Friday, November 27, 2009

Focus!

I DVR'd The Biggest Loser this week and today when I went to watch it, somehow I also managed to DVR the Where Are They Now special! I was so pleasantly surprised! I've been crying through the whole show seeing how far these people have come. It's so inspiring. I've been working really hard to get healthier and it pays off.

Thanksgiving was awesome. My cousin announced that she's pregnant by showing everyone her nephew's t-shirt that said "I'm Gonna Be A Big Cousin". It took my sister a few moments to understand, since she's pregnant, he'll be her baby's cousin too. But then you could see the light bulb go on and her face just dropped and she looked at Lauren and burst into tears. There is so much joy right now!

My body changes every day, the less I consume the bad stuff, the less I want it and the more severely I react when I eat it. I had 3 beers the other night and felt like I got hit by a truck! All day at Thanksgiving there was so much sugar around and I wanted none of it. I took home leftovers from dinner but didn't even bother with the dessert. I just keep moving forward. I finally feel like I'm not stuck anymore.

2009 is almost over and the year flew by. I am really looking forward to the new year. This year was a long one and I spent most of it just existing. In the past few months I started living again. I feel more alive right now than I've felt in probably seven years. Or maybe ever. I love my life. It's so full and amazing and I don't take a moment of it for granted anymore. Sure there are shitty days (literally) but so what? For the most part, I can control that, and that's the biggest piece of the puzzle. Mind over matter baby. If you want something, whether it be better health, or to quit drinking, or to exercise more... it's all about you making it happen. I'm talking to myself just as much as I'm talking to anyone out there that's reading this.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What a difference a day makes....

Yesterday I was thinking about updating. Saying how awesome I've been feeling. The workouts, the energy. Today I slept til noon, then I woke up and decided to watch Funny People, about Adam Sandler getting cancer. In the middle of the movie, The Doc calls and tells me my white blood cell count has dropped and he wants me to come in Monday for another round of bloodwork. It's 3.2. That's too low. He says not to stop my meds but come in right away and call him after so we can go over the results. This is what the meds do, they lower my WBC counts to suppress my immune system, to keep my Crohn's in check. I have bloodwork once a month exactly for this reason. My levels have stayed steady, between 4 and 5 for months and months. It jumped to 10 in September when I had a UTI. A drop like this is bad. I am highly suseptible to infection. Which is strange because I have felt healthier lately than I have been in years. I'm sure it's just the meds. Working overtime. But I've been worried all along that these meds were a bad idea. Knowing how many people have healed themselves naturally. I've said this all along. What do I do? Do I say enough, I'm done with medication? I am very curious to see what happens on Monday. Well, can't let it get to me, nothing I can do at the moment.

You know what though? This is what bothers me. They are watching me to make sure I don't get cancer. All along they say you have to be careful because your immune system is suppressed and you are more prone to infection... but the reality is, they are worried that I might get cancer. Every day I worry that one of my blood tests is going to come back funky and it's going to be cancer. And today is that day when I get the call that the blood tests are funky and you have to come in right away because we are worried. I've had a swollen lymph node in my neck since September. It gets bigger, it gets smaller, I worry, but my bloodwork has been fine so I just ignore it. Then I get the call. I've had a lump in my groin for years, and the doctors say it's nothing to worry about, but almost every day I check it to make sure it's not getting bigger. Sometimes it's sore but usually not so I don't worry about it.

I'm sorry to be so candid and morbid, but I've always been honest here. There are only a couple of people that I know in "real life" that read this, so this is a somewhat safe place for me to write. My Mom doesn't read it, because if she did, she'd freak out. My life is so good right now. I've been so happy. I'm unemployed but that doesn't matter, everything else is awesome. My two best friends in the world are pregnant. I'm going to be an auntie for the first time. This weekend I went to see my favorite band in the whole world and I met them for the second time and they remembered me and we had drinks and it was amazing. I went to a party with friends and didn't worry about drama or issues, I just had so much fun and things are good and I am so incredibly happy for the first time in a really really really long time. So why do I have to be sick. Why do I have to spend every day worrying about what I eat, and what meds I take and how I'm going to feel when I do this or that or the other thing. Why do I avoid dating because I'm afraid to show someone what I really go through. Why do I have to deal with this for the rest of my life?

