Fighting the good fight, way more than I expected

3 weeks ago my life took a really sharp turn, one that will affect me for the rest of my life. I was diagnosed with breast cancer. If you have no experience of going through this, or of a friend or loved one fighting to make it through, then you will have no idea of the grief, fear, and anxiety that has affected me since I found out. I felt healthy, I was eating right, exercising, and losing weight. But that doesn’t count when it comes to a cancerous tumor growing inside you.

Right now I’ve lost 26 lbs. I still eat healthy, but my appetitite fluctuates greatly. Anxiety is a great hunger suppresant. I expect I will continue to lose weight over the course of my 9 month treatment. However, my ability to be completely dedicated to shopping, preparing and eating healthily every day will be impacted. My ability to go for hikes and snowshoeing adventures will be affected. I don’t know what’s going to happen in the coming months, but it will be the strangest and scariest journey of my life.

I don’t expect I’ll be posting here often, so if you don’t hear from me, there’s a really good reason. I didn’t fall off the wagon, I’m dealing with a serious illness. Already I’ve had 2 biopsies, 2 blood draws, an EKG, a MUGA (to test my hearts ability to function), a bone scan, an MRI, a CT scan, and had a surgery to put in a portable catheter in me, for which I’m still healing and have not yet recovered. In the next 2 weeks I begin 5 months of chemotherapy, and I will have surgery in the spring. During that process I will get chemo weekly for 12 weeks, then the second half is every other week for 8 weeks. I’ll have an additional 3 MRIs and several biopsies and many many blood draws. All that before a part of my body is removed. What I don’t know is how much will be removed. This will be a 9 month process before I can heal and move on.

Good luck everyone in your weight loss struggles. I’ll be dealing with it myself, but in a limited fashion over the next year.

dietmaven out.


Posted by on October 6, 2012 in Uncategorized


One month in…

Starting weight on June 22: 232 lbs
Current weight: 219 lbs

So in 31 days, I have lost 13 lbs. A big loss the first week, then a consistent loss 2 lbs per week. I’m very pleased!

I’ve noticed that fatty foods (the one day I had a cheeseburger after a 6 hour hike) still give me heartburn, but that I’m feeling really good when I eat quality foods: fresh fruits and vegetables, limited fats, complex carbs (quinoa, wasa rye crackers, etc), lean proteins (salmon, pork loin, chicken without skin). I have severely limited my alcohol consumption too (I’m trying to avoid drinking calories).

I’m noticing a few other things – drinking lots of water really does help with weight loss. The days I drink a lot (at least 8 glasses or more), I see a consistant change from day to day. The days I don’t drink sufficient amounts, I notice gains the next morning. Drinking also helps keep me full. If I don’t drink the morning at work, I become ravenously hungry and have difficulty sticking to my food during the day. I also have noticed that I absolutely *must* eat dinner at about 6 pm. I am just too hungry to deal with delaying my hunger any longer. Before Diet I would eat at 8 pm or as late as 10:30 pm! To be able to eat that late, I would have to have a snack (not low calorie, I assure you) after work, and then I’d overeat, and go to bed full, and wake up full. That whole process was broken, but it was the lifestyle I had with multiple previous boyfriends (to do activities after work, and eat super late). That won’t work for me any longer.

I’m looking forward to getting into the 100s – I am looking for a suitable reward for making it. I’ve never rewarded myself before for weight loss, but this seems like a significant milestone. I’ve only been below 200 lbs once in my adult lifetime – after a 2-month trip to India, Nepal, and Tibet (in which I was so revolted by the smells and food in Tibet that I lost my appetite, stopped eating, and lost a lot of weight). I remember getting down to 175 by the end of that trip (which did include quite a bit of serious hiking/exercising), but of course, didn’t do anything to keep it off when I returned to the US, and started eating “regular” food again, in large quantities, and in higher-fat and higher-calories than I needed.

Last night I also added in some at home exercises. I started doing planks and some crunches (a pathetic amount since it was my first time), which I will continue to add more in as I get used to them. I also did some of the physical therapy exercises I learned 9 months ago after some issues came up with overtraining some mucles and learning I had some week muscles that started causing some serious pain because of bigger muscles overcompensating for the weak muscles.

