Anyone seen my missing blog?

According to the email I got from WordPress this morning, I haven’t updated my blog in ten months…which is right when I did my first Whole 30.  Well, let’s be honest – my only Whole 30.  I haven’t exactly been a poster child for healthy lifestyle this year.  Or the back half of last year, if I’m really being honest.  The fun thing about me is you can judge my stress level and coping with said stress by the size of my ass.  (Spoiler alert – bigger than ever.  EVER ever.  Like bigger than any time I’ve talked to producers of weight loss reality shows.  All three times.  Bigger than the current contents of my closet…thank God it’s summer and I can throw a dress on these hips.  The no waistband Sundays from the summer of 2009 are my coping mechanism on the daily.

So the question is…how did my ass get so big?  And why did I stop writing my blog?

Well – a bunch of things.  The most reasonable excuse is that I was job searching, and blathering on about my weight, depression and quilting didn’t really seem like the best thing to put out there when I wanted someone to hire me.  I’ve been employed for a little over six months now, and while job security is iffy at best, the writing is cathartic and I’m going back after it anyway.

(Fingers crossed I hit the jackpot tonight…$330M cash leaves lots of blogging and quilting time.)

The second reason is that I totally lost my mojo…in everything.  I started this blog to chronicle all of the visits to allergists, hematologists, gastroenterologists and other fun specialists to figure out what the heck was going on with my insides.  I was kicking ass, taking names and had banished all of the food that were hurting me.  Sure, I couldn’t heal everything with lifestyle change – my sparse yet chunky platelets are a great indicator of that – but there was a lot that I was doing right.

And then life happened, and writing, clean eating, etc. all seemed to get away from me.  And I felt like a big, fat failure.

I was failing in my career, failing at my weight, failing at finding a house, failing in romantic relationships, failing at my diet, failing at everything.  Fail, fail, fail.  My therapist says I’m too hard on myself.  She’s a doll.

I’m still seeing her 2-3 a month (have been for about a year,) and she’s encouraged me to pick my writing back up.  She said I didn’t have to publish it, but I figure there’s nothing wrong with putting things out there.  Maybe someone else struggles with the same things I do, and they’ll find some words of encouragement.  Or maybe it’ll help knowing someone else is going through the same thing.

Something I touched on in my blogs last year is depression, and how much I struggle with it.  I put on one hell of a game face, normally, but some days its just beyond me.  And even then I’m only good for a few hours, and then I have to burrow in at home for a while.  I think depression is what makes me an introverted extrovert.  I have such a great time meeting other people and talking to them, but then I’m just exhausted after.  The kicker about depression is that you feel so alone, even when you’re surrounded by people.  And while I know deep down I’m loved by family, friends, and even people who don’t know me that well, it’s hard to shake out of that cloud.  The past couple of weeks have been particularly challenging, with great highs (Stitchfest!) and dark lows (work/house/boys/etc.)  I told my therapist I just feel like I’m on this horrible roller coaster, and I’m exhausted.  I’m just so done and I want the ride to stop, already.

One bright spot in this past 18 months has been quilting.  It truly took me by surprise, and I’m thankful for both the craft and the people I’ve met through it every single day.  If I’m bummed out about my lack of success at work, I can look at some of the beautiful things I’ve created and remember that I did it – I accomplished something with hard work, perseverance and asking for help when I needed it.  If I hit a roadblock, I found a way to work around it and make it my own.  If only it came so easily in a gray cubicle!

I had a great opportunity to be a spotlight speaker for my local modern quilt guild, and I truly enjoyed the process of pulling together my journey into sewing, especially pictures of things my mom did when I was a kid.  And all of the Halloween costumes she’s created over the years!  (Pam is a Halloween rock star.)  I took to quilting like a duck to water, and I think it was because I was able to create something with my own two hands and see a finished result.  Sometimes at work you put hours of thought and consideration into a project, and then it never goes anywhere.  So while a quilt might not ever leave a cabinet, I still made it, and can touch and feel it.  It’s hard to explain what it’s done for me.

