Monday, September 29, 2008


orange chicken in a box!
Lean Cuisine Orange Chicken.

So on Friday I attended my neighbor's birthday party, which kicked off a weekend of wacky eating for me. I planned and plotted, but food got the best of me. Two pieces of pizza were worked into my points count. But three were not. The breadstick was not. And neither was the cake and ice cream. And then Saturday rolled around, and while I was at Donna's helping put together a shed, she ordered sub sandwiches. Did I need to eat the whole thing? No. But I was hungry, and it would have fit within my points for the day. And I did avoid the tempting barbeque chips and the tray of magnificent looking brownies.

The trouble began when I got home. That salty roast beef, melty cheese, and white bread set something off in my brain - suddenly lights were going off, bells were ringing, my hair was vibrating. My head screamed MORE MORE MORE and my eyes dilated and spun in opposite directions. If I didn't eat something, I would die. WOULD DIE.

At least I tried to do the least amount of damage. I had 99% fat free microwave popcorn (but blew it with a few tablespoons of butter), then I wanted something sweet, so I had a slice of toast with peanut butter and honey. Compared to how I was eating over the summer, this wasn't bad at all. There were no drive thrus, pints of ice cream, or greasy napkins involved. But still not great, especially combined with the birthday party food.

In the middle of beating myself up, I took a deep breath and talked myself through it. I could either go the route of "screw it, I failed, I can't do this" and drown in a sea of trans fats, refined sugar, and big pants. Or I could say, OK, fine, this wasn't your most successful weekend. There's nothing you can do about it now. It's how you deal with the afterwards that's important.

Today is my afterwards, my decision to stay on the plan, and stifle the annoying place in my head where taco supremes and cinnamon twists seem like a good idea. I have to push past the mentality that since I slipped up a few times, I've somehow undone the work of the past four weeks. The fact is that my pants, which used to cut into my waist, are now too big. My jeans, though I can't sit down in them, can be zipped and buttoned, and they haven't been for quite awhile. If I fill my head with all the good things I've accomplished, there will be no room for giving up. That's the plan, anyway.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

when dirt makes you happy

Working in the yard. Too filthy for a proper photo.


Today I burned two huge boxes of old bills and papers. I had such a hot fire that I had to back five feet away and poke at it with a long stick, and there were so many ashes that the pan overflowed in a powdery mess. It looks like the fire pit threw up.

I spent the rest of the day moving more perennials around, raking walnut shells, cleaning the garage, and hauling out the trash. And getting very, very skanky.

It was a great day.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

the wait is almost over

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Two hour season premiere tonight! I will be glued to the TV.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

crank up the fog machine

fall fruit & veggies!

Check out the cornucopia of autumn goodness I bought at Westborn today. I got three kinds of squash, avocados, mangos, plums, apples, and sweet potatoes. All I need to do is spill it out of a big wicker horn and stick a pilgrim hat on my head.

So I think I'm just not cut out for workout videos. I've attempted two different yoga DVDs in the past few days and ended up losing interest, laying on the floor, admiring my tattoo, and playing with the dogs. I wondered if it was residual brain fog from the Lyme disease that I just couldn't pay attention, but then I realized that I've never liked workout videos. I like real live yoga or spinning classes at a gym, my treadmill at home, or doing landscaping outside (lifting bags of mulch, digging big holes, hauling patio bricks, mowing the lawn). But to stand in front of the TV and mime a video? Not so much.

Except for one.

I was in the garden this evening, moving around some perennials, when it hit me: I used to LOVE step aerobics in college. And the video I loved more than any other was Gin Miller's Step Reebok, The Power Workout. This was back in 1993, when step aerobics were a new concept, and the video was on VHS. Neither the internet or DVDs had been invented yet, and I was 23 and a figure skater, in fantastic shape with a cute perky butt. I'd whip through the routine four or five times a week, wearing weights on my wrists to make it harder. My, how times have changed.

