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Saturday, July 02, 2016

On Measuring and Cancer and Food

Jean Sexton muses:

I like making things into tidy groups. Sometimes that means measuring; sometimes, counting. I give Steve Cole seven treats each week for Wolf. The treats come in three colors (sort of like a color-limited M&M), so he gets three yellow ones, two red ones, and two brown ones. I watch my car's average miles per gallon and try to keep it around 30 (that can be a challenge during hot days and local driving). Each day I weigh myself so I can get a handle on what I am doing and if I start backsliding, I can catch it quickly. I keep track of how many books, CDs, and movies (including TV series) I have. There is something satisfying about categorizing. When my life becomes chaotic, I bring some order to it by adding a movie to LibraryThing. The database specializes in books, but opened itself up to music and movies. The entries for those are far from orderly, so a movie might take 30 minutes to fix once entered. Everything defaults to DVD, so a VHS tape or Blu-Ray have to be changed over.

Now I have a new thing to count. I am a six-month cancer survivor. Every three months I must be checked by my doctor. There I find out what my weight is, how it varies from the last check, what my blood pressure is doing, and whether he sees or feels anything that "isn't right." This time it appears that I've healed up inside and there is no cancer. I've lost weight -- not as much as I wished, but I didn't gain. And my blood pressure has stabilized to a low "normal." In short, I am healthier than I have been in years. My instructions were to keep walking and to continue to lose weight.

Losing weight is hard. I like to eat, I like to fix food, and I especially like to eat what I fixed. Add to that I spent most of my last 30 years fixing food for people with big appetites and what I see as "normal" is huge! (If I wanted to eat my own food, I had to plan for 75% of it to go to another mouth or mouths.) I actually tried to be good this past weekend. I was going to make a small amount of chicken salad, so I bought a can of chicken. It wouldn't be that much, I thought. Maybe four or five helpings. I forgot just how much canning compacts the food -- I was looking at the can size. By the time I added celery, hard-boiled eggs, just a little taste of red onion, bread and butter pickles, and Miracle Whip, it filled up a good-sized serving bowl! Four sandwiches later, it is only about a third gone.

The thing I am slowly learning is to not commit to making another cold dish until I see what I have wrought. Thus the potato salad is still in Yukon Gold potato form (and Miracle Whip, mustard, hard-boiled eggs, relish, and vinegar are un-transformed). The baked beans that I thought I would have with a hot dog later in the week are in the beans, molasses, onion, and bacon form. I am eating something with the chicken salad and that is a tiny "good parts" salad of cucumbers and tomatoes. Dessert is watermelon. No BLT for me this week! Chicken salad it is. Only by having light suppers and adding walks with Wolf can I continue to lose weight. So in some sense, I am measuring or portioning out my food.

Why am I doing this? I want to be here for a long time. I enjoy working for ADB and helping our customers. So since my doctor says that losing weight will help with keeping cancer at bay and help my longevity, that's what I will do. If he points out that calories in must not exceed calories out, then I'll try to cut back on what I'm eating each day. I just have to remember to think that walking more is good and eating less is also good. And I hope that in nine months I'll hear "weighs less and no cancer; go away and come back in three months." That will make my day.