Vegetarian vs. Eating Chicken for Weight Loss

img_9128A couple of things I want to discuss today has to do with chicken vs. vegetarian diets, weight loss, and a sale at Macy’s. Actually, there’s a tie-in. Really!

I’m excited because I just bought a new George Foreman grill online at Macy’s for $30. It’s large enough for me (4 servings) and has removable plates. I wanted red, but hey, for $30, I’ll be OK with white. Anyway, now I’ll be able to quickly grill chicken breasts for that added zap of protein. My favorite method is to sprinkle Cajun spices on a chicken breast and grill. It’s that simple.

The sale ends February 26. If you’ve been thinking about buying a GF grill, now’s your chance. The same grill costs about $60 at Kohl’s and $47 at KMart. So it’s a fantastic deal!

My next point has to do with a great article in My Fitness Pal, which gives some terrific information about eating healthy, satisfying foods. Be sure to check out the recipes, too. But boy, I’m telling ya, this next paragraph made so much sense to me:

“Lean proteins, like chicken, aid in satiety by affecting the hormones that control hunger and how quickly food empties from our stomachs,” says Keri Glassman, MS, RD. “Chicken also has the highest thermal effect of food, meaning it burns the most calories during digestion, versus carbs and fat.”

See? I KNEW I was losing weight faster when I was eating chicken as opposed to when I was sticking to a vegetarian diet! I’m making lovely, healthy vegetable and split peas or bean soups, but they’re carb-heavy. It would be more filling and would enable a more efficient weight loss to eat four ounces of grilled chicken, a cup of vegetable soup, and black forbidden rice (or brown jasmine rice), rather than a big bowl of soup and rice for dinner.

Plus, if I’m eating a chicken breast with the meal, I can halve the amount of split peas or beans in the soup and double up on the veggies. It would result in soups that have less carbs but are still healthy and delicious.

This subject has been a huge bone of contention between me and a vegan I know. I had told him that I seemed to have lost weight much faster when I had incorporated chicken into my diet. It was driving me nuts that my weight loss had slowed to a crawl.

In fact, my simple musings about this caused him to stop talking to me for two weeks. (He hates having his beliefs challenged.) This vegan was sure that his diet was healthier than mine, even though his diet is low on variety and he hasn’t gone to the doctor in over ten years. He has no idea what his blood pressure, cholesterol, blood sugar, or CBC is.

He’s assuming he’s healthy, but since he’s 52 years old, the only way to know if his lifestyle is working well for him is to go to the doctor and get a physical. He has health insurance, but he refuses to go to the doctor for a checkup.

The guy is a vegan because he believes certain studies that I, frankly, discount as junk science. He believes eating vegan is healthier than being a vegetarian or omnivore. He also subscribes to the theory that people are not omnivorous, which is something I heartily discount.

I ate vegetarian for a year because I’m a huge animal lover and factory farming distresses me. I hate the thought of killing animals. I also can’t afford to eat chicken or salmon daily.

But I’m recovering from my second surgery in less than a year, plus I need to kickstart my weight loss program again. I got off track for the first time in over a year after this last surgery, so if I add chicken and salmon back to my diet for now, it will help kick my desire for sweets and butter.

I’d like to try this way of eating for awhile and compare it to my weight loss results just prior to surgery. Yes, there will be variables to take into consideration, but the fun of trying this experiment will have the added bonus of motivating me to lose weight. Oddly enough, I had felt like giving up the fight recently, but today, I’m finally feeling galvanized.

Being able to build muscle again is having a positive effect on my outlook, too. I went back to the gym a few days ago after my enforced, post-surgical six-week hiatus, and I’m in physical therapy for my shoulder. I’ll be feeling stronger soon—I can’t wait!

Another motivator that I plan to use is to set short-term goals. I use my Chūze Fitness app to set exercise goals for which I garner points. I’ve already earned a free month at the gym! My previous goal was to exercise three times/week, but now I’ll up it to five. And I’m setting my next weight loss goal to 30 lbs. But believe me, I’ll celebrate each ten lb. weight loss, perhaps with a new outfit. That will be fun!

