First book published!

by Christine on September 29th, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates

My first book is published! Well, kind of! I have an essay included in the book “This I Believe: Life Lessons.”

Here is a link to the book. (I don’t get any of the proceeds.)

Here is a link to my essay included in the book.

I have to say, it was pretty darn exciting to see my name in print on the book! My heart went pitter-patter when I saw it in type. A real book! One you can find for sale at your local bookstore! How freaking exciting!

Based on the acclaimed public radio series, this collection features 60 essays about important lessons that affected the beliefs of the authors, me being one of them. These essays were drawn from more than 100,000 submissions made to the This I Believe radio show and website ( over the past six years.

Thanks, Grandmas.


What I’m eating (food journal accountability)

by Christine on September 26th, 2011

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

Accountability check time.

7 a.m.: Coffee with cream & sugar, half a glass (50 calories)
9 a.m.: 1 glass skim milk on ice (120 calories)
Noon: Leftover lasagna, cut up really small, about 1/4 cup worth (80 calories)
5 p.m.: Egg drop soup (70 calories) and 1 shrimp egg roll (200 calories)
7 p.m.: 1/2 a beer (80 calories)
Total Calories: 600

7 a.m.: Coffee with cream and sugar (120), 1 yogurt (80)
Noon: Light Clam Chowder soup (200)
3 p.m.: 1 Red Bull (160 calories)
7 p.m.: 1 beer (120) and hot roast beef with gravy (120) and mashed potatoes (80)
9 p.m.: 1 beer (120)
Total Calories:  1000

7 a.m.: Coffee (120) and yogurt (80)
Noon: Chicken Noodle Soup (120)
3 p.m.: Peanut butter & crackers (100)
7 p.m.:  leftover Carolina chicken salad (80) and skim milk (120)
Total Calories:  620

7 a.m.: Coffee (120), 1/4 of a muffin (125)
10 a.m.: Fresh veggies (green pepper, cucumber) with ranch dressing (60)
Noon: Carolina Chicken Salad (150) and diet coke
3 p.m.: Handful of M&Ms (70)
5 p.m.: Leftover corn & mushroom mix I made (40)
7 p.m.: Leftover lasagna (80), water with Ocean Spray flavor in there (5)
9 p.m.: 1 small peppermint patty (70)
Total Calories:  720

Wow, much lower overall than I would have guessed. And lacking veggies in a really sorry way. Today I’ll stop by the grocery store to pick up some veggies and some fresh fish for dinner.

Not much going on this weekend. I went to a street concert and saw Company of Thieves, Mutemath, and Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds. COT was okay; Mutemath was fantastic; and Sister Sparrow was really disappointing, especially because I love their album so much!

Yesterday I spent 14 hours editing a technical report for some extra $$. I was fried when I was done with it. I wanted to get some yard work done, but I didn’t have time for that.

Today I’m starving and counting down the seconds until lunchtime.  I might eat my arm off. nom nom nom.


Friday Morning & Salad Porn

by Christine on September 23rd, 2011

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

It’s Friday morning here in lovely Upstate NY. It’s been rainy here. Last night we had a fantastic thunderstorm with a downpour of rain. Very exciting! I’ve always loved storms–I probably should have been a Storm Chaser or something. I like to be outside, right in the middle of the action. The energy in the air is electrifying and so exciting to me!

Yesterday my in-laws came over to pick up their furniture. Years ago they bought a house in FL and bought beautiful, custom furniture for the house. Beautiful stuff! My mother-in-law carefully picked the stuff out. Then they sold the FL house, so they gave a lot of the furniture to my husband and me. Well, recently they decided that they want to be back in FL after all, so they bought another house and asked for their furniture back. I’m sad to see the stuff go, but I also understand; after all, his mom picked all this out special for their retirement home, and it’s beautiful stuff. I’d want it back too, if I were her!

So last night they came by the house to pick up the furniture, and they had to move it in the pouring rain! Plus, the mosquitoes are incredibly bad right now. With the doors open to the house, about a zillion mosquitoes got into the house. I killed about 20 of them before heading to bed. Nasty little buggers.

This weekend I’ll get my exercise in by re-arranging furniture, cleaning, and figuring out what I want to do with these empty rooms. I think the first order of business is to redecorate and paint the Master Bedroom. I need to search some photos to get inspired for the motif! I desperately need new flooring (either carpet or hardwood–I can’t decide) but unfortunately I can’t afford that right now. A $20 gallon of paint and $100 in wood & fabric to make a headboard is about all I can scrounge up at the moment.

Food wise, this week has been alright. Some easy eating; some difficult eating. I have been craving lasagna like crazy! But I also know that I can’t eat lasagna with the gastric band; the pasta gets stuck. So I made a frozen lasagna meal, but not very much of that was successfully eaten. Still, it helped me get over my craving. It’s been nearly 3 years since I last had lasagna!

