April's CR Diary

A diary of a 30 year old woman following CRON, or Caloric Restriction with Optimal Nutrition, for health and life extension.

Friday, December 31, 2004

The Sound of One Cat Eating a de Grey Article

As anyone who has been following the blog for awhile knows, one of my favorite things to do is to curl up in bed with a glass of wine, one of Aubrey de Grey's articles (you can get your own at http://www.gen.cam.ac.uk/sens/) and my cat. The danger of this practice is that my cat eats paper, so on the rare occasion when I fall asleep while reading and fail to hide the article, I tend find the article in shreds when I wake up.

Last night was one of those nights when I fell asleep reading (don't be offended, Aubrey... I was really, really exhausted, it wasn't you!) and sure enough, at about 1 in the morning, I was awakened by the sound of my cat systematically shredding the article. Delicious. So I had to get up, remove the article from the kitty claws, and hide it.

I'm sorry I haven't been providing much food related content, but at the moment I don't have much time to catch up. The last four days have been on the low end calorie wise, but I've been keeping up my protein pretty well. I went out for lunch with a friend yesterday and was shocked to discover that I was completely uninterested in the bread basket. Junkie carbs losing their attraction? If that's not a sign of the armageddon, then I don't know what is.

I'm throwing a New Year's Eve party tonight, and I have to go home and get things ready. It's an early party -- I have this strategy where I avoid having to stay out late by throwing my own party from 5 pm - 9 pm. Then people who want to ring in the New Year at midnight can go on to some other party and I can go to sleep. I'm a funny kind of insomniac... I don' t have any trouble falling asleep at night. I like to go to bed early if I'm not doing anything important. I just wake up very very early, and combined with my CR induced need for less sleep, this seems to translate into sleeping from 10 pm until 3 or 4 am on a regular basis.

So I should be back to work on the computer at around 3:30 this morning, right when people are finally leaving their New Year's parties to go home and sleep till noon. For me, sleeping till 6:30 am feels like missing a large part of the day. I get my most productive writing time in the early hours of the morning, and I'd have to admit, I enjoy being an early riser.

Okay, I've gotta go prepare for zillions of people to come over expecting food, drink, and a friendly cat.

Happy New Year, bloggiefriends. Here's to hundreds more!

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

Your Organizing Lesson

I was thinking today about the lessons I try to teach VLC -- that's Very Little Co-worker, my good friend and staff organizer whom I hired and supervise. We used to joke that her first year of organizing was like being a baby kangaroo: she was so close to me all the time that it was like she was riding around in my pouch. She said she didn't want to stop being a baby kangaroo, but soon I have to push her out on her own, because I'm going to be gone, onto new challenges and adventures. [I hope that by now the suspense is figuratively, not literally, killing you.]

I've tried to teach her the lessons I've learned in nine heart breaking, soul-testing, gloriously fulfilling years of union organizing. And it's hard to teach that because so much of it you can only learn by living. You don't know what it's like to lose until you've stood there in the polling place and watched the vote count and seen the workers cry when they realize that they fought so hard and stood up for themselves and were defeated. You can't teach someone else how to deal with the pain of closing down a campaign that you poured your heart and soul into, of walking away because you know you're going to lose. You can't simulate the process of being broken down over and over again and building yourself back up. And it's that re-building that makes you an organizer. It's not winning -- it's learning how to lose and get up to fight another day.

One thing I have tried to teach her is that you have to take risks. You can't let your fear stop you from throwing yourself heart and soul into the campaign. It's especially hard after you've lost. When I was only 23 I lost the first campaign that I ever ran by myself, by only six votes. It was at a small hospital in South Jersey. I did the first meeting on October 20, 1997, and we lost the election on May 21, 1998. I still observe the date every year, but with my freakish memory for dates, that's not surprising. I still observe the date on which I saw the "Robert F. Kennedy and His Times" TV special when I was in sixth grade too. Anyway, for all those months I thought of little else... I spent hours and hours meeting with nurses, talking with them on the phone, answering their calls in the middle in the night when management pulled them into mandatory meetings on night shift. The night before the election, the vote count was so close that any experienced organizer would have known that we would lose: when your total tells you that you're dead even, the fact is, someone is going to change his or her mind and vote no. The status quo always wins in union elections. But as a young organizer, I still had hope. Even driving to the vote count, I still hoped we could pull it off.

We lost, very narrowly, 79 no to 69 yes. Six votes in the other direction and we would have won it. My organizing director at the time, who is still a very dear friend, assured me that I had done all I could. I remember he said, "You proved more about yourself by losing this campaign than most organizers prove when they win." Larry was one of the greatest teachers, mentors and friends I've ever had. He had been there himself, and he knew how hard it is.

My next campaign was at an urban hospital in Trenton. We got the call in late July. It wasn't long before I was swept away in the tide of relationship-building, doing meetings everyday, showing nurses how they could change their lives. Meeting nurses at a diner at 7:30 am after they came off night shift (I used to eat bagels with mustard, tomato and onion at those diner meetings -- High Carb Darkness days) and watching them walk through the door in tears because they couldn't give their patients the care they deserve. To work through a twelve hour shift on your feet, eating nothing, not even going to the bathroom, every moment holding the lives of critically ill people in your hands, and then to finally leave knowing that you weren't physically able to do everything that your patients needed. That there was a man who had to wear a diaper because you didn't have time to put him on the bedpan. To hear the call bell going off in a room where an old woman is frightened and in pain and alone and to know that you can't go to her, because you're giving life-saving care to the patient in the room next to her. The nurses come in crying at 7:30 am, and by 9 they're about to fall asleep in their diner coffee, but they have a vision of how, by taking collective action, they can change things at the hospital.

And you, the organizer, drive back to the office blasting cheesy Disney soundtracks as loud as your little Geo Prizm will play them, rejoicing in the beauty of life, because you're person lucky enough to be there at the moment when those nurses realize that they have power, that they can change their world.

And then you call the nurses a few days later to find out if they've talked to their co-workers like they said they would. And they don't pick up the phone, and they don't call you back. You call two days later and a teenager answers the phone, says, "Yeah, I'll go get her," and then comes back a minute later and says, "Uh, she uh, isn't here. Can I take a message?"

And because you're an organizer, you know what happened. She got to work, started talking to a fellow nurse about the union, and the nurse said, "Are you crazy? You're going to get fired for this!"

Or her manager called her in and said, "Look, I hear people have been talking union. If you get the union in here, I won't be able to do favors for you anymore. If your son gets sick again, I won't be able to let you take time off to take him to the doctors. You remember how flexible I was with your schedule last time he was sick."

The nurse manager doesn't know that she's lying -- she's just repeating what the anti-union consultants told her to say. But the damage is real: the nurse is scared that standing up for herself at work by organizing will hurt her family.

It's up to me to repair the damage, to sense the question behind the question when people ask "Is this true, what my manager told me? Will we lose flexibility if we get the union?"

One of my strengths as an organizer has been my ability to cut through what people were saying to get to what they meant. An advantage to organizing in the same industry for so long was that I learned the playing field very well. I learned what it felt like to be a nurse, not as well as if I had actually worked in the hospital, but through thousands of in depth conversations, I learned exactly where it hurt. I used to think of myself as someone who cared for the people who care for patients. An organizer is often the only person who actually cares what your day was like at work. And for nurses, who don't just take care of critically ill people at the hospital but who care for their spouses, their children, their communities... no one takes care of them. I listen, I convince them that they matter, and that they have the power to make it different.

When their co-workers and their managers start attacking them, they attack me. They feel the pressure, and they direct their fear and anger at me.

The emotional dance of leading workers though the maze of an organizing campaign involves pushing them forward, only to have them come running back, mad as hell that you pushed them, then focusing them again on the goal of changing things at their hospital, and sending them out there again, always talking to their co-workers. You develop close relationships in this process, but they are by their very nature one-sided. You are an organizer, not a person. Organizing can be hell on your personal life because the hours are out of control and the work is so absorbing that it's sometimes hard to talk to people who aren't also organizers. I just got tired of trying to explain my work to other people. Oddly enough, one of the few times in the last year or so that I've had a long discussion with non-organizers about what I do may have been a cause of the dramatic change in my life that I'll eventually tell you about. That and the inability to locate a corkscrew in all of Charleston.

It's especially hard after a campaign is over. Even if you win, there's a sense of loss because this thing that has completely taken over your life for about nine months is done. Even if you stay to work on the first contract campaign, the urgency is never there again.

