Thursday, April 19, 2018

I don't know what day it was that I went to get my taxes done.  Last year I did them myself and I screwed them up and I had to pay and ugh, ya know? P recommended his lady at H&R Block because if I went to her-he'd get some sort of $25 gift card thing and I put it off as long as I possibly could and finally-because I had to show my tax forms for something totally unrelated-I made an appointment. 

This is a place that we had to pass about 500 times on the way to Loyola(Imagine I drove myself to surgery. That is so badass-now that I think about it.) so I knew where it was and I got there and I think I had to wait and this woman comes out and I think, umm okay. I wonder what it was about this particular woman because I'm just not seeing it. 

She was very overweight, grey hair, limping(or 'vaulting' as we call it in massage town) and she had on a blouse with an autumnal pattern of leaves and this was the beginning of Spring. I just didn't get it but whatever, right? It had to be done. 

So we begin the tax dance and I hand her my stuff and-I had never been to H&R Block before so I don't know if this is 100% normal, but she starts grilling me about receipts. 

Did I not have one for ________? That was the game.

Do you not have any purchases for massage? Not a new table? Not new equipment? Not lotions? Not sheets? Not a new massage chair? Not anything? Are you sure? Are you completely sure? Shaking her head. Shaking her head. Shaking her head. 

And then we went into personal expenses. Do you not have any receipts for a new computer? Or a new phone? Or a new car? Or prescriptions? Or new glasses? Or dental work? Or how about ___ or how about ____ ? What about this? What about that? Frown frown frown. 

This was relentless and she was judgmental. It was crazy uncomfortable. 


I said: Hey. Look. I am dealing with issues of cancer. Financially, the brakes have been on for several years. There are no receipts. There have been no purchases. Stop asking.

For fuck sake. 

We got-at some point-to my birthdate and she smiles because she is something like three years younger than I and I'm thinkin' holee shit. Do I look like that? 

And it gets to quittin' time-mercifully-and it turns out that P isn't going to get his $25 because it's going to be cheaper for me to take the first time customer special of something like 150 bucks(That's not accurate but it was a whole lot of money)as opposed to the 300 I was supposed to be charged(Umm WHUT?!?!) and I end up having to come back another time and she leaves me waiting while she asks some other dude a string of horrendous personal questions that I am overhearing out of her cubicle and I get the Customer Satisfaction Survey where they ask me the likelihood of my return and if there was a button that said 'When hell freezes over' that's what I would have pushed. 

(Later I found out that her day job was a parole officer. A professional quizmaster. Lucky me.)


Last Friday, I was flying. 

No kidding. I even drew myself a picture-this was such an astounding event. 

If you know me in my second Chicagoland lifetime, you might know what scares me. Yeah. The dentist. Having not been for a year or two, on top of many many other frightening things-I knew I had to go but it took almost all I had-to get myself there. 

My strategy for that day was to completely immerse myself in self-care. It was like a blizzard of taking care of myself so that when I finally arrived in the dental chair? I was at a level of such maximum chill that I couldn't even believe it myself. 

The entire dentists office was so delightfully charming to me-really. When I walked in? About five different women all looked at me and smiled encouragingly. It made me laugh-they were so nice. 

So as you can imagine, where I left there having had a successful cleaning? I was euphoric. 

So there I am, in the canned food section of The Jewel. This was my planned prize payoff event for whatever was going to happen at the dentist. 

I am hunting for the appropriate size can of corn that we scored in the latest episode of Jewel Monopoly and I don't have my glasses so, I'm having a bit of a struggle but it's okay because I'm so so so happy with myself it's a kind of a glorious thing. 

A woman I know approaches and plants her feet in front of my cart. I look up and she says, So. 

What color is your hair supposed to be?

My brain goes into slow motion because I never expect something like that. In a million zillion years, under what circumstances would that comment be appropriate because I'm not finding it. I sputter out something like, uhhhwhat color is YOUR hair supposed to be? As if me saying it to her is going to illuminate the crazy inappropriateness of uninvited commentary on another person's appearance cuz you know that went nowhere fast. 

I remember asking my Mom to buy me How Chicks Are Born which-for all this time-I thought was called How Chickens Are Born and I am sure-because I asked for it-I must have read it like 10 thousand times and I can't even explain the fascination except to say it rears it's head again today only in title because from both these stupid, unnecessary, rude experiences(and I know for sure they're not the worst things people have ever said)I-with the help of some magical people-will be announcing the creation of a new business that I believe will contribute to the cure of a certain cancer. 

I'm gonna need your help. There's a lot of pieces to put together. 

Please stand by. 