I’ve found that really brisk walking burns almost no calories for me. It just doesn’t raise my heartrate enough. If I walk at a 4.0 or faster on the flat, my heart rate gets to about 107 – 113 and I burn like 220 calories an hour (not very much!). Luckily, I do have some serious hills right by my house, so I can take some routes that burn more like 350 calories an hour by doing hiking/hill climbs (where my heart rate gets up to 145 uphill). I have to make myself get out and do that in the evenings, several times a week. Adding to a big hike every weekend (of 2300+ calories burned), that seems to be an ok level of exercise for me right now.

Here’s to the next 13 lbs!

dietmaven out.


Leave a comment

Posted by on August 23, 2012 in Health improvements, Weight loss


Weekend: down time & major up time

OMG hiking is hard! I’m glad I’m finally getting in shape. I did the steepest hike yet this year, Blanca Lake. Spent 8 hours on the trail, including an hour and a half stop at and in the lake. Hard work, lots of sweat, but fun times. Didn’t sound too bad on paper: 7.5 miles, 3300′ elevation gain. Definitely the most elevation I’ve done in 2012, and in such a short trip – most of my hikes are closer to the 9-10 mile range. So it was twice as steep and 3/4 as long. Whew! Still tired thinking about it.

The heat a few days earlier had gottten to me, so I took Saturday off to do a bunch of errands, relax, and soak up some down time. I still managed to get in 2 walks, so it wasn’t a total loss. I left myself a free meal that night, as I had a friend coming over for dinner (she’s my one main friend that is NOT on a special lose-weight diet). I thought it would be hot, so planned a picnic, which we would then walk down to the water and find a spot and . eat as the sun set. Ended up being a rather healthy meal, but it never got warm so we picniced in an overcast, cool evening. Still, it was so much fun! I made shrimp and scallop ceviche (no oil at all!), roasted chicken sandwiches with a tomato bruschetta spread instead of mayo, with a lot of veggies including pan-fried zucchini. Dessert was fruit salad. Overall, I did awesome. But I did have a shot of tequila and a small glass of white wine. I had also overdone it at a company summer party on Friday night – while I avoided alcohol, I did have 2 slices of pizza. It was within what I budgetted for the day, but when I got home, I kept going and ate a little too much (popcorn WITH butter on it, and extra dark chocolate, and a shot of brandy). Not too bad between both days, but definitely not something to continue with. Which leads me to Sunday, which I think more than made up for the prior 2 days of eating “a little too much.”

Sunday was a blast. I got up at 5:30 am, to get my friend picked up and be at the trailhead by 9 am. We got to the lake just after lunch, and had a nice refreshing dip to clean off all the grime and grit (and man, was it cold!!!). I ended up burning 2560 calories on the hike. Yeah!

Unfortunately, due to it being Sunday, we got stuck in major traffic on the way back. We had dinner at a local diner and I decided I could afford a cheeseburger, which was oh so delicious. I even ate a few french fries. Still, I kept to water and healthy food during the hike and still managed to eat my regular amount of calories for the day! By the time this was all over, I was getting home at 10:15 pm. It was hard to keep my eyes open on the drive home, but I managed it, and shortly crashed in bed.

Today I’m doing all the tasks I couldn’t do yesterday: making a pot of soup for the week (chicken sausage, kale, garbanzo vegetable soup), laundry, and finally posting here! I’m resting, since the muscles are still pretty sore. I’m noticing that after a day of major exertion and sweating, I tend to be quite hungry the next day. I’m finding that I’m eating more than normal the day after, so I’m not too worried. I ate about 200 calories too many today, but I should be ok tomorrow.

Tomorrow is get out and exercise day, followed by let’s start doing some core exercies like planks evening. Can’t wait (that was sarcasm by the way). Soups done, I’m overdue for sleep, and I finally got in my 8th cup of water for the day. Luckily, I spent my time wisely, and have made a nice, healthy lunch for the rest of the week. I even portioned it out so I can just grab it and go. 4 jars full of soup, 4 days left in the week.

