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 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 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 🙂

January 30, 2011

I Am a Recovering Workaholic

My last post was before Thanksgiving entitled “Light At the End of the Tunnel”. Oops! It turns out the light was the proverbial train coming in the other direction. At least the collision is over and it’s time to salvage pieces from the wreckage. Workaholic is a poorly constructed word, but there is something apt to it in my case. I do not mean to suggest that I am so dedicated to my work that I sacrifice my private life in any deliberate way. More akin to alcoholism than you may think, it is about losing control of the balance between work and private life. I had mentioned when I blogged before that my life would become absorbed by a few concurrent large projects at work and as is often the case things got prolonged, delayed, enlarged and so forth. I had thought it would be past me by the end of the year, but not so. I do think we’re on the downside of the slope now. My problem is that when work gets demanding and the responsibilities get compounded, I become somewhat obsessive/compulsive about it and lose the ability to let go. I come home, and even though the work day is done, I review and plan in my head and go over things so many times that the rest of my life vanishes. I don’t relieve the stress with anything meaningful, just television and food. Whenever my phone sounded an email alert (which is often), I would tense up. I thought I was going to hurt somebody. Friday I took a day off, my first in a few weeks. I had a three day weekend. I have begun to unclench.

It’s all about balance. My life has been out of balance. Hence the clip above from the cult classic film Koyaanisqatsi, which is the Hopi Indian word for “crazy life, life in turmoil, life out of balance, life disintegrating, a state of life that calls for another way of living”. Blogging helped me balance things before and I let it slide. I am returning to the blog in an effort to regain my balance.

I had lost around 35 pounds from March through early fall last year. I maintained for a while and gained about ten pounds through Thanksgiving. I lost for the first few weeks of December and got back to where I was at the end of summer. Since then I have probably gained 15 pounds. I am seeing a weight loss specialist, but he is telling me what I already know. And what I know is this: first principles – eat less, move more. Easy to say, hard to do. I have to burn more energy than I consume. The best way to keep some control over this is to count calories. My most successful period in this blogging life was to keep around 1500 calories a day. Again, easy to say, hard to do. It comes down to what I eat. Avoid simple carbs, avoid processed foods and eat a variety of food. It still requires will power, but if I succumb to carbs and processed foods I cannot control the cravings.

Today I had rye toast with peanut butter for breakfast and some chicken soup and a green salad for lunch. For dinner I ordered a large noodle soup with sliced pork and vegetables. The Chinese restaurant I like to order from sends the noodles in a separate container so they won’t get soggy in transit. I discarded the noodles. I also got an order of mixed vegetables. By my calculation I have consumed about 1400 calories today. I will have an apple after I finish this post.

The cold, snowy weather has not been conducive to walking lately. Also I have had some problems with my foot for a couple of months. I thought maybe it was tendonitis. Then I thought it might be a stress fracture. Then phlebitis. I have iced it, massaged it, heated it. All of which helped a little. Last week I saw a rolling pin in the cabinet. I forgot I even had one; I never bake. I decided to put the rolling pin on the floor and roll the arch of my foot over it for about ten minutes. It helped immensely. I have been doing that daily for over a week and the pain is about gone. That makes walking much easier, but today I didn’t want to go outside, so I worked with resistance bands and did some stretching and isometric exercises. I probably burned about 200 calories with exercise.

Every day is a new struggle. Today felt like a small victory.

P.S. In reviewing the clip from Koyaanisqatsi I noticed that one of the shots of NYC at night was taken from the very building I worked in for 24 hours last weekend. How apropos.

October 16, 2010

Going “Off The Grid”, Sort Of



Carribean Princess, originally uploaded by FantasticBabblings.

I went to Staten Island today to shoot some footage of the departure of the Carribnean Princess cruise ship. Winds were gusting up to 50 mph, probably more on the harbor, so only about 20% of what I shot is usable due to camera vibration. But some of it is good and I didn’t need a lot. I did get the still shot above.

I have a bit of a cold. I almost didn’t go out today. From now until the end of the year I will probably be working nights and several weekends. I don’t expect to be blogging much or making videos or anything much other than working and trying to get some rest in between. So if you don’t see much of me online, don’t be surprised. Everything is okay.