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Reindeer Games

There are only two ways to live your life. 
One is as though nothing is a miracle.
The other is as though everything is a miracle. 
-Albert Einstein

Inside most every larger person I know, there lives a giant pack of emotional firecrackers just waiting for some fool to drop a match in the wrong direction. ka-BOOM. I had a friend who was so psyched to be getting ready for a U2 concert, and two of her people decided it was also going to be The Day that they Informed Her that she had a Significant Weight Problem and Needed To Do Something About It/Okay now that that's out of the way, let's go check out what's up with the Edge, shall we? 

Well. It destroyed her. What did they think was going to happen? 

So ya go around-if ya go around a bit larger-internally combustable and maybe just a little bit bruised like a peach. That's just how it is. It never stops you from functioning. Perish the thought. The larger ones-they function on a very high level-as far as I can tell. 

And I've been thinking about this-because I've been thinking about that question of what's your biggest weakness? When I was a kid, Glamour Magazine advised women to say 'chocolate' and because I am a crazy paragraph chomping reader, I actually used that answer on a job interview and scored the gig. It amazes me still. 

(For the record-I never got to rock the blouse with the floppy bow. Sad Trombone.)

I think, one of my most gigantic weaknesses is that I get too excited. Like when I do social media? When I know I have something spectacular-I press "publish" like I'm a contestant on the Price Is Right. 


When I got called into the personal trainers office, I got way too excited. I didn't think about what it might mean from her end. My head went directly to: Hmm what in the entire anatomical universe could I ask her? Like I had won the Personal Trainer Showcase Showdown or something even better. 

Long story short. In that same room, were two smiling 12- year-old-looking interns who, of course, appeared to think they Knew Everything. And so, because I had pre-decided I really needed to Ask For Help, I revealed the one thing I was really struggling with and that is this: ever since all these abdominal surgeries? I have a Real Problem getting up and down off the floor. 

A real problem. 

I'm like a baby giraffe just crashing out of the womb. It takes me for-f'ing-ever and if I had time to see myself I am sure I look like a totally and complete oafcake but I don't have time because by the time I am actually up offa the floor and able to look around? Everyone is way-way-way on to the next thing and I pull my head up bewildered like an f'ing maroon.(You think I exaggerate? Are you me?) I just wanted to keep up with the other reindeer. Was that too much to ask? 

The trainers asked me to demonstrate. It. was. horrendous. They charitably said things sweetly like: it's okay. Take your time. 

As if I had a choice. 

And the conversation went like: Hmmm after your surgeries, you didn't have any physical therapy? And I'm like Phfffffttttt. Listen children, they feed you the most hideous gack right out of colon surgery, how could a person even think about the idea of physical therapy. And because this one trainer thought I might just have the same sort of abdominal weakness found in women who've experienced multiple pregnancies-Diastasic Recti-all of a sudden my fantasy appointment began to turn into a soft sell of a three pack of personal training. 


I felt so wounded. 

Eventually, I escaped but I was still sputtering about the indignity of clawing myself up and off the floor for several days. Maybe a week.(At a very low level, of course. I have other smoked salmon to not fry. So to speak.) But, man. I felt so Post U2 interventionalized, ya know? 

This is how we eat smoked salmon. So fancy, huh? 

Well. What happened next was nothing short of a miracle. After I got over myself, I unpacked it-as the cool kids say and I remembered the Very First Question was about Physical Therapy and did I have any, and the answer was: I never asked. I didn't even know that I could. (and that was a tiny theme in the recent Cancer and Careers seminar. The only question sure to be never answered in the affirmative is the one that never gets asked.)

So I did. 

And guess what? At the end of my third Physical Therapy session this past Friday? When I, once again, got my nerve up to reveal my turtle on it's back approach to getting up off the gym floor? It was met-not with a sale pitch or an incorrect diagnosis but with a simple: Stay right here.  

And Courtney returned with a foam rectangle to kneel on and she demonstrated for me, what shall be known for all of eternity as The Floor Dismount. 

And here, because maybe somebody else is struggling with the very same shit, is my 2-second artists rendering because I never want to forget those tiny droplets of liquid joy that collected in the corners of my eyes, when I stood right up and breathed. 

(Come back tomorrow. I'm working on a better drawing.)

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Whenever I'm considering eating something terrifically wicked-I dunno, like some sort of McDonalds catastrophe or like one of those church pancake breakfasts we go to in Forest Park-actually next weekend is another one of our beloved Spaghetti Dinners in the basement of St. Bernadine's church where you get a styrofoam plate full of spaghetti with your choice of marinara, meatball or garlic-a chunk of garlic bread, a paper bowl of salad, lemonade or coffee and a visit to the dessert table for something like six bucks. (You go to Autre Monde. We go there. Funny how it all works out fine.)

