Thursday, September 27, 2012

Ow My Head

Yesterday I got this huge grody mole on the back of my head removed.  There was nothing wrong with it, no cancer suspicions or anything, it was just huge and grody and needed to be off of my head.

This morning I woke up with the worst migraine I've had in a long time.  I was really close to tears, actually.  I took the Tylenol that the dermatologist said I could take for any pain because it's not a blood thinner and they don't want my head wound to bleed, since the head is so vascular.

Then a couple of hours later, after trying to will the headache away with an icepack on my head and the covers pulled up to block out all light, I decided I didn't care about the blood thinning issue and I took 3 Excedrin.  A little while later, I spent 15 minutes going through all my bags and drawers, hoping to find a stray prescription migraine pill that actually works.  No luck.

Finally the Excedrin started to kind of work, so I got up and drank a Diet Coke (another migraine helper, believe it or not) and ate 2 eggs.  Managed to keep all of that down, which was a feat considering how my stomach felt.

So anyway, here I sit at home, with piles of things to do at work, and only marginally able to concentrate enough to do a little bit of that work.  My head still hurts, but not quite as badly.  I keep popping Excedrin, hoping instead of just keeping the worst pain at bay, they will eventually make the headache go away entirely.

Jason speculates that this may due to my head surgery yesterday.  It seems like a bit of an extreme reaction to getting a mole removed.  I'm going to say it's a side effect from suffering head trauma.  That sounds better.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Peppers Galore

Jason grew a lot of peppers this year.  Truth be told, I'm not a huge pepper fan, particularly of the bell pepper variety.  I have tried many, many times to like bell peppers and I just can't do it.

Nevertheless, we have a lot of peppers to get through in the next couple of weeks.  I most wanted to make Jason something with the caballero peppers that he grew and which he loves but that I do not like at all.  They're a good size for stuffing and I figured I could knock some of those out of our supply with a good dinner recipe using lots of peppers.  After asking my Facebook friends (particularly those from Tucson) for a chile relleno recipe, I realized that, wow, chile rellenos are complicated and time-consuming!

So I came up with my own spicy stuffed peppers recipe with meatballs and more peppers!  In the crock pot!

  • 6-7 caballero peppers (can also use bell pepper or any other pepper that is stuffable.  The caballero peppers are kind of small (3 inches long by 2 inches wide) so if you're using big bell peppers, 1-3 should suffice for this recipe)
  • 1 1/2 pounds ground beef
  • 1/2 C bread crumbs
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped small
  • 5-6 banana peppers and/or parker peppers, seeds removed and chopped small
  • 2 T cumin
  • 4 T chili powder
  • 2 t salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 15 oz can no salt added diced tomatoes (can also use fresh tomatoes, but I'm saving ours for caprese salad and homemade tomato sauce)
  • 1 15 oz can tomato sauce

Cut off the tops and bottoms of the caballero peppers and remove all seeds.  The bottoms are cut off so that the peppers can stand up in the crock pot.

Mix together ground beef, bread crumbs, onion, about 2/3 of your chopped peppers, 1 1/2 T cumin, 2 T chili powder, 1 t salt, and eggs.  Probably easiest to mix with your hands.

Stuff the caballero peppers with beef mixture.  Roll the rest of the beef mixture into meatballs, about 2 inches in diameter.

In a separate bowl mix together diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, rest of the chopped peppers, 1/2 T cumin, 2 T chili powder and 1 t salt.  Taste and/or smell to make sure that the strongest flavors are the cumin and chili powder, not the tomatoes, otherwise you're just making slightly Mexican spaghetti sauce.  Add more cumin and chili powder as needed. 

Pour tomato mixture into the crock pot and spread evenly.  Place the stuffed peppers on end in the crock pot, then fill in the rest of the space with a layer of meatballs.  Cook on low for 8 hours.

We ate this for dinner last night and I ate leftover meatballs for lunch today.  Jason got his stuffed peppers, and I got some yummy meatballs.  Win win.

Thursday, September 20, 2012


I've been paying really close attention to how I feel both physically and emotionally over the past couple of days based on what I eat, by delicately tweaking my diet and reflecting on the slight cues from my body.  Last night I decided to toss this whole delicate nonsense because being delicate is for losers, I guess...?

I volunteer with the teenage girls at my church and last night was our activity night.  I got home from work and fixed myself a big salad, figuring I might have something else small after the activity when we met up with some friends for bar trivia.  It turned out that trivia didn't work out, but Jason and a couple of friends went to the Texas Roadhouse for their Wednesday night steak special.

