NEXT EVENTS: IRONMAN BOULDER 2014

It's never too late to be what you might have been. --George Eliot

This blog is about my journey as an asthmatic, hypothyroid, formerly plus-sized endurance athlete. It's occasionally interrupted with things that have nothing to do with that or whining about my weight and horrible eating habits. "You're never too old to be what you might have been" --George Eliot

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Tagged by Kate: 11, 11, 11.

Dear Diary,

I was tagged by kate. I never know who I might be tagging in return so I tag you all. For instructions, check out the post on Kate's blog.

11 random things about myself

1. I notice, but have trained myself not to be influenced by, the cracks and lines in the ground, floor, or wherever it is I am walking. But I see them. Oh, how I see them.

2. I smoked for fifteen years. I quit 16 years ago when I realized I was using my asthma inhaler so that I could breathe deeply enough to smoke my benson and hedges. How stupid is that? So I put the pack down and never smoked again.

3.  I will never have the striking white hair that I so admire in many women. My mother was only about 10% gray by age 60 and so far, at age 46, i have about 20 gray hairs.

4. I was, in my twenties, a hard core born again Christian.  I participated in book and CD burnings, saw the evil in nearly everything, and refused to acknowledge Halloween for about four years.  I thought "He-man"   was Satanic. Then I got over myself. Life is far, far too short to be passionate about anything other than social justice.

5. I love nearly every kind of food, but I hate, I cannot abide, water chestnuts. They just little disks of creepiness. I also hate creamed corn. Ew. I don't like most canned vegetables. They're mushy.

6. I wish I had gone to medical school and studied psychiatry.

7. I have a yearning, and have for a while now, to study American Sign Language. It's in my bucket list, after I graduate.

8. I think one of the reasons I like runners so much is that most of them are pretty smart, and all of them are motivated. I simply cannot abide dimwitted, lazy people who complain ceaselessly about their lot in life and then do nothing about it.

9. I want everyone to be happy. It genuinely distresses me to see suffering. I also want everyone to be in love, with something, or someone, that gives them joy. For this reason, I prefer movies with happy endings.

10. I am extremely uncomfortable in crowds.

11. I have a giant head. I know this, though I can't see it. I have taken to wearing my hair like this video because it's a great, lazy, post workout hairdo. But no matter what headbands I have tried they feel like a band of steel and I have a headache by 8 am. I have taken to hanging a weight from them for a few days to stretch them out.

_____________________________

Kate's questions to me:

 1. Did you have a favorite teacher in school?  Who and why?

I had a favorite teacher in college. I admired, and later copied, his conversational style of teaching. He was my college chemistry teacher.

2. Suggest a great new blog for me to read.

Bitchin' Sisters.  Start off with her Ode to Running and then work your way to her holiday post.

3. What's a favorite race memory?

It will always be my very first Ironman

4. What kind of car do you drive?

I drive a Honda Fit. I adore it. It's cheap, practical, well-made, and cute. *like me* I totaled my first one and wrote about it here, and immediately replaced it with another one aftering performing last rites.

I feel cool and bad in my Fit, For some inexplicable reason. Not jammin' hamsters bad, but bad.

5. What do you imagine doing when you retire?

Traveling to warm places in winter and cold places in summer.

6. Tell me a happy memory of yours.

In 1991, I was poor, pregnant, and on welfare when I was told by the US government that they were basically paying for my Bachelor's degree. It has resulted humble, overeducated idiot you see today. I will always argue strenuously for education access for everyone in this country, undocumented or not. It is the great equalizer, and gives you morer return for your tax dollars than building walls and arming derigibles with cameras.

7. What's something that has surprised you about yourself?

That I could be a runner. I never was. I was stocky and not at all athletic. I was smart. I was not physical.

