I’ve been not diabetic, as a diagnosis rather than a state of being, for nearly three months now. I know this because I’m soon going to have to get my prescription refilled and it was for 90 days worth of pills. After the initial shock, the reality sunk in and I’ve been more or less okay with the whole mess.

I say more or less because I can still cry over the dumbest of things. I don’t cry with each trip to the grocery store anymore, but I was still able to shed tears when thinking of all the Christmas cookies I couldn’t have and wouldn’t bake. It’s not that I really liked the baking part, but I sure did like the eating part.

Someone asked me yesterday if I couldn’t just cheat and eat some. I could. But the cheater and the cheated would be the same person – me. I know I could have one or two cookies without a problem, but the cookies I really like and am missing the most are the ones that Dick doesn’t eat at all. Candied cherries, candied pineapple, and dates along with the chocolate chips make it way outside what I should be eating by the recipe full. So, I don’t get them. I will live and I will be fine.

I’ve found some really good recipes and some sorta good recipes so far. I have purchased a variety of odd foods. I have fake sugar which is really so not Paleo as to be ludicrous, but there you have it. There are no foods we eat today that are the same as they were thousands of years ago, anyway, so I guess I’m just working with what I have. Broccoli used to be a flower. Almonds were never supposed to be milk.

I lost five pounds in the first couple weeks because I couldn’t find anything to eat. All the foods I love to eat are high in carbs. This is the whole root of my problem. I love French fries and Tater Tots. I love pasta. I love good bread. And I adore dessert. I have always built my entrée choices when dining out based on the dessert menu and what I wanted to eat later. Even the salads I enjoy most are filled with dried cranberries and candied pecans.

I’ve more or less stabilized my eating but have still managed to lose another five pounds. I wasn’t terribly overweight, and losing ten pounds has been an asset. If I lost another five, that would be okay. After that, well, I better find more to eat. But I haven’t gone a single day being hungry. I have to remind myself to eat more calories on the days I don’t work out. I don’t have all the calories I consume with my pre-workout stuff and recovery eating on those days.

I’m not delighted with this diagnosis, but it hasn’t been as horrible as I first imagined. On Thanksgiving, I ate carefully, but didn’t even really keep track. I just know what I had and what I didn’t eat and still had a great day. For my birthday, I will go to Kaminsky’s and I will get something decadent. I will not eat all of it and I will not bring the rest home. I will eat some and love it. I’m going to guess that with all that sugar in it, it would be a bit nauseating if did try to eat the whole thing. My body is no longer used to that stuff.

What I have noticed the most is how many of our easy, grab and run foods are full of carbs. Years ago, there were studies saying how fats were our enemies and making us obese. The sugar industry may have funded some of these. My diet has been fat heavy (isn’t that a ludicrous phrase?) and I’ve lost ten pounds only because I cut out the carbs (and not even all of them). Snacking has been the most difficult part of the process. I have some low carb snacks available now, but they were the hardest things to find. And they are always more expensive than high sugar foods. Apparently that high fructose corn syrup is so damn cheap, they can put it in everything and so – they do.

The internet has made this transition a lot easier, too. I can look up some keto recipe online and get hundreds or thousands or way too many hits. It has helped me to make some really wonderful new dishes that have been amazingly low in carbs. I made lasagna without noodles (using zucchini) and even Dick liked it. We had lasagna! For less than five carbs. I wouldn’t have ever thought of that by myself.

All in all, this is getting to be more of my routine and I’m growing accustomed to it. Even if my A1C number is better in another three months, I know I can’t go back to 300-400 carbs a day, what I apparently was eating before, without a problem. Even if my diagnosis goes away, I can’t pretend I’m not at risk. I am learning a lot with this new chapter, and I guess that’s really the important part.

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I am getting a handle on my not disease. And I’m figuring out what to eat and still have an acceptable diet full of foods I can love.

After being on medication for more than a week, it dawned on me that I should warn the coach that if I fell over now, it might not be my heart but could be my blood sugar. She did not sigh audibly. It hasn’t seemed like too much of a stress on my workouts.