This weekend I will focus on getting lots of veggies in. That means lots of salads, probably. I have three favorite local salads, none of which are terribly low in calorie, so portion size is key. (1) Chili’s Quesadilla Explosion Salad; (2) Recovery Room’s Carolina Chicken Salad; and (3) The Standard’s Polynesian Salad. All three are uber-delicious! The portion sizes are all huge, and none of them carry home very well unfortunately. Probably about 1300 calories for each of the three salads.

The Quesadilla Explosion Salad has lettuce, beans, corn, mexican cheese, grilled chicken, and two kinds of dressing mixed on top. Plus the cheese quesadillas on the side.

The Carolina salad has greens, mexican cheese, cranberries and walnuts, with a homemade honey mustard and a baguette on the side.

The Polynesian salad has greens, carrots, papaya, cucumber, sugar snap peas, macadamias, grilled chicken, and deep fried wafers to stack the salad high. Plus a light and citrusy dressing.

What are your favorite salads?

What are your plans for the weekend?


Revolutionary War Weekend

by Christine on September 19th, 2011

filed under Christine's Life Updates

Yesterday the hubby and I went to the Saratoga National Park, where the Battle of Saratoga was held in 1777.  The Park Service was having a demonstration with a few reenactors blasting off old cannons and whatnot. It was a perfect day, and it felt great to get in about 2 miles of walking. Hubby loved the cannons going off and asked the volunteers a bunch of questions about the metal properties, gunpowder, etc.

This past week was a really difficult one for me. My depression reached a definite low…the lowest I’ve been probably in 4 years or so. The anti-depressants really screwed me up too–made me really nauseous. Plus, I was so swollen I couldn’t get any food down. I hardly ate a thing for 2 weeks.

I lost a few pounds, but nothing really substantial, and I’m sure the weight will come right back on this week.

But on Friday something switched on my body, and “bam” like that I was fine to eat normally again. Go figure! On Saturday we went to the mall and stopped at a restaurant that has one of my favorite salads in the world. Oh, it felt great not just to be able to eat solid foods again, but to eat veggies and healthy food! It was fantastic! That salad tasted even better than normal.

Last night we made a steak for dinner. Nice thing about the band, is I eat so little, we only have to make one steak. I eat about 1/4 of it, and hubby eats the other 3/4 of it. It works out great. OMG the steak was so delicious! I had to cut it up into tiny bite-sized chunks, but it went down with no problems. I made a side dish of sauteed mushrooms & corn. Yummy! Add a glass of skim milk to that too.

Today is a new week, and I am feeling hopeful that it will be better than last week. I have some challenges ahead of me (some of the furniture in my house is getting “repossessed” by my in-laws, who want to take it down to Florida) but I feel good that I can get through the week okay. Last week I wasn’t really sure.

My task for this week is to really try to hammer out a financial plan to get us out of the debt that we can’t seem to dig ourselves out of. It might mean me taking up a part-time job during the holidays. I hope not, but it might be the best thing for me to do.


Mystery of Appetite Suppression

by Christine on September 16th, 2011

filed under Gastric Banding Surgery

As I was reading up on the whole process behind appetite, hunger levels, and appetite suppression, I kept coming across information about a hormone called Ghrelin. This is my own take on the information that I’m reading.

Ghrelin is a hormone produced by cells in the stomach and pancreas that stimulates hunger. Before you eat a meal, ghrelin levels rize, consequently signaling to your brain “Hey man! I’m hungry!”  To turn off the ghrelin, people typically eat food; if you eat enough food, ghrelin decreases and you’re less hungry.

Ghrelin is regulated by the hypothalamus, which we have no mental control over. No amount of “willpower” can change how the hypothalamus works.  However, the gastric band can actually work to control your hypothalamus!  When normal people eat, the foo consumed stretches the upper stomach as it works its way en route to the lower stomach. When this streching happens, the hypothalamus sends out a hormone (pro-opiomelanocortin), which suppresses ghrelin. If you don’t eat, the upper stomach isn’t stretched, so you’re hungry.

With gastric band patients, when you eat, your food remains in the upper stomach for a longer than normal period, keeping the upper stomach stretched out. Consequently gastric band patients feel full after just a few bites of food.  Smart patients will quit eating soon after that, or at least moderate the amount of food that they eat. (It is very easy to get used to the “full” feeling and start to ignore it.)

This is one reason why your doctor tells you not to drink when you’re eating food. Liquids will help wash that food out of your upper stomach, into your lower stomach, thereby reducing the amount of “stretch time” you’re getting. Consequently you’re more apt to feel hungry sooner after your meal.  I would think that foods that are more fiberous, that stay in the upper stomach (take a little more time to break down), may also help you feel fuller for longer.

Interestingly, there have been a lot of studies that show that mere surgery alone can have an effect on ghrelin levels. Gastric bypass patients have been known to show an actual drop in ghrelin levels following surgery, where as gastric banding patients experience a drop in hunger but not in actual ghrelin. With sleeve gastrectomy, the area of the stomach that produces ghrelin is removed.

Researchers apparently are working on some miracle anti-obesity vaccine right now that would prevent ghrelin from reaching the central nervous system, thereby helping to suppress the appetite and preventing weight gain. Preliminary studies are being done on rodents and pigs.

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