If you lose, it's hell. I remember after I lost that campaign in 1998, it was a good three months before I felt even vaguely okay. To see people you've worked closely with systematically turned by a series of carefully crafted lies, all constructed to instill fear and a sense of futility, can make you pretty depressed. But even at the time I knew that I was building up the emotional strength to be able to lead and win much bigger campaigns.

And as we all know by now, I did. After we shut down that campaign in Trenton (never could get enough people to even meet, and one thing that you learn as an organizer really, really early on, is that you have to see people face to face. Funny story about that sometime later.) Then I went on to work on a campaign at Cooper Hospital, in Camden, New Jersey. It has 820 registered nurses -- a huge bargaining unit -- and my best friend Lisa had been working on it for some time. Back in those days we were twin organizers, and in addition to doing the same job, we also ate all the same lowfat vegan foods. We look nothing alike, but people used to confuse us because we were basically interchangable.

Lisa had been leading the campaign for some time, and I came on as second in command and hatchet girl. I've always been pretty good at playing bad cop, and I was able to push the nurses pretty hard since I didn't already have the close personal relationships. I still remember one organizing committee meeting where it was my role to explain to the nurses that we just weren't going to file for an election unless they could get more of their co-workers to sign union cards. [Union cards are the things people sign when they're sure they want to organize the union. They're always afraid to sign them because they're afraid of relatilation from management, and that's not an irrational fear.] Workers want to believe their friends when they say, "I'll vote yes, but I won't sign a card." However, about 999 times out of 1000, that person votes no. So it's our job as organizers to deliver the bad news and move forward.

We filed with a very narrow majority on Cooper. It's always hard to decide when to file for an election, because the standard formulas really don't work. "Never file with less than 60% on cards," say most organizers. That's just wrong. Learning when to file is knowing your people well enough that you know you'll hold your cards -- how many of those who signed will vote yes. Management always manages to turn some people who are on cards, so you have to figure it out. My formula is that meetings = yes votes. Meaning, almost the exact number of nurses who will meet with you, voluntarily, outside of work (we can't meet with people at work -- the boss won't let us onto the property, though they do zillions of mandatory anti-union meetings on work time, and the workers are forced to attend.) If someone refuses to meet, she's telling you that on some level, she's uncomfortable with the union idea. We set things up so that nurses can meet anytime, any place, at their conveneince -- in a diner, a Dunkin Donuts, their own homes, wherever. That's a lot of why my job has had a very on-call nature to it. I've done a lot of meetings very early in the morning, and I've done quite a few after the 3 pm - 11 pm shift.

On Cooper, we had met with 365 nurses. We had somewhere over 400 cards. We were fairly sure that the unit was around 775 -- it got packed at the end with some people who hadn't worked there in awhile, due to an agreement whose complexity is not important here, but it's a story that's boring enough to put you to sleep on a transatlantic flight someday, so file it away in case you need me to tell it later.

So it was narrow. We debated for hours and hours about whether or not to file. Lisa wanted to file -- it was her campaign, her baby, and she had confidence in her people. Now Lisa was the best organizer I ever knew... she had a kind of vision at 25 that most organizers never get in their entire lives. One of the saddest days for the modern labor movement, in my opinion, was the day that Lisa decided not to organize anymore. She used to say that you just have a certain number of campaigns in you, and that she had used up all of hers. She's going to be a great lawyer now, so what is organizing's loss is the legal profession's gain, and I'm happy for her success. She's also about to marry the only person on earth who actually gets all of my pop music references -- hi Steve! Steve and I instantly bonded when we met on Jan. 3, 2000 (freakish memory for dates) over pop music when we discovered that we have the same very favorite, very obscure Billy Joel song. I knew that Steve would always be a good friend when we figured out that we had that in common. Good thing, because I'm the maid of honor in their wedding in March.

So anyway... Lisa wanted to file, but the decision wasn't hers alone. Larry (organizing director, our boss), Lisa and I talked for hours, and Larry and I talked on the phone for hours about it as well. We felt like we could hold the people we had, but it was a big risk. In the end, we decided to go for it.

We won by 101 votes. We thought we would win, but not by that much. And we were sufficiently unsure that I was dreading the vote count. Management had wanted a large number of people who hadn't worked in the last few months included in the vote, and to avoid long legal delays, we agreed. Most of those people had neither met nor signed, and our efforts to track them down and talk to them were not particularly fruitful. In union elections, almost everyone always votes, especially if it's close. And if you're not sure someone is a yes, they're a no. So we had counted all those people as no's, and assumed they'd vote. That had us winning, but on such a razor thin margin that we couldn't be sure.

Well, we the formula meetings = yes votes held true, and we won. And those people who really didn't work at Cooper, for the most part, didn't show up. [You might think it obvious that they wouldn't, but you're wrong: the strategy of packing the unit had worked on the Fletcher Allen 1998 campaign, where the union lost, and I went back and ran the re-run in 2002. Same anti-union consultant. It worked for two reasons: there weren't a lot of hospitals to work at in the area, so when people were called at home by their managers and asked to vote, they were more likely to do so because they might want to work there again; and management, we are fairly sure, paid people to come in and vote, even though they were not scheduled to work.]

So we won 370 - 269, and there was Larry, tears streaming down his face, looking at the biggest victory that union had ever had. There was little tiny Lisa, mid-twenties, shorter than I am (and that's short) signing the paper that you have to sign with the results. There was the anti-union consultant, looking stunned. And I looked over at Larry, gestured to management's side, and said, "Hey, we're just as surprised as you are!" (Of course I said it very quietly, so that only Larry heard me... one must always be polite and professional!)

The moral of the story is, sometimes you take a chance, and sometimes you win big. Larry used to say that if you never lose, you're not filing enough.

One of the lessons I've tried to teach VLC is that you have to take risks, be willing to go in there and get your heart kicked out, in order to win big. As you get older and you get better, you learn more about how to calculate your risks, but that doesn't stop you from taking them. It means being willing to take the big chances, not because you're sure you'll win, but because you know you can handle the consequences of losing, and get up to fight another day, confident in the knowledge that that which doesn't kill you makes you stronger (though I don't think that's why CR works... it would be such a pity to reduce a process as interesting as CR to a well-known cliche, wouldn't it?)

On Fletcher Allen, that giant campaign in Vermont that I won in 2002, I knew exactly when to file. I could see the trajectory of meetings and signatures so clearly that I used to predict a month in advance how many nurses would have met by the next organizing committee meeting. [It also really scared management's lawyers at the vote count that I had memorized the entire list of almost 1200 nurses' names and what department they worked in, but my memory was somewhat legendary in Vermont by that time. When information is important to me, I find it easier to carry it around in my head than to have to keep referring to a piece of paper.]

The real risk on Fletcher Allen was leaving a very comfortable position in New Jersey to live in Vermont, where I really knew no one, and lead a giant campaign that had very unclear prospects for success. People had been trying to organize Fletcher Allen since the 70's. That was a big risk that paid off in the biggest success of my organizing career, a once in a lifetime win.

I was saying to one of my CR brothers the other day (actually, I was writing it, but it seems like talking if you write all the time so I'll observe the convention of referring to it it as such) as we were discussing the topic of taking big risks that I've been willing to jump from very high heights because I'm confident I'll land on my feet.

I'll admit that it's hard to remember that during those moments when you're in free fall.

But it's part of what made me a good organizer, and it's part of who I am.

In the immortal words of Van Halen, "Might as well jump!"

Monday, December 27, 2004

Is It Boring When I Eat Well?

I very clearly remember the exact moment when I first read "RANT: Moderate CR." I was doing some random archive searching (a bit of an obsession in those days) and I stumbled across it quite by accident.

Immediately after I read it, I started to write a blog entry entitled, "This blog is about to get very boring." I never published it, in fact I barely even started it. It's still there, way back, saved as a draft. But I realized that in order to get the maximum benefits from CR, I had a long, long way to go in terms of changing my diet and lowering my calories.