8. Do you have brothers or sisters?  If so, are you close to them?

I have one older sister. We are not very close. This is her choice, though she's real sweet about it. I have offered to fly her put here from Alabama. She has turned me down so many times I no longer ask. (I think she is frightened of people of color, foreign accents, and liberals.) I chose the location of my first Ironman because of where she lives, but not only was she not interested, she didn't track me and didn't respond to my email that "I'm doing an ironman tomorrow!" until days afterwards, when she absent mindedly wished me luck. I have moved on with my life. One has to surround oneself with people who support and admire you but still call you on your shit, and that you admire back. And I have.

9. Patrick assures me he'd come rescue me if I ever again got lost in the woods. Can I count on him?

Is there something that you can carry in your pocket that he is guaranteed to want to come looking for? Like raw meat?

10. What's something you like to make for dinner?

Pot roast. Sweet potato fries. Asparagus.

11.  What's a good piece of advice you've received.

Now about this: if it's not illegal, and it's not immoral, and it's not unethical, and it's not fattenening, and it won't hurt anyone, and you just might learn something from it, why not do it? 

_____________________________

Here are my questions. I tag you all. Muwah.

1. What is the love of your life?

2. Who is the love of your life?

3. Why do you run?

4. Why aren't you running right now?

5. Are you being the world you wish to see?

6. Are you living the words you speak?

7. is there anything, right now, that you wish you could do but have been afraid to try?

8. What's the reason you haven't tried it?

9. What's the worst that could happen?

10. What's the liklihood of that actually happening?

11. Now tell me again why you haven't done it?


 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

My life as an intern: Thursday 13.

Dear Diary, 
I started interning last week at The Place. The Place is an acute psychiatric ward in a hospital. And while I realize that there is always a honeymoon period, so far, I am enjoying myself, although I was shocked to learn that while I am an excellent employee, I do not get paid what I should.

According to my internship supervisor,
I've already filled this position.
13.  ...is easier than my real life as a diagnostic assessor.

On my first day at The Place there was a huge chocolate layer cake someone brought in, just because! Well, does there have to be a reason?

Well, that was a fucking omen as far as I was concerned: Clearly, this was my world, and these were my people.  And as I am nothing if not a team player, so I had some.  Yes. I took some saturated fat and sugar for the team.

12. It turns out that there are companies out there who do not work the shit out of their people, recognizing in a sensible manner that an overworked, unemployed, bitter employee is not good for productivity.  The Place asked me if I could do a psychosocial. This is what I do for a living in my non-internship job, so I said, sure. (What I actually do is a comprehensive mental health assessment, which sometimes includes IQ testing, and always involves a diagnosis and a detailed treatment plan.) So I looked at their template...

Woah. ...wait a minute.  "where do I record the mental status exam?" 

Oh, the nurse does those.

"what about the diagnosis?"

The psychiatrist does that.

"and the treatment plan?"
OMG I totally want this cup. 
When I'm no longer an intern, that is.

The treatment team does that.

So, I did the rest. Normally, all that stuff takes me nearly 90 minutes. My part was done in 45 minutes. And then..."where do I type this up?

You don't.  You dictate it. 

Yes, they are very nice to me at my regular job. They tell me all the time how awesome I am.  But. they have been adding to my job continually over the past year, with no comenserate raise in pay.

And I cannot bid "awesome" on a NWT Striped White House Black Market sweater.

11. My internship supervisor, meanwhile, told me that so far, they love me.  And, it was suggested that a part time position was openIng up soon. So yeah, I told them, I am interested.  Why not get paid for interning? Take that, VA.  Did I mention that it is my hope that I get a job with this organization? They are a good employer, ten minutes from my house, and I love psychiatric work. Mmboy, I lurves me some crazy.

Oh, and as an aside: it would be about a 50% raise in pay.  After all, I can't bid "nice" for a pair of Kenneth Cole, size 8.5, NIB

10. By and large the most popular thing I have done at The Place has been to give fellow clinicians a link to this video: 



9. Well, I have to work off that chocolate cake somehow, so I've started doing heart zone training on the treadmill. I run, and watch Law and Order SVU reruns with closed captioning, which somehow magically, unbelievably, combines my favorite pastimes: getting skinny, and watching TV.  It occurrs to me that this is a good use of an otherwise untenable situation: it may be dark when I leave and when I come home, but there is aways the treadmill. And TV DON'T EVER PAY ATTENTION TO PEOPLE WHO TELL YOU TO KILL YOUR TV. THEY'RE FASCISTS. And Murder Mysteries.

