Are vents bad for this disease?

Now that the kid is recovering nicely and I’m much less worried about her, my thoughts are drifting to the fact that HOLY CRAP I ENDED UP WITH THIS STUPID COVID THING.

Sick of this illness already, especially when I probably was too optimistic yesterday about being on the upswing. It’s more like being at a standstill—a phlegmmy standstill that exhausts me ands burns deep into my sinuses.

I hoped to be back tomorrow to work (from home, as I have the past 2 years now), but now I don’t really see that happening.

Been so tired and hangry all afternoon, and running on barely 3 hours of restless sleep from last night. Probably not a good idea when you’re dealing with a disease with a zillion different outcomes.

Oh well. Vent over. Kinda needed to unleash, I guess. And I just blew the carb count on chili dogs and a chocolate cake shake. Time for Advil and bed.

Ask not for whom COVID-19 tolls

So, the Evil Virus finally showed up for us over the past week. And it’s all the fun it’s been cracked up to be.

In our case, it’s actually been less, compared with what others have experienced. At least F and I are still alive, for one thing. (I had two cousins die from COVID over the past year or so.) Our experience has been more like The Worst Flu Ever, with persistent fever, body aches and headaches, and a sore throat that feels like needles in the voicebox. I’ve never seen F quite this sick, and I haven’t been this ill in a long time.

But as I’ve mentioned to friends and colleagues – and on this here website – I highly suspect that things would be a lot worse if we weren’t vaxxed.

(C was smart enough to get a fresh booster shot a week or two ago, and I’m convinced that that is what kept the virus from taking him down with us.)

And even though I’m still overweight, I’m nearly 70 pounds lighter than I was a year ago; as obesity is a comorbidity of COVID-19, I’m even more grateful now for the weight loss.

Our illness has been relatively mild enough to be treated with Advil, hot tea with honey (plus lemon for me) and other fluids, and binge-watching anime on Netflix. (I will gush at another time over our discovery of “Aggretsuko.") So, at least we’re fully hydrated and entertained.

Fortunately, F is very much on the upswing after the onset of her symptoms last Wednesday; given her school’s COVID protocols, she may be okay to go back in the next day or so. For now, I can report – with perhaps more optimism than merited, since I tested positive yesterday – that I may not be far behind: My fever has subsided so far, though the body aches linger, and my biggest issue is a scratchy, phlegmmy throat.

F and I let our guard down with the masking over the past month or two (although she still continued to mask at school, even when most kids did not). I regret that now, even though the past few weeks of freedom reminded me of how much I hate wearing masks.

(C said when he called the school nurse’s attendance line this morning to notify the school that F would be absent, the voicemail box was full. F’s friends have confirmed that an awful lot of kids at school have been out sick. So, we can confirm that no, the pandemic isn’t over.)

Grateful that this whole experience has been survivable. Hope this is a cautionary tale for people who hate masking as much as I do. And I pray for those who are dealing with this, especially in far worse manifestations than ours.

Today’s nutrition rundown—before the frozen custard we got at Ted Drewes after dinner. Not only did I fall off the wagon; the wagon ran over me repeatedly.

The zoo and other side trips during our St. Louis stay got me to a record today.

The losing battle, Week 52+: Almost at goal

Obviously I’ve grown sporadic with not only posts but also actual weighing. My last weight loss post was two months ago.

So, it’s time for an update. Just under 6 pounds left till my initial 80-pound goal. The doctor said a few weeks ago that more activity would jumpstart my slower progress. But at least I’m not gaining anything back.

The losing battle, Week … oh, never mind

Been a while since I’ve posted a weight loss update. (The last one was back in August.) I actually weighed myself Tuesday, but didn’t think to post until now. Nearly 70 pounds gone since I started all this.

I don’t have much to add, except that I marked the 1-year anniversary of this low-carb lifestyle thing earlier this month. Never mind that I’m still 10.6 pounds from my initial weight loss goal. I’m going to keep going, even if I’m doing so with slightly less zeal than I had at the start.

The losing battle, Week 30-ish: Gratuitous weight-loss post

It’s been a while (which is why this jumps from Week 26 to Week 30-ish). Just need to state for the record that I’m down 53 pounds since January; I logged in at 230 pounds this past week after a bit of a plateau. At least I wasn’t gaining weight, but I wasn’t losing, either. This was the first week I was able to post a loss of a pound or more.

During this losing lull and quiet period, I’ve gotten to the point where I need to seriously look for clothes that don’t fall away from my waist or hang off me like a tent. Even without the scale numbers budging much, clearly things are shifting around on my body.