‘Night, dietmaven out.

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 21, 2012 in Excuses, Weekend warrior


Since I started…

Days I’ve been on this journey: 28
Boxes of Cheerios: 2
Cartons of Soymilk: 3
Change in pant size: 18 to 16
Starting weight: 232
Current weight: 220
Weight loss to date: 12 lbs
Things bought since starting: $90 Polar Heart Rate Monitor, $110 biking shorts, $40 bike rack (includes installation), $35 scale
Number of times I’ve eaten out: 1
Number of times I’ve not brough lunch to work: 3
Places I’ve eaten at work when I haven’t brought lunch: Subway
Pieces of candy/chocolate I’ve eaten at work: 1 (it was mostly nuts, not *that* much caramel)
Number of donuts &/or cupcakes I’ve eaten at work: 0 (notice I didn’t mention apple pie?)
Number of opportunities to eat donuts &/or cupcakes at work: 4
(Ok fine!) Number of times I’ve eaten apple pie at work: 0.5 (it was a SMALL piece)
Accidents: 1
Times I’ve eaten pizza: 1 (it was a work party ,I budgetted & only ate 2 slices)
Times I’ve eaten popcorn for dessert: too many to count
TImes I’ve eaten butter on said popcorn: 1
Number of sodas I’ve drank: 1 can of gingerale (I was weak – it was HOT!)
Number of staircases I’ve found in my neighborhood to go walk up and down: 3 (2 over 100 stairs!)

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 18, 2012 in Stats


Tags: , ,

Heat. Cranky. Weekend plans.

I live in the northwest because it has a temperate climate. I don’t mind the lengthy overcast winters. Heck, I don’t even mind the rain. But when it gets over 80 degrees in the summer, I get cranky and uncomfortable. Yesterday and today we’re having an “extreme heat advisory” and it’s getting up to 94 today. That’s not really all that bad – especially when you consider these are really the first times we’re getting hot days this year. However, I hate them, truly I do! And I work in the loft in a warehouse that does not have AC. It’s brutal by afternoon. I’m already sweating and unhappy and it’s not even 2 pm.

I doubt I’ll have a repeat of last weekend great physical activities. I am planning a hike on Sunday (Lake Bianca) which is 7.5 miles and has 3300′ of elevation gain. Steep in a short package. But it is supposedly a beautiful glacier blue tarn. We will see. Saturday? I have no plans. I am planning an evening picnic with a friend along the waterfront (walking distance from my house, oh how lovely), which we will probably do by bike and skateboard. Trying to figure out what to make that I can strap to my bike rack or put in a backpack. I’m thinking shrimp ceviche and maybe a flank steak over salad, or maybe my quinoa feta salad as a side. I’m giving myself a pass that night on calories – I’ll have a nice meal, a bottle of wine, and some good food. Whether or not I get any physical activity is another story.

Doing ok on the food front. I’m noticing I have a hard time eating within my calorie limitations when I get less than 8 hours. Also, I drink less when it’s hot (I am less inclined to want to make hot tea). Oh well, should cool down soon.

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 17, 2012 in Weekend warrior



Weight Fluctuations – Fascinating!

The human body is an amazing thing. I’m really fascinated by how much it works. I’m having fun with my new electronic scale. I’m seeing how my weight changes from morning to evening (a 2-3 lb gain over the course of the day, usually). I’m seeing how drinking a pot of tea has no impact on my weight (not even by .2 lb!). Bowel movements (sorry, this may be TMI) don’t seem to have any impact on weight changes either! But yesterday I was really surprised.

I had an intense weekend of activity, burned 3800 calories, was outside a lot, probably needed to hydrate more, but tried my best to drink LOTs. Yesterday was a regular day. I had work, errands, and unfortunately forgot to eat my late afternoon snack. By the time I got hime, I was ravenous, always a danger. I got a bigger dinner than I should have, but it was still within my calories for the day. I drank 7 glasses of water during the day, not bad for me. I was up a few pounds by evening, according to the scale (as I expected). And this morning???