But I digress—back to discussing the article.

Quinoa is on this list of foods that provide satiety, but I never felt satisfied after eating it. In fact, I usually feel hungrier. Strange, but for me, it’s true. Maybe I need to add other ingredients to it, like as pictured in the article. That dish looks yummy!

Greek yogurt and eggs: I absolutely eat them daily. Plain Greek yogurt is marvelous with fresh berries and cinnamon. If I want something to satisfy my sweet tooth and make me think I’m eating dessert, I’ll eat Triple Zero Greek yogurt (the black label). I particularly enjoy the coffee and salted caramel flavors.

Don’t buy cottage cheese if it has carrageenan added to it. Carrageenan is nasty and is believed to cause inflammation. If you find a small curd cottage cheese with NO carrageenan in it, please LMK. Frankly, I doubt there is such a product.

Steel cut oatmeal for breakfast? Absolutely! But I add no sugar or any sweetener at all. Who needs that extra jolt of carbs? Not me. I was pre-diabetic and so I worry about back sliding. For added flavor, I recommend sprinkling in ground cinnamon to the oatmeal while cooking. To keep you feeling fuller longer and to add healthy fats to your diet, mix in a tablespoon of chia seeds to your oatmeal when served.

I usually eat oatmeal with a hard boiled egg for extra protein and satiety. Tossing in some blackberries, strawberries and/or blueberries not only adds flavor and sweetness, but also provides powerful antioxidants and vitamin C.

It’s a fantastic breakfast. Not only is steel cut oatmeal with fresh berries and chia seeds fairly economical, it doesn’t spike my blood sugar. I’m benefiting in a myriad of other ways, too. I’m including whole grains in my diet, and lowering my blood pressure and cholesterol levels at the same time. Another huge plus is that this breakfast will help my skin to retain its suppleness and elasticity. Berries are loaded with vitamin C, which is necessary to produce collagen. This means I’m fighting the ravages of aging, all in one meal. Not bad, huh?

What tips do you have for weight loss and to stay motivated? I’d be very interested in reading your comments.

Tips After Shoulder Surgery


If you find yourself facing shoulder surgery, don’t let yourself get scared by all the doom and gloom articles and posts online. I’m here to tell you that it ain’t that bad.

Even the pain was minimal; I wouldn’t even call it pain. For me, it was more discomfort than anything else. I will qualify that statement by stating that I likely have a high threshold for pain, so my experience may not be your experience, and yes, I took my pain pills every six hours.

In fact, I kept a list of when I took my pills as I found my cognitive abilities were slightly impaired from all the meds. This way I didn’t have to rely on my memory. I’m now coming off the pain pills; I take one at bedtime.

Personally, I wouldn’t bother getting the nerve block. I didn’t, and I’m glad I didn’t go through that trauma. I told the nurses while in recovery that my pain level, on a scale from 1-10, was an 8. My neck and shoulder felt very tight. They gave me more dilaudid and morphine… and then more again…. I left the hospital feeling no pain at all.

I’m not sure that’s usual—I can only tell you about my personal experience. Again, your experience and your physical condition may be quite different from my own. The nurse had told me that their goal was to get the pain down to a level 4 or less.

It’s important to move your arm in passive motions, meaning you let gravity do the work for you, so you don’t end up with a frozen shoulder. But I have discovered that I could do a bit more with my right hand than originally anticipated. I can move my elbow more now than I could two weeks ago, too.

I think the biggest pain in the neck is sleeping. Since you have to sleep sitting up, I advise using a recliner, or barring that, using a husband pillow and fluffy pillows to sit up in bed. And ice!

Icing twenty minutes on/off will help bring down the swelling, which helps control discomfort.

Showering is a big pain. Take a nice long shower the morning of your surgery because you sure won’t feel like taking one for days. Washing your hair is a bit difficult, too, so be prepared for that.

