Thursday, September 22, 2011
In studying exercise physiology, I have suspected that the old formula of 3,500 calorie deficit=1 pound weight loss formula may not always work. A study done recently shows evidence that there are so many factors, including current body weight, body composition, and physical activity level, that must be taken into account with weight loss and body composition change.
Here is the article:
Here is the abstract of the study:
I have been kind of working on a blog on "calories in-calories out," and this information helps debunk the old thinking about the 3,500 calorie deficit formula.
Saturday, September 17, 2011
"It's discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit."
There are very few friends who we know we can truly depend on during the best and worst of times. I have a friend who I met at a job 7 years ago, and we have been good friends ever since. She could call me in the middle of the night with her relationship woes. I called her out of the blue when my cat was dying and she came right over to drive me to the emergency vet. I helped her move when she lost her house, and she helped me clean my house when it got out of control when I was in school and working full-time. We could tell each other anything without judgement. She was a true friend. I have been cleaning house with toxic people as of late, but I'm disappointed to find that some friends may not be who they once were.
My birthday, September 11th, has been overshadowed by 9/11/2001 for the past 10 years. I lost a family member, so it tends to be a sad time for my family. I don't mind being in the shadow of my cousin Bobby at all, but with my friends, I should be able to just have my birthday without any drama. I wanted a pretty low-key birthday. I had dinner with my mom and brother on Saturday the 10th, which was nice. That night, I had plans with friend to get together, which we had made the day before--she was going to come over, we were going to go for a walk, and then hang out and exchange massages. When I called her to see what time she wanted to get together, she said she had actually made other plans with someone else, but that I was welcome to join them. The friend she made plans with is a drug dealer and a shady person, and needless to say, not a person I wanted to associate with. My immediate reaction was to say I really didn't want to do that. She said, "Okay, well, you can come if you want." I told her I would call IF I decided to come. I called her a couple of hours later and told her I wasn't going to come. "Okay!", she responded cheerfully. After a pause, I said, "Well, have a good night," and she responded that I should have a good night, too.
At first I felt like a jerk for not going, but then I asked myself: Would I do this to someone on their birthday? Or really, ever? No, I would not. Even if I'm not thrilled about what a friend wants to do for their birthday, I would still go. Dammit, it's MY birthday and it was rude of her to change plans, leaving me with nothing to do. What did I do instead? I wrote a blog about my cousin Bobby, and ended up drinking wine and crying by myself. Yes, it was as pathetic as it sounds. At least I got in some good practice time on my saxophone--huh, I actually play pretty well when I'm pissed off!
Although I am trying to kick toxic non-friend people to the curb without a second thought, I am certainly not inclined to dump a long-time friend over a few indiscretions, at least not without a fight. I wrote her an e-mail telling her that it hurt my feelings that she ditched me on my birthday, and that I feel she has been changing plans or forgetting about plans a lot over the past 6 months or so. I told her that I really value our friendship, and that if I have done something, I would like to talk about it so it can be remedied. I asked her to write back or call me when she had a chance.
The reply? Nothing. It has been a week. I know she is on Facebook all the time and she must have seen the message. I am going to try to call her today (not to confront) and see what happens. If she is truly the type of person who would just stop talking to a friend of 7 years for no reason, well...she's probably not the type of person I need in my life. I don't do passive-aggressive well, and if she doesn't think enough of me as a human being to tell me what's going on with our friendship, then there may not be a friendship there at all.
"Being stubborn has helped, being selfish is not a bad thing."
I was actually glad that my reaction was to immediately get pissed off when she changed plans on my birthday. I have been bowled over by a lot of people throughout my life without realizing it. I don't really feel anger at her as a whole person, but rather at her actions. I didn't used to get mad at the actions of others; I used to blame myself for not going out of my way enough to accommodate them. I finally know that it's okay for things to be about ME sometimes (let alone on my birthday). I am there for others whenever possible, and I deserve the same from my friends.