Months of fun, frustration, silly mistakes, and trips to Whole Foods later, I've finally come up with some basics that work for me to get my ON without eating too many calories. You know them well: eggwhites, brewers yeast, yogurt, vegetables of all kinds, skim milk, etc. On days when I eat really well, there's just not much to tell. Yesterday was one of those days. I ate well, enjoyed my food, even served dinner to CR friendly dinner company. So I guess I'll tell you about it, but I'm warning you, you've seen me eat these things before.

eggwhites with Goya brand salsa verde -- 150
pint grape tomatoes -- 90
yogurt concoction: 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt (thank you Fruitgirl for teaching me the wonders of that product!!!) mixed with salsa verde -- 130
iced latte with skim -- 80
spinach salad with grape tomatoes and the ginger pear dressing that VLC gave me for Christmas -- 50 ish, not completely sure, dressing was only 10 cals, but not sure the exact weight of the spinach
brewers yeast soup: half a bag of broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, mixed into two cups of organic free range chicken broth with two tablespoons Lewis Labs brand brewers yeast: 221
glass of red wine -- 100
just under one fourth cup of walnuts, little pieces -- 200

1011. Did I add that right? I did it without a calculator, always a mistake.

Boring to read about, but delicious to eat. So I'm still tacking on nuts at the end of the night to fight my lowfat tendencies... I've come a long way from the old days!

If I keep doing well, will you keep reading me? Is it still interesting when I eat basically the same thing every day?

Well, I hope you keep reading me, because while my eating may be settling into a routine, the rest of my life is about to change dramatically.

Another Round of Educating People About the Basic Concepts of CR

One of the problems with writing this blog is that my audience is so diverse, and sometimes I assume that people know things they don't. I'm really excited that I have readers from all over the world who have all different interests, and I definitely welcome questions. One of the most fun things about the blog has been my off blog correspondence with faithful readers... it really makes me happy when I get email from you guys!

So I apologize for the times when I neglect to fill you in on some of the things that the CR brothers and sisters are familliar with. I got a question last night about whether or not I'm going to lose more weight, and so it seems to be a good time to review some basic concepts.

When we say that CR is not about weight loss, what we mean is that weight loss is a side effect, not the goal. Many of the CR folks would tell you that they actually liked the way they looked better pre-CR. I've been happy with how I looked for quite some time now. But CR is not about getting to a weight where you look good. My goal has always been to get my calories as low as I can, without sacrificing optimal nutrition, while maintaining some quality of life things like being able to go out to eat. I've been very pleased during this process that I've been able to take my calories lower and lower and still be happy with how I look. I'm just a lucky mouse, I suppose. I don't have a weight goal: that wouldn't make any sense because weight is not an accurate measure of CR. As Michael has said about a zillion times, there are plenty of people who are skinny but not CR'd. Does anyone remember my college boyfriend Andrew, the tap dancer who weighed 118 at 5' 10"? He used to eat all sorts of junk, in astounding quantity. For any of you who've lived in New Haven, this would be meaningful: Andrew used to go to the Yankee Doodle diner and eat those giant breakfasts with bacon, eggs, pancakes, and those blueberry muffins that they cut in half, slathered with butter, and cooked on the grill before serving. Yikes!!! I gained weight just being near him, as he seemed to move in a cloud of junk food. At the time, I thought he was the lucky one and I was cursed. Of course, he was constantly moving... he never stopped tapping on things. I wonder if he's still tapping on things, now that he's married and no doubt has children who are constantly tapping on things. His wife is a tap dancer too, I'm sure she can handle it. I'm a big fan of quiet and being still, so it drove me a bit insane. Anyway, the point being, how thin you get at any given calorie level is not standard at all, so it doesn't make any sense to measure much of anything by weight. It is important to lose weight slowly, and I've definitely been doing that. So I suspect that I will lose more weight, but as long as I'm keeping up ON and feeling great (and I feel so much better when I stay below 1100 that it's worth sacrifices in other areas, not that there really are any for me) I'll just keep going. I'm slowly leveling off, so I doubt that I'll lose much more weight, but right now my BMI is something like 19.5, which is on the very high end for CR folk, and my ON is great, so I'm not worried about "going too far." All the really good clothes come in small sizes.

Sunday, December 26, 2004

But Couldn't Find an Open (Salad) Bar

On Christmas morning I woke up to the sound of my neighbors playing (loudly) that depressing Dan Fogelburg song about how he met his old girlfriend at the grocery store. There's a line that goes, "We went to have ourselves a drink or two, but couldn't find an open bar." Well, today I went to find a salad, and couldn't find an open salad bar! I was taking a break from big project, and I went up to the Asian grocery store, which has a fantastic salad bar. They were open, but no salad! So I bought 2 pints of grape tomatoes (they're selling fabulous grape tomatoes at 2 pints for $2.99 -- can you believe it?) and went off to the supermarket to try to find a salad there. Their salad bar was closed too! So I just ate one pint of grape tomatoes and decided to wait to eat more until I get home. Now I'm at a stopping place, but it's already 4 pm and I have dinner company coming over at 6, so I'm not sure what to do. All I've eaten today is an eggwhite scramble and a pint of grape tomatoes -- too little even for a day when I'm low appetite due to previous overeating (the last two weeks.) I think I'll just make a super healthy dinner, and definitely get my brewers yeast into the soup. Maybe I'll have my yogurt and salsa thing when I go home while I cook dinner... I could use the calcium, and eating more protein is working wonders for my concentration. It's like all my focus is back... the magic of protein at work again.

Spent the morning working on a project and getting progressively more annoyed at Christine Daae for leaving the opera to run off with that absolute idiot. Since I've gotten email from readers who know the story, I'll run on about it a bit... why, why did she do that? Because she was 18 and stupid? Because she really wanted to die and have "beloved wife and mother" be the only thing on her tombstone? I had a chat with one of my CR brothers about the relative artistic merits of making the audience root for the bad guy. The Opera Ghost wasn't exactly the bad guy... I mean, he killed a couple of people and that was a touch awkward, but he had a terrible childhood and he was a great composer. And I thought his basement apartment was awesome! I would love to have a moat around my bedroom.

This is why I don't see movies or read fiction very often. I get way too involved. I recently read a book about England under Queen Mary and spent the entire week asking people if I was about to be burnt at the stake.

Of course, I get way too involved when I read non-fiction too, but at least if I read something that convinces me to eat differently, I can do something about it. It's much more productive than arguing with fictional characters.

Okay, that was a lame attempt to tie this in with CR. I'll stop writing until I can provide you with some food-related content.

Yes, Dunkin Donuts Coffee Is Bad

I knew the debate would be ignited. It's just after nine am and I've already been told that Dunkin Donuts coffee is good coffee.

No, it's not. The only reason why people like it is that the employees fix it with cream and sugar before they hand it to you. They put in amounts of both cream (or milk, but I assure you, it's not skim) and sugar that almost no one would put in their coffee by choice. So when you get it, it's like a dessert. I drank it every morning pre-CR, and usually with a seseme bagel toasted with vegetable cream cheese. No wonder I felt so dramatically better when I started CR! Can you imagine?

So anyway, if you like Dunkin Donuts coffee, I apologize if I've offended you. Taste is, of course, a matter of taste. Ever since I started CR, I've found myself mixed up in about a zillion arguments that boil down to that concept. But try this experiment: drink Dunkin Donuts coffee black, with nothing in it. Do you still think it's good coffee?

I'm off to get real coffee. More soon. I haven't eaten anything yet today so there's no food to talk about. I will, however, most likely be eating an eggwhite scramble with salsa for breakfast, and I'll do my DWIDP on yesterday when I get back to work.

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Far Too Many Notes For My Taste, And Most of Them About Christine

That's a line from _The Phantom of the Opera_, which my mother and I went out to see tonight. There's a scene in which several of the characters rush onto the stage carrying notes written to them by the Phantom, and they're all accusing each other of writing the notes. There's a great deal of misunderstanding and confusion. It's a funny scene, and several of you will see why I found it particularly amusing at this particular point. I used to love the soundtrack to that musical when it first came out, round about when I was in seventh grade. I desperately wanted to see it on stage and never could, but I still remember all the words to all the music. I used to sing along with my old tape of the original cast recording, and as I was listening to it in the movie theatre I actually found myself wanting to sing again. For years I've said that I absolutely do not sing. How could one not want to sing along to that loud, bangy organ music? The end was so sad though... they didn't do a good job of making the count very appealing, so I kept cheering for the Phantom.

Today was a good CR Christmas: eggwhites over spinach with tomato and basil on top for breakfast/brunch, a cup of fat free yougurt mixed with salsa verde as an afternoon snack, leftover turkey with mustard and a green apple for dinner, and I'll have a glass of red wine and a snack of some walnuts when I get home. I'm too tired to do my DWIDP now, but I'll do it in the morning. I'm sure I was within my calorie target, and while some things will come up low because I didn't eat my brewers yeast, the protein should be very good. The only bad thing was that Dunkin Donuts was the only open coffee place, so I got the coffee there with milk and sugar. I drink good coffee black, no sugar, but bad coffee I sometimes have to fix up a bit.