It’s not that I’m not working on my weight loss; this low-carb “lifestyle” has become second nature, though I fall behind at times on my water intake, lag in my activity, and sometimes forget my meds. But logging my losses here feels like less of a priority lately. Work is picking up a bit again, and weeks after the end of the ICAD challenge, I’m still trying to maintain a daily art practice. Weight loss is very much a self-care thing, but carving out time for art is doing more for my stress levels, sanity, and sadness than almost anything else these days.

Rummaging through an old bag of T-shirts now that I’ve lost enough weight to wear a few of them again. It’s unlikely I’ll be able to wear this one — a medium — from my senior year in high school, but I’m keeping it out of the Goodwill pile. It represents fond memories of holing up in a San Diego State dorm one summer with a bunch of other kids who were dreaming of a career in journalism like I was.

The losing battle, Week 26: At least 30 pounds to go

I actually weighed myself Sunday, and hit this milestone then. But then I weighed myself again and ended up 0.4 pound lighter.

So, as of yesterday (that is, Monday), I am 232.6 pounds. That’s 50.4 pounds less than my starting weight in January, when I started cutting the carbs and putting myself under a doctor’s supervision to lose weight.

It’s been a stressful 2 months or so. I haven’t hit a Pilates class or done anything fitness-minded in that time. I need to do something about that. Otherwise, I just need to keep going.

My initial goal has been to lose 80 pounds; I’m going to stick to that goal for now, and then consider whether I should keep going with the loss or try to maintain. Don’t want to get ahead of myself.

The losing battle, Week 25: Meh

At least I didn’t gain any weight. I lost a whopping 0.4 pound in the past week, so I’m down to 235.4 pounds.

I’ve been relatively relaxed lately about allowing myself a sandwich or other carb-heavy food on occasion, so long as my overall carb count remains under 100 grams. For instance, I had a spicy chicken sandwich, brioche bun and all, for lunch on Sunday; it topped out at 60 grams of carbohydrate. I also snuck an onion ring, though I confess I didn’t log that.

Starting to wonder whether I need to go back to being stricter with myself. Also, I have to increase my water intake; I’ve been slacking on that, too, and drinking more diet soda, at least on the weekends.

My old clothes continue to be loose, and I continue to be vastly improved with my energy and stamina on walks than I used to be, so I don’t think I’m failing. I just feel like I need to be a little more disciplined with my eating and hydration habits.

The losing battle, Week 24: Back downhill again

Looks like I’m recovering well from the California carb binge. Weighed in at 235.8 pounds, or 3.2 pounds down from last week – and 1 pound down from my weight just before we left. This makes for a 47.2-pound loss since January.

We’ll see how long it lasts as I begin another rough work week.

Meanwhile, I removed two rings on my right hand because they kept slipping off. And I really need to get some new pants and even skirts because the old ones keep slipping. I guess this is a good problem to have, but it’s annoying nonetheless.

The losing battle, Week 23: A vacation spike

As I expected, I gained back a little weight after 5 days of setting aside the carb limits while in California. Now up to 239 pounds, or 2.2 pounds over the last time I weighed myself.

I still kept up the discipline of logging my food, even if I ended up at more than 100 grams some days over my daily 100-gram carb limit.

Back on the wagon the past few days (though I’ve lapsed into my recent tendency to forget to eat during work hours). Also need to jumpstart my activity levels.

Reminding myself that I’m still 44 pounds down from where I started in January. Onward.

Catching up after a long week of carbs and exhaustion

Spending my Saturday catching up on Padres games and making a flaccid effort to clean my home office.

We flew to California a week ago today; we returned home early Thursday morning. I ate half the breakfast burrito my sister insisted on bringing to me less than 24 hours before, then dragged myself to bed to sleep off some grief, anxiety, and the pain of long hours crammed in a winged sardine can with a thick piece of cloth over half your face.

***

Catching up on whatever news I can stomach (which, these days, isn’t much). The news item that was the biggest gut punch for me: the latest round of buyouts at the Tribune – the first under Alden Capital ownership.

There’s so many familiar names among these buyouts, I’m starting to realize that pretty soon, only a tiny handful of people I worked with nearly 20 years ago will be gone.

Among them: three columnists for whom I built websites when I landed at chicagotribune.com in the late 1990s, including Eric Zorn – who was especially kind and patient with me and will forever be in my mind the tallest, most interactive columnist ever.

Godspeed to the folks who are leaving. And God help the people who are left.

***

I still have a lot to process from the past week. Today I spent a great morning over breakfast doing a bit of processing with one of my dearest friends. Not sure how much processing I’ll do in this space, though. My greatest anxieties stemming from the week will likely remain analog and offline. I have enough to write about online.