On Sunday I ate three decent meals, had a snack and was not at all hungry during the entire day. I logged in my food as I was getting ready for bed and noticed I had consumed fewer than 1000 calories for the day. I had an egg and fruit for breakfast; salmon, sweet potato (half), and broccoli for lunch; my normal salad for supper; and a bowl of cheese popcorn.

I think because my blood sugar isn’t spiking and then insulin output being wonky, I’m not always hungry. I have to watch and make sure I’m eating enough. Monday’s workout was more difficult as I had very little reserves. Either that or the split jerks were just hard. Could be either.

I’ve lost three pounds in two and a half weeks without trying. I’ve watched my food intake without being too crazy. I didn’t have birthday cake because it wasn’t worth the carbs for a store bought cake. And it wasn’t my birthday. But I have had one piece of Suzin L chocolate every day. I’m not giving that up.

I used a low carb/high fiber tortilla to have a chicken salad sandwich and then when that didn’t taste horrible, I used them for both of us to have a cheese crisp (tortilla topped with taco sauce, shredded cheese, and crumbled bacon and on mine, a few diced cherry tomatoes and then baked until the cheese melts and the edges are crisp). It’s like a Mexican pizza.

I made cream cheese (low fat) and sour cream with a whole bunch of chopped green olives (stuffed with pimento) dip. I love this stuff. Usually I have it by the ton with lots of crackers, but I measured out a bit and had it with celery sticks. It still tasted good. When I had a carb reserve left at the end of the day, I took my eight crackers and had it with crackers and that was its normal tasty treat. What I noticed most about that was if I hadn’t counted out the crackers, I would have continued eating for a very long time.

I’ve had pasta twice in three weeks and had only a half serving of the actual pasta and had other things on the table to go with it. It cut my carbs back but let me have a meal I enjoy without going over the top on the carb count.

My workouts are staying in line with what they were before I got here but I seem to be more diaphoretic which is a medical way to say I’m sweating like a whore in church. The insomnia went away after about a week on this new pill. So that was a big relief.

Getting a handle on this whole mess is making me feel a little bit more in control. I don’t want to be too crazy about it, but I also want to keep my eyesight, brain, toes, and all the stuff in between. So I’m trying to behave responsibly.

All in all, I feel like I need to watch this and keep track of my intake all the time because it is easy to think that stuff doesn’t have “that many” carbs in it. When I saw a piece of crappy cake, not even really good Kaminsky type cake, had 62 grams of carbs, I knew where my basic problem resided. I have always built my restaurant choice of entree on the dessert menu, making sure that dessert was a thing. So I have to come up with some other plan.

Yesterday was my three week anniversary for all this mess. I feel much less stressed now than I did just that short time ago. I’m sure that my new normal will become normal. I don’t know when that will happen, but I’m confident that it will.

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Expert advice is invaluable. The internet is not an expert. It is full of conflicting advice, even from reputable sources because we are each individuals with unique responses to outside stimuli. In other words, we are all special. Isn’t that cute?

My son contacted a friend of his and she gracefully said she would speak with me. Lindsey is a Registered Dietician. I really needed to speak with one even though I used to be a Registered Nurse. It was long ago and in ICU/CCU everyone is either not eating at all or on some very special diet. Otherwise, they get transferred out. In OR, we didn’t feed anybody.

I know very little about diets and what I did learn over forty years ago has been updated, modified, and changed beyond my recognition. I really needed an RD.

I spoke with Lindsey for less than fifteen minutes and feel like I have had a monumental paradigm shift. I’m not sure why the doctor didn’t know better and give me a number to shoot for, but she didn’t. I stressed and looked and researched and got more and more confused. Lindsey gave me a concrete thing to strive for. I now have a target that I can either hit or miss, but at least know what the target is.

She also helped me to understand some of the more vague concepts I held about food and nutrition. I feel like this gigantic boulder has been lifted. Not that anything is any more or less difficult to actually achieve, but at least I know what I’m trying to do.