"Christine Daae can sing it, sir." "A chorus girl?"

You Mean You Forgot Cranberries Too?

Yes, that's a line from the Waitresses' song I was quoting yesterday. She forgets cranberries for her solitary little Christmas dinner, "So on with the boots, back out in the snow to the only all night grocery..."

Though my mother had requested that I pick up jellied cranberry sauce, I forgot it. Can we chalk that up to some kind of internal sense that I must avoid junkie carbs? Or was it simple exhaution and stupidity? In any case, we had plenty of food, so I didn't go back to the grocery store, which closed at six pm anyway.

My mother, who may have to be called the High Carb Fairy until she ceases this behavior, brought ju ju bees over to my house. She also brought Trader Joe's seseme crackers and portwine cheeseball. I ate *a lot* of cheese. Not sure how many calories and scared to ask. The rest of the dinner was very good though... free range organic turkey (a bit hit with Kieffer the 20 pound tabby, as you might imagine), green peppers stuffed with tomato, basil and feta (next time I do this, I have to remember to throw in some tarragon vinegar... I knew I had forgotten something.)

Now I'm on my way to cook CR-friendly Christmas brunch: eggwhites scrambled, topped with tomatoes and basil, served over a bed of spinach. Red and green!

Friday, December 24, 2004

Doing Christmas Right This Year

You should know that I absolutely hate almost all Christmas music. In fact, the thing I look forward to most about the holiday season is December 26, when the radio stations go back to playing regular music after the season of tacky Christmas music.

However, there is one Christmas song I like. It's the one by "The Waitresses" about the girl who's had this crazy year and decides to do Christmas by herself instead of running around to a million parties. I heard it this morning on my way into the office, and thought, yes, that is how I feel this year.

I am actually cooking with my mother, so it's not entirely doing Christmas alone, but my crazy holiday responsibilities seem to be ending. At least until my New Year's Eve Party, but that will be a low tech extravaganza, requiring no travel on my part.

Tonight's Christmas dinner will include:

-- free range organic turkey that my mom has cooked
-- a Christmas tradition in my family: green peppers stuffed with tomato, basil and feta, cooked in white wine for 45 minutes in the oven
-- broccoli steamed with lemon pepper
-- a low sugar baked apple dessert that I will probably throw some maple syrup and walnuts into
-- my mom is planning to do something with sweet potatoes

Last night's dinner went well: instead of putting the eggplant tomato red pepper sauce over spinach, I ate mine in a bowl and served it to my non-CR'd guest over spinich pasta. My calories for the day are coming out to 1122, with an odd 76% on Vitamin A, which I am usually very high on. The only dairy I had was a skim milk latte, so my calcium was at 57%. Iron 68%, Zinc 50%. Everything else above 100%. That's the brewers yeast and broth talking... had that in the afternoon. P:F:C 26:30:34. High carb due to some seseme crackers that I found lying around my office and ate in the afternoon... bad choice, but not a disaster.

Today should be a very good day. I'm off to the store to buy the Christmas dinner fixings!

Thursday, December 23, 2004

Voices On My Radio

Line from "On the Western Skyline," the first song on Bruce Hornsby's first album. You may have to be a Southerner to like Bruce Hornsby, I'm not sure. I just recently started listening to his first album again, and I love it. Whole line goes, "Voices on my radio, telling me where I should go." Considering how much I quote pop music in the blog, I think that every once in awhile I should just have a headline that is about music in general. So there you go.

How are my bloggiefriends dealing with the holidays? Some of us have chatted off blog about how hard it is to resist all the holiday food. And then we feel crappy if we eat it. I had an almost perfect day yesterday, and I actually slept well and got up feeling great. Today I am cooking for friends for both lunch and dinner, and I am never sure what I'll make until the very instant I make it. For lunch, I am making shrimp and scallops in a spicy red sauce. For dinner, I think I will put down a layer of spinach (explain to me why we avoid spinach? I love spinach.) and top it with eggplant, red pepper and broccoli all sautted together in a tomato and red wine sauce, and top that with a few little shrimps. How does that sound? I'm gradually moving my frequent guests in the direction of eating CR friendly. That usually goes very well around the New Year, when everyone resolves to lose weight. I guess I won't be making that resolution this year! Wow, it is so cool to be 100% happy with my weight! Weird weird weird. Go ahead.. write negative comments about how happy I admit to being... it only seems to inspire another round of supportive comments and emails, which makes me even happier!

Now here are some New Year's things I could work on:

I need to cut back even further on junkie carbs. I do well on my eating at home days, but I don't do as well when I go out.

I need to consistently eat breakfast. No excuses.

I need to be faithful to the nuts and eat them even when I'd rather get the calories through bread. I can tell the difference in my mood so much when I eat fewer carbs, more protein and fat.

I need to go back to exercising every day. That will help me sleep too. I miss my old walking path, but we have a great gym with a treadmill at the apartment complex.

Speaking of the complex, last night I stopped by the apartment complex party. They had an entire buffet of food, and the only thing I could see that was CR friendly was a) pickles b) the grape tomaotes that were garnish on a large tray of deli meats. Luckily, I wasn't looking for dinner since I had plans to cook a fancy vegetable dinner. But I was struck by the total lack of food that I would even consider eating.

I also thought about how for most people, food is a major source of entertainment. Eating is the event. When you're not using food as entertainment, you have to hang out with more interesting people. The other day I was saying to one of the brothers that it was unfortunate that we don't live close enough together to meet for lunch. He said something like, "Yeah, we could watch each other not eat." I always find that I eat a lot less when I am in the company of people I find interesting. I'd just rather pay attention to the people than to the food.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Back On Track

Though I skipped breakfast this morning (very bad!) I did get right back on track with lunch.

1 cup regular cottage cheese
12 olives
salad with romaine, grape tomatoes, red onions, beets, balsamic vinegar
small dish of strawberries, honeydew and canteloupe
iced latte with skim

DWIDP is saying 458 calories so far today. 37 g protein so far, P:F:C 32:32:36

Feeling much better now. Tonight I am having CR-friendly dinner company and making some combination of eggplant, broccoli, brewers yeast, chicken broth, crushed tomatoes and red peppers. I'm guessing that the eggplant, tomatoes, and peppers will go into an Italian like stew and that the broccoli will go into the broth and brewers yeast for a light soup. My DWIDP is telling me that if I throw 100 calories of walnuts on top of that (which isn't much in the way of nuts) that I'll hit 961 calories, including my with dinner glass of red wine (Walford sized pour) and be over 100% on all RDA's except for the usual suspects: Calcium = 77%; Iron = 65%; Zinc = 45%. I am a lot less worried about those shortfalls now that I am taking a not terrible basic multivitamin that MR doesn't think will kill me. (hint: it's not Hello Kitty anymore.) So take that negative ones! I can get almost perfect nutrition in 961 calories, and feel great! Poptarts be damned! Oh, and check this out: 28:27:45.

I feel so much better today. I actually ate lunch out at a place with a good salad bar, so I was able to get good stuff even though out. I am very excited about my brewers yeast soup tonight. My CR friendly dinner guest is also a fan of the magic food, so I'm sure my soup will be well received, no matter what else I put in it.

Tomorrow I'm technically off from work, and I'm having company for both lunch and dinner. I'm excited. I love to cook so much. It's my favorite activity, other than raising money for the Mouse. I wonder if there is a way to combine the two... Mouse Dinner Party, $1000 a person? Three Hundred members get in free.

Answers to L's Questions

Eggwhites: I use a liquid kind that come in a little milk carton-like container. My brand is called "All Whites." I measure out a cup, then scramble them. Very good for breakfast, or as a dinner food if topped with veggies/sauces.

During the day, I drink lots of water. I also drink tea, and I still sometimes drink diet soda: TAB, to be exact.


You Never Slow Down, You Never Grow Old

On my way over to the office at 4 am I heard one of my favorite songs, Tom Petty's "Mary Jane's Last Dance." I thought that line was an appropriate headline, considering that I seem determined never to rest.