After a little research, I discovered that Gin Miller has a website and a myspace page now, and offers all of her original workouts on DVD, plus has new videos I've never heard of. Whoo-hooo!

VHS tape from 1993; current DVD version.

So I hauled my dusty step upstairs, the same one I used back in the day, sorted through my tapes and actually found the workout, and popped it in my VCR. Sophie and Sadie, not fans of my working out to begin with, were all "good, grief, she has props now?"

reebok step!

The tape started up and the familiar music began. There was Gin! The cool, dark, MTV-like set! The fog! And all her cheerful stepping friends! Suddenly I was 23 again, caught up in the spirit of a forgotten video. I was grinning like a moron. Until reality set in.

I don't remember it being so hard. I really don't. Am I really in that bad of shape? Apparently so. This workout is high-impact, with lots of leaping, none of which I'm allowed to do with my still-healing foot. So I modified the whole thing as I went, stepping gently and doing absolutely no jumping. It was still hard. Really hard. I sweated and panted and marched in place when I needed to catch my breath.

And you know what? I loved every minute of it. Bless you, Gin Miller. Bless you.

Monday, September 22, 2008

hello darkness

Apple Streusel.

Happy Autumnal Equinox. Today the sun is directly over the equator, giving us equal lengths of day and night. Starting tomorrow, the nights will be longer than the days, and Genevieve will enjoy the sunshine for the next six months. See ya, sun. Thanks for a great summer, and say hello to the southern hemisphere.

To celebrate the first day of my favorite season, I made an apple streusel recipe from the Weight Watchers site. The recipe served four, but I adapted it (and re-calculated the points) to serve just one. I am unable to resist desserts with crumbly toppings, so if I made four servings, I would eat all four - one right after the other - and then lick the bowl. So the beauty of one serving is that nothing is left over to lure you back into the kitchen. Works for me.


Single-Serving Apple Streusel
(6 Weight Watchers points)

1 large apple, any kind
1/2 Tbsp butter (softened or slightly melted)
2 Tbsp packed brown sugar
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 Tbsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp Quaker Oats Old-Fashioned Oats

Preheat oven to 350F.

Thinly slice apple and put it in a small baking dish, like a pyrex bowl or a ramekin. Sprinkle cinnamon, lemon juice, and 1 T. of the brown sugar over the apple slices and mix it all up. In another bowl, crumble flour, oatmeal, remaining brown sugar and butter together (I kind of sliced/stirred it with the knife I cut the apple with), and sprinkle over apple mixture.

Bake until apples are tender, about 45 minutes. Let it cool for 10 minutes or so (if you can wait that long) to let the sugary goodness thicken up.
ready for the oven!
Ready for the oven.

All gone.

I ate this outside and enjoyed the last hour of sunshine before dark. YUM. I think I'll make it again tomorrow night.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

pink ladies

So today pretty much blew, except for the past few hours I was able to salvage. Briefly, I had a run-in with someone this morning before I'd even had sufficient amounts of coffee, and ended up feeling hurt, angry, and attacked. I just couldn't let it go, and it kept looping through my head like a video on repeat. I walked around the whole day in a gloomy fog. I allowed this person to ruin my day. How stupid is that? What a waste of energy.

Enough was enough. I came home, opened up iTunes, and blasted this song:

Then this one:

Really loud.


And I was feeling so much better that I decided to put wigs on my dogs.

pink sadie!

pink sophie!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

the anguish of the tormented

Waving my foot at the TV people.

Well, I did it. A whole 25 minutes of pilates. And seriously, I'd rather spray myself with mace then go through that again. I equated it to my high school gym class many moons ago, where we'd all lay on the floor while the mean, tubby gym teacher with his too-small running shorts and hideous mustard-yellow t-shirt would bark out commands. I won't mention which DVD I did, because it got good reviews, and I'm sure it's a lovely program. People absolutely rave about pilates, and that's wonderful. I just never intend to do it again.

