RheumaBlog

Same dragon, different day.

As I continue my journey toward my goal weight, it’s sometimes necessary to step back a few paces and acknowledge that I’m an imperfect human being. I can want, with all my heart, to be less chubby and more slender, yet rationalize—and make, then eat—a peanut-butter-and-jelly-on-white-bread sandwich for lunch. I can make note that my pants are feeling a little too tight when I put them on in the morning, yet make myself believe that a couple of slices of pizza for supper won’t really hurt. I can be frustrated and complain that I’m “stuck,” unable to get my weight to slip under that next milestone, then eat half a bar of Nestle’s Dark Chocolate when I meant to eat a single square as a small, delicious treat.

Yep, I’m human.

Because of that, I need to remind myself why I’m trying to lose this excess poundage in the first place. First and foremost, my health. Obesity hurts me in a myriad of ways, most of them subtle and nefarious. The excess adipose tissue in my body puts stress on my heart and lungs. It plays havoc with my pancreas, making it difficult for it to produce insulin and thus increasing the likelihood that I’ll develop diabetes—a truly frightening disease that damages everything from the circulatory system to vision. And carrying around excess fat, which is heavy, puts stress on my hip, knee, ankle and foot joints, making the damage my rheumatoid arthritis is doing to my joints even worse. It makes me stiffer, hurt more, and be less able to move and enjoy my life.

The other reason for losing this weight is that I, like most human beings, like to look nice. Now, I’m not saying that chubby people are ugly, because they aren’t. But I’ve found it difficult to find affordable clothing that looks nice on my chubby frame. It’s disheartening to look in my mirror after spending time making myself presentable to go out, only to see that I still look short, lumpy, thick and pudgy, the only skinny part of me my calves, which look like two sticks beneath a fat pear. Clothes don’t look flattering. While I realize that it’s unrealistic to expect I’ll ever look like a skeleton-thin fashion model or TV star, my culture and society perceives beauty in fit slenderness, not flabby tubbiness. I can’t help but be influenced by it. This is the world I live in. It’s my reality.

I’m human, but I want to be a fit, slender human.

Finally, losing that weight means I can move smoothly and with grace, the way my body was designed to. Already, with the first 50 excess pounds gone, I’m far more physically active than I was. It no longer hurts to lean down and tie my shoes. I can kneel and reach into low cupboards without being fearful that I’ll not be able to get up again. When I walk up the steep driveway to the mailbox, I’m not winded when I reach the top anymore. I have more stamina and more energy. I can walk without resting for several miles when my RA isn’t flaring in my legs. I can turn over in bed more easily, and if I’m not hurting from rheuma, I sleep better. Chairs don’t seem as narrow and spindly; I don’t worry that I might break a resin lawn chair by sitting in it. When I’m in the shower, it takes a little less time to wash myself—and when I look down, my belly doesn’t obliterate my feet.

These are all great reasons to stay on the path to slender health and physical fitness, even at the age of 53-going-on-54. And yet, I frequently lose my resolve and eat the kinds of foods I know won’t nourish me properly and that will only turn into more fat padding my naturally broad, Scandinavian hips.

I’m only human. Fallible. Often weak. But I’m also persistent. Because even though I stray into the forest now and then, I’m keeping my path to health and fitness in view so I can get right back on it.

Today’s lunch was delicious, a bit more calorific than it probably should have

Oops. Took a couple of bites from my sammich before I remembered I wanted to take a photo of it...

been, but very healthy nonetheless. I’m sharing again:

Wren’s Avocado and Provolone Sandwich

Ingredients:

2 ripe avocados, mashed

1 shake garlic salt

1 shake of Italian herbs

Provolone cheese, very thinly sliced

1 generous drizzle of lemon juice

2 slices wholegrain bread

½ tbsp. butter

Method: Spread the butter thinly on the bread slices and toast until crisp and golden. While the bread is toasting, mash the avocados, season with the garlic salt, and drizzle the mashed avocados with the lemon juice to preserve their pretty green color. When the bread is toasted, spread the mushed avocado on it (like peanut butter!) as thick or thin as you like, and top with enough cheese to cover. Put the slices under a hot broiler just long enough to melt the cheese, then sprinkle with Italian herbs. Eat and enjoy.

Why it’s a heathy, yet tasty sandwich: Provolone is less fatty than other cheeses, so it’s a bit less calorific without sacrificing flavor and texture. It melts quickly and has a light, creamy flavor.

The wholegrain bread provides carbohydrate energy, but because it includes all parts of the grain, it’s more nutritious than highly processed white bread. Because the fiber in it converts to sugar in the bloodstream more slowly, the pancreas can keep up with the sugar load and produces insulin in a more steady way. This avoids the sharp sugar/insulin spikes that can cause damage in the body and bring on diabetes.

And avocados! While they’re probably the most fattening of all the fruits (50 calories for 1/5 of a medium avocado, 35 of those from fat), they’re absolutely delicious and provide 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins and folic acid. They also act as a “nutrient booster” by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha- and beta-carotene and lutein, in foods that are eaten with the fruit.

