Wednesday, January 27, 2010

"Running Low, Running on Empty" -Jackson Browne 1978

Whew! I made through a week of phase 1 South Beach so far and NO CHEATING! Do you know how remarkably amazing it is that I have had no sugar? Perhaps that is why my head is loaded and I have been a very proficient "tumor farmer" in my lifetime. Maybe they all spawned off of the constant and large volumes of sugar I fed them over the years. (Cancer previously and later innumerable brain and spinal tumors; trying to find a way to make them starve now and shut down the growth)

Anyhow, back to "running low"......

On day 4 I woke up with an incredible urge for sugar! I assume it was triggered from my intense hike push the afternoon before where the stockpiles of glucose in my muscles had not been replenished.

After the friday hike I was pretty starved but brought myself a bag of celery and some cottage cheese as snacks. The intent was to eat the cottage cheese when on the mountain but I wanted to make it down before dark. Therefore, I shoved a couple spoonfulls in my mouth, packed up, and headed back down.

I stopped off at the grocery store on the way home which takes INCREDIBLE willpower as there all sorts of inticing cheap and fast treats to tempt you. Amazingly, I did well though to keep it healthy and my treat was to buy some part skim ricotta cheese to make a South Beach phase 1 approved ricotta cream dessert that evening.

I enjoyed it so much that when I awoke the next morning, I satisfied my sugar urge by starting out the day with a vanilla ricotta cream (1/2 cup ricotta cheese mixed with a packet of sugar substitute and a 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract). My hunger/sugar craving was further satiated by 2 cups of coffee with one sugar substitute packet. No, I am not a coffee drinker at all really but just started to get me through this hard phase and to try to adhere to a consistent schedule.

Gotta get out and train again today - same mountain.

I will post my daily menu from days 4-7 when I get back. I made it to day 8 out of 14 so far! Phew! Actually it is not so bad. I am sort of having fun with it and experimenting with food creations.

Catch ya later! ;-)

Monday, January 25, 2010

Giving REAL meaning to the term "snowshoeing"

A week ago Sunday, TSNW hiking friend Sandy and I went up into the mountains in search of a snowy enough trail to play in. My plan was to snowshoe while Sandy intended to cross country ski on the groomed tracks at Cabin Creek SnoPark (a few exits east of Snoqualmie Ski Hill which is at the top of the pass). However, the silly pair we are, both of us forgot our boots! (Sandy her ski boots, and I my waterproof hiking boots I use with the snowshoes)

Well not all was at a loss. There was been such a reduced amount of snowfall this year that the trail was well groomed and compact. I estimated that we could even easily walk on the trail actually going for a "hike" in the snow.

Sandy was already wearing hiking boots and I had my semi-waterproof trail running shoes on (Salomon). So I suggested we share the snowshoes and go for a hike in the snow. I had brought my downhill ski poles which I now use for stability when snowshoeing. Wanting to give Sandy the opportunity to try out my AWESOME snowshoes which you cannot rent, I offered to let her use them while I walked with my poles. With the hard compact trail and the poles, I was confident my balance would not be an issue as well as my shoes sufficient for the activity.

The result worked out wonderfully! It was no problem for me to walk in the snow and I greatly enjoyed it. My shoes worked very well and my feet stay rather comfortable and only became slightly damp after our jaunt.

As we got further out, the snow on the trail was last compact and a little deeper causing me to slight sink an inch. I wish I had remembered to bring my yak traks to try out (a new product sold at REI and running stores which are essentially traction chains to strap on shoes for snow and ice). But alas I had not thought about it when preparing to go and I managed with the poles. On the way back we switched and I used the snowshoes while Sandy hiked.

Click on the link to see a photo documentary of our journey.

Cabin Creek Adventure

First hike of 2010 on day 3 South Beach

This year we have been quite lucky with warm weather and no snow at the lower altitudes and sea level. As a result, I am fortunate enough to start hike season WAY early!

After my fall 2007 surgery, my sister and I still encountered snow half way up this same trail on Tiger mountain in April 2008. So we did not really get in hiking very much except to go on a few lower trails in the spring. Further, my balance was no where near as good as it is now. I would not have even considered hiking alone back then. Yet friday was my 10th solo elevation hike since last summer -the first hike to 2522 feet 3 months post surgery (92 days to be exact)! Awesome!, eh?

What is even cooler is that I reached the summit in 1 hour 15 minutes even with my legs tired from a 36 minute run, 15 minute stair climb at level 10, and upper body resistance training workout the day prior. PLUS.......I had no SUGAR OR CARBS other than vegetables! Woohoo! Am I on fire or what?