Today is a big test. I’m going out to eat. I have no idea how this is going to work. I usually have a hard enough time finding something I like since I’m such a picky eater to start with. Now I have a new layer to put on top of that. I’m sure I can manage it, but this is my first time on this adventure. I have always planned my meal around what I was going to get for dessert. Now, I get nothing.

It’s not that I can’t have dessert, it’s that restaurants charge a huge price for a piece of cake or pie and the food isn’t the really expensive part (as far as I can tell) because they serve these huge pieces of the cake or pie. I have a little package of those individual cakes you can make in a mug. I looked. Each one is 62 carbs. That’s more than I can afford to eat for dessert. And I’m sure the restaurant’s serving will be bigger.

I’m sure that I will eventually figure out the entire process and not have to think so hard about each meal and what to substitute for the 42 carbs in a serving of pasta (which is also about half the amount of pasta a restaurant serves).

I have been buying foods that increase my protein intake since I’m hoping to build muscle. I never looked at the carbs because I didn’t have to. Now, I have a bunch of stuff that isn’t going to fly in my new world.

I also have to worry about something else at the gym. On Tuesday, I came home with a noticeable headache. I didn’t know if it was from low blood sugar or low caffeine. I ate and had coffee and it went away. I had burned through 598 calories on Tuesday. I don’t know how I did that. Today, I came home feeling fine. I had burned 517 calories, which is my normal amount.

I had the same pre-workout drink on both days. I might have to monitor this a little closer. I have to monitor everything a little closer right now.

There are a couple things I refuse to give up. The first is real milk in my coffee. It amounts to 3-4 carbs per day and I hate almond milk’s grit and taste. So I’m willing to work with that little extra zip in my coffee because it is one of the things I enjoy a lot.

The other is my chocolate. I have one piece of chocolate (right now it is from Suzin L and I have almost two pounds of that left from the summer). I have no idea how many carbs are in that one piece and when I get to Those, I will only eat half a piece a day. But after that runs out, I have other really good chocolate. I can make a serving last for a week or even two. But I want that sweet taste once a day. Again, I’m willing to cut out something else so I can have my treat.

My meal planning is more difficult while I adjust things. But now I know what I can manage per meal and it is going to make a huge difference in my ability to make that meal.

This new normal isn’t of my choosing. My body betrayed me. We are going to have to have a serious talk.

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Years before my mother died (of a heart attack) she was diagnosed with high cholesterol and placed on medication. She made us all nuts with her dietary concerns and her most frequent assessment of food choices was, “If it tastes good, spit it out.”

I do not want to be like my mother in this respect. I’m now pre-diabetic and feel like I’ve been totally betrayed by a body that is not living up to its potential. Here I sit, having never smoked, never been drunk, being of normal weight, and killing myself at the gym four to five times a week and still, this shit happened. What sort of Karma is working here? This seems like anti-Karma, if you ask me. I followed the rules and it didn’t matter.

I’m trying to be good rule follower still. It’s sorta what I do. Here’s a rule. Follow it. And then good things will happen. Obviously, I know that last part is not entirely true. But, I am still trying to follow the rules and that is where I’m running into massive information overload.

I’m supposed to be on a “low carb” diet and I have no freaking idea what that really means. It can mean anything from 50 grams of carbs per day up to 325 carbs per day. What the hell kind of range is that? It is impossible for me to figure this out and so I keep going to Google and it is being particularly unhelpful.

One of the first things I read was what foods to avoid or cut back on. Fruits in limited supply were okay but melon was just awful. So were bananas. Berries were on the okay list as were apples and pears. Fruits with a seed – not so much. Today, while looking at more stuff, a list of approved fruits for a low carb diet had watermelon listed as the first thing. What fresh new hell is this? (I love Dorothy Parker.) And apples weren’t all that great for this list.

Eat this and not that turns into eat that and not this. I’ve never been particularly interested in diets and food regimens and mostly just let registered dieticians do their thing without me being involved. I know that as a nurse, I’m probably supposed to know this shit, but I worked OR for most of my career and those people aren’t eating anything.