This morning I showed a 6 lb gain from yesterday morning. I increased my weight between before bed and after I woke up. That’s never happened before. Crazy, huh?

Anyway, I’m not concerned. I ate as I’m supposed to, maybe a little heavier in the evening, but still within acceptable limits. I wonder if my body is a sponge slurping up all the food/energy/water it can to make up for this weekend? That’s all I can guess at. I’m sure it’ll go back to normal amounts in a day or two. But it’s so wierd in the interrim.


Leave a comment

Posted by on August 14, 2012 in weight gain



3 week weight loss update

It’s been 3 weeks now since I (re)started this journey. To date, I have now lost 11 pounds. I’m very pleased!

Props to’s MyPlate – it is helping me track my calories and see the nutritional breakdown of my food (goal is 50% carbs, 25% protein, 25% fat). It lets me weigh (pun intended) my options for what I want to eat & lets me decide if I there’s room for more food at dinner, or my options for dessert.

Right now I’m trying to reevaluate my meals to include more protein – I think I don’t get quite enough for my activity level. I think I’m going to add in some protein to my breakfasts.

Excuse me while I go eat my wasa rye crackers with almond butter. Hunger calls.

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 13, 2012 in Uncategorized


Epic weekend

This was a great weekend – 2 days of major exercise. Saturday spent all day on a hike to Surpise Lake. Left home at 6:50 am, got home at 9:30 pm. Had a great time meeting a bunch of hikers on a meetup hike, had a relaxing hour at the lake (blessedly bug free), went for a swim (brr!), and at the end, went out for dinner as a group. Did the best I could – had a Cobb salad with very little dressing, and drank water. I am not at all concerned about the bacon or blue cheese on it, I ate all of it, yum. And so tired! 2300 calories burned!

Before the weekend was even begun, I had made plans to go for a bike ride on Sunday. Convinced my bff to do both with me. We started in North Seattle at her house, joined up the Burke Gilman Trail, went around the top of Lake Washington to the eastside and contined on the Sammamish River Trail to Marymore Park. Round trip: 40 miles in 4 hours (not including breaks)!!!! 1500 calories burned!

While nothing was hurting, I was generally sore and fatigued. Had to take a nap at 6 pm, too tired to do anything else. Woke up, went on the internet for a few hours, and back to bed!!!

The biggest thing I struggle with is eating during these activities. How to balance eating to provide sufficient energy during activities, yet still stick to a calorie-deficient diet? I’m trying to eat as I normally do, and just have a lot more snacks, spaced out. Rather than eating meals, I’ll have parts of food a lot more often.

First thing in the morning: normal breakfast – Cheerios and soymilk with fruit
Half hour before starting a hike: Kashi or other bar or maybe a serving of fruit
1 -2 hours into the activity: Snack #1 (a bar or fruit or nuts)
3-4 hours in: Lunch – a small sandwich with protein, lettuce, mayo or avocado, bread of some kind
5-6 hours in: Snack #2 – see snack #1 above

Biking is more challenging. I don’t wear a backpack, and my carry case on my bike is precious tiny. It fits a tire, emergency inflation, my wallet, my phone, 1-2 bar/energy snacks, lip balm and keys. That’s it. Hard to bring lunch with me, so I have to just pace out my eating to multiple small snacks. So far so good, but I’m extra ravenous at the end!

Of course, during this all, I try and drink 4 oz of water about every 20-30 minutes. I notice this isn’t enough. If you don’t have the urge to pee, you’re not drinking enough! I’m trying, I bring 2 liters of water every hike and seem to drink about the same on bike rides (luckily there are plenty of water fountains along bike trails), but I’m going to start bringing 3 liters on hikes. Plus, don’t forget the water for after the event is over. Drink up! Drink plenty! Hydrate!

So far it’s working pretty well for me. Dinner is all about recovery. I often find I’m starving, but fill up quickly. I don’t know what it is, but after intense exercise, I often am not that interested in food. Rest yes, big calorie-loaded dinner, no. It’s the silver lining to spending half or more than a day in any single physical activity.

So what did you do this weekend?