I was too lazy to find my workout clothes (which tells you how long it's been since I've actually worn them) so I did the routine in my pajamas. As I was laying down on the floor to begin, I remembered taking a pilates class years ago with Laura at Equinox, our gym in Manhattan. And me walking out afterward and saying to her, "man, I think pilates is just not for me." Why I didn't remember this before I ordered the DVD is beyond me.

It started off with breathing. Then more breathing. Some stretchy stuff. A rocking/clutching/heaving thing. More slow, controlled motions. And it just went on and on. Sadie came over and sat on my chest as I was doing whirly circles with my leg. Ever try and work out with a 4 pound dog on your chest? Perhaps I can invent some sort of workout that involves poms. Or toy breeds in general. I'll call it "Pomercise" and it'll sweep the nation. I'll be making millions, touring the country with my dogs, and showing off my slim, new, dog-hair covered figure.

Anyway, I was bored, I wanted it to be over, and I didn't enjoy it. However, Netflix lists hundreds of fitness DVDs, so there has to be something else out there for me while I wait for my foot to heal. I remember loving yoga, so I think that's my next attempt. Oh, treadmill, how I miss you. How I took you for granted . . .

Here I am, filled with the despair that is pilates:

pilates horror!

Monday, September 15, 2008

the cheesecake incident

charlotte martin!
Charlotte Martin, March 2006 in Detroit.

Today was a co-worker's birthday. Our lunch group celebrates everyone's birthday; the person who had the last birthday is responsible for buying/making/stealing the next person's cake.

I had a salad with chicken and feta cheese on the top, and some cottage cheese with mandarin oranges. I was content. But then they pulled the lid off of the cake - and it was a cheesecake. Which, as everyone knows, is my all-time favorite dessert. On my deathbed, I want someone to fork chunks of cheesecake into my mouth and then send me off to the Great Beyond, where I will arrive smiling giddily and smelling faintly of vanilla.

Suddenly I just had to have it. There was no question. I haven't eaten processed sugar in three weeks, so seeing my favorite dessert smiling at me from the center of the table sent my cravings into overdrive. It was a boxed cheesecake in three flavors, so I read the calories, fat, and fiber off the side, chose the one with the least amount of damage (strawberry), and dug in. It tasted wonderful and was worth every calorie. I immediately went back to my desk and computed the Weight Watcher's points for it, entered it into my daily tally, and that was that. I was satisfied, and it was just part of my day.

And you know what? That splurge was only 8 points. I was expecting it to be like 15, and pictured myself huddled over a plate of lettuce at supper with no points left to spend. But there were plenty left over for a decent (though smaller than usual) meal. I thought back to the hundreds of times I had a piece of cheesecake or pie or whatever, and then told myself "well, that's it, I've blown it. I might as well keep eating." Hundreds of calories later, my day was trashed. When the truth is, I never really blew it, and I should have just stopped right then.

My goal is to keep eating consciously like this - not depriving myself of anything, not eliminating food groups, and satisfying a craving with a (hopefully) moderate, planned portion. This must be how normal people eat.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

gate crasher

new clothes!
Sometimes I like to hang my new clothes on the fence and take photos of them as the sun sets.

When I finally got home after working late and running errands, I was greeted with a package of NEW CLOTHES from Old Navy. I had never ordered from them before, so I didn't know what to expect. I opened everything very carefully in case I had to send something back. But I don't. Everything fit! And not only that, I love it all.

I've been going through my fall/winter clothes and deciding what to keep and what to donate. When I got done, 98% of my clothes were in the "donate" pile. Obviously, I haven't put a lot of thought into fashion in the past four years. When I was sick, my goal was to not leave the house naked. Shopping consisted of dashing into a store, buying whatever fit and wasn't hideous, and leaving. When I started putting on pounds, I cared even less about what I was wearing, telling myself I'd start dressing better once I lost weight. This, from someone who was an absolute clothes horse when I lived in Manhattan, always shopping, always wearing something new and cute. How did I turn into this frumpy girl?

Therefore: clothes that are unflattering and make me feel like crap? Leaving.