Eating using only my left hand was pretty funny. My sister had to cut up my food the first couple of days, and I found eating with a spoon was easier than using a fork. But two weeks after surgery, eating isn’t quite so difficult. Keep in mind that most difficulties are fairly transitory.

Clothing worked out more easily than I thought. I recommend that women get a couple of tops or a caftan with kimono sleeves; they work out great! I have a tunic with kimono sleeves, so it was perfect paired with leggings. And my sister gave me a shawl for Christmas, which helps keep me nice and cozy.

Finding a bra I could wear was something I desperately worried about prior to surgery. Believe me, the first few days after surgery you’ll be glad to just put on the damn caftan cuz you ain’t going nowhere.

Soon, however, I found I could fasten my bra in front and slowly turn it around. Then I put on my left shoulder strap but left the right strap down so there wouldn’t be any pressure on the surgical site. Besides, there was no way I could get my right arm through the strap. Luckily, no one could tell I was only wearing one strap.

Men can wear buttoned-down shirts, but you’ll have this thick padding over the surgical site for a week, which means shirts won’t fit. If you have a loose, stretchy  t-shirt with a wide neck, you should be able to put that on.

If you live alone, try to stay with family or friends until you go to your follow-up appointment. My follow-up was eleven days after surgery, but it can be up to two weeks. And you’ll need someone to cook for you. Later, you’ll be able to do some minor cooking, but only one-handed.

Stock up on food, frozen meals and fruits/vegetables, coffe, tea, toiletries, and other miscellaneous items. Spray antiperspirant works more easily than roll-on. I bought a kitchen brush so I could wash dishes. Buy flushable wipes. You’ll need them.

Move important items to the middle of cupboards for easy access. And if you live in a complex that has dumpsters with lids on them, ask someone to throw away your trash for you. You sure won’t be able to do it yourself.

Additionally, constipation is invariably an issue with surgery due to the anesthesia and the pain meds. Eat lots of fiber-rich foods, drink plenty of water, and take an appropriate OTC remedy. I rarely have this problem, but I did this time. Kirkland’s LaxaClear worked well for me.

I’m supposed to wear my sling for six weeks. I kept on my sling 24/7 for several days. But now, since I’m stuck at home for the duration and I’m highly cognizant of not picking up anything heavier than a coffee cup or making wrong moves, I wear my sling mostly when sleeping or if I need to go outside.

This means that you will NOT be able to drive as long as you’ve been ordered to wear your sling. It’s just not safe. For me, this restriction is the worst. I’m stuck at home unless someone else drives me.

The PA did not release me to go to physical therapy for an additional four weeks in order to avoid a failed surgery, so I do passive exercises four times daily at home. Make the wrong movement or put too much stress on your injured arm, however, and that may cause an anchor to pop out. Boy, that’s a scary thought!

Please let me know if you have any worries or concerns about an upcoming shoulder surgery, and I’ll try to help. Good luck!


The Joys of Shoulder Surgery 

I had shoulder surgery last Friday for a fully torn rotator cuff. The ortho surgeon  had gleefully told me, “Your rotator cuff has disintegrated and your muscles are dead.” He told me that he would reconstruct my torn rotator cuff with cadaver derma.

But at the pre-op, the staff had me sign off on either a repair or a Superior Capsule Reconstruction. I didn’t think they could do a repair, but apparently, that’s what was done.

I also was told by doctors and by those who have had this surgery that the rehab is worse than for a hip or knee replacement surgery and that the pain would be considerable.

Needless to say, I was not eagerly anticipating having surgery, especially as it was on my dominant arm. You try being told that your right arm will be in a sling for six weeks and that recovery will take from six months to a year. Hah!

Surgery came in three’s for my friends and me. Turns out, an old friend of mine also had outpatient surgery on the same morning as mine… in fact, we were at two different hospitals located down the street from each other.