One of the things I left out of my quilting journey (because I knew I wouldn’t be able to share it with the room without crying) is how it came at just the right time.  I was at a really low spot when I took my first class at Urban Spools, and it gave me some purpose.   I really do think quilting saved me, and I have a lot of faith that it’ll play a big part of shooing away the dark cloud that’s over my head again these days.  I still have a hard time letting people in when I’m having a hard time, choosing to just spend quiet time at home by myself, but I’m opening up.  One of these days I’ll learn that people will still love me when I’m having a bad day, and it’s okay that I’m not always there with a smile on my face and a joke ready to tell.

I think like most women, we just put the mask on and power through when times get tough.  I don’t think I’m unique in this way, and I think social media does a lot to perpetuate that cycle.  No one likes a vague-booker or someone who whines about their life drama, and yet so many conversations are held through this medium, that we forget how to actually talk to someone in good times and bad.  At least I forget.  Everything is in bite size snippets.

It’s not like I’ve ever been great at sharing the lows, but I know I’ve gotten even worse in my old (er) age.  So as I journey through this last year of my 30’s, I’m going to strive to find some balance.  To get off the roller coaster.  To talk to my friends and family in good times and in bad.  At least I’m going to give it a good try 🙂  And maybe blogging will help.

Cheers,

Christina

 

 

Whole 30 – Wholly AWESOME

Seriously you guys, I’m so pleased.  I’m starting Day 9, and I feel amazing.

Quick recap:  I have been slipping more and more into my old ways, and wanted to reset, detox, all of those good things.  I also want to stay away from supplements, gimmicks, and just get back to basics.  I read “It Starts with Food” and thought I would give Whole 30, a plan designed around the principles in the book, a shot.

In short, food should have a healthy psychological response, a healthy hormonal response, support a healthy gut and support immune function and minimize inflammation.  Two of these really grabbed me – the healthy psychological response and minimizing inflammation.  Truthfully, supporting a healthy gut is important too, because who wants an angry gut?  No one, especially not this girl.

You basically spend 30 days eating just real food.  Meat, veggies, fruit, healthy fats.  No booze, added sugar (fruit is fine), legumes, grains, artificial sweeteners, soy, vegetable oil, etc.  Again – back to basics.  If you’re familiar with Paleo, it’s not far off.

I have been very fortunate to not experience a lot of the withdrawals a lot of other people get when they hop on this plan.  This has to be because I’m already a pretty healthy eater and don’t have any killer habits to break like drinking a pot of coffee or a case of Diet Coke every day.  Coffee is fine on Whole 30, btw, but I only like it with sugar so I haven’t seen the point.  Caffeine makes me really jittery, so if I can’t have a cup of yummy, sugarfied joe in the morning, I’m not bothering.  Bye, wig!

It also helps that I really like veggies already, and I like meat.  Steak is my favorite, followed by a tie of crabs and scallops, then pork, and chicken way down on the list.  At least it’s versatile, though, and with the right seasoning it can kick some serious ass.

As usual, I digress.  I sought out some resources online to see what people did for their first week.  I got into a good habit of meal planning using Jason’s method, but I didn’t want to use my brain.  I found an excellent resource in Melissa Joulwan.  She’s authored cookbooks, including “Well Fed,” but also has a great blog called The Clothes Make the Girl.  She’s rebranding this week, because as she puts it, “it’s time to say goodbye to The Clothes Make The Girl, a.k.a., the silliest name ever for a healthy lifestyle blog.”

Joulwan completely mapped out the first few weeks of Whole 30, including handy ways to cook and stash things in your fridge.  I have to tell you – this was key.  Last Thursday was an absolute whip of me trying to learn my kitchen, but it was well worth it.  She said the prep would take approximately two hours, and maybe it would for a person who cook things besides eggs on a regular basis, but it took me longer.  Much longer.  It could be because I kept bailing to catch up on Making the Team:  Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders.  God I love that show.  Thanks for the marathon, CMT!

Here’s a link to her week 1:  Week 1 Whole 30 Meal Plan.  This would have been worth it JUST FOR THE PAD THAI.  OMG.  So the first day, I had a pork roast going in the crock pot, an oven full of chicken thighs, sweet potato and spaghetti squash, chili simmering, a blender full of zucchini soup, veggies chopped, this crazy Sunshine Sauce made and I was like dear God what am I going to do with all of this food?  Ummm…eat it.  And eat I did, like a queen, this entire past week.  I even whipped up an extra batch of Chicken Pad Thai on the fly for a girlfriend that came over, and she swears it was good and that I didn’t poison her.