8. I just cannot get used to being the size I am now. I ordered some dress slacks, and when they arrived, I held them up and muttered to myself, "there is no way these are going to fit my fat ass." but they did. They fit my fat ass. I flirted with the idea that they've changed the sizing now, and that's why I wear an 8, but am really what used to be a 16--the size I wore when I started all this.  Then I accepted that would be way too vast a conspiracy, even for me.

7. So, but, back to heart zone training: My max heart rate is either 177, or 180, or 182, depending on the source. There is apparently a way to find out definitely the value that approaches your max heart rate which WARNING GEEK REFERENCES AHEAD much like infinity, is only approachable. Because according to the theory, if I went one beat over my max heart rate, my heart becomes a singularity that collapses in on itself, much like Vulcan  after red matter hit the core.
See? math, Star Trek, and heart rate zones all in one reference.

6. Now, there is apparently a more exact way to determine my max heart rate, as I mentioned, but it involves sprinting up hills repeatedly.  I had to weigh my need for precision against the fact that I. Am Lazy. Guess what won? Hmm. Let's see: I could sprint up hills repeatedly, or subtract a number from another number.

5. The Place has a cafeteria. I lOVE cafeteria food. Bland, lukewarm, food. It's my weakness, this willingness to eat anything. And it's why I run.

4. Meanwhile, I have made the following observations about acute inpatient with Adults v. Child and Adolescents. First, it's quieter with the grownups. Second, for the most part--and need I say it--   NO CRAZY PARENTS.
I like working with adults. I didn't think I'd like it, but I do. 
Few people think they are the cause
of their own circumstances.

3. But, one thing that is hard to at get used to at The Place is the medical model. I am used to having huge responsiblities regarding diagnostics. It's an interesting adjustment, switching to working on a discharge plan, and less stressful. What services are there for him? Where will he live? How will he get his medications? I get to advocate for the patient from a place of compassion and expertise. 

2. When I meet with people who have severe and persistent mental illnesses, especially women who are my age. I look at them, and I can kind of see a little bit of the person they might have been...that is, before the abuse, before their first psychotic break, before the huffing turned their neurons into a gray pudding.

I am so sad for that lost girl who probably dreamed of growing up and being a nurse, or a lawyer or something--instead, she's living in a trailer with no heat, water, or electricity because she is too traumatized to get out of her own way.

1. Another observation: in the field of mental health, there is crazy, and then there is ku-ray-zee. (It's not that I lack compassion).  But there's always those moments, like when the patient points out a mistake in his file:

After two years of stellar service
I am giving you a 2% raise!
NOW KNEEL BEFORE ME!

 I didn't say I was POSESSED by demons. I said I was OPPRESSED by demons.

How is one oppressed by demons? Do they pay you a minimum wage on salary and work the shit put of you until you find out that another person doing a similar job under better condtions is making twice as much?  And all the while telling you how AWESOME YOU ARE?

Well in that case, I'm oppressed by demons too.
 ...

Friday, January 20, 2012

How NOT to run. A Very late Thursday 13.

Dear Diary,


Somehow or other this post was deleted.  I don't know why.  I apologize if it doesn't match up with the comments that were made before it got deleted.


Anyway.  Here's how not to run.  Or at least, how I don't run.  Follow along.

13. The first thing I'll do is get up, yes, get up and put on my injinjs. I'll also put on my favorite pink fuzzy robe because FUCK it's cold this morning.  Then--wait--i need to feed the critters so I'll shlep into the kitchen in my fuzzy robe and black/rainbow stripe injinjis, sex goddess that I am, and pour out cat food.
And dog food.
And then let the dog out for a bit.
Then give the blind kitteh some canned food, because I feel sorry for her because she's little AND cute AND she can't see, and those other cats, well, they can have dry food because they can see and aren't as cutely pathetic.