Another old friend’s husband had a minor procedure done at a doctor’s office—on the same day! So funny. Well, maybe it’s not exactly funny… But misery loves company, right? 😉

My sister and her hubby picked me up from my house, and we checked into the hospital around 8 a.m. Surgery was supposed to take place at 10 a.m. We waited in the crowded lobby for 90 minutes before I was called into a tiny office for further processing. By that time, my poor beleaguered body was thoroughly stiff, so it was no problem getting me a wheelchair for the long trek to Same Day Surgery. My sis accompanied me.

Since I had been hearing stories about how my rotator cuff surgery would be exceedingly painful from doctors and from many patients that had the surgery, I was highly interested in getting a nerve block.

Well, a nerve block was offered to me, but then I was told I’d have to be awake for it. The anesthesiologist, Dr. Do, explained how he would administer it while I was in recovery. He’d stick a needle in my neck, using ultrasound for guidance. You know, in case the doctor hit a nerve. Because then I’d jerk away and he’d pull the needle out. There was also a tiny chance that he could hit my carotid artery.

Unfortunately, Dr. Do, explained all this to me while the scared toddler in the next bay was screaming at the top of her lungs and the nurse was trying to start my IV. Again, haven’t I already stated in other blog posts how much I hate needles?

So you can imagine how difficult it was for me to process all this information in my head. But the thought of sticking a needle in my neck while I was awake sounded horrendous to me.

So at first, I said no to the nerve block. But my sis advised me to not let fear prevent me from making the best choice. I knew she was right.

The surgeon, Dr. Ninh, made a brief appearance and marked my right shoulder. That was pretty much it. But at least that made me feel a bit more confident that he’d operate on the correct limb!

My surgery started over an hour late. I recall looking around the OR when they wheeled me in… it was full of people… nurses and techs. I gazed at the ceiling, wondering if this OR was the last thing I’d ever see.

Any surgery is a risk. I know that quite well. Heck, I used to worry every time one of my cats used to get a dental.

So even though I had come through my meniscus surgery just fine, I knew this one was more problematic. A family member had had the same surgery and had to be admitted to the hospital because they couldn’t get his O2 sat levels high enough afterwards. He was younger and healthier at the time of his surgery than I am, so it was concerning. And the anesthesiologist also said that any problems that arose would likely occur after surgery. I was understandably apprehensive.

There were several machines near the table. One of the nurses kept insisting that a certain machine wasn’t working right. That did not fill me with confidence, I can tell you. But she was assured that it was a new machine. She seemed satisfied by the news, so I shoved the negative thoughts to the back of my mind.

The OR staff turned me on my left side. My left arm was placed in a support for comfort.

Finally Dr. Do came in and I spoke to him about changing my mind about the nerve block. I OK’d the nerve block, but Dr. Do said he’d give me the nerve block right then, before they put me under. Heck, no! Do it only after the surgery and while I was in recovery, I replied. I said I sure didn’t want him to stick a needle in my neck while I was stone cold sober. That made the OR staff laugh.

Oddly enough, Dr. Do never did show up in recovery to give me the nerve block, even though I kept asking for it. My neck and shoulder were so tight that it hurt. The nurse gave me multiple doses of dilaudid and morphine instead. Finally, I began to feel some relief.

I was in recovery for a long time. I’m not sure how long. I surmise I was in there for three hours instead of two. They couldn’t get my O2 sat levels up. Alarms kept going off. Then my nurses would yell at me to take deep breaths. I didn’t put it together for quite some time that the alarm bells dinging meant that my O2 levels were dangerously low. They ended up giving me oxygen as it was a bit of a struggle for me to take deep breaths.

Interestingly enough, my O2 sat levels were at 100 prior to surgery, which was perfect. Jan, my nurse, remarked that she’d only seen that a couple of times in all her years as a nurse. In fact, my O2 sat levels results have never been that high before.

This experience was a little different from last January’s knee surgery. Jan left NO bruising from the IV this time. Last year, the bruise on my arm from the IV was huge and dark, was much worse than the bruises on my knee, and didn’t fade completely for many months.

By the time I left the hospital, I was feeling pretty happy. Oh yeah! I was feeling no pain anywhere. I was lucid and felt great. But I also knew that my decision-making skills were off. That’s why you never want to take pain meds and drive. Your thinking process is just all wrong.