So I don’t know what the hell I’m doing and I’m having a terrible time trying to figure it out for myself. There are millions of hits for any query I make and they all disagree with one another. I’m unable to find even the most basic answer – how many carbs is a low carb diet? Well, your answer may vary.

Then, what do I do about CrossFit? What do I do with carb loading? What do I do for a pre-workout? How do I manage this new not-normal and make it become my new normal?

I have never been on daily medication unless it has been a 7-10 run of antibiotics. Then, I set an alarm to remind myself to take a pill because I forget. Now I have to remember to take a pill with my main meal every single day and I’ve nearly forgotten two times in less than a week. I have my pill case next to my coffee cup so when I make my postprandial coffee, there it is and I take the pill which is technically still with my meal. Really, I just have to take this pill on a not empty stomach, so I’m following that rule okay.

It’s just that I don’t even really know how to deal with this because I don’t even have a foundational place to start. I’m lost without a map.

My doctor’s advice was not to cut out any foods and cut back on pasta, rice, potatoes, and bread. Eating veggies before high carb foods helps, so having a salad before spaghetti helps with the whole process. And having only half the pasta will help, too. Some of this I can manage. Some of this is just too ephemeral for a person who desires rigid boundaries. I need to know when I’m too far outside these fuzzy edges and it is driving me crazy. I know I’ve been at this for less than a week and I will eventually be able to really incorporate this stuff into my regularly scheduled life.

I crave answers and Google is only giving me more questions, more confusion, and less clarity overall. I’m not good in this place. I need a map. I need direction. I need answers. Come on, Google, that’s your job.

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I know it is up to me to live a healthier life. I need to do certain things to make the most of the time I have here on Earth. I need to first and foremost, eat a healthy diet. This is probably the hardest part for me and for everyone else on the planet. Our food sources are crap. The most chemical shitstorm foods are the ones that are routinely on sale. Sugar is being added to everything, even food that doesn’t need it. Our grocery stores are filled with “food products” instead of food and we are fighting a losing battle against people who trade our collective health for a profit.

I do the best I can and stay mostly out of the cereal and cookie aisles. I mostly stay away from boxes or bags of chemicals disguised as “convenience food” because while they are, in fact, convenient, they aren’t really food.

There is a maxim in the fitness world about drinking water. This is not based on any science at all. Neither the WHO nor the CDC have recommendations for how much anyone should drink because if you eat real food (fruits, vegetables, meats) they all contain varying amounts of water. So if you eat a bunch of watermelon, you really don’t need to drink as much water. Water is the second most necessary item (after air) keeping you alive. To believe that there isn’t a natural mechanism to help you maintain homeostasis on this front is ludicrous. If you are thirsty, drink. If you aren’t, it’s okay.

The next thing I need to do is get adequate sleep. This used to be no problem. And then menopause began and I haven’t slept right in over a decade. I can fall asleep easily but I can’t stay asleep. I’m unsure how to fix this. If you over hydrated and have a specific gravity for your urine of 0.0000001 you will be up all night peeing. This is not a good idea since sleeping undisturbed is important to overall health.

Another key aspect is exercise. I’ve got this covered adequately. I do CrossFit four to five times a week and back in February I began doing yoga. At first, it was once a week, then it was twice a week, and now it is six or seven times a week. And herein lies the problem.

When is the best time to do yoga? I have to CrossFit first thing in the morning because if I don’t I make up excuses and find myself not showing up. So, I’m there early before my brain kicks in. I also don’t want to take two showers in a day, and if I waited until early evening, then the whole when to shower thing becomes a problem. All in all, first thing in the morning really works for me.

But when to yoga? I have been doing yin yoga, which is pretty good just before bedtime as it leaves you relaxed and ready to fall asleep. But, and this is a big but, I have to remember to get started earlier than I have been because I don’t really have enough time to get in an hour yoga and get to bed and then wake up early enough to get to CrossFit. Another issue is that even a vinyasa class leaves me a bit too jazzed to fall asleep immediately.

Doing a flow class, at least for now, is not anything I’m interested in. I do CrossFit for exercise and I do yoga for my stretching/releasing tension and my soul. Flow is about exercise on a yoga mat. I prefer to exercise with a barbell.