So that was a happy part of my day, as well as my big platter of raw cauliflower with light dip.

But there were other little annoying things that happened. Such as swinging the side gate open and having the entire thing fall off. It's heavy, so it came crashing down on my legs. The culprit is a broken . . . um . . . clamp thingee. How does a huge, thick metal part crack like that? A trip to Home Depot is in order. I don't even know what I'm looking for. Do I tell the worker that I cracked my thingee? Perhaps I should take a photo with me.

broken fence!
Broken fence and the cracked thingee. Note Sophie & Sadie peering through the lattice doggie fence.

So I propped the fence against my house and went in. I had bought a replacement Brita filter for my tap, so I took the old one off. I must have gotten distracted with something else, went back, turned the water on to get a drink, and water came SHOOTING straight up and out of the filter-less tap. Like a moron, I put my hands up to block it and only managed to deflect the spray all over the window, counter, floor, and me. Nice.

Here are photos of the dogs, showing off their tiny-ness. Just because they make me smile. And now I'm going to bed.



Tuesday, September 9, 2008

decisions, decisions

Barn built by my great-grandpa, on our family property where I grew up.

This is my most stressful time of the year at work. We're getting ready for the big annual expo/trade show, which means there are a bazillion graphics, lightbox panels, flyers, brochures, mousepad designs, signs, banners, t-shirt designs, and whatever else happens to come my way. Changes, confusion, deadlines being pushed to the max and then pushed some more. Today, pretty much nothing went my way, and at one point I was so frustrated I actually laid my head on the desk for a few minutes to get myself together, moaning silently in agony.

A day like today would normally send me screaming straight to Taco Bell, to numb my feelings with crispy meaty goodness and blobs of sour cream to warm my heart like a big, greasy hug. But this is the New and Improved Lisa, and that girl does not troll the drive-thru anymore. Though she does have many fine memories of midnight Big Mac runs in her pajamas.

I didn't feel like shopping, but I couldn't just go home and figure out what to eat when I got there. This would be dangerous territory, possibly involving overflowing plates of spaghetti and mounds of powdery parmesan cheese. I was running low on supplies - no fruit left, no lettuce, not even my beloved zucchini.

So I went to Westborn and stocked back up. Plums, more zucchini, cauliflower, a canteloupe, three big containers of mixed leaf lettuce, avocados, cottage cheese, mandarin oranges, and more. My favorite purchase was a bag of fresh green beans, grown locally. I came home, cut off the ends, boiled them, and ate them as my pre-dinner with a bit of butter. All of them. They were so fresh and good.

One day at a time, one decision at a time.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

eggy thing


This is one of my favorite ways to eat eggs - I've always called it "that eggy thing". It's a great way to get a huge portion of vegetables into your meal, while getting protein (and satisfying your scrambled eggs and cheese craving). It actually has more vegetables than eggs in it.

You can use whatever vegetables you have on hand that sound good to you. I almost always start with zucchini and go from there. It's also good with asparagus or onions or both. Or artichoke hearts. Ooo! I just thought of that one. Yes, artichokes!

Here's how I make it: sautee lots of zucchini and summer squash (or whatever veggies you want to use) in a teaspoon or so of olive oil, a pinch of red pepper flakes, and as much fresh minced garlic you want. Add dashes of water as it cooks to keep it from drying out. In the meantime, beat two or three eggs in a bowl. When the vegetables are cooked, turn the flame down and dump the eggs over the top. Quickly stir it all up until your eggs are done. Sprinkle an ounce or so of cheddar cheese (or whatever cheese you fancy) over the top, fold whole thing over a few times, and slide it into a gigantic pasta bowl. It's big. You really can't add too many vegetables to it.

I'm feeling much better today, just dealing with some residual bleccchh feelings. Remember that six week herx from hell? This is nothing like that. I slept another 10 hours last night and spent today in the yard and in the house cleaning. I'm telling you: sleep, lots of water, and a hot Epsom bath is like magic.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

put a hex on the herx


Well, after all my grand "I'm changing my life, I barely have Lyme, and I'm going to do new and exciting things, blah, blah, blah" speech, you'll never guess what I woke up to today.