After my last entry, you're probably thinking: that's all very nice, you love your CR siblings, but what did you eat? So I'll tell you. I owe you two days worth of food. Both of the days involved dinner out so I don't know the calorie totals. I think that last night was the last dinner out for a little while, so I should be able to do better in future.

breakfast: eggwhites with salsa verde
lunch: salad with romaine, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, a hard boiled egg, and green beans, topped with balsamic vinegar
dinner: went out. shared a shrimp appetizer, ordered a super protein dish: crabmeat, grilled tuna and grilled salmon, with avocado slices on the side. ate some of my friends shrimp thing in a tortilla and a few bites of the mashed potatoes. one Sam Adams Winter Lager. Refused to take off my polar fleece jacket because it was so cold.

knew I'd be eating out at night so ate very little during the day.
made excellent yogurt concoction with 1 cup non-fat plain yogurt and a whole lot of salsa verde. sounds horrible but is actually delicious.
leftover asparagus, tomato, red pepper and eggplant dish
dinner: shared guacamole and chips, ate bowl of butternut squash soup, ordered shrimp enchiladas and ate about a fourth. already stuffed from guacamole and soup. red wine.

This has been my worst two weeks since I started CR. I actually feel terrible. The anxiety is creeping back, and it's not just that my life has been very stressful as of late. It's so true that the only thing destructive about my eating is when I fall off the CR wagon. I can't believe I used to feel like this all the time. The recent unpleasantness has been horrible (some of you don't know what I'm talking about, that's okay) but I am dealing with all the stress by doing what I always do: throwing myself into the one thing I believe is right.

Okay, I'm going to be okay, the holiday eating is over, I'm going to get back my CR inspired Zen.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

What the CR Society Is Really All About

Wow! Was I happy when I got to my computer today and saw that I had extremely supportive comments from Michael, and that Mary had dedicated an entire issue to setting the record straight re: accusations of anorexia! www.crdiary.blogspot.com

Tall MR and Little MR to the rescue, as has so often been the case.

It got me thinking about what the CR Society is really all about. We argue with each other, we disagree, we can even get into some knock-down drag-out fights. But when it comes down to it, we support each other. And we go to great lengths, spending our time and energy on people who live far, far away, to do so.

The CR Society provides a wealth of information about how to CR, the science, the practical advice, etc. But the most important thing about it, in my opinion, is the support. We are strange people: we believe that we can live longer, and that we can take action right here and now to achieve that goal. We experience all sorts of struggles, from dealing with hunger to the whole range of social struggles that we've discussed at length on list and on-blog. When I went to the conference, I felt an amazing sense of instant connection with so many of the people there. It was like we had known each other all our lives, and just didn't happen to live in the same city. It was so hard to leave!

The other night, I was in the middle of an absolutely horrible argument about another topic with another of the brothers on the phone, and I started to cry (something that contrary to popular belief, I actually don't do that much anymore.) When I told him that on top of everything, I was dealing with issues with my friends thinking I'm anorexic, we immediately stopped arguing and he talked me through strategies to help my friends understand me. After my tearful post to CR Community on the topic, I got a message from another CR friend with whom I've had some pretty serious disagreements lately, saying that he was there if I needed to talk. Sure, we all go back to arguing, and we can disagree pretty bitterly. But when it really matters, we're there for each other. Two of my CR brothers even called me, offering to be a shoulder to cry on should I need it. It's just amazing that people from such different backgrounds are willing to drop everything to help each other. It makes me more committed than ever not just to the practice of CR but to the CR Society itself.

I know that CR would never have been possible for me without the CR Society. I learned things on the list and in the archives that I could never have found in any book. The people in the Society, especially Michael, are able to explain things to the non-scientist in a way that makes sense, and gives us ways to use the information in our lives. I wonder if back in the days when Brian Delaney and Roy Walford founded the Society, they had any idea that it would grow to be such a huge and supportive community. It will grow even more with the publication of Brian and Lisa Walford's book this winter. Certainly, Brian's ten year commitment (remind me to tell you sometime about how Aubrey de Grey taught me how to spell commitment, something many people had tried to do unsuccessfully before) to making the CR Society a place where people feel welcome and safe has made it accessible in a way that sci.life-extension might not have been for me.

CR isn't easy, but the CR Society makes it possible. Even accessible. Even fun. Let's face it, the CR Society has been the fairy godmother that I now feel has turned me into Cinderella. Not even a year ago, I was unhappy about my health, seeing signs of aging, and fearing that I was sliding into the despair that most American women live with every day. Now, I am in the best health of my life, and the CR Society has opened up a whole new world for me.

Some of us have had some pretty serious disagreements lately, but to me, one thing is very clear. We have to stick together, even when we disagree, because in the end, we CR'd life-extensionists may be the only ones of our generation around to see the dawn of radical, life-extending biomedicine. As some of you already know (and more of you will soon find out) I've recently made a commitment to dramatically change my own life in order to bring about that day. If it weren't for the example of those in the CR Society who have blazed the trail, I would have never even been able to dream that such a thing was possible.

Besides, who else is going to laugh at our jokes 100 years from now?

Monday, December 20, 2004

A Glamour "Don't"

This is one of those entries that will probably make more sense to the sisters than to the brothers.

I regret to report that my outfit today is a Glamour "Don't." You know what I'm talking about, right? Those pictures of women with the faces covered who are wearing hideous outfits? Well, usually I am a bit of a fashionista, but today, it is very very cold. Like 9 degrees. So I am very bundled up. I am committing several fashion faux pas at once:

a) wearing black lycra leggings under a skirt

b) wearing hiking boots with a skirt and cashmere sweater

c) wearing Christmas socks with said hiking boots

d) wearing a yellow scarf with a blue polar fleece jacket under a black coat

It is very, very cold. That's all I have to say in my defense. I've never liked wearing layers, preferring instead to wear a soft scarf and carry around a large mug of tea at all times, or hold a candle and warm myself by the small fire. But today I just broke down and bundled up. It's miserable here. It's supposed to warm up by Christmas. I wish I had internet access at home, so I could just stay cuddled up with a cat, a warm cup of peppermint tea, and the heat way up high.

From the files of "better judgement than my outfit": I had a delicious, absolutely ecstatic eggwhite scramble this morning. That Goya salsa verde is outstanding! It's a bit spicy, but I really like that. Eggwhites are the perfect thing to put the salsa on, since they bring out its taste without competing.

I think I'm taking the afternoon off to finish my Christmas shopping. It's all been so crazy, and I have a ton of work to do on other projects. Of course, I do most of my computer work in the middle of the night... I was incredibly productive last night from 12:30 am to 2:30 am. Then I got back in bed with the cat and listened to the wind howl loudly outside the window, all the while rejoicing in the miracle of electric heat.

Lunch today will be some yogurt concoction with red pepper and some brewers yeast soup. Then I think I'll run out to the mall for the last few things. Not sure what I'll have out at dinner tonight, but I'll look at the menu online before I go so I'll already have in my head what sorts of negotiations I need to have with the waiter. Chances are I'll eat some seafood. Today will be a high protein day. I'd have to admit, as much as it still irks me to do so, that I feel so, so much better when I eat breakfast. Especially a high protein breakfast like eggwhites. If you don't usually eat breakfast, take it from a reformed former breakfast skipper: eat your eggwhites. You'll thank me later.

You Might Find Less Criticism If You Didn't Triumph Over Your Size at Ann Taylor.

I want to reproduce this comment so everyone can easily see what I'm talking about:

I appreciate your diary, but have also wondered if you are anorexic.Certainly it's none of my business. But you might find less criticism if you didn't triumph over your size at Ann Taylor. I'd be excited too, but it does sound like you're more about the bones than the lifespan. Also, your calories seem almost impossibly low to achieve CRON. But again, to each thier own. Just thought I'd explain some of the perception.Good luck to you.

I'm sure I might find less criticism if I didn't triumph over my size at AnnTaylor. And why is that? Because women actually liking their bodies is something that is just not acceptable in our culture! What you don't seem to get is that unlike an anorexic, who thinks she's fat no matter what the obvious reality is, I am actually happy with my body! One of the side effects of CR is weight loss, and as I have often mentioned, to this point this has been a positive side effect for me. I also talk at length about the other positive side effects: relief from anxiety, never getting sick, needing less sleep, enjoying my food more. Making tons of new and fabulous friends (does that count as a side effect?) You're right that I would get less criticism if I were just as miserable and unhappy with my body as most American women are. Certainly almost all of my friends are unhappy with their bodies. If you knew anything about anorexia, even the most basic thing, you would realize that the fact that I am happy with how I look is evidence that I am, in fact, NOT anorexic. 1100 on average is certainly not too low for CRON. It's what Mary averages www.crdiary.blogspot.com. Some of the people in the world who know the most about CR read my blog frequently, so you can rest assured that I will be quickly informed if I am having nutritional problems.