I could do yoga in the afternoon and get in a vinyasa yoga time and it could be longer, but then I’m back to the whole shower thing again.

I can make as many excuses about exercising as I can about eating non-nutritional food. But my real question is, when is the best time to yoga? I know there are whole sun salutation things, greeting the day with a yoga practice. But I’m in the gym without a mat and squatting with a barbell at that time. I don’t think I ever salute the sun, but I’m already busy.

There are so many choices in life. I hope I’m making at least some that are beneficial.

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I am an outlier. I am an old fart who is also a CrossFitter. This makes me weird, but it also makes me incredibly unlike most old farts out there. First of all, I live in world that is growing increasingly fat. Our food is abominable and we are bombarded with advertisements urging us to eat, eat, eat. Every trip down the road brings us past a fast food establishment offering a host of high calorie, low nutrition “foods”.

I prefer cooking my own food and find going out to eat far more work than actually cooking a meal. By the time I decide where to go, get in the car, get there, wait for a table, wait for wait staff to take my order, wait for it to be cooked, wait for it to come to the table, wait for a bill, and get back home, I could have cooked the meal twice over. It’s not that I’m that busy and don’t have the time to waste on such endeavors, it’s that I’m lazy and find the interminable waiting to be a pain in the ass.

So, I eat clean. Well, not really. I eat cleaner than most Americans. I have perhaps one soda a year and I like to try McDonald’s fish sandwich once a year just to make sure they are still ruining it. No cheese/orange slab on mine. Small fries to go with it. And coffee, so this isn’t even when I have my yearly soda.

I love sweets and desserts but even so, I limit this part of my diet to something a bit more manageable. I love pasta and my only limit there is to really only serve one serving size at a time. I’m a fan of really good bakery bread, but I don’t eat too much of that either. It’s not that I’m a saint about eating clean, it’s that my likes and dislikes aren’t tipping me over into the “all junk food” diet.

All this makes me a bit of an outlier, but this isn’t where I’m most obvious. You see, I CrossFit. A lot. Not really all that well, but consistently. And because I’ve been consistent over a long period of time, the people I work out alongside don’t remember how very astoundingly crappy I was when I began.

They see this rather amazing old fart who has heart rate issues but can manage to muddle along with the WODs and get crap done, albeit slowly and without an excess amount of weight. Having said that, every single damn thing I do today was something I couldn’t do at all when I began. I needed a damn cane to lunge down the mat, for God’s sake. I used a PVC pipe for almost every lift. I had a kid sized med ball for wall balls.

Today, I have weight on my weight for almost everything (I still can’t fall under the bar in a full snatch without falling over if I use more than the lightest bar we have). I lunge down the mat without a stick to support myself. I use a real med ball to a nine foot mark for wall balls and as much as I whine about everything, I do it anyway.

And so, people who can see me at the box think it’s possible for parents or grandparents to be like me. It is, but not right away. Anyone can do what I do, as long as they work at it as hard as I have worked. I know I sound like I’m bragging right now and I don’t mean to, but I’m really sort of a big deal. Not that I’m breaking any world records, but I am doing things women of my generation didn’t always do.

It’s hard. It’s hard for everyone. This whole CrossFit thing is a lot of work. And it matters what happens for the rest of the day outside the box. You can’t blow off the other 23 hours in the day and then be a superstar in the gym. It doesn’t work that way. And it doesn’t matter if you are the best athlete in the world, it’s hard. The weights are heavy. The WODs are difficult. It takes skill and determination to get through this shit.

I don’t know if it is even harder for a Little Old Lady or not. I don’t know how much other people struggle with any of this nonsense. I do know how hard I’ve worked and how many tears I’ve shed. I know how often I’ve thought of quitting. I know that I’ve gone back again anyway. I know I struggle with every single part of this CrossFit thing. And I know I have won. I have balance, core strength, muscles, even endurance that beats anything I had five years ago when I was younger and unfitter. I’m not a star, but I am impressive as hell. And if you or your mother or your grandmother wants this, you or they can work for it and get here, too. Even if I might make it look very doable, I want to be sure you understand, this is really hard. So I guess that makes me a hardass. I’m good with that. I earned the title.

