Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Update to that health crap...

See the last post for more info but further detail that this (what I used to call "stupid") diet is working:

I got my period today.


I hate it when people are right and I am wrong.

But, seriously, OH MY GOD. THIS IS WORKING!!!! IT'S WORKING!!  It's one of the few times in my life I have actually almost died of happiness to see blood. (TMI? I guess I should disclose that this blog is not censored).

A cut.

A couple of weeks ago Justin had a minor surgery to remove a lipoma from the back of his head. His general practitioner did it and it was expected to take 20-30 minutes, no big deal. They'd get the whole thing out and send it to biopsy where they'd determine if it was cancerous or not. They figured it was most likely not.


2.5 hours into the surgery, the growth was stuck to his brain. And of course, since this was just outpatient surgery, Justin was conscious. Awake. Listening to them rip this thing out of the back of his head (that right there would make me UNCONSCIOUS. I mean, REALLY GROSS). They didn't get it 100% out but 3 hours, a sore head, and 8 stitches later, Justin was on his way. And it did turn out to be non-cancerous. (WHEW!) For the following couple of weeks, I had a new patient:

They didn't even shave his head- weird. I think he is glad that whole experience is done and behind him.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

A journey to health.

Isn't that the tag line of life?

I'm not really sure where to start this post.

But I'll try.

Remember how I've been a vegetarian/vegan on and off for about, oh, the past 15 years of my life? There are about 2 distinct periods where I remember decidedly NOT being a vegetarian and one time was when I first started dating Justin and ate some meat with him (keyword here is "some"). It's one thing to tell your trainer to basically go screw themselves (in nice terms) when they tell you to eat "animal protein" after working out because you don't believe a) that you need it to build muscle and b) you hate it, but it's an entirely other thing to tell your new non-vegetarian boyfriend to screw off when he tells you to eat protein after working out when he spends enough time with you to know that you do in fact probably need that animal protein. That lasted for about the first 3 months of our relationship and by the end of 12 months? He was pretty much eating vegetarian with me. In September of this year? We were both vegan after he had researched it more and found out varying health benefits and that you do not, in fact, necessarily need animal protein to be an athlete (a win for me! ...Or so I thought at that time). 

The other time that I ate animals in the past 15 years? Well, it wasn't really isolated like the time I just described before but it was more one-offs where I'd have a bite here, a bit there just to see if I still did hate the taste of meat. Pretty much without fail the answer was always YUP. I ate the occasional piece of fish or occasional eggs but for the most part I was solely vegetarian, if not vegan.

I posted about it here. Mostly that post centered around the fact that I was always an "on the fence" vegetarian, meaning that I generally was vegetarian but not really for animal cruelty purposes but for taste purposes. Simply put, I just don't like the way meat tastes. The book I wrote about in this post was all about the inhumane treatment of animal, which, I still agree, is disgusting.

All of that aside, fast forward to October 2011 and we are successfully through the wedding and married and happily living our life as healthy as we thought possible- as little vegan warriors (what the hell that means, I don't know... I don't know where I come up with this stuff sometimes). But, slight problem in this whole health thing? Remember this post when I talk briefly about how I quit birth control in April? Yeah, well I never really expanded on that but basically I haven't had a period since then. Yeah. Um 6 months of no period sets off fire engine alarms of "AMENORRHEA! NO BLEED NO BLEED!" Apparently it's a problem. Right.

So, I started going to acupuncture to regulate my cycles. It was good for a lot of reasons but didn't help old Aunt Flo to show up. My (stupid, now fired) OB doc wanted to put me on medicine to give me a "fake period" to which I said less politely "fuck off, I'm doing this naturally." I gained weight thinking if I put on some body fat, that would help. (HELLO, peanut butter!) No dice. So, that left me in October with the "natural" method of birth control which meant erratic temperatures, no period and thinking "hmm. Should probably do something about this."

So I went to see a naturopath. A renowned naturopath. He's in Tacoma... an hour away from me. I was committed to solving this naturally, without MORE drugs since a major part of the reason I was screwed up was the birth control pill in the first place (another post entirely on how stupid it is that we don't teach women about their bodies to control birth naturally, without just popping a pill... at LEAST give people the option!)

Anyway, for my first naturopath appointment, I headed down to Tacoma for my full metabolic/chemistry workup. Pee in a cup, spit in a cup (and sidenote? Spitting in a cup to get the "right" amount? Takes FOREVER. Try it if you don't believe me).