My RA continues to bother me with mostly low-level pain much of the time. But I’m grateful that it’s not worse. I still have an occasional more painful flare, but these don’t last longer than 24 hours, generally. My energy levels are good, I sleep well with a little nudge from a single, 20 mg. tablet of amitriptyline (Elavil) each night before bed, and my RA drugs seem to be keeping the disease from progressing or becoming more aggressive. I see my rheumatologist next Saturday, and I expect that I’ll be adding plaquenil to my current arsenal of sulfasalazine and leflunomide. I hope that the addition will relieve the constant pain. Even though it’s not terrible pain, it does wear me down and leaches some of the joy out of my days. I remain hopeful.

Thanks for stopping by. I hope you’re all feeling well, strong, and are keeping your eyes open for the small gifts the world has to offer us each and every day. And, if you try my avocado and provolone sandwich, bon appétit!

Note: I use a toaster oven to toast bread, so spreading butter on it first works. This might not be such a great idea if you use a regular toaster, though…  just sayin’.

12 thoughts on “Being human …

  1. WarmSocks says:

    Yum! Avocado is one of my favorites. I like it on ww English muffins, but whole-grain bread would be more nutritious. Thank you for sharing another great idea.

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  2. Cathy says:

    Mmmm….looks like a tasty lunch Wren. I have been on an avocado kick for a while now. Yummy.

    We are human and sometimes it is nice to enjoy pizza with the family and a little dessert afterwards. Enjoy those times and know that you are persistent and the path to good eating is always waiting for you. You are doing super.

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  3. Helen says:

    That looks wonderful – I love avocados. I often eat toast with butter and avocado slices, but I’ve never tried putting cheese on it. Yum!

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  4. amandajohn says:

    That looks amazing! And mostly healthy. 🙂

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  5. Joan says:

    Looks yummy! I love provolone and avocados. I’ve never had them together. Must try!

    Glad you’re feeling pretty good. The humira alone has worked well for me. it’s not 100%, but pretty close.

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  6. Cindy says:

    Congratulations Wren! Losing 50 pounds is fantastic! I have absolutely no persistence. I don’t know when I became so picky in my food but I have adopted the bad attitude that there is not much I can physically enjoy so I will enjoy my food. Which explains my behind, lol. If you happen to come across wheelchair exercises that don’t stress out the joints, I’d love to hear about it!

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  7. I’m being pretty “human” myself these days, so I can relate! 🙂 I managed to lose half of the prednisone weight, which was a major accomplishment, and am feeling stuck now, mostly by my own sabotage. But I have started being gentler with myself about it.

    You did an AMAZING thing, losing 50 pounds! Sometimes when we accomplish something big like that, we need a little break, and our subconscious provides it for us in the form of resistance. Life with RA is hard in so many ways already, and sometimes it makes us put extra pressure on ourselves.

    You (and I!) will get back on track soon!

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  8. Jules says:

    Your post made me cry- it hit so close to home. I too am feeling pretty “human” these days. While it’s nice to know I don’t struggle alone- I hate it for you. Congratulations on your first 50- that is such a triumph!

    By the way- your sandwich looks very yummy! I am a guac junkie- I have never thought to put it as a solo sandwich filling. Going to have to use that soon.

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  9. ValleyWriter says:

    Great post, Wren. I think you’ve summed up how many of us feel (or have felt) about our weight loss journey. I think accepting that you will be human (not “bad”) and indulge on occasion is really key to ensuring long-term weight loss. I went up and down with my weight (big fluctuations – lose 30 lbs, gain 40, etc.) from ages 14-26. But over the last 4 years, I managed to take off 70 lbs and keep it off – and I definitely indulge from time to time.

    One of the keys that I have learned is that sometimes, I only need 1 or 2 bites to feel satisfied. I try to be really in tune with my hunger levels and only eat as much as I need to feel content. Also, if I’m really craving chocolate or a donut or something indulgent – I just go ahead and have a small piece because I’ve learned that I will just eat 10 other things before eventually giving in to whatever it is I really wanted – which definitely isn’t good!

    I consider myself an emotional eater and found Geneen Roth’s writings to be really helpful for tips on overcoming some of my bad habits. She has a bunch of books and you can check out free articles from her Web site (http://www.geneenroth.com/articles_interviews.html) if you’re interested. (Not to say that you are an emotional eater – just passing along something I found helpful!)

    Hope your rheumy appt. goes well. I think the increase in my dose of plaquenil was what really did it for me. (Took about 6 months to get the full effect – but I’m really feeling pretty good now!)

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  10. carlascorner says:

    Congrats! Losing 50 lbs is amazing. I’ve been stuck at one of my body’s “set points”, but the truth is, I’m as human as you, so I haven’t been doing those things I should to get unstuck. I always enjoy your posts, and this one especially.

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  11. Terry says:

    We’re all human, I need to lose weight too. The fact that you’ve lost 50 pounds is amazing. It’s hard to eat right these days. It’s much easier (and often cheaper) to just by crap on the way to work. I am finally feeling good enough to start working out (have been hitting the gym for 2 weeks now thanks to Humira) again, maybe this will motivate me to start eating better as well.

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  12. Squirrel says:

    That sandwich looks yummy!! We all need a treat from time to time, just gotta watch how many treats… I’m bad at that too.

    Good luck at the rheumatologist, I hope the plaquenil gives you some pain free days – I think it’s working for me but I dont want to jinx it by saying that. 🙂

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