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This is not me. My hair isn’t this long. 

I am gaining weight. I’m not fat. I’ve never really been fat. But I am gaining weight and it isn’t muscle mass, it is fat. I’m ten pounds heavier than I was six months ago. I’m almost what I weighed before I began CrossFit, although it is packaged different.

My mother put herself on a low-low-low-fat diet for the last ten or fifteen years of her life. “If it tastes good, spit it out” was her motto. She drove us all nuts. She wouldn’t eat an egg so when I made a breakfast lasagna, I had to make a corner with all egg whites and mark it so she would have some. She denied herself many of her taste pleasures.

I don’t really know if it prolonged her life or not. I don’t even know if she got some satisfaction from controlling her diet. She started the rigorous stuff after Dad’s unsuccessful surgery and perhaps taking over a portion of her life in which she could have complete control gave her some sense of peace. Or maybe she was just nuts.

I don’t want to turn into my mom – at least regarding the whole crazy eating thing. But I’m getting fat. Okay, not fat. But I’m gaining weight.

It’s been two years since I did the Whole Life Challenge and I’ve gotten away from much of the cleaner eating stuff I learned to do during those eight weeks. Of course, during those eight weeks, I made Mom’s eating issues look like child’s play. I was crazy nuts about anything I ate. They gave out points and this was something I had control over. I couldn’t do much at the gym, but by God, I could manage my diet.

Except, I’m still at the gym and still crappy at it. But now I’m not watching my diet. I know what I need to do. I know pretty much where it fell apart. I bought a vat of Moose Munch and I ate the whole thing. I had to. Dick can’t eat popcorn or nuts and so I had this vat of deliciousness and I ate it. All.

Then I bought a two, not one, but two different large containers of cashews. I love cashews. I ate all of them, too. I’m on my fourth or maybe fifth bag of cheese curls. Delicious and salty. I have three favorite foods – chocolate, coffee, and salt. And I’m eating all of it.

Almond milk is really just white water with a bit of grit thrown in to make your last gulp of coffee regrettable. It doesn’t work well for cooking and doesn’t taste good in coffee or on cereal. Another thing I couldn’t have while doing the Whole Life Challenge was cereal, but notice how I know almond milk doesn’t taste good on it. I’ve fallen off the healthy food wagon.

I started drinking milk again instead and it is 120 calories per cup more than the white water with grit. But my coffee tastes better and we can actually cook with it.

My problem seems to be that although I know what I’m supposed to do, I’m not doing it. Not even pretending to do it. I’m just watching myself get fatter.

And since I’m not fat, when I say I’m getting fatter, it upsets those who care about me. I’m not fat. I know I’m not fat. I’m not about to turn into a anorexic at this late date. I do not miss a meal. One of the worst things about the whole new car buying experience was that I did, in fact, miss a meal and it was awful.

Since I’m just ten pounds heavier than I was six months ago, it doesn’t show too much and I’m still fitting into my clothes. But I won’t for long if I don’t do something about the continual uptick in numbers. But I keep hearing how I shouldn’t turn into the crazy diet person. But I don’t want to have to lose thirty pounds later. If I can get a handle on things and rein in my snacking and munching and grazing, I will be fine.

But if I mention I need to do so, I’m told I’m thin and I should enjoy life. I do enjoy life. I enjoy being this size and fitting in all my clothes and not having to pick and choose what I pull from the closet because only a few things still fit. I hated that.

It is hard to realize that as I age, I just can’t metabolize all the calories I used to. And as I age, I’m sitting more. I’m no longer even walking around an office for a few hours a week. I’m left to my own devices and I find I’m a complete slug. I don’t move out of my chair unless it is to go and get a snack.

I don’t want to do another Whole Life Challenge because I was completely nuts. But I don’t really know how to make myself behave even when it is in my own best interest. Life is just hard.

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