Big Fat Queer

October 2, 2011

I Satisfied a Craving

Last week I passed the sixth week after my weight loss surgery, and one of the things that was added to my approved foods list was pasta. Now, I’m supposed to focus on proteins and minimize carbs, but occasionally I can have some pasta. And now, with the smaller stomach, I can only eat a fraction of what I could before, so it isn’t much pasta at that.

A little over a year ago I saw Scott Conant, the celebrity chef at Scarpetta (among other restaurants), make his famous spaghetti with tomato sauce on the Food Network. I tried it and loved it. In fact I blogged about it.

Tonight I made it again, pictured above, and it satisfied a craving I have had for about a month. I froze enough sauce for two more servings, which I will not have anytime soon because if I eat too much of this I can undo all of my progress. Speaking of which, for those of you who have followed my YouTube postings, you know I have been at a plateau (not losing any weight) for three weeks. Well, over the last four days I lost five pounds, so the plateau seems to have ended. Oddly enough it ended when I increased my caloric intake, which apparently took my body out of starvation mode – or it was coincidence. Hard to know for sure.

The thing about this tomato sauce, is that once you try it you won’t be satisfied with any other tomato based pasta sauce. It is simple, but rich, creamy, unctuous and full of fresh flavor. If you want to make this sauce yourself, follow this link for details.

August 31, 2011

Two Weeks Post Op – Two and a Quarter Miles

Last night I got a pretty solid six hours of sleep and after being up for a while I had another hour “recliner nap” so today my energy was pretty good. I felt better than I have since the surgery and took advantage of it with a nice long walk. I took some pictures along the way.

I went east to York Avenue and walked down towards the hospital where I had my surgery. It was my home away from home for a week and I haven’t been in that area since I got out. Along the way I passed by Sotheby’s auction house, which is one of the larger buildings on that path (it’s at 72nd Street and York Avenue).

Sotheby's Auction House.

Once you get further south on York you enter the hospital zone. The largest is New York Presbyterian where I had my surgery and lived for a week. It is the teaching hospital of Cornell Medical School and also affiliated with Columbia Medical School. It is a huge complex of buildings and divisions. According to US News and World Report’s hospital issue this year, NYP is rated No. 1 in New York and No. 6 nationally. They are in the top two or three in several categories. From my experience, they deserve the ranking.

New York Presbyterian Hospital Main Building

This is the main building. I have tried to find out who the architect is without much luck. If anyone knows please educate me.

Across York Avenue from NYP is Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital which is ranked as the second best cancer hospital in the United States. I hope I never need their services, but it is good to know that such good quality care is walking distance from home.

Memorial Sloan Kettering Hospital

Across from Sloan Kettering and next door to NYPH is The Rockefeller University, which is a small research institution. There is no undergraduate school there. The only students are doctoral candidates and post doctoral fellows.

Entrance to The Rockefeller University

Close up of Rockefeller U Entrance

For a small university The Rockefeller University has large accomplishments.

Past The Rockefeller University there is a footbridge to a promenade along the East River. I walked over than and took a rest on a bench by the river.

The 59th Street Bridge over the East River and Roosevelt Island.

East River Tug and Barge

On the 71st Street foot bridge back from the river you can see the Hospital for Special Surgery which is ranked as the No. 1 hospital nationally for orthopedics and No. 2 for Rheumatology.

The Hospital for Special Surgery

With these top ranked hospitals and Rockefeller University in just a few blocks the amount of brainpower and healing concentrated in such a small area is almost palpable. I have walked this walk many times over the years and I am still impressed by the amount of groundbreaking science that goes on here.

My ankles are skinnier than they have been in a decade.

July 12, 2011


Just a quick update. I did homework for the nutritionist appointment on Thursday tonight. I had to update my food diary for the last few days and make sample menus for my post surgery meals. The focus is making sure to get in 60-80 grams of protein despite the limitations on the amount of food that can be taken in. It took some work, but I got it done.

Other things I have been working on for over a week:

1. Practice separating liquids and foods (and not drinking liquids 30 min before/after meals). Pretty good at that.
2. Add 1000 iu Vitamin D3 to the multivitamin I am already taking. I have been taking for a week now.
3. Think protein.
4. Choose only sugar-free fluids (which I already do)
5. Practice eating slowly, chewing well. I am working on this, making some progress, but I have to retrain myself.
6. Consult with pharmacist/doctor about medications that need to be ground up. My Dr. will get back to me.
7. Try to lose some weight. I think I have lost about 10 lb, but I will be weighed on Thursday.
8. Exercise. I have been using the Upper Body Exerciser regularly.
9. Keep food records. I’m using (which also has an iPhone app).
10. Create after surgery sample menus (done).
11. Attend support group meeting. Did that, and will attend another if it comes up before surgery.
12. Measure amount of 1/2 and 1/2 I use in my coffee. I drink one mug a day, usually, with 2 tbsp = 40 calories.