I had a follow up visit with my doctor this week to review all of the tests I have had over the last couple of months. It seems in spite of everything I am in pretty good healthy. The weight is a problem, but the things it engenders (apnea, diabetes and hypertension) are all under control. My heart is healthy. I have been checked for the major cancers and at this time there is no indication of anything. So I feel pretty good about that.

This week I have eaten relatively well with one off day (cheeseburger and milkshake). I have walked an average of a mile and a half each day. This morning I had a piece of rye toast with cream cheese. This afternoon I had a large bowl of Cantonese vegetable noodle soup, but I discarded the noodles and had vegetables and broth. I don’t know what I am having for dinner, but I will figure it out soon.

I will blog from time to time, but if I am missing, it means I’m just working hard. See you soon.

September 18, 2010

Pre-Stress Test



NY Harbor, originally uploaded by FantasticBabblings.

Monday I finally have my stress test at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital, who claims to have a scanner that will accommodate a 430 pound body. Since mine is considerably less than that, I should fit – and still be in Manhattan, but just barely. I do wonder though how they come up with a number like 430, when the circumference of a 430 pound human can vary depending on height. In any event, I should fit.

When the test was first scheduled, or at last re-scheduled, I had a nightmare that I would be told after the test that they must crack open my chest immediately and do dastardly things to my innards. I really don’t have time for that foolishness. But it did feed some anxiety about the test. But by the week’s end I was feeling cocky that everything would be fine. At least good enough not to require any immediate surgery. I am a bit scalpel-phobic.

So today I put my heart to a little bit of stress to reassure myself. I walked four miles, most of it at a fairly brisk pace, a good mile or so uphill, and I had no chest pains, no shortness of breath and I do not feel fatigued, but rather invigorated. My poor ankle joints are a bit strained, but if you had to carry that weight you would too.

I did errands this morning and walked about a mile in the neighborhood. During my errands I ate at a diner, having eggs and sausage. I also had potatoes, which I usually eschew, because I knew I was going to be doing a lot of walking. I injected insulin, but I thought I compensated for the exercise. Then I took a subway to Brooklyn Heights to go to the promenade to shoot footage for my river project. I’m including the Harbor as well.

After Brooklyn Heights I intended to walk across the Brooklyn Bridge back to Manhattan. You get a much better view walking towards Manhattan rather than from Manhattan to Brooklyn. I got about a quarter mile up the ramp to the bridge and started feeling a little wobbly. I tested my blood sugar and it was 110. I ate my emergency Snickers and walked a bit more, but still didn’t feel too strong. I tested my blood sugar again and it was 98, still going down despite the candy bar. I didn’t think it wise to continue as on the bridge there is no place to get anything sweet to eat or drink and I was also feeling a little dehydrated. So I re-traced my steps back to the entrance to the ramp where there is a diner and I sat for a while and had a grilled cheese sandwich with a Pepsi (a rather flat Pepsi, but it had sugar). After resting and getting some carbs I felt fine to continue on. So I did and completed the trip across with no problems. I got some really good footage and a few still shots as well, including the one in this post taken from the bridge looking toward the harbor with the Verazzano Narrows Bridge in the background.

After I post this I am going to have some Greek yogurt with peach slices and fresh raspberries.

After my transgression earlier in the week, I have been pretty responsible with eating and moving. Thursday I worked in another office from my usual office and ate some Vietnamese spring rolls and salad at a restaurant nearby. When I got home I made a gumbo from the breasts of the rotistterie chicken I had eaten part of (the dark meat) the night before. It was tasty, but later in the night I had stomach cramps and cold sweat. Everything cleared up by Friday, so I don’t know what it was, but I threw the gumbo away just in case. I didn’t want to eat anything I had eaten the day before.

Friday I had lunch with a colleague at a tavern near Madison Square Park. We split an appetizer plate with wings, chicken fingers and sliders (I had one slider). The small bun on the slider and the breading on the chicken finger (not all that much) were the only carbs. My entree was a grilled shrimp salad with avocado and hearts of palm. For dinner last night I had shrimp and walnuts with no rice from a Chinese restaurant.

