Tuesday, February 20, 2018

 Change Your Weigh: Half-way. 

In the words of one of my classmates who carries some resentment regarding spending the whole day at her day job only to race to the gym and be presented with The Driest Powerpoint on the Planet: I told them they shit is boring. 

(I love that. It applies to so many situations, no?)

And that's not even a fair review of the entire class. Only the part I thought I'd really be digging. The part with the life coaches/nutritionists. I thought I'd be dreading the days with the trainer but nope. Those are the fun ones. Who knew. 

And in fact, it was the trainer, Nicole, who sat me down and explained-I was not expecting this special attention so I was incredible grateful for it-just how it is that she throws down-nutritionally. 
This is called meal prepping and all the cool kids have been doing it fuh-evah.


One of the other sitter-inners of this group-I bumped into her and she said, So. Are you feeling more positive about things? 

Here's me: I'm sorry, ummmwhut? 

Apparently she'd seen me in Nicole's office and assumed that I was there for complaining purposes but that wasn't the case at all. I was collecting magnificent bonus instruction that I never even expected.  

Good Lawd Have Mercy. People people people. 



Now. I have been back to the gym and I made a special point of looking at the stats of the life coaches/nutritionist and they are very highly credentialed so I cannot, for the life of me, figure out why why why why why the Tuesday nights are so dry(I have three theories. One of that they've now broken the class into Change Your Weigh One and Two and maybe CYW-2 is when it Gets Good(?) OR it might be their efforts in trying not to tell you what to eat-I think that's a recent dietary approach(rooted in therapy, right?) to have you come to the information yourself so they just keep repeating that a portion of meat should be the size of a deck of cards for the love of jayzuz the only card-shaped meat I know is Spam-or three-maybe it's the way they set up the room so the participants aren't getting to know each other. It could be something as simple as that but ya know what? I decided it's not my job to repair it. I got bigger decks of cards to fry. 

I've decided to just ride it out till the end and if anyone asks me about it? What can I tell ya, they shit is boring. 
-----

Some Things I Learned Thus Far

I'm tracking my food with myfitnesspal but what's been a much more gigantic eye-opener-and-a-half is my fitness pal's recipe calculator and you can find that online. Fer free!

And a huge gift I gave to myself was this: There's a healthy food vlogger who-just the other day put out a video for these supremely healthy chocolate chip cookies, right? And here's me taking all this time writing down all these weird and exotic ingredients like 'teff', thinking maybe teff will save my cookie grubbing soul. 

Yeah well. I calculated the entire recipe and just one of these teff cookies? Was something like 250 calories. And the girl in the video is talking about how she might eat 3 or 4 or 5...which would lead you to believe that because they're ever so healthy that'd be okay, right? Yeahnope. 

And as it turns out? I found a cookie that was so good? I. Could. Actually. Have. A. Half and be totally cool. And you'll never guess where that cookie lives. 

1/2 McDonalds Oatmeal Raisin-77 calories-Yum

I know. 

And the super-sized girl at the McDonalds who served us the first Oatmeal Raisin cookie we broke in two? Said 'That's why I can't lose weight. I don't have a buddy.' Well, she was wrong. You can eat a half all by yourself and be perfectly fine. 

Hallelujah.

------


Here's another timely tip. This very morning I had to go for a complete ultrasound of my abdominal area, right? Woo. Fun. Okay so, you can't eat for eight hours before that but I am such a frequent flyer of all these rituals that I did my 8 hours while I was asleep and after the test, I was at the hospital and I wuz hungry. 

I asked the Ultrasound Tech for advice. I mean who knows better about healthy choices on the Einstein Bagel menu than a thin person who works 200 feet away from it, right? She had a recommendation and it really made me laugh for me to be at a bagel store eating this:

Greek Yogurt Parfait-270 calories-Einstein Bagels

Ya know what? It was deeeeeeeeelicious. Yay.

-------

This Person and I Share the Same Spirit Animal




There is a young man at work who is on the spectrum and he's also Very Hungry. One day someone had brought in a bag of pretzel rods and you know, I saw them and I was thinking about them for a long time(Oh ya know, three hours or so) and I decided I was going to have one. (I'm sorry I can't actually cure cancer or something equally important right now because thinking about food consumes me lately. We've covered that.) 

I get to the back of the office and I see my spirit animal friend, looking forlornly into the trash where the empty bag sat. He even checked it to be sure. 

Another day, I found him licking his finger and trying to capture some stray pink cookie crumbs because that's all that was left after the weekend. 

He and I are one. 

----------



I read that when David Sedaris is on the treadmill, he too watches My 600+ Pound Life. (He also picks up bags of litter like P so you know, we're very Sedarissy around here.) I cannot watch the surgery part and I'm really not interested in seeing the participants in the shower but the family dynamics are something to see and you've never see pizza appreciation like that. 
-----

I have more to say and too much to do but I'll leave you with this secret message I got on my phone. 