After my activity ended, I met them at the Roadhouse.  I wasn't hungry enough for a whole dinner so I got a buffalo chicken wings appetizer.  First mistake.  Turn out The Roadhouse's buffalo chicken is really buffalo sauce-coated breaded chicken.  Breaded.  Oh well.  So much for the high-protein appetizer I expected.  I ate all the celery and most of the chicken, though, because I was hungry.

Second mistake.  Downing a couple of the decadent Roadhouse rolls before I really thought about it.  I can't be sure if it was the rolls or the breading (though I'm leaning toward the rolls), but by the time I got home, I already felt bloated and Jason can attest to my irritability.

This morning I had a total carb hangover.  I felt tired and sluggish.  For the last few days I've been waking up a little bit before my alarm.  It's not that I didn't want to stay in bed on those mornings, but I felt awake and ready to get up.  This morning I just could not get out of bed.  I finally got up at 8:15 and sped through my morning routine to finally get to work by 9:15.  Lame. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Enough With the IMs, Coach!

Our Masters coach is absolutely obsessed with IMs!  For those of you who didn't catch this during the recent Olympics, IMs are Individual Medleys - Butterfly, Backstroke, Breaststroke, Freestyle.

The last few weeks, both the Tuesday morning workouts and the extra workout she sends us later in the week, have been all about the IMs.  I actually appreciate getting some variety from our new coach, because our old coach was all about freestyle.  Which, I love freestyle, but I also like the chance to practice the other strokes.

Howver, every practice recently I feel like I'm dying by the end of it.  And I don't even have high yardage to show for it!  Butterfly and especially Breaststroke slow me waaaay down, so it really impacts the distance I can swim in an hour.

Here was our workout this morning (which I'm sure will only be interesting to other swimmers, so feel free to skip.  I'm including it to emphasize the IM insanity):

200 warm up

16 100's:
1. Fly - 50 kick, 50 drill
2. Back - 50 kick, 50 drill
3. Breast - 50 kick, 50 drill
4. Free - 50 kick, 50 drill
5. Fly - 50 drill, 50 swim
6. Back - 50 drill, 50 swim
7. Breast - 50 drill, 50 swim
8. Free  - 50 drill, 50 swim
9-16 - odds 100 IM, evens 100 free

10 50s with :10 rest
Odds: 50 IM (12.5 Fly, 12.5 Back, 12.5 Breast, 12.5 Free)
Evens: 50 Free

At that point I had to get out of the pool a little early to get to a work meeting, but you get the idea.  It's been like this with the IMs for about 3 weeks now.

FYI, Butterfly is hard, everyone.  HARD.  I am in awe of the Olympics swimmers who race Butterfly.  So after a 25 or 50 of that, I am beat.  THEN I'm expected to swim Breast, which I am SO SLOW at.  I'm not really sure why.  I focus on my technique and try really hard, but I am just achingly, frustratingly slow.

Confession: when the extra weekly practice includes Breaststroke, I usually substitute Fly or Back.  I can only handle being extremely frustrated once a week.

Tomorrow morning I will hit the pool with one of my old coach's workouts and I will revel in the Freestyle!

Monday, September 17, 2012

A Day in Rhode Island

Jason and I bought too many Groupons this summer!  We got excited when all of the Groupons for the summer activities started coming out in May, and we snapped up a bunch.  Now we're struggling to use them all before they expire.

(For instance, since there was cruddy weather last weekend, I don't think we're going to get to use the stand-up paddleboarding Groupon before it expires. At least we can use the face value for a credit.)

On Saturday, we kayaked all day.  We bought Groupons from Narrow River Kayaks, thinking we would go twice for 4 hours.  Instead, we used both of them and kayaked all day.  Well, we didn't kayak ALL day, but for a long stretch.  Let's just say, today I am still feeling my lats.

My boss recommended this spot to us a few years ago and ever since we've tried to go back at least once a summer.  When you put in, you can either kayak up the river, past the lovely rich peoples' homes and boats, or head down the river to where it flows into the ocean, beach your kayak and play at the beach for awhile.  Since we had tons of time, we headed up the river first.

The thing you should know is that the tide was going out the whole time we paddled upriver.  If we paused for too long, we started going backwards.  We paddled further than we had in the past, and Jason figured we paddled upriver, against the tide and a strongish breeze, for about 2 1/2 miles.  In case you were wondering, that means Jason and I are awesome.

Then we turned around and went to the beach for a couple of hours.  All told, Jason thinks we paddled for 6 1/2 miles.

After we returned the kayaks, we drove to the beach at  Quonochontaug.  We checked out Quonochontaug last Fall, when Jason's brother was visiting, mainly because in the X-Files, it's the place where Mulder's family has a summer home.  And, yes, we are big nerds.