I sit and wait and they run a few initial tests on my pee and spit along with ask me a million questions on various bodily functions/eating habits, etc. The result? He said basically that I am deficient in every way possible. And this was just the INITIAL appointment. He told me to drink salt water, eat as much fat as possible, and TRY to eat animals or at least drink animal broths (IE: chicken broth). Well, that week in between the initial appointment and follow up I did two of those things: salt water and fat. I wasn't giving up life as I knew it as a vegan, especially since my husband was now living that way too especially just for some stupid naturopath.

A week later? My world was rocked. ROCKED.

I went back for the follow up where he had all of the actual numbers in his hand from the tests that were run alongside various blood tests that I'd had from my other MD's. They showed what I hadn't wanted to believe the week before: deficient, not holding on to any nutrients. Why? Because I essentially had no amino acids in my system. None. Zilch. Yeah, that's what being vegan does for you and no matter how much pea protein you take, you're never going to successfully get a complete amino acid. Well, since I was so deficient, my body basically said, "screw the reproductive cycle, we don't need that, we just need to keep her alive." Your body is never going to support a period, or even more so, a baby, if it's deficient in nutrients. Plus, my hormones were all whacky from running so much (cardio produces hormones or something).

It was, apparently, the perfect storm... or so I'm told.

Justin was there with me and I'm SURE wanting to dance around in some giddy rain dance hi-fiving everyone on the planet for how right he was (yes, this was truly all about stroking his ego, of course).

So, I said FINE. Screw you both. I will accept that this is now a matter of science and perhaps, just maybe, I've been wrong. If I ever want kids, I will do this. For SIX WEEKS. If there is no change, and then after that, no period, I'm done.

And we shook on it and walked out the door. Where I cried in the car. I was totally overwhelmed. It is a tough realization to find out that what you thought you were doing by living the healthiest life you thought possible and all the while feeling pretty damn good actually turned out to be harming you.

We went to whole foods and bought fish. And eggs. It was a start. The doctor would, however, like me to eat liver and raw eggs to which I said that there is no way in HELL that will ever happen. Ever. Seriously, barf.

So, since that appointment in October, here's a sampling of my meals:

Salmon, quinoa, and spinach...this was actually a shot of the "first" non-vegan dinner I'd had in quite a while.

LOTS of eggs and veggies... also: soft boiled are the best, and runny fried eggs (no scrambled- it ruins the integrity of the yolk which is the best part for me now... YUCK)

Lots of juices

More my desk. I had to start off this diet with lots of juices- basically treating my stomach as if it were a baby's stomach to get it acclimated/adjusted.

And I have even eaten ground beef. I literally have not eaten cow since I was about 15.


The result?

I went back in mid-November to find out that everything had completely flipped. OF COURSE. The diet is working, I'm no longer nutrient deficient and am much, much healthier. So I'm staying on it...still eating fat, protein, and drinking my salt water. We'll see if I get a period and what happens from here but I have adapted for now and have realized that, right now, this diet is the best thing for me. My body type has a metabolism such that it functions better on high protein. I've accepted it as it is for now, and have grown to like the taste of runny eggs and salt. I've also since put on 8 pounds of pure muscle. Body fat is the same, clothes still fit, but 8 POUNDS of muscle. Holy hell! I do feel much, much stronger and like I am operating on a daily basis with more clarity. And, another bonus? I've been approved to run again! Yay!

Justin even went after I went to get tested himself. The MOST hilarious part of all of this? His body type tested as one that would do better with no salt and totally vegan. (He had more salt in his spit that I had initially in my urine!) We are exact opposites. Ying and yang? Perhaps. So while I eat cow and drink salt water, he eats tempeh and avoids salt like the plague...literally less than 100 mg a day (do you KNOW how hard it is to avoid salt?! It is literally in everything.) And, in the meantime, we both are secretly jealous of the other's diet. At least for now. 

We will keep you posted on this journey to health... It's something that I think every person will always be on in some form or another. Maybe it's just called life...and living as healthily as possible. 

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Brother is in town: last day.

As I mentioned in the prior post, the Friday after Thanksgiving we took my brother to Leavenworth so he could see the town. It was just a short little day trip following a late breakfast once everyone who stayed at our house from Thanksgiving ate and left. We got to Leavenworth around 1pm and once again, a huge FAIL for the lack of pictures. Here's all I got:

Justin driving (exciting shot #1)

A picture of the road (oooh, it is sort of exciting- look, sun!)

And a shot of the mountains right before we arrived in Leavenworth. I know, I know, really not exciting at all.

The day was nice though- we walked around the village, tasted a little bit of wine somehow, tried samples, and finished it all up by eating at South, the restaurant we always go to in Leavenworth. We headed home to basically crash for the night before we got up early the next morning to take my brother to the airport. All in all, a successful week!