I'm herxing.

Yep, all the old favorites are back. Chest pressure, heavy legs, wierd neurological yuckies all over and especially in my legs and feet, jumpy vision. Yay, the bacteria are dying. Crap, there are still bacteria in me left to die. It's still so much better than it used to be, though. On a scale of 1 to 10, this herx would be about a 3. At my worst, a herx would be, oh I don't know, maybe a 27? Regardless, still annoying.

I refuse to fix up the couch as Herxy Central because I'm planning on not feeling awful for long. If I need to sleep, I will - it's the most healing thing. But no hunkering down in the living room like I'm hiding in a bomb shelter unless things get really nasty.

I was able to get some things done today anyway. I changed my living room around, vacuuming behind and under all the furniture where all the cat hair, dog bones, and hair scrunchies end up. I moved my bookcase back against the north wall, and there it will stay. This entailed taking the books off of it, dusting all the shelves, and arranging the books back on it. Anything with the word "arranging" or "organizing" makes me moan in despair, so this was not fun.

Then the kind mailman brought me my curtains and rods I ordered from JC Penney. Whoo-hoo! They're brick red, microsuede thermals that will help block both heat and cold upstairs. They look great, and I love love love the glass finials I chose for the ends of the rods. They look like little pumpkins.

The late afternoon was just gorgeous - warm in the sun, cool in the shade, a slight breeze that was a combination of the two. I took my book out under the tree to relax with the dogs, but after an hour I had to come inside and take a nap. I just couldn't hold my head up anymore and the Lyminess of myself was in full force. I thought I'd sleep for awhile and then go back outside and continue enjoying the day.

When I woke up, it was dark out. Dark! I slept for THREE AND A HALF HOURS. And this is after nine hours of sleep last night. Good grief.

I'm off to soak in the jacuzzi tub with Epsom salt to help detox myself. Then, more sleep, and hopefully tomorrow I'll wake up feeling better.

Friday, September 5, 2008

new face in the garden


Happy Friday!

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

happiest place on earth


I love buying produce. One of my favorite places is Westborn Market. I walk in and I'm instantly in a good mood (note to self: when depressed, go shopping for squash). It's kinda-sorta on my way home from work and worth the few miles out of my way. Tomatoes! Little personal watermelons! Cute apricots that smell so good you want to stick your face in the bin! Piles of sweet corn! Bags of red cherries! Where to begin?


I loaded up on avocados, a gigantic tub of mixed green lettuce, plums, summer squash, zucchini, and garlic hommus. I bought a spaghetti squash, which I don't know how to cook and have never eaten. I also bought some fruit called pluots, which is a cross between a plum and an apricot. Who knew? When they start crossing plums and beer, I'll be even more excited.

In the spirit of feeding myself better, I came home and made a big salad with avocado, homemade sesame dressing (recipe follows), and a sprinkle of sunflower seeds. Then I ate two of the pluots - YUM. Very sweet and juicy.

Oh, and I also moved a pilates DVD to the top of my Netflix queue so it will arrive by the weekend. I can't put any impact on my foot or even walk for long distances, but I suppose that's no excuse for not working out. Though it was nice while it lasted. I like aerobic exercise, the huff and puff-sweat-dripping-down-your-bright-pink-face-heart-jumping-all-over-music-blasting high energy workouts. I was never one to pop in a video and do situps and squats. Yuck. However, I am reminding myself that I am branching out, trying new things, and getting my ever-widening patootie off my couch. So yes. Pilates.

It's raining here. RAINING! We've had next to no rain here in August and are 3" below normal rainfall, which is quite the contrast to the soggy June we had. I was so excited that I took this photo through my windshield at Westborn (yes, I get to park in handicapped spots for awhile).


I found this recipe somewhere online a long time ago, but I have no idea where. I make it constantly and have the recipe taped inside my cupboard door.