I am on track to get cleared after this appointment unless I am misunderstanding something.

My food diary for today:

Sample Menus for After Surgery:

July 11, 2011

I’m Pleepy

A friend of mind teaches pre-school and one of her students once told her he was pleepy. Me too. I had a long day. I got up earlier than normal because I am training a new staff person who started today. Days where I work closely with one person without my usual breaks and diversions really wear me out. Aside from going in early I stayed about an hour and a half later than normal. I will not do any exercise tonight because I am about to fall over from exhaustion, but I will report on my day.

I took the new person to lunch at a really nice place in the work neighborhood. It is upscale Italian and I managed to stay pretty healthy in spite of the many temptations. I had an appetizer of prosciutto and figs, only about 2 oz of meat and three very fresh and delicious figs. My entree was grilled talapia with about two tablespoons of soft polenta. As it is an upscale restaurant the portions were small (at twice the price!), so I managed to eat pretty healthy.

When I came home a made a turkey burger on rye bread with a side dish of cucumber slices, red bell pepper and tomatoes with just a bit of salt and red wine vinegar.

I will have a Chobani non-fat peach yogurt after I post this then plotz in front of the TV. Anthony Bourdain’s series started a new season tonight (first episode set in Havana). I will watch that then go to bed.

The MyFitnessPal app on my iPhone totals my calories at 1330 for the day with 111 grams of protein. In looking at my food analysis for the last few days I am probably getting too much carbs, despite the low calories. I need to watch that. I will weigh in at the nutritionist appointment Thursday. I expect to have dropped a few pounds.

You can click the picture below if you want to know more about Chobani yogurt.

July 10, 2011

Back on Track

Poached eggs, rye toast and Sriracha.

Today I did well. For breakfast I had two perfectly poached eggs (using the steamer) with rye toast. Breakfast was late so I didn’t eat lunch. I had a half cup of apple sauce (no sugar added) for a snack. For dinner I had 6 ounces of grilled chicken with some pureed peas, pureed yellow squash, pureed green beans and pureed carrots (1/4 cup each). I will have a 6 oz Chobani Lemon Greek yogurt for a late snack. That brings me to 1100 calories for the day. I did 20 minutes on the Upper Body Exerciser. It said it burned 194 calories, though I think that is an overstatement. Maybe 100.

This is the Upper Body Exerciser, which is basically a tabletop stationary bicycle that I pedal with my hands. Actually “pedal” is not the right word since it is from the Latin for foot. What would the manual equivalent of pedal be?

Upper Body Exerciser

July 9, 2011

Vicarious Exercise

I must have burned a thousand calories just watching these guys exercise 🙂

Yesterday I began the process of losing weight before the surgery. When I get a specific date they will tell me when to do the liquid diet, but for now just a general effort to lose some weight. I am not on the post-op diet, but I am eating some vegetable purees because I like them. Fortunately I don’t have to puree my proteins so I am eating grilled chicken (mostly), and fish. I tried to find veal in the market today but not a single item of veal. I wil have to go to Agata and Valentina tomorrow and get some veal. I am avoiding beef and pork for now, as I will for several months after the surgery.

Yesterday I had 3 oz of non-fat Greek lemon yogurt for breakfast. For lunch, 3 oz of grilled chicken and 6 oz of mixed steamed vegetables. For dinner I ordered a steamed platter from a Chinese restaurant and from that I had three oz of steamed shrimp, 3 oz of chicken and 6 oz of mixed vegetables. For a snack last night I had a 6 oz of low-fat Greek honey yogurt and 2 oz of pineapple chunks. The total for the day was only 850 calories, but I had 99 grams of protein which is more than adequate. I was low in fats and sodium. I did not get enough vitamins, but I do take a supplement. In terms of total nutrition this is probably the range I will be eating for several months post surgery. That is why the weight comes off so fast at first. I anticipate that even after I heal completely and get on a normal diet (the new normal) I will probably not exceed 1500 calories a day.