Luckily, tomorrow I am meeting up with my photographer buddy and will soon have some pics to post, and you will see that you have nothing to worry about in terms of me being skin and bones. As of late, I've eaten well over 1100 -- all this holiday silliness. Today I had the delicious dinner I blogged about, then went over to my mom's to check my email and ended up eating a bunch of bread with hummus and some juju bees. Ugh -- more junkie carbs! Of course, I woke up in the middle of the night feeling anxious -- eating tons of junkie carbs really messes with my sleep.

My mom gave me some eggwhites so I can start out tomorrow right with an eggwhite scramble. She also picked up some really interesting looking salsa verde, Goya brand (product placement!) that I can put on it. Then I'm making my favorite old yogurt concoction with a ridiculously expensive red pepper -- veggies are crazy expensive with that hurricane and all. I'm also going to bring brewers yeast soup to work (with veggies: broccoli, carrot, cauliflower.) I'm going to go very high on protein for a few days because I think that will help me get back on track after all this roller coaster carb holiday eating. Protein is like medicine for me -- the effects it has on my mood are just fascinating. I've been eating too late at night, and that messes with my sleep. So if I can go back to starting my day right with high protein breakfast, and getting all my calcium with my really good yogurt concoction and a skim latte at some point in the day, I'll be much improved. And of course the miracle of brewers yeast.

I'm having dinner with my photographer buddy tomorrow, and we're going to one of my favorite brewpubs (Manyunk Brewing Co. -- product placement!) so I'll have to save some calories for a beer. One of the common misperceptions about CR is that you have to "give up" this food or that food. You don't have to give up anything: you just have to figure out how to get all your nutrition in a smaller number of calories. And most of us average over the course of the week, which makes it much easier. I may have to average over the course of the month this month, since the early part of the month was stress-induced low appetite and the end of the month has been holiday party after holiday party.

Sunday, December 19, 2004

Tuna Fish Salad

Wow, that's an exciting blog headline.

Trust me, things are about to get much more exciting. But for now:

My flight was delayed so I ate a tuna fish salad in the airport. Now I am finally home, the weather is rainy, and I am about to curl up in bed with my cat and a book to take a short break before cooking dinner for my mom and then getting back to work on various projects.

Dinner will be:

eggplant, garlic, asparagus, red pepper, sauteed in red wine and mixed with pureed tomatoes, served over eggwhites, 1 cup per person, scrambled. This is an excellent dish. I season it with oregano and maybe some leaves from my mother's rosemary trees. She calls them Rose and Mary and has decorated them for Christmas. They're cute, yet edible. The best of all possible worlds, really.

I'm cooking lowfat tonight because I have had so much fat in the last few days, I feel like I need a little break from it. No doubt that is the most nonsensical thing you have ever read, but to me it makes sense. What I really need a break from is junkie carbs. I realized that I've been neglecting my protein while on the road, and it makes me so much hungrier! I can't wait to get some eggwhites. I've had my adventure back into high carb hell, I've felt crappy enough to know how stupid it is to eat like that, and now I'm coming home to my happy eggwhites. You really should try the eggwhites topped with veggies and tomato sauce dish, it is amazing.

More tonight, but late. Probably like 3 am.

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Bridget Jones Lives Forever

or dies trying.

Tonight I went out with my father and step-mother to see the Bridget Jones movie. I had never seen the first one, but I have read both the books as well as Helen Fielding's other novels, and I am a huge fan. The movie was very funny. VF, that is. It made me think about how much my writing has been influenced by Fielding. While at the Conference, I read her first novel, about a woman who accidentally becomes a fundraiser after going to work at a refugee camp in Africa where people will starve to death if she doesn't find some serious funding. It's a great book called "Cause Celebre." I highly suggest you all go out and get it.

Today was a serious overeating day. Family Christmas luncheon, with the most highly caloric item I have seen in awhile: quiche. I stirred in a whole bag of cheese, at my father's request. My father made quiche, my step-mother made asparagus and a cranberry cobbler. Waldorf-Astoria holiday cake for dessert. Bloody Mary's and wine. I have no idea how many calories I ate, but I'd guess at least 2000. Of course I feel odd and confused now... but tomorrow I fly home and will be back to my regular food. I tend to naturally balance out these days ... after a few days of heavy eating, I am just not hungry for awhile. Like a snake. I eat a big mouse, then I need not hunt for mice for a few days.

My lack of sleep has finally caught up with me, and I took a nap this afternoon after the lunch company left. Now I'm up finishing a few things before I go to bed again.

Doesn't Seem Right That We'd Fight So the Party Runs On All Night

Another line from "Last Chance on the Stairway."

I went to a great party last night... my father and step-mother started a group of friends, mostly from their church, who meet once a month to do wine tasting and listen to classical music. Every December, they have a Champagne Night, and everyone dresses up in fancy clothes and brings champagne. The food was amazing... no idea on my calorie total, but it was way up there. I'm not at all worried about that, since the holiday eating is making up for the stress-induced lack of appetite of earlier this month. The champagne was fantastic, and I also got to sample some interesting port-like reds that the host got out of his new wine cellar. The only problem with the party was that it went on quite late, and since I have been barely sleeping at all, I was quite tired. Sometimes I long for the days when I could go to an upstairs bedroom during a grown-up party, take a nap, and then expect my parents to pick me up and put me in the car when it was all over. While I am now light enough to be easily carried, as an adult, you're expected to walk.

I was running like a madwoman trying to get both work and other tasks done before leaving, so I ate no breakfast yesterday, and settled for a tuna sandwich at the airport. The major calories were all consumed at night.

Today is my family Christmas with my father's side of the family. Step-brother and sister in law are coming with their baby, and my grandparents are driving in from where they live in the next town over. We're having brunch instead of dinner because my grandfather no longer likes to drive at night. I apprecite that, as I'd like to devote some time tonight to some important tasks that you will hear about soon.

Come Monday I should be able to get back to my DWIDP and post my calorie totals and nutrition breakdown again.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Very little time to blog

Hi friends...

I'm sorry I've been offline... you know I'm thinking of you even when I'm away!

I don't have time to blog now -- I have to finish some work now, and then I'm flying off to visit my dad in NC. I have miraculously somehow almost finished my Christmas shopping. Not quite. And my family does Christmas gift exchange tomorrow! I usually am so far ahead on that, but this year, other priorities arose that took precedence.

I hope you're all well... I'm not anorexic you silly cats, you should have seen me eat yesterday at my office Christmas party dinner. Seafood risotto... yum! Terrible timing, since I had a ton of work that needed to be done, but it's an event that you have to go to in my organization, and it's a lot of fun. The food was so good. I also had a seafood soup and shared a few bites of a chocolate thing. I don't really feel like it's a good use of my time to defend myself to you though -- I've gotten so much support from my CR brothers and sisters, and they universally say, "Don't expect people to understand. They have to deal with their own issues their way."

I'll start posting daily calorie totals again though, that might be instructive. Sometimes when I eat out I don't know what they are though. I can also post the RDA's, so that you can see how good they are. I suspect that Negative One has very little knowledge of nutrition, otherwise he/she would see that I am getting not just adequate but actually optimal nutrition on a daily basis. It's the days when I eat out, and eat closer to what you would consider "normal" that I come up with bad nutrition totals at the end of the day. Why? Because normal people eat crap! All those junkie carbs, all that sugar, all the saturated fat. My lunch yesterday was 140 calories of eggwhites (29 g protein) and a salad of romaine, tomatoes, green peppers, cucumbers, and olives. You don't need to eat crap to be healthy. In fact (newsflash) eating crap actually makes you unhealthy!

You'll feel better when I post a pic, which I promise I will get around to asap, but I'm doing some more important things right now. In fact, the only reason why I'm writing so much is that I'm waiting on a reply to an important email.

More soon.

Thursday, December 16, 2004

Home Can Be the Pennsylvania Turnpike

No one caught the Billy Joel reference in my last post to CR Comm. Why, oh why, did I ever think that anyone would get my pop music references?

I'm about to get back on the PA Turnpike.


Not A Good Breakfast

Well, bloggiefriends, I've been lamenting lately that I have fallen back into my old, pre-CR ways of skipping breakfast. I regret to report that while I remedied that today, I did not do so in a way that was positive.

There aren't a lot of options in suburban Pittsburgh in the pre-dawn hours, and I'm getting ready to drive the long road back to Philly. Yes, I am driving early in the morning. I am at my most alert as soon as I wake up, so I like to get up an go. But I was hungry, super hungry, so I thought, I'll find something to eat for breakfast.

Ugh. Vending machine, not even a granola bar. So I ate a pop tart.

