Weekend update! Beer, wine, maple syrup, and more!

by Christine on March 21st, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates, Diet, Food, Nutrition, Exercise

Happy spring, Revolutionists! What are your goals for springtime? How will you begin to prepare for the summer that is looming?

I’ll tell you what. This 100 pound weight loss is messing with my head recently. I have been feeling so fat and so bloated lately. In fact, this morning I was laying in bed thinking that perhaps I need to get a tub of “too-big clothing” out from storage to wear, and I also pondered at what point I should go back to get another fill from the bariatric surgeon. Then, when I stepped on the scale, it said I was 127 pounds, which is pretty much within my maintenance range. Why am I feeling so fat when I am not really gaining any weight? I feel as fat and awful as I did when I was 225 pounds; I KNOW my body is different, but my brain is on a different path. Why the discrepancy?

So much of weight-loss is a big head game.

The last few days have been very very busy! Let me recap!

Thursday, St. Patrick’s Day

For St. Patty’s day we did our usual pub trivia at our local establishment. (No, we didn’t win this week!) We had a group of 12 friends join us, so it was a great celebration with friends! It was also a very long evening; I showed up at the bar at 5 p.m. to get the big table to accommodate our group, and we didn’t leave until 10 p.m. That’s a long time to be sitting down! Fortunately I only drank one beer that whole time, so I didn’t overindulge. Hubby and I split an order of chicken tenders. (not the healthiest option, I know, but hubby doesn’t eat healthy food like vegetables. The best I could do was to watch my quantity when eating crappy food.)

Friday March 18th

Friday was my Uncle’s memorial service. I was very sad that I could not make it to Chicago to honor him, but I kept him in my thoughts all day.  After work on Friday I went out with some friends drinking. This night, however, I did overindulge! I had a margarita with dinner (which was 1 small fish taco and some black beans with salsa. Delicious!), followed by three pumpkin spiced martinis. They were delicious, but really, three was a little excessive. One should have sufficed, then I should have switched to water. There is a lot of sugar in martinis.

Saturday March 19th

On Saturday a friend and I went for a beer tour in our local area!  Tomorrow I will post our itinerary (with notes) for anyone local that wants to re-create our route.  First we hit a maple syrup refinery. March is the month that maple syrup is produced, and upstate New York and Vermont is famous for its maple syrup! We ventured out into the middle of godforsakennowhere and talked with a maple syrup maker about how he makes the delicious goodness. Then, for $7, you could have all-you-can-eat pancakes. My friend and I split an order, and man, fresh, hot maple syrup was really delicious! We waited an eternity for our order, but the wait was well worth it.

Photo above: They tap the maple trees and run tubes from the trees to the collection tanks. This whole area has hundreds of tubes running from the trees; it’s a real labyrinth! Can you see them?

Photo above: The tubes run to collection tanks like this one. Pure maple syrup only had 2% sugar; the rest is water. Who knew?

Photo above: Inside the refinery, they boil the maple syrup over and over again. This is steam billowing from the boilers; you can see the steam coiling above the refinery for miles! Before packaging the maple syrup, they add some white powdery stuff to help purify the syrup. And that’s it! Collect it, boil it, package it. Pretty simple.

Photo above: You know you’re in the boondocks when llamas greet you outside.

Photo above: Standing in eastern New York State, looking at the Green Mountains in Vermont. I am so lucky to live in such a beautiful area of the country! Look, our snow is almost gone!

Then we hit two brew pubs (microbreweries) in Glens Falls, NY. We had so much fun at the Davidson Brothers Brewery! Although they had a lot of IPAs and bitter beers on draft, which are not my thing, I had so much fun bantering with the bartender and one of the owners of the place. What a FUN place to hang out!

From there we hit a winery in Lake George, then another winery in Saratoga. After that we discovered a microbrewery in Saratoga that, well, I won’t give away their secret, but it is truly a fantastic gem for us localites!!!