We picked up strong pain pills for me (Percocet) and I ice frequently. My family was amazed how great I felt on Friday. And that’s without a nerve block! I’m so glad I didn’t go through the trauma of getting one. I didn’t need it.

In fact, I had considerable energy late Friday afternoon and would have gladly taken a walk except I couldn’t risk jarring my shoulder. I was also rather talkative. My poor sister. Haha!

But I started to feel worse by Saturday afternoon. I lost my balance and jarred my arm slightly, plus I bet the dilaudid and morphine wore off. Sunday was the worst day. I basically had little interest in doing much. Didn’t feel like talking… slept a bit… I had started writing this recap Friday afternoon but had no interest in finishing it until today.

I have to sleep sitting up for quite some time. Laying flat is uncomfortable and doesn’t promote healing. I wasn’t sitting up enough last night, so I kept waking up. It’s a big pain in the butt.

Thrillingly enough, I get to wear an arm sling for six weeks (see the photo for a look at a similar sling). Yesterday was the first time I took off my arm sling in order to let my arm hang passively by my side for awhile so I don’t get frozen shoulder. Today, I took off the thick bandage. Couldn’t wait to get that itchy thing off!

But in no way do I have the excruciating pain that most people have with this surgery. I suspect I have a high tolerance to pain. Today’s the first day that I skipped a dose of the Percocet. 

My follow-up doctor appointment is next Tuesday. That’s when they’ll tell me what exactly they did during the surgery and when I should start PT.

Life’s Little Journeys

Well, ain’t this the truth? I may not have reached my goals yet, but at least I’m healthier than I was at this time last year.

My knee issue, which had plagued me on and off for ten years was finally diagnosed last year (torn meniscus), which culminated in knee surgery 5 1/2 months ago. But the knee is still swollen, it’s still healing, and I’m now dealing with scar tissue.

Hey, the good news is that the knee surgery is behind me. Right?

After the surgery, it drove me nuts to see how weak I had become. Couldn’t bend my knee very much. I had some initial progress but then it just kinda stopped. So frustrating.

Now I’m seeing some progress again. I worked out twice today. First I went to PT, and then I worked out in the pool after I got home. It could be four more months, or possibly more, to heal fully, my therapist said. Oh, well.

Not really sure my knee will ever be 100% again, but that’s my goal.

Life’s little journeys.

Blood Tests? An MRI? What’s Next?

The MRI machine that I'll likely be using.

The MRI machine that I’ll likely be using.

Ack! Tomorrow is my blood panel. I’m confident about everything but my A1C and other glucose tests. Those numbers better have come down! I’ve been exercising, getting fit, I’ve lost 13% of my body weight so far, and I’ve cut way back on carbs and sugars… But ya never know. Plus, the last time I had my blood drawn, the gal had to ask me to come back cuz my veins refused to give up one drop of blood. So, keep your fingers crossed for me.

I got my referral for my MRI for my knee, so I called yesterday to make an appointment. Took the first available. I’m going next Tuesday at 7:45 PM. Well, the MRI is scheduled from 8-9, but I have to come in early to fill out paperwork. Weird to have it at night, huh?

It kinda feels odd to have an MRI at all. I’ve heard how some people are claustrophobic, etc. Well, I was looking for some information on getting an MRI for your knee, and I found an article that mentioned that sometimes a dye is injected. I’m not a happy camper AT ALL! I better not have to have a dye injected-??!! Waah-!!

Hey, has anyone reading this ever have a torn meniscus-?? Did you have dye injected when you had your MRI done? A couple of people told me that when they had their MRIs done for their knee or back, it was in an open-sided machine. Unfortunately, when I Goggled the place I’m supposed to go to, the only pic they showed was a traditional MRI machine. 😦

I wish I had asked Suzanne, my water aerobics instructor, what to expect when she had an MRI done for her torn meniscus.

Anyway, please keep those positive thoughts coming! It’s greatly appreciated.