Sometimes I accommodate too much to the demands of my subconscious, too, allowing it to overrule what I actually want and need. I decided that I would make this week about ME, and allow my brain to naturally decide what it wanted. I would do the first thing that came to mind and just follow my gut. I was going to do whatever my brain asked for, but it had to be the first thing that popped into my head. I was pleased with the results.
I started by thinking, "What do I want to eat?" The first image in my brain was a big bowl of veggies, including the spaghetti squash, tomatoes, eggplants, and peppers from my garden, all cooked and steaming in the bowl, ready to eat. My mouth watered. Then, tiny voice whispered, "Don't you want pizza?" I shut that voice up, because it wasn't the first thing that popped into my head. I cooked my veggies and ate them, and they were delicious.
When I was sitting around the next day, I asked myself, "What do I want to do right now?" I immediately pictured grunting while lifting a heavy weight, sweat dripping down my nose. A little voice countered, "Wouldn't you rather sit around and watch T.V.?" I popped in my STS DVD and started my workout. No, I did not want to just sit around.
Another night when I got home from work, I had planned on doing a kettlebell workout. I asked my body and brain what they REALLY wanted. I pictured myself in my recliner with a glass of red wine and a plate of chocolate chip pancakes. That's what I really wanted, so I did it (by the way, they were protein pancakes, and were very satisfying!). My mind and body needed the break, so I gave it to them.
So, this week was about ME, and I needed to stop and listen to my brain long enough to find out what I really wanted. I wanted to have a friend celebrate with me on my birthday, and I was upset when that friend backed out. I felt so selfish trying to demand what I wanted from another person, and felt a little bad standing up for myself, but I now know that I shouldn't. If she's my friend, she should have no problem doing what is right. I felt a bit self-absorbed asking myself all week, "What do I want, and what is best for me right now?" But I also know that I'm no good to others if I'm not taking care of myself. I don't want people to bend to my will, but I want give and take from my friends. I also need balance within myself to support that give and take in friendships. Balance is working out hard when my body wants to, and sitting in my pajamas under a blanket spacing out at other times.
My body and brain instinctively know what's best, so I need to listen up. Sometimes it needs to be about "Me me me me me!"
"Selfishness is not living as one wishes to live, it is asking others to live as one wishes to live."
Sunday, September 11, 2011
My second cousin Bobby, in his younger years.
My mother, brother, and I used to take frequent trips to New York City to visit our family there. Robert Mattson was my mother's cousin, but in our family, he was known as Uncle Bobby. He and my mother were very close. He worked for Fiduciary Trust, and his office was located on the 96th floor of the South Tower of the World Trade Center. I had been to his office several times, peering down from the dizzying height of the floor-to-ceiling windows. Bobby lived in New Jersey, but was a typical New Yorker, having been born and raised on Staten Island: always on-the-go, to-the-point, and moreover, humorous. I looked forward to visiting him, especially when we got to go to his office. He would whisk us around Lower Manhattan, chattering away. I could barely keep up with the man, but we would tag along, smiling as we listened to his thick New York accent. My brother and I could barely get a word in edgewise as Bobby and my mother caught up with each other, laughing between sentences until they were almost on the ground. I admired Bobby, and my family shared the sentiment.
Bobby was recognized in our family for his heroism. He had been awarded a Bronze Star for his bravery in Vietnam when he was in the military. Then, in the World Trade Center bombing in 1993, he chose to stay behind to help a pregnant co-worker get to the roof to be evacuated by helicopter. Bobby always chose the well-being of others over his own, whether it be a stranger or family member.
I woke up early on my 23rd birthday, Tuesday, September 11th, 2001, and started to get ready for school. My mother came over to drop off a birthday present. My brother called: "Did you see the World Trade Center? Bobby is missing, no one can get a hold of him." I was still groggy and had no idea what he was talking about. "Turn on your T.V." We turned the T.V on to see what everyone else was seeing--the towers of World Trade Center in flames. My mother and I were speechless. Then, a few minutes later, the South Tower tumbled to the ground.