I was slightly concerned about my endurance under these conditions but I just kept on pushing only stopping for a few brief seconds to take sips off my hydropack. I had no other choice really if I wanted to reach the top. For those who know me well, once I get hiking a mountain I do not want to quit before reaching the top (my reward for a job well done).

I got out late, starting up the mountain at 2:48 pm. Thus I had to keep going at a certain pace in order to get up and down the mountain by dark.

Catch me later in the day to see more photos. Happy Monday! :-)

As promised, I am doing better this week at posting the photos in a more timely fashion. Visit the following link to see more photos from the hike with descriptions. There is an option to view them in slideshow format if you rather not click on each one or scroll through.

Day 3 Menu


Egg beaters cooked with spinach, mushroom, ham, and reduced fat shredded cheese
(this time I tried using no salt seasoning to add more flavor without the sodium)
1 cup coffee with 1 sugar substitute packet


Chocolate muscle milk light protein shake
28 wasabi soy almonds dispersed throughout the morning into the afternoon

Prehike energy drink:
diet FRS powder packet

6 fresh asparagas spears wrapped in 4 slices of lean ham lunch meat
1 slice of lean corned beef lunch meat
14oz can of V8

Snack: (on the way home from hike)

1 sandwich bag full of celery
1/2 cup 2% cottage cheese


1 roasted red pepper asagio chicken sausage
oven roasted veggies (artichoke, mushroom, and red, green and orange pepper)
1 cup steamed cauliflower with 2 tbsp queso salsa cheese sauce

Friday, January 22, 2010

Surviving Day 2

Top: Breakfast; 4 egg beaters with green pepper, green onion, mushroom, ham, a minute amount of reduced fat shredded mexican cheese topped with picante salsa and 2 cups coffee with a half cup lactose free soy milk, a sugar substitute packet, and 2 teaspoons armaretto creamer coffee flavoring (less than a serving)

Bottom: Lunch; left over Larb Gai thai food which is ground chicken with cooked with red onion, fresh cilantro, chili sauce and with a slice of cabbage - This is VERY GOOD and a perfect South Beach phase 1 entre. Crying Tiger is another perfect phase 1 meal.
For the recipe, visit this link:

Well I survived day 2 pretty well and even went to Trader Joe's hungry in the evening where they have all sorts of yummy chocolates and snacks! I ate a few celery sticks before I went in and surprisingly I was not tempted at all by the chocolates and stuck to a healthy selection: frozen edamame (soybeans), chopped spinnach, artichoke hearts, salmon steaks, marinated tuna steaks, salsa, and one treat for when I reach phase 2 which is a bag of wasabi green peas (peas are a carb not allowed in phase 1).

I also managed to go for a run without any carbs/sugar to pump me up or sustain me. I was quite tired before the run in the late afternoon as I had been up since 6:30 am. My personal training was scheduled for 6:30 pm so I contemplated getting in a power nap beforehand. However, doing so would sacrafice the last hour of daylight left for me to take the dogs on a run. Therefore, I downed a packet of diet FRS supplement and 3/4 cup black coffee as I wanted to avoid a 2nd sugar substitute packet for the day.

I made it through a 36 minute run with just enough time to unload the dogs, grab some food to take along, and change for training before the half hour drive to the gym. I was pretty tired on the drive along the one lane road and hoped I would make it back ok later that night. Usually I do a strength training workout following my training session. However, after being up for over 12 hours, a 36 minute run, and an intense upper body workout, I was a little pooped out. Therefore, I did a 15 minute stair climb at level 10 followed by some good stretching and a few exercises for the abs before calling it a night.

Surprisingly after eating the celery and a half cup of cottage cheese, I was pretty satisfied and made the drive home just fine (I think pondering breaking into the bag of wasabi peas may have helped stimulate my brain too!). LOL No, I was a good girl and saved them for my pantry. ;-)

I want to point out that the Larb Gai is not only a wonderful phase 1 dish but it is fantastic anti-tumor food. Lately on our online NF2 discussion group Trial Talk, there was mention of the book "Anti-cancer: A New Way of Life" by David Servan-Schreiber, MD. Cabbage, onion, and garlic are recommended in the book as powerful anti-cancer ingredients.