Check out this meal prep madness:

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Here are some pics of the delicious eats from the past week.  I will say I modified a couple of her receipes.  I’ve heard the chili as-is is super popular, but she also mentioned mole sauce and I knew I was out.  SWEET MEAT IS NOT OKAY.  Not okay.  Ugh.  I just can’t even with the sweet meat.  I’ve tried mole sauce in the most authentic mexican restaurants, totally inauthentic restaurants, and in Mexico, and I can’t make myself like it.  I tried.  The chili recipe without the cocoa and allspice is delicious though, so thanks Melissa!

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God, those green beans.  They were so good.  I sauteed them in lemon infused olive oil from Trader Joe’s, tossed in some almonds and then squeezed in more lemon.  They’re going to be a staple in my fridge for always and forever.  So good.

One of the tricky things about Whole 30 for an awesome, social single gal like me is NOT DRINKING.  No, I’m not an alcoholic, but when you’re meeting up with people in a city like Dallas, where it’s 100 degrees, there’s very little outdoor activity and shopping is a sport, drinking and eating are very popular.  I like a little Tito’s and soda and the occasional sangria.  I’m also starting to date again and since online is the easiest way to go about this, meeting for DRINKS is a simple way to go.

Anyhoot – here’s how I’m dealing so far.  1- I’m staying home more often.  Just for a little bit while I sort this out.  2 – I survived a fantasty football draft at The Flying Saucer with Pellegrino and a smile.  3 – My friend Kaddie sent me a summertime, refreshing boozy treat list made with La Croix a few weeks back, and one of the drinks was light rum, coconut La Croix and fresh pineapple juice.  I can’t do the rum right now, but the coconut La Croix with fresh pineapple juice is pretty damn tasty.

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So that’s my past few days in a nutshell!  Super delicious yummy food, feeling amazing, sleeping like I’m in a coma (8+++ hours a night no problem) and rocking this plan.  I can’t weigh myself for the whole 30 days, but I think that’s going to look good too.  I’ll have to satisfy my curiosity with non-scale wins in the meantime, like that gorgeous sleep.

Cheers!

Whole 30 – Wholly Terrifying?

Okay friends…what I really want to do is write a quilt update full of all of the beautiful projects I’ve been working on.  But the whole reason I started this blog was to journal my lifestyle changes and effort to get the insane inflammation out of my body.  It’s been an interesting several months, to be sure, and I have definitely made some very positive changes.  I’ve cut back on drinking (for the most part) and I’ve cut out gluten and soy (for the most part.)  Cheese, though.  Cheese.  Damn you, dairy!

About that “most part” – it’s caught up with me.  Funny how patterns repeat themselves – this is just like grad school.  One “cheat” doesn’t hurt you.  It’s the one that didn’t hurt you that leads to doubling up that leads to total backslide and magically you’ve gained 90 pounds. No, I have no idea how that happened either.  Well, I do, but it’s not very festive to think about it.

Two good things – I recognize that pattern and I can stop it in its tracks.  Two – I have friends who do have healthy relationships with food and I’m paying attention.  Colleen – I listen!  I do!  Some things it’s taken me years to catch, but I finally only use glass containers and I only buy good quality proteins.  Seriously!   Vacation is vacation and normal life is normal life.

Most people can splurge on vacation and go right back to their regular, healthy lifestyle.  I’m not that person.  I don’t have the mindset that a treat now doesn’t mean all treats all the time.  I’m working on that (among other things) with a therapist, but honestly, a restricted “diet” is good for me.  Here’s why:

I’m reading “It Starts with Food” by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig.  They created Whole 30, and since many of the bloggers and instagrammers I started following this past year have mentioned it, I was curious too.

Four main concepts about the food we eat:

  1. Promote a healthy psychological response.
  2. Promote a healthy hormonal response.
  3. Support a healthy gut.
  4. Support immune function and minimize inflammation.

Wait, what?  Inflammation.  DING DING DING.  I’m listening.