The South Tower was the second to get hit by the plane, but the first to fall. We found out later that Bobby had been near the 90th floor near the time of the collapse. I had watched as the building crumbled, taking our family member with it. Bobby remained among the missing from the World Trade Center, but was presumed dead. We found out later that he had been, once again, doing his best to help people get out of the building, according to several of his office mates who made it out alive.
A memorial service was held in early October, 2001, but I was not able to get to New Jersey to attend. Several months later, some of Bobby's remains were found on Staten Island, just blocks from where he had grown up. Although there was finally some closure, it was still melancholy news.
My birthday has become a very bittersweet occasion for me and my family. Now that the sadness isn't quite as fresh, I feel I can now celebrate my life and Bobby's at the same time. Since Bobby has been gone, I haven't felt any occasion to go to New York City. I have not been to Ground Zero; it has been over 10 years since I've been to New York. As exciting as New York is, I realized the true reason we went there was for family. I didn't visit New York for the World Trade Center, but rather, for who was lost on September 11th, 2001.
I had been hoping to post some family pictures, but my mother couldn't find the disc with the digital copies. There were some news stories about Bobby and his heroism; here is one of them:
Robert "Bobby" Mattson, of Rockaway Township, New Jersey, died on September 11th, 2001, at the age of 54. Bobby, I will always miss your humor, kindness, and dedication to family.
Image from http://thm-a02.yimg.com/nimage/1164f9d8479
In loving memory of Robert Mattson, and all others killed in and affected by the events on September 11th, 2001.
Saturday, September 10, 2011
I'm not going to lie, I'm pretty embarrassed about what I'm about to tell you about my binging. It isn't so much that I DID binge, but rather what foods I chose that are embarrassing. I looked back at my emotional eating pattern from late last week/early this week and groaned. The upside is, I caught it before it really got out of hand (as in, jumping of the wagon for a month). I also didn't let the rest of my life get put on hold because of the binging. Usually, if I really get into a binging phase, I cut back or stop exercising because I feel like crap. Then I feel even more like crap because I'm stuffing my face and not moving. Then I get depressed. I think the reason I haven't had a depressive episode in a while is that I no longer fall into this pattern.
Last week my 19-year-old cat Kaia started to seem worse, and I was getting stressed out about having to make an end-of-life decision for her. I was deciding when would be best to euthanize her, which stressed me out. I had already given into a stress binge at Taco Bell last week, which planted the seed to want even MORE.
Then one night, the image of pizza and lasagna entered my brain. Without hesitation, I ordered pizza, lasagna, and for good measure, chocolate cake from my favorite pizza place. I ate all of it in one sitting and felt absolutely ill. I swore up and down, of course, that I wouldn't do THAT again.
Then, 2 days later, I got home from work with the conversation with my veterinarian friend about euthanizing Kaia. She kindly told me I could come in whenever I was ready and that she fully supported my decision. I felt panicky and wasn't sure what to do with myself, so of course that requires eating a ton of food. Because I was too embarrassed to order from the same pizza place again 2 days later, I ordered from Domino's. Yuck. Nevertheless, I ordered a bunch of crap and stuffed my face. Yes. Because that is how I think through a problem.
Image from http://thm-a02.yimg.com/nimage/1164f9d8479
The next day (Tuesday), I wrote my blog about my cat Kaia. I ate another 3 pieces of pizza in the process. It finally sunk in how ridiculous this all was, and I threw out the remaining half pizza. Yes, it was a waste of food (and money). But as my favorite WeightWatchers leader would say, "The food can go to waste, or it can go to waist." If I finished the pizza, I would have just kept going.