I have had a lot of salty animal fat today, so I may eat only vegetables tomorrow. I can’t have any caffeine until later Monday and I don’t tolerate caffeine well late in the day, so probably Tuesday. I may have to get up early Tuesday just for a caffeine fix.

I will let you know how the stress test turns out.

September 15, 2010

I’ve Been Good. I’ve Been Bad. I’ve Been Good Again.



Met Life, originally uploaded by FantasticBabblings.

Two of the last three days I have eaten well and moved a lot. Sandwiched in between – not so good. Speaking of sandwich…

Yesterday I worked in our Long Island office. On the train out I had a Kashi GoLean cruncy bar. Not terrible, but I usually don’t eat breakfast and when I do, I usually eat more during the day. Sometimes for lunch I walk to the next building, about half a mile away, and they have a nice cafeteria there with tasty healthy choices. The deli in the basement of our building has some healthy choices, but none are tasty. Instead of walking over, which I could have done since it was a gorgeous day, I ate in the basement. I had a cheeseburger with fries. Tasty, but loaded with carbs, so I was hungry all day. I had some pretzels on the train back, and when I got back in the city, I went to La Caridad, an old favorite Cuban/Chinese dive with good food. I had fried pork chops (the menu says two, but for some reason they gave me three), yellow rice and red beans. Damn good. And when I got home I had ice cream. When I’m bad, I’m bad. The one bright spot is that I did walk a mile and a half.

Monday I did well. I had a salad with chicken and vegetables for lunch, no snacks and some turkey meatballs in broth when I got home. That was it all day, and I walked two miles.

Today I had ginger chicken for lunch, no rice, and for dinner I had half a rotisserie chicken and some steamed veggies quickly sauteed in coconut oil. That’s it for today. I walked over two miles, most of it after work. I went to the Hudson River park to shoot some video of the river for my long term project.

The picture here is the old Metropolitan Life building on Madison Square Park and 23rd Street. I took it on the trip home from the waterfront.

September 11, 2010

A Very Active Day



Chrysler Empire, originally uploaded by FantasticBabblings.

I walked over three miles today, and some of it uphill. I mentioned in other posts that I am collecting footage for a video about Manhattan’s rivers. My fall projects will be to shoot from various bridges and from other boroughs and New Jersey. Today I walked across the footpath on the Queensboro Bridge (aka the 59th Street Bridge, made famous by Simon and Garfunkel as the title of a song also known as “Feelin’ Groovy”.) Lots of aka’s there. On the other side, I caught the Number 7 train to Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City, Queens. It is a waterfront park on the East River. The picture here is from about two-thirds of the way from Manhattan to Queens looking south. It was a beautiful day. I got lots of still shots and even more video. By the time I finish shooting, I will have several hours of footage for a 5-10 minute project.

If you want to see some of the other still from today, they are the first several on my Flickr feed http://www.flickr.com/photos/eastsidephil/.

Before leaving on my trip I had an onion omelet with a salad. Between the bridge and the park I had a bottle of orange juice. I needed to hydrate and my blood sugar needed a boost from all that walking.

When I got home I was too tired to cook, so I ordered Indian food, lamb korma. I did have a couple of tablespoons of rice with it.

I got a call yesterday from my doctor’s office. Finally, after three months of mis-communication and, in my opinion, incompetence on the part of his staff, I finally have a schedule for a nuclear stress test at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital. Turns out I’m not too fat for Manhattan after all, but I do have to travel all the way uptown. It is next Monday, the 22nd. I will let you know how it goes.

September 8, 2010

Say Cheese!

I made Mac and Cheese with Dreamfields low carb pasta for dinner. This is in the southern casserole style. I boiled the elbows last night and layered them with white and yellow extra sharp cheddar. After building the layers I poured over milk and eggs to make a custard and hold it together. Then tonight I baked for about 30-35 minutes. I like the top to be a little caramelized and crunchy and the inside to be creamy. It came out perfect and tasted great. Oh, and I added some onion to the layers which added a nice flavor.

Also, I made a stew of okra, tomatoes, onions, and squash.

Today I walked two and a half miles. It was a good day for food and activity. Lunch was from Maoz vegetarian, the salad box with falafel and veggies.

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