Let's get on that, shall we? 


Friday, February 2, 2018

Valentine's Cookies of Luv
(If somebody makes these for you-including yourself-it means they want you to stick around for a long, long time. Isn't it romantic?)

(aka: Nicole's Protein Banana Cookies)


3 bananas smashed with a fork
1.5 cups Quick Oats
3 scoops vanilla protein powder*
2 tablespoons peanut butter
1 handful mini chocolate chips
(Optional) some cancer-murdering walnuts chopped
(Optional) some cancer-demolishing dried cranberries

Make any amount or shapes.
Bake at 350 for 15-18 minutes.

"Great for breakfast, pre- or post-workout 
or midday snack."says Nicole. 

"I better get these in the freezer before 
I eat any more of them." says Me. 



"Okay. Just one bite." Grantley.

------------

So, my latest doctor was recognized in Chicago Magazine and I was thinking I might get some of those 3 bunches for 12 carnations from the Jewel-just for entertainment purposes, right? Cancer centers are way less fun than you might imagine and come on, the man deserves some recognition, no?

Well, P was having none of that. 

Yeahwell, I said. I might get him a card or something. Like one of the ones that plays music or something. Loud. 

No no no no no said the Demolisher of Fun. And then, ya know, I kindaaaaaa thought about it and, this was actually only my second visit with this fellow and we had really had a crappy experience with his predecessor-The Blood Lady, so, hmmmaybe it was a little too soon for jocularity.  Maybe I'd send one after. 

Humpf. 

So, I'm over there at Loyola Thursday night in the parking lot next to the gym on my way down the stairs to get to Change Your Weigh and who do I bump into? Yeah, the doctor! I know. Crazy, right? And I immediately metamorphasize into my actual sainted Mother and I say, Hello Doctor  ____, I'm Ann. I have an appointment with you tomorrow!

And he's probably just trying to get himself out of that place at the end of a very long day but he was extremely kind and I said, Hey. Congratulations on getting into that magazine! Super cool. 

And he says: Oh. 
                     Pay. No. Mind. 
                     To. That.

But on his face-nearly from ear to ear-was the widest smile I've seen in a very long time.

------

Today was our second appointment. He came in and he said, he liked everyone he meets who takes the stairs. 

--------


*EAS. The label is purple and you can find it anywhere. It is not necessary to drive to 5 different stores to find it cheaper unless you are me. The Jewel had the best price. 






Sunday, January 28, 2018

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Saturday, January 13, 2018




Way way way way a long time ago when we had to see the Scariest Doctor of All-he was very much like the Great and Powerful Oz. You had to see him on your way out the cancer door. The question was, was he going to let you out? Or make you do some sorta chemo thing or what? It was terrifying and it only lasted about 7 minutes. 

When we heard we could leave the cancer center that day? I believe the phrase 'haul ass' would be wildly appropriate but there was One Thing because there's always at least One Thing, right? "Lose some weight." he said. And I was all like, yeahokaybye. Emphasis on the bye. 

And I am sure I thought about it a lot and I am sure I tried 101 different things and different cookbooks and different approaches. I work at a library. Cookbooks pass me on the hour. How many calories did I burn carrying those books back and forth?

Yeah well. 

And then the next doctor-the blood lady-told us that a person's weight had no bearing on the outcome of all of that business, so it wasn't even an official thing anymore. I did do(thank goodness)the Cancer to 5K thing and that put me in motion and Kristin removed my fear of treadmill and for the past ten weeks, with the exception of 2 hard-core work days and one day off for someone's birthday, I've been to the gym every day. 

This is my chart. It lives on the back of the front door. 

Did you get that? Every DAY. 

And what came at the hugest shock to me? Was that nobody was standing in my way. And believe me I looked everywhere. I went at all hours-like even right after an ass-kicking work day. I found my treadmill, I turned on the teevee and off I clomped. 

(It has to be said that P provided unwavering support and went way above and beyond with Grantley care.) 

I even started a most hilarious thing for myself where I make myself say hello to everyone I meet on the sidewalk on the way in to the gym purely for my own amusement. (Guess what? If they're not wearing headphones? They say hi back.) I still look up every day at the Loyola Campus and thank my lucky stars to be on the gym side as opposed to the hospital side. 
----

A long time ago, I had heard from these two women in the pool who were doing a gym program called Change Your Weigh that what they learned from the class was that they had Not Been Eating Enough

Whaaaaaaaaa?  

