Dissatisfaction

Really not feeling good about myself right now. I just tried a 50-minute yoga video, and had to really push myself to get 31 minutes through. I feel so fat and lazy. It feels like have my fitness routine these days is catching up, getting back in the swing after over eating or needing to take  break for some reason. Why can my body not do this? Why do I feel the need to keep falling into disordered eating habits? I’ll do ok for a week or so, and then slip into bad habits without even noticing or knowing.  I have been wanting to lose weight and tone up for so long, but it feels out of my grasp.

To top things off, my skin is breaking out too. For a long time I had really dry skin. At some point, again without me noticing my forehead got bumpy and shiny, and my cheeks are now showing a few spots of their own. I know I’m bad at self-maintenance, but shouldn’t the fact that I’m trying count for something?? I don’t have money to see a dermatologist, OR buy a bunch of new products, so I feel like I’m screwed no matter what I do.

It all comes down to money. I am sick and tired of my retail job. Other than working at McDonalds the first year of my career so far, I have been in retail for almost a decade. I’m sick of it! But when I think of changing fields, I feel so very, very tired. I don’t have experience, but the only way to get experience is to enter the field. With whose energy? With whose stamina? With whose hope? The spurts I get every now and then aren’t enough. Working with kids is one area where it’s especially important to provide dependability.

I wish I knew what my end goal was, what I want to do with my life. I’m in an Educational Assistant program, but I don’t even know if that is exactly the career I want. It’s the field I want for sure, but my classmates seem so much surer in their occupational goals.

It sucks not to be able to sit down and plan for my future without having panic and a fresh, black, wave of depression.

I wish I could end in some hopeful way, but that’s all I’ve got right now.

Therapeutic mac and cheese, fiber, and recipes!

Cooking is soo therapeutic, and I can’t remind myself of the fact too often. Today, after another night of not enough sleep, I was still feeling groggy and bloated from my cousin’s wedding on Sunday. All I wanted to do was be lazy and re-watch Full House on Netflix. Days like this spell danger with a capital D for my eating habits, since the temptation to just grab a bowl of cereal or a plate of carbs is soo very…tempting. I might have given in if it weren’t for laziness—and actor, author, and Youtuber, and comedian Grace Helbig. I was I was binge watching her videos and found one where she made lemon angel hair pasta with shrimp. Pass on the shrimp…yaass on the pasta!

I ended up removing my butt from the recliner, and making a yummy, creamy version of macaroni and cheese. About 6 months to a year after surgery, one of the things I did to take back control of my life was research ways I could get vegetables into my diet, while reducing the amount in insoluble fiber I consumed. It is counterintuitive to what we are usually told by doctors, magazines, and the internet. But to a person whose gut still healing from major surgery—ok, I’ll back up a bit.

Basically, there are two types of fiber, soluble and insoluble. Soluble fiber, which you get from oatmeal, peeled fruit and veggies, and various other sources, thickens stool (poop). It grabs on to water, and therefore slows down everything that happens in the intestines. This is especially important to people who have had bowel resections. I had about a foot and a half of small intestine removed, including the ileum—which a part which usually plays a big role in digestion. Since there was less intestine in which digestion could happen, slowing the process down made it easier for my remaining intestine to absorb whatever nutrients they possibly could. That’s what soluble fiber does.

Insoluble fiber (found in fruit and veggie peels, whole grains, and such)…well, it very much has the opposite effect. The s***s I got for at least a year post-surgery while I healed and figured out my new diet were some power s***s. If I hadn’t temporarily removed as much as possible from my diet, I can’t imagine how much less energy I would have had.

All that to say, I had to get pretty creative with how I got my veggies. Cooking vegetables breaks down a lot of the molecular bonds that make them hard to digest, as does pureeing them. One of my top tricks was to buy up bell peppers from my local farmer’s market when they were in season I’d roast them, freeze them between layers of wax paper, and then use them whenever I needed them on pizza, thrown into pasta, on sandwiches…

I’m also pretty picky regarding the texture of cooked veggies, so I did a lot of food dupes, like you do when you don’t want picky toddlers to know what they’re eating (what can I say? I’m working on it!) One of my absolute favorites was the Super Mac & Cheese recipe from simplebites.net. Since the recipe was from a post geared towards babies and toddlers, it didn’t use a lot of spices, and sat very gently with my gut. Although I usually east pasta with peas, if I only felt up to making the mac, I still got a boost from the pumpkin in the sauce! Another healthier mac and cheese recipe I love is from pinchofyum.com.

Another great trick that my sneaky mom used from the time my brother and I were little was adding ground veggies to tomato sauce. Carrots and those priceless roasted bell peppers work especially well.

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, today’s lazy recipe was Karen from kitchentreaty.com’s delicious take on macaroni and cheese. Now, although the original recipe was vegan, the way I made it definitely was not. I didn’t have the vegetable broth the recipe called for so I used chicken instead. Also…I added lactose-free cheese. BUT I did taste the sauce before I added it, and it was delicious that way too!

Now…I may not have got as much done today as I “should have” done to qualify for the mature, functional, adult awards but at least I made one good choice. Getting into the kitchen felt incredible. While washing, peeling, and chopping the veggies I felt the satisfying feeling of crunching through them with my favorite chopping knife. I looked through the window, and saw a grumpy-looking bird sitting on the lawn. I felt the steam from the boiling water. Most of all, I was proud of myself for each nourishing ingredient that went into cooking that dish.

When I cook, I am showing myself that I matter instead of just telling myself. When I buy ingredients for a new recipe, I nurture curiosity and interest. When I tweak ingredients mid-recipe, I am showing myself that it is ok to take risks, no matter how small and seemingly insignificant.

I nurture. I thrive. I grow.

Much love.