I don't think I have cancer, don't get me wrong, I'm not spiraling down the self-pity I might have cancer dark hole. I am just frustrated. I am angry and annoyed and I just want to be healthy and normal and not have to worry about the inner-workings of my digestive system, or how many white blood cells I have, or how my liver is functioning. Most days I accept that this is my life and I get on with it. I love my life, the disease actually helps me keep things in perspective. The bad days are bad, but the good days are amazing and there are so many more good days to come. On Thanksgiving, my cousin is going to announce to my family that she's pregnant, and my 8 and a half month pregnant sister just might get so excited that she goes into labor. And my other cousin's 1 and a half year old son is going to help make the announcement. A new generation is starting and the next phase of life is happening and I am so excited about it and no bloodwork result is going to get me down. Again, sorry for the tough post, but I had to talk to someone and you all understand what I'm talking about. Thanks for being here and reading. On Monday I find out about the bloodwork and on Tuesday I'm hoping to find out more on that job I've been going after. Send some good vibes my way ok? I'd appreciate it.

Friday, November 20, 2009

I'm Freeeeee

Throwing away the scale was a great idea. I have no idea how much I weigh right now and I don't care!!! I'm still counting calories and working out and I feel great. I don't have much else to report. It's a busy time coming up and I'm hoping to just enjoy the holiday season with friends and family. And go see New Moon ASAP. And I got an iPhone... oh man do I love it.

I'm watching Yes Man right now, I need to say Yes more often! I've also been watching the tv series 30 Days by Morgan Spurlock where people do things that they normally wouldn't do. Like an Athiest woman lives with a Christian family for 30 days. And Morgan lives in jail for 30 Days. And an ex NFL star lives in a wheelchair for 30 days. It's inspiring and thought provoking and I cry at every episode. I highly recommend it. I've been watching it on Hulu which is also something I highly recommend. Hulu rocks!!

That's all for now. If I don't get back here, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!!!!!

Monday, November 16, 2009

Fighting Old Demons

Scale

Yes, that's right, my scale is now residing in the trash barrel. As you know I've been counting calories and exercising in an effort to take off some extra pounds. It's been going great, I've felt great, people have noticed and given compliments, I even wore my skinny jeans yesterday! So why then am I so depressed today and feeling the need to binge? Because last Friday I was down 5 lbs on the scale and today those 5 lbs have magically reappeared. How does that happen? I only went over my calorie allotment two days out of seven and not over nearly enough to cause a 5 pound gain! UUUGGGGGHHHHH. This is the beginning of a VERY vicious cycle that I've been through many many times before. You might remember the post I wrote back in February about it during National Eating Disorders Awareness Week. Since that post I have done a great job of eating well, not bingeing, not eating in secret, not falling back into the trap of disordered eating. Not one week into "dieting" here I am feeling that familiar pang. I lost and then gained back 5 pounds, this is useless, it's not worth it, LET ME EAT CAKE!

NO. Not this time. I am NOT going back there. GOODBYE SCALE! You will haunt me no more. One of the issues of calorie counting is that it's easy to just eat whatever you want, as long as you stay within the numbers. But the key to lasting weight loss and optimum health is not eating less, it's eating better. Make the right choices. Which I am a lot better at these days. Last week I cooked a lot, I ate very well, I felt great. Saturday and Sunday I ate at an arena, a diner, and at my mom's (aka Candyland) and ordered takeout. It's no wonder with the amount of sodium and sugar I consumed over the last couple of days that I quickly gained back 5 lbs. The weekends are tough, there's no doubt about it, it's a matter of being prepared, making good choices as much as you can and then keeping it super clean during the week.