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thanksgiving 2011 (and also: brother is in town days #2 and #3)

Wednesday November 23, Jon and I had a little day trip again over to Seattle. We ate sushi at Japonessa, explored pike place and walked around the streets of Seattle... in the freezing cold pouring rain. It was fitting for how people would typically think of Seattle (cold, rainy, gloomy). After spending the afternoon there, we went home so that I could start prepping for Thanksgiving with my brother. We made all of the mashed potatoes (mashed sweet and mashed garlic), cut up all of the green beans/mushrooms/beets, and made an apple crisp. On top of it all, we made more fish for dinner that night- Black cod. 

The next day, Justin and I got up and worked out before starting all of the Thanksgiving preparations. We were determined not to spend all day in the kitchen again. So, we worked out, came home, started the (much smaller than last year) turkey, showered, and then starting cooking more. Items we made? 2 types of stuffing, normal and gluten free, a healthy green bean casserole, roasted beets, and, of course, turkey. Everyone else who was coming was responsible for bringing the other Thanksgiving items. 

By about 2pm we were just sitting on the couch relaxing waiting for our guests to arrive. It was fabulous. 

A few shots of our stuff: 

The little bird.

Justin in the kitchen cooking.

Green beans and mushrooms to become (eventually) the guts of the green bean casserole.

Our funky beets (we got a bunch of them from our organic farm delivery on the day of Thanksgiving).

Gluten free stuffing.

At about 5pm we sat down to eat. I was having some much fun talking to everyone that I totally spaced on taking a picture of our table or anyone else that night. Bummer.  We had a good group this year- 8 people for dinner, with another 3 to join us after dinner for dessert. It was a late night full of shenanigans and, well, we can just leave it at that. Needless to say, everyone who was there that night probably has a very special memory of Thanksgiving 2011!

Following Thanksgiving our weekend looked like this:

We decorated for Christmas... (YES! For being on the ball)

...and we worked off some of the Thanksgiving goodies. Again, YES!

But, before that, we had another trip to Leavenworth to show my brother the cute little town before he headed back to Missouri...

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Brother comes to town day #1.

Monday November 21 my brother flew into town for a few days from Kansas City to spend the week of Thanksgiving with us. It was a vacation for him and it ended up being a mini-vacation for us, too. The day he got in, we headed over to Seattle to a coffee shop and to look around for a while. After our Seattle adventure, we headed to the Wilde Rover, an Irish bar in Kirkland, to watch Monday night football seeing as the Kansas City Chiefs (our home team!) were playing.

I learned a few things this first day: 1) I still suck at parallel parking and now my brother and an entire coffee shop in Seattle can testify to it. 2) The Chiefs new quarterback (Palko?) is very weird looking... and also? He is terrible.

The next morning I went into work for a few hours before my brother got up. Justin has Tuesday afternoons off of work so we decided to take him on the Woodinville wine tour that afternoon. There are SO many wineries in Woodinville that you could probably spend HOURS doing this. Luckily for us (and our livers) the wineries are only open from about 12-5 so you can't do too much damage.

Our first stop was the Chateau St. Michelle. They have beautiful grounds and for this reason I like to take people there. Their wine is ok, really, it's good for the price and most people have heard of this winery. This time, actually, I was pretty impressed with some of their wines and we ended up joining their wine club. Stop number one and we already joined a wine club? Evidence it MIGHT just be a long day ahead... After getting booted out of St. Michelle due to a fire alarm, we headed to the Delille Carriage house.

OH MY GOODNESS. I love Delille. I have never had a bad wine of theirs. We did the tasting where we got to have tastes of both a $140 bottle and a $170 bottle. The $140 bottle was ok, not great (especially for the price) but the $170 bottle? Oh my, I am in the wrong profession. It was SO GOOD.

My brother and Justin at Delille. Don't worry, Justin is not drunk, he's just a bad picture taker.

Ah, this one is much better.

Next stop? Mark Ryan. Also another great, fun winery.

I tried to get a shot of Justin and I... it was dismal at best. Partly due to the wine, partly due to the yucky old iphone and it's bad photos, partly due to the darkness outside because it was pouring rain all day. Oh well!

Next stop: next door to Mark Ryan was Amavi. I was not super impressed by this one. We hadn't been there before. It was decent but not great. We bought a bottle of white for Thanksgiving.
Another shot of Justin and Jon.

