I know. But that part of me doesn’t understand that I’m not actually a leggy, blonde, trust-funder. That part of me is pretty sure that I am supposed to be at Squaw this weekend. That part of me is wondering how I missed spending every summer in Edgartown. I have to work for a living and exercise and I’m still short. Dammit. So, my delusion that eating an entire lobster bake is ok, is one form of sabotage.

    Distraction comes into play too. I get distracted by the idea that I’m not eating perfect food. Or that I’m eating some kind of food that is a poor sub for what I’d rather be eating. Must. Stay. Focused. I have to shut up the foodies in my head who are snickering about my abstinence from alcohol and cheese and bread and cake-y things. Just because a croissant is hand made with cultured butter, doesn’t make it healthy.

    In his book, The End of Overeating, David Kessler talks about “premium snacking” and the psychology behind getting us — us – to consume more food. There is a lot of research devoted to marketing food as entertainment; food as a reward for our busy lives; a “premium snack” as a treat we deserve, because, after all, we work hard & should be able to indulge ourselves now and again. The only problem is we, or I– I’ll speak for myself here– indulge now and again and again and again. And as food and grains have become cheaper and more available we have increased our consumption of some things dramatically. Take my favorite, cheese, as an example. According to the USDA we consumed something like 5 pounds of cheese per person annually 100 years ago. Today we are approaching 35 pounds per person per year. I feel personally responsible for that. Things should normalize now.

    Anyway, all this is to say that the way we eat has so many subtle and external influences. Even for someone as media deprived as me (no TV commercials) who has not given McD’s any money since 1987 (no, really). I won’t eat anything that smacks of fast food, but tell me it’s local and read me its pedigree, and I’ll bite. I’m such a sucker…

    Oh, I’m down 10 pounds!

  4. Sleep, sloth and exercise

    February 21, 2011 by Laura

    I’m tired, but in the words of Connie Z., my dear Mother-in-law, “Nobody gives a shit if you’re tired.” So I try not to complain. Last night I went to bed early, around 9 pm. I was a little shocked, because I am NEVER in bed by 9, and now I see why. At some point I awoke, looked at the clock, decided it was close enough to 5am, and I might as well get up now before the alarm went off. I told Dale I was going to get the baby to nurse him and he said, “WHY?”

    “Because it’s almost 5 o’clock.”

    “No it’s not, it’s 12:30!”

    Ah HAH, no wonder I didn’t feel all that well-rested. Next time I’ll put my glasses on before I make any big decisions. I continued to wake up every 90 minutes until I got the 5am phone call telling me that the unit was over-staffed today & would I please be on-call. Finally I got a little sleep…

    But sleep is not really my problem. My problem is more like sloth. Of all the lifestyles I may enjoy — Northern California, Wine Country, Middle Class, Festivarian, Nutritarian — the Sedentary Lifestyle is the one that comes up on most health questionnaires. Does anyone else go to bed with a very clear vision of what health promoting activity she will do tomorrow only to have tomorrow go by without so much as an elevated heart rate, let alone 75% of VO2 max?

    It wasn’t always like this. Waaaaayyyy back in 1999, I rode my bike around Lake Tahoe. In 2003 I was in the best shape of my life. I could wear a little bikini. I could run about 5 miles; swim about 2; and bike 50 with no problem. Not all in the same day, but I was working toward that. I had promised myself that I would have a daily exercise habit by the time I was 35. Having accomplished that, I failed to maintain it. Nursing school started, and my daily exercise habit fell like ice cream off a cone. So I have to make that same promise all over again, only this time I have to turn 43. No big deal, I was going to turn 43 anyway. They say that exercise is very good for you. They say you feel all kinds of nice things when you exercise regularly. I simply remember feeling superior to people like the current me. Maybe that’s motivating enough!