Posted by on August 13, 2012 in Calorie burn, Weekend warrior



The thing that tipped me over the edge

I’ve been thinking about how I finally found the courage to change my life and reduce my food intake to 1500 calories a day. I certainly was overdue from getting back on the health bandwagon (having fallen off in fall 2011, after having been on it for the previous 8 or so months). I certainly had lots of inspiration in my personal life – two of my besties are on diets and losing weight, and making great strides. However, I’ve been thinking about one little detail that I think did it for me. Bear with me, this is a little difficult to talk about.

Everyone’s heard of the fit but fat thing, right? Well, I never started out athletic in life, but I rode horses through my entire teenage life, and I guess it put some nice muscles in some important places. I’ve always taken pride in my muscular physique, even if I didn’t do anything to deserve it. Eventually, in my mid-20s, I started weight lfting for the first time (at a gym at work). It didn’t last forever, but that started the cycle of periodically joining a gym, doing hard core weight lifting and pushing cardio hard. I would do it, and run, and be all serious about my goals, but then I’d get an injury, or get a rash from running in a delicate area that prevented me from even walking for several days, ahem (I never knew there existed anything that prevented chaffing until last year, how unfair!!!). Or I’d get sick and by the time I was over it, I was out of the gym habit. You know how it goes, excuse after excuse. Starting and stopping. Lose weight, only to gain it back again.

Ok. So I’ve been relatively “fit” and muscular most of my adult life. I always carried my weight well. Yes, I was fat. Yes, I looked overweight. Yes, I wore baggy clothing to hid in. BUT, I have always been, and still am, secretly proud that I have a solid form, and good muscle tone underneath it all. Well, there is a point when this starts to be overwhelmed by being fat. There’s a point when you see the fat first, and everything else later. For me, 220-230 lbs is that point. The last few months I got to that point and went past it. The point when there’s no where else for the fat to go, so it goes into your face, and you start getting the double chin. That point has always been when I decide to get in shape and lose weight. This time was no different, but yet, this time, there was something extra pushing me to make the plunge to a healthy lifestyle.

For the first time in my life, at age 41, I started having trouble sleeping at night – the fat under my chin was pressing on my throat and making me uncomfortable. To be able to not feel it and be able to sleep, I would have to stretch my head all the way back, without a pillow, in order to not feel that pressure. I got tired of being uncomfortable in bed, every night I would think about if I just lost weight this would go away. It took several weeks before enough was enough. I think this is the reason I decided to do it, and to take weight loss seriously. And already, I can feel a difference. That’s what it’s all about.

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 12, 2012 in Starting over


Health changes since I cleaned up my diet

I’ve only been on this journey for 3 weeks, but there have already been some changes:

I no longer have heart burn. I was going through 3-5 regular strength tums a day. I would put a few in my pocket every day, to ensure I wasn’t ever caught somewhere with acid reflux. I blame: coffee, alcohol, & fatty unhealthy foods, none of which I’m eating right now. I had it periodically the first week and a half, but it’s been a while since I had any discomfort. It’s nice not having to freak out about not having a pill on me, at my desk at work, in my shoulder bag, in my bike carry compartment, in my car dashboard….

I haven’t had a nosebleed in weeks. I think it’s due to not blowing my nose as much. I have had constantly dripping sinuses, for the last few years actually. I would have to have tissues around me everywhere. I rarely use them anymore, now that I think about it. I wonder if it’s the lack of cheese & milk (which I would put in coffee or cook with). I know I am lactose intollerant – it makes me mucousy. Well, since I was blowing my nose constantly all day every day, every so often (like at least once a week), I would get a nosebleed. Just a little, and usually in only one nostril. But it started to be pretty common. I haven’t had it in 3 weeks. Yeah.

My coworker bff has told me my skin looks a lot better. More glowey and stuff. Hmm. I don’t see it quite yet, myself, but she knows things like that, so it must be true.

My clothes fit better, and I feel physically better, lighter and more energetic. I’m sure I’ll notice more things, but these are the obvious ones for now.

If you’re eating cleaner, or with less unhealthy stuff in your diet, what do you notice?

Leave a comment

Posted by on August 11, 2012 in Health improvements