However, since I have not had the surgery and I am still dealing with a major appetite, yesterday was probably a little light. This morning I was ravenous and had a full breakfast of eggs, sausage potatoes and toast. This was probably a thousand calories. Tonight I will have 3 oz of grilled chicken and some pureed vegetables. So, for today I project 1500 calories. Not bad, though it should be spaced out better in time and quality of food. Breakfast was fat and starch. Mmmmm good 🙂

July 5, 2011

Surgery Update – Proteins

February 18, 2011

Chicken Fresco from Ruby Tuesdays

I had a business lunch today at Ruby Tuesdays, not a place I go to often because there is too much temptation to eat high caloric crap (much better than the low caloric crap). I had Chicken Fresco, grilled chicken with slices of tomato and a balsamic sauce (thinner than the picture, which is from the web, not my picture). Instead of potatoes I had string beans. Probably about 600 calories.

February 17, 2011

Pork Products and Veg

Tonight’s dinner was boneless spare ribs and steamed vegetables, including broccoli, spinach, choy sum and snow peas. About 700 calories, totalling about 1400 for today. I will have some pineapple chunks and lychees (as pictured yesterday) after this post.

I walked about a mile today. I wanted to walk more after work because it was such a mild day, pleasant for walking, but It was a hard day at work and I did a lot more physical movement, including lifting and moving things, than usual. I was exhausted and dehydrated. After dinner and a bit of rest, I did do some house cleaning, so in addition to the walking this morning I had a more than normally active day.

As is often the case, I’m too tired to be interesting or insightful, but I think blogging what I eat helps, even if I have nothing witty to say. I hope I have something more to offer soon.

February 1, 2011

The Sounds of Silence / Tranquility Tanks

I pluralized the title from the original. I thought of this during my meditation this evening. I don’t have any particular mumbo jumbo for meditating and I don’t see it as anything particularly spiritual. What I do think it does for me is reduce stress and increase concentration. There are studies suggesting actual physiological changes in the brain from meditating, as mentioned in this New York Times article. I sometimes focus on breathing, sometimes I use a mantra (the same one for over 30 years), sometimes I focus on an object, like the flame of a candle, something to keep me in the present and not think too much. Tonight I focused on the random sounds around me when the TV is off, no music is playing, nothing deliberately producing sound in my immediate area. I’ve done this before, often in an isolated part of Central Park. Tonight I heard my own breathing, swallowing, stomach rumbling, the refrigerator motor, the radiator, the security buzzer at the front door of the building, footsteps coming up the stairs, water running in an adjoining apartment, creaking, cracking, settling, a distant jet…

Sometimes I think there really isn’t such a thing as silence. Even in what we think of as silence, there are sounds. The closest I have been to real silence was in an isolation tank. They were a big fad in the 80s after Ken Russel’s film Altered States. There was a New York company called Tranquility Tanks down near The Flatiron Building. I used to float there, perhaps 50 times. Sometimes I paid, but my late friend Steven worked there and sometimes when there was a cancellation he would call me and I’d go down and float for free. There were a couple of enclosed tanks and one open one, like a small pool in a room. The water was 80% Epsom salts so it was completely buoyant. The water and air temperature were heated to body temperature and all light leaks were sealed so when the lights went down (the floater had control of the lights) it was completely dark and pretty quiet. You could have music to start with, or through the entire float (usually an hour, sometimes 90 minutes). Having it for the entire float kind of defeated the purpose, which was sensory deprivation. If all external stimuli were eliminated you were left with only yourself. Floating in the water aligns the body in such a way that you can fully relax. Some people freaked out when left with only themselves. I sometimes hallucinated. But it was very refreshing. I had some great trips without using any drugs. Also, after the float was over when I would go back on the street, everything was so vivid. Traffic lights were beautiful. I miss the tanks. I wish I had room for one at home. (I just googled and found that there is a tank venue in Manhattan. I may have to check it out.)

Back when I used to meditate regularly sometimes I would go for an hour or so. I achieved hallucinatory states sometimes. Once I even fancied that I remembered being born. Who knows? The memories are probably stored in us somewhere. Accessing them is the hard part. I may have remembered it or imagined it. What I recall is that is was very similar to a very abstract recurring dream that I had as a child that was mostly throbbing sounds and vague shapes. Maybe we dream about birth when we’re young but bury it over time.

I had an intense stress moment at work this evening, but I let it go. I didn’t get home until after 9 pm, but I had dinner, meditated and now this blog. It could have been a much worse day. I had no breakfast, steamed vegetables with shrimp and chicken for lunch, with about a quarter cup of brown rice. For dinner I grilled chicken sausages and made a salad of peppers, cauliflower, broccoli and green olives with a red wine vinaigrette. I am within my 1500 calories.

Here’s a video of a YouTuber describing his floatation tank experience.

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