    Here are some of my ideas for making this happen:

    1. Join the Y

    2. Commit to iWalk Sonoma and walk up my road every day.

    3. Use up my class credits at Tone

    4. All of the above?

    Any suggestions for one who needs to get over the inertia hump? Don’t tell me to “Just do it,” because I’ll just want to punch you in the nose. But seriously, I’m going to start doing SOMETHING soon. Very soon. Maybe even tomorrow.

    Speaking of tomorrow, I plan to put together a couple of recipes & maybe pictures. Stay tuned.

  5. Incredible abundance (and moderation)

    February 16, 2011 by Laura

    Tonight’s dinner was soup & salad. Again. But lest you think I am living a life of asceticism, let’s compare and contrast what I might have eaten for dinner 2 months ago. A very typical dinner for us was roasted chicken. When done well it is undoubtedly one of the more delicious foods out there. The meal might have consisted of salad, chicken, brown rice or roasted potatoes, and broccoli or green beans. That sounds healthy, right? I think so too. I can eat half a chicken, no prob. Most of my calories would have come from the chicken. The potatoes and green veggie would probably have been seasoned with garlic, lemon, salt & pepper, or something similarly simple. They would have been side dishes, meaning the obligatory other things on the plate so that we don’t look like animals. Add in a glass of wine, and there would seem to be a decent variety of, you know, stuff. Animal, vegetable, mineral, the food groups well represented.

    Tonight we had vegetable bean soup & green salad. I took inventory of the meal’s components while admiring the colors on the plate. Represented were no fewer than 6 lettuces plus arugula; 3 members of the allium genus (leeks, garlic & red onion); 2 umbellifers (carrot & parsnip); 2 brassicas (cabbage & kale); 2 solanaceae (red peppers & tomatoes); 1 legume; avocados, flax seeds, sunflower seeds, cashews, figs, mustard seeds & balsamic vinegar. Wow! How unbelievably lucky am I– are we– to have access to all this? And clean water too… it’s all a gift. I’m starting to feel like a Cafe Gratitude menu.

    Recently I was confronted with what I thought was a rather cynical rebuttal to my groovy meal plan: It’s just not possible for everyone in the world to eat this (good, organic) food all the time. The implication being that it’s not worth bothering, since it’s impractical on a global scale. We may be well past that tipping point where organic agriculture is capable of sustaining the Earth’s population. Is that a good argument to continue to pursue gluttony? Should I therefore consume greater quantities of less nutritious calories? I was also confronted by someone who said, “I could make a case that veganism isn’t all that healthy.” Sure, but not as great a case as I could make that what they’re likely eating is less healthy. And for crying out loud, I’M NOT A VEGAN!

    A note on moderation: If I could do moderation, I wouldn’t be writing this blog. It’s like those potato chips that came out a few years back that were basically indigestible and caused really embarrassing side effects. They suggested that you only eat a few. If I could eat only a few potato chips, I wouldn’t be buying fat-free ones now, would I? Jesus… (By the way, I never bought those potato chips.) So for now, I won’t be eating any of the things that I said I wouldn’t be eating.

    Tomorrow I will go back to work after a 6 week hiatus. I’m looking forward to it. I work with great people, both my colleagues and patients. Most of our patients come to us as a result of cardiac or vascular disease, diabetes, or chronic respiratory conditions. In other words, problems that were likely preventable. Often our patients are very grateful for our care and thank us with boxes of See’s Candy. To be honest, I think it’s overrated, but I generally eat about 4 pieces per shift. No, really, that’s why there’s hardly any left by the end of the shift. Sorry. And I know, it was probably meant for you hotshot “Heart Nurses”, not for little ol’ me.  Don’t worry. From now on if someone comes in with a box of See’s or doughnuts, I’ll just look at them, smile sweetly and then say, “What the f#ck is wrong with you?! Are you trying to kill us?? Take this poison that likely got you into the mess you were in and throw it right in that red bin there– the one marked ‘Biohazard!'”

    Just kidding.