Anyway, whenever I'm approaching such a festival of foodstuffs, I am always-ALWAYS-previsited by a cloud person. 

A cloud person is someone who is extremely large and they never fail to pass right in front of me on my way to Big Guys Sausage Stand or what have you and that is Not To Say that I don't serve as a cloud person to someone else. I suspect that I absolutely do. 


I counted and I think I've seen 22 doctors. TWENTY TWO. That doesn't even include Pink Shirt. If I haven't been exactly here for you? It's because I've been there for me. You understand. 


Behold! I will demonstrate the depths of my dumbness. In my head, I thought smoothies were the fruity milkshakes of the devil.(Also I worry about the destruction of the fiber.) I did. I thought they had to be something like-I dunno-400 calories? Heh heh heh. So wrong so wrong so wrong. They were having a special at the gym-Tropical Green Detox for $3.50. And okay let's not forget about my cheapness genes. I'm always kinda like, hey if you can make it home(and you know that you can) you can have something way cheaper because $3.50 a day is a thing and I cannot afford another thing, right?

Yeah well. I asked. And these particular smoothies are only 139 calories. Imagine that. I almost completely missed the delicious monthly special from my own imaginary bad information. 

On the other side of the coin. Have you been to the bakery section of Whole Foods? All the stuff? Big black calorie counts and they are Not Pretty. I had no idea. 

The teeniest cookies were racking up numbers in the 200s. And a brownie? FIVE HUNDRED. That is just under half my entire caloric day. In what-six bites? That is so not happening no 'mo. 


Who Am I Anyway?

I went to that Cancer and Careers thing-it was really good but an EXTREMELY long sit with 50 jillion words floating through your ears so I haven't revisited the info yet but I will! So it was lunch time and I SHOCKED myself by picking this. 

And do you see what's missing in this container? Of course you don't. I didn't either until I saw what everyone else picked out and I realized they inserted 'fresh fruit' where the cookie might have lived. 


I picked that? 


And then, my friend for the day offered me her cookies? And they had pink sprinkles on them? 



I don't know myself anymore.


I said I'd share some recipes. This one is so cool. 

Adapted from the EatingWell Diet Cookbook. Page 139. 
115 calories per serving

Zucchini and Cheddar Soup

One box of reduced-sodium chicken broth (4 cups)

3 medium zucchini cut into circles

3/4th of a cup of shredded cheddar cheese 

Salt/pepper to taste. 

Put broth and zucchini in a medium saucepan/bring to boil over high heat/reduce to simmer and cook uncovered 7-10 minutes. Puree in a blender until smooth. Return to heat, stir in cheese. Season. Eat. 

I'm not saying everyone liked it? But everyone liked it. 

Thursday, March 22, 2018

I'm going to change your life but I don't have a lotta time because there's a lot going on and I gotta take a nap, but that is neither here nor there-is it? No. Okay so. 

Have you tried this stuff? 

One dollar ninety-nine cents a can(!)and it tastes like holy hell. You heard me. Holy. Hell. 

AND, it has sodium in it and I don't know where you stand on the recent 'salt is bad' developments, but if you had the choice-and you do-you wouldn't add it in where you didn't really require it, right? 

No, you would not. You're a person of superior intellect. This is not something you'd do. 


One fine day about two weeks ago, I was trapped indoors digging through the mountains of stuff that I call my desk. That's right. Tax season. Fun, fun+fun. I was tempted to go stare at the inside of my fridge for the thousandth time, when I remember that I had been instructed-in times of frustration to: Go For A Walk. 

So I did. 

I did not have a plan, but I brought my wallet because I thought maybe I'd pass Starbucks and maybe I'd want to..oh who am I kidding. I never go to Starbucks. I don't have the budget. But anyway, off I went and I rounded the corner of Oak Park Avenue and Lake Street and I remembered that Chris-a Facebook amigo-had been patiently answering my sad Facebook pleas for popcorn toppings with the offer of butter flavored olive oil, sold-where she works-at a place called Olive and Well. And that day, I decided, was the day. 

So I go in, and guess who was working? Yeah, that's right, Chris-who doesn't know it, but she's about to actually Change My Life-and she lets me sample the butter flavored oil and I buy some and then she starts in with her particular brand of  wizardry-I'm not kidding-and she starts passing me tiny sips of different flavored balsamic vinegar. 

And I am like: 

And I ask, can you drink this stuff? And she says, sure. Some  people add it to sparkling water and I am like:

Because I realize that I am about to become one of those people. 

So yeah yeah yeah you all know all about balsamic vinegars on salad, right?

This is the Espresso one on arugula and spinach with my new friend Shaved Parm and some blueberries. No big thang except that it's pretty and it was part of my lunch which is somewhat shocking all by itself. 

But this:

This is Schweppes sparkling water with a good splash of Cranberry Pear Balsamic Vinegar and

Go see Chris at Olive and Well and taste the wizardry of her concoctions. 

You're welcome. 

Friday, March 16, 2018

Good News

The good news is that the worst ever, embarrassingly mortifying gym class* of tortuous nightmares is now in the rear view mirror. 


It happened last week-a Friday-at 6:00 on the main floor of the gym(which I realize is all the more daunting because if you escape? Everybody can watch.)and do not think I went into it without massive trepidation. I was trepidating all over the place but this class, I did without Chris holding my quivering palm(figuratively speaking cuz that'd be sweaty)and it was A)The end of the day and B)The end of the week and had I known what I was going to encounter, I might have simply sampled the circuit class earlier in the day but nope. Like a lamb, I did what I had been advised to do upon sampling a new class and that is, get there a little early and introduce myself to the instructor which is exactly what I did. 

Hey Hi, sez me. I'm Very New At This. I've had 3 surgeries in the last two-ish years-here I dramatically indicate the area of Hernia #1 and Hernia #2  with a flourish straight up my center-not unlike Carol Merrill on Let's Make a Deal with the refrain: And cancer, cancer, cancer. Then smile warmly because I don't wanna frighten anyone. Right?

So, sez me. I'm gonna need some modifications. 

Okay? Okay. Okay? Okay. Okay. 

And then you kinda stand around and watch the other people arrive and of course you're sizing them up and of course there's one girl that's a friggin' ballerina they brought in to teach a barre class and I am not even kidding so yeah, huh? There's me. 


How does it go? Well, how badly can a class go? You have to line up with a designated partner who could kick your ass to Northern New Jersey and the trainer calls out Your Worst Nightmare in terms of an exercise(I dunno, something in a couple of dozen burpees perhaps?)and it's all Ready Set Go and you already know you can't. 

Where does that fall on the fun scale? 


A modification is when you raise your hand and ask the trainer to cut you some slack. The best trainers-so far-they wiggle on over to you and demonstrate a sample and you can say, okay. And what if I can't do that? What else can I do? And they show you something else. And your presence in the universe doesn't shout out 'special needs', you just keep on hopping and jumping like everybody else and all is exceptionally swell. 

When it goes bad-and last Friday it did-the modifications were just as(if not more) impossible as the originals. 

It's like this. Say everybody is going to do something called: Kangaroo Leaps. They're going to leap over a small building and land on the other side. It's extremely difficult but they got this-as they say-because this is what they do and they have since fifth grade cuz they had that whole Title Nine thing going on. (We had blue gym suits whose snaps flew open  willy-nilly but you know, whatever.)

Now you're me. Kangaroo Leaps. You know you do not currently possess the musculature that's even going to get you close to the windowsill of the small building, so you raise your hand, smile bravely and ask for a modification. 

The trainer looks at you, frowns and says, okay. You can just scale up the wall of the building on your belly, then pull yourself across the barbed wire and then crash land on your wrists on the other side. 

Let's say you possess the bravery to tell him that you can't do  that either. NFW. Not because you're unwilling to try, it's just not gonna happen today. 

His next suggestion is for you to simply stand on your right foot and then the left and while you're engaged in this mortifyingly lame excuse for an exercise? He's gonna be shouting out: Way to go Ann. Good job. Clap clap clap. 



This week was the last official Tuesday and Thursday of Change Your Weigh and I'm ready to be done cuz I got things to do. I think I learned a whole lotta stuff but not from who I thought I would. Did you ever notice the best information never happens during a meeting? It goes on in the parking lot afterwards, no? 

It was the trainer who showed me what to eat and where to shop. I went to a couple of bonus nutrition classes and I got to sit with a nutritionist all by myself and that assisted me in the grasping of the nutrition concepts. One of the interns explained to me why weight lifting was a good thing so I guess the lesson in all of it-is something having to do with just showing up. 

When we got to the end of the night that they focussed on snacking-I realized that if you accept the idea of adding up calories-then ANYTHING could be a snack as long as the numbers were good. No mysteries there.

And last night, we re-did the 1-mile walk we had done at the beginning. I think there were 5 people missing since the program began and one person didn't participate because she forgot her asthma puffer, but I am happy to report that of the 5 people that did do it last night, I came in second. 