12.Then wait for her to be done and squeak at me so I can let her down.  Meanwhile, well I really should, make some coffee...oh, and Baboo's lunch, too.  That counter is a bit dirty...Ill just wipe that off.

11.And then I forgot to take my medicine.  Oh, and wait, let the dog back in. Hmm. That door knob seems loose. i'll jist go out to the garage--FUCK-- its cold out here. I'll get a screw driver off baboo's workbench and just tighten that up, and hey, while I'm at it, I bet other doors could be tightened up, too.  


10. Right next to where the screw drivers are kept is some dry spackle. Oo, i should really fill in those nailholes.
OKAY, FOCUS!!

9. I'll need my running shoes, and wow, my workout clothes closet is really messy. I'll just rearrange things thusly....there.

8. Now. Where was I? Oh, the running. I need my tights. It's cold out. I think they're...yes, here they are, under this shirt. Ew. Time to wash performance wear...

7. I should make coffee.  Geez, there's a lot of coffee grounds in there.  Those need to go out to the compost pile.

6. Wait...can't run on an empty stomach.

5.  And, can't run on a full stomach either. (i get crampy)

4. While I'm waiting, might as well start a crock pot for tonight's dinner.

3. Geez it looks crowded out in those hills. Lots of dogs off leashes because, for some reason locals choose to ignore the leash law signs and treat the foothills like their very own dog park.

2. And look at all those mountain bikers!

Gosh, it's just too late to run now.

1. Tomorrow, yes, tomorrow. I'll definitely run then.

...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Winter started too early: 13 things I'm sick of*

*Note to Jennie: of which I have tired.

Dear Diary,

This has been a bad year, weather-wise. The summer was long and hot and everything was on fire.  Fall was about 5 minutes long. The weather has been unusually cold since early December.  I am ready for some warmer weather.  The good news is, I finally got all my miles last week, which was a training week.

Also, i've switched to Spark People. I like their apps.

Here are 13 things I am beginning the hate about winter:

13. My dog is inside a lot because it's so cold out. She licks her privates for 20 minutes at a time. It goes on, and on....and on. She curls up next to me for maximum volume and effect, and slurps away. Ew.

12. i hate that it's cold and dark whenever I want to run.

11. I have to say that all pets get old in the winter. I wear a lot of black, so, well, you know, I can't sit down anywhere in my house in my work clothes.  And there's Lily. I adopted her from the Tuscaloosa shelter at four months old, and she'd already been returned once for being too noisy. She was nowhere as noisy as she is now. Her desperate bid for attention begins the moment my feet hit the floor, even if it's. 2 am pee. If I shut the door, she hurls herself against it, wailing, as it shakes in its frame.

I'm not a mean person. But. I have blasted her once or twice with a squirt bottle. It doesn't work. She just moves out of range, and continues her cacauphony.

10. I miss running outside at dawn and working up a good sweat, then sitting on a chair outside drinking tea in the cool (not frigid) morning to cool off.  Sitting outside by the goldfish pond in the rising sun with Baboo is one of my favorite things about summer.

9. I miss my open-toed shoes.

 

8. Crisp cold sheets. Theyre awesome in the summer. In the winter, they suck, suck, suck

7. I am tired of people showing up 20, 30, and yes even 40 minutes late and acting surprised when I tell them I am rescheduling them.  I get that it's cold. I happen to live in the part of Albuquerque that gets the most wind and the most snow, so suck it up and give yourself time to get here. It's not the Dakotas; it's the desert for Chrissake.

6. I'm sick of oatmeal and warm coffee. 

5. I miss grilling.

4. I hate driving home from work in the dark.

3. in the words of Daniel Tosh, ”I love seasons...that's why I live in a place that skips the shitty ones." This past year, we seem to have skipped the good ones.