Although we hit a lot of breweries and wineries, and we did samplings and flights at each destination, I didn’t overdo the drinking. After all, I was driving! I sipped and sampled, then let my friend polish off the rest of the drinks at each place. I paced myself, don’t worry.  For lunch I had soup at the Davidson Brothers Brewery, and for dinner we nibbled on some homemade cranberry cheese spread at Olde Saratoga Brewery that was absolutely divine!

Tomorrow I will post our itinerary (with lots of links, information, etc).  Because I seem to be really good at putting together these beer/pub crawls in the New York and New England areas, I will start compiling these tours into a resource on the website, so be looking for it!

Sunday, March 20th

Sunday I went snowshowing with a friend in the morning. Well, he snowshoed and I hiked with small crampons attached to my boots. It was a beautiful day! We hiked for about an hour and a half, which was about 5 miles or thereabouts. A great way to get a workout in!

Afterwards, hubby and I did some much needed errands, such as a trip to the hardware store and a trip to the grocery store. We also stopped at our local gaming/comic book store (Zombie Planet, which is a great store!) to pick up some new board games. We really enjoy a game called Dominion, which is a deck-building game. This concept of “deck building” is a new genre of board games that is really taking off in popularity! We bought “Thunderstone” and “Ascension” and pulled out Thunderstone to play yesterday evening. It had more rules and is marginally more complicated than Dominion, but it seems fun. Hubby tells me that Ascension is easier than Dominion and simpler in terms of game play, but we’ll see. I suspect we’ll try playing that tonight.

Then it was bill paying, dinner (leftover grilled chicken and leftover mushrooms), read a little bit of my book, and before I knew it, the day was over. Man, Sundays just go by too dang fast!


St. Patrick’s Day & Memories of Ireland

by Christine on March 17th, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates

Happy St. Patrick’s Day everyone! I hope you all celebrate a wonderful and festive heritage!

I’m a wee bit Irish on my grandmother-on-my-dad’s side, which leaves me with very little Irish in my blood. But I have some!

I went to Ireland for 2 weeks many years ago. By myself. Backpacking. It’s a very beautiful country! Some highlights of that memorable trip:

  • Running into Nelson Mandela on the streets of Dublin. Really random. That man radiates Greatness and Kindness. The power of his Bearing just kind of slammed into me. I wouldn’t have recognized him if it weren’t for the countenance of his bearing.
  • Eating bad Chinese food in a B&B in Wexford, watching a Manchester United soccer game.
  • Kissing the Blarney Stone, which was a nasty, filthy recreational pursuit.
  • Watching a shepherding dog in action in the Dingle Peninsula.
  • Going on the Waterford Factory and staring in awe at their handmade grandfather clock.
  • Drinking Guinness at the factory in Dublin.
  • Seeing the Book of Kells at Trinity College.
  • Sipping tea at the Powerscourt Gardens
  • Taking a nap on St. Stephen’s Green in Dublin.
  • Dying my hair blue in the bathroom of a hostel and getting dye EVERYWHERE.

The best part of my trip was, by far, Kilarney National Forest, and, specifically, Muckross House. This is a magnificent historical home with breathtaking views.

When I close my eyes and drift off to a happy place, I always end up in the nursery windows, on the 2nd floor, overlooking the lake. There’s never been a place that felt so much like home.

I could use a little Happy Place time this week.

I walked all around that lake one day. It took much longer than I had anticipated, and it was dark by the time I trudged along the gravel road back to my hostel. I passed a guy driving a horse-drawn buggy, and he offered to give me a ride (for free). I was so grateful; my feet hurt so bad. I remember passing old monastery ruins on the way out of the park, traditional Irish crosses in the cemetery, and I remember thinking, “This is what memories are made of.”

I had 2 weeks to putter through Ireland. I got to Killarney at the end of the 8th day and ended up spending a whole week there. The place was enchanting.

Funny, looking back on it — I don’t remember the food, and I only have two memories of eating anything at all (the Chinese food at the B&B, and Mongolian BBQ in Dublin).  I don’t think I ate much–I didn’t eat that much even back then–but I was plenty fat, and got even fatter on the trip.

