Oh, P.S.?

December 7, 2007

I am just dying of the baby lust right now. DYING.


No, this is not my advice to you, readers. It is, in fact, the text of a lamp post banner that I happened to see while riding down Broadway in a cab this evening, on my way back from dinner with a friend. Apparently it’s one of several such banners posted around upper Manhattan, part of a new public health initiative. From a press release about the program:

“Put down cigarettes, pick up a hobby.” “Exercise your brain, take a brisk walk.” “Take control of your calories, eat less.” These are a few of the new messages that will be popping up on lamp posts throughout the Upper East and West Sides and the Greater Harlem community of Manhattan as part of a new campaign— Prescriptions for Healthy Living— just launched by The Mount Sinai Medical Center. The campaign, which runs through May of 2008, is designed to get residents and others passing through the neighborhoods to think about the importance of a healthy lifestyle to help prevent and manage chronic diseases.

I’m happy that Mount Sinai is trying to improve the health of the community, but I have to admit, when I read the banner quoted in this post’s title, I was a little turned off. On the one hand, it seems completely random: less than what? Less than whom? And isn’t this the same useless advice that fat people have been getting from thin health care professionals for decades now? “Just eat less”? As if it were that easy. Plus, the whole thing seemed a bit, well, bossy. Who are you, lamp post, to tell me what to do about my calories? “Eat less,” you say. Well, that’s nice and all, but were you aware that it’s the holiday season?

On that note, while I have maintained my 30 lb loss (actually 31 lbs), I have not lost any more weight, mostly because I have not really been “controlling” my calories lately. There was some downright crazy bingeing on and around Thanksgiving weekend (mea culpa, and DAMN was that sweet potato pie good). But while I have chilled out on the overeating, at least, in part because my new, thinner body can’t really handle that much food at once anymore–score one for the diet!–lately I have not exactly been sticking to the strict diet plan I’ve been on for the past six months.

Here’s one reason: delicious, delicious peppermint bark, king of all holiday treats. Every night for the past four nights I have had an ounce or two of it for dessert, and it is the height of wholesomely minty chocolate deliciousness. SO good! (P.S., if you have never tried peppermint bark, never fear. I was just like you at this point last year, before G bought me a tin for my birthday. My advice is to hie yourself to the nearest W-S and pick some up. Or order it. You won’t regret it. I think Crate and Barrel sells it too, though I cannot vouch for the quality of their product)

Another reason I have not been following the calorie-cutting plan: recently I’ve been drinking a small glass of wine with dinner most days. I have to say, it’s really made these past few stressful weeks at the end of the semester easier to bear, lingering over a few ounces of vino in the evenings. But it does add around 100 calories to my day. And peppermint bark is 140 calories per ounce, so lately I’ve been eating maybe 1700 calories per day rather than my usual 1400.

Surprisingly, though, my weight has pretty much stayed in the same place. I’ll admit to an upward bounce immediately after Thanksgiving (see crazy bingeing, above), but now I seem to have stabilized. I haven’t been counting calories at all for the past few days, but I’ve actually gone down a pound since I stopped.

Why do I think this is? Well, I think the months of counting religiously have affected my sense of appropriate portion size, and helped me to be more aware of my own satiety signals. I also think that sticking to my workouts–no matter what I’ve eaten, I’ve still been doing 20-30 minutes of cardio intervals and 30 minutes of full-body weight training at least twice a week–has elevated my metabolism. The weight training, especially, I think has made a difference in how many calories I burn even while at rest. Being more fit and stronger has even helped me feel more motivated to include other activity in my daily life, stuff like taking the stairs at work, or walking the escalators rather than riding in the subway station.

In any case, I’ve adjusted my goals–until January 1st, my plan is just to maintain my current weight. This will give me a little breathing room to enjoy holiday treats, and a clear time frame for when I’ll need to get back on serious track. I am actually quite happy at my current weight/size, but I would like to take off at least 10 more pounds before I’m done with this weight loss project.

Perhaps I’m pressing my luck, but I’m also conducting an experiment in non-counting. I want to know: can I maintain, or even lose, by eating healthfully but not writing down every morsel, and not counting actual calories? I’m about to find out. I weigh myself every day, so I will pretty quickly see if this is a bad idea. If Mount Sinai’s lamp posts are right, though, maybe all I need to do to “take control” of my calorie intake is “eat less.”