I know it’s not rocket science, but sometimes reading it in black and white is really helpful.  I’ve learned more about my blood and gut health this past year than I ever thought I would know, and the research in this book just hammers it in.  HAMMERS it.  So thank you, UT Southwestern and your team of Hematologists and Gastroenterologists.  Not only do I know my blood and insides are totally jacked, I know how to fix it.

So back to this whole “restricted diet” thing?  Whole 30 is strict.  It’s meat, fruit and veg for 30 days.  No cheats.  No added sugar for my coffee, no booze, no whining.  Just eat regular food.  And not quasi veggies that are technically grains like corn, no ma’am.  I’m going to have to cook and prep.  I see a lot of boiled eggs in my future.

So back to the restricted diet?  I’ve been doing that since November.  I’ve slipped here and there, and I beat the crap out of myself mentally every time, unless I’m out of town.  That’s not exactly a healthy psychological response.  I just can’t do it to myself anymore.  It’s exhausting.  So I’m just taking it off the table.  Focusing on Whole 30 (and telling the world I’m doing it) is a great way to hold myself accountable.  I might not want to meet up for dinner in the next month, but I’ll happily meet up for happy hour, movies or a quilt class.  I’ll just be ordering a club soda with lime.  And that’s totally okay.

The book talks about habit forming – not having to think about just one piece of bread or just one drink (and then having four) helps create a healthy habit.  I’m lucky because I actually like healthy food.  I love veggies.  Maybe this month I’ll try salmon for the 100th time and actually like it.  Who knows?

I’m excited, though!  Looking forward to 30 days and seeing how unpuffy I am on day 31.  And making a ton of quilts in the meantime!

Cheers.  (With club soda.)

Time for a Detox!

Was it just two months ago that I swore I would get back to blogging on a regular basis?  How quickly time flies!  It’s been an action packed summer, full of friends, family, pool time, quilting and traveling.  While I have been cautious (for the most part) about avoiding the things that will exasperate my inflammation issues, I will freely admit that I have fallen off the wagon.  I feel it every morning when I limp out of bed.

You see, I’ve got plantar fasciitis in my right heel.  Know the root cause?  Inflammation.  What are the drivers of my inflammation?  Food.  Hmm.  Funny how that works out – if I avoid soy, gluten, dairy and the other triggers, my foot feels great!  Otherwise, I’m limping around until it warms up, and thankfully that doesn’t take too long.

I was able to spend this past week in Chicago, reconnecting with one of my dearest Dallas friends.  I also got a great overnight with one of my closest friends from grad school, Katie!  Such a blessing to get to see her a second time this year, and see how much her baby girl has grown in six short months.  So fun.

Robyn and I met more than a decade ago in the buying offices at Neiman Marcus, and I treasure her friendship more every day!  Robyn earned her Master’s in Education after leaving NM, and headed up to a conference to learn more about using technology in the classroom.  It’s amazing how much the world has changed since I was in elementary school – remember what a big deal it was to get a share of a computer to play Oregon Trail?  Kids now have access to iPads and specialized learning programs.  I’m such a visual learner and I envy them!

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While I didn’t attend the conference, I was able to utilize technology to find great local restaurants for Robyn’s quick lunch breaks and our evening meals in the city.  Thanks, Yelp!  Surely that counts, right?  I don’t know how my Chicago friends stay so slim – healthy food was scarce in Aslip, and portions were enormous.  ENORMOUS!  I indulged in Chicago Dogs, gyros, French friends and even some frozen custard.  Thank goodness we spent our evenings running from L station to L station and exploring Chicago itself.  I was able to hit several 10,000+++ step days and even lost a couple of pounds.

Check out this allergen and full fat food porn:

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The veggie omelet (with bacon I swiped from Katie) was probably the most reasonable thing I had all week, along with the bloody mary.  Look at that garnish!  That leads me to the detox.  What are you guys eating this summer?  It’s so hot in Texas that many of the things I like to eat most just aren’t reasonable.  I’m a big fan of soup, shredded chicken tacos, regular beef tacos, random salads and such, but I’m stuck in a rut.