I'm still doing yoga almost every day. I love it. Today I wasn't really feeling it but now that I've written it out I feel better. Lasting change doesn't happen overnight. It's taken me 7 years just to get to this point, and even though it doesn't seem like I've made it that far, the truth is, I really have.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Eating right and exercising actually works... who knew??

I've been a fitness instructor for over four years. You'd think I'd be all super fit and healthy... and I totally used to be. Then I got diagnosed with Crohn's disease, took tons of meds, lost all my strength and energy, gained a ton of weight.... and continued to use the diagnosis as an excuse. I was so weak! I was so tired! I needed to start back sloooowwwwly. It's been a year and a half, not a whole lot of time when you look at the big picture, and today I feel like the girl pre-diagnosis. Minus the yucky stomach. I've been eating really well, doing yoga, cardio and strength training. I have energy, I don't ache, I feel strong, I've lost five pounds so far. It's absolutely awesome. I feel like myself again. Tonight at the gym one of my co-workers said "hey Jen, you look great, it's good to see you working out again" and that just was so awesome to hear. I've just been reminded that with just a little bit of effort you can achieve great things. :)

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Beef Stoup

It's kinda like a stew but kinda like a soup, so I call it Beef Stoup!

Beef Stoup

I just kinda threw this together so it's not an exact science, but here is the recipe:

Beef Stoup
Serves 4

1 Large Potato, peeled and cubed
1 Large Sweet Onion, peeled and chopped
4 Carrots chopped
4 Stalks of Celery chopped
4 oz. of mushrooms chopped

1 lb stew beef

2 Cups Beef Stock (I use Kitchen Basics, it's GF)
2 Cups Water
3 Tbs Butter (earth balance)
3 Tbs Olive Oil
All Purpose (GF) Flour for dredging

2 Bay Leaves
Thyme
Oregano
Celery Salt
Salt & Pepper

I used a deep sided skillet for this, but you could use a dutch oven or soup pot. Whatever you like.
Melt the butter and olive oil in the pot over medium to med-high heat. Dredge the beef in the flour and add to pot.
When beef is browned, but not cooked through, remove from pan and set aside.
Add veggies to pot, except the potato, and cook for about 5 minutes
Add the stock and water, beef, potato and seasonings including bay leaves.
Cover and simmer for about a half hour.

The potato was mush but that's fine with me, you might hold off on adding the potato until the last 10 minutes or so.

Looooved this stoup, another delicious and healthy meal with not even close the same amount of fat, sodium, and calories, not to mention additives in a can of Dinty Moore. I grew up on that stuff but I'll take this new version any day!!! Sure it's easier to open a can, but it was very very easy to put together this stoup. And cheaper! I have one serving leftover in the fridge for tomorrow and 2 servings in the freezer for any other day.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Gluten Free, Casein Free Tuna Noodle Casserole

Tuna Casserole

Fall is the time for casseroles! They get a bad rap as unhealthy but if you do it right, casseroles can be a delicious and healthy meal. When you use a can of cream of whatever soup as your casserole sauce, you definitely are loading up on sodium, fat and calories. Making the sauce yourself is just as easy as cracking open a can and is a much better option. Tonight I was in the mood for tuna noodle casserole. Growing up it was a favorite, but my Mom would make one of those boxed mixes where you just add the can of tuna. Have you ever read one of those ingredients labels??? YUCK!! I decided to wing it and go as close to nature as possible and this came out absolutely delicious. The only change I would make next time is that I didn't put enough milk in so it was a little dry.

This makes a small casserole and divided into four servings it comes in under 300 calories each. Add a big serving of veggies like broccoli and you've got a great dinner. Here's the recipe:

Tuna Noodle Casserole
Gluten & Casein Free

Ingredients

1 Tbs Earth Balance Buttery Spread
1 Tbs Flour Mix (Beth's All Purpose)
1/4 C Almond Breeze Unsweetened Milk (This was not enough, try at least 1/2 C)
3 oz Fresh Mushrooms
2 Carrots chopped
2 Celery Stalks chopped
1/3 C Frozen Peas & Pearl Onions
1 Can Solid White Tuna
10 Glutino Plain Crackers (crushed for topping)
4 oz Dry GF Pasta (I use Tinkyada)
Salt and Pepper to taste

Boil the pasta as directed on the package.