I hit the reset button and went to Muay Thai class with my brother that night (Tuesday). It is the first time I had been back to Muay Thai is a couple of years. Muay Thai is Thai kickboxing and uses elbows and knees in addition to kicks and punches. It was a great class and my brother and I had a lot of fun. We both opted not to stay for the hour-long kickboxing class afterwards--me because of my knee and John because of his long run the previous day. I came home and did my STS chest, shoulder, and triceps workout. I lifted ridiculously heavy weights that had me grunting at the end of each set. I then had a protein shake. Then I made some pasta and topped it with some tomatoes, zucchini, and herbs from the garden with avocado oil, garlic, and fresh spinach. I felt truly relaxed and satisfied from the exercise and good food, unlike the binges that I try to justify by saying they make me feel better.
The binges are just my insecurities crying out, trying to tuck me snugly away under a thick layer of fat. I have to remember that it is the anticipation of a binge that I crave. The relief comes from when I say, "Okay, fine, I'll do it, I'm going to eat whatever I want until I'm sick." It's the idea of giving in and telling myself it's okay to eat (X) food that feels freeing--with key emphasis on the FEELS. The relief from binge activity comes before any food passes my lips. I first learned about this concept in Judith Beck's book "The Beck Diet Solution." She suggests learning to recognize that feeling that comes when we've decided to give into a binge (which comes before the actual eating), acknowledge the feeling of relief, and find something else to do immediately. This has made me a lot more conscientious of an impending binge, and that I have the choice to tell myself "No," and to find something else positive to associate with that feeling. If I give in, I try to do it guilt free and immediately return to my normal eating. This week, I had several binges, and I felt terrible about it. That makes a lot of sense, I was eating to try to fix a terrible feeling. But stress eating doesn't reverse kidney and liver failure or seizures in a 19-year-old cat. At least I've learned that much.
Image from http://www.bubbleoptic.com/2011/01/yo-quie
Tomorrow is my 33rd birthday, and I hope to make my 33rd year my best yet. Having celebrated my 1 Year SparkVersary in August, I feel like I'm on a roll with working towards my truly healthy self. I feel like I am finally becoming the person I was meant to become, and a few bad days aside, healthy choices come naturally on a typical day. I also think part of being healthy is recognizing the emotional eating and putting it to a stop, even if it isn't stopped completely in the first place. I am just going to say that I don't plan on "conquering" emotional eating or binges. It is not realistic and I would just be setting myself up for failure. Giving in guilt-free on occasion has been the best choice I've made to control the binges, ironically enough.
It's funny, I am trying to decide what to have for dinner at the restaurant with my family tonight, and I am thinking I'll get a big salad...not because I feel compelled to stick to my "diet," but because I am craving a big bowl of veggies that badly. Don't get me wrong, though...I will be having some sweet potato fries...and probably dessert...
I also have some veggies from the garden, including a volunteer spaghetti squash that I found growing beside my garage. Tomorrow, I think I am going to cook the squash and top it with a sauteed eggplant, pepper, and tomato sauce (including herbs from the garden, of course). My harvest is dwindling down (what little of it there was), but I have thoroughly enjoyed growing some food this year. it has made me really appreciate what it takes to get food on the table, and I can't take that for granted.
My garden's "bounty."
As I embark on my 33rd year on this planet, I am grateful for my family and friends who celebrate with me, and that I am surrounded by such kind and supportive people (that means you, SparkPeeps!). I know how lucky I am.
"Life itself is the proper binge."
Tuesday, September 06, 2011
Kaia striking a sexy cat pose.
I was working at an emergency clinic 7 years ago, and one night a couple brought in their ornery 12-year-old cat that had large abscess on the neck. Rather than pay for the treatment of this non life-threatening condition, the owners opted to euthanize her. They signed the papers and were waiting in the room for the doctor to come in and put her to sleep. I asked the vet if she would be okay with me asking them to surrender the cat to me, and that I would pay for the abscess repair and treatment; she was fine with that. I went in and was talking to the argumentative owners about surrendering her, and they argued that they "simply couldn't justify spending that kind of money on a cat, when they could be donating money to children through UNICEF." They told of how the cat belonged to their son, who was now away at college, and that she "had lived a good long life." They told me the cat wasn't nice, anyways, and seemed to dislike them. They were the kind of owners that make me question humanity. I finally pointed out that it would still cost them a couple hundred dollars to euthanize the cat, but if they surrendered her to me instead, it would cost them nothing. They immediately signed the surrender papers and went on their merry way.