***

The airline we flew provides free entertainment to distract us from the cramped seats, the aforementioned long hours in a winged sardine can, and the discomfort of lugging all of your possessions in a carry-on to avoid the $30-per-bag fee for checked-in luggage.

I took home two obsessions, thanks to this free entertainment: David Byrne’s “American Utopia” concert film (directed by Spike Lee) and the Apple TV+ sitcom “Ted Lasso.”

Somehow, “American Utopia” made me feel okay about growing old, even though the “Stop Making Sense” movie provided the soundtrack of my college years more than 30 years ago, and this latest concert film reminded me of that. Byrne has aged, like we all have, but that hasn’t kept him from making joyful, energetic, and insightful art. I watched “American Utopia” on the way to California and during my return home, and it buoyed my spirits when I needed it the most.

The flight only offered the first two episodes of “Ted Lasso,” and when I got home, I went ahead and subscribed to Apple TV+ so I could binge watch the final eight episodes. It didn’t take long. (I only binge watch archived baseball games on MLB.tv, so this was a first for me.) Much has been said about the power of niceness that the show depicts, and that’s part of what I adore about this show. But the titular character demonstrates more than that; there is a resilience and stubborness in Ted Lasso’s optimism, even in the midst of his own sadness and anxiety over his failling marriage. Some critics say, well, this is fiction and not real – but why must so many shows be hard and cynical? We get enough of that in real life.

I don’t watch much TV or many movies; the critically acclaimed stuff strikes me as cynical or overwrought or trying too hard to be woke or meaningful, and I’ve had my fill of that. (Much of what passes for news or punditry also feels overly earnest or a vehicle for cynicism, and I prefer to consume such content in small doses.) I’m just hoping “Ted Lasso” doesn’t take a dark turn in its second season, which starts next month.

***

I ate my weight in carbs while we were gone. I didn’t eat as much rice as I might have six months ago, but I thought nothing of all the tortilla-based and bready, sugary stuff that made its way into my grazing. I think I ended up maybe more than 100 grams over my 100-gram carb limit at one point. But I still logged everything.

Not alarmed. I decided weeks ago that I would go easy on myself this past week. I fully expect some weight gain when I weigh myself Monday. In the meantime, I’m back on the wagon and watching my carbs again. Onward.

The losing battle, Week 21.8: Special pretravel edition

Doing an early weigh-in and post before we head West for Mom’s funeral. Being a gathering of a Filipino family in a hotbed of Mexican food, I expect to throw carb limits out the window during our time in California.

I checked in at 236.8 pounds, or 3.2 pounds down from last Monday. This puts me at a 16.3 percent weight loss since January.

Even if I go over my carb limits, I’ll still log my eating. I’ll continue restraint, but I’m not going to go nuts, either.

Of course, I weighed myself before having a last-minute Portillo’s Polish with everything – including the bun, which I rarely eat now. I anticipate ingesting an unusual amount of noodles, tortillas, and sweets – as well as homemade oven-fired pizza at my brother’s place – over the next several days.

So much for sleep health.

The losing battle, Week 21: Erratic eating patterns, but still down another pound

Weighed myself yesterday, per usual, but I forgot to post the weekly update. Down to 240 pounds, or 43 pounds less than the start of all this in January. That’s a 15.2 percent loss so far.

We’re heading West this weekend for Mom’s funeral, and I expect my eating patterns to go somewhat haywire. They’re already haywire now; I still forget to eat for stretches at a time, though I make up for it at dinner and afterward. Except for today (when I opted for a fudge pop that put me over my carb limits by 3 or 4 grams), I’ve been pretty good with keeping under my doctor-prescribed limits.

The Fitbit app now gauges stress levels; my score has been in the 50s and 60s over the past few days. There’s work, and then there’s some tasks related to preparing for the funeral and memorializing Mom. I’m trying to keep up my daily ICAD stuff, which has been such a welcome distraction and stress reliever. In a way, it anchors me these days – as does, to some extent, the dietary scaffolding of my low-carb “lifestyle.” Grateful for both anchors.

The losing battle, Week 20.5: Doing okay

I weighed myself Tuesday (rather than the usual Monday), but didn’t get around to posting anything. Preoccupied lately.

I hit 241.2 pounds on Tuesday; that’s 1.8 pounds down from the previous week. (I weighed myself this morning and was at 239, but I’m not going to count that. My eating habits were atypical yesterday, and I’m sure it’ll even out when I can get back on track.)

The Tuesday weight gets me down 41.8 pounds since I started all this in January.

This is what happens lately when my work day gets extra-stressful: I forget to eat. And then MyFitnessPal gets cranky on me because I didn’t log enough food for the day.

Probably not the best thing to just have a cheese stick for breakfast.