12 more days at phase 1! So far, I am having a much easier time. I did want to point out that I made one mistake unknowingly. I was rereading the phase 1 list of foods to avoid and originally thought I could have soy milk and just not regular milk. Apparently you cannot have any kind of milk at all. In my morning coffee I had a half cup of light soy milk unsweetened. So this morning I did without and realized I did not need it at all!

Here is a look at my day 2 menu:


1 cup egg beaters with green pepper, green onion, mushroom, ham, reduced fat cheese, and salsa
2 cups coffee with a half cup light soy milk, 1 sugar substitute packet, and 2 tsp armaretto powdered creamer

Snack: 28 wasabi soy almonds = 1 serving dispersed throughout the day

mid-morning snack: muscle milk light protein shake


leftover Larb Gai thai food
1 cup cinnamon white tea
1 cup decaf green tea

1/4 cup 2% cottage cheese
2 fresh asparagas spears wrapped in lean corned beef lunch meat

Pick me up power drink:

diet FRS supplement
3/4 cup black coffee

Preworkout snack:

reduced fat mozerella cheese stick

Predinner snack:

bag of celery
1/2 cup 2% cottage cheese


Spinach salad with 1/2 cup peppercorn pork, cucumber, 5 cherry tomatoes, and fatfree ranch dressing
1 sugar free hot cocoa

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

South Beach'n It! - Day 1 Phase 1

In the pictures - a lump serving of cooked steel cut oats from Whole Foods, egg beaters with ham, spinnach, zucchini, and reduced fat mexican shredded cheese, and all the individual servings measured out into ziplock bags next to a large container of wasabi soy almonds and pickled asparagas spears.

So the new year brings two seperate goals for us achieved via the same strategy. For Harley, he is to get in shape for real and to lose 30-40 lbs. For me, it is to kick the daily sugar habit that I have developed over the past year and decrease some body fat by dropping 5 to 10 lbs or fitting more comfortably in some snug pants from 2006/2007.

Harley's mission is to get fit and get healthy. My goal is to attain BETTER health and energy by correcting my blood sugar and hopefully halting tumor growth by giving them less glucose to feed off of. I also like to keep my weight within a certain range and my lean body mass high in preparation for future treatments and surgeries as steroids make weight go up and down time starts eating away muscle. Added fat and less muscle makes one flab out and become unfit quickly. My endurance and strength training prior to this 2nd surgery really made a huge difference. I was more fit going in (I was fit last time too but not as strongly as I was prior to the 2nd surgery) and although the first week I was really sick, I bounced back amazingly quick!

I am running multiple times a week for at least 3 miles while strength training and personal training once a week. In mid-December I started hill running when I visited my parents and my only option was hills! I came back and all of a sudden a 4 mile run seemed pretty easy. So far my record is running at least 5 miles last Saturday (just shy of 3 months post surgery). After my 2007 surgery, it took me 8 months to build up the endurance to run a 5K (3.1 miles).

Ok, but back to my photos and post title........
To reach our goals, our stategy is the South Beach diet (and a whole lot of exercising). ;-)
Actually, I do not exercise as much as Harley does. Yesterday I did nothing but a 45 minute run with the dogs (I estimate 4 miles or more). Whereas, Harley has a bootcamp hardcore ex-army personal trainer he meets with 3 hours a week and does another hour of cardio after each session along with working out 2-3 other days a week. Yet I guess I don't have to work that hard because I am interested in losing 4-5 times less than he is.

He is also doing the Gold's Gym $45,000 challenge (which is basically the club's own version of "The Biggest Loser"). So there is a little more incentive there. ;-)

With his plan, he needs to count out calories and log what he is eating. Hence, the measured out individual servings in baggies. With South Beach you do not actually have to do that. The theory is that you can have as much as you want of the right kind of stuff (lean protein, the good fats, and vegetables -aka "good carbs"). No sugar, fruit, or bread is allowed for the first 2 weeks for Phase 1. For the next 2 weeks in phase 2, you are allowed to add a complex carb per day - meaning one a day (such as old fashioned oatmeal, brown rice, a fruit, whole wheat fiberous bread). These things are supposed to keep you full if you eat enough of them (the good protein, fats, and veggies).

Now we tried this back in 2006 but I never could do phase 1 and shortly after Harley tried it, I was training for my first marathon (walking). Therefore, I was not able to completely cut carbs out for the 2 weeks.

These pictures were actually taken on January 3rd but I was unsucessful with keeping to Phase 1. The steel cut oats are shown above because Harley is not completely starting at phase 1 due to his activity level (the original intent of the South Beach plan was not meant for athletes or those with a high activity level. It was intended for cardiology patients with high blood pressure that most likely had a sedentary lifestyle.).