(Dear X-Files writers,  After living in New England for awhile now, I have to question your sense of geography.  Supposedly Mulder grew up on Martha's Vineyard (an ISLAND) and his family summered on the mainland in Rhode Island.  This makes no sense.  What also makes no sense is how Mulder was able to get from DC to Martha's Vineyard (an ISLAND) is just a few hours, no problem, with no thought of things like ferry schedules and such.)

We went for the nerd cachet, but discovered that Quonochontaug is this absolutely beautiful private community.  We also discovered on Saturday that in September, we could just wander around the restricted community beach.

This is a little-known fact about Rhode Island: the beaches are amazingly beautiful, the water is still warm in September, and after Labor Day, no one is around to make you pay for parking, or to keep you off of restricted beaches.

We rounded out the evening with dinner at Aunt Carrie's (which I keep wanting to call Sister Carrie's)  It is apparently a Rhode Island institution, and Jason took his parents there the last time they visited while I was working like a chump.  So good.  SO good!  Scallops of perfection!

Such a perfect Rhode Island day.  Sometimes this state drives me insane, with its corrupt politics and cronyism and bankruptcy, but it really is a lovely place.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

New Challenge: In Progress

One of my swim friends on Spark People created a new challenge to run from September 10 to October 10. She said to look at the principles that guide Diana Nyad from this article and focus on one or more of the principles for a month.

Here's what I'm doing:

First, #4 Nyad is a learning machine and #8 Nyad is coachable. I already try to internalize what my coach tells me to do to get better, but I'm going to really focus on that this month. Maybe I'll improve enough to not hate breaststroke!

Second, #2 Nyad embraces obstacles to growth. This past week has reminded me how fantastic I feel when I swim consistently. For the next month, I'll schedule in 3 swims and 1 strength training class per week.

Finally, #10 Nyad is a big thinker. I want to work on my sprint times. In the next month, I'm going to try to get down to either under 1:30 for a 100 free or under :40 for a 50 free, or both. I'm not sure if I can get there in a month, but I'm going to try!

So far this week is good.  Not only did I listen to and incoporate my coach's breaststroke advice  at Masters (and maybe got a little faster), but I swam Monday and Tuesday and I went to strength training class yesterday.  I'm feeling energized all day long (well, until around 9 PM because early morning workouts make me an old lady).  I haven't started the sprint work yet, but I'll get there.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

More Than Just Calories

I've written a lot about my frustration with the failure of the calories in/calories out equation in my life.  I think at this point I've gained back almost all the weight I lost 8 years ago, a big chunk of that over the past 2 years, but I haven't really changed that much in my life.  I have periods of eating healthy, and periods of not eating so healthy.  I have periods of working out regularly, and then working out irregularly.  After years of tracking my calories, I have a pretty good idea of my average calories per day, and yet I don't lose weight, despite all of the various equations telling me that I should be dropping weight, no problem.

Today I read Tom Naughton's latest post and was struck again by the ridiculousness of our standard nutritional guidelines and the expectation that every person should fit into a tidy little height/weight box.  Basically, Tom writes about his 2 dogs, who have been raised together, eating the same food, yet one is 18 pounds heavier, and much more muscular than the other.  In reality, it's not just calories in/calories out.  Weight and body shape is created by a complicated cocktail of calories, exercise, genetics and hormones.  The things we eat do impact how we look and what we weigh, but not in the simplistic manner that we've been taught.

Personally, I feel best when I exercise regularly and when I eat a lower carb diet, particularly excluding wheat.  I'm trying to make peace with the fact that despite all that I do, while I feel good, have low blood pressure and a low resting heart rate, I will most likely never be thin. 

(By the way, if you haven't seen Tom's movie Fat Head, I cannot recommend it enough.  Jason the Scientist confirms that the science is right on.)

Friday, September 07, 2012

Challenge Complete!

I finished my Olympics Challenge this morning!  16,025 yards in 16 days. 

This has actually been an awesome swimming week for me.  A friend of mine who swam in high school decided to join the Y and we met up 4 times this week to swim.  I've known since college that having a workout buddy is really key for me.  If I know someone is waiting for me, there is no way I'm going to stand her up.

We swam Monday morning, and then the last 3 mornings.  I completed the challenge with 0 days and 25 yards (ie, 1 lap) to spare!  Nothing like cutting it close.

My friend and I are already planning to swim next Monday, I have Masters swimming on Tuesday, and then she's going to join me for strength training class on Wednesday.  I'm sucking her into the world of swimming at the Y, and at the same time getting myself into a great routine.

I've also been doing really well with eating all week and I can feel it.  The good, clean eating plus 4 swims means I have a major endorphin buzz right now. 

I wish I could bottle this feeeling somehow, so that I could remind myself how awesome it feels to BE HEALTHY.  Why is it so hard to remember that?