I follow Whole 30 on Instagram and I see a lot of interesting meals there.  While I don’t technically follow a paleo diet, eating paleo allows me to avoid most of my allergen and trigger foods.  And it’s a lot easier for people to understand since it’s so popular.  Bob from The Biggest Loser said if it didn’t have a momma or didn’t grow from the ground, to keep it out of your mouth.  Good rule of thumb.

Tips?  Tricks?  Favorite recipes?  I’m headed out to do my weekly shopping shortly, and while I plan to pick up the usual chicken sausage, fruits and veggies, I’m happy for those suggestions.

Cheers!

Sunny Skies and Cooking New Things

I have definitely fallen off the blogging wagon! Ack! It’s unfortunate, because I’ve realized over the past month that this (super public) journal really has been helpful in keeping my mind clear and focused, and the support you’ve all given me makes a world of difference.

I’ve been open in past blogs about my struggle with depression, and nothing seems to exasperate that issue for me more than a constantly cloudy sky.  While in the grand scheme of life the rainfall in Texas has caused many more important problems (death, property damage, flooding, etc.) than what lurks my head, it still stinks. I left a beautiful (cloudy) city and dear friends to come home to the love and sunny skies of Texas, so I’m glad to have them back!

I’ll always be thankful that the genetic lottery dealt me a kindness with depression when the paternal side of my biological family struggles with much more, but sheesh. When it rains, it pours, and it’s been flooding in my brain 😉  I’m at my best with a very busy, structured schedule, and I feel like this past year has been anything but.

What helps (besides sun!) is getting back on track with taking care of myself. I finally made an appointment with a therapist and I cooked! Well, not just cooked, but tried something new.

Even though tomatoes are the acidic devil and hell on my tummy (tho okay on my blood,) I almost always have a couple containers of homemade spaghetti sauce in my freezer. I struggled with meal planning this past week, so I figured I would just make some gluten free spaghetti and pass out in a carb coma.

I’ve done that a lot, actually – I think I averaged 2000 steps a day this entire week. Not good. Sitting is the new smoking, you know. I bought the Up by Jawbone and it’s amazing how much time I spend on my ass.  You’d think someone who thrives with a schedule would find success in scheduling a workout, but you’d be wrong.

Any hoot, I made a pit stop at Trader Joe’s after quilt class last week and picked up some zucchini. I ordered a spiralizer a few months from our friends at Amazon, and after a few false starts and more than a couple rounds of moldy and forgotten zucchini, finally put the thing to good use.

It’s awesome! And so good! Look how pretty these suckers are, just cooked lightly in a pan with some olive oil, salt and pepper.


The finished product was delicious, and it’s amazing how much “pasta” a small zucchini yields. I had enough for three servings, and I’m tickled pink with the final result. And yes…that’s a tiny bit of Parmesan sprinkled on the top. I’ve made no secret that I miss dairy the most of all the foods I’ve had to give up. Mmmm, cheese. Delicious cheese.


I have tons of veggies in my sauce, including artichokes, but also lots of grass fed beef. Yummy. BOOOOOOOOOOOOF!  A serving is 306 calories, 28 carbs, 16 g of fat and 18 g of protein.  I would like to bump the protein up a bit, but not sure how to do that without overwhelming the sauce.  I could definitely add something, though, since the calorie count is so low.

I’d like to say I’m going to get back on track with my blog. The intent is there for sure.  Quilting classes are going well, therapy starts today at 4 pm this afternoon, I’ve got a birthday coming up and a best friend visiting, so plenty of things to share and celebrate. Hopefully the gray skies in my head and over the state of Texas can just move along for a while.

Being a Vampire’s GF Ain’t Cheap

You’d think for as much as much blood as I’ve been donating the past couple months, I would start to get some nice dinners, handbags, flowers.  Being a vampire’s girlfriend is so glamorous in the movies.  Sheesh!  All I get is anemia and a bundle of envelopes asking for money?  I swear…

Anyhoot – I’ve been such a blog fail the past few weeks!  Too much going on at once – ramped up marketing campaigns at work, housing madness, shuffling in and out of UT Southwestern’s facilities, etc. etc. etc.  I started this blog as a place to journal about my lifestyle changes, and it’s been cathartic for me to vent about the bad things or share excitement over new quilts, recipes or things I’ve tried.