I wanted to contact them later and ask if they ever made that large donation to UNICEF. My guess would be no.
The euthanasia solution was put away and we instead performed some basic blood work and clipped and repaired the large abscess that had opened on her neck. Her blood work looked good and she was healthy. I was planning on keeping the cat as a foster and possibly surrendering her to a rescue.
And so began my journey with Kaia, a crotchety, no-nonsense 12-year-old black and white cat. I was going to take her home and provide her post-surgical care until she was completely recovered. It quickly became apparent that this cat would not be "adoptable." She was almost unmanageable, she was so disagreeable. I knew I could not surrender her to a rescue, so I decided that I had a new cat. She didn't let me touch her and she hated my other animals; she had never lived with any other animal before.
After several weeks, Kaia would sit in a high place and survey the room. One day, she casually walked up to my dog and smacked him, and then did the same thing to each of the cats. It was clear who ruled the roost. She became much nicer after that and started to seek attention from me, and would even sleep in the bed with me. She became an outgoing cat. She also got along better with the other animals. It's amazing that a 12-year-old cat learned to like dogs and other cats.
Kaia tolerating the presence of a foster kitten.
About 3 years ago, when Kaia was 16, her routine blood work showed mild kidney enzyme elevations. This is certainly not unusual for a senior cat, and it was not to the point where any treatment was really necessary. We rechecked her values regularly and they seemed to hold steady until last year. Her kidneys were getting bad enough that she was put on a prescription diet. Her kidney values slowly started to creep up, and she started vomiting regularly. I started giving her an antacid to help with the vomiting.
About 9 months ago, I woke up to hear thumping in my hallway and saw the cats freaking out. Kaia was having a grand mal seizure. The seizure only lasted a minute or so. I took her in immediately. She appeared completely normal by the time I got to the clinic. We drew blood and found that she was in the early stages of liver failure on top of the kidney failure. Nothing on the blood work explained the seizure, though. We decided to just keep an eye on it for the time being.
Over the months, her seizures have become more frequent. My vet and I opted not to put her on a seizure preventative, though, because that would probably just accelerate the liver failure. She has also started having difficulty walking and stumbled sometimes. She started having facial twitching sometimes. And now, over the past couple of weeks, she has become incontinent a lot of the time and seems to lose control of her rear legs completely. The best guess is that she has a brain tumor or cancer somewhere in her body causing the seizures, and she may have thrown a blood clot, thus causing the rear limb paralysis. Both my vet and I take the "no heroics" approach when it comes to 19-year-old cats, and therefore I am not going to put her through any diagnostics at this point. Ultimately, treatment would not cure her, and she would be miserable being hospitalized. It has gotten to the point where I need to ask myself if she is happy living this way, and how much worse I should allow her health to get.
She is sitting quietly by my side right now. She seems comfortable right now and seems content a lot of the time. Her habits have changed, though, and she no longer sleeps or cuddles with me and hides a lot of the time. I am afraid of coming home one day to find her having non-stop seizures or in horrible pain, and I don't want that for her (or for me). I am going to euthanize her over the next couple of weeks, because it has truly become a question of quality versus quantity of life. Although I know how I would advise someone in my situation, and I would assure them that euthanasia is the best choice, professional judgement goes out the window when the animal is our own. I want her to be comfortable and I want to remember her feeling relatively well, not suffering. These decisions are never easy, but I know it is the right one for Kaia.
Kaia on a happy day.
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