So yeah, I was the first one signed up. Or maybe the second. Who cares. It was 140 dollars-I think. For that you get two nights a week-one hour with the dietician/life coaches and the next night-an hour with the trainer and it runs for 10 weeks. All the staff involved-and I think there are like 7 people-are dressed in black so I think of them as the Weight Loss Ninjas. 


The 8 class members and the 7 ninjas just started-more or less. You had to go in for an individual assessment and you got to breathe into this super cool contraption that told you how many calories you burn in a 24 hour period just by being alive and that number determined how many calories you get to have everyday. 

Everyone's number is different. 

We're tracking our food on My Fitness Pal which I thought would be exceptionally annoying but it's actually really useful so I can determine when a 100 calorie Milky Way Bar might be appropriate (or not-duh). And then, like out of nowhere, the home delivered fruit and vegetable boxes arrived in our universe and then my co-worker Stephanie told me about this spaghetti squash recipe that was amazing and then all of these quacklie ducks started lining up in a row. 

A most amazing thing.

So now I'm going around being outraged that I purposely stopped at the gym to eat one of their official Change Your Weigh salads, right? And I'm all chomping away and just as I was finished, I turn over the plastic container of salad dressing that I selected to check the numbers and HOLY MUTHA OF JAYZUZ, I picked one that had 200 calories in it. 

That is two 100 calorie Milky Way bars or probably something like 9000 slices of cucumber with this guacamole, right? So I'm learning. And that is a glorious thing indeed. 














Saturday, January 6, 2018

For Christmas, I've been telling everyone, we cleaned the bathroom. People look at you strangely like, what are you, some sorta baboon? But the truth is, this factory runs 24 hours a day and there hasn't been that kind of time where you can take a rag and some vinegar and water and go tile-to-tile in the shower. We're just always running. 

Best part was getting to this:




And then actually getting rid of it. Oh. What a feeling. 
No chance of Opioid addiction in this house. We'd never finish the bottle. It's just not how we roll. 

-------

I called Loyola and it was after 5:30 so I was crossing my fingers I'd get through. 

I'd like to make an appointment with Primary Care. 

Okay, she said, that's not a problem. What's the reason for your visit? 

Tired, I said. 

Long pause. 

I bet you have that too. 

She cracked up. Fatigued? 

Exactly. Super fatigued. And I just want to know if that's normal er whut. 

That's not a problem. It's also time for your physical. Would you like to make an appointment for that so you can get some blood work too? 

Sure. That'd be great. What's your name again?

Jaquitta(pronounced Jah-quee-tah). 

You are great Jaquitta. Thanks for that. 

You can hear a smile go through the phone lines. I don't care what anyone says. 

-------

There had been a crisis of sorts. Where all the follow-ups (and there were three plus my social media final)landed in the same week which was a gigantic mistake but it just turned out that way. I was-all of a sudden-running on a different octane fuel or in a different gear or something where I was just about jumping out of my skin. 

Very much not like me but there it was. 

I could hear it in my voice when I'd speak to a doctor. Sort of like having a rubber band wrapped around your larynx. 

I asked for assistance. All of it. I think I frightened my Imerman's Angel lady with my 7 paragraph e-mail. Guess what. I don't care. I need information. 

Then I was on Facebook scrolling along and I bumped into nothingsgonnastopme.com that's written by my esteemed colleague Erica. I met her doing improv at Gilda's and then again at the Cancer to 5k and here, deep within her post were some extremely useful words. 

"Two years later, I continue to visit my oncologist every three months in the hopes of identifying any recurrence early."

Hmmm, thought me. That's so much healthier than my strategy of: I continue to visit my physicians in hopes of regularly frightening the shit out of myself. 

Right?

-----

One strategy is mindfulness. So I am practicing practicing mindfulness. Ya know what? I love it. I had no idea. 







Sunday, December 10, 2017

What can I do, I ask, to cheer myself up?

Are you feeling blue? asks P.

Worse. I'm feeling purple.

Go watch the cooking show. Here he's indicating that he has good listening skills. I told him the thing that's getting me through(currently)is the treadmill and this Holiday Baking Extravaganza on the food network. 

I don't get to see creativity in action anymore which is a huge and gigantic bummer and these bakers got it going on in a way I could never imagine. 

I visit the treadmill everyday. The idea is not to kill yourself-which is a radical concept for me-gym~wise, but I have a certain preferred treadmill spot where I can watch two teevees at a time AND watch medical people pass by. 

Guess who I saw the other day? I asked P. 

I dunno. 

Guess.

Was it a surgeon? 

Uh huh.

Which one?

You're supposed to guess. 

The one that just stared at you?

Pink shirt? Nope. Guess again.

I don't know. There were too many.

The hernia guy! 

Oh yeah? He was good. We liked him. 