The losing battle, Week 19: A pretty nice milestone

Late post in the wee hours of Tuesday. Just marking a bit of a happy moment here. Not much more to add. Onward.

We went for a walk on a hot and humid Saturday around a local reservoir. Only a bit over a mile. Only needed to stop twice for mild back discomfort and annoyance with the heat. I couldn’t have made this walk easily six months ago.

The losing battle, Week 18: Almost halfway there

Saw the bariatric doctor today. Dr. O. was very pleased with my progress, and so was I, once I weighed in at 244 pounds at his office. This makes for a 39-pound loss since mid-January, or nearly half my initial 80-pound goal.

I ruminated about expanding my goal beyond 80 pounds, as I’ve mentioned here. But Dr. O. stopped me, reminding me to celebrate what I’ve done up till now. If I want to lose more once I hit the 80-pound mark, fine, but he didn’t feel a need to discuss that right now.

Otherwise, we talked about the joys of MyFitnessPal, exercise, the importance of sunlight, and COVID-19 vaccinations; then he re-upped my prescriptions, reiterated that this weight-loss thing is a long-haul deal, and sent me on my way until our next appointment in August.

He also wants me to make an appointment with my primary care doctor, largely to show off the weight loss.

The losing battle, Week 17: Back on track

I’m down again. Weighed in this morning at 246 pounds, which is 3.2 pounds down from last week. (That’s a 37-pound loss since I started all this in January.) This makes up for the 1.8-pound spike in weight last Tuesday.

I’d like to think that falling ill before dinner yesterday and throwing up a bit – and largely skipping dinner afterward – had little to do with it. But it probably did.

Feeling better now. I suspect there was some kind of mild food poisoning involved.

Other health practices have been up and down. Sleep is somewhat okay, though I’d like to get a little more than 6.5 hours of it a night. I need to get back on the pilates and YouTube workout wagons. And I have to be more regular with getting some decent amounts of sunlight daily.

Still, clothes are fitting better. More rings are loose on my fingers. And Chris said during our breakfast out yesterday that I’ve clearly lost weight in my face. All that makes me happy.

I see the bariatric doctor a week from today. Looking forward to it.

The losing battle, Week 16: It had to happen sometime

This was not unexpected after more than 3 straight months of weight loss. I was up 1.8 pounds on the scale this morning.

I’m still down nearly 34 pounds since January, but I’m still scrolling through the old food diary to figure out what might have led to this first reversal since I started. According to my records, I never went above 100 grams of carbohydrates over the past week, but that might have been bad logging on my part at one or two points – namely Friday, when I went ahead and had several squares of regular pizza for the first time in forever. I’ve had a piece here and there since I went low-carb, but not “several.” (But it was still a lot less than I used to eat in one sitting.) Also, I’m not limited in calories – just carbs – but I did go significantly over the MyFitnessPal app’s prescribed calorie limit (like, by 600+ calories) a couple of days. My snacking has also been a bit more frequent and fatty or high-carb (I really have to lay off the peanuts and pork rinds), and I haven’t logged as much water as I had been.

Perhaps just as significantly, I had a lot of nights of poor sleep, at one point logging barely 4 hours. Plus I logged one Pilates class, and maybe one day above 3,000 steps. I could get off my ass a little more (and my painful lower back and hips would likely be grateful).

I’m not too upset about this. It was inevitable. At least I have an idea of how to move forward: A bit more sleep, a bit more water, a bit more movement. Onward.

There’s a nice bit of writing in the Washington Post accompanying a recipe for pandesal, the classic bread roll of the Philippines:

“To eat like a Filipino means eating multiple times a day, not just three square meals. Many will have a pandesal in the morning and then a sizable breakfast, called almusal, later with eggs, meats and, of course, rice. It’s not a meal without rice."

This is what I grew up with. This is also why going low-carb in January was as seismic a shift as I imagined it would be.

The losing battle, Week 15: Same old, same old

Another week, another 2.4 pounds lost. Now at 247.4 pounds. That’s a 12.6 percent loss since I started all this in January. At least another 70 pounds to go.

I’m not as blasé about this as I might sound. But I just realized that I forgot to post my update yesterday; this time, I didn’t delay it because I wanted to get a decent weight to log here. I just plain forgot. Maybe I can blame that on post-vaccine brain fog.

Meanwhile, I think I’m largely past the COVID-19 vaccine side effects now. C, however, is dealing with the same kind of hit-by-a-truck aftereffects that I woke up with Saturday. On top of that, he has a 101-degree fever.

I’ve always been envious of C’s good health and fully expected him to lord a lack of side effects over me. I didn’t want him to go through this, especially since it seems like he’s got it worse than I did over the weekend.