2.  Yes, it's cold enough for me.  Shut up and ask me about politics or something

And the number one thing I'm sick of:


1. Three words: Cold. Toilet. Seats. Bathroom. Floors.


...

 

Sunday, January 08, 2012

Science Sunday: Why I'm a damned dirty hippie. Sort of.

Dear Diary,


I am a huge nerd. I always ask "why?" My undergraduate degrees are a compsite of two years each of biology, chemistry, and physics, with lots of geology thrown in. So, I google the shit outmof everthing. I figured what I learned would be useful for somebody, somewhere.

I've started making and eating seitan again, because it's cheap, and it's lean.  Seitan, especially ground, is unrecognizable in most recipes except meat loaf (still developing that one) and hamburgers (it doesn't stick together). Today, I used it in lasagna and chili.  It's a lot like Morningstar Farms crumbles, but way cheaper, and MS has soy, which I can't eat.

In showing you why I use seitan in place of ground beef, I will also show you two phone apps that show the calorie counts of food.  PS. seitan is made from gluten flour, so if you're gluten intolerant, well...sorry.

Here's why I started making it again.

1. It's cheap, and so am I.

I buy my vital wheat gluten here.  I never, ever buy it in stores. THAT gluten is marketed to hippies with bread machines, and its way too much $$. Seitan, when properly made, quadruples the weight of the flour. So, a pound of seitan flour = four pounds of ground seitan. For around $3.50. Plus, there's waste when you cook ground meat. All those drippings. Except in Alabama, where I'm from, where they give drippings as gifts JUST KIDDING ALABAMA DON'T COME AFTER ME.

2. It's a lean source of protein with no saturated fat.

Things you should know: first that % of fat on the front of the ground turkey or ground beef package doesn't work the way you think it will.  

Now the sciencey parts.  Things you should know: 
1. The fat is meat is nearly all saturated fat.  The fat in wheat is not.
2. The label that says that my super lean 1% or 3% ground turkey refers to the weight. However, a gram of fat is about 9 calories, and a gram of protein or carbs is about 5.  I don't know about you, but I like to spend my calories wisely.  

Here is a nutrition labels from Calorie Count app showing ground turkey.   I didn't turn them around because remember, I. Am Lazy.   I usually buy 97% lean.


Calorie Count is clumsy (more for iphones than ipads) and it makes you log in.  
But, it has those nice little pie charts, and it has a search feature.  

See the little pie charts? They tell you the percentage of calories are from fat. Even the 1% ground turkey is still 1/8 fat. That's because meat is muscle, and muscle is protein + fat. You really can't get 100% lean mean without some serious chemical engineering.

Just for fun, here's a label from regular ground beef.
Calorie King has the best database, a nicer interface, doesn't make you log in.
It doesn't have a search feature. I don't need the search feature or the pie chart, so I'll use it.
This is from 70/30 ground beef (70% "lean") Now multiply with me. And divide. A gram of fat is 9 calories, so 15 grams of fat is 105 calories.  That means that this ground beef is nearly half fat.

Now, about Seitan. 

 2 ounces of seitan, an egg-sized piece, or a quarter cup of it ground, is less than 50 calories, nearly every single bit of it lean protein.  
I use that amount because that's about how much you'd put on a sloppy joe, or a taco. That's about a third of the calories of lean cooked ground beef. I found a recipe for making it in the pressure cooker.  I make the cutlets, and then grind them in my little handy chopper.  
For Christmakwanzakah, I got an electric pressure cooker.  I LOVE this thing.  But anyway. 


So I'm not going back to all veggie.  In fact, Saturday night is grilling night, and grilled Quorn just isn't the same as a nice juicy chicken breast or steak.  But I'm dialing down the amount of meat we're eating, to get my bang for my nutritional buck.  If I'm going to eat calories, I want them to be good, healthy calories.

Next week: Why I'm a Whole Wheat fascist.

...