Yes, a pop tart. Well, two, both of the ones in the package.

Not a great choice. The nutrition info on the back, which I should have read before eating it, said that I just ate 450 calories.

This is not going to be a good CR day. Tonight I have the office holiday part, at a really nice restaurant. Then Friday I fly off to my father's for our Christmas tradition weekend: Friday night we have a champagne party with the wine and classical music class he teaches (that will be fun -- I'm going to wear a fabulous black dress and be very happy about being 104 instead of 137.)

Wow, 450 calories of anti-nutrition. That is just shocking.

Well, on we go.

Really, that doesn't need to be dignified with a response

I seem to have attracted a negative commenter.

Welcome, negative one.

This blog is about: Calorie Restriction with Optimal Nutrition. For information on what that is, please visit www.calorierestriction.org. There you will find an excellent source of information on a lifestyle which is so healthy that it actually extends life!

If you are indeed concerned about my health, you will be pleased to know that I never get sick, including when everyone in my office calls out with the flu. I track my nutrition daily using nutritional software, which you too can purchase at www.walford.com, in order to find out just how healthy your diet is. Or, if you'd prefer not to make the investment, send me a few days worth of your food records and I'll figure it out for you on my software, and let you know where your nutrition could be improved.

Please do not comment again until you have reviewed the information on the CR Society website and have some understanding of what this blog is about.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Funny It's Just Like a Scene Out of Voltaire

Twisting Out of Sight...

Line from Duran Duran's "Last Chance on the Stairway," a song which I consistently play on my trips to Pittsburgh and back. It's on a tape I made my sophomore year in college, a tape called "Blue Eyes and Innocence." From my days as a computer geek-ette. Last chance on the stairway indeed.

As I drove the long, straight narrow northwestward line from Philly to Pittsburgh today, I felt a sense of calm clarity that the last few weeks have lacked. More on that later.

Meanwhile, I ate:

-- no breakfast, I know, I am going to hell

-- yogurt that I picked up at a turnpike stop, plus a latte with skim (hey, calcium!)

-- free fruit at hotel: apple, banana

-- food at meeting with nurses: order of cottage cheese, at least 120 cals

-- dinner: salmon with grilled squash, broccoli, tomatoes, red pepper, herb olive oil pesto like sauce

-- glass of cabernet

I have now discovered the ultimate nirvana: wireless internet access. At the Hampton Inn where I stay when on the road out in the western part of the state, they have free wireless access if you bring your laptop. Now I have this, and I can't describe to you the joy of checking my email in my nightgown. For years, I have had to run to the office or to Kinkos (The horror of Kinko's deserves its own entry) to check my email. To have internet access right by my bed is a revolution indeed.

Tomorrow is the office holiday party. More on that later.

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

I Just Can't Explain In This Language That I Use

Line from an Elton John song I was listening to, "A Word In Spanish." I really do have horrible taste in music. That one has lots of good lines that I will save for later blog titles.

I was driving to West Chester, where I met my new friend the medical writer for dinner. I had an almost AL dinner... vegetable fajitas and a margarita at the other branch of the Mexican restaurant that we have near my office. We had a great time... as it turns out, the lab where she worked in grad school had done CR studies, so she told me about the AL fed rats and the CR rats and it had the most incredibly calming effect... having a real person talk to me about CR made me so happy. She's extremely cool, and it looks like she and her boyfriend may stop by my New Year's Eve party.

I didn't eat much during the day: just a salad at lunch, with a hard boiled egg, lettuce, a little tomato, some red onion, and beets. Fat free salad dressing. A latte with skim as an afternoon snack.

As I was driving to West Chester I felt this overwhelming urge that hits me every once in awhile to go back to Montreal and get back my French. I used to be fluent in French, and in high school, my best friend was a French Canadian girl, so we used to chatter together so that no one else could understand. Of course, we only talked about boys. But it was fun to have a secret language, and every once in awhile I want to go back and remember it. I've lost a lot from lack of practice... the last time I spoke French for any sustained period of time was in 1996 when I was working with Haitian construction workers. That's a very different sound though, and easier to follow. I went to Montreal a few times while I was in Vermont... it was a wonderful escape. I haven't the time or the money at this point, but doesn't it sound like tons of fun to just jump on a plane and hang out for awhile? As Sheryl Crow says, "Wouldn't it be good if we could hop a flight to anywhere?"

Back to work... much to do, miles to go before sleeping, or after sleeping, considering that I'll probably go home, go to bed, get up at 3 or 4 and come back. Then driving five hours to Pittsburgh tomorrow. My glamourous life... eggwhites, the PA Turnpike, and the constant search for a place to check my email for free.

Monday, December 13, 2004

Long, Long December

From Alana Davis, "Free." If you don't own her album, "Blame It On Me," you should run out and purchase it right now. Especially if the record stores are still open in your time zone. Go go go, go buy it now.

What I ate today:


black bean soup -- April's easy recipe. 1 cup free range organic chicken broth, two cans black beans, about a fourth a cup of pickled jalepenos chopped. It's delicious.

salad of romaine, tomatoes, and red pepper, with fat free Italian dressing


Cooked for non-CR'd dinner company. Well, I always cook for non-CR'd dinner company, as I know no one CR'd who lives nearby.

red pepper, tomatoes, basil, and feta, sauteed in 1 teaspoon olive oil with about 2 oz feta cheese and 1/4 cup of red wine. I usually make this dish as stuffed peppers: peppers stuffed with tomato, basil and feta, or goat cheese, but this time I was short on time and couldn't allow the time to bake the peppers (45 mins) So I ran home from working on an important project to cook dinner, and threw it all together in the wok.

another cup of the black bean soup from lunch

2 slices sourdough bread with hummus (Trader Joe's)

2 glasses of red wine. You would have had 2 glasses too, if you had the day I had. Well, maybe your day was even worse. But if you read CR Comm, you'll see just how bad.

Okay, wow, in the time it took me to write this entry, I just got so many supportive emails from my CR brothers and sisters that I am feeling so much better! Thanks, CR siblings!

I did have a rather high carb day today though... ;)

Supermodel Confusion

My last entry seems to have generated some confusion, so I wanted to clear it up.

Sometimes I forget when I write the blog that I'm not just talking to the CR brothers and sisters. They tend to understand exactly what I mean... for an example, check out Mary's entry today which refers to my entry from yesterday. Mary's at www.crdiary.blogspot.com.

I was rejoicing in the fact that I am not as skinny looking as the supermodels! It is wonderful to be curvy at a low calorie level, and while I accept that eventually I may lose a little of the curve, I'm enjoying what I have for now! You'll all feel better once I post a picture and you see that I look healthier than ever. My friend the photographer is taking some pics of me and I'll put one up as soon as it's developed and I figure out how to digitize it or something.

I appreciate everyone's concern, and I think you'll be glad to know that I'm definitely happier and healthier than I've ever been!

Okay, got important work to do, more soon.

Sunday, December 12, 2004

Feeling Thin

At less than a size 0 and approaching the 100 lb mark, I am starting to feel thin.

There is a distinct feeling of losing weight... do the sisters and brothers know what I mean? The feeling that you are burning fat, somewhere between feeling fully fed and feeling that horrible, weak, "I am eating myself" feeling. The feeling of losing weight I find rather pleasurable... but feeling thin is entirely different.

I think I am beginning to adjust my image of myself to my new thinner body. I am still not skinny like the supermodels, and I am just as glad of that. I suppose it will come eventually, but I am in no hurry to get there. I once again thank the gods that I live in a society where the ideal of female beauty is thinness... who would have thought that a girl who is curvy by nature would ever be glad of that?

At the mall, I was thinner than the teenagers working in the clothing stores. Even when I was a teenager, that wasn't the case.

It's funny how I love being thirty, I feel more alive, *younger* than I ever have before. This has been a wild and crazy year, but it makes me reflect again on why I want to live as long as possible.

Shawn Colvin, from "Kill the Messenger" off the Fat City album:

"Sometimes the beauty of life hits like lightening, washing everything clear
And these glimmers of doubt flicker, fade out and disappear."


I went shopping.

I wore the size 0 skirt that VLC gave me. It's a little too big, but still fits.

I bought nothing.

Well, not entirely true. I stopped for lunch and had a tuna nicoise salad, with olives, olive oil dressing, pan seared tuna, field greens, and capers. Quite good.

I tried to buy the Sting CD "Brand New Day" which I had on tape back in 1999, but the line at the CD store was too long. Songs to listen to on that album, for those of you who are following the soundtrack to the blog: "Brand New Day" and "After the Rain Has Fallen."