Um… whatever that means.

I heart my RE.

December 1, 2007

So, I went to an RE recommended by a friend of ours, and what a great experience it was. I feel very lucky. Reasons I loved her:

1. She was very no-nonsense. In fact, I think her blog code name is going to be Dr. No-Nonsense. She talked to me like I was an adult, and any time she began to explain something and I gave a nod or a knowing look that indicated I had heard of it already, she acknowledged me and gave me what sounded like the “educated participant’s explanation” rather than the “idiot-who’s-never-heard-of-the-Internet explanation,” which is what I always got from my ob-gyn. She asked a lot of questions and seemed really to listen to my answers, which was pretty cool.

2. The clinic itself was very organized, and very, VERY zen. I walked in, and the energy was completely relaxing–the waiting room was calm, quiet, beautifully lit, with gleaming hardwood floors and clean, comfortable seating. Of course, the effect was somewhat ruined by a random husband chatting loudly on his cell phone, but hey, you can’t blame Heavenly Clinic for the sporadic rudeness of its clientele. And speaking of clientele, there was a surprising racial and ethnic mix, which I really liked. Not that I’m happy there are all sorts of white and/or Jewish, black, Latino, and Asian couples having trouble conceiving, but it was nice to see the variety.

As far as the actual tests, they do FSH and estradiol on day 2 of the period, so when Aunt Flo shows me red, then the very next morning I’m to go in and get my blood drawn, no appointment necessary. They’re open 7 days a week, which is nice. The only not nice thing is that FSH/Estradiol testing is done only between 7:30 and 8:30am, so I am going to have a pretty early morning on day 2 of my next period. Which should arrive, in spite of the surprisingly regular (and, ahem, surprisingly hot–nothing like giving up on procreation to make lovemaking exciting again!) sex G and I have been having, right around December 11th.

One reason I’m quite sure my period is going to show up: Dr. No-Nonsense revealed that after a year of trying, a couple’s chance of successfully getting pregnant through sex alone drops from about 20% per cycle to about 2%. TWO percent! I have a better chance of developing hemhorroids (4%), or of getting seriously hurt in a car accident (5%), than I do of getting pregnant via plain old fucking. So I’ve officially given up hope, but not in a bad way. At least now there is no need to bite my nails at the end of each cycle while waiting for Aunt Flo. There’s a 98% chance that she’s showing up, after all. Those are *really* good odds.

They did do two tests the day of my appointment: first, the MIS test, which checks levels of the Anti-Mullerian hormone. It’s sort of experimental, and therefore not covered by insurance, but apparently gives a better picture of ovarian reserve than FSH/estradiol alone.

The other test they did was free of charge, part of a clinical study on celiac disease. Dr. No-Nonsense explained that celiac disease (gluten intolerance) has been underdiagnosed in the US, and particularly in non-European populations, and that it has been linked to unexplained infertility. Some women who change to a gluten-free diet find that their other, seemingly unrelated, health issues, including infertility, mysteriously clear up. So they tested me for the antibody that would show gluten intolerance, and if it turns up positive, it’s possible that going gluten-free might help somehow. My participation in the study was completely optional, of course, but it didn’t hurt anything to get an extra blood draw, so I went ahead.

So the next step is FSH and estradiol, and then, assuming those come back normal, the HSG is next. We still have to get G in for his sperm analysis, of course, on the off chance that we’re dealing with male factor. Here’s the only place where Heavenly Clinic falls a little short–while they’re open seven days a week, as I understand it sperm analysis can only happen Monday through Friday, basically during business hours. I’m going to call them back to clarify, but if that is true, then G, who works 9-to-5 and whose office is not in Manhattan, is again in a bad position vis-a-vis getting the SA done. And since he simply cannot take any time off right now, it’s going to be a while.

Oh well. I’m fairly sure I’m the problem anyway. G at least has slipped one past the goalie once in his life, while I’ve never ever been pregnant, even with taking some fairly significant risks in my irresponsible youth.

All right, this is long enough already. I could tell you about some other things going on in my life (Semester almost over! Yay! Diet in a temporary lull and I’ve been eating way too much sugar. Boo. Bought some new shoes and a fancy dress for the holidays! Yay! No idea what to get G for Christmas. Boo) — but I won’t bore you with details, at least not right now. I will, however, leave you with a tiny photo of my new shoes.

stuart weitzman