Sesame Dressing

1/4 c. rice cooking wine
1/4 c. sesame oil
1/4 c. vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon sesame seeds
tiny pinch of red pepper flakes to taste

Put everything in a container or jar, keep it in the fridge, and shake it up like mad before you use it. You don't really need that much on your salad - the taste is wonderful.

You can find rice cooking wine in the Asian food section at most stores. I once made it with rice wine vinegar instead, but thought it was too tart.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

what i really did this weekend

sometimes i just like to lay in the lawn
And then sometimes I like to lay in the lawn and take photos of myself.

While the bright photos and adorable video make it look like I spent the weekend frolicking in my garden, hugging children, and twirling in ecstatic circles of great joy and sunshine, I'm afraid that's just not the case. Not to say I didn't have fun taking photos and talking with my 23-month old neighbor - I did. In fact, those were the most enjoyable moments of the weekend.

No, I spent my entire holiday weekend deep in introspection, wading through the quagmire that has become my life and trying to figure out how to make things better.

I'm not happy. I look happy, I smile and chat with people, I am well-groomed, take showers, and leave the house every day to work hard at my job. I paint my toenails wacky colors, sing stupid songs to my dogs, and and enjoy watching Dirty Jobs just so I can lust after Mike Rowe. But on the inside, there's a lot of work to be done.

When I was sick, all I wanted was to be better. I wanted my life back. And now my Lyme is 95% in remission, and I'm finding it easier just to remain in sick mode. Which is, I suppose, not good.

I work great in a crisis - while herxing, I could set myself up on the couch in 10 minutes flat so all I had to do for two days is get up to use the bathroom. I know how to battle bacteria, breathe through a bout of depression, and do all sorts of things to feel better. I know how to get healthy, I just don't know how to live healthy.

In my defense, the past four years have royally blown chunks. I got Lyme disease which I didn't know was Lyme and my doctors and friends thought I had gone crazy; my boyfriend broke up with me after four years and moved on to someone else immediately; my grandma died; I finally got diagnosed with Lyme, and then started the soul-sucking treatment that killing those nasty bacteria entails. I mean, who wouldn't want to disappear from life? You can't deal with all that without finding some sort of coping mechanism. For me, it was medicating myself with food and staying home a lot. It was so much safer - I was so strung out and raw from all the crap that I couldn't stand to put myself out there and live like a normal person. I don't blame myself for finding a way of coping.

But, as Dr. Phil would say, "how's that workin' for ya?" Well, Dr. Phil, I must say, it surely is not.

On Friday night I milled restlessly around my house. Should I call someone? I should. Did I want to call someone? No. Why didn't I want to call someone? Why was I spending a sunny three-day weekend with no desire to leave the house? Why wasn't I reaching out? Why was my kitchen filled with all sorts of junk so I could numbly munch another weekend away? What if I lived to age 100 like this until one day the meter reader discovered my lifeless, mummified body sitting under the walnut tree still clutching a bag of Funyons? This just couldn't go on.

In three days I read four self-help books. I took notes. I wrote stuff. I processed stuff. There were some tears and frustration. I'd take a break when it was too much and then go back at it. I didn't do much of anything else - I just sat under my tree with pens and books and notebooks and GOT THE HELL THROUGH IT. Pondered my body issues, my anger about getting sick in the first place, my absolute exhaustion regarding men and relationships. Last night I came to the end of all this, and I leaned back on the couch and thought, "I think I just woke up."

I'm not saying I'm instantly cured, but whatever it was that clicked for me this weekend was amazing. And hard. But mostly amazing. It's like I peeked out of my hole and saw that there was so much more to life than what I'm doing. I've laid the groundwork to break out of my rut, take my control back, and live the life I deserve. Finally.

Monday, September 1, 2008

how i spent my labor day

I read under the walnut tree. I washed my car. I did three loads of laundry and took the trash to the curb. And I was visited in my yard by this lovely little girl: