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Archive for the ‘Health and Fitness’ Category

Last week, I was perusing Twitter as I am wont to do and I saw someone tweet their condolences out to someone else. The nosy neighbor in me did a few clickity clicks to see what happened and I soon found myself down a rabbit hole of my worst nightmare: Cancer. Melanoma. Chemotherapy. Death.

Just that morning, I was thinking about how awfully pale I am right now. I remember a couple of years ago, the last time I went to a tanning bed, right before our trip to Maui. I had convinced myself that I a) needed to look good for our trip and b) more importantly, needed to tan so that I wouldn’t burn to a crisp so easily on the beach. It all made sense in my head, despite everything I knew about the risks. I’ve been tanning lots of times. In college. Before my wedding. And before most big beach vacations. So of course I was considering it again. I wanted to look good and I wanted to be able to have a good base tan going so I wouldn’t burn. Boy, was I stupid.

So when I saw blogs of young women suffering with this most deadly form of skin cancer (and one whose new husband died shortly after they got married), I didn’t just rethink my tanning bed idea. I squashed it and made an appointment with a dermatologist.

I’ve mentioned before that I’m a really mole-y person. Despite my dark/ethnic features, I don’t tan well. It takes hours for me to burn, and when I do, SOMETIMES it turns to a nice tan color. Actually, without the help of a tanning bed, I pretty much never truly get tan. I burn and freckle, but it takes awhile. I’ve tried a few tan-in-a-bottle sprays and lotions but let’s be honest, they have a long way to go in that department. I always mess up the application or it just looks too orange. I’d rather just be pasty pale, thankyouverymuch.

When I was about 13, I had a birthmark mole removed from my left arm. It wasn’t cancerous, but it was ugly and I was ashamed of it so I had it removed. The plastic surgeon completely botched the surgery and left me with a scar that looks like one of those vaccine scars people born in the early 60’s have. It’s much larger than the mole that it replaced, but I don’t regret for one second having that mole removed. In December, before my health insurance changed, I made an appointment with a dermatologist to look over my moles. She spent roughly 2 minutes with me before she coldly said she didn’t see any issues and walked out. I was satisfied at the time, but when I started to think about it, would I bet my life on that one, brief examination? Because that’s essentially what I was doing. I decided that no, I wanted a second opinion. So I made an appointment with a friend’s brother-in-law. (Dr. Jason Amato for anyone in St. Louis looking for a good dermatologist.) They were able to fit me in within a week, which is completely unheard of with dermatologists, it seems. I’ve heard of 8+ week waits at some places!

I also hopped on over to The Honest Company’s website and bought two tubes of sunscreen, since they’re baby-safe. It’s only 30 SPF but it’s also water-resistant for up to 40 minutes. I’ve seen some sunscreens out there that are 60 SPF! The higher SPF, the better. And you know I’ll be lathering up my kid in this stuff all summer long.

My appointment was today. I scheduled an appointment with his assistant, Jennifer, since she can basically do all the same things and procedures. I showed her the moles I was most concerned about – one on the back of my left arm and a new, rapid growing one on the bottom of my left foot, in the arch, that wasn’t there two years ago and is now the size of a pencil eraser. (If you really want the shit scared out of you, just Google “moles on the bottom of feet” and see what comes up. The Internet will tell you it’s a sure-fire death sentence. But this isn’t actually true. What IS true is that if the mole is Melanoma, and it’s on the palms/soles of your hands and feet, then it’s typically more aggressive, so the Internet is sort-of right.) Anyway, she didn’t think either one looked terribly menacing, but agreed they were abnormal enough to have removed and tested, if for no other reason than peace of mind. I full expected to start talking about timelines for rescheduling a removal appointment but she said she could do it right there, right now. I panicked for a moment because I wasn’t expecting to get Novacaine shots so soon, but I wanted it done and over with so I agreed to go ahead. Ten minutes later, I have two less moles to worry about now. And in about a week or two, I’ll have the test results back. (Assume no news from me is good news, if I don’t mention it again.) The procedure was simple and relatively painless. (Shots are never fun, but that was seriously the worst of it. Never  felt a thing with the removal and I’m walking just fine, though I won’t be doing any running or extensive activity anytime soon.)

So this is my plea from me to you. Wear sunscreen. Stay out of tanning beds. And check your skin. The last words on the last blog post of the woman that had died that I saw on Twitter was to “Check your skin, people. Check your skin.”

You’re only given one body. Take care of it.

 

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1. Baby D is in a mama phase right now and I’m LOVING it! Yesterday he would only give me kisses. None for daddy. And if I left his sight, even when daddy was holding him, he’d whine. Only for a moment, but enough to let me know that he missed me.

2. My no-sugar diet is going well. So well that I forgot I was on it and almost bought cinnamon rolls at the grocery store last night, since they were on sale for $1 a can. Fortunately, the hubs was there to kindly remind me that I couldn’t have them. Then I kicked him in the shins.

3. The weather is getting nicer, which definitely puts me in a better mood. It’s supposed to be quite lovely out this weekend, so I have very exciting plans to do some spring cleaning around the house. (Did you sense my sarcasm?)  Surprisingly, this was the husband’s idea, so even though I’d rather take a leisurely stroll around the lake and picnic in the park, I’m going to take advantage of his motivation and have him help me get our house back in shape.

4. The only downside to this nice weather? Allergies. Typically, March is when I spend about two weeks fighting a sinus infection. I’m not sure how I managed to escape the entire month without one, but that probably just means it’s coming in April instead. Here’s hoping it doesn’t show up later this month when I have a business trip to Philly.

5. Speaking of my upcoming business trip, the hubs and baby are coming with me this time and if the weather cooperates, we’ll cross off another baseball stadium from our list. Best of all? The Cardinals are playing in Philly that weekend! Go Cards! I love baseball season.

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Anyone who has been successful at losing weight will tell you that one of the biggest contributors to that success is planning your meals.

Well, that’s a bit of a problem for me because I HATE meal planning. It’s ridiculously time consuming to research recipes, make grocery lists, buy everything at the grocery store (and feel like I’m getting the best price) and then actually cook the stuff. Also? I’m kind of a terrible cook. I’m not creative in kitchen so I can’t just whip up something yummy without following a very detailed recipe. Maybe that’s why I’m so much better at baking. I NEED a recipe. I read it at least 50 times while I’m making something for fear of messing it up.

Anyway, meal planning is time consuming. And as someone that works more than 40 hours a week, I only get to spend a couple hours a day with my baby during the work week before I have to put him to bed. I refuse to spend that time cooking dinner, or doing anything else for that matter. Sometimes that means we don’t eat dinner until 8:30. And this ALWAYS means that if it’s not easy, it’s not worth it.

But this attitude doesn’t bode well for weight loss. Bummer.

Solution: Time for Dinner.

One of my best friends has been going to Time for Dinner for awhile now. It’s a place that let’s you come in, fix your meals for the week, and take them home to freeze them so all you need to do is set the meal out the night before and pop it in the oven when you get home. Delicious, homemade meals without the mess, prep time, and – happy surprise – Weight Watchers points already calculated for me on the labels! So last night, my friend took me to Time for Dinner so I could try it out.

Here’s how it works:

First, you look at the monthly menu online and decide what meals you want. Then you call and make an appointment.

Once you’re there, you grab an apron and get cooking. One of the things I love about this is that they already chop and prepare all the ingredients for you. So if your recipe calls for chicken, they’ve already trimmed it and bagged it into the portion size you’ll need for your recipe.

Here I am with our bags of pork for the Bangkok BBQ Pork.

meat

Then you just follow the recipe card on the table.

scoop

Scooping the blue cheese for my Artisan Chicken recipe

Pour

Adding the Worcestershire sauce

stir2

A little stirring action

stir

Looking good!

dollup

Spreading the mixture on the chicken

done

Top it off with breadcrumbs and pecans

Then you just seal it up, label it, and stick in the freezer when you get home. Easy peasy. Oh, and there’s ZERO mess to clean up. Once you’re done preparing a meal at your station, you just walk away. One of the workers will come over, clean it up, and set it up for the next person. Total time spent making our meals for the week was just 1 hour.

Even though it was just the two of us, there was another group of about 4 or 5 women that brought in their own beer and appetizers to munch on while they made their meals too. Such a fun and productive girls night!

I couldn’t wait to try the Artisan chicken I made so as soon as I got home, I popped it in the oven and 25 min. later, we had dinner. It was DELICIOUS. And only 7 WW points. My husband isn’t much of a blue cheese fan so he wasn’t as in love with it as I was, but he still ate two servings so it must’ve been pretty good.

I did a cost breakdown to see whether or not it’s a good value and for $60, I got 3 different recipes, totaling 18 servings/meals. That’s roughly $3.33 per serving. But since my husband will typically eat two servings for dinner, that’s only 6 dinners for the two of us, so$10 per dinner for 2. Could we eat cheaper than $10 a day for dinner? Yes. Healthier? That’s questionable. And considering how often I end up throwing away fresh ingredients, I may actually save money after all. But even if I don’t, I don’t mind paying a few dollars extra for a freshly made meal that saves me time, both in the preparing process and in the clean up.

I don’t think I’ll be relying on this for all of my dinners, but I’ll definitely do it again. Such a great way to spend time with friends, provide a good, healthy meal for the family, all while saving time in the process. Triple win.

 

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40 to Fit

I’m going to start documenting a bit of my weight loss journey here. I’m calling it “40 to Fit” because, well, I have 40 lbs to lose. I’m doing Weight Watchers online, so I’ll share updates and recommend recipes and other foods I find and love.

I signed up for WW a few days before the end of the year but didn’t actually start following the program until Jan. 1, which was a Tuesday. I prefer to do my weigh-ins on Sunday, so I’m cutting myself a couple of days short this week, but that’s okay.

Week 1: -2.4 lbs
Total lbs lost: 2.4 lbs
Lbs to go: 37.6 lbs

So far, I’m off to a good start. I even walked away from several temptations this week – salted caramels, Reese’s PB cups, mini-Oreos, and potato chips. Sometimes my office can be a dieter’s death trap. But the hardest thing so far has been adjusting my morning coffee. I’m a cream and sugar kind of gal, so I’m trying to cut back on the amount of sugar in my diet, but I know the sugar substitutes aren’t any better for me. I experimented with a few alternatives this week. The first day I tried 2 packets of Truvia and hated the taste. I didn’t even finish my coffee. The next day I did just one packet and a little unsweetened almond milk. Still didn’t like it. The next day I used the leftover almond milk from my bowl of chocolate cheerios cereal and that was still pretty terrible. On the fourth day, I just caved and added a tablespoon of regular sugar, feeling like the points were worth it, but still feeling guilty for losing my willpower. Finally, I went to the grocery store and purchased Coffee Mate’s Natural Bliss refrigerated vanilla creamer, low-fat. Two tablespoons are 1 pt, but it’s all natural and less sugar than I would usually use. MUCH better taste.

As for the “Fit” part, I haven’t started that yet. I know myself, and I know that too much pressure to diet AND exercise means I’ll be throwing in the towel on both by the end of the second week. So I’m taking it slow, cutting myself some slack, and just reminding myself that this journey is a marathon, not a sprint.

Got any favorite healthy foods or recipes? Let me know! I’m relying on Pinterest and Hungry Girl to help get me through this.

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I know I usually touch a little on how I’m feeling at the end of D’s monthly updates, but I have a few more thoughts on this that I think warrant their own post.

Like the fact that suddenly, all of my hair seems to be falling out. Now I know the average human head loses about 100 hairs a day. Pre-pregnancy, I would’ve considered myself normal in this area. During the first tri-mester, I went through a hair loss phase, but it didn’t last long. The rest of my pregnancy and then the first almost-four months post-birth, I felt like I could count on one hand the number of hair strands I lost per day. It was awesome. Not just for my hair’s sake, but for the sake of the floor, my countertops, the shower, the entire bathroom, my bed, my clothes… there’s hair everywhere! I’m shedding worse than a husky in hades. (I don’t even know what that means but it sounded good.)

My boobs have taken on a personality all their own. And I think they might be schizophrenic. They’re just all over the place with how they look, how they feel, how much milk they make, how much they leak, etc. Miraculously, I’ve kept up with pumping. It’s not enough to call it “exclusive pumping” anymore, since D eats about 8 oz of formula each day (one bottle/meal), but I do what I can. I’m going to lie though – it’s hard work and I will be REALLY glad when my boobs are my own again.

Now let’s talk about my feet, and how I don’t think I can ever wear heels again. Um…I guess I just said everything there is to say about that. My feet. I don’t think I can ever wear heels again. Ugh.

The weight isn’t coming off easily. I’m about 12lbs away from my pre-pregnancy weight. I’m pasty-pale and about 35lbs overweight and I just…don’t feel good. And I’m JUST NOW starting to make changes to my diet. Before now, I’ve just been in survival mode. It took me close to 6 weeks to get into a groove with work and figure out what I need to do to get back to a routine. Now I’m finally in one but I’m making small changes at a time – drinking more water, reducing my carb/sugar intake, just making better food choices in general. I’m not counting calories yet (still breastfeeding) but I’m making smarter decisions. And after just 3 days of this new “diet”, I lost a half pound. Nothing to get crazy excited about, but just that little bit of movement was encouraging.

And I don’t know what this is about, but sometimes in the morning or when I’m just really tired, my body feels achey. The only way I can think to describe it is like I’m developing arthritis. Which, I guess I could be, but I’m pretty sure it’s an after-effect of pregnancy. It’s becoming less and less frequent, so that’s good. I’m still nowhere near ready to work out hardcore (nor do I have the time) but hopefully, eventually.

My c-section scar continues to heal. It itches from time to time; part of the healing process I suppose. I don’t notice it most of the time, but sometimes when I’m holding the baby and letting him stand on my belly or when I hold him in my lap, facing me, his feet will dig into that area and it doesn’t feel great. My OB said it would be about a year before I wouldn’t be sensitive there.

All in all though, things are improving every day. It’s a long, slow process, but I’m getting there. One step at a time.

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This post was written on Aug. 17 and it’s pretty obvious I was a bit, um, hormonal. Sadly, I could not attribute any of it to the act of growing a human.

It’s been exactly 28 days since my last period and as of tonight, I’m technically “late.” Never mind the fact that my last couple of periods (ever since I stopped BC) have been on a 35 day cycle so this really means nothing. I came home to take a pregnancy test anyway, just hoping and praying that I would see two pink lines. (I did not.) Even though I’ve got the baby fever bad right now, the main reason I was hopeful had nothing to do with soft baby skin and that baby powder smell. Instead, I was looking for an excuse. An answer as to why I’ve been feeling so bad lately.

Let me try to explain. If you’ve been reading in the last few months, you know about my foot issues. Since then, I’ve gained AT LEAST 5 lbs and it’s showing. Big time. I feel it. I see it. And my clothes show it. Of course, it should be no surprise because I’ve eaten whatever I’ve wanted and I haven’t been able to work out thanks to this whole foot issue. I’m still wearing my Storm Trooper boot, still unable to wear regular shoes, and therefore still fairly immobile. Not working out for roughly 10 months now has had a horrible effect on my body in more ways than I care to admit. I want to cry just thinking about it, and I’m not a crier.

Then today, during a meeting that I arrived late to, there were no seats available and a couple of people were jumping up on the counter to sit. Even though more than a few guys offered their seat to me, I’m stubborn and said I could just hop up there too. And I did, but not without serious struggle and I felt like every person in the room was watching me use my flabby arms to hoist my large bottomed body up on the counter. It was embarrassing.

I’ve just felt…gross. I know part of why I’m feeling so much more disgusted than usual has to do with PMS. When I’m not on BC, my female hormones go bizerk. I experience severe PMS followed by severe menstrual cramps and bleeding. That’s the main reason why I stared taking BC, even before I was ever sexually active. So I knew I wasn’t pregnant when I opened the test. I knew I was setting myself up for disappointment. But I was so desperate for a better explanation for the way I’ve been feeling about my body that I just had to try. Just in case. And to be honest, all of those first signs of pregnancy the websites and books talk about are the EXACT SAME AS PMS!

On the plus side, I guess this means I can treat myself to a glass of wine. That is if I’m willing to substitute my wine calories for dinner. So basically, yes.

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I’ve always thought of myself as a pretty tough gal, but as I get older, I’m realizing that I become a giant ball of mush whenever I get sick. Since last Thursday night, I’ve had some sort of bug that’s in between a cold and a flu. It’s pretty much just a cold, but with me, no cold is ever “just a cold” as it always seems to develop into some sort of sinus infection, bronchitis, sinusitis, etc. requiring a trip to the doctor and 10 days of antibiotics. And as per protocol, I went to the doc on Monday to get my bi-annual dose of meds. Later that night, I had to attend a cocktail reception for work followed by two full days of management training classes at a nearby university with me and about 50 other colleagues from across the country. It was actually an enjoyable time getting to meet a bunch of people about my age that work for the same company, even though we don’t all do the same things.

Except….

I now fear that the proverbial finger will be pointed in my direction when any of those 50 people start to feel a little under the weather. Because, you see, it’s not like I spent the last two days quietly dabbing my nose or clearing my throat in a corner. Oh no. I was “that girl” that had to get up every 20 minutes to blow her nose in the hallway. I was the girl that wasn’t drinking because I was on antibiotics. I was the girl that broke into not one, but two separate coughing fits and had to excuse myself from the table – in the middle of my own story. My sickness was obvious to everyone, and I do mean everyone. Case in point: Lunch and dinner were served by the same wait staff, so when I showed up for dinner, one of the waiters actually stopped to ask me if I had been feeling any better since lunch. He was not even my waiter. So yeah, I was visibly ill. But, in my defense, I made sure to use hand sanitizer after every tissue destroying activity. So, there’s that. You’re welcome, colleagues!

Now, who would like to bring me some chicken soup? And more hand sanitizer?

 

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