Tonight I am cooking again for CR friendly dinner company, and I may recycle the eggwhites-as-pasta theme. I have some portabello mushrooms, broccoli, and crushed tomatoes, which I think will make a delicious sauce when sauteed with olive oil and garlic.

I need to get my brewers yeast in somewhere today. More on that later.

The Bitterness of the Medicine

Good morning all... my morning, that is, it's 3:43 am now and of course I am up. I am starting to think that what I have is not particularly insomnia, it's rather a scheduling problem. I say that because I don't seem to get tired during the day or feel like I need more sleep. Pre-CR, I was a miserable insomniac. I'd wake up in the middle of the night and be unable to get back to sleep, but then be tired all the next day. I suppose I am still an insomniac, but in the never ending parade of positive side effects from CR, needing less sleep has joined the lineup. I just wake up when I am no longer tired... and then I get up and blog. The scheduling problem comes when I realize that I don't want to stay up later and then get up later. I still go to bed relatively early when I am not working or out. So I go to bed at 10 and get up at 3. Five hours of sleep is not bad, and I slept the five hours straight through. Perhaps the problem is that I am in the wrong time zone.

Meanwhile, last night's dinner went very well. I picked up an eggplant, a bunch of asparagus, and a red pepper, sauteed them all in two tablespoons of olive oil, and threw in a can of stewed tomatoes, a little oregano, some salt and pepper, and served the veggies over one cup of scrambled eggwhites per person. I am really enjoying using eggwhites as pasta, ie topping them with vegetables or sauce. It solves a lot of problems: for example, I'm often short on protein, and often very hungry at dinner if I've barely eaten during the day. So I can make a large (for me) meal that has lots of protein if I use the eggwhites where in the past I would have put rice or pasta. It might seem a bit odd, but once you get past the idea that eggs are for breakfast (a notion that a visit to any New Jersey diner at anytime other than breakfast should put to rest, as people are always ordering omlets at all hours of the day and night) it's fantastic.

I ate a handful of walnuts and a few grape tomatoes a few hours later right before bed, and as I often do at my weekend dinner parties, drank two glasses of wine. Even so, the day is coming out right on target because I just didn't eat that much total. 1016 calories. Pretty bad nutritionally, which is a reflection of the fact that I didn't eat my brewers' yeast. I should have made some brewers yeast soup instead of the nuts, but I was tired and just wanted to eat a quick bite. Today I will eat my brewers yeast soup, which solves almost all of my problems. The whole day is coming out with an odd P:F:C ratio for me: 20:40:40. Hmmm. Nuts, egg salad, olive oil. Very unusual day for me. That free sandwich made everything strange, but was quite delicious. Will I eat the other half today? Tune in next time to see.

My weight was down another pound this morning... hello, 103. There's something slightly alarming about getting so close to 100, but I still look boringly normal, and I feel great. Speaking of looking extremely normal, I think I may soon have a picture that I can put up on the blog. I need to get one that I can put with my "Why I donated to the M Prize" testimonial (which I have not yet written... Kevin, if you happen to be reading, I really am working on it but have been somewhat buried under other obligations, and I want it to be good.) That way you can all see what I look like. I wonder if I look like you think I do. The people at the conference seemed to recognize me fairly easily, but there weren't a whole lot of known redheaded girls signed up to be in attendance, so it wasn't that hard to pick out which one was me. I think it took Dean a split second to figure out who I was when I threw my arms around him and gave him a big hug, but even if you hadn't read a description of me, you'd still know that I'm much more likely to throw my arms around someone I've never met and give him a big hug than your average CR Society conference attendee.

You're probably wondering what any of this has to do with the title of this post, and why I haven't had a pop music headline in awhile. I was re-reading Michael's post re: joining the Three Hundred which you can find here: http://lists.calorierestriction.org/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0412&L=crcommunity&P=R2357&F=, or if that doesn't work, you can go to www.bestofcr.com and scroll to the second page, or try http://bestofcr.com/node?from=6. Warning: I think you should read this, but it's very controversial and may be a bit alarming to those who are new to CR. If you're one of those folks, you might want to read this first for a basic intro to what Michael is talking about: www.aor.ca/mags/Advances6_SENS.pdf. Michael wrote that one too, but it's toned down a bit and won't shock you as much. Michael's writing is powerful stuff, and like all strong medicine, you might not want to take it on an empty stomach or when you're already feeling light-headed.

The quote from which the headline is taken:

It is a measure of my own desperation that I spend so much of my life's energy in an intervention [CR] that I know perfectly well to be crude, weak medicine.
Frustratingly, those around me are so put off by the bitterness in the medicine that, like willful children who only hurt themselves, they refuse to take it.

This morning, as my weight dropped every closer to that psychologically significant 100 mark, the line "the bitterness of the medicine" jumped out at me. And what is about to follow is another of my long discourses on much I love CR, and how I feel vaguely guilty for the fact that it seems to cost me nothing.

Now let's be clear: my brand of CR is a whole lot easier than Michael's. He pays a lot more attention than I do, has been doing it longer, etc. But in this post he wasn't talking specifically about his own brand of CR, he was talking about the perceptions of those around him about CR: that it is too bitter a pill to take.

If anything, CR has made me realize how bad I felt before. To me, CR has been not a bitter medicine but a fairy godmother. While I won't claim that it's turned me into Cinderella, it has improved my life in many ways. The psychological effects alone are worth the price of admission. The fact that I can now sleep five hours every night and feel perfectly alert, in fact more able to focus than at anytime I can remember, is quite amazing. I keep expecting to hit a point where it gets difficult, and I suppose if I dropped my calories again it would, but I think it's better to maintain a very slow rate of weight loss and keep my calories around the 1100 mark for the next little while. I seem to have gotten all the positive side effects and missed all the negative.

Another odd effect... I seem to be able to do a lot of push-ups now. For some reason (or a complex set of reasons with which I will not bore you) I have as of late started doing push-ups again. Pre-CR, I couldn't do very many. Now I can do a lot. I haven't counted, but I can make it through about half of Depeche Mode's "Enjoy the Silence" before I get tired. That's a big improvement over the three or four I used to be able to do before CR. I think it may just be that I'm so much lighter that it doesn't take much to lift my weight. Sit-ups are also easier, and more entertaining to my cat, who can't figure out why in the world anyone would do that when they could be sleeping on the couch.

I finally caught up with my friend Francis -- ending the longest game of phone tag in world history -- last night while he was driving to LA to visit his girlfriend. After the obligatory discussion of SEIU that must occur anytime two labor movement people start talking (I forgot to mention that I stopped wearing my purple ring -- I put it away the day we lost the de-cert -- very Ingrid Bergman, very Casablanca) I filled him in on the latest info re: my quest for longer, healthier life. He's always been very supportive of my CR, and as usual had lots of helpful advice on all topics. We are such old organizers... in our eighth and ninth years (I graduated from college one year before him so techinically I have been organizing longer), we are like 22 year old cats. Statistically, we are already dead. We talk in organizer shorthand, not unlike how CR people can talk in what must appear to the non-CR to be code. "That's a logistical problem," he said, waving away a difficulty which I considered rather serious. Francis is a great source of advice on many subjects, and I regretted that we had gone so long without talking during a time in which I really could have used his insight. He has started making notes for a book about the organizing lessons to be learned from the Bible. He's been reflecting a lot lately on how in his experience, people with a religious background, whether they are currently religious or not, are more likely to stick to their pro-union convictions in the face of the attacks that always come from management, co-workers, family, etc. Now that, I thought, was fascinating. "It's hard to predict what people will do under pressure," said the old organizer to the even older organizer. Yup.

I woke up this morning (at 3 am) lamenting the small number of female friends in my life... after a cheery conversation with one of the CR sisters off-blog, I was thinking of how much I miss having girls around to talk to. Then this morning I got an email from the woman I met in the airport at Thanksgiving. We're going to have dinner on Tuesday.

Well, I've been chattering on in an attempt to pass the time until the coffee shop on the corner opens, but now it's six so I'm off to get my coffee. I may face the horror of Christmas shopping today. I don't do much of it, but I do need to get something for various other family and friends. VLC already gave me a present: a black skirt in size 0! So far she has given me my two favorite skirts-that-fit: the purple one I wore at the CRS Conference and the new black one. At the time of the conference I was merely borrowing the skirt, but she has since given it to me, since I offered to pay her any amount of money for it and she bought it at a thrift store.

Enough. Later.