Most of you following along have seen my frequent flyer status at UT Southwestern.  I’ve been through a zillion labs, two specialists (with one to come) and taken all kinds of tests.  The good news is that the Big Bads were all ruled out – no cancer, no lupus.  The bad news is that my stomach is still a cranky asshole (for no good reason) and my platelet count continues to drop.  And drop.  And drop.  There’s no treatment until I hit a critical place, so the best thing I can do in the meantime is continue my weight loss, take good care of myself, and check back every six weeks for more testing.

At the rate my platelets are dropping, I’ll hit the critical place this year, so I need to be as healthy as I can when I start getting force fed steroids and God knows what else to get my blood in line.  And that’s without knowing what the rheumatologist has in store.

The scary thing is paying for all of this mess.  Well, scary and annoying.  I’ve been squirreling away cash for a new house, so being hit with $2k of lab and hospital bills really stinks.  Sure, I’m happy to have insurance, but let’s be honest – insurance sucks.  Health care is just really expensive no matter which way you cut it.  I dropped down to a lower plan this year because I NEVER go to the doctor, but also because I know I have the financial security to pay up to my deductible.  And lucky me…I already hit the deductible this year.  I’m still a ways from out my out of pocket max, but at least Aetna will pick up 80% of the tab for the next few months before finally committing me to me and going for 100%.  Sheesh.  Worst date ever.

Oh well, such is life my friends.  I’m thankful to be relatively healthy and thankful I can pay for my care.  I know many people aren’t as fortunate as I am!  I was also fortunate to have my momma with me during most of these tests, and she’s been a great sounding board for my freak outs.  Because heaven knows I’ve had them.

More good news – the inspection round for my accepted home offer went well, and I’m just waiting to close!  May 20th is the big day, which also happens to be my Pop’s 65th birthday 🙂  Fingers crossed that the house appraises…one less thing for me to worry about.

  • Health – managed
  • House – in process
  • Quilts – still a go
  • Dating – meh.  Maybe once H & H are done.

Cheers!

Housing Market Madness

I’ve had to take a break from watching my house porn on HGTV – no Property Brothers, Love It or List It, Too (the regular version is hateful, plus Bachelorette Jillian!) nor my beloved Fixer Upper.  It’s just too frustrating to watch, especially Fixer Upper.  Waco is apparently the only place to buy a house in Texas these days, and you can get a good one for $100k and painted shiplap.  #shiplap!

I decided early on that I wanted to head back to a more central location, preferably Richardson, North Dallas or Addison.  You know, somewhere between Tollway, Bush, 75 and 635.  Convenient to work, downtown and my suburb friends.  The suburb friends are a big deal, y’all.  Most of you have gotten married, had beautiful babies and wanted some square footage and a decent school district.  I get it.  I’d like to see you a little more often, and I think being 20 minutes away in Addison will be easier than 45 minutes away downtown.  And hey, I have a pretty good sized budget and that’ll go far for me in the ‘burbs, right???

I didn’t consider all of the companies coming to Dallas, though, and I’m pretty sure I’ll never buy a Toyota product in sheer protest.  It’s gotten OUT OF HAND.  I could have gotten a house in the Seattle suburbs for $300k (ish) and had an hour commute.  Maybe a ten minute commute to Woodinville, and who wouldn’t want to be near so much wine?  Hell, I have an hour commute now and there’s barely a tree or water to be seen.  When did Dallas decide to be as expensive as the rest of the country?  It’s madness.

Anyway, five offers, all over asking (some substantially so), some with letters, some owned by friends of friends and I’ve still gotten beaten out.  Some by cash, and it’s hard to argue with cash, but it still really stinks.  I already know I’ll have at least a month and a half of paying month to month rent, which is BRUTAL.  In good news, it’s apparently been warm enough to use our complex pool for the past two weeks.  I haven’t really been up for it, but Jersey Shore has already started right outside my patio.

I’m kind of at a loss right now, and honestly, I have so much other stuff going on that I would LOVE to just put this behind me.  I’m starting to worry about hospital fees eating into my down payment and remodeling funds, plus work is nutty, and OMG.  I just want a little house, would prefer a pool, so I can spread out a bit.  I’ll have a room for all of my quilting stuff and I can get a dog.  A DOG!

Cheers!