After making a final stop at Woodhouse Winery (where we belong to and where we got married), we headed home. It was time to call it a day. Of course, we had to take a picture of our loot... we definitely did some damage but it was well worth it. Notice the GIANT bottle in the back? If you're a faithful blog reader you know that we got the same bottle (different vintage year) last year for Justin's family's Christmas. It was fabulous and a great deal so I think this might just be a new holiday tradition. After a dinner of salmon, sweet potatoes and salad, we curled up on the couch and declared it was a very successful day.  

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Snowy weekend with friends.

I'll just preface this post by saying that, yes this post is backdated. No, you are not crazy. It just went up and I dated it back to when it happened. Oh well.

So, the weekend of November 18, we were invited to spend the weekend with 3 other couples at a cabin in Leavenworth, Washington. You remember Leavenworth, right? I've only talked about it a MILLION times on this blog. The little sleepy bavarian village that Justin is from right at the base of the cascades? Yes, well. We are always looking for an excuse to get to this little mountain town and it was even better that we had a group of friends to go with- one of whom had a birthday that weekend. 

We got off work around 2 on Friday and decided to start the trip off right by wine tasting! Ok, just kidding. We aren't really that lush. We actually had to go to our two wine clubs to pick up our fall deliveries. And one of the wine clubs (Dusted Valley, above) we had to taste to decide which bottles we wanted.

Above: Justin tasting wine. After another quick stop at Woodhouse (without tasting), we headed over the quite snowy pass (very unusual for mid-November). We made it to the cabin around 7pm where a competitive game of WII tennis was going on.

After Shauna and Erin beat the boys' butts at tennis, we bundled up and got out in the snow to walk a few blocks to town where we had dinner at south...complete with Justin's tequila flight.

After that, we headed to Icicle brewery where we played connect four. Yes, connect four. In a bar. It's quite fun. That night ended with more drinks at home and of course... the hottub party.

The next morning we woke up to snow! It was very cool. It was so snowy all day and I was completely enamoured. You would never have guessed that I grew up in the midwest and have ever seen snow in my life. I think there's just something magical about it- especially in the mountains. We bundled up again and headed in to town for breakfast at the cute little Renaissance cafe.

Above: a shot of the scenery we passed every day walking from the cabin into town. Gorgeous!

After shopping around town all morning, Justin and I decided to head out on a snowy hike. This would have been a great decision had I known that it was actually going to be 2+ hours and an actual workout. Then, I would have chosen NOT to wear my uggs. Bad planning. Above is a shot of Leavenworth from our hike and below are several more shots from our hike.

After slipping and sliding back down the mountain, we rolled in frozen and walked in to more WII action.

Eventually we made it to dinner at Visconti's where we met up with another couple who'd driven over from Seattle for the day. It was fabulous! We then meandered back to the cabin for more hot tubbing and a little bit of a dance party that I royally sucked at! The next morning, we had breakfast with the group again and then we all went our separate ways before heading back home. All in all, it was a fabulous weekend and hopefully it becomes an annual tradition. What was only 2-3 days, felt like a much needed mini-vacation!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Settling into domestic life.

I have a couple of more "serious" posts I need to put up but in the meantime- Round about 400 of typical fall weekends around the Valente house: no kids, complete with wine, a birthday party Saturday night (Jordan's brother) and fall walks. Exhibit A and B, below, for the walk part. We were supposed to go to a couple of fall wine release parties on Saturday but ended up not going for a variety of reasons. I'm pretty confident we'll make it up. The rest of the weekend was about the same as usual... getting crap done around the house, laying low, relaxing, getting some work done. I figure we'll work on spicing these weekends up over the course of the next couple of months when we have about every weekend booked for the last part of November through December... enjoy the stillness while it lasts!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Exhibiting my inner nerdiness

Evidence that I live in a box:

I stumbled upon this a few days ago and was totally intrigued. I guess I haven't rented a movie except for on demand or netflix for, I don't know, YEARS? The idea that you can just find one of these red boxes and have a movie instantly for $1 totally blew me away.  I am not even going to express here just how cool I thought this was because just the fact that it's getting a blog post of its own should probably be enough to embarrass me.

So I rented two movies. It was cool. I was way more excited than I probably should have been. Just ask Justin. He laughed at me for about an hour straight. Whatever.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Signs of the season...

November 1st. How in the WORLD is it already November 1st? I literally cannot wrap my head around the fact that we only have 2 months left of 2011. I swear I'm still in the mindset of "any day it will be summer in Seattle." Oh wait. But that never happened AND that was, oh, 3 months ago. HOW?!

Regardless of the fact that my poor little head can't process that it's November and almost the holiday, it most certainly is.

If nothing else, Starbucks told me so today:

Oh my goodness. Not possible. (oops and apparently I spilled out of this festive cup. Tends to happen, now it's on camera).