I went as fast fast fast as I could and met my own personal goal of getting in front of the woman with the largest excuses that came in last. 

After in the locker room, one of the ladies said she thought I was 'inspirational'. Which-in polite society-is another term for badass and that's okay with me. 

*So, tonight? I'm going back to try again. 

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Somewhere between this, 

(who says I'm not making art?)

and this, 

I thought to myself, whoa. 
Who's cart is this

That's not a potted plant. That's KALE for God sakes. 

But then there was this*. 

And I thought okay, yeah. Phew. 

*this is not my photograph. 
I ate mine so fast that the poor
 thing didn't have a chance, however I did get a small and I did pre-log it so I knew exactly what I was getting into and it was 
Worth. It. 
(also I got an Original Rainbow Cone t-shirt. #winning)

Food Things I Know That I Can Share At This Moment

And before I say anything, you should know that I am completely open to suggestions. If I can do something better, I'm all over it. Please/thank you in advance er whadever. Except for smoothie recipes. For the love of Pete, do not begin reciting your smoothie recipe in my face. I want my colon to experience every spinach frond and celery string available. Remember how this blog started? Yeah. Colon cancer. Yay roughage.  Nuff said. 

I've logged every morsel on for exactly 60 days now. I thought that would be hard. It was actually kinda fun-because-at the end of the day you might have some spares and you get to spend them(green olives and cherry tomatoes anyone?) which is entertaining. Not like I wasn't on my phone anyway, right? 

For breakfast, I eat plain old Cheerios.(I did pick the box with Ellen on it because that's the sort of person I am.)  I know, I could be handcrafting overnight oats and I'm not saying I won't(I just saw a recipe for German Chocolate Overnight Oats. Hmmmm.)but I measure my Cheerios and if I have them, I put some blueberries on top. We were eating those Ancient Grains Cheerios but they are almost 5 bucks a box and I'm cool with the regular ones at the moment. With coconut milk because I like it. 

Sometimes if I'm feeling extra hungry, I peel a banana and cut it in half and then spilt it like a sandwich and I put a teaspoon of peanut butter on it. P eats the other half. No big thang. 

Lunch. I learned this from Super Trainer to The Stars-Nicole Capone Brainerd at Loyola Center for Fitness

It's called Food Prep and it is not for the overachievers among us. 

Bottom view. 1/3 cup of quinoa, 1/3 pack pre-grilled, pre-cut, prepared chicken(because on Sunday night there's no way I'm going to spend my precious time pushing chicken around a pan) from Aldi, couple of decorative black olives, butter lettuce because I like it and some spinach leaves. Done. You make a bunch of these on Sunday(just kerplunk the stuff in the dollar store tupperware) and what you'll be having for lunch is already figured out. 

Today, I added some cucumbers and usually, at the last minute before I leave the house, I add some tomatoes because refrigerated tomatoes are gross and a teeny teeny bit of French Picnic Salt, eventho we just learned that salt is an inflammatory which earns you a frowny face.

Okay this stuff:

Accidental family portrait. 

I found out about this stuff from Marilyn who should be a postergal for Weight Watchers. It's known as 'Triple Zero' yogurt because it has 15 g's of protein and no fat and no artificial sweeteners and no added sugars. 

Marilyn adds in some almonds. I do too. Raw ones. Like 8 of them. Those babies add up. 

So far, I like the Salted Caramel one the best. I got way too excited about the chocolate one because that is my life at the moment. ha ha ha. 

The food group known as Cookies

I learned about these from Chris at the gym and now I have a Serious Problem keeping them in stock. She says I will tire of them. She just met me. ha ha ha. 

They are from Aldi(ya know, I just realized the most important joy of Aldi and that is-there's no bakery or end caps temping you with the food of the devil. There are no choices really. If you can get past the candy and the chips which takes 3 seconds? You're pretty okay.)and they taste like a cross between Oreos and brownies. (okay maybe I'm using my imagination a little bit). 

I had to open these for display purposes. And then eat them. 

Results thus far:
I've lost enough weight that the doctors are asking me if I have lost weight on purpose and when I say yes, they smile. 

I think that's a sort of a non-scale/scale victory, considering everything. Right? 

Last story. 

Last night P was watching Criminal Minds-a show that gives me bad dreams so I was kinda half-watching and also cruising through a bunch of books. This one seems reasonably intelligent and it's got some options in it. 

Hello thumb. 

And I get to this page and I don't read it like, Artichokes, Baby. I read it like Artichokes, Baby.

Uhh, Yo. VIP. Let's kick it.