While the pasta is cooking, melt Earth Balance in a skillet over medium heat.
Add carrots, celery and mushrooms and saute for a few minutes.
Season with salt and pepper to your liking.
Add flour and milk and simmer until sauce thickens but not too thick, 2 or 3 minutes
Add peas & onions
Drain tuna and add to skillet, cook all together for a couple minutes.

When pasta is done, drain and add to casserole dish
Add vegetable/tuna/milk mixture and stir to combine
Crush crackers and sprinkle over top of casserole

Bake in 350 degree oven for 30 minutes

Enjoy!!

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Roadtrip

My cousin and I took a drive down to Philly this weekend for our friend's wedding. It was a great weekend and the wedding was beautiful. We stopped on the way down at this little diner in Connecticut, the sign said it was a "vegetarian enclave". It was pretty much a regular diner though, but they did have a couple of GF options:

Shoreline Diner

But I had this:

RB Club

It was great.

I got that new camera last Christmas, I did my research, I read reviews, I thought I was getting a good one... and I hate it. I am so disappointed. I needed a P&S camera that could handle a high ISO without a lot of noise. This camera gives me a ton of noise. I can't be lugging around my DSLR all the time! So frustrating. Oh well. The big issue of the weekend was realizing how much weight I've gained. I had already started cutting back last week but now I'm going hardcore. I've got to take off these extra lbs! Here I am with the bride and my cuz:

Wedding

ETA: The Shoreline Diner is in Guilford, CT visit their website and no, I did not bring GF bread, this sandwich is not GF. While I am trying to cut down on how much grains, especially GF grains, I eat in general, I am not totally gluten free.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Yoga.

I finally started yoga today. I signed up with yogadownload.com and downloaded a free 20 min beginners session. Is it weird that I got a little choked up at the closing Namaste? No, I'm not kidding... I have tried yoga a bunch of times but always got discouraged because it was tough and I'd give up. I realize now that I was jumping the gun, going to yoga classes that were full of experienced people and watching dvd's for people that know what they're doing. So I started with Gentle Hatha Yoga #1 which is all basic poses and slow moving and totally awesome. Aside from one or two classes I've taken at the Y, I don't think I've ever finished a full session so to do this and finish it felt great. Maybe that's where the emotions came from.

I really like the audio session, I tend to be a visual learner so I thought it would be tough, but you download a pdf pose guide for the workout so if you get confused you just glance at that and it's so helpful. I actually think I like it better that way so I can focus on my body rather than keeping my eyes glued to a tv. I'm encouraged to keep going. I am going to keep doing the beginner session until I've really mastered it. I have the most trouble with the breathing so I need to focus on that.

Aside from that, there are some sad things going on around here so if you're the spiritual type, please say a prayer for those in need. A friend passed away the other day and another friend's sister had her adopted child taken away by the birth mother. It's a horrible, terrible thing and I am devastated for her and her family.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

You Are What You Eat

I'm watching this BBC show called You Are What You Eat about this lady that helps people clean up their diets and get healthy. There was this lady that had to run to the bathroom upwards of 10 times per day and with some dietary modification she got significantly better. So true, so true! I love it. If you eat crap, then you are crap! hehehe.

I've been doing very well, Halloween was a bust.. ok well the three weeks before Halloween were rough... but now I'm getting better. This is the hardest time of year to not go crazy with chocolate and other delicious treats. Friday I started counting calories again. I can count really high! Pfft.

I have a wedding to go to next weekend and I had to buy a larger size dress. I feel horrible. I really want to get back into the dating scene but I honestly am just not happy with myself and you can't meet someone new when you're not happy with yourself! I feel physically great so now is the time to hit the gym and whip myself back into shape! How many times have I typed these same sentences....? Oy.