Even so with my high activity level, this time I am dropping the oatmeal and going to try phase 1 for 2 weeks. While I was eating the oatmeal loaded with cinnamon to replace sugar, I had a terrible time not eating some form of sugar. Eventually I cracked and bought myself an individual serving of 2 safeway baked M&M cookies before the first week was over. Then after that I managed to justify eating a truffle a day and so forth.

Therefore, I really need to cut cold turkey to lower the glycemic index of what I am eating to control my blood sugar so I can stay awake and have more energy to accomplish some heavy goals and projects we have for the year.

So far I have made it through day 1 pretty good surprisingly! Yet, today was not a running day. I went to an hour water aerobics class, walked the dogs for an hour, and did strength training on my legs - increasing weight by 5-15 lbs.

I sustain endurance activity by consuming FRS supplements. I have the diet kind so I am going to try that to see if it is enough. If not, I could cut down my running for at least 2 weeks and do other things.

So here is my menu from today:

serving of egg beaters with green pepper, green onion, mushroom, ham, and reduced fat cheddar cheese

muscle milk light protein shake

lowfat mozerella cheese stick

celery sticks
orange sparking water beverage

serving of wasabi soy almonds
3 piece of corned beef lunch meat

early dinner:
smoked turkey salad

late dinner:
cheesy steamed cauliflower with 2 pieces of lunch meat ham

1 cup sugar free cherry jello with 2-3 tablespoons fat free cool whip

additional drinks for the day:
2 cups coffee with 1/2 cup soy milk, 2 teaspoons armaretto creamer, 1 sugar substitute packet
1 cup blueberry herbal tea
1 cup camomille tea

I survived day 1!!!! Only 13 more days to go!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Spring Into Winter - 38 days post surgery

A month after surgery we sprang into the holiday season by kicking off with Thanksgiving at our place and taking my mom to the Belleuve botanical garden. Two days after turkey day is opening night of the fabulously creative Christmas light display known as "Garden d'Lights" where spring is still blooming in December! Here, volunteers build the most spectacular and marvelous floral and garden arrangements as well as animals all out of tiny Christmas lights!

The event is an annual tradition for me that I CANNOT miss!

To see my online photo album of the other wonderful displays which include a mini vineyard, a corn patch, a pond and creek made out of lights, and an aquarium filled with sealife all made out of colored lights, click on the following link:
Paste the above url in your browser.

The vibrant displays are simply delightful! ;-)

Monday, January 11, 2010


Happy 2010! I am back now from a recovery and holiday break. I am doing great and sorry if I worried anyone. I guess I took a vacation from the blog and did not think anyone would really notice much until a friend mentioned I have not blogged since November 30th. I have been EXTREMELY busy living! Not entirely certain how it is for everyone with NF2 but for most fellow cancer survivors I know, life seems to whiz by as we occupy ourselves with making the most of our days as we realize just how short life really is.

It is interesting. Right after surgery when in the hospital and sick, life just seems painfully slow as you wait for the minutes to tick by until you can be out and well again. When I first came home and my first day back alone in the house, I was so sick I could barely stand it! In fact, it seemed like one of the longest days of my life and I begged Harley to come home early that evening to take me back to the hospital. The wait in the emergency room was just unbearable and by the time they called me to check in and asked me a question, I burst out sobbing and could not speak.

But I am back and doing phenemonally well! My recovery has been remarkable and I healed fast! Since thanksgiving, I walked a half marathon at a pretty good pace, returned to the gym and strength training 3 times a week, commenced my weekly sessions on core strength with my trainer Paul, returned to running several times a week and added hill training (in fact last night I went for over a 4 mile run), baked for 13 people over the holidays, wrote out over 100 cards (it seems I bought 150 christmas stamps and I used them all!), decorated 3 christmas trees, and took 2 trips to Oregon. Between my exhaustion of working out, home responsibilities, a crazy intermittently operating keyboard, and limited time, I fell victim to blog burnout.

But I am back now and still plan to finish my story about my surgery and recovery for those of you facing the same.

For the new year we have many exciting and big projects going on that I will reveal over time. Our big focus this year is to get in the best shape of our lives. Other than the very obvious need to maintain that due to my health/medical situation, we have an extreme challenge that we are preparing for. So stayed tuned to see and read the wrap up for 2009 and find out what is in store in 2010! ;+)

Thanks for reading and your loyalty over the years!