Even though my trip through Ireland was amazing — really, that kind of once-in-a-lifetime kind of journey — all my memories, even the happy ones, are filled with sadness and loneliness. I did the trip by myself. And I was felt too fat, too awkward, too stupid to go to a local pub and meet some local people.  In a lot of ways, it was a long 14 days — no, it was a really long year — filled with endless solitude and yearning for friends.

I remember the sites, sounds, and smells of that trip vividly, but that bone-chilling loneliness is what a I remember the most.


Slow Cooker Corned Beef and Cabbage Recipe

by Christine on March 16th, 2011

filed under Diet, Food, Nutrition

This recipe is taken from here:


Serves: 16

1 large corned beef, already seasoned (3 lbs)

2 heads of cabbage, cup up

1 lb baby carrots

2 lbs red potatoes

1 tsp celery seed

1 large onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 bay leaves


Slow Cooker: Place your potatoes and carrots on the bottom first. Then cut the brisket into pieces of like size for even cooking and place over the top of the potatoes. Next add cabbage and add 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 cups of water. Cook on high setting for 1 hour, and then place to low setting and cook for an additional 6 hours. Before serving, skim fat off top of corned beef dish.


270 calories
16 g protein
13 g fat
5 g fiber
21 g Carbs
7 g sugar
1090 mg sodium


Missing my family today.

by Christine on March 16th, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates

Yesterday I got a call from my mother that my Uncle Bob passed away. It was unexpected; he was young. I’m not sure why, but it may have been a heart attack.

My Uncle Bob was a good man. He had a contagious smile and a wonderful laugh. I love the way his eyes twinkled when he was happy. That’s definitely what I will remember the most about him. He was into muscle cars, and racing and showing off his car was one of his great joys.

When I was a kid, I used to spend one weekend in the summer at my Aunt and Uncle’s house. I’m glad that my parents made me do that because it allowed me to get to know that side of my family so much better.  They would come over on Christmas Day when I was younger, too. That drive must have been a pain in the ass for them to make year after year, but I’m so happy that they made the effort. They are part of my memories of the holidays and growing up. My Uncle and Aunt had two wonderful daughters, my cousins, who are beautiful and wonderful people that I am very fortunate to have in my life.

I’m so happy that I got to watch my Uncle walk my cousin down the aisle at Navy Pier in Chicago a few years ago. I’m thrilled that he got a chance to hold his first grandson.

I’m sad that he did not get to experience all those same things with my younger cousin. I’m sad that there is so much more that I never knew about my Uncle, like what kind of music he listened to, or what his favorite movie was.

The funeral is in Chicago on Friday, but I’m stuck here in New York, a bajillion miles away from my family. I might as well be on the other side of the planet. My heart hurts.

I’ll miss you Uncle Bob. You may have not known it, but you were an important part of my life.


How eating disorders start to grow

by Christine on March 15th, 2011

filed under Eating Disorders

Today I was reading a few blogs about eating disorders. It’s hard for me because I can completely relate to the mindset that these ED sufferers are currently experience. I’ve been there, a lot, in the past.

The intense self-hatred, not just of your body (but that’s a big part of it), but of everything to do with yourself. You’re not smart enough. You’re not funny enough. There’s no way you’ll ever find a partner or spouse, and if you already have one, surely he or she is planning on leaving you for someone better.

Every action is not good enough. If you’re in school, a mere A would send shockwaves through you. You need an A+.  You expect nothing less than perfection for yourself.  If you cook a meal, if it’s not completely perfectly mouthwatering and savory, you’ll throw it out and order takeout instead. If you are an employee, anything less than a pat on the back from the President is not good enough. If you’re a parent, if your child isn’t perfect in any way, it’s a reflection of you and your parenting skills.