 

The recent weeks

“Come in, Cat, or stay out,” I thought this afternoon as I opened the glass doors in response to his meow. Often during ‘bad’ weather (which includes rain, snow, extreme cold, wind, and chilly Autumn days) the cat will look behind him before deciding to step over the threshold. It’s as if he wants to make sure that things have not improved to his standards before he deigns to come in.

People say things like “your struggles make you who you are”, “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger”, and other things to the effect of “people are the sum of their experiences”, and the more good character you build, the more personal victories you have, the better the person you are. This may be true, but if there was a one-two, all-purpose, guaranteed-to-be-safe way to rid my body of my diseases, I certainly would not look back to make sure they didn’t regress to a lower level I could somehow better manage, and go on character building. It doesn’t look like I’ll be offered a magic solution any time soon.

Sorry for the lack in posts the past weeks. I have been in a very low depression, so strong that I pretty much woke up, sat at the computer until it was time to go to work, then went right back on the computer after work. I have been irritated with DB, the world, and my parents, and have been avoiding contact with friends because of the level of effort communication takes. This depression has been partly triggered by my grandpa’s recent death from Parkinson’s, and partly by a recent appointment with my GI.

Dr. Gutimov said that the results of the colonoscopy I wrote about a while ago showed some not-unusual redness around the surgery site, and some other tiny areas of redness as well. He did biopsies of those areas, and thankfully did not find the presence of anything nasty. The worst part of the appointment was when he said he wants me to have another MRI done.

An MRI is a medical test where the patient lies on a platform in a dimly lit room, told to lie very still, and then slid into a giant metal doughnut. The doughnut uses radiation to take pictures of the inside of the body part that is being examined. It’s kind of like x-rays. Actually, I’m not sure what the difference is, except they use different kinds of radiation, and you don’t need to wear the lead vest to get an MRI. It is not painful, and not the most unpleasant thing I have had done to me. However, I am tired of having things done TO me. Useful or not. When I was in the hospital last time, to make sure the images were clear, they gave me two bottles of water to which an invisible dye was added. I had to drink one by the time so much time had passes, and the other after I finished the first. I think I had to drink them both in the space of an hour. I couldn’t exactly taste the dye, but if they hadn’t told me I think I would have been able to tell that something was off. Again, it could have been worse, but as I mentioned in the colonoscopy post, I hate having to force myself to consume weird things!

I don’t know. Aside from that, this test could potentially reveal the return of the disease in the part of the small intestines which is unreachable by the scope. If it finds disease, I will probably need to take “maintenance therapy” as he put it. In other words, nasty medications with severe side effects. He said that he was definitely not telling me to get married and have kids right away, but he usually tells Crohn’s patients to be done having kids before they take these medications. That was very comforting of course…it was just one more ridiculous thing to make me feel like my life is a failure. I don’t want to completely get into it again now–I can already feel myself getting more depressed when I was having such a good day today. But yeah, that has been what’s going on.

I’ve gotten some laundry done today, repotted some aloe plants, and cut out some pieces with which to make a cushion for my grandma. I need to be able to feel good about today without raising it to the level of myth–unattainable on the regular the future. If I can get the laundry put away and take another walk at some point, I’ll say I’m satisfied.

Food, Glorious Food

One of the best health decisions I’ve made was to start roasting bell peppers. When I’m feeling all-around crappy and have no desire to cook, it is easy for me to go a day or two consuming very little to no fruits and vegetables. Obviously, this does not do good things for my energy and mental health. So I try to make it as easy as possible to get SOME amount of easy-to-digest veggies inside me, even if it is only a bite or two at a time.

This is an interesting and fun goal. I was a childhood picky eater and I carried my aversion to many vegetables into adulthood. When I lived on my own for a year I was kind of forced to try new things and experiment with recipes. Some of my discoveries?

1. Roasting bell peppers in the oven and freezing them. Since bell peppers tend to be pretty expensive, this lets me stockpile them when I find them on sale. Frozen bell peppers can be cut into skinny strips and and tossed with olive oil, parmesan, and pasta (veggie, healthy fats, protein); a wider slice can be added to a simple cheese sandwich (carbs, protein, and veggie!); strips can be added to soup for great flavor and another veggie serving…limitless possibilities with only one messy cooking job covering many meals.

2. Comfort food with sneaky veggies. A Google search for healthy mac and cheese turns up tons of recipes, most of which use some kind of pureed squash in the sauce. My favorite so far uses canned pumpkin, and the result is orange and creamy like KD, and does NOT taste of pumpkin! 😀 A crap-ton of vegetables can also be pureed and added to a plain tomato sauce to eat with spaghetti. Probably the simplest discovery I’ve made is to add a smashed clove of garlic to the water when I cook pasta.

3. Using my juicer. I  got a gently used one from a wonderful cousin, and while I don’t think it’s a good idea to regularly substitute meals for juice–even fresh juice you make yourself–it is a good way to get extra vitamins without a lot of insoluble fiber (the kind that leads to diarrhea). Vegetables that are slightly too far gone to enjoyably eat as they are are great in juice. Yesterday I used a few peaches and pears, a handful of grapes, some unroasted bell pepper, and two carrots for a great result to drink with my iron pills

Whenever I get a day off work, I love taking the morning or afternoon to try new things I have bookmarked online. It seems to help  view it as less of a chore when I come at cooking leisurely.

The Filing Fallacy

Spent a frantic morning looking for the papers I’ll need for my upcoming colonoscopy/endoscopy. I hate to think that these tests are something I’ll need to deal with for the rest of my life…

It also struck me again that filing is one of the parts of adulthood that scares me most–the papers keep coming and coming, and what if I file something in the wrong place and can’t find it again? Lol, I know, I’m even less likely to find things when I just shove them in a box to look at later, but that’s what anxiety disorders do to a person!