Yeah. I saw him but he didn't see me. Probably on purpose. I did see The Blood Lady a few weeks ago and I heard her nervous cough. I know she saw me but she looked away. She should look away. That a-hole.
---------

Here's the situation: Into each former cancer patient's life-I'm imagining-comes something called 'follow-up' and ever since I qualified as 'intriguing', the stakes have become uncomfortably high. 

The last two weeks, on top of regular life jibber-jabber-oh ya know like the heat not really coming on properly so you wake up at 2:30 in the AM and your pillow is ice cold, to-oh ya know, just plain old vanilla life-stuff, you have to go through all kinds of medical testing. 

My Mother, maythelordhavemercyonhersoul, were she here, would say to me, Can you just not dwell on it? She was an expert on the unnecessary depth of the dwell gauge of her offspring which worked for her but for me? Not so much.

And the answer is, well, I can try not to think about the ramifications of this every-three-months-cancer-testing, but every time I'd open my arm, I'd be treated to the sight of a blue and yellow bruise from Blood test 1. 

When I returned for Blood test 2, I asked one of the blood draw-ers in the cancer center why they always inquired if a Band-aid was okay. She said it's because people getting certain types of chemo-if they apply a regular Band-aid, it rips their skin right off. Oh, said me. I didn't know. I thought the pink tape that sticks to itself was just that much cooler. 

When I pulled off my Band-aid off from Blood test 2, I had a reddish purple bruise in the shape of the Band-aid. I couldn't ignore it. It was with me all week.

Thank goodness the cold weather brought sleeves. 

So. This week? Everyone's voices seemed louder. They seemed like they were complaining about the stupidest of stuff and manufacturing mountains out of the most moronic mush. I couldn't speak with people who were celebrating extreme good news and I couldn't speak with anyone who was experiencing extreme bad stuff because my entire goal was to try and maintain stability for myself. 

Easier said than done.

My Fairy God Friend threaten to smack me in the head if I continued to try and trivialize the trauma of these weeks of cancer testing. It's embarrassing to me, you know, to appear so weak this late in the game. 

So, I did go to the treadmill and I secretly raced the oblivious woman who was walking next to me and while I was watching two different teevee shows at the very same time, I kicked her ass into Northern New Jersey and she didn't even know I was spying on her treadmill dashboard. Watch out for me. I'm sneaky that way. 

I made it to the Jewel where I saw Carlisa. Carlisa is running the entire joint except she does that from the perspective of collecting the carts and bagging the groceries. 'How you doin'?', she asked and she looked into my 'trying extremely hard just to hold it together' eyes. 

You need to buy yourself some flowers. Right over there. 

I got a bunch of sort of neon fuchsia mini-carnations, because Carlisa knows many things that I do not currently understand.  

---------







Sunday, November 26, 2017

A Play in Two Acts

I was talking on the phone with a good friend I hadn't spoke to in ages and ages and ages and you can tell that because I don't really chat on the phone anymore. I used to be really good at that.

Anyway, times are very difficult for artist-types and so, she was telling me all the crappy things that had happened to her recently, and after every lament, she'd say,: Hey. At least it's not cancer, right?



Unmercifully (for both of us) it continued. 
Blah blah blah blah blah, Hey. At least it's not cancer

Right?




One more time. 
Dah dah dah dahhhhhhh. At least it's not cancer
Right?


So, she asks, how are things with you? 




----------------


ACT 2


---------------



I went to a friend's craft faire. I have no official budget for craft items at this time, but I have a mad passion for touching yarn and seeing the colors and the artisan, in this case, is Really Outstanding. I had some dollars in my wallet-just in case. 

The friend is speaking to another acquaintance and upon seeing me, she attempts a flattering introduction. Ann, she says, just did her first 5K. Oh yeah no, I say. That wasn't my first. 


Big blank air space. 


Craptastic. 

I've ruined my flattering introduction. 

So I say, wellllllll, it was the first since all of this. And here-with the wave of my hand-I indicate the area between my neck and my knees. Just in case. 

The artisan says something about how I provided her with some inspiration and now I'm actually feeling-all of a sudden-sick to my stomach-like I am going to heave and bawl at the very same time. And I am not a heavebawler. Generally speaking. 




Now, I'm not tryin' to be like, whatever(as my friend Alice used to say)but my efforts on the race route were nothing to write home about. I didn't run the really hard part and I am not of the generation who expects to get a medal for trying, so,while I am most grateful to have participated-and I am-I feel like maybe we should all go ahead and talk about something else.  
Right?


The artisan explains to the lady that I'd had some Health Challenges and that every time it seemed like it was going to be over, there was another


(and here she paused)




complication. 


Uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh, says me. All true. 
So the woman turns to me and says, 

Well. You're here now, aren't you?




The End. 

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