You become obsessed with making your life entirely perfect in every way. First, you probably go through a manic cleaning phase. You eliminate all the dust and grime in your house. Then you eliminate the clutter. You shop for new decorations, hire a lawn service, hire a maid service. If someone in the house leaves a dish in the sink, you unravel and go nuts.

From there, you start perfecting other things in your life. The perfect hair. The perfect clothes. You probably spend hours in the bathroom making sure that when you leave the house, the world sees you exactly how you want to be perceived. (Ah, but if they only knew what a mess you are, inside!)

You over-compensate. You hold lavish parties. You enroll your kid in tutoring and extra sports and second-language lessons at the age of 10.  At work you take on more projects, put in more time, hoping for more and more recognition, a better title, quick advancement to the top.  At school you work with the professor after class, you volunteer on committees, you ensure yourself an A in any way possible, including (and especially) learning to manipulate the system.

Winning is what it’s all about. At all costs.

It’s all about control. You have to be in control of your surroundings, your achievements…everything in your world.

From my personal experience, and from my years of being friends with other ED sufferers, there are two ways that this whole perfection scenario starts to fall apart.

The first, and most common way the world starts to fall about, is the inability to alter your physical appearance. Despite doing everything completely by the books – dieting, eating well, exercising, methodically tracking your food intake and calorie burn – nothing works, you don’t lose weight, you cannot seem to achieve that perfect, (often waifish) physique that you are seeking.

The second way that the world spirals out of control is when one thing happens in your life that is beyond your ability to control it. Often, it’s a tragedy such as a death of a friend or parent. It might be a boyfriend or husband divorcing or leaving you. It might be getting downsized from your job. For many, many young children that develop eating disorders, it is an abusive household. I remember reading many years ago that an astonishing 80% of anorexic adolescent girls are victims of sexual abuse.

The result in either scenario is a bizarre relationship with food. Some turn to starvation as a last-ditch effort to get thin. (As I did….read about that here.)  Some turn to starvation as a way of self-punishment…it’s the mindset of “I’m less than perfect, and so I will hurt myself and punish myself for achieving less than the best by denying myself food.”  There is, I believe, a huge correlation between ED suffers in this category that “self-injure” themselves, as well, such as by cutting their skin, burning their skin, getting tattoos or piercing, or other self injurious actions.

Some people, however, turn to food to release their frustration and tension. Today, I’m a classic example of this: when something happens that is out of my control, I immediately grab a bag of cookies and chow down. Then, the guilt over what you do sets in, and you try to rectify the situation by vomiting, using laxatives, water pills, over-exercising, etc.  Every time I indulge because I am frustrated, anxious, or sad, I really have to fight the urge to “right the wrongs” done.

Ultimately, Eating Disorders are all about control and, paradoxically, the lack of control that we have in our lives.

For me, I’ve experienced all of these symptoms before. I’ve starved myself, purged, abused laxatives and water pills, and have overindulged with exercise. I’ve binge-eaten more times than I can count; I’ve fueled emotional voids in my life with food. I have exhaustively used food (or the lack thereof) to fix the wrongs in my life and to fill the spaces that I felt that needed to be filled.

Every day, I need to remind myself that there are some things that are just outside of my control. All I can do is make the most of what I have, accept and embrace my immediate faults while still working towards long-term goals. I try very hard to see myself realistically – both the good and the bad – in the mirror every day. I struggle to find healthier ways to deal with sadness and disappointment.

I could get into a huge, long tirade about how most common eating disorder treatments are degrading to its patients (who, I might point out, are some of the most intelligent people out there in society, if standardized test scores are to be believed), and what I would recommend for the treatment of the EDs, but that is another post for another day. Furthermore, most ED sufferers don’t want to “recover” (and most don’t see themselves as having a “real problem”) and so any kind of psychological treatment attempts are pretty much in vain. Suffice it to say that most treatment fails miserably, and ED sufferers are left on their own to figure out how to fix their relationship with food.

As for me, I know rationally that food is not the answer, but old habits die hard. Every day is a struggle.  But I’m doing it, and every day this journey gets easier.

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